'He heard the words of Laban's sons, saying' means the nature of the truths belonging to the good meant by 'Laban' in comparison with the good thereby acquired in the Natural by the Lord. This is clear
from the meaning of 'sons' as truths, dealt with in 489, 491, 533, 11147, 2623, 3373, and from the representation of 'Laban' as a parallel good that springs from a common stock, dealt with in 3612,
3665, 3778, and so the kind of good which might serve to introduce genuine goods and truths, dealt with in 3974, 3982, 3986 (end), here which had in fact served to do so because the separation of that
good is the subject. Jacob 'heard the words' implies in the internal sense the nature of such truths in comparison with the good which the Lord acquired in the Natural. This may be seen from what immediately
follows, in that the scene was one of anger: Laban's sons said that Jacob had taken everything that belonged to their father, and Jacob saw that Laban's face was not friendly towards him as
it had been before. For 'Jacob' represents the Lord's Natural, and in the previous chapter the good of truth within the Natural, see 3659, 3669,3677, 3775, 3829, 4009.
 How the good meant by 'Laban' compares with the good of truth, represented by 'Jacob', may be seen from what has been stated and shown in the previous chapter. The same may be further illustrated by means of the states which a person passes through when being regenerated, a subject which is also dealt with here, in the representative sense. When someone is being regenerated the Lord maintains him in an intermediate kind of good, a good which serves to introduce genuine goods and truths. But once those goods and truths have been introduced, that intermediate good is separated from them. Anyone who knows anything at all about regeneration and about the new man can appreciate that the new man is entirely different from the old, for the new man has an affection for spiritual and celestial matters since these constitute his feelings of delight and blessedness, whereas the old man's affections are for worldly and earthly things, and these constitute his feelings of delight and pleasure. The new man's ends in view therefore lie in heaven, whereas the old man's lie in the world. From this it is evident that the new man is entirely different from and unlike the old.
 So that a person may be led from the state of the old man into that of the new, worldly passions have to be cast aside and heavenly affections assumed. This is effected by countless means known to the Lord alone, many of which the Lord has made known to angels but few if any to man. Even so, every single one of those means is revealed in the internal sense of the Word. When therefore a person is converted from an old man into a new one, that is, when he is regenerated, it does not take place in an instant as some people believe, but over many years. Indeed the process is taking place throughout the person's whole life right to its end. For his passions have to be rooted out and heavenly affections implanted, and he has to have a life conferred on him which he did not possess previously, and of which in fact he scarcely had any knowledge previously. Since therefore his states of life have to be changed so drastically he is inevitably maintained for a long time in an intermediate kind of good which partakes both of worldly affections and of heavenly ones. And unless he is maintained in that intermediate good he in no way allows heavenly goods and truths into himself.
 That intermediate good is the kind meant by 'Laban and his flock'. But a person is maintained in that good only so long as it serves its particular use. Once it has served it, it is separated. This separation is the subject in this chapter. The existence of this intermediate good, and its separation when it has served its use, may be illustrated from the changes of state which everyone undergoes from early childhood even to old age. It is well known that in each phase of life - early childhood, later childhood, youth, adulthood, and old age - a person's state is different. It is also well known that a person lays aside the state of early childhood and its playthings when he passes into the state of later childhood, and that he lays aside the state of later childhood when he passes into that of youth, and this in turn when he passes into the state of adulthood, and that he finally lays this aside when he passes into the state of old age. And if anyone thinks it over he can also recognize that each phase of life has its particular delights. He can recognize that by means of these he is introduced by consecutive stages into those which belong to the next phase and that such delights have served to bring him through to that next phase, till at length he is brought to the delight of intelligence and wisdom in old age.
 From this it is evident that former things are always left behind when a new state of life is assumed. But this comparison merely serves to make the point that delights are simply means and that they are left behind when a person enters whatever state comes next. When however a person is being regenerated his state is made entirely different from the previous one, towards which the Lord is leading him not by any natural process but by a supernatural one. Nor does anyone reach that state except by the means belonging to regeneration which the Lord alone provides, and so by the intermediate good which has been referred to. And once he has been brought to that state, to the point of his no longer having worldly, earthly, and bodily things as his end in view but those of heaven, that intermediate good is separated. Having something as one's end in view means loving it more than anything else.
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