Arcana Coelestia (Elliott) n. 4588

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4588. 'That the midwife said to her, Do not be afraid' means perception received from the natural. This is clear from the meaning of 'saying' in the historical narratives of the Word as perception, dealt with in 1791, 1815, 1819, 1822, 1898, 1919, 2080, 2619, 2862, 3395, 3509, and from the meaning of 'the midwife' as the natural. The reason 'the midwife' here means the natural is that when anyone undergoes interior temptations, that is, when the interior man undergoes temptations, the natural is like a midwife. For unless the natural assists no birth of interior truth is possible, since it is the natural that receives interior truths into its bosom once these are born; indeed it is the natural that enables them to push their way out. The same applies to instances of spiritual birth, in that reception must take place wholly within the natural. This is the reason why, when a person is being regenerated, the natural is first of all made ready to receive, and to the extent it is then able to receive, interior truths and goods are able to emerge and multiply. This also explains why, if the natural man has not been made ready during the life of the body to receive the truths and goods of faith, that person cannot receive them in the next life and so cannot be saved. This is the implication of the common saying 'As the tree falls, so it must lie', meaning, What a person is when he dies, so he comes to be. For a person has with him in the next life his whole natural memory, that is, the memory belonging to his external man, though he is not allowed to use it in that life, 2469-2494. In the next life therefore that memory serves as the groundwork on which interior truths and goods rest; but if that groundwork is not able to support the goods and truths which flow into it from within, interior goods and truths are either annihilated, or perverted, or cast aside. From all this it may be seen that the natural is like a midwife.

[2] The likeness of the natural to a midwife, inasmuch as it is a recipient when the interior man gives birth, becomes clear also from the internal sense of what is recorded concerning the midwives who, contrary to Pharaoh's orders, allowed the sons of the Hebrew women to live. This is described in Moses as follows,

The king of Egypt spoke to the midwives of the Hebrew women, and he said, When you act as midwives to the Hebrew women and see them on the stools, if it is a son you shall kill him, but if it is a daughter she shall be allowed to live. And the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt told them, but allowed the sons to live. And the king of Egypt called the midwives and said to them Why have you done this thing and allowed the sons to live? And the midwives said to Pharaoh, Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are lively; before the midwife reaches them they have given birth. And God did well to the midwives; and the people multiplied and became extremely numerous. And it happened because the midwives feared God, that He made them houses. Exod 1:15-21.

'The daughters and sons' to whom the Hebrew women gave birth represent the goods and truths of a new Church; 'the midwives' represent the natural, inasmuch as this is the recipient of goods and truths; 'the king of Egypt' represents factual knowledge in general, 1164, 1165, 1186, that wipes out truths, as happens when factual knowledge enters into matters of faith by a wrong path, which it does when nothing except that dictated by sensory experience and factual knowledge is believed. The fact that 'the midwives' in that passage means receptions of truth, within the natural, will in the Lord's Divine mercy be corroborated when the contents of that chapter in Exodus come up for explanation.

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