Arcana Coelestia (Elliott) n. 794

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794. 'And the waters grew stronger and stronger over the earth' means that persuasions of falsity increased in this way. This is clear from what has been stated and shown just above about waters, namely that 'the waters of the flood' or inundations means falsities. Here since falsities, or persuasions of falsity, increased still more it is said that 'the waters grew stronger and stronger', which in the original language is the superlative degree. Falsities are false assumptions and persuasions of falsity, which increased enormously among the people before the Flood, as is clear from what has been stated concerning them already. Persuasions increase enormously when people immerse truths in evil desires, that is, make those truths support self-love and love of the world. Indeed in those circumstances they pervert those truths, and in a thousand ways force them to agree. For what person is there who, having adopted a false assumption, or made one for himself, does not confirm it from the many facts he knows, even indeed from the Word? Is there any heresy which does not in like manner take hold of confirmatory ideas, and which does not force things that do not agree, and in different ways explain and distort them so that they disagree no longer?

[2] Take for example someone who adopts the assumption that faith alone saves without the good works of charity. Can he not weave an entire system of doctrine from the Word and yet not care in the slightest, not even pay attention to, or indeed notice what the Lord has said about a tree being known by its fruit, and about the tree that does not bear good fruit being cut down and thrown into the fire, Matt 7:16-20; 12:33? What could be more appealing than living after the flesh and at the same time being saved by merely knowing what is true and not having to perform any good action at all? Every evil desire which a person fosters constitutes the life of his will, and every false assumption or persuasion constitutes the life of his understanding. The life of his will and that of his understanding make one when truths, or doctrinal matters concerning faith, are immersed in evil desires. Everybody in this way forms a soul for himself so to speak, and of such a nature does his life become after death. Consequently nothing is of greater importance to man than knowing what the truth is. When he knows what the truth is, and knows it so well that it cannot be perverted, it cannot then be steeped in evil desires and have deadly effect. What more ought anyone to have at heart than his life which lasts for ever? If he destroys his soul during his lifetime, does he not destroy it for ever?

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