Appearances of Truth in the Letter of the Word

Appearances of Truth in the Letter of the Word

Truths Divine themselves are such that they can never be comprehended by any angel, still less by any man; they exceed every faculty of their understanding. Yet that there may be a conjunction of the Lord with men, truths Divine flow in with them into appearances; when they are in appearances they can both be received and acknowledged. This is effected adequately to the comprehension of every one; therefore appearances, that is truths angelic and human, are of a threefold degree. (AC n. 3362)

If man were not instructed by appearances he would never suffer himself to be instructed at all; what is contrary to the appearance he does not believe nor comprehend, unless late in life when his judgment is ripened and he is gifted with the faith of charity. (ibid. n. 1838)

Many things in the Word, and more than any one could be­lieve, are spoken according to appearances, and according to the fallacies of the senses; as where it is said that Jehovah is in wrath, anger, and, fury, against the wicked that He rejoices to destroy them and blot them out; yea, that He slays them. But these things were said that persuasions and evil lusts might not be broken, but bent for to speak otherwise than as man conceives,—that is according to appearances, fallacies, and per­suasions,—would have been to sow seed in the water, and to say that which would instantly be rejected. But yet these forms of speech may serve as common vessels within which there are things spiritual and celestial; for it can be insinuated into them that all things are from the Lord afterwards that the Lord permits, but that all evil is from diabolical spirits; then that the Lord provides and disposes that evils may be turned into good and finally that nothing but good is from the Lord. Thus the sense of the letter vanishes as it ascends, and the sense becomes spiritual, afterwards celestial, and at last Divine. (ibid. n. 1874)

Rational human truth does not comprehend things Divine, because these are above the sphere of its understanding. For this truth communicates with the knowledges that are in the natural man; and in so far as it looks from these at the things above itself it does not acknowledge them. For this truth is in appearances which it cannot put off; and appearances are those [forms] which are from things of sense, which induce a belief as if things Divine themselves were also such,—when yet these are removed from all appearances,—and when they are spoken of this rational truth cannot believe them, because it cannot com­prehend them. For example: when it is said that man has no life but what is from the Lord, the rational supposes from ap­pearances that then man cannot live as of himself; when yet he then first truly lives when he perceives that his life is from the Lord. The rational, from appearances, supposes the good that a man does is from himself; when yet there is nothing of good from himself but from the Lord. The rational, from appearances, believes that a man merits salvation when he does good; when yet of himself a man can merit nothing, but all merit is the Lord’s. From appearances man, supposes that when he is withheld from evil and kept in good by the Lord, there is nothing with him but what is good and just, yea, and holy; when yet in man there is nothing but what is evil, unjust, and profane. From appearances man thinks that when he does good from charity he does it from the voluntary part in him, when yet it is not from his voluntary but from his intellectual part, in which charity has been implanted. From appearances man conceives that there can be no glory without the glory of the world when yet in the glory of heaven there is nothing at all of the glory of the world. From appearances man believes that no one can love his neighbour more than himself, but that all love begins from himself; when yet in heavenly love there is nothing of the love of self. From appearances man thinks there can be no light but what is from the light of the world; when in the heavens there is nothing of the light of the world, and yet so great light that it exceeds a thousand times the midday light of the world. From appearances man thinks the Lord cannot shine as a sun before the universal heaven; when yet all the light of heaven is from Him. From appearances man cannot conceive that there are progressions in the other life; when yet they appear to themselves to progress just as men on earth,—as in their habitations, courts and paradises; still less can he com­prehend if it be said that these are changes of state, which so appear. From appearances man cannot conceive that spirits and angels—since they are invisible to the [bodily] eyes—can be seen, nor that they can speak with man; when yet they appear to the internal sight, or the sight of the spirit, more visibly than man to man on earth; and in like manner their speech is also more distinctly heard. Besides thousands of thousands of such things which man’s rational [faculty] from its own light (lumen), born of sensual things and thereby darkened, can never believe. Yea, even in natural things themselves the rationalis dim-sighted; for instance, in that it cannot comprehend how the inhabitants directly opposite to us can stand upon their feet and walk; and in very many other things. What then must it not be in things spiritual and celestial, which are far above the natural? (ibid.. n. 2196)

There are however degrees of the appearances of truth. Na­tural appearances of truth are for the most part fallacies, but when they are with those who are in good they ought not to be called fallacies, but appearances, and even in some respect truths; for the good that is in them, and in which the Divine is, effects that they have a different essence. But rational appearances of truth are more and more interior; the heavens are in these appearances,—that is, the angels who are in the heavens. (ibid. n. 3207)

There are also some things that appear like contradictions; and yet there is no contradiction in the Word viewed in its own light. (SS n. 51)

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