Page:A Compendium of the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg.djvu/426

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The Most Ancients performed Holy Worship in Tents.

The reason why a tent is taken in the Word to represent the celestial and holy things of love is, that in ancient times they performed holy worship in their tents. But when they began to profane tents by unholy worship the tabernacle was built, and afterwards the temple; and therefore what the tabernacle and afterwards the temple represented was also signified by tents. For the same reason a holy man was called a tent, and a tabernacle, and also a temple of the Lord. That a tent, a tabernacle, and a temple have the same signification is evident in David: "One thing have I desired of Jehovah, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of Jehovah all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of Jehovah, and to inquire in His temple; for in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His tabernacle; in the secret of His tent shall He hide me; He shall set me up upon a rock. And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me, and I will offer in His tent sacrifices of shouting" (Psalm xxvii. 4-6). In the highest sense the Lord as to His Human essence is the tent, the tabernacle, and the temple. Hence every celestial man is so called; and everything celestial and holy. And because the Most Ancient church was more beloved of the Lord than any which succeeded, and they then lived apart or in their own families, and celebrated so holy worship in their tents, therefore tents were accounted more holy than the temple which was profaned. In remembrance thereof the feast of tabernacles was instituted, when they gathered the increase of the land; during which they dwelt in tabernacles, like the most ancients (Levit. xxiii 39-44; Deut. xvi. 13; Hosea xii. 9). (A. C. n. 414.)

The Most Ancient Church was composed of several Different Churches.

By the names which follow, as Seth, Enos, Canaan, Mahalaleel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, and Noah, so many churches are meant, of which the first and principal was the one called Man.[1] Of these churches the chief characteristic was perception; and therefore the differences of the churches of that time were chiefly differences of perception. Concerning perception it may here be mentioned that in the universal heaven there prevails only perception of good and truth; and it is such that

  1. See note p. 328. For a full account of the successive propagations of the Most Ancient church, indicated by the various names in Genesis, from Adam to Lamech, or to near the time of the deluge, see A. C. 468-536. F.