Arcana Coelestia (Elliott) n. 3263

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3263. 'These are the generations of Ishmael, Abraham's son' means derivatives of the spiritual Church represented by Ishmael. This is clear from the meaning of 'generations' as derivatives of faith and so of the Church, dealt with in 1145, 1255, 1330; from the representation of 'Ishmael' as those who are rational, and who belong to the Lord's spiritual Church, dealt with in 2078, 2691, 2699; and from the meaning of Abraham's sons as those with whom truth from the Lord is present, for 'sons' means truths, 489, 491, 533, 1147, 2623, and 'Abraham' represents the Lord, even as to the Divine Human, 3251, the source of truth and good received by those who are spiritual, 2661, 2716, 2833, 2834.

[2] As regards the Lord's spiritual Church it should be realized that it exists throughout the whole world, for it is not confined to those who possess the Word and from the Word have knowledge of the Lord and of some truths of faith. It also exists among those who do not possess the Word and therefore do not know the Lord at all, and as a consequence have no knowledge of any truths of faith - for all truths of faith regard the Lord. That is, it exists with gentiles remote from the Church. For among those people there are many who know from the light of reason that there is one God, that He has created and preserves all things; and also that He is the source of everything good, and consequently of everything true; and that being the likeness of Him makes a person blessed. And what is more, they live up to their religion, in love to that God and in love towards the neighbour. From an affection for good they perform the works of charity, and from an affection for truth they worship the Supreme Being. Such people among the gentiles belong to the Lord's spiritual Church. And although they do not know the Lord while they are in the world they nevertheless have within themselves a worship and virtual acknowledgement of Him when good exists within them, for the Lord is present within all good. For this reason also they acknowledge the Lord in the next life without difficulty, and receive the truths of faith better than Christians do in whom good is not so much present, as may be seen from what has been disclosed from experience about the state and condition in the next life of nations and peoples outside the Church, in 2589-2604. Their natural light present in their minds holds spiritual light within it, for without spiritual light received from the Lord such truths cannot possibly be acknowledged.

[3] From this it may now become clear what Ishmael means, and therefore what the Ishmaelites mean, in the representative sense - those belonging to the Lord's spiritual Church who lead lives of simple goodness and therefore rely on natural truth for doctrine. Such people are also meant by the Ishmaelites in the following statement regarding Joseph,

Behold, a band of Ishmaelites came from Gilead, and their camels bearing wax, resin, and stacte, taking them down into Egypt. Gen 37:25.

Here 'Ishmaelites' stands for those in whom simple good is present, such as exists with upright gentiles. 'Camels bearing wax, resin, and stacte' stands for the interior goods of such people. The same is meant by the Ishmaelites mentioned in verse 28 of that chapter, and in 39:1, as well as in the Book of Judges, in the reference to Gideon's requesting everyone to give him the earrings of his spoil, for being indeed Ishmaelites they had gold earrings, Judg. 8:24. 'Gold earrings' means the things that constitute simple good, 3103.

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