(AC) - A Disclosure of the Hidden Treasures of Heaven Contained in the Holy Scripture or Word of the Lord, Together with Amazing Things Seen in the World of Spirits and in the Heaven of Angels

AC 1327

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1327. There did Jehovah confound the lip of all the earth. That this signifies the state of this Ancient Church, that internal worship began to perish, is evident from its being said, "the lip of all the earth," and not, as before, at verse 7, "the lip of those who began to build a city and a tower." By "the face of all the earth," is signified the state of the church, for "the earth" is the church (as has been shown before, n. 662, 1066). As regards the churches after the flood, the case stood thus: there were three of these churches that are specifically mentioned in the Word; namely, the First Ancient Church, which was named from Noah; the Second Ancient Church, named from Eber; and the Third Ancient Church, named from Jacob, and afterwards from Judah and Israel.
[2] As regards the first of these churches, which was named from Noah, that church was as the parent of those which succeeded it; and, as is wont to be the case with churches in their beginnings, it was more unimpaired and guiltless than its successors, as is evident also from the first verse of this chapter, in that it had "one lip," that is, one doctrine, in consequence of all its members holding charity to be the essential thing. But in process of time, like other churches, this First Ancient Church began to fall, and this chiefly from the fact that many of them began to aspire after the worship of self, so that they might take precedence of others; as is evident from verse 4, for they said, "Let us build us a city and a tower, and its head in heaven; and let us make us a name." Such men in the church could not but be as a kind of ferment, or as a firebrand causing a conflagration. As the peril of the profanation of what is holy thence impended (see n. 571, 582), of the Lord's Providence the state of this church was changed, so that its internal worship perished, while its external worship remained, which is here signified by the statement that Jehovah confounded the lip of all the earth. It is also evident from this that such worship as is called "Babel" did not prevail in the First Ancient Church, but in those which followed, when men began to be worshiped as gods, especially after their death, whence arose the many gods of the Gentiles.
[3] The reason why it was permitted that internal worship should perish and external remain, was that what is holy might not be profaned; for the profanation of what is holy is attended with eternal damnation. No one can profane what is holy except one who is in possession of the knowledges of faith, and who acknowledges the truth of them. A person who does not possess them cannot acknowledge, and still less profane them. It is the internal things that can be profaned; for what is holy abides in internal, and not in external, things. The case in this respect is the same as it is with a man who does what is evil, but does not purpose what is evil. To him the evil that he does cannot be imputed, just as it cannot be imputed to one who does not do it of deliberate intention, or to one who is destitute of reason. Thus a man who does not believe that there is a life after death, and yet performs external worship, cannot profane the things that belong to eternal life, because he does not believe that there is any such life; but the case is quite different with those who know and who acknowledge these things.
[4] And this is the reason why it is permitted a man rather to live in pleasures and in cupidities, and by them to remove himself from internal things, than to come into the knowledge and acknowledgment of internal things, and profane them. For this reason the Jews are at this day permitted to immerse themselves in avarice, that in this way they may be further removed from the acknowledgment of internal things; for they are of such a character that if they were to acknowledge them, they could not but profane them. Nothing removes men further from internal things than avarice, because it is the lowest earthly cupidity. And the case is the same with many within the church; and it is the same with the Gentiles outside the church. These latter, to wit, the Gentiles, are least of all capable of profanation. This then is the reason why it is here said that Jehovah confounded the lip of all the earth, and why these words signify that the state of the church was changed, so that its worship became external, and devoid of all internal worship.
[5] The like was represented and signified by the Babylonish captivity into which the Israelites, and afterwards the Jews, were carried away, concerning which it is thus written in Jeremiah:
And it shall come to pass, that the nation and the kingdom which will not serve the king of Babylon, and whoso will not put his neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, upon that nation will I visit with the sword, with the famine, and with the pestilence, until I have consumed them by his hand (Jer. 27:8).
"To serve the king of Babylon and to put the neck under his yoke," is to be utterly deprived of the knowledge and acknowledgment of the good and of the truth of faith, and thereby of internal worship.
[6] This is still more plainly evident in the same Prophet:
Thus hath said Jehovah to all the people in this city, Your brethren who have not gone forth with you into captivity, thus hath said Jehovah Zebaoth, Behold, I send upon them the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, and I will make them like horrible figs (Jer. 29:16, 17).
"To abide in the city and not go forth to the king of Babylon," represented and signified those who were in the knowledges of internal things, or of the truths of faith, and who profaned them, upon whom it is said there would be sent the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, which are the penalties of profanation; and that they should become like horrible figs.
[7] That by "Babel" are signified those who deprive others of all the knowledge and acknowledgment of truth, was also represented and signified by these things in the same Prophet:
I will give all Judah into the hand of the King of Babylon, and he shall carry them into Babylon, and shall smite them with the sword. Moreover I will give all the riches of this city, and all the toil thereof, and all the precious thing thereof, and all the treasures of the kings of Judah, will I give into the hand of their enemies, and they shall spoil them, and take them (Jer. 20:4, 5).
Here by "all the riches, all the toil, all the precious thing, and all the treasures of the kings of Judah," are signified the knowledges of faith,
[8] Again:
With the families of the north I will bring up the king of Babylon upon this land, and upon the inhabitants thereof, and upon all these nations round about, and I will give them to the curse, and will make them a desolation, and a hissing, and everlasting wastes; and this whole land shall be a waste (Jer. 25:9, 11).
Here the devastation of the interior things of faith, or of internal worship, is described by "Babylon." For the man who worships self possesses no truth of faith, as has been shown before. Everything that is true he destroys and lays waste, and carries away into captivity. And therefore Babylon is called "a destroying mountain" (Jer. 51:25). (See what has been further said concerning Babel above, n. 1182.)


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