Arcana Coelestia (Elliott) n. 5398

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This chapter and the ones that follow it concerning Jacob's sons and Joseph deal in the internal sense with the regeneration of the natural so far as the truths and goods of the Church are concerned - such regeneration being effected not by means of factual knowledge but by an influx from the Divine. Those who belong to the Church at the present day know so little about regeneration as to know virtually nothing at all about it. They do not even know that regeneration is a process that takes place throughout the whole course of the life of someone who is being regenerated and continues in the next life. Nor do they know that the arcana of regeneration are so countless that hardly the smallest fraction can be known even by angels, or that those which angels do know are what constitute the intelligence and wisdom they possess. Those belonging to the Church at the present day know so little about regeneration because they talk so much about the forgiveness of sins and justification, believing that sins can be forgiven instantaneously. Some believe that sins are washed away like dirt from the body by the use of water, and that a person is justified or made righteous by means of faith alone, that is, by means of trust of only a moment's duration. The reason people within the Church believe the way they do is that they do not know what sin or evil is. If they did possess such knowledge they would know that no one's sins can by any means at all be washed away, but that these are separated or cast away to the sides to prevent them from rising up, when the Lord maintains the presence of good within that person. They would also know that this cannot be accomplished unless evil is being cast out all the time, which is done by means that are numerically without limit and for the most part beyond description.

[2] In the next life people who have brought with them the notion that a person is made righteous by faith in an instant and completely cleansed from sins are dumbfounded when they learn that regeneration is effected by means that are numerically without limit and beyond description. They laugh at their own ignorance, which they also call madness, that is, at the ideas they held to in the world regarding instantaneous forgiveness of sins and justification. Sometimes they are told that the Lord forgives the sins of everyone who in his heart desires forgiveness; but this does not mean that they are separated from the devil's crew, to whom they are bound through the evils which go along with the life which they bring with them in its entirety. After this they learn from experience that being separated from the hells is being separated from one's sins, and that this cannot possibly be accomplished except by thousands of ways known to the Lord alone, a process which, if you can believe it, continues for ever one stage after another. For the human being is so full of evil that he cannot ever be released from even one sin. But solely by the Lord's mercy, if he will accept that mercy, he is withheld from sin and maintained in good.

[3] The way therefore in which a person receives new life and is regenerated is contained in the sanctuary of the Word, that is, in its internal sense. The primary reason why the internal sense contains that information is that when the Word is being read by man, it causes the angels to be aware of the bliss that wisdom brings them and at the same time to take delight in serving as means. The subject in the highest sense of this chapter and those that follow it, where the narrative concerns Joseph's brothers, is the glorification of the Lord's natural, and in the representative sense the regeneration by the Lord of man's natural, in this chapter so far as the truths of the Church are concerned.

This page is part of the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg

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