Arcana Coelestia (Elliott) n. 8403

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8403. 'And all the assembly of the children of Israel grumbled' means grief and [therefore] complaint on account of the severity of the temptation. This is clear from the meaning of 'grumbling' as grief caused by the bitterness of the temptation, and complaint, dealt with in 8351, 'the assembly of the children of Israel' being those who belong to the spiritual Church, as above in 8398. The subject here is a third temptation, which arises because there is a lack of delight and good. This temptation follows the previous one in the series, which arose because there was a lack of truth.

[2] People uninformed about human regeneration suppose that a person can be regenerated without temptation, and some that he has been regenerated after he has undergone a single temptation. But let it be known that no one can be regenerated without temptation, and that he suffers very many temptations, following one after another. The reason for this is that regeneration takes place to the end that the life of the old man may die and a new, heavenly life may be instilled. From this one may recognize that conflict is altogether inevitable; for the life of the old man stands its ground and refuses to be snuffed out, and the life of the new man cannot enter except where the life of the old has been snuffed out. From this it is evident that fierce conflict takes place between mutually hostile sides, since each is fighting for its life.

[3] Anyone thinking with enlightened reason can see and perceive from all this that a person cannot be regenerated without conflict, that is, without spiritual temptation, and also that a person is not regenerated by undergoing a single temptation, only by undergoing very many of them. For there are numerous kinds of evil that have formed the delight of the former life, that is, have constituted the old life. All those evils cannot be subdued on one occasion and all together. They cling stubbornly to the person, for they become deeply rooted in his forebears going back many centuries and are for that reason innate in him. They have also been made stronger since early childhood by the evils of his own doing. All these evils are diametrically opposed to the heavenly good that is to be instilled and that must constitute the new life.

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