How Heretical Opinions are derived from the Letter of the Word

How Heretical Opinions are derived from the Letter of the Word

Many things in the Word are appearances of truth, and not naked truths; and many things are written according to the apprehensions of the natural, yea the sensual man, and yet so that the simple can understand them simply, the intelligent intelligently, and the wise wisely. Now such being the Word, appearances of truth, which are truths clothed, may be taken for naked truths; which when they are confirmed become falsities. But this is done by those who believe themselves to be wise above others, when in fact they are not wise; for it is wise to see whether a thing be true before it is confirmed, and not to confirm whatever one pleases. This they do who have a strong inclination for confirming and are in the pride of their own in­telligence; but they do the former who love truths and are affected by them because they are truths, and who apply them to the uses of life. For these are enlightened of the Lord, and see truths by their own light; but the others are enlightened from themselves, and see falsities by the light of falsities.

That appearances of truth, which are truths clothed can be taken for naked truths from the Word, and that when confirmed they become falsities, is evident from the many heresies there have been, and are still in Christendom. Heresies themselves do not condemn men, but an evil life with confirmations of the falsities which are in heresy, from the Word and by reasonings from the natural man, condemn. For every one is born into the religion (his parents, from infancy is initiated into it, and after­wards retains it; nor is he able of his own power, on account of his occupations in the world, to extricate himself from its falsities. But to live wickedly, and to confirm falsities to the de­struction of genuine truths, this condemns. For he who remains in his religion and believes in God,—and if within the pale of Christianity believes in the Lord, esteems the Word holy, and from a religious motive lives according to the commandments of the Decalogue, does not bind himself in falsities; and ,there­fore when he hears truths and in his own way perceives them, he can embrace them, and so be withdrawn from falsities. But not so he who has confirmed the falsities of his religion; because falsity confirmed remains, and cannot be extirpated. For falsity after confirmation is as if a man were sworn in it,—especially if it coheres with the love of what is his own, and hence with the pride of his own wisdom. (SS n. 91, 92)

No one can know the Divine truths in the literal sense of the Word except by means of doctrine therefrom. If a man has not doctrine for a lamp he is carried away into errors, whithersoever the obscurity of his understanding and the delight of his will leads and draws him. The doctrine which should be for a lamp is what the internal sense teaches; [That is, in those parts of the Word where the internal sense is uncovered, and to the enlightened mind appears in the letter, or where the literal sense coincides with and teaches the doctrine of the internal sense. This teaching is quite consistent with that given elsewhere that “all doctrine ought to be drawn from the letter of the Word, and confirmed by it.” [See also note p. 407] thus it is the internal sense itself, which in some measure lies open to every one who is in the external from the internal, that is, with whom the internal man is open,—although he does not know what the internal sense is; for heaven, which is in the internal sense of the Word, flows into that man when he reads the Word, enlightens him, and gives him perception, and so teaches him. (AC n. 10,400)

That doctrinals are derived from the Word does not make them Divine truths; for any doctrinal whatever may be taken out of the literal sense of the Word. Even such a thing may be seized upon as favours concupiscences, and thus falsity be taken for truth; as in the case of the doctrinals of the Jews, of the Socinians, and of many others. But not so if the doctrinal be formed from the internal sense. The internal sense is not only that sense which lies hidden within the external sense; but also which results from many passages of the literal sense rightly compared with each other; and is apperceived by those who as to their intellectual [faculty] are enlightened by the Lord. For the enlightened intellectual [faculty] discerns between apparent truths and real truths, especially between falsities and truths, although it does not judge of real truths in themselves. But the intellectual [faculty] cannot be enlightened unless it is believed that love to the Lord and charity towards the neighbour are the principal and essential [doctrines] of the church. He who proceeds from these [doctrines] acknowledged, if only he be in them, sees unfolded to him innumerable truths, yea, very many mysteries; and this from interior acknowledgment according to the degree of enlightenment from the Lord. (ibid. n. 7233)

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