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Arcana Coelestia #2189

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2189. They said to him, Where is Sarah your wife? means rational truth, which did not at that time show itself because it existed within rational good. This is clear from the representation of 'Sarah' here as rational truth, dealt with above in 2173. The implications of these things - as also of those that follow where the state of the Lord's Rational is the subject, which state is represented by 'Sarah' - cannot so easily be explained intelligibly unless the general nature of the state of the rational as regards good and as regards truth is known; and also in the Lord's case as regards the Divine and as regards the Human in which He was at that time.

[2] The first and foremost element of the rational with man is truth, as stated already in 2072, and therefore it is the affection for truth, which exists with man to enable him to be reformed and so regenerated, such reformation being effected by means of cognitions and facts, which are matters of truth. These are being constantly implanted in good, that is, in charity, so that in this manner he may receive the life of charity. It is therefore the affection for truth with man that predominates in his rational. For the situation with the life of charity, which is the life of heaven itself, is that in people who are being reformed and regenerated it is constantly being born and developing and increasing, such growth being achieved by means of truths. Therefore the more truth that is implanted, the more is the life of charity perfected. Thus as is the nature and the amount of truth present with man, so is the charity present with him.

[3] These few observations may to some extent show what the position is with man's rational. Within truth however no life is present, only within good. Truth is merely the recipient of life, that is, of good. Truth is like the clothing or a garment worn by good. In the Word too therefore truths are called clothes, and also garments. But when good composes the rational, truth passes out of sight and becomes as though it was good; for good is now shining through the truth, in the same way as when angels are seen clothed they appear in brightness that looks like a garment, as also was the case when angels appeared before the prophets.

[4] These then are the implications of the explanation given, that rational truth did not at that time show itself because it existed within rational good, meant by 'they said to him, Where is Sarah your wife?' But because the Lord's Rational Good at that time was Divine, as it can never be with any angel, it cannot be described other than by the use of a comparison, thus by the use of an illustration presenting something similar but not the same.

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

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Arcana Coelestia #2072

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2072. 'And laughed' means the affection for truth. This becomes clear from the origin and essential nature of laughter. In origin it is nothing other than the affection for truth or the affection for falsity, which produces the mirth and pleasure exhibited in the face by means of laughter. This shows that the essential nature of laughter is nothing else. Actually laughter is something external belonging to the body since it belongs to the face; but in the Word interior things are expressed and are-meant by exterior. Just as all interior affections of both areas of mind (animus et mens) are expressed and meant by the face; interior hearing and obedience by the ear; internal sight, which is understanding, by the eye; power and strength by the hand and arm; and so on; so is the affection for truth expressed and meant by laughter.

[2] The principal element in man's rational is truth. Also present in the rational there is the affection for good, but this affection is present within the affection for truth, as the soul within it. The affection for good present within the rational does not express itself in laughter but in a type of joy and a resulting sense of delight which does not laugh. For laughter generally entails something that is not so good. The reason truth is the principal element in the rational man is that the rational is formed by means of cognitions of truth, for there is no other possible way in which anyone can become rational. Cognitions of good are truths just as much as cognitions of truth are truths.

[3] That 'laughter' here means the affection for truth becomes clear from the fact that this verse records Abraham's having laughed, as did Sarah both before Isaac was born and after, and also from the fact that he was given the name Isaac from 'laughter', for the word 'Isaac' means laughter. The fact that Abraham laughed when he heard about Isaac is clear from the present verse, for it is actually stated that when he heard about a son by Sarah he laughed. Sarah's laughing as well before the birth of Isaac when she heard from Jehovah that she was going to give birth is referred to as follows,

When Sarah heard at the tent door Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I have grown old, shall I have the pleasure, and my lord being an old man? And Jehovah said to Abraham, Why did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I in truth bear now I have grown old? Sarah denied it, saying, I did not laugh; for she was afraid. And He said, No, but you did laugh. Genesis 18:12-13, 15.

Also later on after Isaac's birth,

Abraham called the name of his son Isaac (laughter). Sarah said, God has made laughter for me; everyone hearing of it will laugh at me. Genesis 21:3, 6.

Unless 'laughing' and the name Isaac, which means laughter, embodied such things these occurrences would never have been mentioned.

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