Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 15:3
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AC 1797. Verse 3. And Abram said, Lo to me Thou hast not given seed, and behold a son of my house is mine heir. "Abram said, Lo to me Thou hast not given seed," signifies that there was no internal of the church, which is love and faith; "behold a son of my house is mine heir," signifies that there would be in the Lord‘s kingdom only what is external.

AC 1798. Abram said, Lo to me Thou hast not given seed. That this signifies that there was no internal of the church, is evident from the signification of "seed," which is love and faith, spoken of above (n. 255, 256, 1025), and from the signification of an heir, as explained in what follows. That love and the faith derived from it are the internal of the church, has already been several times said and shown. No other faith is meant as being the internal of the church than that which is of love or charity, that is, which is from love or charity.

[2] Faith, in a general sense, is all the doctrinal teaching of the church. But doctrine (doctrinale) separated from love or charity, by no means makes the internal of the church, for doctrine is only knowledge which is of the memory, and this exists also with the worst men, and even with infernals. But the doctrine that is from charity, or that is of charity, does make the internal of the church, for this is of the life. The life itself is the internal of all worship; and so is all doctrine that flows from the life of charity and it is this doctrine that is of faith which is here meant. That it is this faith which is the internal of the church, may be seen from this consideration alone, that he who has the life of charity is acquainted with all things of faith. If you will, just examine all doctrinal things, and see what and of what quality they are; do they not all pertain to charity, and consequently to the faith that is from charity?

[3] Take only the Precepts of the Decalogue. The first of these is to worship the Lord God. He who has the life of love or of charity worships the Lord God, because this is his life. Another precept is to keep the Sabbath. He who is in the life of love, or in charity, keeps the Sabbath holy, for nothing is more sweet to him than to worship the Lord, and to glorify Him every day. The precept, "Thou shalt not kill," is altogether of charity. He who loves his neighbor as himself, shudders at doing anything that injures him, still more at killing him. So too the precept, "Thou shalt not steal;" for he who has the life of charity would rather give of his own to his neighbor, than take anything away from him. And so with the precept, "Thou shalt not commit adultery;" he who is in the life of charity the rather guards his neighbor’s wife, lest any one should offer her such injury, and regards adultery as a crime against conscience, and such as destroys conjugial love and its duties. To covet the things that are the neighbor‘s is also contrary to those who are in the life of charity; for it is of charity to desire good to others from one’s self and one‘s own; such therefore by no means covet the things which are another’s.

[4] These are the precepts of the Decalogue which are more external doctrinal things of faith; and these are not only known in the memory by him who is in charity and its life, but are in his heart; and he has them inscribed upon himself, because they are in his charity, and thus in his very life; besides other things of a dogmatic nature which he in like manner knows from charity alone; for he lives according to a conscience of what is right. The right and the truth which he cannot thus understand and explore, he believes simply or from simplicity of heart to be so because the Lord has said so; and he who so believes does not do wrong, even though what he thus accepts is not true in itself, but apparent truth.

[5] As for example, if any one believes that the Lord is angry, punishes, tempts, and the like. Or if he holds that the bread and wine in the Holy Supper are significative, or that the flesh and blood are present in some way in which they explain it- it is of no consequence whether they say the one thing or the other, although there are few who think about this matter, or even if they do think about it, provided this is done from a simple heart, because they have been so instructed, and nevertheless live in charity: these, when they hear that the bread and wine in the internal sense signify the Lord‘s love toward the whole human race, and the things which are of this love, and man’s reciprocal love to the Lord and the neighbor, they forthwith believe, and rejoice that it is so. Not so they who are in doctrinal things and not in charity; these contend about everything, and condemn all whoever they may be that do not say (they call it believe) as they do. From all this every one can see that love to the Lord and charity toward the neighbor are the internal of the church.

AC 1799. Behold a son of my house is mine heir. That this signifies that there would be only what is external in the Lord‘s kingdom, is evident from the signification in the internal sense of an "heir" and of "inheriting." To become an heir, or to inherit, signifies eternal life in the Lord’s kingdom. All who are in the Lord‘s kingdom are heirs; for they live from the Lord’s life, which is the life of mutual love; and from this they are called sons. The Lord‘s sons or heirs are all who are in His life, because their life is from Him, and they are born of Him, that is, are regenerate. They who are born of any one are heirs; and so are all who are being regenerated by the Lord, for in this case they receive His life.

[2] In the Lord’s kingdom there are those who are external, those who are interior, and those who are internal. Good spirits, who are in the first heaven, are external; angelic spirits, who are in the second heaven, are interior; and angels, who are in the third, are internal. They who are external are not so closely related or so near to the Lord, as they who are interior; nor are these so closely related or so near to the Lord, as they who are internal. The Lord, from the Divine love or mercy, wills to have all near to Himself; so that they do not stand at the doors, that is, in the first heaven; but He wills that they should be in the third; and, if it were possible, not only with Himself, but in Himself. Such is the Divine love, or the Lord‘s love; and as the church was then only in externals, He in these words complained, saying, "Behold, a son of my house is mine heir," by which is signified that there would thus be only what is external in His kingdom. But consolation follows, and a promise concerning what is internal, in the verses that follow.

[3] What the external of the church is, has been stated before (n. 1083, 1098, 1100, 1151, 1153). What pertains to doctrine does not itself make the external, still less the internal, as before said; nor with the Lord does it distinguish churches from each other, but that which does this is a life according to doctrinals, all of which, provided they are true, look to charity as their fundamental. What is doctrine but that which teaches how a man must live?

[4] In the Christian world it is doctrinal matters that distinguish churches and from them men call themselves Roman Catholics, Lutherans, and Calvinists, or the Reformed and the Evangelical, and by other names. It is from what is doctrinal alone that they are so called; which would never be if they would make love to the Lord and charity toward the neighbor the principal of faith. Doctrinal matters would then be only varieties of opinion concerning the mysteries of faith, which truly Christian men would leave to every one to hold in accordance with his conscience, and would say in their hearts that a man is truly a Christian when he lives as a Christian, that is, as the Lord teaches. Thus from all the differing churches there would be made one church; and all the dissensions that come forth from doctrine alone would vanish; yea, all hatreds of one against another would be dissipated in a moment, and the Lord’s kingdom would come upon the earth.

[5] The Ancient Church just after the flood, although spread through many kingdoms, was yet of this character, that is, men differed much among themselves as to doctrinal matters, but still made charity the principal; and they looked upon worship, not from doctrinal matters which pertain to faith, but from charity which pertains to life. This is meant where it is said (Gen. 11:1), that they all had one lip, and their words were one (n. 1285).

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Author:  E. Swedenborg (1688-1772). Design:  I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002. www.BibleMeanings.info