LEVITICUS 21
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Leviticus Chapter 21

Summary of the Spiritual Sense

  1. Various prohibitions to those who are in good and in truth thence derived generally, vers. 1-9.
  2. Similar prohibitions and directions concerning the celestial man, and the Lord in His glorification, vers. 10-15.
  3. Concerning the hindrances during regeneration to the full development of the life of those who are in good and in truth thence derived, vers. 16-23.

The Contents of each Verse

  1. And the Lord said to Moses, Speak to the priests the sons of Aaron, and say to them, There shall none defile himself for the dead among his people;
  1. There is revelation from the Lord by Divine Truth giving perception to the man of the Spiritual Church who is in good and thence in truth, that no person of such a character may be contaminated with falsity in which there is no spiritual life. [more]
  1. Except for his kin, that is near to him, for his mother, and for his father, and for his son, and for his daughter, and for his brother;
  1. Except with that which is unavoidable even by the angels; for those in celestial truth and celestial good, or in spiritual truth and the affection thereof, or in spiritual good, [more]
  1. And for his sister a virgin, that is near to him, which has had no husband, for her may he defile himself.
  1. Or in spiritual truth in the understanding, which is pure, although not yet conjoined with good are not pure in the sight of the Lord; and this the spiritual man acknowledges. [more]
  1. He shall not defile himself, being a chief man among his people, to profane himself.
  1. But nevertheless, he who is in good, because good is the essential of all truth, may not contaminate himself with falsity in which there is no spiritual life; for this is profanation. [more]
  1. They shall not make baldness upon their head, neither shall they shave off the corner of their beard, nor make any cuttings in their flesh.
  1. Nor shall he who is in good ever be without truth in the natural man interior or exterior; nor shall his natural good be vitiated by falsities derived from fallacies and appearances causing misconceptions. [more]
  1. They shall be holy to their God, and not profane the name of their God: for the offerings of the Lord made by fire, the bread of their God, they do offer: therefore they shall be holy.
  1. And thus those who are in good shall also be perfect in truth; neither shall they profane that truth by denying the Divine Human; for they worship the Lord from pure love, and acknowledge that all good is from Him in Divine Truth, and on this account are they holy. [more]
  1. They shall not take a woman that is a harlot, or profane; neither shall they take a woman put away from her husband: for he is holy to his God.
  1. And hence it is unlawful for him who is in good to conjoin himself with falsified truth; or with falsified truth profaned; or with faith separated from charity. For only good and truth can agree together. [more]
  1. You shall sanctify him therefore; for he offers the bread of your God: he shall be holy to you: for I the Lord, which sanctify you, am holy.
  1. Let every one therefore enter into this conjunction, and acknowledge that his good is from the Lord in truth; and man can do this because he has power from the Lord to confirm himself in good by truths. [more]
  1. And the daughter of any priest, if she profane herself by playing the harlot, she profanes her father: she shall be burnt with fire.
  1. And the affection of good, if it be conjoined with falsified truth, is profaned; thereby good itself is profaned; and vastation as to good, through selfish love, must follow. [more]
  1. And he that is the high priest among his brethren, upon whose head the anointing oil is poured, and that is consecrated to put on the garments, shall not let the hair of his head go loose, nor rend his clothes;
  1. Also the Lord, who, as to His Human was Divine Truth united to Divine Good, and thence the celestial man in whom Divine Good is manifested by Divine Truths thence proceeding, does not disperse good by the dispersion of truths, either internally or externally. [more]
  1. Neither shall he go in to any dead body, nor defile himself for his father, or for his mother;
  1. And neither is the Lord in His Divine Human, or the celestial man, at all contaminated by hereditary evil and falsity thence in respect to the Lord, or by the remains of actual evil and its falsity in respect to man; [more]
  1. Neither shall he go out of the sanctuary, nor profane the sanctuary of his God; for the crown of the anointing oil of his God is upon him: I am the Lord.
  1. Neither shall he who is in good, like the regenerated celestial man, ever cease to be so; nor shall he on any account, in the slightest degree profane good by separating truth from it, because he has been victorious in the conflict of life, and has thus conjoined truth with good; and this truth is the perfect expression of good. [more]
  1. And he shall take a wife in her virginity.
  1. And hence the Lord, in His glorification, is eternally conjoined with His church by the removal from it of all impurity; and man, in his regeneration, is in good and truth conjoined also without impurity. [more]
  1. A widow, or one divorced, or a profane woman, an harlot, these shall he not take: but a virgin of his own people shall he take to wife.
  1. Nor is it possible for the regenerated man to be in good without truth, or in truth without good; nor can he conjoin himself with falsified truth profaned; but in the course of regeneration he must be purified from all evil, and must be finally and eternally conjoined with his own conjugial partner in the heavens. [more]
  1. And he shall not profane his seed among his people: for I am the Lord which sanctify him.
  1. And lastly, neither shall the celestial man profane the truths, by which the church, in its lower degrees, is increased and extended, because he acts from the Divine Good, by which he is rendered pure and holy. [more]
  1. And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,
  1. Further, there is revelation from the Lord, by Divine Truth, giving the perception, [more]
  1. Speak to Aaron, saying, Whosoever he be of your seed throughout their generations that has a blemish, let him not approach to offer the bread of his God.
  1. Concerning the celestial man, or concerning the man who is in good, that throughout the whole course of his regeneration, so long as he is not made perfect by truths, he cannot fully acknowledge that all good is from the Lord by means of Divine Truth. [more]
  1. For whatever man he be that has a blemish, he shall not approach: a blind man, or a lame, or he that has a flat nose, or any thing superfluous,
  1. For whoever he may be, in whom there is any defect as to good or truth, he is thereby hindered from that acknowledgement; as, for example, when he is ignorant of truth or of good in the natural man; when his spiritual growth is impeded, or when he is naturally proud of his intellectual powers; [more]
  1. Or a man that is brokenfooted, or broken-handed,
  1. One whose natural affections are perverted, or whose spiritual powers are impaired; [more]
  1. Or hunchback, or a dwarf, or that has a blemish in his eye, or is scurvy, or scabbed, or has his stones broken;
  1. He whose power of elevating himself to spiritual things is weak, or one who is defective in applying truths to life; he whose intellect is weak; he who is outwardly troubled by falsities or evils; or he with whom the power of conjoining truth with good is injured; [more]
  1. No man of the seed of Aaron the priest, that has a blemish, shall come near to offer the offerings of the Lord made by fire: he has a blemish; he shall not come near to offer the bread of his God.
  1. No one who is in good, or in the truth of good internal, and yet is deficient externally, is capable of fully acknowledging that all good is from the Lord through Divine Love; he is hindered by his defects; and he cannot be conjoined with the Lord as to the external by such acknowledgement. [more]
  1. He shall eat the bread of his God, both of the most holy, and of the holy.
  1. He is, indeed, able to appropriate good internally as to the will and as to the understanding; [more]
  1. Only he shall not go in to the veil, nor come near to the altar, because he has a blemish; that he profane not my sanctuaries: for I am the Lord which sanctify them.
  1. But he is not yet prepared to realize his own inmost good, by the removal of all appearances; nor can he truly worship the Lord until his defect is removed, and if that good were manifested he would profane it. But the Lord from His Divine Good will remove the impediment, because He can sanctify man to the uttermost. [more]
  1. So Moses spoke to Aaron, and to his sons, and to all the children of Israel.
  1. And this is the dictate of Divine Truth to the man who is in good, of the celestial, of the spiritual, or of the ultimate heavens. [more]

References and Notes

  1.  By the Lord saying to Moses is denoted revelation from Divine Good by Divine Truth, 2001, 7010; saying also denotes influx and perception and thus revelation, 5743; speaking to the priests the sons of Aaron and saying, denotes perception to the man of the Spiritual Church who is in good and thence in truth, 9946, 2619; and by none of them defiling himself for the dead among his people, is denoted that no person of such a character may be contaminated with falsity in which there is no spiritual life, 10130, 3813, 5407.

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  2.  Except for his kin that is near to him denotes except with that which is unavoidable even to the angels, because near of kin here denotes hereditary evil and falsity, and also actual evil and falsity which remain with man although he is regenerated, 370320, 868; mother denotes the celestial as to truth, and father the celestial as to good, and in the opposite sense as to falsity and evil, 37032, 370320; son denotes the spiritual as to truth, and daughter the spiritual as to affection or as to the good of charity, and in the opposite sense also falsity and evil, 568, 9946, 9950; and brother denotes spiritual good, here in the natural degree, the external of the church or in the ultimate heaven, and in the opposite sense evil, 5686, 10490.

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  3.  Sister denotes spiritual truth in the understanding of the natural man, and, in the opposite sense, falsity, 3160, 370322; a virgin denotes what is pure, 3081; near to him denotes the same as near of kin, 370320; not having a husband denotes truth, as yet not conjoined with good, 2728; and "for her he may defile himself" denotes that, as to these evils and falsities, heaven is not pure in the sight of the Lord, and that the spiritual man acknowledges this, 10130, 868.

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  4.  Not defiling himself denotes that nevertheless he who is in good may not contaminate himself deliberately or carelessly with evil and falsity, 10130; being a chief man among his people denotes because good is the essential of truth, it being above (Heb.) or superior to truth, 2148, 9667, 1259; and "to profane himself" denotes evidently that this is profanation, 571, 582.

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  5.  Not making baldness upon their head, nor shaving off the corner of their beard, denotes not being without truth in the natural man interior or exterior, 52473; and not making any cutting in their flesh denotes that neither shall his natural good be vitiated by falsities derived from fallacies and appearances, causing misconceptions, 9056, 279923.

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  6.  Being holy to their God denotes that those who are in good shall also be perfect in truth, 2001; not profaning the name of their God denotes not profaning the truth by denying the Divine Human, 6887, 8882; the offerings of the Lord made by fire denotes the worship of the Lord from pure love, 10055; the bread of their God do they offer denotes the acknowledgement that all good is from Him by Divine Truth, 276, 9993, 2001; and being therefore holy denotes clearly that on this account they are holy, namely, through conjoining good with truth, 9993, 2001, 2190.

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  7.  Not taking a woman that is a harlot or profane denotes that it is unlawful to him who is in good to conjoin himself with falsified truth either confirmed or not yet confirmed, 6348; and not taking a woman put away from her husband denotes not to conjoin himself with faith (or truth) separated from charity, 484416; and being holy to his God denotes that only good and truth can agree together, 2190.

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  8.  Sanctifying him, therefore, denotes that every one in good should conjoin truth therewith, 9946, 2190, 9680; offering the bread of his God denotes the acknowledgement that good is from the Lord in truth, 276, 9993, 2001; his being holy to you denotes that man can do this, that is, can acknowledge good to be from the Lord, 9946; and "because I the Lord that sanctify you am holy" denotes because he has power, from the Lord, to confirm himself in good by truths, 2001, 2190, 9680.

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  9.  By the daughter of any priest is denoted the affection of good, 6775; by playing the harlot is denoted the falsification of truth, 6348; this is profanation because it is the affection of good contaminated with falsity, 46012; and by being burnt with fire is denoted vastation as to all good through selfish love, 934.

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  10.  The high priest among his brethren denotes the Lord, who, as to His Human was Divine Truth united to Divine Good, and thence the celestial man in whom Divine Good is manifested by Divine Truths thence proceeding, 9946, 9806; the anointing oil being poured upon his head denotes this conjunction, 10010, 10011; being consecrated to put on the garments denotes Divine Good manifested in Divine Truths, 9999; and not letting the hair of his head go loose nor rending his clothes denotes not dispersing good by the dispersion of truths internally or externally, 42473, 4763.

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  11.  The high priest not going in to any dead body, nor defiling himself for his father or for his mother, denotes that neither is the Lord in His Divine Human, nor the celestial man at all contaminated, by hereditary evil and falsity in respect to the Lord, or by the remains of actual evil and falsity in respect to man, 9946, 9806, 10130, 3813, 370320.

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  12.  Not going out of the sanctuary nor profaning it denotes that neither shall he who is in good like the regenerated celestial man, ever cease to be so; nor shall he on any account, in the slightest degree, profane good by separating truth from it, 4144, 3210, 8882, 2001; the crown of the anointing oil of his God being upon him denotes victory in the conflict of life, and thence the conjunction of truth with good, 9930, 9954; and "I am the Lord" denotes that this truth is the perfect expression of good, 2001.

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  13.  By taking a wife in her virginity is denoted that the Lord in His glorification is eternally conjoined with His church, by the removal from it of all impurity; and that man, in his regeneration, is in good and truth conjoined also without impurity, 1468, 3081.

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  14.  A widow denotes good without truth, or truth without good, 9198; one divorced denotes also truth without good, 484416; a profane woman a harlot denotes falsified truth, 6348; a virgin denotes the church purified from all evil, 3081; and a wife denotes truth conjoined with good, and thus the heavenly conjugial partner, 1468.

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  15.  Not profaning his seed among his people denotes that the celestial man shall not profane the truth by which the church in its lower degrees is increased and extended, 880, 1259; and "I am the Lord who sanctifies him" denotes that the celestial man acts from Divine Good by which he is rendered pure and holy, 2001, 8042.

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  16.  This is evident, because by Jehovah is denoted the Divine Being as to His love, 2001; by speaking is denoted influx, 2951; by Moses is represented Divine Truth, or the Word, 7010; and by saying is denoted perception, 1791, 1822.

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  17.  By Aaron is denoted the celestial man who is in good, 9946; speaking to him denotes instruction by means of Divine Truth, 7304, 7010; by the seed of Aaron are denoted those who are in truths from good, 880; throughout your generations denotes during the whole course of regeneration, 1041; by having a blemish is denoted not as yet made perfect by truths, 7837; and not approaching to offer the bread of his God denotes that such cannot fully acknowledge that all good is from the Lord by means of Divine Truth, 10042 II., 2165, 2001, 5619.

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  18.  By whatever man he be that has a blemish, is denoted whoever he may be in whom there is any defect as to good or truth, 7837; his not approaching denotes that he is hindered from that acknowledgement, ver. 17; by a blind man is denoted one in ignorance of truth, 2383; by a lame man is denoted one ignorant of good in the natural man, 210, 4302; by a dwarf is denoted one whose spiritual growth is impeded, 10109 end; and by what is superfluous, or one too tall, is denoted one naturally proud of his intellectual powers, 5658, 79843, 581, 583, 16733.

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  19.  By one broken footed is denoted one whose natural affections are perverted, 9163, 2162; and by one broken handed is denoted one whose spiritual powers are impeded, 9163, 5328.

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  20.  By hunchback is denoted one whose power of elevating himself to spiritual things is weak, 69521, 69526 (Luke 13:11-13), 10550; by one bruised is denoted one who is defective in applying truths to life, 10303, 431; by one having blemish in his eye is denoted he whose intellect is weak, 7837, 2148; by scabby or full of warts is denoted he who is outwardly troubled by falsities and evils, 7524; and by being bruised in the testicle is denoted he with whom the power of conjoining truth with good is injured, 10303, 431, 2173, 5053, 5060.

    It is necessary to observe here that the proofs in the preceding three verses are given according to the translation of the Hebrew into Latin in 10109, and not according to the English versions, because there is no doubt that Swedenborg perceived clearly the series of the internal sense, on account of his peculiar position as a seer, and thence discerned the meaning of each Hebrew term, rendering them into Latin according to such discernment; and as the English translation is quite in harmony with the original, the terms have been taken in the order there given. Hence, therefore, the expression "a flat nose" disappears, the word "dwarf" taking its place, and instead of the word "dwarf," as it occurs in our versions, the word "bruised" appears; and it is obvious that to give the internal sense as the versions have translated the Hebrew, would disturb the true series. It may be remarked also, in justification of Swedenborg's Latin translation of the Hebrew, that the word rendered by him "decurtatus," and by his English translator "dwarf," means, according to the lexicon, " cut off," or " tear" being equivalent to " too short," or "shortened," and that the word rendered by him " contusus," which means bruised or pounded, is shown to mean "beaten or ground small."

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  21.  By no man of the seed of Aaron the priest is denoted no one who is in good, or in the truth of good internal, 9946; by having a blemish is denoted deficient externally, 7837; by coming near to offer the offerings of the Lord made by fire, is denoted to be capable of fully acknowledging that all good is from the Lord through Divine Love, 10042 II., 10055; by "he has a blemish" is denoted that he is hindered by his defects, 7837; and by his not coming near, to offer the bread of his God, is denoted that he cannot be conjoined with the Lord as to the external by such acknowledgement, 10042 II., 2165,

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  22.  Eating of the bread of his God both the holy and the most holy, denotes that he is indeed able to appropriate good internally as to the will and understanding, 2187, 2165, 3210.

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  23.  Not going in to the veil denotes that he is not yet prepared to realize his own inmost good, 9670; the veil denotes appearances, 2576; not coming near to the altar because he has a blemish denotes that he cannot truly worship the Lord until his defect is removed, 4541, 7837; "that he profane not my sanctuary" denotes that if that good were manifested he would profane it, 3210, 9670; and "I am the Lord which sanctify them" denotes that the Lord from His Divine Good will remove the impediment, because He can sanctify man to the uttermost, 2001, 9229.

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  24.  Moses speaking to Aaron and to his sons, and to all the children of Israel denotes that this is the dictate of Divine Truth to the man who is in good of the celestial, of the spiritual, or of the ultimate heavens, 7010, 2951, 9946, 4286.

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Discussion

This chapter, in the spiritual sense, is very interesting, because it is an amplification of the teaching in various parts of the Word, that he who has realized the state of good ought not to return back again to the state of truth leading to good, and especially to the states of imperfection from evils and errors which appertain to the merely natural man. Or we may consider it as describing the perfect state of man, in which he is no longer able, because no longer willing, thus to return. And one great reason for this is, that when man is established in good he no more suffers temptations. For we read: "With respect to combat and victories over the hells, the case is this: Whoever once overcomes them does so continually; for by conquering he acquires power over them, since he so far confirms in himself, and appropriates to himself the good which is of love and the truth which is of faith, against which the hells afterwards dare not attempt anything," 82733 Now, as the references show, the priest denotes good, and those who are in good; and it is concerning such that the Lord says, " Let him that is on the housetop not go down to take out those things that are in his house: and let him that is in the field not return back to take his cloak," and "the sense of these words is, let not him who is in good turn himself from it to those things which are of the doctrinals of faith," 58955. Much less, then, should he who is in good turn himself to the evils and errors signified by the various things mentioned as the causes of defilement. But it is said that he may defile himself for certain things which are specified, and in the literal sense are represented by those near of kin. Now in what way does he who is established in good as the angels are do this? It is in general by the sincere acknowledgement that of himself he is nothing but evil, and particularly by the confession that the hereditary and actual evils of his life remain with him, although they are now no longer active but quiescent. They remain, because such is the constitution of a human being, that nothing which he has once known, thought, said or done can ever be absolutely obliterated from his memory, and because although many persons may have in their memories the same, or similar, things, no two persons can so have them exactly in the same way. But why not? It is because good in every one varies, so that no two persons can ever be exactly alike to eternity, and it is good by which truths with man are arranged in order, and from which they have their life, while at the same time truth qualifies good, such being their reciprocal action and reaction. And here by truth, for the sake of illustration, we may understand knowledge in general, whether it be true or false, and by good we may understand affection in general, whether it be good or evil. Human experience, even in this world, contributes towards showing the truth of this. For often we remember things which happened long, long ago, without any effort to do so, things, indeed, which we thought we had forgotten; and besides this, we are assured that of every idle word that man shall speak he shall give an account in the day of Judgement (Matt 12:36); in addition to which HH 461-469 may be consulted, with advantage in this connection.

But it may be asked if the things of man's life thus remain so that he can perpetually acknowledge himself even in heaven that he is nothing but evil thus spiritually defiling himself for his father or his mother, his son or his daughter, his brother or his sister, by what law of order is it that still, as a rule, his evils are quiescent? It is by the universal law that in the other life, through the process of the Judgement, the evil and the good are separated, and that on this account also temptations no longer take place. Hence, then, from these reflections we see in what sense he who is in good, even in heaven, may defile himself, and in what sense he cannot do so, vers. 2, 3, 4, ii. But, of course, this first section of our subject, which refers to the spiritual man in good, and thus in heaven, also refers to the spiritual man on earth who is in the principle of good, and in this respect the teaching is, on the one hand, that he must perpetually acknowledge that of himself he is defiled, by hereditary and actual evil, in their three degrees, and on the other, that he must resist in temptations, and not allow himself to indulge in actual sin.

The next section, however, is especially interesting, because it is concerning the Lord in his glorification, and thence concerning the celestial man of the inmost, or third heaven. We must notice, therefore, two things, namely, the difference between the Human of the Lord, as represented by the High Priest, and that of an ordinary man as represented by the priests in general, and the difference between the celestial man of the inmost heaven, also represented by the High Priest, and the celestial man in general represented by the other priests. Now the essential difference between the Human of the Lord and that of an ordinary man is that the Human of the Lord was Divine by conception and birth, whereas the Human of an ordinary man is finite by conception and birth. Hence, the Lord's Human by glorification was made Divine also as to the External, or in all fullness, for only that which was essentially Divine could be made actually Divine; while no finite Human could be made Divine by any process. Also, because the Lord's Human was Divine by conception and birth He had no hereditary evil internally, nor had He any actual evil; but He had only hereditary evil externally, or from the virgin, His mother; while an ordinary man has evil by heredity from both his parents, and actual evil besides. And these remarks are made in order to show the reason why, in our chapter, the ordinary priest was permitted to defile himself for his mother and his father, and his other nearest relations, while the High Priest was not allowed to do this. It was to represent that whereas every ordinary man has hereditary and actual evil remaining with him to eternity, which fact he must acknowledge both during regeneration and after it, the Lord entirely separated from Himself, and dispersed the hereditary maternal life, by His glorification, because it was not really any part of His proper human life, from which He endured temptations, overcame the power of evil, and glorified or made Divine that human life even to its ultimates, so that He arose from the dead with the body which He had in the world, differently from every ordinary man. Thus He did not defile Himself for His mother or His father, or spiritually He had no remains of hereditary falsity or evil.

But we have to consider next the difference between the celestial man of the third heaven, and the celestial man in general, also represented, respectively, by the High Priest and the other priests. Could it be said of the celestial man of the third heaven that he had no remains of hereditary or actual evil? By no means; because every man created or born requires regeneration; could not enter heaven without regeneration; and could not remain there without the acknowledgement that of himself he is nothing but evil, 868. For the Most Ancient people required regeneration, 286; they were troubled by the lusts of the unregenerate man, 18; they transmitted evil and its falsity to their posterity who constituted the Most Ancient Church in its best state, 125; every member of that church required regeneration, therefore, on account of hereditary evil, or of actual evil, and transmitted evil to his children, 151-4; and thence this evil accumulated until redemption became necessary. The celestial man of the Most Ancient Church, or of the third heaven, therefore, does not differ from the celestial man generally by having no hereditary evil, but he differs from him in being regenerated through the will and not through the understanding, or through good and not through truth, nor does he separate truth from good, wherefore it is said of him that he does not go out from the sanctuary, nor profane the sanctuary of his God, ver. 12; and when it is said of him that he shall not be defiled for his father or for his mother thereby is denoted that he is not contaminated by the remains of hereditary or actual evil or falsity, although he is bound to acknowledge that he is nothing but evil of himself equally with the celestial man, or the man who is in good generally.

Concerning the last section of this chapter also much might be said by way of illustration in regard to each of the spiritual defects enumerated, but we note only three facts. No one can become celestial according to his degree, or, in other words, can realize good fully according to his degree, except by means of truths; no one who is as yet imperfect can do so; and it is the Lord alone who enables man to realize fully his inmost angelic life. For the celestial man, who becomes an angel of the third heaven, although regenerated through the will, must be made perfect by means of truths; and the spiritual man who becomes an angel of the middle heaven, by first receiving instruction in truths; while much more must he who only becomes an angel of the ultimate heaven, depend upon the knowledge of the truth in order that he may reach the state of simple obedience which constitutes his heavenly life. Let us then continually thank the Lord for the gift of His Word.

Secondly, we see that our defects of character hinder our progress, although they do not hinder our gradual appropriation of good. We cannot, for many reasons, fully worship according to our inmost life, as we journey, for we may be blind and lame, and weak in many and various ways, but we can always, spiritually, eat the flesh and drink the blood of our Lord if we abide, and stand firmly, in our adopted principles of truth and good.

And thirdly, the Lord is able to make us holy and pure by the removal of our defects, whatever they may be, if we let it be our part to wait patiently for Him. For "evil doers shall be cut off; but those that wait upon the Lord shall inherit the earth " (Ps 37:9).

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