From Swedenborg's Works

 

Arcana Coelestia #2568

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2568. It was stated above in this chapter that doctrine would be brought to ruin if the rational were consulted, 2516, 2538, and that it was not consulted, 2519, 2531; but here it is said that the doctrine of faith was enriched with both rational and natural goods and truths. At first glance these statements seem to express two conflicting and contrary ideas, but they do not in fact do so. It has been told how it was with the Lord, now it must be told how it is with man.

[2] With man it is one thing for him to regard the doctrine of faith from rational ideas but quite another to regard rational ideas from the doctrine of faith. Regarding the doctrine of faith from rational ideas occurs when someone does not believe in the Word, that is, in doctrine drawn from it, until he is persuaded on rational grounds that the thing is so. But regarding rational ideas from the doctrine of faith occurs when someone first of all believes in the Word or doctrine drawn from it and then confirms the same by rational ideas. The first approach is an inversion of order and leads to belief in nothing, whereas the second is genuine order and leads to greater belief. It is the first that is expressed by 'you will die on account of the woman', meaning that the doctrine of faith would be brought to ruin if the rational were consulted, 2516, 2538, but the second by 'Abimelech gave flocks and herds, and men servants and women servants', meaning that the doctrine of faith was enriched with rational and natural goods and truths.

[3] These matters receive considerable treatment in the Word in its internal sense, especially when Asshur and Egypt are referred to, the reason being that when the doctrine of faith is regarded from rational ideas, that is, when someone does not believe until he is persuaded on rational grounds that the thing is so, it is not only in that case brought to ruin but also whatever is contained within it is denied. But when rational ideas are regarded from the doctrine of faith, that is, when he believes the Word and after that confirms the same things by means of rational ideas, doctrine is in that case living and whatever is contained within it is regarded affirmatively.

[4] There are therefore two basic attitudes of mind, the first leading to utter stupidity and insanity, the second to perfect intelligence and wisdom. The first occurs when someone denies everything, that is, says in his heart that he is unable to believe those things until he is convinced by things which he can grasp in his mind and perceive with his senses. This is an attitude which leads to utter stupidity and insanity and must be termed the negative attitude. The second occurs when someone regards affirmatively the things which comprise doctrine drawn from the Word, that is, when he thinks within himself and believes that those things are true because the Lord has spoken them. This is an attitude that leads to perfect intelligence and wisdom, and must be termed the affirmative attitude.

[5] The more those who think from the negative attitude consult rational ideas and the more they consult factual knowledge and the more they consult philosophical concepts, the more they pitch themselves headlong into darkness, till at length they deny everything. The reasons for this are that nobody is able from things that are lower to grasp with his mind those that are higher, that is, from those that are lower to grasp those that are spiritual and celestial, still less those that are Divine, since these go above and beyond his entire understanding. And what is more, when this is the case everything is regarded from a basically negative attitude of mind. On the other hand, however, people who think from the affirmative attitude are able to confirm themselves by whatever rational ideas, and by whatever factual knowledge, indeed by any philosophical concepts, which they are able in any way to make use of, for to them all these matters are confirmatory and enable them to have a fuller idea of the matter.

[6] In addition there are those who are in doubt before they deny, and there are those who are in doubt before they accept affirmatively. Those in doubt before denying are people who are disposed towards a life of evil; and when carried away by that life, then insofar as they think about those matters they deny them. Those however in doubt before accepting affirmatively are people who are disposed towards a life of good; and when they allow themselves to be turned to that life by the Lord, then insofar as they think about those matters they accept them affirmatively. Since this subject is taken further in the verses that follow this, let them in the Lord's Divine mercy be illustrated more fully at that point; see 2588.

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

The Bible

 

Genesis 20

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1 And Abraham journeyed from thence toward the south country, and dwelled between Kadesh and Shur, and sojourned in Gerar.

2 And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister: and Abimelech king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah.

3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a man's wife.

4 But Abimelech had not come near her: and he said, Lord, wilt thou slay also a righteous nation?

5 Said he not unto me, She is my sister? and she, even she herself Said, He is my brother: in the integrity of my heart and innocency of my hands have I done this.

6 And God said unto him in a dream, Yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her.

7 Now therefore restore the man his wife; for he is a prophet, and he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live: and if thou restore her not, know thou that thou shalt surely die, thou, and all that are thine.

8 Therefore Abimelech rose early in the morning, and called all his servants, and told all these things in their ears: and the men were sore afraid.

9 Then Abimelech called Abraham, and said unto him, What hast thou done unto us? and what have I offended thee, that thou hast brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin? thou hast done deeds unto me that ought not to be done.

10 And Abimelech said unto Abraham, What sawest thou, that thou hast done this thing?

11 And Abraham said, Because I thought, Surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will slay me for my wife's sake.

12 And yet indeed she is my sister; she is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife.

13 And it came to pass, when God caused me to wander from my father's house, that I said unto her, This is thy kindness which thou shalt shew unto me; at every place whither we shall come, say of me, He is my brother.

14 And Abimelech took sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and womenservants, and gave them unto Abraham, and restored him Sarah his wife.

15 And Abimelech said, Behold, my land is before thee: dwell where it pleaseth thee.

16 And unto Sarah he said, Behold, I have given thy brother a thousand pieces of silver: behold, he is to thee a covering of the eyes, unto all that are with thee, and with all other: thus she was reproved.

17 So Abraham prayed unto God: and God healed Abimelech, and his wife, and his maidservants; and they bare children.

18 For the LORD had fast closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech, because of Sarah Abraham's wife.