March 9, 2015

Rituals which are Nothing More than Mere Matters of Memory-knowledge

From Arcana Coelestia ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
In the Ancient Church all those were called Philistines - who talked much about faith, and declared that salvation is in faith, and yet had no life of faith. Therefore they preeminently were called "the uncircumcised," which means those who are devoid of charity.  That they were called "the uncircumcised" may be seen in 1 Sam. 14:6; 17:26, 36; 31:4; 2 Sam. 1:20, and in other places.

Because they were such, they could not but make the knowledges of faith matters of memory; for the knowledges of spiritual and celestial things and the very mysteries of faith themselves become nothing but matters of memory, when the man who is skilled in them is devoid of charity. The things of the memory are like things dead unless the man is such that from conscience he lives according to them. When he does this, then at the same time as they are things of memory they are also things of life; and only then do they remain with him for his use and salvation after the life of the body.
Knowledges [scientiae et cognitiones] are nothing to a man in the other life, even though he may have known all the arcana that have ever been revealed, unless they have affected his life.
In Joel:
What are ye to Me, O Tyre, and Zidon, and all the borders of Philistia? Will ye render a recompense upon Me? very speedily will I return your recompense upon your own head. Inasmuch as ye have taken My silver and My gold, and have carried into your temples My desirable good things; the sons also of Judah and the sons of Jerusalem have ye sold unto the sons of the Javanites, that ye might cause them to remove far from their border (Joel 3:4-6).

Here it is evident what is meant by the Philistines, and by "all Philistia," or all "the borders" of it. "Silver and gold" here are the spiritual and celestial things of faith; "desirable good things" are the knowledges of them. That they "carried them into their temples," is that they possessed and proclaimed them; and that they "sold the sons of Judah and the sons of Jerusalem," signifies that they had no love and no faith; "Judah" in the Word is the celestial of faith, and "Jerusalem" is the spiritual of faith thence derived, which were "removed far from their borders."

They are not said to have been "begotten" by those who were of Egypt, but to have "gone forth" from them, because they are not such as reason from natural memory-knowledges concerning spiritual and celestial things, and thereby frame doctrinals for themselves-like those treated of before - but they are such as learn the knowledges of faith from others, and know and retain them in the memory, with no other end in view than such as they have in learning other things which they care nothing about except merely to know them, and except for the reason that they may thereby be advanced to honors, or some other such reason. So distinct is this mere memory-knowledge of the knowledges of faith from the memory-knowledge of natural things, that they have scarcely anything in common; and therefore it is said, not that they were "born," but that they "went forth" from them. Such being the character of the "Philistines," they cannot but pervert even the knowledges of faith by reasonings from them, and thence form for themselves false doctrinals; and therefore they are among those who can with difficulty be regenerated and receive charity, both because they are uncircumcised in heart, and because principles of falsity, and consequently the life of their understanding, prevent and oppose.
(Note Genesis 10:13,14; Arcana Coelestia 1197 - 1198)