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O1ne_250_269 That all life is from the Lord, it has also been given to know from the fact that no spirit thinks and speaks from himself, but from others, and these others from yet others,  and so on. This has been frequently shown to those who believed that life was in them and did not flow in; and from this it has been given to conclude that because no one thinks and speaks from himself, but from others, therefore in the last resort all think and speak from One, thus from the Lord; and that unless all did so from One, it would be impossible for any order of lives to come forth in heaven, in which nevertheless the order is such that heaven is most distinctly arranged into societies according to the quality of the good. It would be altogether otherwise if everyone acted from his own life. [AC6470]

And I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, signifies Who is the Self-existing and the Only from firsts to ultimates, from Whom all things are; thus Who is Love Itself and the Only Love, Wisdom Itself and the Only Wisdom, Life Itself and the Only Life in Himself, and thus the Creator Himself and the Only Creator, Saviour and Enlightener from Himself, and thence the All in all of heaven and the church. These and many more things besides are contained in the above words, by which the Lord is described. That they are spoken of the Lord, and, indeed, of His Human, is very evident, for it follows that John heard a voice, saying:

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last; and He turned to see the voice that spake with him, and saw the Son of man in the midst of seven lampstands (Rev. 1:10-13).

Who, also, a little further on, says:

I am the First and the Last, I am He that liveth and was dead (Rev. 2:8).

But that all the particulars above enumerated are contained in these words cannot be confirmed briefly, for to confirm them fully would require many sheets; still they are in part confirmed in The Angelic Wisdom concerning the Divine Love and Wisdom, recently published in Amsterdam, which see. The Lord calls Himself " the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End," because "Alpha and Omega" refer to His Divine love, and "Beginning and End," to His Divine wisdom; for there is, in every particular of the Word, a marriage of love and wisdom, or of good and truth; on which subject, see The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem concerning the Sacred Scripture (n. 80-90)

[2] The Lord is called "the Alpha and the Omega," because Alpha is the first letter and Omega the last in the Greek Alphabet, and therefore they signify all in the aggregate. The reason is, that every letter of the alphabet, in the spiritual world, signifies something; and a vowel, because it is serviceable for sound, something of affection or love. From this origin, spiritual and angelic speech, and, also, the Scriptures, are derived; but this is an arcanum hitherto unknown. For there is a universal language in which all angels and spirits are; and this has nothing in common with any language of men in the world. Every man comes into this language after death; for it is implanted in every man from creation, therefore they all can understand each other in the whole spiritual world. It has been granted me frequently to hear that language, and also to speak it; and I have compared it with the languages in the world, and have found that it does not, even in the smallest particular, make one with any natural language on the earth. It differs from these in its first principle, which is, that each letter of every word has a sense and signification peculiar to itself, as well in speaking as in writing. Therefore it is that the Lord is called the Alpha and the Omega, which signifies that He is the All in all of heaven and the church; and as these two letters are vowels, they have relation to love, as was said above. Concerning this language, and the writing of it, flowing from the spiritual thought of the angels, something may be seen in The Angelic Wisdom concerning the Divine Love and Wisdom (n. 295). [AR29]

Saying, I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, signifies Who is the self-existing, and the Only from firsts to ultimates, from whom are all things; thus Who is love itself and the only love, wisdom itself and the only wisdom, and the life itself and the only life in Himself; and thus the Creator Himself and the only Creator, Saviour, and Enlightener from Himself; and thence the All in all of heaven and the church: Who alone is infinite and eternal, and Jehovah; and that He is the Lord. That all these things, and infinitely more, are contained in these words, may be seen above (n. 13, 29). It was there said, that all the syllables or letters of the alphabet, in the spiritual world, signify things; and that their speech and writing there are thence; and that therefore the Lord describes His Divinity and infinity by Alpha and Omega; by which is signified that He is the All in all of heaven and the church. Since every letter signifies a thing in the spiritual world, and thence in the angelic language; therefore David wrote the 119th Psalm, in order, according to the letters of the alphabet, beginning with Aleph and ending with Thau, as may appear from the initials of the verses there; the like appears in Psalm 111, but not so evidently. Therefore, also, Abram was called Abraham, and Sarai was called Sarah; which was done for the reason that in heaven by Abraham and Sarah, they should not be understood, but the Divine, as is also the case; for the letter "H" involves infinity, because it is only an aspirate; more on this subject may be seen above (n. 29). [AR38]

And a cubit the breadth thereof. That this signifies somewhat in respect to conjunction with truth, is evident from the signification of "a cubit," or of "one cubit," as being somewhat, for it is the half of the former number, and when the double signifies all, half of it signifies somewhat, consequently somewhat for conjunction; and from the signification of "breadth," as being truth (see n. 9487-9488). [AC9530]

That the "firstlings of the flock" signify that which is of the Lord alone, is evident from the firstlings or firstborn in the representative church, which were all holy, because they had relation to the Lord, who alone is the "firstborn". Love and the faith thence derived are the "firstborn". All love is of the Lord, and not one whit of it is of man, therefore the Lord alone is the "firstborn". This was represented in the ancient churches by the firstborn of man and of beast being sacred to Jehovah (Exod. 13:2, 12, 15); and by the tribe of Levi, which in the internal sense signifies love-though Levi was born after Reuben and Simeon who in the internal sense signify faith- being accepted instead of all the firstborn, and constituting the priesthood (Num. 3:40-45; 8:14-20). Of the Lord as the firstborn of all, with respect to His human essence, it is thus written in David:

He shall call Me, My Father, My God, and the rock of My salvation. I will also make Him My firstborn, high above the kings of the earth (Ps. 89:26, 27). 

And in John: -

Jesus Christ the firstborn of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth (Rev. 1:5).

Observe that the firstborn of worship signify the Lord, and the firstborn of the church, faith. [AC352}

The first-born from the dead, signifies that He is the Divine Good itself. What "the first-born from the dead" means, no one as yet knows; and the ancients disputed what it signifies. They knew that by "the first-born" is signified what is first and primary, from which is the all of the church; and it was believed by many, that it was truth in doctrine and in faith; but by few, that it was truth in act and work, which is the good of life. That this is the first and primary of the church, and thence in the proper sense is meant by "the first-born," will be seen presently. But first something shall be said concerning the opinion of those who believed, that truth in doctrine and in faith is the first and primary of the church, thus the first-born. They believed this, because it is learned first, and because a church is a church by means of truth, though not before it is of the life. Previously it is only in the thought of the understanding, and in the memory, and not in the act of the will; and truth, which is not truth in act or work, does not live. It is only like a luxuriant tree having branches and leaves without fruit. And it is like knowledge without application to use; and like the foundation upon which a house is built in which one is to dwell. These things are first in time, but they are not first in end; and what are first in end are primary; for habitation in the house is the first in end, but the foundation is the first in time; use also is first in end, and knowledge is first in time; in like manner the first in end, when a tree is planted, is the fruit, but the first in time are the branches and leaves.

[2] With the understanding it is similar, which is formed in man first, but to the end that what a man sees with his understanding, he may do; otherwise the understanding is like a preacher, who teaches well, but lives wickedly. Moreover all truth is sown in the internal man, and rooted in the external; wherefore, unless the truth that is inseminated takes root in the external man, which is effected by doing, it becomes like a tree planted, not in the soil, but upon it, which immediately withers on exposure to the heat of the sun. The man who has done the truth, takes this root with him after death; but not the man who had only known and acknowledged it in faith. Now because many of the ancients made that which is first in time, the first also in end, that is, primary; therefore they said, that the first-born signified truth in doctrine and faith in the church; not knowing that this is the first-born apparently, but not actually.

[3] But all those who have made truth in doctrine and in faith the primary, are condemned, because there is nothing of deed or work, or nothing of life in that truth. Therefore Cain, who was the first-born of Adam and Eve, was condemned. That by him is signified truth in doctrine and in faith, may be seen in the Angelic Wisdom concerning the Divine Providence (n. 242). Therefore, also Reuben, who was the first-born of Jacob, was condemned by his father (Genesis 49:3-4), and his birthright was taken from him (1 Chron. 5:1). That by "Reuben" in the spiritual sense, is meant truth in doctrine and in faith, will be seen presently. By "the first-born of Egypt," who were all smitten, because condemned, nothing else is meant in the spiritual sense, than truth in doctrine and in faith separate from the good of life, which truth is in itself dead. By the "goats" in Daniel and in Matthew, no others are meant than those who are in faith separate from life, concerning whom see The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem concerning Faith (n. 61-68). That those who were in faith separate from life, were rejected and condemned about the time of the Last Judgment, may be seen in The Continuation concerning the Last Judgment (n. 16, seq.).

[4] From these few things it may appear that truth in doctrine and in faith is not the first-born of the church; but truth in act or work, which is the good of life; for the church is not with man until the truth becomes of the life, and when the truth becomes of the life, then it is good; for the thought of the understanding, and the memory, do not flow into the will, and through the will into act; but the will flows into the thought of the understanding, and into the memory, and acts. And what proceeds from the will, through the understanding, proceeds from affection, which is of love, through the thought, which is of the understanding, and all this is called good, and it enters into the life; wherefore the Lord saith, that:
He who doeth the truth, doeth it in God (John 3:21).

[5] Because John represents the good of life, and Peter the truth of faith, as may be seen above (n. 5), therefore:

John leaned on the Lord's breast, and followed Jesus, but not Peter (John 21:18-21).

The Lord also said of John, that "he should tarry till He came" (verse 22-23); thus to this day, which is the Lord's coming; the good of life is therefore now taught by the Word for those who will be of His New Church, which is the New Jerusalem. In a summary, that is the first-born which the truth first produces from good, thus what the understanding produces from the will; because truth is of the understanding, and good is of the will: this first is primary, because it is as the seed from which the rest proceed.

[6] As to the Lord He is the First-born from the dead, because He, as to His Human, is the truth itself united to the Divine good, from whom all men live, who in themselves are dead.

 The same is meant in David:

I will make Him the first-born higher than the kings of the earth (Ps. 89:27).

This is concerning the Lord's Human. Thence it is that Israel is called the first-born (Exod. 4:22, 23). By "Israel" is meant the truth in act, and by "Jacob" the truth in doctrine; and because there is no church from the latter alone, therefore Jacob was named Israel; but in the supreme sense by "Israel" is meant the Lord. On account of this representation of the "first-born," all the first-born and all the first fruits were sanctified to Jehovah (Exod. 13:2, 12; 22:28, 29).

[7] On account of this representation of the "first-born," the Levites were taken instead of all the first-born in the Israelitish church; and it is said that thereby they belonged to Jehovah (Num. 3:12, 13, 40-46; 18:15-18): for by "Levi" is signified truth in act, which is the good of life; and therefore the priesthood was given to his posterity, which will be treated of below. For the same reason a double portion of the inheritance was given to the first-born, and he was called "the beginning of strength" (Deut. 21:15-17).

[8] The "first-born" signifies the primary of the church, because in the Word by natural births, spiritual births are signified, and then what first produces them in man, is meant by his "first-born;" for there is no church with him, until the truth of doctrine conceived in the internal man is born in the external. [AR17]

And Ham is the father of Canaan. That this signifies that from the corrupted church sprang worship in externals without internals, which worship is signified by "Canaan", is likewise evident from what follows for what is contained in this verse is premised to what is in the following verses. That "Ham" signifies the corrupted church, that is, those who make faith separate from charity the principal of their faith, is evident in David: -

He smote all the firstborn in Egypt, the beginning of strength, in the tents of Ham (Ps. 78:51).

By "the firstborn in Egypt" was represented faith without charity. That faith is called the firstborn of the church may be seen above (n. 352, 367); and that faith is thence called the "beginning of strength", as here in David, may be seen in (Genesis 49:3), in what is said of Reuben, who represented faith because he was the firstborn of Jacob, and is called the "beginning of strength". The "tents of Ham" are the worship therefrom. That "tents" signify worship may be seen above (n. 414). Egypt is hence called the "land of Ham" (Ps. 105:23, 27; 106:22). Such men, who in the Ancient Church were called "Ham", because they lived a life of all cupidities, merely prating that they could be saved by faith howsoever they lived, appeared to the ancient people black from the heat of cupidities, and from this were called "Ham". Ham is said to be the "father of Canaan" for the reason that such men care nothing how a man lives, provided he frequents sacred rites - for they do still desire some worship. But external worship is the only worship for them; internal worship, which belongs solely to charity, they reject. Hence Ham is said to be "the father of Canaan".1063.

The firstfruits of thy grain, and the firstfruits of thy wine, thou shalt not delay. That this signifies that as all the goods and truths of faith are from the Lord, they are to be ascribed to Him and not to self, is evident from the signification of "the firstfruits," as being those things which must be in the first place, thus those which are to be chief of all (of which below); from the signification of "grain," as being the good of the truth of faith (see n. 5295, 5410, 5959); from the signification of "wine," as being the truth of good, thus, the truth of the goad of faith (n. 1798, 6377); and from the signification of "not delaying," when said of the good and truth of faith, as being to ascribe from affection; for that which is not done tardily, but quickly, is done from the affection of love (n. 7695, 7866). That ascription to the Lord is meant, is because the firstfruits, as well as the firstborn, were given to Jehovah, and by Jehovah to Aaron and his seed; and by "Jehovah" in the Word is meant the Lord (n. 1736, 2921, 3023, 3035, 5663, 6303, 6945, 6956, 8274, 8864). Wherefore, as "the first fruits of the grain and wine" denote the goods and truths of faith, it is meant that these are to be ascribed to the Lord, because they are from Him. (That everything of thought and of will with man flows in, and that all good and truth are from the Lord, see n. 2886- 2888, 3142, 3147, 4151, 4249, 5119, 5147, 5150, 5259, 5482, 5649, 5779, 5854, 5893, 6027, 6982, 6985, 6996, 7004, 7055, 7056, 7058, 7270, 7343, 8321, 8685, 8701, 8717, 8728, 8823, 8863, 9110; and the same from experience, n. 6053-6058, 6189- 6215, 6307-6327, 6466-6495, 6598-6626.)

[2] The firstfruits which were to be offered to the Lord, were the firstfruits of the harvest and the firstfruits of the vintage, also the firstfruits of shearing, and likewise the firstfruits of fruit. The firstfruits of the harvest were ears of corn, parched and green, also the sheaf which was to be waved, and afterward the firstfruits from the threshing floor, which were cakes; but the firstfruits of the vintage were the firstfruits of wine, of must, and of oil; and besides these there were the firstfruits of the sheep-shearing and also the firstfruits of fruit, which were offered in a basket. Moreover, all the firstborn also were offered to the Lord, of which were redeemed the firstborn of men, and also the firstborn of those animals which were not offered in the sacrifices, as the firstborn of asses, of mules, of horses, and the like. The firstfruits and the firstborn were offered to Jehovah, and by Jehovah were given to Aaron and his seed, for the reason that Aaron and his sons, who administered the office of the high-priesthood, represented the Lord. By "the firstfruits of grain and wine" in this verse are meant all the firstfruits of the harvest and the vintage, just now spoken of; for the expressions used in the original tongue are "the fullness of the grain," and "the tear of the wine;" "fullness" denoting a harvest ripe and gathered in, and "tears" denoting what is made to drop.

[3] What the firstfruits specifically represented (for all the statutes and rituals enjoined upon the sons of Israel by the Lord represented internal things of the church), can be seen from the several kinds of produce the firstfruits of which were given, when viewed in the internal sense. That "grain" denotes the good of faith, and "wine" the truth of faith, may be seen in the passages above cited. That the firstfruits were to be given to Jehovah, signified that it is the first of the church to ascribe all the goods and truths of faith to the Lord, and not to self. To ascribe to the Lord is to know, to acknowledge, and to believe that these things are from the Lord, and nothing of them from self; for as above shown, everything of faith is from the Lord. The "firstfruits" have this signification because they were offerings and gifts, which were thanksgivings for the produce of the earth, and an acknowledgment of blessings from Jehovah, that is, from the Lord; and consequently were an acknowledgment that all things are from Him; and in the internal sense, an acknowledgment of the goods and truths of faith, which are signified by "harvest," by "grain," "oil," "must," "wine," "wool," and "fruits," of which the firstfruits were given. (Concerning these firstfruits, see Exod. 23:19; 34:26; Lev. 23:10, 11, 20; Num. 15:19-21; 18:12, 13; Deut. 18:4; 26:1-11.) The like is signified by the "firstfruits" in Ezekiel 20:40, and in Micah 7:1, 2.9223.

And the feast of ingathering, in the going out of the year, when thou gatherest in thy works out of the field. That this signifies worship from a grateful mind on account of the implantation of good therefrom, thus on account of regeneration and complete liberation from damnation, is evident from the signification of "a feast," as being the worship of the Lord and thanksgiving (of which above, n. 9286, 9287, 9294), thus worship from a grateful mind; from the signification of "ingathering," when said of the implantation of truth in good, as being the implantation of good itself; from the signification of "the going out of the year," as being the end of the works; and from the signification of "when thou gatherest in thy works out of the field," as being the enjoyment and use of all things that have been implanted in good. For, by "the works" are signified not only the things of the field, but also those of the vineyard and the oliveyard, consequently those of the fruit of the earth; as is evident from the description of this feast in Moses:

Thou shalt make for thee the feast of tabernacles seven days, after thou hast gathered in from thy threshing-floor and from thy winepress. And Jehovah thy God shall bless thee in all thy produce, and in every work of thy hands (Deut. 16:13, 15).
On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when ye have gathered in the fruit of the land, ye shall keep the feast of Jehovah seven days (Lev. 23:39).

[2] As by this feast is signified the worship of the Lord from a grateful mind on account of the implantation of good, and thus on account of complete liberation from damnation, it shall first be explained what the implantation of good is. It has already been everywhere shown that man has two faculties of life, namely, the understanding and the will; and that the understanding is allotted to the reception of truth, and the will to the reception of good; for there are two things to which all things in the universe, both in heaven and in the world, bear relation, namely, truth and good. From this it is also evident that these two make the life of man, and that the truth of faith and the good of charity make his new life, and that unless both of these have been implanted in man he has no new life. In what way the truth which is of faith is sown and implanted in man, is known in the church; but it is not as yet so well known in what way the good which is of charity is implanted. When he is a little child, man receives good from the Lord, and this good is the good of innocence, such as little children have. This good makes the beginning of the new will in man, and in the succeeding age it grows in accordance with his life of innocence with his companions and in accordance with his life of goodness and obedience toward his parents and masters, but still more with those who afterward suffer themselves to be regenerated. This the Lord foresees, and provides according to the state of life that follows; for in every present moment the Lord foresees evil, and provides good; and this He does from the first thread of life even to eternity. Afterward, when the man grows up and begins to think from himself, so far as he is then carried away by the delights of the loves of self and of the world, so far this new willing, or beginning of a new will, is closed; and so far as he is not carried away by these delights, so far it is opened, and is also perfected.

[3] But how it is perfected by the implantation of truth, shall now be told. This new will, which is from the good of innocence, is the dwelling place through which the Lord enters into man and excites him to will what is good, and from willing to do it. This influx works in the man in proportion as he desists from evils. From this he has the faculty of knowing, of perceiving, reflecting upon, and understanding moral and civil truths and goods in accordance with the delight of use. Afterward the Lord flows in through this good into the truths of doctrine of the church with the man, and calls forth from the memory such as are of service to the use of life, and implants these in the good, and so perfects the good. It is from this that the good with a man is wholly in accordance with the use of life. If the use of life is for the neighbor (that is, for the good of our fellow citizen, of our country, of the church, of heaven), and for the Lord, then this good is the good of charity. But if the use of life is only for self and the world, then this beginning of the new will is closed, and beneath it is formed a will from the evils of the loves of self and of the world, and from this an understanding is formed of falsities. This latter will is closed above and open beneath, that is, closed to heaven and open to the world. From all this it is evident how truths are planted in good, and form it; and also that when a man is good he is in heaven with the Lord; for as before said, the new will, in which is the good of charity, is the dwelling place of the Lord, and consequently is heaven in man; and the new understanding thence derived is as it were the tabernacle through which He comes in and goes out.

[4] Such are the things in general and in particular that were represented by the feast, which was called "the feast of the ingathering of the fruits of the earth," and "the feast of tabernacles." That this is the case, is evident from the institution of this feast, of which in Moses:

On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when ye have gathered in the fruit of the earth, ye shall keep the feast of Jehovah seven days; on the first day is a Sabbath, and on the eighth day a Sabbath. And ye shall take you on the first day the fruit of the tree of honor, branches of palm trees, and a bough of the dense tree, and willows of the torrent; and ye shall be glad before Jehovah your God seven days. All the homeborn of Israel shall dwell in tabernacles, that your generations may know that I made the sons of Israel to dwell in tabernacles when I led them forth out of the land of Egypt. (Lev. 23:39-43).

Thou shalt make for thee the feast of tabernacles seven days, after thou hast gathered in from thy threshing-floor and from thy winepress; thou shalt be glad in that feast, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite, and the sojourner, and the orphan, and the widow, that are within thy gates. Thou shalt be wholly glad (Deut. 16:13-15).

[5] That a state of good implanted by means of truth by the Lord, thus a state of heaven in man, was represented by this feast, is plain from the internal sense of all the things here mentioned. For in this sense by "the fifteenth day of the seventh month" is signified the end of a former state and the beginning of a new state (that "fifteenth" has this signification, see, n. 8400; as also "seventh," n. 728, 6508, 8976, 9228); by "the fruit of the earth which had been gathered in" is signified the good of charity (n. 43, 55, 913, 983, 2846, 2847, 3146, 7690, 7692). The like is signified by "the gathering in from the threshing-floor denotes the good of truth (n. 5295, 5410); the wine of the winepress denotes truth from good (n. 6377); and the oil which is also of the press denotes the good from which is truth (n. 886, 3728, 4582, 4638). By "a Sabbath on the first day, and a Sabbath on the eighth day" is signified the conjunction of truth with good, and reciprocally of good with truth (that "the Sabbath" denotes the conjunction of truth and good, see n. 8495, 8510, 8890, 8893, 9274); that the eighth day was also called "a Sabbath" is because by "the eighth" was signified the beginning of a new state (n. 2044, 8400).

[6] By "the fruit of the tree of honor," which they were to take on the first day, was signified festivity and joy on account of good implanted, wherefore the words follow, "that ye may be glad before Jehovah;" by "the branches of palm-trees" are signified the internal truths of this good (n. 8369); by "the bough of the dense (or interwoven) tree" are signified the external truths of good, that is, memory-knowledges (n. 2831, 8133); and by "the willows of the torrent," truths still more external, which are those of the bodily senses. By "the tabernacles in which they were to dwell seven days" is signified the holiness of love from the Lord and reciprocally to the Lord (see n. 414, 1102, 2145, 2152, 3312, 3391, 4391, 4599; and that it denotes the holiness of union, n. 8666). By "the homeborn of Israel" are signified those who are in the good of charity, thus abstractedly this good (n. 3654, 4598, 5801, 5803, 5806, 5812, 5817, 5819, 5826, 5833, 6426, 7957); by the "gladness" of all then was signified joy such as those have who are in good from the Lord, thus such as those have who are in heaven; for he who is in the good of charity from the Lord is in heaven with the Lord. These are the things for the sake of which this feast was instituted. [AC9296]

Author: EMANUEL SWEDENBORG (1688-1772)

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