Arcana Coelestia #904

By Emanuel Swedenborg

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904. That 'God spoke to Noah' means the Lord's presence with the member of the Church becomes clear from the internal sense of the Word. The Lord speaks to everybody, for whatever good and truth a person wills and thinks comes from the Lord. With everyone there are at least two evil spirits and two angels. The former activate his evils whereas the latter instill goods and truths. Every good or truth that angels instill is the Lord's; in this way the Lord is constantly speaking to man, though quite differently from one person to the next. To people who allow themselves to be carried away by evil spirits the Lord speaks as though He were not present, or so far away that He can hardly be said to be speaking. But to those who are being led by the Lord, the Lord speaks as one who is quite present. This becomes clear enough from the fact that nobody can possibly think of anything good and true except from the Lord.

[2] The Lord's presence is relative to the state of love towards the neighbour and of faith present in a person. It is in love towards the neighbour that the Lord is present, for He is present in all good, and not so much in so-called faith that is devoid of love. Faith devoid of love and charity is something severed or disjoined. Wherever conjunction exists there has to be a conjoining agency, which is exclusively love and charity. This may become clear to anyone from the fact that the Lord has compassion on everybody, loves everyone, and wishes to make everyone eternally happy. A person therefore who is devoid of the kind of love that leads him to have compassion on others, to love them, and to wish to make them happy, cannot be joined to the Lord because he is not at all like Him, and is in no sense the image of Him. Looking to the Lord by means of that which goes by the name of faith while hating the neighbour amounts not only to standing a long way off, but also to having between himself and the Lord a hell-like chasm into which the person would fall if he wished to go any nearer. For it is hatred towards the neighbour that constitutes that intervening hell-like chasm.

[3] The Lord is present with a person the moment he starts to love the neighbour. It is in love that the Lord is present, and to the extent that a person has love the Lord is present. And to the extent that the Lord is present He speaks to man. No one knows anything other than that he thinks from himself. Yet he possesses not one single idea of thought, not even the shred of an idea, from himself. Rather that which is evil and false he possesses through evil spirits from hell, and that which is good and true through angels from the Lord. Such is influx, the channel by which a person's life comes and by which consequently his soul interacts with the body. All these considerations make clear what 'God spoke to Noah' means. 'Saying to someone' means one thing, as in Genesis 1:29; 3:13-14, 17; 4:6, 9, 15; 6:13; 7:1, while 'speaking to someone' means another. Here speaking to Noah' means His being present, for the subject now is the regenerate person, who has had charity conferred on him.

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Thanks to the Swedenborg Society for the permission to use this translation.