Topical and Doctrinal Notes
Leading Thought: The Silver Cup
It is said that Joseph's silver cup which was found in Benjamin's sack was used by Joseph to drink out of, and to divine in. We remember that Joseph represented the Lord Jesus Christ. Did the Lord, when He was on earth, drink out of a cup? Yes, the cup which He used at the Last Supper, when He instituted the Holy Supper, and told His disciples, "Drink ye all of it." The wine of the Holy Supper means Divine Truth, just as the bread means Divine Good. We need to know the truth, that we may live right, and when we live according to the truth, then we receive good. In this way we drink spiritual wine and eat heavenly bread. Silver also means truth. As it was through the silver cup in the sack of Benjamin that Joseph's brothers were brought back to him after they had started to leave him, so it is through the Truth which the Lord puts into our sacks - our memories - that we are brought back to Him when we have left Him. We can understand this, can we not?
But now comes something a little more difficult. What does Joseph's "divining" in the cup mean?
You will remember that when Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, dreamed his dreams about the seven cows and the seven ears of grain, he called for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt to explain the dreams. These were men who studied correspondences. What does that mean? Why, they knew what the things we see in the natural world meant, what spiritual things they corresponded to. For instance, a "horse" corresponds to or means the understanding - a white horse the right understanding of the Word, a black horse the wrong understanding of the Word; "to be warm" corresponds to being full of love; "to see" corresponds to understanding a thing; "to hear" corresponds to obeying; "the sun" corresponds to the Lord; etc., etc.
So these old magicians and wise men of Egypt knew what cows corresponded to, and grain, and a river, and numbers, like seven, three, forty, etc., what stars corresponded to. In fact, they studied what all things on earth correspond to. Those of them who were good, made a good use of what they knew; they could teach the truth, and they could find out hidden things in this way - secrets that were hidden from people generally. But those of them who were not good made a bad use of their knowledge of correspondences. They performed magical tricks, which were intended to deceive people, and through their knowing hidden things, tried to make people believe that they were wonderful and great, and so tried to obtain power over people, for their own advantage. The wise men or magi who came to see the Lord when He was born in Bethlehem, and were guided by the star, were of the good kind.
Using knowledge like this to find out what good ought to be done was called "divining."
Joseph, as you know, was able to do for Pharaoh what the wise men and magicians had been called upon to do and had failed to do. He was a very good and wise man, "in whom was the spirit of God." He could see and know hidden things. And he told Pharaoh the hidden meaning of his dreams. Now, just as the wise men at the time of the Lord's birth could, by the star, find out the hidden knowledge where the young Child who was born to be "King of the Jews" lay, so Joseph in Egypt, a long time before, could find out by his silver cup things that were hidden to others, and then would tell others what they ought to do. So he "divined."
When the Lord Jesus Christ made His First Coming into the world, He made known hidden things. He taught people about the hidden kingdom of God, which they knew nothing about. He taught them to love even their enemies, to do good to those who persecuted them. He taught them many things of this kind, showing that in this way they would come to be very near to Him, and be bound together with Him. This was the New Covenant, and so He called the cup at the Holy Supper "the New Covenant in My blood, which is shed for many for the remission of sins."
The Lord has now made His Second Coming. Has He made known hidden things to us of the New Church?
You have seen the great work, in many volumes, called the Arcana Coelestia, have you not? If not, ask your teacher to show it to you in the church library. Do you know what Arcana Coelestia means? It is a Latin title meaning Heavenly Secrets. You know what a secret is. Of course you had secrets before Christmas! You hid the presents which you were getting ready for your parents and brothers and sisters and friends. They did not know the lovely things you were going to give them. But when Christmas came, then you brought them out of their hiding places and out of their wrappings, and disclosed them, to make the loved ones happy. And they did the same to you. Now the books called the Arcana Coelestia contain lovely things that had been kept hidden in heaven for thousands of years, until the Lord made His Second Coming. Then our Lord Jesus Christ took Swedenborg to heaven, and showed Him these heavenly secrets, and told him to disclose, or reveal them, that is to tell people on earth about them and show them to them. And this he did in these wonderful books. These books are like Joseph's silver cup, in which we can "divine" - that is, know - the hidden things of heaven, and learn how to have them on earth. Whatever you learn about the Lord and heaven, and whatever your pastor preaches in the church on Sundays from the internal sense of the Word, has been "divined" from this silver cup.