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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.

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Arcana Coelestia #2516

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2516. 'Behold, you will die because of the woman' means that the doctrine of faith would be ruined if the rational were consulted as regards the contents of that doctrine. This is clear from the meaning of Abimelech, to whom 'you' refers here, as the doctrine of faith; from the meaning of 'dying' as being brought to ruin; and from the meaning of 'a sister', called 'the woman' here, as the rational, dealt with in 2508. Consequently the statement that Abimelech would die because of the woman means that the doctrine of faith would be brought to ruin if the rational were consulted.

[2] The reason no doctrine of faith from the rational exists is that the rational is immersed in the appearances of good and truth, and such appearances are not truths in themselves, as shown already in 2053, 2196, 2203, 2209. What is more, the rational bases itself on illusions, which are the product of external sensory impressions confirmed by facts which introduce haziness into those appearances of truth. The rational for the most part is merely human, as also becomes clear from its birth. This then is why nothing of the doctrine of faith can even be started, let alone be built up from it. Such doctrine must stem from the Lord's Divine itself and His Divine Human. This is the origin of it, so much so indeed that the Lord is doctrine itself. It is for this reason also that in the Word He is called the Word, the truth, the light, the way, and the door. Furthermore - and this is an arcanum - all doctrine is derived from Divine Good and Divine Truth and possesses the heavenly marriage within it. Doctrine which does not possess this within it is not the genuine doctrine of faith. Consequently every detail of the Word, the source of doctrine, holds the image of a marriage within it, see 683, 793, 801.

[3] It does indeed seem in the literal or external sense of the Word as though the doctrine of faith possessed much from the rational and indeed from the natural. But the reason for this is that the Word exists for the sake of man, for whom it has been adapted in this way. Nevertheless in itself the Word is spiritual from a celestial origin, that is, it is derived from Divine Truth joined to Divine Good. The fact that doctrine would be brought to ruin if the rational were consulted as regards the contents of that doctrine will be illustrated by examples in what follows.

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