To a considerable extent, the truths of the literal meaning of the Word are not bare truths but are semblances of truth; like similes and comparisons, they are drawn from the kinds of things that are in the physical world and are therefore adapted and fitted to the comprehension of uneducated people and children. Since they are correspondences, though, they are receptacles and dwelling places for genuine truth, like containers that gather in and hold something the way a crystal goblet holds a fine wine, or a silver plate holds gourmet food. They are like garments that serve as clothing, whether swaddling clothes for babies or attractive dresses for young women. They are also like the information in the earthly mind that comprehends within itself the perception of the spiritual self and its affection for truth.
The actual bare truths that are gathered in, contained, clothed, and comprehended are in the Word’s spiritual meaning; and the bare goodness is in its heavenly meaning.
However, this needs illustrations from the Word. Jesus said,
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, because you cleanse the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of extortion and excess. Blind Pharisee, cleanse the inside of the cup and the plate first, so that the outside of them may be clean as well. (Matthew 23:25-26)
The Lord said this using terms from the outmost level, which serve as containers. He said “the cup and the plate”–the cup meaning wine and the wine meaning the truth contained in the Word, the plate meaning food and the food meaning the goodness contained in the Word. Cleansing the inside of the cup and the plate means purifying what lies within us, matters of our will and thought and therefore of our love and faith, by means of the Word. The outside becoming clean by cleansing the inside means the consequent purification of our outer selves–our actions and speech, that is, since these have their essence from what lies within.
Again, Jesus said,
There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and indulged himself in glorious feasting every day; and there was a poor man named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid on his doorstep, (Luke 16:19-20)
Here too the Lord was speaking in earthly terms that were correspondences and that contained spiritual realities. The rich man means the Jewish people, who are called “rich” because they have the Word, in which there is spiritual wealth. The purple and linen of his clothing means what is good and true in the Word, the purple meaning what is good in it, and the fine linen what is true. Indulging in glorious feasting everyday means a delight in owning and reading it. The poor man Lazarus means the Gentiles who did not have the Word. Their being scorned and rejected by the Jews is meant by Lazarus being full of sores and laid on the rich man’s doorstep.
The reason Lazarus means Gentiles is that the Lord loved Gentiles the way the Lord loved Lazarus, whom he raised from the dead (John 11:3, 5, 36). He called Lazarus his friend (John 11:11) and Lazarus reclined with him at meals (John 12:2).
We can see from these two passages that the true and good statements of the literal meaning of the Word are like containers and clothing for the bare truths and goodness that lie hidden in the spiritual and heavenly meaning of the Word.
from Sacred Scripture: White Horse, Section 40