(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 4925

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4925. That behold his brother came out. That this signifies the truth of good, is evident from the signification of a "brother," as being what is kindred from good (n. 3815, 4267), thus the truth of good; the truth of good is that truth which is from good, or that faith which is from charity. The subject treated of here in the internal sense is primogeniture in the case of those who are being reborn or regenerated by the Lord, consequently primogeniture in the church. It has been a matter of dispute from the most ancient times which is the firstborn, whether the good which is of charity, or the truth which is of faith; and as good does not appear while man is being reborn and made a church, but conceals itself in the interior man, and manifests itself only in a certain affection which does not fall clearly into the sensation of the external or natural man, until he has been reborn - whereas truth makes itself manifest, because it enters through the senses and stores itself in the memory of the external or natural man - therefore many persons have fallen into the error of thinking that truth is the firstborn, and at last even into that of thinking that truth is the essential of the church, and so essential that truth, which they call faith, has power to save without the good which is of charity.
[2] From this one error very many others have been derived, which have infected not only doctrine, but also life; as for instance that no matter how a man lives, provided he has faith he is saved; that even the most wicked are received into heaven if in the hour of death they make profession of such things as are of faith; and that everyone can be received into heaven merely from grace, whatever his life has been. In consequence of holding this doctrine they at last do not know what charity is, nor do they care for it; and finally they do not believe there is such a thing, nor consequently that there is a heaven or a hell. The reason is that faith without charity, or truth without good, teaches nothing; and the more it recedes from good, the more foolish it renders a man. For it is good into which and through which the Lord flows and gives intelligence and wisdom, thus a higher mental view, and also perception as to whether a thing be so or not so.
[3] All this shows how the case is in regard to primogeniture - it actually belongs to good, and to truth only apparently. This then is what is described in the internal sense by the birth of Tamar's two sons, for by the "double-dyed" which the midwife bound upon the hand is signified good (see n. 4922); by "coming out first" is signified priority (n. 4923); by "drawing back his hand" is signified that good concealed its power, as was said just above; by his "brother coming out" is signified truth; by "thou hast broken upon thee a breach" is signified the apparent separation of truth from good; by his "brother coming out afterward" is signified that good is actually prior; and by "that had the double-dyed upon his hand" is signified acknowledgment that it is good; for good is not acknowledged to be prior until after the man has been reborn, for he then acts from good and from it regards truth and its quality.
[4] These are the things which are contained in the internal sense, which teaches how the case is with good and truth in the man who is being born anew, namely, that good is actually in the first place, but truth apparently; and that good does not appear to be in the first place while the man is being regenerated, but becomes manifestly so when he has been regenerated. But these things need not be further explained here, because they have been explained before (see n. 3324, 3325, 3494, 3539, 3548, 3556, 3563, 3570, 3576, 3603, 3701, 4243, 4244, 4247, 4337). That from ancient times it has been a matter of controversy whether primogeniture belongs to good or to truth, or whether to charity or to faith, has also been shown above (n. 2435).
[5] As the Lord in the supreme sense is the "Firstborn," consequently love to Him and charity toward the neighbor, therefore it was ordained as a law in the representative church that the firstborn should be Jehovah's, as we read in Moses:
Sanctify to Me all the firstborn, whatsoever openeth the womb among the sons of Israel, in man and in beast, let them be Mine (Exod. 13:2).
Thou shalt cause to pass to Jehovah everything that openeth the womb, and everything that openeth the offspring of a beast, as many as shall be males to thee, shall be Jehovah's (Exod. 13:12).
Everything that openeth the womb is Mine; therefore as to all thy cattle thou shalt give the male, that openeth of ox and small cattle (Exod. 34:19).
Everything that openeth the womb of all flesh, which they shall bring to Jehovah, of men and of beasts, shall be thine; nevertheless every first born of man shalt thou surely redeem (Num. 18:15).
Behold I have taken the Levites from the midst of the sons of Israel, instead of every firstborn that openeth the womb of the sons of Israel; that the Levites may be Mine (Num. 3:12).
[6] As that which opens the womb is the firstborn, therefore where the word "firstborn" is mentioned, it is also said "that which openeth the womb;" in order that good may be signified. That this signifies good is evident from the particulars in the internal sense, especially from what is related of Tamar's sons-that Zerah opened the womb with his hand, by whom good is represented, as is evident from the double-dyed upon his hand (n. 4922). Moreover, the "womb," which is said to be "opened," is where good and truth are, consequently the church (n. 4918); and to "open the womb" is to give power that truth may be born.
[7] As the Lord alone is the Firstborn - for He is good itself, and from His good is all truth - therefore in order that Jacob, who was not the firstborn, might represent Him, he was permitted to buy the primogeniture from Esau his brother; and because this was not sufficient, he was called Israel, in order that by this name he might represent the good of truth; for Israel in the representative sense is the good which comes by means of truth (n. 3654, 4286, 4598).


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