WOLF >> Those who teach Falsities as if they were Truths
Buffon remarks the external resemblance between the wolf and the dog; but points out the great differences in their characters, and their mutual antipathy. He says further:
Even the wild dog has not a fierce nature; he is easily tamed, attaches himself, and remains faithful to his master. The wolf, taken young, becomes tame, but not in the least attached.
Nature is stronger than education. He recovers, with age, his ferocious character, and returns as soon as he can to his wild state. Dogs, even the roughest, seek the company of other animals; they are led naturally to follow and accompany them; and it is by instinct only, not by education, that they know how to guard the flocks. The wolf, on the contrary, is the enemy of all society; he does not even keep company with those of his own species. When many of them are seen together, it is not a peaceful company; it is a warlike band, which is formed noisily, with frightful howls, and which indicates a plan to attack some large animal like a stag, an ox, or to get rid of some formidable mastiff. As soon as their military expedition is over they separate and return in silence to their solitude. . . .
The wolf has great strength, especially in the forward parts of the body, in the muscles of the neck and jaw. He carries a sheep in his mouth without letting it touch the ground, and at the same time runs faster than the shepherds, so that only the dogs can overtake him and make him release his prey. He bites cruelly, and always with the more madness the less he is resisted; for he is cautious with animals who can defend themselves. . . .
The wolf, though ferocious, is timid. When he falls into a snare, he is frightened so greatly and so long that he may be killed without defending himself, or taken captive without resistance. One can put a collar on him, chain him, muzzle him, and afterwards lead Him wherever he chooses, without his daring to show the least sign of anger or even of discontent. The wolf has very good senses—eyes, ears, and especially smell. He often scents further than he can see. The odor of carnage attracts him more than a league; he scents living animals from afar, and even chases them a long time before he brings them within sight. . . .
I have brought up and fed several at home. While they are young, that is to say, in their first and second years, they are tolerably docile, and even fawning, and if they are well fed they will not attack poultry nor other animals. But at eighteen months or two years, they return to their natural disposition, and must be chained to prevent their running away and doing mischief. I had one which, brought up in entire liberty in the poultry yard with the hens for eighteen or nineteen months, had never attacked them; but, for a first trial, he killed them all in one night, without eating any; another, which, having broken his chain at about the age of two years, ran away after having killed a dog with which it was familiar.
With really sagacious discrimination of evil from good, if also with some extravagance, Buffon sums up the character of the wolf thus:
There is nothing good in this animal but his skin; of this are made coarse furs which are warm and durable. His flesh is so bad that it repels all animals. Only a wolf will voluntarily eat wolf. . . . Disagreeable in every respect, with mean air, savage look, frightful voice, insupportable odor, perverse nature, ferocious manners, he is odious; noxious while living, useless after death. In the Bible Animals,
Mr. Wood gives some additional particulars of interest:
Individually, the wolf is rather a timid animal. It will avoid a man rather than meet him. It prefers to steal upon its prey, and take it unawares, rather than to seize it openly and boldly. It is ever suspicious of treachery, and is always imagining that a trap is laid for it. Even the shallow device of a few yards of rope trailing from any object, or a strip of cloth fluttering in the breeze, is quite sufficient to keep the wolf at bay for a considerable time. This fact is well known to hunters, who are accustomed to secure the body of a slain deer by simply tying a strip of cloth to its horn. If taken in a trap of any kind, or even if it fancies itself in an enclosure from which it can find no egress, it loses all courage, and will submit to be killed without offering the least resistance. It will occasionally endeavor to effect its escape by feigning death, and has more than once been known to succeed in this device.
But collectively, the wolf is one of the most dangerous animals that can be found. Herding together in droves, when pressed by hunger, the wolves will openly hunt prey, performing this task as perfectly as a pack of trained hounds. Full of wiles themselves, they are craftily wise in anticipating the wiles of the animals which they pursue; and, even in full chase, while the body of the pack is following on the footsteps of the flying animal, one or two are detached on the flanks, so as to cut it off if it should attempt to escape by doubling on its pursuers.
There is no animal which a herd of wolves will not attack, and very few which they will not ultimately secure. Strength avails nothing against the numbers of these savage foes, which give no moment of rest, but incessantly assail their antagonist, dashing by instinct at those parts of the body which can be least protected, and lacerating with their peculiar short, snapping bite. Should several of their number be killed or disabled, it makes no difference to the wolves, except that a minute or two are wasted in devouring their slain or wounded brethren, and they only return to the attack the more excited by the taste of blood. Swiftness of foot avails nothing against the tireless perseverance of the wolves, who press on in their peculiar, long, slinging gallop, and in the end are sure to tire out the swifter footed but less enduring animal that flees before them. The stately buffalo is conquered by the ceaseless assaults of the wolves; the bear has been forced to succumb to them, and the fleet-footed stag finds his swift limbs powerless to escape the pursuing band, and his branching horns unable to resist their furious onset when once they overtake him.
Who are spiritually wolves the Lord Himself shows quite plainly in the words, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
Ye shall know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15, 16). That is, they are those who, in regard to things of the Church, teach not the ways of the Lord and of good life, but doctrines that make people depend upon them, and contribute to their greatness. Swedenborg says of them:
They are those who teach falsities as if they were truths, and who in appearance live morally, but who, when they are left tothemselves, think of nothing but themselves and the world, and study to deprive others of their truths. (Apocalypse Explained #195)
For all genuine truths of religion lead to the Lord; but falsities are invented to lead to men and to excuse evil. Therefore those in the churches who devise laws and doctrines which they declare to be necessary to salvation, but which do not lead men to the Lord and the Word, but make them dependent on them, are ravening wolves. The ecclesiastical history of the papal hierarchy, and especially of the Society of Jesuits, which has been its chief instrument of persecution and oppression, bears on every page accounts of the wiles and cruelties of spiritual wolves, usually wearing in their approaches the raiment of sheep. The perseverance and persistence of their attacks on those who had property or power, their combinations and mutual support in their attacks, the relentlessness and destructive fury with which they turn upon one of their own order who fails to support them, are as freely portrayed in the history of that Church government as in the natural history of wolves themselves. ( The Last Judgment #58, 59. )
Wolfishness appears in the history of other branches of the Church, though less conspicuously; it is not uncommon also in secular affairs, especially in military or business combinations for the purpose of plunder. It is a selfishness that is greedy of every kind of advantage, especially from those who are trustful and unsuspecting. Sly and treacherous itself, it suspects treachery everywhere. It combines with others only in pursuing some common advantage; and is as ready to profit by their downfall as by that of their prey.
In the Word wolves are generally mentioned as the special enemies of sheep and lambs, in which sense they represent those leaders of the Church who turn to themselves, for their own advantage, the innocent dependent affections that belong to the Lord alone.
In the prophecies of the establishment of the Lord’s kingdom, it is said, “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb” (Isaiah 11:6). “The wolf and the lamb shall feed together” (Isaiah 65:25). By which is not meant that wolves will change their nature either naturally or spiritually; but that the presence of the Lord will be so strongly felt that there will be no power to turn away from Him those who love Him.1 At the time of the Lord’s teaching, the leaders of the Jewish Church, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, devouring widows’ houses, and for a pretense making long prayers, had turned all things of their religion to their own selfish service, as has since been done in Christian Rome. The Lord, therefore, said to the apostles whom He sent forth, “Behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves” (Luke 10:3). He also likened those who taught the truth only when it conduced to their worldly prosperity, forsaking their charge or their truthful teaching at the menace of selfish leaders, to “hirelings,” who flee when they see the wolf coming.
The Lord was the good Shepherd, and gave His life for the sheep. He fearlessly taught the truth which led the people away from their former leaders to the Divine Spirit in Himself.
The Pharisees declared that He cast out devils by Beelzebub. To them He was only a fiercer wolf than themselves. Because of this appearance of the Lord and of those who teach from Him in resisting the selfishness of wolfish men, in the 1. Apocalypse Explained #780. prophetic blessing which Jacob pronounced upon his sons, he said of Benjamin, who represents such explanation of spiritual truth as leads to an interior knowledge of the Lord, “Benjamin shall ravin as a wolf; in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil” (Genesis 49:27). (Arcana Coelestia #6441.)
Author: JOHN WORCESTER 1875