Page:A Compendium of the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg.djvu/67

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
lix
THE WORD AND THE CHURCH.

herbs and fruitful trees before the appearance of the sun and moon. Similiar difficulties follow, which are scarcely credited by any one who thinks interiorly: as, that the Woman was built from the rib of the Man; that two trees were set in Paradise, and the fruit of one forbidden to be eaten; that the Serpent discoursed with the Wife of the Man, who was the wisest of mortals, and deceived them both; and that the universal human race was on that account condemned to Hell.

"Nevertheless it is to be noted, that all things in that story, even to the smallest iota, are divine, and contain in them arcana, which before the angels in the heavens are manifest as in a clear day."[1]

In these eleven allegorical chapters Swedenborg professes to have discovered the history of two Dispensations. The first he designates the Most Ancient Church, and the time of its existence, the Golden Age; the second, the Ancient Church, and the time of its existence, the Silver Age.

The rise of the Most Ancient Church he finds symbolized in the story of Creation; its culmination, in Adam and Eve in Eden; its decline in the events following the eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; and its destru6lion in the deluge.

The story of the Ancient Church begins with Noah, and is continued in his posterity; its ruin is depicted in the erection of the Tower of Babel, the confusion of the tongues of the builders and their dispersion over the earth.

A third regime commences, he tells us, with the call of Abram, or rather with Eber, at which point the allegorical style of narration terminates.

That there was a more ancient Word is proved by the allusions in Numbers xxi. 14, and Joshua x. 13, to the Book of the Wars of Jehovah and to the Book of Jasher. In the Word are three senses or meanings,—the celestial, the spiritual, and the natural or literal. These three senses make one by correspondence.

"With regard to the writings of St. Paul, and the

  1. Arcana Cœlestia, No. 8891.