GOATS >> Love of Truth for Truth’s sake or for the Sake of Self

goats-jw Goats are in many respects similar to sheep.  They are of about the same size, perhaps a little larger; and, like sheep, they have horns and divided hoofs; they ruminate,  they are generally inoffensive and playful; and they give milk, wool, and their flesh and their skins to the uses of man.

They differ from sheep in being capricious, often mischievous, curious, and meddlesome; they are loud and peremptory in their cries; their wool is short, and concealed by long hairs; they love more rocky and precipitous feeding grounds, and browse freely upon the bark and twigs of trees.

Little kids have so much of the nature of lambs that they were accepted as sacrifices in their stead; but they are less gentle and affectionate, more impatient and peremptory in calling, and are full of curiosity, approaching, smelling, and nibbling every new object that falls in their way.

There is a similar difference in the disposition of infants. One can hardly read Swedenborg’s description of infants without being reminded of the innocence of kids and of lambs respectively. He says:

Infants differ in their genius; some being of the genius by which the spiritual angels are distinguished, and some of the genius by which the celestial angels are distinguished. The infants who are of the celestial genius appear on the right in heaven, and those who are of the spiritual genius on the left. . . . The distinction between them is very obvious. Those who are of the celestial genius think, speak, and act with more softness, than those of the spiritual genius, so that scarcely anything appears but something of a flowing character derived from the love of good directed to the Lord, and towards other little children.  Those of the spiritual genius, on the other hand, do not think, speak, and act with such softness; but something of a fluttering and vibratory character, so to speak, manifests itself in everything that they say and do. It also is apparent from the indignation which they exhibit; and by other signs. (Heaven and Hell #333, 339)

The difference between the celestial and the spiritual genius that Swedenborg speaks of is as the difference between love and wisdom. Those who are in celestial innocence love the Lord for His Love; those who are in spiritual innocence love the Lord for His Wisdom. This difference is quite plainly manifested by the difference in the clothing of sheep and goats. Love for the goodness of the Lord, with the mutual love springing from it, manifests itself in manners, looks, and acts which can hardly be separated from one another and examined singly, but are almost continuous.  But love for the wisdom of the Lord, with the charity which arises from it, is a love for distinct truths, and presents itself in manners and acts each of which presents a distinct thought.  Goodness is one and continuous; truth is manifold and separable.

That kids represent spiritual innocence is plain from their inquiring restlessness, compared with the quiet content of lambs. This innocence is received naturally by infants of the kind just described; it is received interiorly and spiritually by those who love wisdom, when, having learned that their own intelligence is delusive and foolish, they are led and taught by the Lord alone.

The love of wisdom, even the love of being taught by the Lord, is sadly liable to perversion. If it retains its innocence, it holds the truth reverently, and serves it humbly, delighting to introduce others to the ennobling service. It may, however, too easily make truth the servant and self the master, using truth to glorify self, and introducing others, not to the service of truth, but to the service of self as the possessor of truth.  The love of truth for truth’s sake, and the affection for leading to truth, is represented by he-goats in a good sense; and the love of cherishing the affection for truth and showing the goodness of it in life, is represented by shegoats. 

But the love of exalting self by means of the truth, and of taking to self the honor and regard that belong to the truth, is figured in the wantonness and mischievousness of goats.  The goats on the left hand had learned truth from the Lord, but they had not lived it. They had gloried in it, and demanded honor and service on account of it; and the very truth they had condemned them (Apocalypse Explained #817).

Upon the head of a goat were laid all the sins of the congregation of Israel, and he bore them away into the wilderness, a representative of the people taught by the mouth of the Lord, yet despising others, and finally rejecting the Lord Himself because He would not use His Divine power to exalt them above all other nations upon the earth (Apocalypse Explained #817).

(Kids: spiritual innocence. She-goats: charity or the good of truth. He-goats: the love of truth for truth’s sake or for the sake of self. Arcana Coelestia #4169, 3519, 3995.)

 Author: JOHN WORCESTER 1875

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