Spiritual Meaning of
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An accurate distinction is in the Word made between nations and people. A nation signifies good or evil, and a people truth or falsity, and this so constantly as never to vary, as may be seen from the following passages.
 In Isaiah:--
In that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which standeth for an ensign of the peoples, unto it shall the nations seek, and His rest shall be a glory. In that day the Lord shall set His hand again the second time to acquire the remnant of His people, which shall be left from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. And He shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah (Isaiah 11:10-12).
Here peoples denote the truths, and nations the goods, of the church; and there is a manifest distinction made between them. The subject treated of is the Lord's kingdom and the church, and in a universal sense every regenerate man. The signification of the names is as stated above; and by Israel is signified the spiritual things of the church, and by Judah its celestial things. Again:--
The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; Thou hast multiplied the nation, Thou hast magnified gladness for it (Isa. 9:2, 3).
The people here denote truths, and therefore are said to walk in darkness, and to see light; the nation denotes goods.
 And again:--
What answer shall be made to the messengers of the nation? That Jehovah hath founded Zion, and in her shall the wretched ones of His people confide (Isa. 14:32).
Here likewise the nation denotes good, and people truth. And again:--
Jehovah Zebaoth will swallow up in this mountain the faces of the covering, of the covering over all peoples, and the veil that is spread over all nations (Isa. 25:7).
Here a new church is spoken of, or the church of the nations; peoples denote its truths, and nations its goods. Again:--
Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation that keepeth faithfulnesses may enter in (Isa. 26:2),
where nation manifestly denotes goods. Again:--
All the nations shall be gathered together, and the peoples shall be assembled (Isa. 43:9).
This also is said of the church of the nations; nations denoting its goods, and peoples its truths. And because they are distinct from each other, both are treated of; otherwise there would be a vain repetition. Again:--
Thus saith the Lord Jehovih, Behold I will lift up Mine hand to the nations, and will exalt My ensign to the peoples; and they shall bring thy sons in their bosom, and shall carry thy daughters upon their shoulder (Isa. 49:22).
This is said of the Lord's kingdom; and the nations in like manner denote goods, and the peoples truths.
Thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left, and thy seed shall inherit the nations, and they shall inhabit the desolate cities (Isa. 54:3);
treating of the Lord's kingdom, and of the church which is called the church of the nations. That the nations denote the goods of charity, or, what is the same, those in whom there are goods of charity, is evident from its being said that the seed- or faith- shall inherit them; cities denote truths. Again:
Behold I have given Him for a witness to the peoples, a prince and lawgiver to the peoples. Behold, thou shalt call a nation that thou knewest not, and a nation that knew not thee shall run unto thee (Isa. 55:4, 5).
This is said of the Lord's kingdom; peoples denote truths; nations goods. Those in the church who are endowed with the good of charity are nations, and those who are endowed with the truths of faith are peoples; for goods and truths are predicated according to the subjects in whom they are. Again:--
Nations shall walk to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. Then thou shalt see and flow together, and thine heart shall be amazed and be enlarged; because the multitude of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the army of the nations shall come unto thee (Isa. 60:3, 5)
treating of the Lord's kingdom, and of the church of the nations. Nations here denote goods; kings, who belong to peoples, truths.
 In Zephaniah:--
The remains of My people shall spoil them, and the residue of My nation shall inherit them (Zephaniah 2:9).
Many peoples and numerous nations shall come to seek Jehovah of Armies in Jerusalem (Zechariah 8:22).
Jerusalem denotes the Lord's kingdom, and the church; peoples those who are in the truths of faith; nations those who are in the good of charity; and therefore they are mentioned distinctively. In David:--
Thou wilt deliver Me from the contentions of the people; Thou wilt set Me for the head of the nations; a people whom I have not known shall serve Me (Ps. 18:43).
Here likewise the people denote those who are in truths; and the nations those who are in good; and they are both mentioned because they constitute the man of the church. Again:--
The peoples shall confess Thee, O God, all the peoples shall confess Thee, the nations shall be glad and shall exult, because Thou shalt judge the peoples in uprightness, and shalt lead the nations into the land (Ps. 67:4, 5).
Here peoples manifestly denote those who are in the truths of faith; and nations those who are in the good of charity.
 In Moses:--
Remember the days of eternity, understand the years of generation and generation; ask thy father, and he will show thee thine elders, and they will tell thee. When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, and separated the sons of man, He set the bounds of the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel (Deut. 32:7, 8).
This is said of the Most Ancient Church, and of the Ancient Churches, which are the days of eternity, and the years of generation and generation; and in which they who were in the good of charity were called nations, to whom an inheritance was given; and they who were in the derivative truths of faith were called sons of man, and afterwards peoples. It was because the goods of the church are signified by nations, and its truths by peoples, that it was said concerning Esau and Jacob, while they were yet in the womb, Two nations are in thy womb, and two peoples shall be separated from thy bowels (Gen. 25:23). From these passages it may now be seen what the church of the nations is, in its genuine sense. The Most Ancient Church was a true church of the nations, and so afterwards was the Ancient Church.
 Because those who are in charity are called nations, and those who are in faith peoples, the priesthood of the Lord is predicated of nations-because of things celestial, which are goods-and His royalty of peoples because of spiritual things, which are truths. This was also represented in the Jewish Church, where before they had kings they were a nation, but after they received kings they became a people.
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|Author: E. Swedenborg (1688-1772).||Design: I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002.||www.BibleMeanings.info|