October 14, 2016

How Angels View Nations

From Arcana Coelestia ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
In the Most Ancient and in the Ancient Church, the many families which acknowledged one father constituted one nation. But as to "nations" signifying in the internal sense the worships of the church, and this in respect to the goods or evils in the worship, the case is this: when families and nations are viewed by the angels, they have no idea of a nation, but only of the worship in it; for they regard all from the quality itself, that is, from what they are. The quality or character of a man, from which he is regarded in heaven, is his charity and faith. This anyone may clearly apprehend if he considers that when he looks at any man, or any family, or nation, he thinks for the most part of what quality they are, everyone from that which is dominant in himself at the time.  The idea of their quality comes instantly to mind, and in himself he estimates them from that.  Still more is this the case with the Lord; and, from Him, with the angels, who cannot but regard a man, a family, and a nation, from their quality in respect to charity and faith.  And hence it is that in the internal sense by "nations" nothing else is signified than the worship of the church, and this in respect to its quality, which is the good of charity and the derivative truth of faith.  When the term "nations" occurs in the Word, the angels do not abide at all in the idea of a nation, in accordance with the historical sense of the letter, but in the idea of the good and truth in the nation that is named.

Further, as regards nations signifying the goods and evils in worship, the case is this. In the most ancient times, as has been stated before, men lived distinguished into nations, families, and households, in order that the church on earth might represent the Lord's kingdom, wherein all are distinguished into societies, and these societies into greater ones, and these again into still greater societies, and this according to the differences of love and of faith, in general and in particular.... Thus these in like manner are distinguished as it were into households, families, and nations.  And hence it is that in the Word "houses, families, and nations" signify the goods of love and of the derivative faith; and an accurate distinction is there made between "nations" and "people."  A "nation" signifies good or evil, and a "people" truth or falsity, and this so constantly as never to vary ...

(Arcana Coelestia 1258 - 1259)