Spiritual background for GENESIS 18    previous  -  next  -  text  -  Genesis  -  BM Home  -  Full Page

AC 2135b. From this chapter we may see, in an especial manner, what is the nature of the internal sense of the Word, and how the angels perceive it when it is being read by man. From the historical sense of the letter we can understand nothing else than that Jehovah appeared to Abraham under the form of three men; and that Sarah, Abraham, and his lad prepared food for them, namely, cakes made of the meal of fine flour, a "son of an ox," and also butter and milk; which things, though they are true historicals describing what really took place, are still not so perceived by the angels; but the things which they represent and signify are what are perceived, altogether abstractedly from the letter, in accordance with the explication given in the CONTENTS. Thus, instead of the things historically related in this chapter, the angels perceive the state of the Lord’s perception in the Human, and the communication with the Divine at that time, before the perfect union of His Divine Essence with the Human Essence, and of the Human Essence with the Divine Essence, which state is also that concerning which the Lord thus speaks:--

No one hath seen God at any time; the Only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath set Him forth (John 1:18).

[2] And by the various kinds of food here mentioned, the angels perceive nothing but celestial and spiritual goods, concerning which see the explication. Moreover by what is afterwards said concerning the son that Sarah should bear at the set time of another year, they perceive nothing else than that the Lord‘s human rational should be made Divine. Lastly, by the things which Abraham spake with Jehovah concerning the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, the angels perceive nothing else than the Lord’s intercession for the human race; and by five, forty-five, forty, thirty, twenty, and ten, they perceive His intercession for those with whom truths should be adjoined to goods, and who should have goods by means of temptations and combats, or by means of other states. So it is with all other things in the Word, as may be more clearly seen from the explication word by word, where it is shown that in each word similar things are involved in the Word, both Historic and Prophetic.

[3] That there is such an internal sense everywhere in the Word, which treats solely of the Lord, of His kingdom in the heavens, of His church on earth and in particular with every man, thus treating of the goods of love and truths of faith, may also be seen by every one from the passages cited by the Evangelists from the Old Testament. As in Matthew:--

The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on My right hand, until I made thine enemies thy footstool (Matthew 22:44; Ps. 110:1).

That these words treat of the Lord, cannot be apparent in the literal sense of the passage cited, as found in David; but yet that no other than the Lord is meant, He Himself here teaches in Matthew.

[4] Again:--

Thou Bethlehem, the land of Judah, art in no wise least among the leaders of Judah; for out of thee shall come forth a Leader, who shall feed My people Israel (Matthew 2:6; Micah 5:2).

They who abide in the literal sense, as do the Jews, know indeed from this passage that the Lord should be born there; but as they are expecting a leader and a king who will bring them back into the land of Canaan, they therefore explain the words found here according to the letter; that is, by the "land of Judah" they understand the land of Canaan; by "Israel" they understand Israel, although they know not where Israel now is; and by a "Leader" they still understand their Messiah; when yet other things are meant by "Judah" and "Israel;" namely, by "Judah" those who are celestial, by "Israel," those who are spiritual, in heaven and on earth; and by the "Leader" the Lord.

[5] Again in the same:--

A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, a cry, and great wailing; Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be comforted, because they are not (Matthew 2:18; Jer. 31:15).

They who abide in the literal sense of these words cannot possibly gather from it what is the internal sense; and yet that there is an internal sense is evident in the Evangelist. Again:--

Out of Egypt have I called My Son (Matt. 2:15; Hos. 11:1).

In Hosea it is said:--

When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called My son out of Egypt. They called them, so they went from their faces, and I made Ephraim to go (Hosea 11:1-3).

They who know not that there is an internal sense, cannot know otherwise than that Jacob is here meant when he entered into Egypt, and his posterity when they went out from it, and that by Ephraim is meant the tribe of Ephraim, thus the same things that are in the historicals of the Word nevertheless it is evident from the Word of the Evangelist that they signify the Lord. But what the several particulars signify could not possibly be known unless it were disclosed by means of the internal sense.


AC 2289. I have been given to know with certainty that all little children in the wide world who die, are raised again by the Lord and are taken up into heaven, and there are brought up and instructed among angels who have the care of them, and that they also grow up in proportion to their advance in intelligence and wisdom. From this we can see how immense is the Lords heaven from little children alone; for they are all instructed in the truths of faith and in the goods of mutual love, and become angels.

AC 2290. They who know nothing about the state of the life after death may suppose that little children are in angelic intelligence and wisdom as soon as they come into the other life; but I have been instructed by much experience that such is not the case. Those who die not long after birth are of an infantile mind, almost as on earth, nor do they know anything more; for they possess only the faculty of knowing, and from this of understanding, and from this of being wise; which faculty is more perfect because they are not in the body, but are spirits. That they are so when they first come into heaven, has not merely been told, but has also been shown me for of the Lord‘s Divine mercy little children have on several occasions been sent to me in choirs, and I have also been allowed to read to them the Lord’s Prayer; and at the same time I have been given to perceive how the angels in whose company they were, insinuated into their tender and novitiate ideas the meaning of the things which are in this Prayer, and filled them, so far as the little ones were able to receive; and afterwards how the capacity was given the little ones of thinking such things as it were from themselves.

AC 2291. The nature of their tender understanding was also shown me when I was praying the Lord‘s Prayer; and they then inflowed into the ideas of my thought from their own understanding, which was so tender that they understood scarcely anything beyond the sense of the words. Yet their ideas in that tenderness were capable of being opened even to the Lord, that is, even from the Lord, for the Lord inflows into the ideas of little children in especial, from the inmosts; for nothing has as yet closed their ideas, as is the case with adults: no principles of falsity against the understanding of truth, and no life of evil against the reception of good, and thus not against becoming wise.

AC 2292. From all this we can see that little children do not come into the state of angels immediately after death; but that they are introduced successively, by means of the knowledges of good and truth, and this in accordance with all heavenly order; for the very least of all the things of their natural disposition are there most exquisitely perceived; and according to all the movements of their inclination both in general and in particular they are impelled to receive the truths of good and the goods of truth, and this under the Lord’s constant oversight.

AC 2293. Especially are they all the time initiated into knowing no other Father, and thereafter in acknowledging no other than the Lord alone, and that they have life from Him; for that they are lives, that is, truly human and angelic lives, is from the intelligence of truth and the wisdom of good, which they have solely from the Lord. Hence it is that they know no otherwise than that they have been born in heaven.

AC 2294. Many times when children have been with me in choirs, they being as yet quite infantile, they have been heard as a tender something devoid of order, so that they did not as get act as a one, as they do afterwards when they become older; and what surprised me, the spirits about me could not refrain from trying to lead them to think and to speak. Such a desire is innate in spirits. But I often noticed that the little children resisted, not being willing to think or speak in such a way. I have often observed this refusal and resistance attended with a kind of indignation, and when any ability to speak was granted them they merely said that it was not so. I have been instructed that such is the temptation of little children in the other life, to accustom and inaugurate them not only in the resisting of falsity and evil, but also in not allowing themselves to think, speak, and act from others, and thus in not suffering themselves to be led by any other than the Lord alone.

AC 2295. When little children are not in that state, but in a more interior sphere, namely, the angelic sphere, they cannot possibly be infested by spirits; even if they are in the midst of them. Moreover the little children who are in the other life are sometimes sent by the Lord to little children on earth (although the little child on earth is quite unaware of it), and those little ones of heaven are in the highest degree delighted with these little ones of earth.

AC 2296. The manner in which all things are insinuated into the little ones of the other life by means of delightful and pleasant things suited to their genius, has also been shown me; for I have been permitted to see the little children most beautifully clothed, having their bosoms and tender arms encircled with garlands of flowers that were resplendent with the most pleasing and heavenly colors. Once also I was permitted to see the little children with their maiden educatresses in a paradisal garden, that consisted not so much of trees, as of laurel espaliers and of bowers thus formed; beautifully laid out with paths that led toward the more interior parts; and I also saw the little children themselves, clothed as above described; and when they entered the garden the flower arch above the entrance shone most joyously. From this we can see the nature of their deliciousnesses, and also that by means of pleasant and delightful things they are introduced into the goods of innocence and charity, which are continually being insinuated by the Lord into those delightful and pleasant things.

AC 2297. Moreover, as the little children are perfected, they are encompassed with atmospheres in accordance with the state of their perfection. That in the other life there are atmospheres of endless variety and ineffable beauty, may be seen from experience (n. 1621). Especially are there presented to their atmospheres as of sporting little children in least forms, not visible, but perceptible only by an inmost idea; from which they receive this heavenly idea: that everything around them is alive, and that they are in the Lord‘s life, and this idea affects their deepest being with happiness.

AC 2298. It has been shown me by a method of communication that is familiar in the other life of what nature are the ideas of little children when they see any objects. They were as if everything was alive, so that they had life in every idea of their thought. I also perceived that little children on earth have very similar ideas when they are at play; for as yet they have not reflection, such as adults have, as regards that which is devoid of life.

AC 2299. Especially are the little children instructed by means of representatives adapted to their various genius; and how beautiful these are, and at the same time how full of wisdom from within, no one can possibly believe. In this way there is by degrees insinuated into them an intelligence that draws its soul from good. I may here mention one representative only that I was permitted to see, from which the nature of the rest may be inferred. They represented the Lord rising out of the sepulchre, and at the same time the unition of His Human with the Divine; which was done in a manner so wise as to surpass all human wisdom, and at the same time in an innocent infantile manner. They presented also the idea of a sepulchre, but not at the same time the idea of the Lord, except so remotely that it was scarcely perceived that it was the Lord, except as it were from afar; for the reason that in the idea of a sepulchre there is something funereal, which they thus removed. They afterwards in the most discreet manner admitted into the sepulchre something of an atmospherical nature, yet appearing thinly aqueous, by which they signified, also with becoming remoteness, spiritual life in baptism. I afterwards saw represented by them the Lord’s descent to the bound, and His ascent with the bound into heaven; and this with incomparable sagacity and piety. A child-like feature of the representation was that when they represented the Lord among the bound in the lower earth, they let down cords that were almost invisible, and that were very soft and tender, with which to lift the Lord in His ascent; with a constant holy fear lest anything in the representative should touch upon something in which there was not what is spiritual celestial. Besides other representatives wherein the little ones are, and by which, as well as by sports of infancy adapted to their various dispositions, they are brought into knowledges of truth and affections of good.

AC 2300. Moreover little children are of diverse genius and of diverse natural disposition, and this from what they inherit from their parents, and by succession from grandparents and great-grandparents; for the actual life with parents, confirmed by habit, becomes a second nature, and is implanted hereditarily in the infants, and this is the source of their diverse tendencies.

AC 2301. Speaking generally, little children are of a genius either celestial or spiritual. Those of a celestial genius are well distinguished from those of a spiritual genius. The former think, speak, and act more softly, so that hardly anything appears except a fluent something from the love of good to the Lord and toward other little children; but the latter do not think, speak, and act so softly, but something as it were winged and vibratile shows itself in all their doings; and is also evident from their indignation; besides other characteristic differences. Thus every little child has a natural disposition different from that of every other, and each is educated according to his natural disposition.

AC 2302. There are certain and numerous societies of angels who have the care of little children; and which are chiefly from the female sex, who had loved them very tenderly in the life of the body. The little children who are more virtuous than others, by an established custom they offer to the Lord.

AC 2303. Angelic spirits who were above in front spoke with me in angelic speech not distinguished into words, saying that their state was a state of the tranquillity of peace, and that there were also little children among them, and that they were conscious of blessedness from being in association with them; these spirits also were of the female sex. They said further concerning infants on earth, that directly after birth angels from the heaven of innocence are with them; in the succeeding age angels from the heaven of the tranquillity of peace; and afterwards those who are from the societies of charity; and then, as the innocence and charity with the young children decrease, other angels are with them; and at length, when they become older and enter into a life foreign to charity, angels are indeed present, but more remotely, and this in accordance with the ends of life, which the angels especially regulate by continually insinuating good ones, and turning aside evil ones; and they flow in more nearly or more remotely, in proportion as they can or cannot do this.

AC 2304. Many may suppose that in the other life the little children remain such, and are as little children among the angels. They who do not know what an angel is, may have been confirmed in this opinion by the images that are common in churches and elsewhere, where angels are represented as little children. Very different however is the actual truth. It is intelligence and wisdom that make an angel, and so long as the little children have not these they are indeed with the angels, but are not angels. But when they have become intelligent and wise, then for the first time do they become angels; and it is a wonderful fact that they then do not appear as little children, but as adults; for they are then no longer of an infantile genius, but of a more adult angelic one. Intelligence and wisdom are attended with this result, for it is understanding and judgment, and a life according thereto, that cause every one to appear to himself and to others as an adult; as every one can see.

[2] I have not only been informed by the angels that such is the case, but I have also spoken with a certain one who had died when an infant, and yet then appeared as an adult. The same also spoke with his brother who had died in adult age, and this from so much mutual brotherly love that his brother could not refrain from tears, saying that he perceived no otherwise than that it was love itself that was speaking. Besides other examples not necessary to mention.

AC 2305. There are some who suppose that innocence is the same as infancy, for the reason that the Lord said of little children that of such is heaven; and that they who do not become as little children cannot enter into the kingdom of the heavens. But they who so imagine do not know the internal sense of the Word, nor therefore what is meant by "infancy." By "infancy" is meant the innocence of intelligence and wisdom, which is such that they acknowledge that they have life from the Lord alone, and that the Lord is their only Father; for that man is man is from the intelligence of truth and the wisdom of good, which he has solely from the Lord. Innocence itself, which in the Word is called "infancy," has no existence or abode except in wisdom; so much so that the wiser one is, the more innocent he is; on which account the Lord is innocence itself, because wisdom itself.

AC 2306. As regards the innocence of little children, being as yet devoid of intelligence and wisdom it is only a kind of plane for receiving genuine innocence, which they receive by degrees as they become wise. The quality of the innocence of little children has been represented to me by a wooden something almost void of life, which is vivified in proportion as they are perfected by means of knowledges of truth and affections of good. The quality of genuine innocence was afterwards represented by a most beautiful little child, full of life, and naked; for the innocent themselves, who are in the inmost heaven, and thereby are nearest the Lord, appear before the eyes of other angels no otherwise than as little children, and indeed naked; for innocence is represented by the nakedness of which they are not ashamed, as we read of the first man and his wife in paradise. In a word, the wiser the angels are, the more innocent they are; and the more innocent they are, the more do they appear to themselves as little children. Hence it is that in the Word innocence is signified by "infancy." But concerning the state of innocence, of the Lord‘s Divine mercy hereafter.

AC 2307. Concerning little children I have inquired of the angels whether they are pure from evils, seeing that they have no actual evil, as adults have. But I was told that they are equally in evil; nay, that they too are nothing but evil; but that they, like all the angels, are withheld from evil and are kept in good by the Lord, insomuch that it appears to them as if they were in good from themselves. And therefore also the little children, after they have become adults in heaven, in order to prevent them from being of the false opinion regarding themselves that the good in them is from themselves, and not from the Lord, are sometimes remitted into their evils which they have received by inheritance, and are left in them until they know, acknowledge and believe, that the truth is as has been said. A certain one also who had died when an infant, but had grown up in heaven, was of a similar opinion; and therefore he was remitted into the life of the evils inborn in him, and it was then given me to perceive from his sphere that he had a disposition to domineer over others, and that he esteemed lascivious things as of no account which were evils that he had inherited from his parents. But after he had acknowledged that such was his nature, he was again received among the angels with whom he had been before.

AC 2308. No one ever suffers punishment in the other life on account of hereditary evil, because it is not his, and therefore he is not to blame for being of such a nature; but every one suffers on account of the actual evil which is his own, and consequently for so much of the hereditary evil as he has appropriated to himself by actual life (n. 966). It is not therefore for the sake of punishment that the little children on becoming adult are remitted into the state of their hereditary evil; but that they may know that of themselves they are nothing but evil, and that it is of the Lord’s mercy that they are taken away from the hell that is with them into heaven; and that they are not in heaven by their own merit, but of the Lord; and thereby to prevent them from boasting before others of the good that is in them; for this is contrary to the good of mutual love, as it is contrary to the truth of faith.

AC 2309. From what has been adduced we can see what is the nature of the education of little children in heaven, namely, that by means of the intelligence of truth and the wisdom of good they are introduced into the angelic life, which is love to the Lord, and mutual love, in which loves there is innocence. But how contrary is the education of little children on earth, with many, has been evidenced from this one example. I was in the street of a great city, and saw little boys fighting with one another. A crowd gathered and looked on with much pleasure; and I was informed that the parents themselves urge on their little boys to such fights. The good spirits and angels who saw these things through my eyes were so averse to them that I perceived their horror, especially at the fact that the parents incite them to such things saying that thus in their earliest age they extinguish all the mutual love and all the innocence which little children receive from the Lord, and initiate them into hatred and revenge; consequently that they deliberately shut out their children from heaven, where there is nothing but mutual love. Let parents therefore who wish well to their children beware of such things. At the end of the preceding seventeenth chapter of Genesis the Last Judgment is treated of, and at the end of this eighteenth chapter the state of little children in the other life--in both cases from experience of things which have been seen and heard in the world of spirits and in the heaven of angels.

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