Spiritual Meaning of
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THE NET CAST INTO THE SEA.
The Kingdom of Heaven is like a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every Kind: which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, cast out the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
The Kingdom of Heaven is here like a net cast into the sea; because by a net cast into the sea is figured and represented a gathering together of natural men to be instructed in the knowledge of the truth, and therefore the Apostles were called fishers of men, because they so collected and instructed them.
By this net bringing together of every kind is to be understood the collecting and instructing of all, both the good and the evil; for amongst natural men there is a difference, some being disposed to receive the Eternal Truth, and, by such reception, to become spiritual men, whilst others are disposed to reject the truth, and, by such rejection, to remain natural men.
The net is said to be full when full instruction has been received, or when all who are in the Church have imbibed the knowledges of truth.
By drawing it to the shore is meant a new state, when all who have received instruction are to be judged according to the use they have made of it in attaining, or not attaining, to the good of instruction, for the end of all instruction is, that man may attain the Eternal Good of Love and Charity.
Sitting, in the language of the Sacred Scriptures, is an expression used to denote a state of the will, or love, united with its proper wisdom; and since judgement is here treated of, or the separation of the evil from the good, therefore sitting down is here spoken of, because all such judgement is effected from the union of Love and Wisdom, or of Goodness and Truth.
By gathering the good into vessels, and casting the bad away, is to be understood the accomplishment of a work of judgement, or separation, when a fullness of instruction has been received; on which occasion, they who are principled in heavenly Good of Love and Charity, are gifted with all convenient truths and knowledges, by which the life is perfected to all eternity; whilst they who are principled in evil of selfish and worldly love, are deprived of all truth and knowledge, and left to perish in the fire of their own cravings.
From this parable we learn that all mankind, whether they be good, or evil, receive instruction from Heaven, in one degree or other, whereby they may be saved, and that such instruction is first received in a natural state. We learn further, that after instruction succeeds another state, which is that of exploration, or judgement, concerning the use which has been made of instruction. And, lastly, we learn, that they who have profited by instruction, so as to attain by it to a state of heavenly Love and Charity, are then gifted with new truths and knowledges in great abundance, for their further purification and regeneration; but that they who have not profited by instruction, by removing the evil of selfish and worldly love, and attaining to heavenly Love and Charity, are, in the Day of judgement, deprived of all the knowledge of truth, and left to be consumed and tormented by their own evil lusts.