To Live in the Lord

Lastchurch - The Eternal Purpose

From Arcana Coelestia ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
Blessed be God Most High.

In the Ancient Church, Jehovah was called “God Most High” for the reason that “height” represented and therefore signified what is internal, and thus “the Most High” signified what is inmost. Hence the worship of the Ancient Church was upon high places, mountains, and hills. The inmost also has the same relation to the exterior and the outermost, as the highest bears to the lower and the lowest. The Most High or the Inmost is the Celestial of Love, or Love, itself. Jehovah, or the Lord’s internal man, was the very Celestial of Love, that is, Love itself, to which no other attributes are fitting than those of pure Love, thus of pure Mercy toward the whole human race which is such that it wills to save all and make them happy to eternity, and to bestow on them all that it has; thus out of pure mercy to draw all who are willing to follow, to heaven, that is, to itself, by the strong force of love. This Love itself is Jehovah.

Of nothing can Am or Is be predicated except of Love. From this Love – because in Love, or of Love itself – is the very Being [Esse] of all life, that is, Life itself; and because Jehovah alone is Being of life, or Life itself, as He alone is Love, each and all things have thence their being and their life; nor can anyone be and live of himself except Jehovah alone, that is, the Lord alone; and as no one can be and live of himself except the Lord alone, it is a fallacy of sense that men seem to themselves to live of themselves. The angels plainly perceive that they do not live of themselves, but from the Lord, since they live in the very being of the Lord’s life, because in His love. But yet to them above all others there is given the appearance as of living from themselves, together with ineffable happiness. This therefore is to live in the Lord, which is never possible unless we live in His love, that is, in charity toward the neighbor.

(Arcana Coelestia 1735)
May 10, 2017

Can God play a governing role in a universe maintained by scientific laws?

 

The quick answer is “yes.”

But the problem with such a question is that it assumes that scientists have got it right. According to scientist/theologian, Emanuel Swedenborg, God is law and order itself. Therefore, God does not violate scientific laws (even with miracles) when acting in the world. Swedenborg proposed a different model of scientific law that included many of the elements found in relativity theory, quantum physics and multi-dimensional string theory but were more in tune with God’s Holy nature.

Swedenborg’s approach to the physics ruling the universe on a fundamental level is based on spiritual laws operating in a non-physical realm. The closest thing modern science has to this idea of causal process is the notion of pre-geometry.

While scientists have a big problem grasping how dynamics and action can take place in a realm whose laws are stripped of their normal involvement with time and space, Swedenborg had no such difficulties.

Swedenborg stated that the future (God’s eternal goal) is present in all finite and temporal events. All finite events refer to a universal trajectory—so God’s Infinite and eternal activity can be involved completely at every point in space and sequence in time to promote this continuity of law and process.

Differential and integral calculus offers mathematical support for such laws of continuity within a universe in process. An action (real-valued function) converges to a limit. In mathematics, numbers do the tending. But in God’s scheme, endeavor or spirit seeks to become fixed within spacetime constraints. The nature of continuity is that action results from the endeavor (force) of a function adapting trajectory and finite form precisely to the endeavor’s disposition and quality. Each recovers the other as a correspondence or similitude. Just as there is a reciprocal relationship between action and its derivative form, there is reciprocal relationship between a particular (which commands the function) and a holistic event. Even in quantum physics, all action comes in wholes (Quanta or parcels). But in quantum physics the particulars become fuzzy and unobservable.

The current measurement problem in quantum physics is due to scientists finding no causal kinship by which quantum tendencies (probability distributions) could generate actual results through the principle of resemblance and affinity. In other words, the outcomes of measurement in quantum physics are not seen as represented through any form of self-similarity from this indeterminate substrate and microscopic scale. Some physicists have speculated that a principle of correspondence is involved by which quantum physics gives way to, and transforms into classical physics on the larger scales we can directly experience. On this larger scale, it is profoundly obvious that nature is on an incessant course towards self-organization. If there is self-consistency and continuity working in the laws of nature (as scientists believe) then this endeavor towards increased complexity in the universe must be inherent in first principles (and thus also apply to quantum physics).

From everything discussed so far, this means that if God is ruling things, all process, coherent structure and complexity in the manifest universe must recover a spiritual and unifying first principle. The universe is indeed unified.

Swedenborg claimed this spiritual first principle and primal (a piori) creative substance is LOVE. The essence of love is to unite through reciprocation and cooperation. All coherent organization consists of reciprocal functions in both the orderly motions of star systems and in the evolved and orderly processes of bio-complexity. So all orderly things in the universe are an analog and expression of God’s infinite love.

God can therefore lawfully act in the world by focusing infinite action at every point in space and sequence in time to recover spiritual love as an ultimate goal through an evolutionary trajectory. This is why religion has been given to the human race—which has the intelligence and psychical capacity for promoting sincere mutual love.

These are some of the topics my upcoming book “Proving God” addresses.

http://www.provinggod.com

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Dealing with depression

 by Rev. Clark Echols

Dealing with depressionSadness, like joy, anger and fear, is a normal human emotion. It is a gift from the Lord because it allows us to be conscious of who and what we love; we cannot experience love without feeling some sadness. People have noticed for millennia that going through periods of sadness or grief restores one’s mental, emotional, and spiritual balance.

However, sometimes a person is unable to manage his sadness on his own. Depression exists for many individuals, often brought on by a traumatic experience or a chemical imbalance in the brain. The medical community has helped by defining the disease of depression as a physical ailment that begins in the brain, and is felt in all parts of the body in a variety of ways.

In many cases, depression is caused when there is an interruption in either the brain’s production or reception of dopamine, the chemical that induces our feeling of joy.

There is a very real spiritual component to this ailment as well. As described in Divine Providence, “The state of the mind depends on that of the body. When the body is afflicted, the mind is as well, if only by being out of touch with the world” (142). It helps people to know that depression is a physical disease. It frees them from uselessly and harmfully blaming themselves for the ailment. It frees them to take a very wide view of what they can do to be cured. And it is quite common for depression to be cured if it can be attended to early in its appearance.

Therapists have a short, simple list of remedies for depression, although actually doing them requires more or less strength, courage and stamina depending on the severity of the illness. The list begins with physical behaviors – sleeping, eating and exercise in the right amounts in a structured routine. Then there is the mental skills – relaxation, focus, presence, attentiveness, which are grouped together as mindfulness practices. And finally, there is the spiritual component.

The spiritual component is not a physical discipline or a mental practice, although it needs to be expressed in our body and in our thought and feeling. An effective therapist will help the person identify their higher power, the Divine, God, or Lord as a loving, helpful, healing source of their life. And then the person seeks a spiritual sense of connection to their God. For instance, it is common for a person suffering depression to report that they feel forgotten by God.

The cure for depression involves all of these pieces. It is critical for there to be a stable, helpful relationship with God, a mindful way of thinking and feeling, and healthy behaviors. Each supports the other, and the cure is harder to achieve if one or more of them is not fully utilized by the person.

A typical scenario for a person is that they are traumatized by a loss. They can’t sleep, eat poorly, and don’t leave their bed, or at least their house, as much as a healthy person does. And then their thinking and feeling – the activity of their brains – is affected and they give a lot of time and energy to negative thoughts about themselves, their circumstances and the future (as distinct from sadness, anger or fear about these areas of their life). It is then that spirits associated with evil and false notions and desires are attracted to the person, and are able to attach themselves to the unconscious level of the person’s spirit.

The cure for depression can begin in any one of these aspects or as a combination. A person who has had a strong faith – a significant sense of dependence on God and appreciation of His presence in their lives – can be encouraged by a spiritual guide or therapist to be mindful of that faith, and can be instructed to use energy, thought and feeling, to create a sacred space where they can spend time in devotion. Perhaps they use Scripture, music, guided meditation or singing to bring the benefits of positive spirits into their unconscious. These spirits will restore the person’s balanced view of their life, and remind them of the inner strengths they have from their God.

A spouse or close family member can be with the person, and as they talk about the person’s thinking and feeling, they are able to reflect the function and dysfunctional patterns of thinking. The person can be alerted to the connection they maintain between negative thoughts and feelings by a person listening carefully.

A friend can take the person to, or bring in, a meal of good food, and go with them for a walk. Or if there is a form of recreation the person has loved, a companion in that activity can be encouraging.

The cure is achieved when the person’s spirit is fully engaged again in their thinking, feeling and acting. The person then not only feels connected to their God, but also to their community. They feel the fulfillment and joy of a life of usefulness, which is generated by an inner desire to love their God and do their neighbor good.


Clark Echols is a licensed counselor, and pastor of the Glendale New Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. For more information, visit www.clarkechols.com.

Full issue

https://newchurch.org/

DAILY INSPIRATION

“Divine Providence has as its end in view a person’s eternal salvation, thus not their great happiness in the world, not – that is to say – wealthiness and eminence which people during their lifetime think real happiness consists in.”

Arcana Coelestia 6481

 

Eternity and marriage

 Love everlasting

 

Those who are in love know it. The poets write about it. We even watch movies about it. But rarely do we find a church that teaches it– that is, that true love is everlasting. It cannot die. The Writings of the New Church teach that those who truly love each other will dwell together in heaven after death. Their love and their care for each other remains, and grows. Their joy in working together in service to God and to other fellow human beings flourishes, and takes on a newness each day. Swedenborg’s description of the afterlife is a complete picture and makes sense. He says that all who die enter into the other world safe and secure. Heaven is a very real world, more real than the world of appearances around us, for everything in heaven corresponds to deeper loves within ourselves. We have homes, gardens, and friends. Heaven is not a cloud upon which we sit and play harps or continually adore God through endless worship. True worship is a way of life. People are very active in heaven. Everyone there performs a function or “use” which they love to do and become more proficient in each new day, and what they do benefits everyone around them. “Heaven,” Swedenborg says, “is a kingdom of uses.”

This concept holds true of marriage as well. Good marriages are active marriages. In heaven, each partner works in harmony with the other in acts of charity and love. An idle life is not only a dull life, but it can lead to lethargy and self-centeredness. People who view life as only a means of self-fulfillment create a hell for themselves which they take with them after death. Hell is not a place of punishment where God sends a person for not following His rules. Rather, hell is a place where people freely go who have stubbornly refused to let love into their lives, and who do not wish to help others. It is a frustrating life and truly is a state of hell, for evil brings upon itself its own punishment, and a selfish life leads to dissatisfaction and eventual gloom. Those who approach marriage as a means for self-satisfaction alone will find this same dissatisfaction with their relationship, and the hell that is often created in a marriage is the product of a selfish heart that acts contrary to true marriage love. Marriage brings blessings, but the blessings come into their fullness through acts of unselfishness and charity to the neighbor.

https://newchurch.org/

DAILY INSPIRATION

“Divine Providence has as its end in view a person’s eternal salvation, thus not their great happiness in the world, not – that is to say – wealthiness and eminence which people during their lifetime think real happiness consists in.”

Arcana Coelestia 6481

Rogue One: The Spiritual Lessons

Swedenborg Foundation

By Colin Amato

The Star Wars saga is one of the most celebrated film series in cinematic history. Beginning with the original film, A New Hope, and moving into the most recent films, The Force Awakens and Rogue One, we enter a living mythology that contains deeper lessons right beneath its manifest content. Creator George Lucas has taken a symbolic approach to understanding the Star Wars story. Lucas was inspired by his study of comparative religion, mythology, and the writings of Joseph Campbell. Campbell, of Bill Moyers’s The Power of Myth fame, introduced to a wide audience the idea of studying mythology in the context of psychology and spirituality. It is no secret that George Lucas and Joseph Campbell had an appreciation for each other’s work, as most of The Power of Myth was shot at Lucas’s ranch.

Campbell was influenced by Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung and his theories of archetypes and the collective unconscious. Jung’s approach to human psychology is rooted in a blended study of psychiatry, world religions, and mythology. During his time at university, Jung studied five major works by Christian mystic and scientist Emanuel Swedenborg. Swedenborg places fundamental importance on understanding biblical texts from the point of view of psychological and spiritual symbolism. Instead of reading on a literal level the creation story in Genesis or the apocalyptic episodes of The Book of Revelation, for example, Swedenborg uses the language of correspondences to unpack the rich narratives into practical meanings that support transformative living.

This approach to understanding symbolism, as found in the writings of Swedenborg, Jung, and Campbell, can be applied to Rogue One. Though the entire Star Wars series is ripe for symbolic interpretation, Rogue One occupies a unique place in the full saga in that it can be approached as a stand-alone story (the action occurs outside the regular “episodes,” supplying background to A New Hope and concentrating on new characters both in the Empire and among the Rebel Alliance).

Director Krennic

From the very start of Rogue One, Orson Krennic, Director of the Advanced Weapons Research Division, embraces the mission and ideology of the Empire. He believes that the Empire’s goal is to bring order and peace to the galaxy by creating the Death Star, a space station with the capacity to destroy entire planets. The selfish conquering and domination of others is what fuels the spirit of the Empire. Krennic is always willing to use others, even former friends, in his pursuit of personal power and gain. He believes that only he should have command over the Death Star and that his high Imperial rank should grant him an audience with the Emperor. In his meeting with Darth Vader on the hellish planet of Mustafar, Krennic is admonished by the Sith Lord “not to choke on [his] aspirations”—advice reinforced by an actual choke using the Force. Krennic can be seen smiling, even though he has been punished by Lord Vader.

Krennic’s behavior can be explored as a spiritual example of what Swedenborg would describe as a hellish life. Hell, for Swedenborg, is a state of mind and spirit that begins while a person is alive on earth. Chief characteristics of the populace of hell feature a denial of the Divine (or a supreme good); a selfish, ego-driven life; and even tendencies toward masochism (e.g., Krennic’s smiling after enduring physical pain). The “ruling loves” of such spirits fasten on dominating others and controlling resources. Any sense of community is superficial, because only for their own personal gain do such spirits work with others; they are not so much communities working to serve both themselves and the members of other communities but are gangs and organizations doing violence to others and in turn to themselves. As a member of the Empire, Krennic symbolizes this spiritual mindset spectacularly.

The source that powers the Death Star offers another symbolic parallel between Rogue One and Swedenborgian theology. The material used to power the laser beam that can destroy entire planets is called the kyber, or kyber crystals. These crystals also power the Jedi and Sith lightsabers, which are the weapons carried by those who use the Force. The Empire has been plundering Jedi temples to obtain large numbers of kyber crystals, which would swell the destructive power of the Death Star. The Force— the Divine energy that powers and sustains the galaxy and manifests itself in both positive and negative ways—has a special relationship to these crystals as well as to those orders that wield lightsabers.

Swedenborg’s primary thesis in Divine Love and Wisdom is that nothing but love and wisdom—which make up the force that rules and controls known reality—comes from the Divine. This energy from the Divine does not create evil, but it does flow into hell, where love and wisdom have been perverted into selfishness and ignorance. Similarly, the Death Star is powered by a perversion of the kyber crystals, the energy and purpose of which in the case of the Death Star have been corrupted to a level of destructiveness that can lay waste to entire planets. And such destruction can only be stopped by the Rebel Alliance, whose intentions are selfless and incorruptible.

The Crew of Rogue One

While the Empire (an immoral dictatorship and primary antagonist) and its evil Director Krennic are the central focus of the film, many spiritual lessons are to be gleaned by analyzing the Rebel Alliance (a heroic resistance movement striving to restore a Republic Force) and the crew of Rogue One. The mission of the crew is to steal the Death Star plans in order to destroy the evil space station. For the crew to succeed in their mission, they need to work together as a community. The same holds true for the Rebel Alliance. The struggle to stay together in the face of atrocities committed by the Empire is a foremost theme in the film. For the Rebel Alliance to overcome the Empire, they cannot stand on their own; instead, they must find a way to comprise a powerful alliance with each other to engage in the selfless act of saving the entire galaxy.

Swedenborg’s theological view on the nature of heaven and how one might lead a heavenly life is well illustrated by the behavior of the Rebel Alliance. While each of them struggles individually in the civil war gripping the galaxy, they come together as a crew to work toward their common goal. This is true of heavenly communities both in this life and in the next, according to Swedenborg. In heaven, each individual has a job that contributes to the well-being of his or her respective community, and the community as a whole finds profound bonding in caring about the supreme good of living in usefulness for others. Leading a heavenly life is focused, courageous, selfless, and loving. Everyone transcends egocentric behaviors by embracing the ways of the Divine.

The spiritual lessons taught in Rogue One speak to those of us seeking to be on the path of regeneration. We cannot hope to lead a life of positive spirituality and regeneration on our own. We need a community that supports us on this path and in which we can support others. It may be an old story, yet it is ever new: in the face of overwhelming temptations toward living a negative lifestyle, the Divine is with us, always. As the character Chirrut repeats throughout the film, “I am one with the Force, and the Force is with me.”

Colin Amato, MS, is a marriage and family therapist intern and also a Swedenborgian seminarian at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California.

http://www.swedenborg.com/

FORMS

HR90 THE SCIENCE OF CORRESPONDENCE

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FORMS

app1leblo1ssom In considering the correspondence, or symbolic meaning, of forms, we may use the word “form” in three senses, viz. : first, as the shape ; second, as the body; and third, as the organization.

In the universe there is one life, that of the Lord; and all created things are vessels, capable, in different degrees, of receiving and, using the inflowing life of the Lord.

Thus, in their origin, all forms are expressions of the Divine life, i. e., of the Divine Love, Wisdom and Power.

Each creature has its characteristic life, which we call its form of life, i. e., its organization. In the interior sense, the form- is the organization, by means of which the organism is formed. And, in a lower, or secondary sense, the form is the body, or substance, in which the creature dwells. And, in a third sense, the form is the external shape which is given to the organism, that it may carry out its kind of life. And the life, the organism and the shape, are related to each other, as the end, the cause, and the effect; for the organism is the form assumed by the indwelling life; and the shape is the external effect of the organization. And thus the organization and the shape depend on the life. A thing which is formed for a certain purpose; is organized for it, and also shaped for it. And it is so shaped because it is. so organized. The eye is formed for seeing; and it is shaped so that it can see The spirit of man is a human organism ; and so it has the human shape.

With every living thing the outward form, or body, corresponds to the inward life, as to its shape, and as to its abilities. The tiger has great teeth and claws, because it needs such weapons to exercise its kind of life and character ; but the lamb, having no fierce character, does not need such teeth and claws; and so it does not have them. And so, the different animals differ in shape, because they differ in character. The character forms the shape to its purposes. And, in symbolic representation, the shape of a thing corresponds to its qualities of character.

In the Scriptures many things were revealed to the Israelites, and to others, as to the forms, or shapes, in which various things were to be made ; as, for instance, the many details of the tabernacle, and of the temple. And these things were so commanded because of their correspondence.

Shapes are of two general classes, curves and straight lines. And these two classes represent and symbolize the two general elements of human life, love and wisdom, or, in other, words, goodness and truth. Curved lines, rounded lines, represent the things of man’s will, his spiritual heart, with its loves, its affections, its goodness. And straight lines represent the things of man’s understanding, his intellectual life, with its thoughts. And all shapes are made up of curves, or of straight lines, or of their combinations. Different geometric forms of curves, the circle, the oval, the parabola, etc., represent different conditions and qualities of goodness, i. e., of love. And the different right-lined figures, such as the square, the parallelogram, the rhombus, etc., and the triangles of various kinds, represent the different forms in which truth comes to the human mind.

We recognize this representative meaning of straight lines, when we say of a man, that he is “square” in his dealing ; i. e., he is just and right on all sides, and to every person concerned. So, in Israel, the altar of burnt-offering, and the altar of incense, and the breastplate of the high-priest, all being representative, were commanded to be made square. And the holy city of the New Jerusalem was to be square.

ILLUSTRATIONS.

In the prophecies of the Old Testament many singular things are mentioned, and their forms and shapes are especially indicated ; as, for instance, in Daniel’s vision of the four beasts : “The first was like a lion, and had eagles’ wings …. And behold, another beast, like to a bear. . . : and lo, another, like unto a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl. The beast had also four heads …. a fourth beast, . . . and it had great iron teeth;. . . .and it had ten horns.” (Daniel, vii. i, 5, 6, 7.) And in the Revelation, it is said concerning a vision, “In the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts, full of eyes before and behind. And the first beast was like a lion; and the second beast life a calf; and the third beast had a face as a man; and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle. And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him ; and they were full of eyes, within.” (Rev. iv. 6-8.) These definite details of the shapes of the beasts afford definite instruction as to the mental principles, the affections and thoughts, thus represented.

Forms presented on the surface of the earth, and in the earth, represent states of human life.

DIMENSIONS.

Much is said, in the Scriptures, about forms, in the sense of dimensions, as length, breadth, thickness, height, and so forth. Spiritually, the length of anything is its measure as to goodness, i. e., as to the quality of the love which characterizes the mind”.’ Length symbolizes largeness, fulness, extension, development of character, in goodness. The Lord said of the good man, “Because he hath set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him. With long life will I satisfy him, and show him My salvation.” (Ps. xci. 14, i5.) In the spiritual sense, these things refer to spiritual conditions, fulness of love, extension of qualities, largeness of character.

Shortness represents a want of fulness of character, a cramped state^ of mind, in which the man is not in spiritual freedom, but is bound in slavery by his own evils. “Your: covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand  for the bed is shorter than that a man can stretch himself on it ; and the covering narrower than that he can wrap himself in it.” ‘(Isa, xxviii. 18, 20.) A bed, on which the body rests, represents a doctrine, on which the mind rests. But a false doctrine does not give freedom to the mind, to develop, to extend itself in fullness, because the false doctrine shortens and dwarfs the heart, and also keeps the intellect within limited bounds, and contracts the thoughts.

Thus, spiritual length refers to the state of the will, the heart, with its affection for goodness. But breadth, or width, represents the state of the understanding, the intellect, with its thoughts. And, spiritually, the measure of a thing, as to its width, is the test of its truthfulness. We speak of intelligent, clear-headed and unprejudiced men, as broad-minded; and of ignorant, selfish and prejudiced men as narrow-minded. Evil shortens the mind, as to its affections, and falsity narrows the understanding. But truth widens the mind. The Psalmist of Israel sings to the Lord, “Thy commandment is exceeding broad. Through Thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way. Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Ps. cxix. 96, 104, 105.)

STATES OF MIND.

Recognizing the fact that external forms depend upon the inward states of mind, which express themselves in outward forms, we observe how a man’s states of affection and of thought shape his body to their images. When a pleasant feeling is in the heart, and a ,broad thought is in the intellect, the countenance is formed in rounded lines, expressing goodness ; but,when anger is in the heart, an4 harsh thoughts in the intellect, the lines of the countenance are hard, angular and repulsive.

The regenerate man’s spiritual form is in the image of God, formed by Divine principles : but the spiritual form of the evil man is in the image of hell,, formed by infernal principles. The man’s ruling-love forms his whole character, and even shapes his physical countenance. “The measure of a man, that is, of an angel,” (Rev. xxj. 17), is the fulness of regenerate life, measured by Divine principles. And so, in the heavens, where the Divine principles of goodness and truth rule all things, every object is of beautiful, symmetrical and harmonious form, corresponding to the good, affections and the true thoughts of the angels. But, in the hells, where all good and true principles are perverted and falsified, all the objects are ugly, contorted and repulsive, corresponding to the spiritual deformity of evil affections and false thoughts. And, on the earth, the things of beautiful forms represent good and true human qualities ; and hideous and repulsive forms represent evil and false qualities.

Forms, dimensions, etc., have a bad meaning, when they refer to things which have been abused and perverted; as, for instance, it is said of certain hypocritical Jews, “all their works they do for to be seen of men : they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments.” (Matt, xxiii. 5.)

THE DIVINE HUMAN FORM.

When Jehovah appeared to men on earth. He came in a human form, in Jesus Christ. God is a Divine Man, having infinite human qualities. And finite man, as a creature, was formed in the image of God, in the sense that he was made capable of receiving human qualities in a finite degree. And because man is the highest form of created being, and nearest to the Lord, therefore the human form of his spirit takes upon it, in physical nature, a material shape the most beautiful of all created bodies.

And, in the spiritual world, the spiritual form of the regenerate man grows more beautiful, for ever. And, even in the physical world, regenerate men grow more expressive of love and wisdom, even in their natural faces.

Author: Edward Craig Mitchell From Scripture Symbolism 1904

ALL USES, WHICH ARE ENDS OF CREATION ARE IN FORMS,
WHICH FORMS THEY TAKE FROM SUBSTANCES AND MATTERS SUCH AS ARE IN LANDS.

All things treated of hitherto, as the sun, atmospheres, and lands, are only means to ends. The ends of creation are those things that are produced by the Lord as a sun,  through the atmospheres, out of lands; and these ends are called uses. In their whole extent these are all things of the vegetable kingdom, all things of the animal kingdom, and finally the human race, and the angelic heaven which is from it. These are called uses, because they are recipients of Divine Love and Divine Wisdom also because they have regard to God the Creator from whom they are, and thereby conjoin Him to His great work; by which conjunction it comes that, as they spring forth from Him, so do they have unceasing existence from Him. They are said to have regard to God the Creator from whom they are, and to conjoin Him to His great work, but this is to speak according to appearance. It is meant that God the Creator causes them to have regard and to conjoin themselves to Him as it were of themselves; but how they have regard and thereby conjoin will be declared in what follows.  Something has been said before on these subjects in their place, as that Divine Love and Divine Wisdom must necessarily have being and form in other things created by themselves (n. 37-51); that all things in the created universe are recipients of Divine Love and Divine Wisdom (n. 55-60); that the uses of all created things ascend by degrees to man, and through man to God the Creator from whom they are (n. 65-68). [DLW307]

FC1Who does not see clearly that uses are the ends of creation, when he considers that from God the Creator nothing can have form, and therefore nothing can be created, except use; and that to be use, it must be for the sake of others; and that use for the sake of self is also for the sake of others, since a use for the sake of self looks to one’s being in a state to be of use to others? Who so considers this is also able to see, that use which is use cannot spring from man, but must be in man from that Being from whom everything that comes forth is use, that is, from the Lord. [DLW308]

But as the forms of uses are here treated of, the subject shall be set forth in the following order:

(1)          In lands there is a conatus to produce uses in forms, that is, forms of uses.

(2)          In all forms of uses there is a kind of image of the creation of the universe.

(3)          In all forms of uses there is a kind of image of man.

(4)          In all forms of uses there is a kind of image of the Infinite and the Eternal. [DLW309]

(1) In lands there is a conatus to produce uses in forms, that is, forms of uses. That there is this conatus in lands, is evident from their source, since the substances and matters of which lands consist are endings and closings of atmospheres which proceed as uses from the spiritual sun (as may be seen above, n. 305, 306). And because the substances and matters of which lands consist are from that source, and their aggregations are held in connection by the pressure of the surrounding atmospheres, it follows that they have from that a perpetual conatus to bring forth forms of uses. The very quality that makes them capable of bringing forth they derive from their source, as being the outmosts of atmospheres, with which they are constantly in accord. Such a conatus and quality are said to be in lands, but it is meant that they are present in the substances and matters of which lands consist, whether these are in the lands or in the atmospheres as exhalations from the lands. That atmospheres are full of such things is well known. That there is such a conatus and such quality in the substances and matters of lands is plain from the fact that seeds of all kinds, opened by means of heat even to their inmost core, are impregnated by the most subtle substances (which can have no other than a spiritual origin), and through this they have power to conjoin themselves to use, from which comes their prolific principle. Then through conjunction with matters from a natural origin they are able to produce forms of uses, and thereafter to deliver them as from a womb, that they may come forth into light, and thus sprout up and grow. This conatus is afterwards continuous from the lands through the root even to outmosts, and from outmosts to firsts, wherein use itself is in its origin. Thus uses pass into forms; and forms, in their progression from firsts to outmosts and from outmosts to firsts, derive from use (which is like a soul) that each and every thing of the form is of some use. Use is said to be like a soul, since its form is like a body.  It also follows that there is a conatus more interior, that is, the conatus to produce uses for the animal kingdom through vegetable growths, since by these animals of every kind are nourished. It further follows that in all these there is an inmost conatus, the conatus to perform use to the human race. From all this these things follow: (1) that there are outmosts, and in outmosts are all prior things simultaneously in their order, according to what has been frequently explained above; (2) that as there are degrees of both kinds in the greatest and least of all things (as was shown above, n. 222-229), so there are likewise in this conatus; (3) that as all uses are brought forth by the Lord out of outmosts, so in outmosts there must be a conatus to uses. [DLW310]

Still none of these are living conatus, for they are the conatus of life’s outmost forces; within which forces there exists, from the life out of which they spring, a striving to return at last to their origin through the means afforded. In outmosts, atmospheres become such forces; and by these forces, substances and matters, such as are in the lands, are molded into forms and held together in forms both within and without.  But the subject is too large to allow a more extended explanation here. [DLW311]

The first production from these earthy matters, while they were still new and in their simple state, was production of seed; the first conatus therein could not be any other. [DLW312]

(2) In all forms of uses there is a kind of image of creation. Forms of uses are of a threefold kind; forms of uses of the mineral kingdom, forms of uses of the vegetable kingdom, and forms of uses of the animal kingdom. The forms of uses of the mineral kingdom cannot be described, because they are not visible to the eye. The first forms are the substances and matters of which the lands consist, in their minutest divisions; the second forms are aggregates of these, and are of infinite variety; the third forms come from plants that have fallen to dust, and from animal remains, and from the continual evaporations and exhalations from these, which are added to lands and make their soil. These forms of the mineral kingdom in three degrees represent creation in an image in this, that, made active by the sun through the atmospheres and their heat and light, they bring forth uses in forms, which uses were creative ends.This image of creation lies deeply hidden within their conatus (of which see above, n. 310). [DLW313]

In the forms of uses of the vegetable kingdom an image of creation appears in this, that from their firsts they proceed to their outmosts, and from outmosts to firsts. Their firsts are seeds, their outmosts are stalks clothed with bark; and by means of the bark which is the outmost of the stalk, they tend to seeds which, as was said, are their firsts.  The stalks clothed with layers of bark represent the globe clothed with lands, out of which come the creation and formation of all uses. That vegetation is effected through the outer and inner barks and coatings, by a climbing up, by means of the coverings of the roots (which are continued around the stalks and branches), into the beginnings of the fruit, and in like manner through the fruits into the seeds, is known to many. An image of creation is displayed in forms of uses in the progress of the formation of uses from firsts to outmosts, and from outmosts to firsts; also in this, that in the whole progression there lies the end of producing fruit and seeds, which are uses. From what has been said above it is plain, that the progression of the creation of the universe was from its First (which is the Lord encircled by the sun) to outmosts which are lands, and from these through uses to its First, that is, the Lord; also that the ends of the whole creation were uses. [DLW314]

It should be known that to this image of creation the heat, light, and atmospheres of the natural world contribute nothing whatever. It is only the heat, light, and atmospheres of the sun of the spiritual world that do this, bringing that image with them, and clothing it with the forms of uses of the vegetable kingdom. The heat, light, and atmospheres of the natural world simply open the seeds, keep their products in a state of expansion, and clothe them with the matters that give them fixedness. And this is done not by any forces from their own sun (which viewed in themselves are null), but by forces from the spiritual sun, by which the natural forces are unceasingly impelled to these services.  Natural forces contribute nothing whatever towards forming this image of creation, for the image of creation is spiritual. But that this image may be manifest and perform use in the natural world, and may stand fixed and be permanent, it must be materialized, that is, filled in with the matters of that world. [DLW315]

0224 In the forms of uses of the animal kingdom there is a similar image of creation, in that the animal body, which is the outmost thereof, is formed by a seed deposited in a womb or an ovum, and this body, when mature, brings forth new seed. This progression is similar to the progression of the forms of uses of the vegetable kingdom: seeds are the beginnings; the womb or the ovum is like the ground; the state before birth is like the state of the seed in the ground while it takes root; the state after birth until the animal becomes prolific is like the growth of a tree until it reaches its state of fruit-bearing. From this parallelism it is plain that there is a likeness of creation in the forms of animals as well as in the forms of plants, in that there is a progression from firsts to outmosts, and from outmosts to firsts. A like image of creation exists in every single thing there is in man; for there is a like progression of love through wisdom into uses, consequently a like progression of the will through the understanding into acts, and of charity through faith into deeds. Will and understanding, also charity and faith, are the firsts as their source; acts and deeds are the outmosts; from these, by means of the enjoyments of uses, a return is made to their firsts, which, as was said, are the will and understanding, or charity and faith. That the return is effected by means of the enjoyments of uses is very evident from the enjoyments felt in those acts and deeds which are from any love, in that they flow back to the first of the love from which they spring and that thereby conjunction is effected. The enjoyments of acts and deeds are what are called the enjoyments of uses. A like progression from firsts to outmosts, and from outmosts to firsts, is exhibited in the forms most purely organic of affections and thoughts in man. In his brains there are those star-like forms called the cineritious substances; out of these go forth fibers through the medullary substance by the neck into the body; passing through to the outmosts of the body, and from outmosts returning to their firsts.  This return of fibers to their firsts is made through the blood vessels.  There is a like progression of all affections and thoughts, which are changes and variations of state of those forms or substances, for the fibers issuing out of those forms or substances are comparatively like the atmospheres from the spiritual sun, which are containants of heat and light; while bodily acts are like the things produced from the lands by means of atmospheres, the enjoyments of their uses returning to the source from which they sprang. But that the progression of these is such, and that within this progression there is an image of creation, can hardly be comprehended fully by the understanding, both because thousands and myriads of forces operating in act appear as one, and because the enjoyments of uses do not appear as ideas in the thought, but only affect without distinct perception. On this subject see what has been declared and explained above, as follows: The uses of all created things ascend by degrees of height to man, and through man to God the Creator from whom they are (n. 65-68). The end of creation takes form in outmosts, which end is that all things may return to the Creator and that there may be conjunction (n. 167-172). But these things will appear in still clearer light in the following Part, where the correspondence of the will and understanding with the heart and lungs will be treated of. [DLW316]

(3) In all forms of uses there is a kind of image of man. This has been shown above (n. 61-64). That all uses, from firsts to outmosts and from outmosts to firsts, have relation to all parts of man and have correspondence with them, consequently that man is, in a kind of image, a universe, and conversely that the universe viewed as to uses is in image a man, will be seen in the following chapter. [DLW317]

(4) In all forms of uses there is a kind of image of the Infinite and the Eternal. The image of the Infinite in these forms is plain from their conatus and power to fill the spaces  of the whole world, and even of many worlds, to infinity. For a single seed produces a tree, shrub, or plant, which fills its own space; and each tree, shrub, or plant produces seeds, in some cases thousands of them, which, when sown and grown up, fill their own spaces; and if from each seed of these there should proceed as many more, reproduced again and again, in the course of years the whole world would be filled; and if the production were still continued many worlds would be filled; and this to infinity.  Estimate a thousand seeds from one, and multiply the thousand by a thousand ten times, twenty times, even to a hundred times, and you will see. There is a like image of the Eternal in these forms; seeds are propagated from year to year, and the propagations never cease; they have not ceased from the creation of the world till now, and will not cease to eternity. These two are standing proofs and attesting signs that all things of the universe have been created by an Infinite and Eternal God. Beside these images of the Infinite and Eternal, there is another image of the Infinite and Eternal in varieties, in that there can never be a substance, state, or thing in the created universe the same as or identical with any other, neither in atmospheres, nor in lands, nor in the forms arising out of these. Thus not in any of the things which fill the universe can any thing the same be produced to eternity. This is plainly to be seen in the variety of the faces of human beings; no one face can be found throughout the world which is the same as another, nor can there be to all eternity, consequently not one mind, for the face is the type of the mind.[DLW318]

THE FORM OF HEAVEN WHICH DETERMINES AFFILIATIONS AND COMMUNICATIONS THERE.

What the form of heaven is can be seen in some measure from what has been shown in the preceding chapters; as that heaven is like itself both in its greatest  and in its least divisions (n. 72); that consequently each society is a heaven in a lesser form, and each angel in the least form (n. 51-58); that as the entire heaven reflects a single man, so each society of heaven reflects a man in a lesser form, and each angel in the least form (n. 59-77); that the wisest are at the center, and the less wise are round about even to the borders, and the like is true of each society (n. 43); and that those who are in the good of love dwell from the east to the west in heaven, and those who are in truths from good from the south to the north; and the same is true of each society (n. 148, 149). All this is in accord with the form of heaven; consequently it may be concluded from this what this form is in general.{1} [HH200]

It is important to know what the form of heaven is, because not only is all affiliation there in accordance with it, but also all mutual communication, and in consequence of this all extension of thoughts and affections, and thus all the intelligence and wisdom of angels. From this it follows that each one there is wise just to the extent that he is in the form of heaven, and is thus a form of heaven. It makes no difference whether you say in the form of heaven, or in the order of heaven, since the form of any thing is from its order and in accordance with its order.{1} [HH201]

0197a  Let us consider first what is meant by being in the form of heaven. Man was created both in the image of heaven and in the image of the world; his internal in the image of heaven, and his external in the image of the world (see above, n. 57); and in the image means the same thing as in accordance with the form. But as man by the evils of his will and consequent falsities of thought has destroyed in himself the image of heaven, that is, the form of heaven, and in place of it has brought in the image and form of hell, his internal is closed up from his very birth; and this is why man is born into pure ignorance, while animals of every kind are not. And that man may have the image of heaven or form of heaven restored to him he must be taught the things that pertain to order; since form, as has been said, is in accord with order. The Word contains all the laws of Divine order, for its precepts are the laws of Divine order; therefore to the extent that man knows these and lives in accordance with them his internal is opened and the order or image of heaven is there formed anew. This makes clear what is meant by being in the form of heaven, namely, that it is to live in accordance with those things that are in the Word.{1} [HH202]

So far as any one is in the form of heaven he is in heaven, and is, in fact, a heaven in the least form (n. 57); consequently he is to the same extent in intelligence and wisdom; for as has been said above, all the thought of his understanding and all the affection of his will extend themselves on every side into heaven in accord with its form, and wonderfully communicate with the societies there, and these in turn with him.{1}

[2] There are some who do not believe that thoughts and affections really extend themselves around about them, but believe that they are within them, because whatever they think they see within in themselves, and not as distant; but such are greatly mistaken. For as the sight of the eye has extension to remote objects, and is affected in accordance with the order of the things seen in that extension, so the interior sight, which is that of the understanding, has a like extension in the spiritual world, although not perceived by man, for the reason given above (n. 196). The only difference is that the sight of the eye is affected in a natural way, because it is affected by the things in the natural world, while the sight of the understanding is affected in a spiritual way, because by the things in the spiritual world, all of which have relation to good and truth; and man’s ignorance of this is because of his not knowing that there is any light that enlightens the understanding; and yet without the light that enlightens the understanding man could not think at all (of which light see above, n. 126-132).

[3] There was a certain spirit who believed that his thought was from himself, thus without any extension outside of himself and communication thereby with societies outside of him. That he might learn that this was not true his communication with neighboring societies was cut off, and in consequence, not only was he deprived of thought but he fell down as if lifeless, although tossing his arms about like a new-born infant.  After a while the communication was restored to him, and then as it was gradually restored he returned into the state of his thought. [4]

When other spirits had seen this they confessed that all thought and affection, and in consequence, everything of life, flow in in accordance with communication, since everything of man’s life consists in his ability to think and be moved by affection, or what is the same, in his ability to understand and will.{2} [HH203]

But let it be understood that intelligence and wisdom vary with everyone in accordance with this communication, those whose intelligence and wisdom are formed out of genuine truths and goods having communication with societies in accordance with the form of heaven; while those whose intelligence and wisdom are not formed out of genuine truths and goods, and yet out of what is in accord therewith, have a broken and variously coherent communication, since it is not with societies that are in a series in which there is a form of heaven. On the other hand, those that are not in intelligence and wisdom, because they are in falsities from evil, have communication with societies in hell; and their extension is determined by the degree of their confirmation. Let it also be known that this communication with societies is not such a communication with them as is clearly perceptible to those there, but is a communication with what they really are, which is in them and flows from them.{1} [HH204]

There is an affiliation of all in heaven in accordance with spiritual relationships, that is, relationships of good and truth in their order. It is so in the whole heaven; so in each society, and so in each house. Because of this angels who are in like good and truth recognize each other, as relatives by blood and marriage do on the earth, precisely as if they had been acquainted from infancy. The good and truth in each angel, which constitute his wisdom and intelligence, are affiliated in like manner; they recognize each other in like manner, and as they recognize each other they join themselves together;{1} and in consequence those in whom truths and goods are thus joined in accordance with a form of heaven see things following one another in series, and how they cohere widely round about; but those in whom goods and truths are not conjoined in accordance with the form of heaven do not see this. [HH 205]

ALL CREATED THINGS HAVE RELATION IN A KIND OF IMAGE TO MAN.

This can be seen from each and all things of the animal kingdom, from each and all things of the vegetable kingdom, and from each and all things of the mineral kingdom. A relation to man in each and all things of the animal kingdom is evident from the following. Animals of every kind have limbs by which they move, organs by which they feel, and viscera by which these are exercised; these they have in common with man. They have also appetites and affections similar to man’s natural appetites and affections; and they have inborn knowledges corresponding to their affections, in some of which there appears a resemblance to what is spiritual, which is more or less evident in beasts of the earth, and birds of the air, and in bees, silk-worms, ants, etc. From this it is that merely natural men consider the living creatures of this kingdom to be like themselves, except in the matter of speech.

A relation to man arising out of each and all things of the vegetable kingdom is evident from this: they spring forth from seed, and thereafter proceed step by step through their periods of growth; they have something akin to marriage, followed by prolification; their vegetative soul is use, and they are forms thereof; besides many other particulars which have relation to man. These also have been described by various authors.

A relation to man deducible from each and every thing of the mineral kingdom is seen only in an endeavor to produce forms which exhibit such a relation (which forms, as said above, are each and all things of the vegetable kingdom), and in an endeavor to perform uses thereby. For when first a seed falls into the bosom of the earth, she cherishes it, and out of herself provides it with nourishment from every source, that it may shoot up and present itself in a form representative of man. That such an endeavor exists also in its solid parts is evident from corals at the bottom of the seas and from flowers in mines, where they originate from minerals, also from metals. This endeavor towards vegetating, and performing uses thereby, is the outmost derivation from the Divine in created things. [DLW 61]

Author: EMANUEL SWEDENBORG (1688-1772)

http://www.scienceofcorrespondences.com/white-horse.htm

http://www.thegodguy.wordpress.com/

http://blog.beginningtheisticscience.com/

Copyright © 2007-2013 A. J. Coriat All rights reserved.

 

3 The Danger of Open Communication with Spirits

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3 The Danger of Open Communication with Spirits

“Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards to be defiled by them. I am Jehovah your God.” Leviticus 19: 31

Sensual Thought about the Afterlife

Despite the official teachings of the churches, few men in Christendom believe that they will live after death.23 Few believe that there are spirits with them, or “even that there are any spirits.” The chief reason assigned for this prevalent condition is that at this day there is no faith, because genuine charity is lacking.24 So testify the Writings.

Belief is more than a mere lame assent. There are few who would not give a superficial assent to the possibility, nay the probability of human survival after death. But only those believe who live in the full conviction and consciousness that this earthly existence is but a preparation for eternal life.

Among the winds of doctrine that blow across the world, one of the chilliest is this fallacy that nothing is real beyond the world of matter and that the grave marks the end of all our hopes. It looks back to childhood with nostalgia as the halcyon time of one’s life, when one could still live in blessed fancies. It robs manhood and even parenthood of any genuine delight, leaving only the struggle for bread and social position. It saves up for old age only the dried crusts of memory and a final disillusionment.

Perhaps it might be doubted that so few, in their actual life, are motivated by a belief in another world. And fortunately “few” is an elastic word! Yet compared to the time of Swedenborg, to whom this scarcity of faith was revealed, this our day presents on the surface an even bleaker picture of spiritual desolation. Religious hopes are pushed to the side in modern life, where the mind is instead preoccupied with so many concerns for the improvement of the mechanism of natural existence that there is room for little else. Natural life has become an end in itself. The art of living gracefully and in comfort here on earth is dignified as the height of achievement, ranking above the wisdom of spiritual charity. And though many find that the art of “getting along” requires them to conform to customs and to belong to a church, to profess a creed and to give to some philanthropic cause, yet what meditative thought do they ever give to the question of eternal life, unless they are confronted by the shock of death to kin or companion?

How empty life must seem for those who think of death as the termination of everything, and those whose only sure hope of immortality lies in the size of their gravestones or the survival of their names. The thoughts of those who attend the funeral of a friend are usually directed to natural life, in tribute to his virtue or accomplishment; yet his death stands out as an object lesson that all is vanity. For before the thought of an afterlife most men’s minds recoil with a deep discomfort, a pathetic realization of ignorance and doubt, which the formal confessions of their churches cannot dispel.

At such times those who are bereaved grope about for comfort, and their minds are somewhat more ready than usual to seize upon either truth or falsity if it will but relieve their sadness and apprehension. Their hearts may be hardened and embittered and they may sternly dismiss the possibility of the soul’s survival. But others may feel a desperate desire for some confirmation that the dead still live, or will live; may seek for something of a purpose in this endless waste of human lives, and for an ordered scheme and goal in the otherwise futile struggle of existence.

Even so, people are wont to think sensually about the life beyond the grave. Even when the teachings of the New Church are presented, the imagination often kindles only to the descriptions of the objective appearances of heaven which seem to fulfil some of our beautiful wish-thoughts, while the real fact is forgotten that all things in the eternal world are spiritual. Swedenborg’s revelations of the afterlife have indeed had a tremendous influence quite apart from the New Church, and have colored the thoughts of millions. But when first broached, our doctrine about heaven usually meets only with an interested tolerance and a politely suppressed wonder that we seem so sure about it all. For to the average person in Christendom nothing is very sure. There are few champions of definite views of the afterlife, although you often meet with the complacent philosophy that no one church has a monopoly in matters of truth, and that there may be some truth in all religions, however contradictory. And so the pulpits in most churches avoid preaching against falsities; perhaps on the principle that those who live in glass houses should not throw stones, but also because “church-goers” absorb far more of their spiritual food from prevailing spheres of thought —from opinions which are dished out promiscuously in magazines and books or offered in casual conversations—than from their own church.

A certain saving measure of common sense has to a large part modified the orthodox teachings of Protestants that the dead sleep in the grave until the Day of Doom and the general resurrection. Hamlet’s reverie recurs: “To die: to sleep— perchance to dream. For in that sleep of death what dreams might come. …” The idea has found favor that the spirit —waiting for the final judgment—is somewhere consciously alive. But his state during this interval between death and judgment is a matter of speculation. Whether he flits amid dark space as a luminous etherial body which possibly might haunt mortals below; or whether memory might through some fourth dimension reconstruct a dreamlife in which the consequences of error are punished according to poetic justice; or whether the soul, released, lives on as a flame of life awaiting a new incarnation! What does it matter, men ask, if we cannot know for sure?

The doctrine of the Roman Catholics is couched more definitely. It states that the soul is committed to heaven or to hell immediately after death, although even a penitent person must make up for his omissions by sufferings in the fires of purgatory; and later—at the last judgment—each soul will join its body in a material resurrection on a reconstructed earth.

Sensual thought about heaven places its reality in material things. It pictures a place—whether this earth, purified by fire, or some central star—in which the blessed should gather in refined and sexless material bodies; perhaps a place presided over by a race of “angels” created before earth ever was. It pictures heaven as a place of sensual rewards. The quality of men’s ideas of what they expect heaven to be is described in the work on Conjugial Love, where it is told how novitiate spirits were cured of their persuasions as to the various imaginary joys in which they believe eternal bliss to consist: paradisal delights, feasting, conversations, wealth and power, or perpetual glorifications and ecstatic songs of praise; or— as some thought—mere admission into the sphere of heaven.25

Ignorance about man’s state after death naturally breeds fantasies. Lack of any rational teaching encourages the imagination to roam at will. Heaven becomes merely the fulfilment of the cravings thwarted on earth, the satisfaction of natural affections, such as we see instanced in the mythologies among the heroes of Valhalla or, for the more philosophically minded Greeks, a submersion into the memories of earthlife, as was the fate imagined for the brooding shades of the Underworld. The idea of real spiritual uses and of delights of charity and wisdom is seldom given any stress or significance in connection with such imaginary heavens. Nor is the concept of God’s justice purified from questionable ethics—for most of the “orthodox” doctrines give little chance of salvation except to the elect few. But whatever ideas about heaven they have been offered, men in these distracting times of ours have found it increasingly difficult to believe in the afterlife at all merely upon the say-so of the churches. They have demanded proofs in personal experience by which to confirm the very existence of spirits, if not of angels. And like every church in the past, so the Christian Church began from olden times to give birth to various irresponsible sects which particularly catered to such a desire and purported to furnish sensual proofs of the presence of spirits.

Ancient and Modern Spiritism

Divine revelation has consistently warned against this attempt of man to pry open the gates of the unseen world. “Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards . . . “—it was written in the Mosaic law. “There shall not be found among you any one . . . that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. . . . “26 Such were to be punished with death. But this prohibition soon proved to be ineffective. Israel could not resist the pressure of the combined superstitions of the East! Even Saul, after banishing all sorcerers, succumbed to the temptation and sought counsel of the ghost of Samuel. But Isaiah later warned against witchcraft when he proclaimed, “When they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep and mutter: Should not a people seek unto their God ? For the living unto the dead ? To the Law and to the Testimony! If they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”27

The Lord while on earth constantly refused the testimony of evil spirits as he drove them out of those who were “possessed.” And in one of His parables He cites Abraham as refusing to send Lazarus back into the world to warn the five brethren of the rich man; saying, “If they hear not Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead.”28 But even at that time angels, unsolicited, appeared to men in vision. And in the early days of Christianity, the Christian Fathers were careful to warn their followers against trusting spirits. John wrote in his epistle, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God. . . . Any spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is not of God. . . . “29 But the early Christian “gift of prophecy” inadvertently paved the way for incantations and sorcery, and in medieval times the belief in the afterlife was accompanied by a dread of ghosts and ghouls that haunted the cemeteries, and of fantastic vampires and of elemental spirits that could control the wild forces of nature unless curbed by magical formulas or exorcised by the prayers and solemn rites of the church. Within the pale of the church, priests and “saints” were subject to visions and revelations, while unauthorized mystics and seers claimed intercourse with the unseen world. The hysteria which marked the great witch-trials even on the American continent was but an indication of the insanities to which men laid themselves open by illicit attempts to communicate with spirits and thus invite obsession.

After the last judgment in 1757, there came something of a lull in the efforts to seek intercourse with spirits. It became frowned upon as superstitious, and although the same abuses continued, outstanding instances became rarer. And then, towards the middle of the nineteenth century, there sprang up a new movement towards its revival in a more respectable garb and in more “scientific” form: a movement which goes under the name of Modern Spiritualism. This was supposedly a research into occult phenomena by empirical methods.

Although claiming continuity with the work of seers, prophets and mystics of all previous ages and denying any kinship to sorcerers and magi, the partisans of this movement date its practical beginning with the “Rochester spirit-rappings” in 1848, when the Fox family heard knocks and noises which they ascribed to spirits who answered their questions according to a pre-arranged code. Children at that time, the Fox sisters later toured this country and England to display their peculiar spirit-telegraphy. And although one of them publicly disavowed her own part in these phenomena as so much fake, the movement had gathered too great momentum to be stopped. People were eager to believe the marvelous, and many soon discovered themselves also to be “sensitives” ; found that they could serve as “mediums” for spirits who then “controlled” them. Once established as mediums, they could draw profitable audiences of ardent believers; and from time to time for the next fifty years the free publicity given these mediums was tremendous. In 1884 unsubstantiated claims were made of many million “adherents” in America. It was claimed by spiritists that the world of the departed had long been seeking for this means of coming into contact with mortals, and that now spirits were crowding the air and descending to inaugurate a new era in which unbelief would be wiped out.

The particular accomplishments which spirits learned to perform included the power to give messages about dead friends, through the voice or pen of the medium; to write on covered slates; to lift bouquets of flowers from room to room, blow trumpets and beat tambourines without human aid; to suspend the laws of gravity, lifting people or chairs or tables into the air; and finally—but more rarely—to materialize themselves in a substance (“ectoplasm”) which perspired from the body of the medium so that they could become tangible and visible, and even be kissed and photographed and engaged in conversation.

The spirits (or the mediums) were unwilling to participate in most of these phenomena except amidst small groups of affirmative friends, and an extra-ordinary preference was shown for dark rooms and closed cabinets. Yet several prominent scientists, like Sir William Crookes, Sir Oliver Lodge, W. F. Barrett and Charles Richet, were converted to a belief in the genuiness of some of the phenomena. In many lands some society for psychical research now gathers and sifts the evidence presented by alleged mediums and others, and so far as is possible, some of their learned investigators have imposed almost fool-proof conditions upon their experiments. One fact, however, is universally admitted: that almost every “physical” medium has been proved at some time to have cheated by producing the desired phenomena by clever trickery. This is variously explained by spiritualists: first of all they admit that the spirits who use the medium are quite apt to encourage deception, since they retain human failings; secondly, they concede that a medium whose powers are exhausted and abused, will naturally be reluctant to admit it; and thirdly, the genuine adherents disown all responsibility for professional exhibitionists.

The societies and laboratories established for psychical research and “parapsychology” make it their task to investigate all proffered claims to extra-sensory perception, telepathy, precognition, clairvoyance, psycho-kinesis, etc., as well as alleged occurrences of “materializations” and poltergeists. Most of such studies are conducted quite apart from any religious inferences. Within the small group of learned men who confess themselves baffled by some of the experiments, many are inclined to explain their results as due to physical and mental powers within man, hitherto not understood. Certain psychologists have indeed suggested that some echo of man might survive death, not as an individual but as a part of an interpersonal psychic field perhaps capable of contact with the living.* But the hope of spiritualists to convince the world of the survival of the dead has not been fulfilled. To most people, the clever accomplishments of the mediums are a nine-days wonder soon dismissed. And the vapid messages of cheer from the other world which the seances produced have been so ambiguous and valueless that they spoke poorly for the intelligence of the departed. Confused pratings that suggest marvelous revelations to come—but which never come—hold the attention of the devotee. People soon recognized that an atmosphere of unbounded credulity was basic to the spiritistic movement. Its organized cults have dwindled in membership, although it has uncounted adherents and sympathizers among the laity and even the clergy of various denominations, and its beliefs and practices are shared by several strange sects that dabble in occultism.

As a religion, spiritualism is of course founded on a sifting out of certain common elements within the contradictory “revelations” of the mediums and the “automatic writers.” This means that they honor the Lord, but usually only as a great medium and a lofty spirit; they place the Bible among a number of other messages from above; they picture the spiritual world as a realm of unending progress, with redemption possible for evil spirits also—who, they say, are merely “undeveloped” ; and they reject the idea of any resurrection of the material body. One organization encourages belief in astrology, palmistry, prophecy, and the interpretation of dreams. Another believes in elemental spirits, and has chosen as its emblem the pond lily which shoots up from the mud “through putrid waters,” yet evolves beauty and purity. But all encourage the seeking of sensual proofs of the soul’s survival.

The opposition to Spiritualism comes mainly from the Roman Catholic Church, from many literalistic sects, from some of the clergy of more conservative churches, from most scientists and from skeptics everywhere. Each group has reasons of its own, either doctrinal or pragmatic, for resisting the movement. But as is usual in such opposition, each—in denouncing the spiritistic movement—also rejects the fundamental truths which that movement has misused and perverted. An instance of this is seen in the attitude of some physicians who from their studies of the psychopathic wards have contracted the habit of regarding all extraordinary human states as abnormal and due to mental disorder. Such men are not content to condemn the practice of spiritism because of its ill effects on the nervous system of its victims: they also regard all claims to spiritual intercourse as the result of a disordered mind and would classify even the visions of the prophets and disciples as sensory hallucinations due to paranoia, paraphrenia, or other forms of disease. Such an attitude, born from a preconceived denial of the existence of a spiritual world, precludes all further understanding of the distinctions between the orderly means by which, in the Lord’s providence and according to His protecting laws, the spiritual world could at times of need be opened to allow prophets and seers to serve as instruments of a Divine revelation, and the disorderly enterprises by which men seek to pry into the unseen world and by which spirits seek to dominate and obsess human minds when these are diseased or voluntarily submissive.

Swedenborg and Modern Spiritualism

In several works on the history of modern spiritualism, considerable space is given to Emanuel Swedenborg, who has been labeled as “the foremost mystic and seer of modern times” or as “the father of our new knowledge of supernal matters.” “When the first rays of the rising sun of spiritual knowledge fell upon the earth they illumined the greatest and highest human mind before they shed their light on lesser men. That mountain peak of mentality was this great reformer and clairvoyant medium, as little understood by his own followers as ever the Christ has been. … In order fully to understand Swedenborg one would need to have a Swedenborg brain, and that is not met with once in a century.” So writes Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, lately the leading champion and biographer of the movement. His words are nattering to Swedenborg; but not to the New Church, which—he says—”has allowed itself to become a backwater instead of keeping its rightful place as the original source of psychic knowledge.”30

It would seem that Conan Doyle, delving into clues for the solution of the final mystery, himself lacked the Swedenborg brain. For the theology of the New Church and the disclosure of the spiritual sense of the Word, which were the net result of Swedenborg’s revelations, are not of any comfort to the spiritistic movement. But in spite of this side of Swedenborg’s work, Doyle hails “the immense store of information which,” he says, “God sent to the world through Swedenborg. Again and again they have been repeated by the mouths and the pens of our own Spiritualistic illuminates.”30

To the eyes of New Church readers this admission unwittingly reveals more than was intended. For when spirits do speak to men, it is spirits who are of his own religion or who adopt his ideas; they can only “confirm whatever the man has made a part of his religion; thus enthusiastic spirits confirm in a man all that pertains to his enthusiasm; Quaker spirits all things of Quakerism; Moravian spirits all things of Moravianism, and so on.” This is said to show that it is untrue “that man might be more enlightened … if he had direct revelation through speech with spirits and angels.”31 Spirits who speak with a man speak only from his affections and according to his thoughts and knowledge. This provision is made to preserve man’s freedom even when he tries to squander it by offering himself as the dupe of evil spirits.

The only real information that has been given to men since known history began comes, of course, from the Word and now especially from the Writings of Swedenborg. And some of this knowledge, mixed with all manner of superstition, contorted by Christian traditions and modified by wishful thinking and hoax, has found a fruitful soil in the imagination of many a spiritist. At the seance, this welter of information is present in the mind either of the medium or the questioner. So far as there is any clarity in the supposed answer, it comes indirectly from the Writings. Nothing new—nothing which in the slightest adds to the comprehension of the life and order of the spiritual world—has ever been furnished by the “wizards that peep and mutter.” The futility of seeking open intercourse with spirits is abundantly clear from the paucity of the results.

Possibility of the Intercourse of Spirits and Men

There are many powers latent within man that are not well understood. Far above our conscious thought there is an interior memory in which all that we have experienced resides in perfect detail, although beyond our ability to recollect. In known cases, as for instance in hypnotic sleep, the astonishing contents of this memory may be divulged or become active as “subconscious intellection,” as “automatic writing,” or as somnambulency. That spirits can operate this memory of man is clear from our dreams and may lie behind the emergence of a “split personality.”

There is also a possibility that people who are united in bonds of kinship or affection may at times convey their thoughts or fears to each other at a distance by what is called “telepathy.” There is attested evidence that in rare cases visual ideas may similarly be communicated by “clairvoyance.” It is told of Swedenborg that when at Gothenburg he was able to report on the progress of a fire raging near his house in Stockholm (Docu. 273). Seemingly the prophet Elisha was clairvoyant when he told the king of Israel the plans of the Syrians (2 Kings 6:12). That such unusual occurrences are caused by the communication existing between associated spirits is not unlikely.

But it is also well to note that many of the claims of modern mediums go directly counter to what is taught us in the Writings. There is indeed an influx of the spiritual world into the natural, and it is by this influx that all organic growth, vegetable and animal, takes place. Destructive organisms, such as noxious pests, are—we are taught—creations that received their contorted forms from the influx of the hells into corresponding substances on earth.32 But this influx is not any materialization of the evil spirits; it is merely an activity of the spheres of the hells. There is no conjunction of the two worlds except by the mediation of man, that is, by man’s mind.33 We find no ground in the Writings for a belief that spirits can move the objects of earth or sky without the agency of the human body, or that they can materialize, whether through a man or separately. Since biblical times, Jews and Christians have thought that angels appeared by suddenly assuming material bodies when they were seen by prophets or apostles. Before his full enlightenment, Swedenborg also endeavored to reconcile such a belief with his conception of the nature of the soul, suggesting that by the omnipotence of God a spirit might be clothed with a temporary embodiment from materials present in the atmospheres.34 But in the inspired Writings we read this disavowal: “It is believed in the Christian world that angels have assumed human bodies and have thus appeared to men; but they did not assume them, but the eyes of the man’s spirit were opened, and so they were seen.”35 The explanation is simple and reasonable. For man is created with spiritual senses as well as with natural senses. He possesses a body of matter held together by physical forces —by electromagnetic and gravitational fields of force. But these fields of force are ruled, unified, disposed and directed by a soul or spirit, and thus by a spiritual purpose and a superconscious wisdom which is far above our comprehension. In fact, the spirit is the real man, and is organized far more intricately than the body. It is indeed a spiritual body36 which is endowed with spiritual senses and thus with the power to perceive knowledge—to see spiritual objects, “see” truths, civil, moral and spiritual, and to feel and recognize mental states and sense the relations of all the things which compose his spiritual environment. These things are seen by the understanding more clearly than physical objects are seen by the bodily eyes. But ordinarily they are sensed by us only as abstractions, as thoughts, imaginations and logical relations. Yet if “the eyes of a man’s spirit were opened,” he would see beyond the contents of his own memory. He would see the spirits and angels immediately present with him, and see these in their own spiritual and mental environment which in every detail would be descriptive of their character and state. All men are thus equipped for actual vision into the spiritual world.37 And if men were in the perfect state of the celestials, as Providence had intended, angels and men could openly dwell together without harm.38

Swedenborg distinctly claimed that such intercourse as his own with spirits was not miraculous. “These revelations,” he wrote, “are not miracles, since every man as to his spirit is in the spiritual world without separation from his body in the natural world; but I with a certain separation, but only as to the intellectual part of my mind. . . . “39 He claimed no uniqueness in being able to converse with spirits, but noted that the type and the marvelous extent of these revelations surpassed even the visions of the men of the Golden Age; for they remained in natural light while Swedenborg was granted to be in spiritual light and in natural light at the same time. Such intercourse had never before been known in history, and —taken in connection with the manifestation of the Lord in person to Swedenborg and the revelation of the spiritual sense of the Word—was “superior to any miracles.”40 In the Most Ancient Church, direct or immediate revelations were given through open intercourse with angels, and there was no need for a written Word.41 This is indeed the mode of revelation on other earths also, because of the genius of their inhabitants.42 But when our race, through the eating of the fruit of knowledge came into its peculiar external and scientific genius, this way of communicating with heaven was closed. Instead, the Word of God was given through appointed prophets whose spiritual senses were opened;43 and by means of this Word, written and preserved for all ages, men could be reformed through rational things of doctrine. Indeed, the Writings abound in statements to the effect that no one is reformed by visions and by speech with the dead, because such things compel.44

Visions

Something should here be added concerning the visions which were permitted to the prophets and others whose spiritual senses were opened so that they could perceive events which occurred in the spiritual world.

The fact that those who are infirm in mind and indulge much in fancies are apt to become subject to hallucinations, does not mean that genuine visions have never been granted. Pathological symptoms—such as manic-depressive delusions and schizophrenia and hallucinations—are only perversions of man’s normal faculties and are due to “spirits who by means of fantasies induce appearances which seem to be real.” People with visionary tendencies may thus—like credulous children—see monsters behind the trees of the forest or convert shadows into ghosts.45

But genuine visions are the actual seeing of “such things in the other life as have real existence.”46 They are seen by the eyes of the spirit, either by day or night.47 Such were the visions of the prophets who saw not only various representatives shown in the spiritual world and containing Divine arcana, but saw the spirits themselves and heard their speech.

The men of the Most Ancient Church were instructed by such heavenly visions, for they were given to know their inner meaning.48The Hebrew prophets, and John at Patmos, had such real or Divine visions significant of the thoughts and affections of angels, but understood them not.49 Some of the prophets were actually possessed by spirits; like Saul, who spoke and acted in a state of trance.50 Others exercised their own discretion, and spirits spoke to their inner hearing.51 When in “vision” the prophets were not in the body, but “in the spirit.”52 As was foretold in Daniel, prophetic visions of whatever kind were discontinued after the Christian dispensation had begun.53

The Divine visions which the Lord from childhood had in His Human on earth were most perfect, because “He had a perception of all things in the world of spirits and in the heavens, and had an immediate communication with Jehovah.”54

Swedenborg also experienced certain visions. But his normal state, he tells us, was not one of vision as usually understood or one of “trance.” But what he saw, heard and felt in the spiritual world was experienced in full wakefulness of body.55 And like the “Divine visions” seen by the prophets, Swedenborg’s explorations in the other world were for the sake of his being instructed by the Lord. The Scriptures were not revealed in a state of vision, but were “dictated by the Lord to the prophets by a living voice.”56 In the case of Swedenborg, the Lord instructed him through spiritual sight, but the Heavenly Doctrine and the internal sense of the Word were given him by a dictation into the interiors of his rational mind, with varying degrees of perception, while he read the Word.57

A type of diabolical visions can be induced by “enthusiastic spirits.” This is produced by the “magic” of hell, and it distorts the truth, as was the case with the lying prophets mentioned in the book of Kings.58 The spirits who cause such visions are now separated and restrained in their hells.59

The Writings have now made unnecessary any private revelations or visions. Divine or prophetic visions are no longer provided and would not be understood if they were. Diabolical visions are severely restricted by spiritual laws. And there remain now only fantastic visions, which are “mere delusions of an abstracted mind.”60

Warnings against Seeking Speech with Spirits

“Nevertheless, conversation with spirits is possible, though rarely with the angels of heaven; and this has been granted to many for ages back.”61 And human nature is such that those who have only had fantastic visions are inclined to boast about them and exaggerate them to gain the ear of an audience.62 Speech with spirits “is rarely permitted, because it is perilous. . . . Some who lead a solitary life occasionally hear spirits speaking to them, and without danger.” A spirit may thus come to a man and communicate some words; but still it is not permitted the man to speak with him mouth to mouth, lest the spirit should come to realize that he is with a man.63Therefore a spirit who addresses a man is permitted to speak “only a few words; and they who speak by the Lord’s permission never say anything that takes away the freedom of reason, nor do they teach. For the Lord alone teaches man, but mediately by the Word in a state of illustration. . . . “64

A man who is in enlightenment from the Lord through a love of the truths of the Word may sometimes hear the speech of spirits, but he is never taught by them, but “led” with every precaution for his freedom.65 This speech may be perceived by such men as a kind of “response by vivid perception in their thought or by a tacit speech therein, and rarely by open speech; and it is to the effect that they should think and act as they will and as they are able, and that he who acts wisely is wise and he who acts foolishly is foolish; but they are never instructed what to believe and what to do. . . . They who are taught by influx what to believe or what to do are not taught by the Lord nor by any angel of heaven, but by some enthusiastic spirit . . . who leads them astray.”66

Those who desire to be instructed by spirits “do not realize that it is conjoined with peril to their soul !”67 Only evil spirits come to the summons of man:

“When spirits begin to speak with a man he ought to take heed lest he should believe anything whatever from them; for they say almost anything! They fabricate things and lie. … If they were permitted to describe what heaven is … they would tell so many lies—and this with solemn affirmations—that a man would be amazed. Therefore when spirits are speaking, I have not been permitted to have faith in the things they related.

For they have a passion for inventing; and whenever a subject comes up in conversation they think they know it and give their opinions—one after another—one in one way and another in another, quite as if they knew! And if a man then listens and believes, they press on and deceive and seduce in diverse ways. For example, if they were permitted to talk about things to come. . . . 68

And they can impersonate others so that they even deceive themselves that they are some one else! “Let those who speak with spirits beware, therefore, lest they be deceived when the spirits say that they are those whom they have known and who have died. For . . . when like things are called up in the memory of man and so are represented to them, they think that they are the same persons.”69“These things make evident the danger in which a man is who speaks with spirits or who manifestly feels their operation.”70

Such warnings against seeking sensual proof for the existence of spirits should suffice for any New Church man. Yet from the beginning, the temptation to explore the other world, as Swedenborg did, or to call upon its powers of influx illicitly, has threatened the New Church. A few instances may be cited.71 In 1786, a French society of “Illuminati” was formed by Abbe Pernety, which mixed New Church doctrine with spiritism and Freemasonry. Similar ideas, in milder forms, such as the practice of “animal magnetism” and the healing of the sick by exorcising spirits, brought an early end to a genuine New Church movement in Stockholm about 1790.

In 1817, James Johnston, a simple-minded working man belonging to the Salford New Church in England, began to receive visions in which Abraham and other “archangels” dictated nonsense which has been published in his spiritual “Diary.” In 1846, Ludwig Hofaker, who had edited and translated some of the Writings, died of insanity after harming the New Church in Germany by advocating spiritistic theories and practices. In 1844, Mr. Silas Jones, with the sanction of a leading New Church minister, conducted a spiritistic circle in Brooklyn, profanely mixing sorcery and astrology with New Church rites. In 1859, Thomas Lake Harris, who had ostensibly embraced the New Church after megalomaniac adventures with spiritism on this continent, visited England and almost succeeded in turning the Swedenborg Society there into an agency for spiritistic propaganda, converting, with his strange charm and marvelous eloquence, William White, the Swedenborg biographer, and Dr. J. J. Garth Wilkinson, a most profound student of the Writings; causing the latter to descend into the Hades of Harrisism for an interval of some years during which he produced verses by spirit-dictation. Harris’s career ended in scandal and disgrace.

But it is not enough to say that the New Church, like many other worthy movements, must have its “lunatic fringe.” For throughout the years the recurrent defense of spiritistic practices in several New Church journals has shown that the temptation to find a sensual approach to the spiritual world is likely to come wherever the faithful study of the Heavenly Doctrine is neglected, or where a secret or open desire is harbored to abandon the arduous way of redemption which the Lord offers to those who are of the spiritual church. This appointed way is reformation through doctrine and reason, through the discipline of self-compulsion and loyalty to the truth. It is a difficult road, but one which is necessary for our race and genius, that is, for all those whose hearts must confess to being subject to hereditary and actual evils.

The temptation is to think that we do not need to walk that road, to think that we have attained to a celestial state and may ignore the discipline of doctrine and can rely on our own power to withstand the onslaughts of the hells and on our instinctive discernment to know an evil spirit when we meet him. But let us humbly recognize that “the Lord enters into man through no other than an internal way, which is through the Word and doctrine and preachings from the Word.”72This way does not lead downward to a dependence on the senses and its innumerable fallacies, but up to the rational mind where alone a man is free to see the spiritual things of heaven in their own light.

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IJT@swedenborgstudy.com