The Bible


Matthew 3:1-12 : John the Baptist (Gospel of Matthew)


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1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,

2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

3 For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

4 And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.

5 Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan,

6 And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.

7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:

9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

10 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:

12 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

   Study the Inner Meaning
From Swedenborg's Works

Explanations or references:

Arcana Coelestia 794, 1017, 1861, 2371, 2708, 3301, 3540, ...

Apocalypse Revealed 315, 350, 378, 400, 553, 749, 839, ...

Doctrine of the Lord 15, 30, 51

Doctrine of Life 93, 104

Heaven and Hell 570

True Christian Religion 113, 144, 468, 483, 668, 677, 684, ...

References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 109, 183, 374, 376, 395, 475, 504, ...

Marriage 113

Scriptural Confirmations 2, 4, 6, 13, 33, 67

Related New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:

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Bible Word Meanings

john the baptist
Jesus as a man in the Bible represents Divine Truth, the pure and perfect expression of the Lord's infinite love. That truth is contained within...

Jesus as a man in the Bible represents Divine Truth, the pure and perfect expression of the Lord's infinite love. That truth is contained within...

In the most general sense, a kingdom in the Bible represents a church. In a more specific sense, a kingdom represents a church in regards...

"Air" in the Bible represents thought, but in a very general way – more like our capacity to perceive ideas and the way we tend...

Like "say," the word "speak" refers to thoughts and feelings moving from our more internal spiritual levels to our more external ones – and ultimately...

In general, when something is "prepared" in the Bible it means that it is in the proper spiritual order, which happens when our hearts and...

In John 14:6, 'the way is doctrine,' 'the truth' is every thing pertaining to doctrine, and 'the life' is the essential good which is the...

'To make,' as in Hosea 8:11, refers to good. In the opposite sense it refers to evil. To make heaven, and earth, and the sea,...

These days we tend to think of "roads" as smooth swaths of pavement, and judge them by how fast we can drive cars on them....

Soft raiment,' as in Matthew 11:9, represents the internal sense of the Word.

leathern girdle
'The leathern girdle' which John the Baptist wore signifies an external band that receives and contains interior things.

The symbolic meaning of "seeing" is "understanding," which is obvious enough that it has become part of common language (think about it; you might see...

The Pharisees were a sect of the Jewish church at the time of the New Testament. The name comes from a root that means "separate",...

Coming (Gen. 41:14) denotes communication by influx.

As with many common verbs, the meaning of “to say” in the Bible is highly dependent on context. Who is speaking? Who is hearing? What...

'Viper' signifies mortal hatreds and also extremely deceitful people.

As with many common verbs, the meaning of “to say” in the Bible is highly dependent on context. Who is speaking? Who is hearing? What...

Abraham (or Abram, as he is named in the beginning of his story) is one of the major characters in the story of the sacred...

For something to be cast down or cast out generally refers to a rather dramatic move from a higher spiritual state to a lower one....

There are two aspects to the life of each person. We might call them "heart" and "mind," a part of us that wants and feels...

A fan, referred to in Matthew 3:12, signifies the separation of falsities from goods.

The floor, as in Matthew 3:12, signifies the world of spirits which is between heaven and hell, and where the separation of evils and falsities...

In Revelation 18:13, 'wine, oil, flour, and wheat' signify celestial principles of worship.

A garner, granary, or barn, as in as in Matthew 3:12 and 8:30, signify where there is a collection of the good.

Chaff is mentioned in Matthew 3:12 signifies falsity of every kind, derived from an in­fernal origin.

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Resources for parents and teachers

The items listed here are provided courtesy of our friends at the General Church of the New Jerusalem. You can search/browse their whole library at the New Church Vineyard website.

 Baptism of the Lord
Use felt tip markers to draw a picture of John baptizing the Lord in the Jordan River. Then dip a paintbrush in water and go over the picture to give the effect of watercolor. 
Project | Ages 4 - 14

 Dove Poster or Mobile
The dove symbolizes purification by Divine truth. Make a poster or mobile with the color picture of a dove and truths which can help us "clean up" our lives.
Project | Ages 11 - 17

 Flight into Egypt
This lesson discusses a story from the Word and suggests projects and activities for young children.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 God Is a Divine Man
Article | Ages 15 - 17

 Jesus Comes to John the Baptist
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 John the Baptist
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Lord's Baptism
Put together this project to make a picture of the Lord that can be moved to show Him going into the waters of the Jordan to be baptized. 
Project | Ages 4 - 10

 Quotes: The Promise of Baptism
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 The Dove
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 9 - 12

 The Lord’s Baptism
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 The Lord’s Baptism (3-5 years)
Project | Ages 4 - 6

 The Lord’s Baptism (6-8 years)
Project | Ages 7 - 10

 The Lord’s Baptism (9-11 years)
Project | Ages 11 - 14

 The Lord's Baptism: Matthew
A New Church Bible story explanation for teaching Sunday school. Includes lesson materials for Primary (3-8 years), Junior (9-11 years), Intermediate (12-14 years), Senior (15-17 years) and Adults.
Teaching Support | Ages over 3

 You Are My Beloved Son (sheet music)
Sheet music for a beautiful song about the Lord’s baptism.
Song | Ages over 11



The Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand      

By Rev. William Woofenden

"Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Matthew 3:3
Additional readings: Isaiah 1:1-20

In the childhood of the human race, before men had departed from right ways of life, heaven was near to them. They could be led directly by the Lord, for their hearts and minds were open to him. Of this Golden Age of the human race it is written, "Man walked with God." But we have all read in the history of the human race as revealed in the Scripture the account of how many departed from the way of life and, following the devices of his own heart, closed his mind to the direct reception of goodness and truth from the Lord, until finally he reached a state in which all true knowledge of God and heaven was lost.

Then the Lord came to bring salvation to mankind, and preparation for His reception was made through John the Baptist, the messenger sent in fulfillment of a prophecy given centuries before. John’s message is our text: "Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." And when John was put to death, and the Lord began His active ministry in the world, the words of our text were also His first message. For He came to make clear the way of life, and wrong ideas held possession of the minds of men then, as they do of many minds today.

It is not by chance that this first message turns our thoughts to heaven. The purpose of our creation is that we may so live that we shall find our homes in heaven. Belief in heaven had been lost, along with the knowledge about it. And today belief in heaven is for the most part vague, and many think that eternal life does not mean personal existence in the spiritual world, but only the persistence of one’s influence in this world. Great men like Homer, Plato, Moses, Shakespeare, Gladstone, Lincoln, Pasteur, and many others perpetuate themselves in the influence they exert in the minds of living men. This, they say, is what is meant by immortality, by everlasting life. But we should realize that this type of everlasting life is open to the evil as well as to the good. A Diocletian may be remembered forever as well as the beloved Apostle. We need to know the truth that men and women, as individuals, live forever after death in the spiritual world.

But this is not the implication of the text which I have chosen for consideration this morning." The kingdom of heaven is at hand." We know that heaven is not in some remote part of the natural sky, that we cannot say, "Lo, here, or Lo, there" (Luke 17:21). But we are still apt to think of it as far away. We are also inclined to think of it as remote in time. We speak commonly of the "future" world. In the thought of some even, it lies at the indefinitely remote time, when they expect a general resurrection along with others; death is the gateway of heaven, but heaven still seems too distant to be of much practical and present interest.

But the truth is that heaven is far away neither in space nor in time. It is here, it is now, it is "at hand." We live in it now, or we may do so. It is a present reality, the most real and the most important element of the life we are now living. When we speak of heaven, and of living for heaven, we are not, as some charge, setting our hearts on something far away, and despising the real world in which we now are. If one lives for a far-off heaven — and no doubt some have lived so — he may be careless of this world’s joys and sorrows, of opportunities for usefulness, keeping his eyes fixed on some vision of the future. But we may live for heaven and still live thoroughly in the present. We ought to value heaven as the most real of present realities. The Gospel is true: "The kingdom of heaven is at hand."

We are taught in the New Church that heaven is essentially a state of human feeling, thought and life, a state in which love to the Lord and love to the neighbor are the ruling motives. We are taught that no outward paradise which could be made by human or by Divine skill would be a heaven if those affections were absent from the heart, that there is no real or lasting satisfaction except in the exercise of these affections. It follows that we can come into heaven in this world, and live in heaven while we live on earth, for we may learn here to love the Lord and one another, and to find our chief enjoyment in the exercise of these heavenly loves.

But this is an abstract way of speaking. Concretely, heaven is not merely a heavenly state in ourselves; it is the great world of human beings who are living in that state, those people in whose hearts are heavenly affections, whose minds are bright with spiritual light, and whose hands are busy with heavenly works. There are many such people in this world. There are countless more who have gone from the earth to the spiritual world, and are there living the same good life under freer and happier conditions. All these people are heaven.

When we have love to the Lord and the neighbor in ourselves, we are brought spiritually near to those in like affections, both of this world and of the spiritual world. It is not a figure of speech when we say that heaven is about us when we are in heavenly states. It is a literal and positive fact. Heaven is so really around us at such times that if it were granted to us, as it was to Elisha’s servant and to others in Bible days to have our spiritual eyes opened, we should see the angels who are our companions and the beautiful land in which they dwell. Among them we should see and recognize some who were dear to us on earth, who still love and help us, and there would be some whom we had not known before but who would from the first glance seem to us as old friends, because they have similar desires and thoughts. And we should recognize them as the source of our happiness.

The Lord created the world and all things in it. All things in the world were made for man to use and enjoy, from the very materials of the earth to all the myriad things of the vegetable and animal kingdoms, the beast of the field, the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea. For man’s needs of food, clothing, shelter, for gratification of his senses, and the improvement of his mind these things were made. All these were created and given to man for blessings. But they are subject to one important condition: man must indeed labor to make these things of service to himself, but he must also use them in the service of others. Only so can he have any security or peace. The world of nature and of human beings is not for one man, or a few men, or a nation to control or exploit. Indeed we cannot rightly claim sovereignty over ourselves. We need the guidance of the Lord. And whatever under the Divine Providence we have been able to acquire, whether of material wealth, or of skill, or of learning, we did not acquire it by our unaided efforts. Our daily knowledge of the happenings in the world, our libraries, our schools are made possible by the labor of mind and body of other men and women, great or humble, living or dead. We depend on others and they on us, and life and security today, as always, depend upon the honesty and good will of the community in which we live.

Yet we should also realize that behind the labors and sufferings and the honesty and good will of men stands the Lord. Through His power alone man achieves progress. It is a law of the Divine Providence that man must act in freedom according to reason. This applies to the life of nations as well as to the life of individuals. But the Lord is present and operative always.

For infinitely wise and good reasons, the Lord does not draw the veil aside for us and allow us to see the heavenly world. Some argue that if only they could see heaven, they would believe in it. But to see that world as an outward, objective reality would destroy our freedom. We should be lured by its outward attractiveness, and it would be less possible for us to come into its true spirit.

When we are living in selfish and evil affections, we are in hell. Not only is hell within us at such times but it is also about us, not by a figure of speech, but actually. We are breathing its poisoned atmosphere and, if our eyes were opened, we should see the forms and faces of those who find their life in evil and who exult in influencing others to evil. Why, at least then, does the Lord not draw the veil aside and show us the terribleness of evil? The sight might for the moment frighten us, but we should be less able to shun evil freely because it is evil, and our power to escape permanently from it would be greatly lessened.

If we are tempted to question the Lord’s Providence in not revealing to us more openly the conditions of the good and evil in the spiritual world, we do well to remember His words, "They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them….If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead" (Luke 16:29-31).

The Lord said, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness" (Matthew 6:33). We should seek those good things which endure forever, and should not sacrifice them for the sake of money or health or life itself. To acquire love to the Lord and to the neighbor is the only thing worth living for. Our business dealings should have as their motive the love of use, of service to others. The most necessary thing in making a home is having in it the sunshine of heaven. The only absolute requirement for our happiness as we go to and fro in the ways of the world is that heaven shall go with us. This is to live for heaven, and yet to live must fully in the present. This is the practical meaning of living for heaven.

It may be stated still more simply. Heaven is not heaven from locality, neither is it heaven from anything which belongs to the angels as their own. It is heaven from what is received from the Lord into the lives and hearts of the angels. To be near the Lord, not in place merely, but in heart, to feel the protection and peace of His presence is heaven. Heaven is being near to the Lord and keeping near to Him. There is no other heaven for men or angels.

"The kingdom of heaven is at hand." When John first spoke this message, the kingdom of heaven was in a special sense at hand, because the Lord had come to live with men and to make Himself accessible to them. A power to heal and bless went forth from the Lord during His life on earth. Men obsessed felt his saving power and sat at His feet clothed and in their right mind.

At the Transfiguration Peter said, "Lord, it is good for us to be here" (Matthew 17:4, Mark 9:5, Luke 9:33). In following the Lord, in hearing His Word and in doing His work, they were tasting of heaven. But we need to note that the mere physical nearness of the Lord did not make heaven. Some cried out with fear at His approach. It was not heaven to them. It was not heaven to those who followed Him to accuse and to betray Him. His presence was a blessing only to those who in some measure drew near to Him in spirit.

Even in the Lord’s coming on earth the kingdom of heaven was not forced on me. It was made accessible to them; it was brought within their reach.

It is brought within our reach. Just as there is no royal road to knowledge, there is no royal road to heaven. We must cease to do evil before we can learn to do well. Repentance, the willingness to recognize and acknowledge our faults and weaknesses and to struggle to overcome them opens the door. Heavenly life comes into the soul when selfish desires are replaced by kindly thoughts and the desire to serve. The Lord tell us to seek these heavenly virtues now, not for the sake of honor for ourselves, but that we may be really kind and helpful to others, that our lives may have something of the Lord’s love in them. Then we shall find that life here makes one with heavenly life, and that our Heavenly Father is the Source of happiness in both alike.

From Swedenborg's Works


Apocalypse Explained #543

Apocalypse Explained (Tansley translation)      

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543. And out of the smoke came forth locusts upon the earth. That this signifies that from infernal falsities they became corporeal sensual in the church, is plain from the signification of smoke, which denotes infernal falsity, concerning which see above (n. 539), where it is shewn, that by the well of the abyss, out of which the smoke ascended, is signified the hell where and whence are the falsities of evil which falsify the truths of the Word; consequently, smoke here signifies infernal falsity; and from the signification of locusts, which denote the ultimate Sensual of man which is in the falsity of evil, concerning which we shall speak presently; and from the signification of coming forth upon the earth, as denoting upon the church, for the earth signifies the church. The things also, which are contained in the Apocalypse are predicted concerning the church and its state.

(References: Revelation 9:3; The Apocalypse Explained 539)

[2] That the locust signifies the ultimate Sensual of man, which is in the falsity of evil, is evident from all the details in this chapter as far as verse 12; and it is evident from the explanation of these that nothing else is meant by locusts. But here it shall first be explained what is meant by the ultimate Sensual of man. It is not the Sensual of sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch, that is here meant, for these things are proper to the body, but it is the ultimate of thought and affection, which is first opened with infants, and which is of such a nature that they think of nothing else, and are influenced by no other objects than those which make one with the senses above mentioned. For infants learn to think by means of the senses, and to be affected by objects according to the things which have pleased the senses; wherefore, the first Internal that is opened in them is the Sensual, which is called the ultimate Sensual of man, and also the corporeal Sensual. But afterwards, as the infant grows older and reaches boyhood, the more interior Sensual is opened, from which he thinks naturally, and is also affected naturally. At length, when he becomes a youth and young man, the Sensual still more interior is opened, from which he thinks rationally, and, if he is in the good of charity and faith, spiritually; and also he is rationally and spiritually affected. This thought and affection is called the rational and spiritual man, while the former is called the natural man, and the first the sensual man.

[3] With every man, the interiors of his thought and affection, are successively opened, and this by continual influx out of heaven from the Lord; by this influx the Sensual is first formed which is nearest to the body, whence man becomes sensual; afterwards the Natural whence he becomes natural; and after this the Rational and with that the Spiritual, whence he becomes a rational and spiritual man. But this is formed and perfected only in proportion as man thinks concerning God, and Divine things from God, and in proportion as he is affected with them, that is, in proportion as he wills and lives according to them. For if this does not take place, then the spiritual man is opened in a general way, but is not formed, much less perfected. By the opening of the spiritual man in a general way, man has the faculty of thinking, and from thought of speaking rationally, for this is the common effect of the influx of heaven with every man. Hence it is clear, that man has thoughts and affections both spiritual, natural, as well as sensual, and that those have spiritual thoughts and affections who think from God concerning God and Divine things; but that those only have natural thoughts and affections who do not think from God concerning God and Divine things, but only from themselves, or from the world concerning themselves or the world. But it must be understood, that to think from self or from the world is not to think from these but from hell, for he who does not think from God thinks from hell, it being impossible for any one to think from both at the same time.

But those who deny God, and thence the Divine things of heaven and the church, and confirm themselves against them, all become sensual men more or less, according to confirmations. When their minds are engaged upon spiritual things they think only about falsities, and are affected with evils; and if they think about any truths, whether they be spiritual, moral, or civil, it is only from the knowledge (scientia) of such things as are in the memory, and they see nothing beyond causes the most obvious, and which they are also able to confirm; and if they are influenced by goods, it is merely from a delight which is for the sake of themselves, or of the world, thus from some desire pertaining to the love of self, or to the love of the world. The thought of the sensual man is called material thought, and his affection is called corporeal affection, which is cupidity.

[4] Moreover, it is to be observed that all the evils derived by man from his parents, which are called hereditary evils, reside in his natural and sensual man, but not in the spiritual; hence it is that the natural man, and particularly the sensual man is opposed to the spiritual. For the spiritual man from infancy is closed, and it is opened and formed only by Divine Truths received in the understanding and will; and in proportion as the spiritual man is opened and formed, and according to the quality thereof, in the same proportion are the evils of the natural and sensual man removed, and goods implanted in their place. Since all evils reside in the natural and sensual man, it follows that falsities reside there also, because all falsities are of evil; for while man desires, and wills from evil, he thinks and speaks from falsity; for the evil of the will, when it forms itself in the thought, so that its quality is clear to others, or to himself, is called falsity, wherefore falsity is the form of evil, as truth is the form of good.

From these considerations the nature and quality of the man who is called a sensual man is evident, and that a man becomes sensual when he acts out the evils into which he is born and adds more to them from himself. So far as he does this, and confirms himself therein, so far the spiritual man is kept closed; in which case the natural and sensual man denies Divine things which pertain to heaven and the church, and acknowledges only such things as pertain to the world and Nature; in fact, the sensual man, is then so blind as to believe nothing but what he sees with his eyes, and touches with his hands. In this state are many of the learned, however wise and intelligent they may be supposed to be from their ability to speak from the knowledges (scientiae) that are in the memory, and this apparently like rational men; because their spiritual mind is opened in a general way, as is the case with every man, as shown above.

[5] Because in that which follows in this chapter much is said concerning the locust, and as the locust signifies the Sensual, which is the ultimate or extreme of the natural man, it is important that the nature and quality of this Sensual should be fully known, and therefore also who and what the sensual man is. I shall, therefore, quote here what has been stated and shown in the Arcana Coelestia on this subject as follows. The Sensual is the ultimate of the life of man, inhering and adhering to his Corporeal (n. 5077, 5767, 9122, 9216, 9331, 9730). He is called a sensual man, who judges all things from the bodily senses, and who, believes nothing but what he can see with his eyes and touch with his hands, saying that this is something, and rejecting everything else (n. 5094, 7693). Such a man thinks in things outermost, and not interiorly from any spiritual light (n. 5089, 5094, 6564, 7693). The interiors of the mind, which sees from the light of heaven, are closed, so that a man sees therein nothing of the truth pertaining to heaven and the church (n. 6564, 6844, 6845). In a word, he is in a gross natural light, and thus perceives nothing that is from the light of heaven (n. 6201, 6310, 6564, 6844, 6845, 6598, 6612, 6614, 6622, 6624). Hence he is interiorly opposed to the things of heaven and the church (n. 6201, 6317, 6844, 6845, 6948, 6949). The learned, who have confirmed themselves against the truths of the church, are sensual (n. 6316). Sensual men reason with acuteness and readiness, because their thought lies near their speech, so as to be almost in it, and because they place all intelligence in discoursing from the memory alone (n. 195, 196, 5700, 10,236); but they reason from the fallacies of the senses, with which the vulgar are captivated (n. 5084, 6948, 6949, 7693). Sensual men are crafty and malicious above all others (n. 7693, 10,236). The covetous, adulterers, the voluptuous, and the deceitful, are especially sensual (n. 6310); their interiors are unclean and filthy (n. 6201); thereby they communicate with the hells (n. 6311). They who are in the hells are sensual, and the more so the deeper their hells (n. 4623, 6311). The sphere of infernal spirits conjoins itself with the Sensual of man from behind (n. 6312). Those who reasoned from the Sensual, and thence against the genuine truths of faith, were called by the ancients serpents of the tree of knowledge (n. 195, 196, 197, 6398, 6949, 10,313). The Sensual of man, and the sensual man, are further described (n. 10,236); and the extension of the Sensual in man (n. 9731). Sensual things ought to be in the last place and not in the first, and with a wise and intelligent man, they are in the last place, and subject to interior things, but with an unwise man, they are in the first place, and govern, and these are they who are properly called sensual (n. 5077, 5125, 5128, 7645). If sensual things are in the last place, a way is opened by them to the understanding, and truths are perfected by a mode of extraction (n. 5580). The sensual things of man are proximately extant to the world, and admit the things which flow to them from the world, and as it were sift them (n. 9726). The external or natural man communicates by means of those things with the world, but by rational things with heaven (n. 4009). Sensuals thus minister such things as are serviceable to the interiors of the mind (n. 5077, 5081). There are sensual things which minister to the intellectual part, and others which minister to the will part (n. 5077). Unless the thought be elevated from sensual things, man can attain but little wisdom (n. 5089). A wise man thinks above the Sensual (n. 5089, 5094). Man, when his thought is elevated above sensual things, comes into a clearer light, and at length into heavenly light (n. 6183, 6313, 6315, 9407, 9730, 9922). Elevation above things sensual, and withdrawal from them, were known to the ancients (n. 6313). Man in his spirit might see things that are in the spiritual world, if he could be drawn away from the sensual things of the body, and be elevated into the light of heaven by the Lord (n. 4622); the reason of this is, that it is not the body which thinks, but the spirit of man in the body, and in proportion as he thinks in the body, in the same proportion he thinks grossly and obscurely, thus in darkness, but in proportion as he thinks not in the body, he thinks clearly and in the light (n. 4622, 6614, 6622). The ultimate of the understanding is the Scientific Sensual, and the ultimate of the will is sensual delight (n. 9996). What the difference is between the sensual things which are in common with the beasts, and those which are not common with them (n. 10,236). There are sensual persons who are not evil, because their interiors are not shut, in the manner [above described]; concerning their state in the other life see n. 6311.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 195-196, 197, Arcana Coelestia 4009, 4622, 4623, 5077, 5081, 5084, 5089, 5094, 5125, 5128, 5580, 5700, 5767, 6183, 6201, 6310, 6311, 6312, 6313, 6315, 6316, 6317, 6398, 6564, 6598, 6612, 6614, 6622, 6624, 6844-6845, 6948-6949, 6949, 7645, Arcana Coelestia 7693, 9212, 9216, 9331, 9407, 9726, 9730, 9731, 9922, 9996, 10236, 10313)

[6] That the locust signifies nothing else but the Sensual of man just described, is evident also from other passages in the Word where the locust is mentioned.

Thus in Moses:

"Moses stretched forth his rod over the land of Egypt, and Jehovah brought an east wind upon the land all that day, and all that night; and when it was morning the east wind brought the locust. And the locust went up over all the land of Egypt, and rested in all the border of Egypt, very grievous, before it there was no such locust, neither after it shall there be such. And they covered the face of the whole earth, so that the land was darkened; and they did eat every herb of the land, and all the fruit of the tree which the hail had left; and there remained not any green thing on the trees, or in the herb of the field, through all the land of Egypt." And the locust filled the house of Pharaoh, and the house of all his servants, and the house of all the Egyptians (Exod. x. 4, 6, 13-15).

All the miracles in Egypt, as well as all the other miracles recorded in the Word, involve and signify spiritual things pertaining to heaven and the church, consequently the plagues of Egypt signify spiritual plagues. This plague of the locusts denotes the destruction of the whole natural man by the rushing in of evil and falsity from the Sensual. Egypt signifies the natural man as to the Scientific and what is pleasurable therein, and "locust" the falsity and evil of the sensual man vastating the natural man, that is, expelling thence and destroying all the truth and good of the church; therefore it is said, "The locust went up over all the land of Egypt, and rested in all the border of it." The land of Egypt signifies the Natural of the men of the church, and by the border of Egypt is signified their Sensual. For the Sensual is the ultimate or outermost of the Natural, wherefore it is its boundary; the locust is the falsity and evil therein.

Because the falsity and the evil of the sensual man are the most grievous being corporeal and earthly, therefore it is said that the locust was very grievous, that there was none like it before, nor would there be any such after it. The reason of this was, that the Egyptians had the knowledge (scientia) of correspondences, and from it they had a knowledge of spiritual things pertaining to heaven, but these they turned into what was magical. Because the falsity and evil [of the sensual man] when they break into the natural man, lay it altogether waste, by destroying every truth and every good therein, it is therefore said that the locust "covered the face of the whole earth, so that the land was darkened, and they did eat every herb of the land, and all the fruit of the trees"; the land of Egypt, denoting the Natural of the men of the church, the herb of the land denoting the truth, and the fruit of the tree the good therein. The same is also meant by the locust filling the houses of Pharaoh, and the houses of his servants, and of all the Egyptians, for the house of Pharaoh, and the houses of his servants and all the Egyptians signify the natural mind in its whole extent. For house in the Word signifies the interior things of man which belong to his inner and to his outer mind, and in this case those things which are of his natural mind.

(References: Exodus 10:4, 10:6, 10:13-15)

[7] It is said that here by the locust going up over all the land of Egypt, is signified the irruption of falsity and evil out of the sensual man into the natural, when yet the natural man is interior and the sensual exterior, and irruption or influx proceeds not from the exterior into the interior, but from the interior into the exterior. It must be known therefore that the irruption or influx of the sensual man into the natural means the closing up of the natural man until it becomes like the sensual, whence, the extension of the evil and falsity is greater, and both in like manner become corporeal and earthly. Otherwise, however man, from his infancy, learns to separate the sensual man from the natural, by speaking truth and doing good, although from the sensual man he thinks falsity, and wills evil, and he does this until they are altogether separated, which takes place when man is reformed and regenerated by the Lord; but if they are not separated, man cannot do otherwise than think and will insanely, and therefore speak and act insanely.

[8] Because the locust signifies the Sensual as to falsity and evil, or, what is the same thing, the falsity and evil of the sensual man, therefore the signification of the locust and the grasshopper is similar, as in David:

"He sent a swarm among them, which devoured them; and frogs which destroyed them. He gave also their increase unto the grasshopper, and their labour unto the locust" (Psalm lxxviii. 45, 46).

And again:

"He spake, and the locust came, and the grasshopper, and that without number, which devoured all the herb in the land, and devoured the fruit of their ground" (Psalm cv. 34, 35).

But here by locust is signified the falsity pertaining to the sensual man, and by the grasshopper (bruchus) the evil of the same, or the falsity and evil which are in and from the sensual man. This evil is signified by the grasshopper, and this falsity by the locust because the grasshopper also is a locust, which is evident from this fact, that those things were said by David concerning the locusts in Egypt, and yet in Moses the locust only is mentioned, and not the grasshopper.

(References: Psalms 78:45-46, 105:34-35)

[9] Similar things are signified by the locust and the grasshopper in Joel:

"That which the palmerworm hath left hath the locust eaten; and that which the locust hath left hath the cankerworm eaten; and that which the cankerworm hath left hath the grasshopper eaten. Awake, ye drunkards, and weep; and howl, all ye drinkers of wine, because of the new wine (mustum); for it is cut off from your mouth" (i. 4, 5).

So again, in the same prophet:

"And the floors shall be full of pure wheat, and the presses shall overflow with new wine (mustum) and oil. And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the grasshopper, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you" (ii. 24, 25).

That these injurious creatures signify falsities and evils vastating or consuming the truths and goods of the man of the church, is evident, since it is said, that "all drinkers of wine (vinum) should howl for the new wine (mustum) which is cut off from your mouth," and by wine and new wine is signified the truth of the church; and also since it is said that their floors should be full of wheat, and their presses should overflow with new wine and oil, for by the floor is signified the doctrine of the church, by the wheat and the oil are signified its goods, and by the new wine (mustum), its truths.

(References: Joel 1:4-5, 2:24-25)

[10] So in Nahum:

"The fire shall devour thee; the sword shall cut thee off, it shall devour thee as the grasshopper; multiply thyself as the grasshopper; multiply thyself as the locust. Thou hast multiplied thy merchants above the stars of the heavens; the grasshopper spread itself abroad, and fled away. Thy crowned are as the locust, and thy captains as the locust of locusts which sit in the fences in the day of cold, the sun ariseth, they flee away, and their place is not known where they are" (iii. 15, 17).

These things are said concerning the "city of bloods," which signifies doctrine fashioned from falsified truths, thus from falsities. The destruction of those who are in a faith and life according to that doctrine, is signified by the fire shall devour thee; the sword shall cut thee off. The fire which shall devour, signifies evil destroying good, and the sword, falsity destroying the truth; and since the evil and falsity from the sensual man are meant, it is therefore said, "The grasshopper shall devour thee; multiply thyself as the grasshopper; multiply thyself as the locust. Thou has multiplied thy merchants above the stars of heaven." This multiplication is said to be like that of the grasshopper and the locust, because the Word is very extensively falsified by those who are sensual, thus by the sensual man, for the sensual man is signified by the grasshopper and locust, as was stated above.

The reason why the sensual man falsifies the Word more than others, is, that the ultimate sense of the Word, which is the sense of the letter, is for the natural and sensual man, but the interior sense, for the spiritual man. It is for this reason that a man when he is not a spiritual, but a natural and sensual man, and is in evil, and thence in falsities, does not see the goods and truths which are in the Word, but applies its ultimate sense to confirm his falsities and evils. Merchants signify those who falsify, communicate, and sell. Thy crowned are as the locusts, and thy captains as the locust of locusts, signifies that the primary and chief things of doctrine, which is the "city of bloods," are falsities of evil, and that also those falsities of evil proceed from them. Which sit in the fences in the day of cold, signifies in the truths of the Word, which do not appear as truths, because they are falsified, and are from evil, fences denoting truths that are not apparent, because falsified, and the day of cold denoting the state of the love of evil. The sun ariseth, they flee away, and their place is not known where they are, signifies that they consume all truth and good, so that none remains. The expression "multiplying as the locust" has a similar signification in Jeremiah (xlvi. 20, 22, 23), also in the book of Judges (vi. 5; vii. 12).

(References: Jeremiah 46:20, 46:22-23; Judges 6:5, Judges 7:12; Nahum 3:15-17)

[11] Falsity in the extremes, or the densest falsity, is also signified by the locust in Moses:

"Thou shalt carry much seed into the field, but shall gather little in; for the locust shall consume it" (Deut. xxviii. 38).

This was one of the curses if they did not observe and do the commandments of Jehovah. By the seed of the field is meant the Word, and by the locust, the dense falsity from the sensual man, which consumes and destroys. The same is signified by "locust" in Amos (vii. 1, 2); Isaiah (xxxiii. 3, 4); and in David, (Psalm cix. 22, 23).

(References: Amos 7:1-2; Deuteronomy 28:38; Isaiah 33:3-4; Judges 6:5, Judges 7:12; Psalms 109:22-23)

[12] Since the Sensual of man is the ultimate and lowest of the life of man's thought and affection, as stated above, and as that which is lowest is small, when viewed from those things that are in a higher and more exalted place, it is therefore compared to locusts, as in Isaiah:

Jehovah "who sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as locusts" (xl. 22).

These words signify that men, as to intelligence, are in the lowest things, and the Lord in the highest.

(References: Isaiah 40:22)

[13] Similarly, men, viewed by those who regard themselves as superior to others, are compared to locusts, in Moses:

The explorers of the land of Canaan said: "We saw the Nephilim; the sons of Anak, which come of the Nephilim; and we were in our own sight as locusts, and so we were in their eyes" (Num. xiii. 33).

That Nephilim and the Anakim in the Word signify those who are fully convinced of their own superiority and wisdom above others, and, in the abstract sense, dire persuasions, may be seen in the Arcana Coelestia (n. 311, 567, 581, 1268, 1270, 1271, 1673, 3686, 7686). That they were seen, and also appeared to themselves, as locusts, is agreeable to appearances in the spiritual world, for there, when those who are persuaded of their own superiority look at others, they see them as little and vile, and these also then appear such to themselves.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 311, 567, 581, 1268, 1270-1271, 1673, 3686, Arcana Coelestia 7686; Numbers 13:33)

[14] Since the locust signifies the Sensual, which is the ultimate of the life of man's thought, or the ultimate in which the understanding closes, and upon which it rests, therefore this ultimate is, as it were, the basis and foundation upon which stand the interior or higher things, pertaining to the understanding and will of man; similarly the interior and higher things, called in the Word spiritual and celestial. And since everything must have a foundation in order to endure and subsist, therefore the sense of the letter of the Word, which is the ultimate [sense] and the basis, is natural and sensual, and is also meant, in a good sense, by the locust, consequently also its truth and good; for this reason John the Baptist ate locusts, and the sons of Israel were allowed to eat them. It is said of John the Baptist that he had raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins, and ate locusts and wild honey (Matt. iii. 4; Mark i. 6). John the Baptist was thus clothed because, like Elias, he represented the Word; and by raiment of camel's hair, by a leathern girdle, and by eating locusts and wild honey, he represented its ultimate sense, which, as was said is natural-sensual, because it is for the natural-sensual man. Raiment signifies truth which clothes good; camel's hair signifies the ultimate of the natural man, which is sensual; locusts and wild honey also signify the ultimate in regard to appropriation, or the Sensual; the locust signifies the Sensual as to truth; wild honey, the Sensual as to good; and eating, the appropriation thereof.

It is to be observed, that in ancient times, when churches were representative churches, all who were in ministries were clothed according to their representations, and also ate in agreement with the same.

(References: Mark 1:6; Matthew 3:4)

[15] That the children of Israel were allowed to eat the locust, is evident from these words in Moses:

"Every winged creeping thing that goes upon four feet, shall be an abomination. But what goeth upon four, which hath legs above its feet, to leap withal upon the earth, ye may eat," among which the locust also is named (Lev. xi. 20, 21, 22).

They were allowed to eat locusts because locusts have legs above their feet to leap with, for legs signify natural good conjoined to spiritual good, and feet, natural truth from that good; and all truth which is from good ought to be appropriated and conjoined to man, but not the truth which is not from good, for this truth is conjoined with some evil; wherefore it is said that the winged creeping thing going upon four which hath no legs above its feet was an abomination. It is said also to leap upon the earth, because leaping, when stated of birds, signifies to live, equally as walking when used in reference to the animals of the earth; and spiritual life is from truths from good, which are signified by leaping with the feet above which are legs; but spiritual death is from truths conjoined to evil, which is signified by going upon four feet above which are no legs, wherefore to eat such things, is said to be an abomination.

(References: Leviticus 11:20-22)

[16] Because a horse signifies the Intellectual, and a locust the Sensual which is the ultimate of the Intellectual, and the intellect lives whilst it is in its ultimate, therefore the ancients spoke of horses leaping and jumping like the locust.

Thus in Job:

"Dost thou give the horse strength? dost thou clothe his neck with shaking? Dost thou make him to leap as the locust? the glory of his nostril is terror" (xxxix. 19, 20).

The quality of the understanding is here described by a horse, as being robust, moving and curving its neck, and walking by leaps; and because the ultimate of the understanding is the Sensual, which is signified by the locust, and the life of the understanding in this ultimate is signified by jumping and walking by leaps, therefore it is said that the horse leaps like the locust. The most ancient books, amongst which is the book of Job, were written by pure correspondences; for the knowledge (scientia) of correspondences was then the knowledge of knowledges (scientia scientiarum), and those who could write books abounding in the more significant correspondences, were esteemed above others. The book of Job is of this kind. But the spiritual sense from the correspondences brought together therein does not treat of the holy things of heaven and the church, like the spiritual sense in the prophets, therefore that book is not amongst the books of the Word; nevertheless passages are quoted from it on account of the correspondences in which it abounds.

(References: Exodus 10:4; Job 39:19-20)

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