10. The internal sense of the Word is primarily for the angels, but it is also for men
So that it may be known what the internal sense is, its nature and its origin, this will be stated in summary form. They think and speak differently in heaven from people on earthin heaven spiritually and on earth naturally. Therefore when people read the word the angels who are with them perceive it spiritually, and the people naturally. So, angels are in the spiritual sense, people in the external sense; and yet they still make one unit because there is a correspondence between them. Angels not only think spiritually, they also speak spiritually; also, their presence with people, and their conjunction with people is achieved through the Word. This is seen in the work Heaven and Hell, where the wisdom of the angels of heaven is considered: 265-275; their speech: 234-245; their connection with people: 291-302; their connection through the Word: 303-310.
The Word is understood differently by the angels in heaven and by people on earth; and an internal or spiritual sense exists for the angels, while for men there is an external or natural sense: 1887, 2395. The angels perceive the Word in its internal sense, not its external, from the experience of those from heaven who talked with me when I read the Word: 1769-1772. Angelic ideas 1
and angelic speech are spiritual, while human ideas and speech are natural, and likewise the internal sense, which is spiritual, is for angels, as shown to me by my own experience: 2333. Nevertheless the literal sense of the Word 2
serves as a means of communicating the spiritual ideas of angels, in the same way that words of speech serve for the sense of a thing with people: 2143. Those things which belong to the internal sense of the Word fall into such things as are in the light of heaven, and so into the perception of angels: 2618-2619, 2629, 3086. Likewise those things which the angels perceive from the Word are very precious to them: 2540-2541, 2545, 2551. Angels understand not even one expression of the literal sense of the Word: 64-65, 1434, 1929. Nor do they know the names of persons and places mentioned in the Word: 1434, 1888, 4442, 4480. Names cannot enter heaven or be pronounced there: 1876, 1888. All names in the Word signify spiritual realities, and in heaven they are converted into the ideas of spiritual reality: 768, 1888, 4310, 4442, 5225, 5287, 10329. Also, angels abstract spiritual realities from people and their names: 4380, 8343, 8985, 9007. How elegant the internal sense of the Word is, even where no names occur, is seen in examples from the Word: 1224, 1888, 2395. Also, several names in succession express one thing in the internal sense: 5095. Also, all numbers in the Word signify things: 482, 487, 647-648, 755, 813, 1963, 1988, 2075, 2252, 3252, 4264, 6175, 9488, 9659, 10217, 10253. Spirits too perceive the Word in its internal sense, in so far as their internal parts are opened to heaven: 1771. The literal sense of the Word, which is natural, may be transmuted in a moment of time into spiritual form among the angels, because correspondence exists: 5648. And this is without their hearing or knowing what is in the literal or external sense: 10215. Thus, the literal or external sense exists only with man and progresses no further: 2015.
There is an internal sense of the Word, and also an innermost or supreme sense, about which see 9407, 10604, 10614, 10627. The spiritual angels, that is those who are in the Lord's spiritual kingdom, perceive the Word in its internal sense, and the celestial angels, who are in the Lord's celestial kingdom, perceive the Word in its innermost sense: 2157, 2275.
The Word is for people and also for angels, being appropriate for both: 7381, 8862, 10322. It is the Word which unifies heaven and earth: 2310, 2495, 9212, 9216, 9357. The linking of heaven with people exists through the Word: 9396, 9400-9401, 10452. The Word is called a covenant [contract]: 9396-since a covenant signifies a linking together: 665-666, 1023, 1038, 1864, 1996, 2003, 2021, 6804, 8767, 8778, 9396, 10632. There is an internal sense of the Word because the Word came down 3
from the Lord through the three heavens right as far as humans: 2310, 6597. It has become appropriate for the angels of the three heavens and also for humans: 7381, 8862. It is from this that the Word is divine: 4989, 9280, and holy: 10276, and spiritual: 4480, and inspired by the Divine: 9094. That is inspiration: 9094.
Furthermore, people who have been regenerated are actually in the internal sense of the Word even though they do not know this, since their internal being is opened, which has spiritual perception: 10400. But in their case the spiritual essence of the Word flows into natural ideas and is thus established in a natural sense, since while they live in the world they think as natural beings, as far as perception is concerned: 5614. The light of truth among those who are enlightened comes from their internal being, and thus through their internal being from the Lord: 10691, 10694. Also along that course flows what is holy, among those who hold the Word holy: 6789. Since regenerated people are actually in the internal sense of the Word, and in its holiness, although they do not know that, after death they arrive at that of themselves, and are no longer in the literal sense: 3226, 3342-3343. The ideas of an internal person are spiritual, but while people live in the world they are not aware of them since people are in their natural mode of thought, to which they impart their reasoning faculty: 10236, 10240, 10551. But after death people come into them as their own because they belong properly to their spirit, and at that time they not only think but also talk as from them: 2470, 2472, 2476, 10568, 10604. It is for this reason that it is said that regenerated people do not know that they are in the spiritual sense of the Word, and that from this enlightenment comes to them.
1. The Latin of our text has ideae cogitationis at this point: 'ideas of thought.' Throughout his works Swedenborg often distinguishes between types of ideas but it is self evident in this instance that the ideas referred to are those 'of thought' in opposition to speech and hence cogitationis has been dropped.
2. I am grateful to the Revd John Elliott for the suggestion of translating litera as 'in its literal meaning.' I was in a fog as to Swedenborg's intention in using litera, which classically may mean either 'a letter' or 'writing.'
3. The Latin has descenderat, pluperfect tense, literally 'had descended; 'but the use of the pluperfect for a strong perfect is not uncommon in Swedenborg' (the Rev'd John Elliott), as is indeed the case sometimes in pre-classical and in poetical Latin. It has been translated as if perfect, therefore.
Arcana Coelestia 2396, 2980, 3152, 5905, 6397, 6613, 10401, 10500)