4 Our Spiritual Guardians

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Swedenborg

4 Our Spiritual Guardians

“The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him, and delivereth them.” Psalm 34:7

Angelic Mediations

At creation, as recorded in the book of Genesis, God said, “Let us make man in our image after our likeness.” Some have been disturbed by this wording, which suggests that many Divine creators might have been at work. And the Hebrew word for God is Elohim, which is a plural construction. It is a “plural of eminence” used for the one God; but only when the Divine truth is referred to, for truth displays the manifold powers and aspects of God. Many Divine laws concurred in man’s creation. The same word, elohim, is however used also for the false gods of the nations and even for the angels and prophets who receive Divine truths.73 And in the spiritual sense, the six days of creation describe the process of man’s regeneration, the name Elohim being used to indicate that in regenerating man the one God acts through innumerable agencies, and that it is through the ministry of angels that He leads, awakens, governs, and disposes man’s spiritual life and thus bestows upon him the truly human qualities which are meant by the image and likeness of God.74

The inmost soul of man, or the human internal, is indeed not affected by this angelic ministry. For it is, in degree, far above the angelic heavens and is acted upon only by the Lord whose life inflows into it by an immediate way.75 But as to the interiors of his spirit or mind, and as to his ruling love and its inner thought which does not fall within the consciousness of man himself, he dwells in a society of heaven or of hell.76 And as to his natural, or what is the same, his rational mind and its conscious thought and will, man is—in all but realization—an inhabitant of the world of spirits.77

The body of man is under the general influx of heaven. It is in the order of its creation and governed by the soul. Spirits are not adjoined to man’s body,78 and do not affect its life and its states directly; nor do they have any part in the expression of our thought and will in speech and act; for this influx of the mind into the body follows orderly laws outside of the control of either men or spirits.79

Spirits do however “inflow” into what is thought and consciously desired by man. Their hidden operations are what make possible man’s conscious life and affection, and manifest themselves in us as impulses, imaginations and reasonings. The angels, on the other hand, act upon man’s interiors, and produce no perceptible effects in man’s mental life. For their influx is “tacit.” It does not stir up material ideas or object-memories ;80 but is directed to man’s ends or inner motives, which are not consciously articulated in man’s mind, but which are none the less efficient and secretly powerful.81 The angels also rule and regulate the evil spirits who are near a man, generally without the knowledge or perception of these spirits.82

Guardian Angels

The revelations of the Second Advent lay bare the magnificent order of the spiritual empire of the Lord, in which the Lord correlates the finite wills of all men, spirits, and angels, and holds them in mutual freedom, under the rule of a law which is able to guarantee a sense of “as-of-one’s-self” life to every living being on every plane, yet is able to weave their uses together for the creation of a glorious form wherein the happiness of each one is reflected to all and that of all to each.

To every man the Lord has assigned two guardian angels, one celestial and one spiritual.82 This is not an arbitrary number. It results from the fact that man’s will and understanding, at every stage of life, each have a ruling state and quality which responds to that particular influx which is most kindred to it. And each angel in heaven also instinctively seeks that ultimate expression for his life which most closely corresponds to his love. For life descends to ultimates. Yet the angel does not desire to descend to the level of merely external human life, or to face again the imperfections of earthly conditions, such as are reflected in man’s outward thinking. He dwells with man in the community of those spiritual riches of the internal man with which man’s supraconscious thought is stored; which include not only childhood “remains” of innocence, but all the later states of faith and worship which abide where moth and rust do not corrupt.

In this life, man is not conscious of his spiritual treasures, or of the brilliant wealth and glory that is concealed within his vague spiritual perceptions. They come to him only as the stirring of something of charity, or as occasional enlightenment and delight in truth.83 The spiritual thought of man flows into his natural thought, which in turn clings to his memory. With Swedenborg, the case was indeed different. With him, by a Divine provision, a certain separation took place between the thought of his spirit and the thought of his body. And he could therefore perceive the presence of the angels and spirits who were with him; which is not possible to ordinary men.84

It is not possible for guardian angels to see the man with whom they are, although they know when they are with a man. To lead and moderate his affections, and to modify and bend them in various directions as far as man’s free will permits, is indeed one of the specific functions of angelic service.85 The angels observe if any new hells are opened; and if man brings himself into any new evil, they close those hells as far as man suffers it. They dissipate foreign or strange influxes which may tend to harm man, calling forth goods and truths from man’s mind to combat the evil put forth by the wicked spirits; and they are vigilant every moment in regard to man’s safety.86 They attentively and continually notice what the evil spirits and genii with man are intending and attempting, and they feel great joy when they perceive that their service has made it possible to remove some evils and to lead man nearer heaven.87

These angels, or angelic spirits, were seen by Swedenborg “near the head” of man. Yet it does not appear that they visualize the man. Unless they reflect, they think no otherwise than that they are the man—but the interior man, the man as to his interior thought which man does not yet consciously realize. If they reflect, they are able to discern that they are angelic spirits,88 and have been with a man; even as we know that some impulse we feel came from spirits. But the angelic spirits consciously perform the use of extending the Lord’s protection to man. And the union at the time is intimate: they dwell in the man’s affections,89 live themselves into his inmost unconscious life, and feel the utmost sympathy with all the good thoughts which thence issue into man’s mind.

They consider man as a brother and even defend his faults against too intensive self-criticism; or, on the other hand, they may keep him within sight of his evils.90

Yet angelic spirits are not aware of what man is doing or thinking in the externals of his thought. For their sphere is that of the interior memory.91 And especially is this the case, Swedenborg notes, at this day when angels cannot have any direct conjunction with man.92 The angels therefore have an ardent longing that the kingdom of God Messiah might come so that a closer conjunction might be brought about between them and mankind.93

In most ancient times, as still on certain other earths, spirits were at times able to communicate openly with men and converse with them. The spirit is then reduced to the state in which he was when on earth; his external memory is aroused so that he assumes again the whole complex of his former natural thought; and then the interior sight of the man is opened, and they appear to each other as if both were men together.94 In such a way angels appeared to the prophets. But at this day such vision is rarely given, lest men be compelled to belief. On the other hand, even today, those men who think abstractedly from the body, while in meditation, interior reflection, or sustained abstruse ideas, are sometimes seen as to their spirits in their own society in the spiritual world.95 There such are easily distinguished from other spirits; “for they go about meditating and in silence, not looking at others and apparently not seeing them; and as soon as any spirit addresses them, they vanish.”96

Swedenborg’s Testimony

Because Swedenborg thought profoundly, he would, like other men, normally have appeared at times in societies of angelic spirits. But the peculiar state of Swedenborg was such that he could maintain himself in independent abstract thought and thus consciously converse with spirits and enjoy spiritual sensation even while in bodily wakefulness.

When his spiritual thought was not abstracted from the thought of material objects he was invisible to the angelic spirits. For material objects cannot be reproduced as such in the spiritual world; and the ideas of such objects in time and space cannot be expressed by the universal spiritual language. But when he became “in the spirit”—that is, when material ideas were separated from his spiritual thought (and only those material ideas which were in entire correspondence with the spiritual ideas were at all active)—then he became visible to the spirits, could perceive their wisdom, and consociate with them as one of themselves. It was thus that Swedenborg could explore the heavens and live the life of angels and spirits. It was thus that the treasures of the spiritual sense of the Word, and every Divine arcanum, could be conveyed to his mind and be grasped in enlightenment and later, under Divine inspiration, could be written in rational natural language, “clear as crystal” (DV 6).

But Swedenborg’s mission also gave him an opportunity to instruct angels about their relation to men. We do not imagine that when he visited some heaven he reduced all the angels there into the state of that class of angelic spirits who “are with men” and are called “guardian angels.” Still, Swedenborg was sometimes allowed to direct his spiritual thought into natural thought, and thus—by way of experiment —show approximately the change which occurs when angelic spirits are with men.

Thus it is told how certain angelic spirits, when they retired from Swedenborg into their own spiritual society, came into a spiritual state and into supereminent ideas of spiritual thought and into the understanding of spiritual speech and writing which conveyed this thought most accurately and fully.97 But when they returned to Swedenborg, they found themselves to have come into his natural state and were entirely unable to express their spiritual ideas or to understand the speech or writing of heaven : but they could now think only in terms of Swedenborg’s thoughts or, rather, converse with each other by his ideas and speak to him only by the natural languages that he knew. In other words, from their ordinary state as angelic spirits they had been reduced to attendant spirits, by their directing their attention to his thoughts which were conjoined to his natural memory. Yet they were still able to converse openly and consciously with Swedenborg as a person, for he was in a state widely different from that of other men, and was obviously a different individual from them. Some of these spirits actually accompanied him to his home, and as he began to write they could see through his mind a moth which was walking on his paper.97 This is not possible to our attendant spirits.

The State of an Attendant Spirit

From these incidents it is very clear that our guardian angels are—for the sake of their use—reduced into a state resembling man’s. Angels principally inflow into the interior thought which a man is unable to perceive within himself because it is in the realm of ends and is not articulated to his conscious reflection. This interior thought they assume as their own, implying an accommodated state not comparable to angelic wisdom itself. Since it is true of all angels that

their common basis must be the human race on earth ;98 and since man is the plane upon which the thoughts of the angels rest; it might perhaps seem strange that angels attendant upon man are reduced into man’s own general state. For if this is so, whence comes the progress of the heavens?

The answer must be that the angels have access to mankind as a general basis even when not serving a use as man’s guardians. And it is indeed said that the particular spiritual beings who “are with men” are not from heaven or from hell, but are spirits who as yet await their judgment or final preparation.” But such statements do not contradict the principle elsewhere laid down, that spirits who are with men can indeed be from hell or from heaven. If from hell, they must be such as are not confined there but who—not having been as yet fully vastated—have emerged into the world of spirits for a more complete vastation and are thus in the state of the world of spirits, or in something of a natural-rational state. In the case of angelic guardians, they—whether spirits or angels—must also be reduced into the state of man’s natural thought and life. And the general rule may thus be seen that the guardian spirits with man are all emissaries or representatives of some spiritual society either in heaven or in hell. In other words, they are “subject-spirits.”100

If all angels were reduced into a state attuned to that of man, it would defeat the purpose of influx and guardianship. Instead the Lord provides that each angelic society should act upon man through intermediates. These may be spirits in the world of spirits into one of whom the angels of the society concentrate their thought, and whom they inspire with their own illustration and power so that he may act for them and from them. Or else, one of the members of that society serves as an emissary and subject. In either case the subject acts and speaks and thinks from the society; he thinks nothing from himself, although he feels entirely as if he did so from his own choice and his own thought. The greater the numbers in a society who thus “turn themselves” to some spirit and direct their “intuition” into him, the greater power and clarity does this spirit possess.101

Through these particular spirits the currents of life and illustration are directed to the varied states of man, so as to stir particular states in his mind, without rousing the whole dormant will of the proprium. For his will, from heredity and birth, is entirely evil in tendency. His will is a malformation which can receive only the life of hell. If there should be a sudden excitation of the whole of this life, all would be over with man. He would be submerged in a flood of passion and fantasy; and heavenly influx would be impossible.

The Lord has ordained otherwise. He has provided that man’s native life shall not suddenly exhibit all its hideous potentialities, but that it shall be revealed only little by little while earth-life progresses—aroused only so far as it can be comprehended by conscious thought. In other words, the Lord has provided that there shall be no general influx into the conscious part of the mind, but that man’s responsible life shall be carried on in the understanding by states of thought and will that develop gradually; and that all the forces of the spiritual world shall have their representatives near man and shall balance each other’s influence, and so leave man in freedom.

The Number of Our Attendant Spirits

In general, each man has four attendant spirits. Two angelic spirits are present. The other two are the subjects—respectively—of the hell of “genii” and the hell of “satanic spirits.” These four are generally invisible to each other, with the exception that the good spirits see the evil spirits whose wicked intent they seek to frustrate.102 And none of them see the man with whom they are, but only his affections.103

The intimacy of these spirits with man’s whole mind may be seen from the revealed fact that the spirits near to man think that they are the man and, if evil, are unwilling to admit that they are no longer living in the body, although this could easily be shown them if they were willing to reflect.104 The appearances upon which their self-deception rests are indeed strong. For such spirits, while they are near man, possess or assume his whole memory! Angelic spirits would assume his whole interior memory; other spirits his exterior memory105 with all his past, with his whole personality, his active self; yet all this without disturbing man’s feeling of self-life and freedom in the least. Nothing of a spirit’s own natural memory is permitted to be active. Spirits forget themselves and their own natural past, lest confusion should result in man’s mind by their communicating their memories to him. Several spirits, forgetting their own identities, may at the same time suppose themselves to be the man, and yet man be happily oblivious of their illusions !106 Each spirit would then take, from the mazes of man’s memory, all that harmonizes with his own affection, and man may thus find himself torn by opposing delights. But all the attending spirits, because they thus identify man’s mind with their own, act as his friends.107

Spirits generally do not remain long with a man but are always changing according to man’s advance in age or state. A striking exception to this rule is suggested in the teaching that death does not separate conjugial partners, “since the spirit of the deceased dwells continually with the spirit of the one not yet deceased, and this even until the death of the other, when they meet again and reunite, and love each other more tenderly than before, because in the spiritual world.”108 But that the partner is always in the state typical of an attendant spirit is not said, and in no wise follows.

From a certain relation we judge that these four special attendants, or at least one among them, may be the same for a long time. In the presence of Swedenborg, and through his memory, spirits could sometimes become aware with what men they were closely consociated. Such consociate spirits resemble their earthly alter ego, sometimes even as to dress. One such spirit declared that he could understand clearly all that the man he attended said, but that the man could not understand the things he, the spirit, said. Another admitted that he thought and spoke from a certain man on earth as the man did from him.109 But this realization was exceptional, due to Swedenborg’s presence.

Without an associate spirit with an affection similar to his own, and thence perceptions of a like kind, a man could not think analytically, rationally or spiritually.110 The attendant spirits may take on the man’s whole memory or only a part, and remain with the man as long as they represent a general state. As the man advances from childhood, both his angelic guardians and his infernal attendants are changed. In infancy, angels of the celestial type, including infant spirits, are with him and insinuate innocence. In childhood, spirits of the natural heaven are close, instilling an affection of knowing. In youth, spirits of intelligence, subjects of the second heaven, are his guardians. And in old age there attend, if man permits, spirits of wisdom and mature innocence, who communicate with the third heaven.111

Yet more remotely there are hosts of other spirits, good and evil, who make temporary use of the shifting ideas of man’s memory and arouse in him passing delights and tentative affections, without so fully identifying themselves with the man. In this variety man finds a freedom of choice, and his thoughts are through them extended to new societies in heaven or in hell.112 Every moment there passes a swift flow of such spiritual associates—like specific radio-currents to which our mind is tuned in—to inspire, maintain and enrich the colorful procession of our thoughts, evoking old memories, suggesting new connections of one idea with another, inducing new moods of courage or dismay, and kindling flashes of new perceptions.

People whose thoughts are fixed upon sensual objects have few spirits with them,113 while with men whose ideas are more interiorly active and are constantly “multiplied and divided,” there are obviously very many more associations made with spirits, good or evil.114 With those who think abstractly there are therefore many spirits in constant flux.115 But it is intimated that those who are led more according to spontaneous order—as for instance children in their innocence—need fewer spirits to govern them than do most adults. Adults, who act from prudence and are apt to resist the truths of faith more stubbornly, require a greater force of spirits to reform them.116The orderly thing is for these spirits to be adjoined when man’s affections are stirred. But there are also “strange influxes” from spirits who are not invited by man’s real consent, but who induce moods of sadness, melancholy or homesickness.117

Such nostalgia seemingly results from spirits who fail to leave man when his state changes, but become attached to the idea of certain places and objects and induce the man to return to them at least in thought. Our guardian angels then have the task of driving such spirits away, by concentrating his interest on some use and bending his affections towards spiritual things.

Spirits Rest on Symbols

Spirits find their resting-place with man in the “ultimates” of his mind—that is, in external signs and symbols which are indications of his inner purposes and loves. To avoid confusion and to prevent strange and unwanted influxes, man has to order his life by self-imposed habits and established externals of worship and morality. The object of all the sacraments, rites, blessings, and institutions of the church is to help to introduce our spirit into heavenly societies. Baptism is a most striking example. For is not its avowed purpose to transfer a man into the society of his faith—into the company of souls who rejoice in the heavenly doctrine and who can protect him against “wandering spirits?” Is not the Holy Supper a means for introducing our spirit into heaven, and a sealing (in the sight of all spirits) of our desire to become the children of God. Is not every good habit of worship and piety, of order and cleanliness, of industry and courtesy, an ultimate protection against strange spirits who would insinuate fantasies, doubts, and conflicts and thus harm our devotion to the uses which we have freely assumed ? Inauguration into the priesthood ensures—so far as the candidate permits—the guardianship of societies which love the priestly use and the salvation of souls, and which encourage interior progress in this use. Betrothal, marriage, and priestly blessings of all kinds have within them the same intent—to assure an interior progress by conjunction with our heavenly guardians.

In each case, these ceremonies are marked by specific acts or procedures which set the person apart, not only in the eyes of men but also to the minds of spirits. Spirits do not see the man baptized, but the memory of the act inheres as a permanent and ineradicable basis of association with spirits of his faith, and as a fulcrum for the presence of angelic societies. The impress of the rite in the external memory is made a symbol for the celestial and spiritual “remains” and for the deep stirrings of charity and faith which at the same time are insinuated in the interior memory—a memory which is forever exempt from any infestation by evil spirits. The knowledge of baptism becomes the center for a gathering group of ideas open to spiritual influx. The Writings aid us to become aware of the spiritual significance and effect of our external acts, customs and decisions. The real issues of our life have to do with the question as to what unseen spiritual associates we invite to linger and lodge in our mind, our imagination, our thought, and our heart. And spirits are associated with our minds by many seemingly inconsequential and trifling circumstances, which yet have deep symbolic significance. Even as a world of emotion can be stirred up in us by the sight of a rose or a child’s toy, so spirits see—in the objective things of our memory—great depths of associated meanings which have immense importance for them and hence for us. This is the basic reason for correspondential rituals.

The mind is ritualistic. We are compelled to resort to ritual to compensate for the fact that we do not fully comprehend the simplest elements of our own thought. We recall an object, and may have to be content to recollect that it once suggested a world of particular meanings—meanings which we ourselves now have forgotten and cannot fathom or explain ! But the spirits with us—they understand ! They cause a host of “such things as were adjoined” to be lifted up around our material idea of the object, as an undulating sphere of associated ideas. By such “spiritual wings” the inner meaning of the object is elevated from the grave of the memory into what we call “consciousness.” “Thereby man has apperception of a thing.”118

In other words, without spirits we could not be humanly conscious—could not interpret our memories into meanings. Our words and memory images would be without sense or import unless there were spirits who can, by their peculiar power and prerogative, see and gather all the implications and arouse all the thoughts and delights that are interiorly attached to these dead symbols. Their prerogative is to see spiritual relations—to see the whole thought with its complex roots and branches. Even with the help of his attendant spirits, man can see only the vaguest generals.118

It is thus clear that a man can think and will only together with the spirits who are with him.119 The teaching that “spirits and men are in each other’s thoughts and affections”120 is countered by another which shows that “everything of thought and affection flows in through spirits and angels,”121 by a third, which states that men and spirits “are not conjoined as to thoughts, but as to affections,”122 and by a fourth, which tells that spirits do not introduce thoughts into man, but only affections.123

It is indeed the affection of the spirit which flows in. But so far as this affection is in accord with man’s interior affection which is built up from his free choice, it can also flow into his understanding and manifest itself there as perception and thought. Man is active as to memory-ideas; the spirit is active as to the affection which carries its own wisdom or meaning within it; and so the two act as one, man and spirit in one mental act which each senses as his own.

Man as a Plane for Spirits and Angels

The evidence presented in the Writings concerning the relationships of spirits and men is very complex and extensive, and as it is largely descriptive in character, it leaves room for uncertainties and for various interpretations. Thus it is the general doctrine that “angels and spirits cannot be separated from men” ;124 yet their life is in effect quite independent as far as all appearances go. We are convinced that angels are not always in the need of assuming some man’s interior memory as their own, any more than all spirits need to identify themselves definitely with man’s personality and natural memory.

Angels who are not assigned to particular men are at greater liberty to use the memories of many men at the same time for their basis. “Many men can at the same time serve as a plane for one angel,” we read. “The Lord so arranges that what is absent in one may be [found] in another ; He also composes one thing from many, so that it may still serve simultaneously for a plane.”125 And if mankind were deficient, it would be possible for the natural memories of spirits to be sufficiently activated so as to become a fulcrum and plane for angelic ideas.126 In fact, things from the memory of an intelligent man may serve for such a plane whether he be thinking about them or about other things, or even while he is asleep. Whatever in the memory of mankind and of spirits might correspond to an angel’s active affection can be called into use as a reflective basis for his heavenly perceptions—as if the whole human race lay before him as an open book, in order that no impediments may prevent his progress into ever greater wisdom.125

But a special widening of the vision of the angels occurs when men on earth read the Word reverently. For the natural thoughts of the man are then not so limited or so colored by his own states as ordinarily. He is in Divine ultimates. And the angels with him then “pay no attention whatever to . . . those things which are in the thought of the man at the time he reads it,” nor to those things which are in the sense of the letter; but only to the interiors of the Word, from the man.127

Angels in this state “take delight in the man because of the wisdom which then flows through the Word to them.” But this approbation of the man is an afterthought.128 They are not aware of the man. They are perhaps reading the Word as it exists in its spiritual form in heaven, and the things within the Word appear to them “as if they thought them from themselves”—appear presented before their eyes “in a celestial and spiritual manner, with innumerable representatives, in the light of life.”129

The question might be raised as to what would happen if the race on some earth in the universe should perish—which is a possibility as a result of man’s freedom to separate himself from the Divine and to rush into unchecked wickedness and race suicide, despite the Lord’s intervention.130 The answer is given that the heavens from the inhabitants of that earth would then be “transferred” to rest on the minds of men on some other planet.131 It was to prevent such a contingency that the Lord came in the flesh and that the written Word was provided as a perpetual ultimate.132

Angelic Perception of Our Word

There are two groups of teachings about the way in which human states affect the angels and qualify their wisdom. On the one hand it is said that the angels are in greater clearness as to the spiritual sense “when little children are reading the Holy Bible” or when the reader “pays no attention to the things he reads and has no perception of them.” Then “the sense and perception of those things are elevated to the angels more distinctly than when the natural human mind is also active.”133 And the general doctrine is given, that when the Word is read by men who are in the life of faith, the spiritual things of the continuous internal sense “lie open to the angels . . . even if they who read do not attend to its meaning.” And the Jews, when in states of external holiness, could also be a means by which the Word was presented before the angels; for the correspondences communicate, whatever the quality of the person who reads, if only he acknowledges the Word to be Divine.134 “All the wisdom of the angels is given by means of the Word, since in its internal and inmost sense it is the Divine wisdom, which is communicated to the angels through the Word when this is read by men and when it is thought from. . . . “135

It would seem that man’s wisdom and understanding do not necessarily have any part in limiting the angelic perceptions. What is more essential to angelic illustration seems to be the quiescence and silencing of our natural imagination and the states of our proprium. Then the angels can use us for a reflecting plane, and can see the interiors of the Word of God in its own glory and light.

But it is otherwise when the angels become our guardians. They then accommodate themselves to the particular spiritual things, be they few or many, which we have appropriated unconsciously within our interiors. They are then performing a use; and a use implies certain temporary sacrifices, which eventually are rewarded by still ampler delights. Our most loftly intellectual states are usually not reached in the midst of our uses. A teacher, for instance, must at times enter into the deeper perceptions of his subject by further studies in his field, and he then feels a delight of wisdom. Afterwards he accommodates himself to others and speaks, so far as possible, in their terms, in order that he may convey his message to them. He is not then in the delight of wisdom, but in the delight of his use; and his illustration is very much affected by the response to his efforts, and the reception which he meets will finally make for a conjunction of thought between teacher and pupils.

Thus it is quite comprehensible that there should be a difference of illustration with the angels when they “are with men”—a difference due to the different qualities of the personal states of the men. “As are the ultimates, so are the primaries.”136 Concerning this we read:

“If the men who are reading the Word or thinking or preaching from the Word, are wise, then the angels do not know it, but still the wisdom of their thought falls into them (illa) as into its plane, . . . and they are entirely unaware that it so happens.

“Angels have told me that they are sometimes in great wisdom, sometimes in less, sometimes in clarity, sometimes in obscurity; and that their thoughts are variously directed to the quarters, now this, now that; and that they are in greater clearness or obscurity according to the direction—but that they are [then] not turned to themselves,

but to man; and that thence they know that [they are turned] to the human race where such things are to which they are determined. They said that they have this from much experience; and that when [they are turned] to those things which are in my thought from the Heavenly Doctrine, they are then in greater clearness than otherwise.”137

We may therefore understand how the changes of state with the angels are based upon their uses to each other and to men; how the wisdom of heaven is derived from the Word when this is read by men; how the wisdom and delight of the angels inflow into regenerating men and make it possible for them also to perceive the depths of the Word so far as their natural cognitions allow; and how there is thus a conjunction of thought and life between angels and men—with a lifting of man’s mind and a gracious accommodation on the part of the angels.

For this is a part of the angelic use. And thus although, when man enters with attention and understanding into the interior meaning of the Word, the perception of the angelic spirits is in a measure limited by the alien elements that man may introduce, yet it is better “if man also is at the same time in light” and thus be conjoined with the angels. The higher angels—who love others more than themselves—gladly perform this use. But angelic spirits of a lower order may, at times, instinctively snatch away man’s illustration and delight, by failing to enter fully into their use as guardian angels.138

If man’s mind is furnished with light from the Heavenly Doctrine—and if he loves the Lord and holds evils in aversion —he will not demand so great accommodation or sacrifice of illustration on the part of his angelic guardians. The angels can then retain great wisdom, and will—in all but appearance —consociate their conscious thought with the as yet ineffable depths of the man’s thought, in a common enlightenment.139 This is the manner in which heaven and earth may again be conjoined through the Word.

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God’s purpose for human beings

God is Love

If you, like me, have ever pondered the ‘big’ questions, you will almost certainly have asked yourself the question “Why am I here?”  I’m always dumbfounded when I recall that humans are sentient beings with a body specially evolved to survive for a short time in this world.  Is it not amazing that we are in the image of God? [Genesis 1:26,27]

So why are we here?  In True Christian Religion paragraph 773, Emanuel Swedenborg writes:

… the creation of the universe had as its purpose a heaven of angels formed from the human race, and at the same time a church on earth, as the means by which a person may pass into heaven, and because the salvation of people, which depends upon people being born in the world, is thus a continuation of creation.

In other words, human beings are destined to become angels. The implication of this is that angels are not a separate race of celestial beings with wings and haloes.  Instead, an angel is a man or woman who has lived and died in this world and whose spiritual self has awakened in the next world. When a male and a female angel share identical beliefs and motivation they are joined together as one mind, and the love that they share together is called marriage love. They are so close that in heaven a married pair is spoken of, not as two, but as one angel.

How do you feel about this idea?  Is it new to you?  Are you comfortable with it, or shocked by it?

Swedenborg calls the process of journeying along the path to heaven regeneration.  This simply means learning to follow God’s rules for living a kind, generous and selfless life while recognising and putting aside our faults.  It can be compared with the process of regeneration of urban areas, where the renewal process takes place in successive steps over a significant period of time, and old buildings and infrastructure are replaced by new.  For us humans, regeneration involves making spiritual progress throughout our lives.  It is hard work that never ends.  It starts when we are born again. Remember that Jesus said to Nicodemus no-one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again [John 3:3].

The first stage of being born again is called reformation, a process affecting what we think; the second stage is called regeneration, a process affecting what we do, and thus what we think. The whole process is triggered when we recognise a fault, that is, a sin within ourselves, and repent this fault. This changes the way we think about the fault (the reformation step), and God will encourage us to try to put into practice a procedure that will enable us to avoid the sin in future (the regeneration step).  This process is repeated until we have successfully marginalized the sin, and then started again for the next sin.  Notice that each sin is not removed.  It will always be part of us, hence the reason that it is marginalized.

Some people feel that they are ‘born again’ every time they identify one of their many flaws or faults and ask God to forgive them.

However, not everybody becomes an angel.  We all experience a personal last judgment when we pass from this world to the next.  The process is described in the following passage from Matthew’s gospel, chapter 25, verses 31-33:

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne.  All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. [NIV]

The sheep represent people who are destined to become good spirits, that is, angels in heaven, while the goats represent people who are destined to become evil spirits in hell.  The decision is made based on God’s laws about how we behave in our lives in this world.  But it’s not a decision based on reward or punishment.  Instead, God does his best to find a place for us in the spiritual world where we would be happiest.  It follows that people who have been good citizens in this world would be happiest in heaven, while people who have been self-centred and nasty would be miserable in all the peace and joy of heaven, so God finds a place for them in hell amongst other evil spirits who are similarly self-centred and nasty.

So the answer to the question “Why am I here?” is, – to become an angel.  The natural world that we live in is the training ground for the spiritual world in which we will spend the rest of eternity, hopefully as angels. All we have to do is become good citizens.  How?

In the two great commandments Jesus said:

Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.  The second is this: Love your neighbour as yourself.
[Mark 12:29-31 NIV]

Swedenborg sums this up beautifully in Heaven and Hell 558:

Moreover, the extent to which people are in a state of heavenly love, which means loving useful services and acts of goodness, and feeling joy in their hearts when they perform them for church, for country, the community at large and their fellow citizen, dictates the extent to which they are led by the Lord, because that is the love in which He exists, and has Him as its source.

But what about people who do not get to heaven because of the way they behaved in this world? Swedenborg goes on to explain that they do not take guidance from God but are led by their inner self, and the inner self is altogether evil, because people have inherited from their ancestors the fault of loving themselves more than they love God, and loving the world more than they love heaven.  They perform services and acts of goodness for personal benefit and gain instead of for the good of the community.

So we are all on a spiritual journey that takes us to the next world, hopefully to heaven. It’s not a short journey, nor is it instant salvation.  It takes the rest of our lives in this world to complete.  Performing useful services and acts of goodness is not a one-off event but a lifetime of preparation for an eternity of continuing to perform useful services and acts of goodness as an angel in heaven.

http://www.god-is-love.org.uk/twelve-key-teachings/our-regeneration-is-mirrored-in-the-bible-story-of-creation/gods-purpose-for-human-beings/

https://havau22.com/emanuel-swedenborg/biography

Conjunction

HR90  THE SCIENCE OF CORRESPONDENCE

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CONJUNCTION

HEAVEN IS CONJUNCTION WITH THE LORD

conjunctionpHeaven is heaven, not from the angels but from the Lord. For the love and wisdom in which angels are and which make heaven are not theirs, but the Lord’s, indeed are the  Lord in them. And as love and wisdom are the Lord’s, and are the Lord in heaven, and make the life of angels, it is plain that their life is the Lord’s, indeed is the Lord. The angels themselves avow that they live from the Lord. Hence it is evident that heaven is conjunction with the Lord. But conjunction with Him is various and one man’s heaven is not another’s; therefore heaven is also according to the conjunction with the Lord. In the following proposition it will be seen that conjunction is more and more close or more and more remote.

[2] Here let something be said about how the conjunction takes place and what the nature of it is. It is a conjunction of the Lord with the angels and of the angels with Him, therefore is reciprocal. The Lord flows into the life’s love of the angels, and they receive Him in wisdom, thus in turn conjoining themselves with Him. It must be said, however, that it seems to the angels that they conjoin themselves to the Lord by wisdom; actually the Lord conjoins them to Himself by their wisdom, for the wisdom is also from the Lord. It is the same thing if we say that the Lord conjoins Himself to the angels by good and they in turn conjoin themselves to the Lord by truth, for all good is of love, and truth, of wisdom.

[3] This reciprocal conjunction is an arcanum, however, which few can understand unless it is explained. I want therefore to unfold it so far as it can be done by things within one’s grasp. We showed in the treatise Divine Love and Wisdom (nn. 404, 405) how love unites itself with wisdom, namely, through affection for knowing from which comes an affection for truth, through affection for understanding from which comes perception of truth, and through affection for seeing what is known and understood, from which comes thought. Into all these affections the Lord flows, for they are all derivatives of one’s life’s love, and the angels receive the influx in perception of truth and in thought, for in these the influx becomes apparent to them, but not in the affections.

[4] As the perceptions and thoughts appear to the angels to be their own, although they arise from affections which are from the Lord, the appearance is that the angels reciprocally conjoin themselves to the Lord, when nevertheless the Lord conjoins them to Himself. The affection itself produces the perceptions and thoughts, for the affection, which is of love, is their soul. Apart from affection no one can perceive or think anything, and every one perceives and thinks according to his affection.  It is evident that the reciprocal conjunction of the angels with the Lord is not from them, but as it were from them. Such, too, is the conjunction of the Lord with the church and of the church with Him, a union called celestial and spiritual marriage. [DP28]

All conjunction in the spiritual world is effected by intent regard.

When anyone there thinks of another with a desire to speak with him, the other is at once present, and the two come face to face. Likewise, when one thinks of another from an affection of love; by this affection, however, there is conjunction, but by the other only presence. This is peculiar to the spiritual world; for there all are spiritual beings. It is otherwise in the natural world where all are physical beings. In the natural world something similar takes place in the affections and thoughts of the spirit; but as there is space here, while in the spiritual world space is appearance only, what takes place here in one’s spirit occurs outwardly there.

[2] We have said so much to make known how conjunction of the Lord with angels and their seemingly reciprocal conjunction with Him is effected.  All angels turn the face to the Lord; He regards them in the forehead, and they regard Him with the eyes. The reason is that the forehead corresponds to love and its affections, and the eyes correspond to wisdom and its perceptions. Still the angels do not of themselves turn the face to the Lord, but He faces them toward Himself, doing so by influx into their life’s love, by this entering the perceptions and thoughts, and so turning the angels to Him.

[3] There is such a circuit from love to thoughts and under love’s impulse from thoughts to love in all the mind’s activity. It may be called the circling of life. On these subjects see some things also in the treatise Divine Love and Wisdom: as that “Angels constantly turn the face to the Lord as a sun” (nn. 129-134); “All the interiors of both the mind and the bodies of the angels are likewise turned to the Lord as a sun” (nn. 135-139); “Every spirit, whatever his character, turns himself likewise to his ruling love” (nn. 140-145); “Love conjoins itself to wisdom and causes wisdom to be conjoined reciprocally with it” (nn.  410-412); “Angels are in the Lord and He in them; and as the angels are only recipients, the Lord alone is heaven” (nn. 113-118). [DP29]

0093a We shall say briefly how man can be more and more closely conjoined to the Lord, and then how the conjunction seems closer and closer. _How man is more and more closely conjoined to the Lord:_ this is effected not by knowledge alone, nor by intelligence alone, nor even by wisdom alone, but by a life conjoined to them. A man’s life is his love, and love is manifold. In general there are love of good and love of evil. Love of evil is love of committing adultery, taking revenge, defrauding, blaspheming, depriving others of their possessions. In thinking and doing such things the love of evil finds its pleasure and joy. Of this love there are as many derivatives, which are affections, as there are evils in which it can find expression. And there are as many perceptions and thoughts of this love as there are falsities favoring and confirming such evils. The falsities make one with the evils as understanding makes one with will; they are mutually inseparable; the one is of the other.

[2] Inasmuch as the Lord flows into one’s life’s love and by its affections into the perceptions and thoughts, and not the other way about, as we said above, it follows that the Lord can conjoin Himself more closely to a man only as the love of evil is removed along with its affections, which are lusts. These lusts reside in the natural man. What a man does from the natural man he feels that he does of himself. For his part, therefore, a man should remove the evils of that love; so far as he does, the Lord comes nearer and conjoins Himself to him. Anyone can see from reason that lusts with their pleasures block and close the door to the Lord and cannot be cast out by the Lord as long as the man himself keeps the door shut and presses and pushes from outside to keep it from being opened. It is plain from the Lord’s words in the Apocalypse that a man must himself open the door:

Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and sup with him, and he with Me (3:20).

[3] Plainly, then, so far as one shuns evils as diabolical and as obstacles to the Lord’s entrance, he is more and more closely conjoined to the Lord, and he the most closely who abhors them as so many dusky and fiery devils. For evil and the devil are one and the same, and the falsity of evil and satan are one and the same. As the Lord’s influx is into the love of good and into its affections and by these into the perceptions and thoughts, which have it from the good in which a man is that they are truths, so the influx of the devil, that is of hell, is into the love of evil and its affections, which are lusts, and by these into the perceptions and thoughts, which have it from the evil in which the man is that they are falsities.

[4] How the conjunction seems closer and closer. The more the evils in the natural man are removed by shunning and turning away from them, the more closely a man is conjoined to the Lord. Love and wisdom, which are the Lord Himself, are not in space, as affection which is of love, and thought which is of wisdom, have nothing in common with space. In the measure of the conjunction by love and wisdom, therefore, the Lord seems nearer; and, contrariwise, in the measure of the rejection of love and wisdom, more distant. There is no space in the spiritual world; distance and presence there are appearances according to similarity or dissimilarity of the affections. For, as we said, affections which are of love, and thoughts which are of wisdom, in themselves spiritual, are not in space (on this see what was shown in the treatise _Divine Love and Wisdom,_ nn. 7-10, 69-72, and elsewhere).

[5] The Lord’s conjunction with a man in whom evils have been put away is meant by the Lord’s words:

The pure in heart shall see God (Mt 5:8);

and by the words:

He who has my commandments and does them . . . with him will I make an abode (Jn 14:21, 23).

“To have the commandments” is to know and “to do them” is to love, for it is also said: “he who does my commandments, he it is that loves Me.” [DP 33]

The more closely one is conjoined to the Lord the wiser one becomes._ As there are three degrees of life in man by creation and so from birth (see just above, n. 32), there are specifically three degrees of wisdom in him. These degrees it is that are opened in man according to conjunction, that is, according to love, for love is conjunction itself.  Love’s ascent by degrees, however, is only obscurely perceived by man; but wisdom’s ascent is clearly perceived by those who know and see what wisdom is. The degrees of wisdom are perceived because love by its affections enters the perceptions and thoughts, and these present themselves to the internal mental sight, which corresponds to the external bodily sight. Thus wisdom appears, but not the affection of love which produces it. It is the same with all a man’s deeds; he is aware how the body does them, but not how the soul does them. So he perceives how he meditates, perceives and thinks, but not how the soul of these mental activities, which is an affection of good and truth, produces them.

[2] There are three degrees of wisdom: natural, spiritual, and celestial.  Man is in the natural degree of wisdom during his life in the world. This degree can be perfected in him to its height, but even so cannot pass into the spiritual degree, for the latter is not continuous with it, but conjoined to it by correspondences. After death man is in the spiritual degree of wisdom. This degree also is such that it can be perfected to its height, and yet cannot pass into the celestial degree of wisdom, because neither is this continuous with the spiritual but conjoined to it by correspondences. Plainly, then, wisdom can be raised threefold, and in each degree can be perfected but only to its peak.

[3] One who understands the elevation and perfecting of these degrees can see to an extent why angelic wisdom is said to be ineffable. So ineffable, indeed, is it, that a thousand ideas in the thought of angels in their wisdom can present only a single idea in the thought of men in their wisdom, the other nine hundred and ninety-nine ideas being unutterable, because they are supernatural. Many a time have I been given to know this by living experience. But, as was said, no one can enter into the ineffable wisdom of the angels except by and according to conjunction with the Lord, for He alone opens spiritual and celestial degrees, and only in those who are wise from Him. Those are wise from the Lord who cast the devil, that is, evil, out of themselves. [DP34]

Author: EMANUEL SWEDENBORG (1688-1772)

http://www.scienceofcorrespondences.com/conjunction.htm

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

DEGREES

HR90 THE SCIENCE OF CORRESPONDENCE

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DEGREES

DEGREES ARE OF A TWOFOLD KIND,

DEGREES OF HEIGHT AND DEGREES OF BREADTH.

stairs1pA knowledge of degrees is like a key to lay open the causes of things, and to give entrance into them. Without this knowledge, scarcely anything of cause can be known; for   without it, the objects and subjects of both worlds seem to have but a single meaning, as if there were nothing in them beyond that which meets the eye; when yet compared to the things which lie hidden within, what is thus seen is as one to thousands, yea, to tens of thousands. The interiors which are not open to view can in no way be discovered except through a knowledge of degrees. For things exterior advance to things interior and through these to things inmost, by means of degrees; not by continuous degrees but by discrete degrees. “Continuous degrees” is a term applied to the gradual lessenings or decreasings from grosser to finer, or from denser to rarer; or rather, to growths and increasings from finer to grosser, or from rarer to denser; precisely like the gradations of light to shade, or of heat to cold. But discrete degrees are entirely different: they are like things prior, subsequent and final; or like end, cause, and effect. These degrees are called discrete, because the prior is by itself; the subsequent by itself; and the final by itself; and yet taken together they make one. There are atmospheres, from highest to lowest, that is, from the sun to the earth, called ethers and airs that are separated into such degrees; they are like simples, collections of simples, and again collections of these, which taken together are called a composite. Such degrees are discrete [or separate], because each has a distinct existence, and these degrees are what are meant by “degrees of height;” but the former degrees are continuous, because they increase continuously and these degrees are what are meant by “degrees of breadth.” [DLW184]

Each and all things that have existence in the spiritual world and in the natural world, have conjoint existence from discrete degrees and from continuous degrees together, that is, from degrees of height and from degrees of breadth. The dimension which consists of discrete degrees is called height, and the dimension that consists of continuous degrees is called breadth; their position relatively to the sight of the eye does not alter the designation. Without a knowledge of these degrees nothing can be known of how the three heavens differ from each other; nor can anything be known of the differences of love and wisdom of the angels there; nor of the differences of heat and light in which they are; nor of the differences of atmospheres which environ and contain these. Nor without a knowledge of these degrees can anything be known of the differences among the interior powers of the minds of men, thus nothing of their state as regards reformation and regeneration; nor anything of the differences among the exterior powers of the bodies both of angels and men; and nothing whatever can be known of the distinction between spiritual and natural, thus nothing of correspondence. Nor, indeed, can anything be known of any difference between the life of men and that of beasts, or between the more perfect and the less perfect animals; neither of the differences among the forms of the vegetable kingdom, nor among the matters of the mineral kingdom. From which it can be seen that they who are ignorant of these degrees are unable to see causes from anything of judgment; they see only effects, and from these judge of causes, which is done for the most part by an induction that is continuous with effects. But causes produce effects not continuously but discretely; for cause is one thing, and effect is another. The difference between the two is like the difference between prior and subsequent, or between that which forms and that which is formed. [DLW185]

That it may be still better comprehended what discrete degrees are, what their nature is, and how they differ from continuous degrees, the angelic heavens may serve as an example. There are three heavens, and these are separated by degrees of height; therefore the heavens are one below another, nor do they communicate with each other except by influx, which proceeds from the Lord through the heavens in their order to the lowest; and not contrariwise. Each heaven by itself, however, is divided not by degrees of height but by degrees of breadth. Those who are in the middle, that is, at the center, are in the light of wisdom; but those who are around about, even to the boundaries, are in the shade of wisdom.  Thus wisdom grows less and less even to ignorance, as light decreases to shade, which takes place continuously. It is the same with men. The interiors belonging to their minds are separated into as many degrees as the angelic heavens; and these degrees are one above another; therefore the interiors of men which belong to their minds are separated by discrete degrees, that is, degrees of height. Consequently a man may be in the lowest degree, then in a higher, and also in the highest degree, according to the degree of his wisdom; moreover, when he is in the lowest degree only, the higher degree is shut, – but is opened as he receives wisdom from the Lord. There are also in a man, as in heaven, continuous degrees, that is degrees of breadth. A man is like the heavens because as regards the interiors of his mind, he is a heaven in least form, in the measure in which he is in love and wisdom from the Lord. That man as regards the interiors of his mind is a heaven in least form may be seen in the work Heaven and Hell (n. 51-58.)   [DLW186]

From all this it can be seen, that one who knows nothing about discrete degrees, that is, degrees of height, can know nothing about the state of man as regards his reformation and regeneration, which are effected through the reception of love and wisdom of the Lord, and then through the opening of the interior degrees of his mind in their order. Nor can he know anything about influx from the Lord through the heavens nor anything about the order into which he was created. For if anyone thinks about these, not from discrete degrees or degrees of height but from continuous degrees or degrees of breadth, he is not able to perceive anything about them from causes, but only from effects; and to see from effects only is to see from fallacies, from which come errors, one after another; and these may be so multiplied by inductions that at length enormous falsities are called truths. [DLW187]

I am not aware that anything has been known hitherto about discrete degrees or degrees of height, only continuous degrees or degrees of breadth have been known; yet nothing of the real truth about cause can become known without a knowledge of degrees of both kinds. These degrees therefore shall be treated of throughout this Part; for it is the object of this little work to uncover causes, that effects may-be seen from them, and thus the darkness may be dispelled in which the man of the church is in respect to God and the Lord, and in respect to Divine things in general which are called spiritual things. This I may mention, that the angels are in grief for the darkness on the earth; saying that they see light hardly anywhere, and that men eagerly lay hold of fallacies and confirm them, thereby multiplying falsities upon falsities; and to confirm fallacies men search out, by means of reasonings from falsities and from truths falsified, such things as cannot be controverted, owing to the darkness in respect to causes and the ignorance respecting truths.  The angels lament especially over confirmations respecting faith separate from charity and justification thereby; also over men’s ideas about God, angels and spirits, and their ignorance of what love and wisdom are. [DLW 188]

By creation the human being is such that he can be conjoined more and more closely to the Lord._ This becomes evident from what was shown about degrees in the treatise Divine Love and Wisdom, Part III, especially in the propositions: “By creation there are three discrete degrees or degrees of height in the human being” (nn. 230-235); “These three degrees are in man from birth, and as they are opened, the man is in the Lord, and the Lord in him” (nn. 236-241); “All perfection increases and mounts with and according to the degrees” (nn. 199-204).  Evidently, then, man is such by creation that he can be conjoined with the Lord more and more closely according to these degrees.

[2] But one must know well what degrees are and that there are two kinds –discrete degrees or degrees of height, and continuous degrees or degrees of breadth; also how they differ. It must be known, too, that every human being has by creation and hence from birth three discrete degrees or degrees of height, and that he comes at birth into the first degree, called natural, and can grow in this degree continuously until he becomes rational. He comes into the second degree, called spiritual, if he lives according to spiritual laws of order, which are divine truths. He can also come into the third degree, called celestial, if he lives according to the celestial laws of order, which are divine goods.

[3] These degrees are opened in a person by the Lord according to his life and actually opened in the world, but not perceptibly and sensibly until after his departure from the world. As they are opened and later perfected a man is conjoined to the Lord more and more closely. This conjunction can grow to eternity in nearness to God and does so with the angels. And yet no angel can attain or touch the first degree of the Lord’s love and wisdom, for the Lord is infinite and an angel is finite, and between infinite and finite no ratio obtains. Man’s state and the state of his elevation and nearness to the Lord cannot be understood without a knowledge of these degrees; they have been specifically treated of, therefore, in the treatise Divine Love and Wisdom, nn. 173-281, which see. [DP32]

Author: EMANUEL SWEDENBORG (1688-1772)

http://www.scienceofcorrespondences.com/degrees.htm

http://blog.beginningtheisticscience.com/

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

Celestial Angels

HR90 THE SCIENCE OF CORRESPONDENCE

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CELESTIAL ANGELS >> Innocence >> Peace >> Nakedness

celestial-angelsThere are angels that receive more interiorly the Divine that goes forth from the Lord, and others that receive it less interiorly; the former are called celestial angels, and the  latter spiritual angels. Because of this difference heaven is divided into two kingdoms, one called the Celestial Kingdom, the other the Spiritual Kingdom.{1}   [HH21]

As the angels that constitute the celestial kingdom receive the Divine of the Lord more interiorly they are called interior and also higher angels; and for the same reason the heavens that they constitute are called interior and higher heavens.{1} They are called higher and lower, because these terms designate what is interior and what is exterior.{2}   [HH22]

The love in which those are, who are in the celestial kingdom is called celestial love, and the love in which those are who are in the spiritual kingdom is called spiritual love. Celestial love is love to the Lord, and spiritual love is love towards the neighbor. And as all good pertains to love (for good to any one is what he loves) the good also of the other kingdom is called celestial, and the good of the other spiritual. Evidently, then, the two kingdoms are distinguished from each other in the same way as good of love to the Lord is distinguished from good of love towards the neighbor.{1} And as the good of love to the Lord is an interior good, and that love is interior love, so the celestial angels are interior angels, and are called higher angels.   [HH23]

The celestial kingdom is called also the Lord’s priestly kingdom, and in the Word “His dwelling-place;” while the spiritual kingdom is called His royal kingdom, and in the Word “His throne.” And from the celestial Divine the Lord in the world was called “Jesus,” while from the spiritual Divine He was called “Christ.”   [HH24]

The angels in the Lord’s celestial kingdom, from their more interior reception of the Divine of the Lord, far excel in wisdom and glory the angels that are in His spiritual kingdom; for they are in love to the Lord, and consequently are nearer and more closely conjoined to Him.{1} These angels are such because they have received and continue to receive Divine truths at once in their life, and not first in memory and thought, as the spiritual angels do. Consequently they have Divine truths written in their hearts, and they perceive them, and as it were see them, in themselves; nor do they ever reason about them whether they are true or not.{2} They are such as are described in Jeremiah:

I will put my law in their mind, and will write it in their heart. They shall teach no more everyone his friend and everyone his brother, saying, Know ye Jehovah. They shall know Me, from the least of them even to the greatest of them (31:33, 34).

And they are called in Isaiah:

Taught of Jehovah (54:13).

That the “taught of Jehovah” are those who are taught by the Lord He Himself teaches in John (6:45, 46).   [HH25]

It has been said that these angels have wisdom and glory above others for the reason that they have received and continue to receive Divine truths at once in their life. For as soon as they hear Divine truths, they will and do them, instead of storing them up in the memory and afterwards considering whether they are true. They know at once by influx from the Lord whether the truth they hear is true; for the Lord flows directly into man’s willing, but mediately through his willing into his thinking. Or what is the same, the Lord flows directly into good, but mediately through good into truth.{1} That is called good which belongs to the will and action therefrom, while that is called truth that belongs to the memory and to the thought therefrom. Moreover, every truth is turned into good and implanted in love as soon as it enters into the will; but so long as truth remains in the memory and in the thought therefrom it does not become good, nor does it live, nor is it appropriated to man, since man is a man from his will and understanding therefrom, and not from his understanding separated from his will.{2}   [HH26]

Because of this difference between the angels of the celestial kingdom and the angels of the spiritual kingdom they are not together, and have no interaction with each other. They are able to communicate only through intermediate angelic societies, which are called celestial-spiritual. Through these the celestial kingdom flows into the spiritual;{1} and from this it comes to pass that although heaven is divided into two kingdoms it nevertheless makes one. The Lord always provides such intermediate angels through whom there is communication and conjunction.   [HH27]

The wisdom of the angels of the third or inmost heaven shall now be described, and also how far it surpasses the wisdom of the angels of the first or outmost heaven. The wisdom of the angels of the third or inmost heaven is incomprehensible even to those who are in the outmost heaven, for the reason that the interiors of the angels of the third heaven have been opened to the third degree, while the interiors of angels of the first heaven have been opened only to the first degree; and all wisdom increases towards interiors and is perfected as these are opened (n. 208, 267).

[2] Because the interiors of the angels of the third or inmost heaven have been opened to the third degree, Divine truths are as it were inscribed on them; for the interiors of the third degree are more in the form of heaven than the interiors of the second and first degrees, and the form of heaven is from the Divine truth, thus in accord with the Divine wisdom, and this is why the truth is as it were inscribed on these angels, or are as it were instinctive or inborn in them.  Therefore as soon as these angels hear genuine Divine truths they instantly acknowledge and perceive them, and afterwards see them as it were inwardly in themselves. As the angels of that heaven are such they never reason about Divine truths, still less do they dispute about any truth whether it is so or not; nor do they know what it is to believe or to have faith. They say, “What is faith? for I perceive and see that a thing is so.” This they illustrate by comparisons; for example, that it would be as when any one with a companion, seeing a house and the various things in it and around it, should say to his companion that he ought to believe that these things exist, and that they are such as he sees them to be; or seeing a garden and trees and fruit in it, should say to his companion that he ought to have faith that there is a garden and trees and fruits, when yet he is seeing them clearly with his eyes. For this reason these angels never mention faith, and have no idea what it is; neither do they reason about Divine truths, still less do they dispute about any truth whether it is so or not.{1}

[3] But the angels of the first or outmost heaven do not have Divine truths thus inscribed on their interiors, because with them only the first degree of life is opened; therefore they reason about truths, and those who reason see almost nothing beyond the fact of the matter about which they are reasoning, or go no farther beyond the subject than to confirm it by certain considerations, and having confirmed it they say that it must be a matter of faith and must be believed.

[4] I have talked with angels about this, and they said that the difference between the wisdom of the angels of the third heaven and the wisdom of the angels of the first heaven is like that between what is clear and what is obscure; and the former they compared to a magnificent palace full of all things for use, surrounded on all sides by parks, with magnificent things of many kinds round about them; and as these angels are in the truths of wisdom they can enter into the palace and behold all things, and wander about in the parks in every direction and delight in it all. But it is not so with those who reason about truths, especially with those who dispute about them, as such do not see truths from the light of truth, but accept truths either from others or from the sense of the letter of the Word, which they do not interiorly understand, declaring that truths must be believed, or that one must have faith, and are not willing to have any interior sight admitted into these things. The angels said that such are unable to reach the first threshold of the palace of wisdom, still less to enter into it and wander about in its grounds, for they stop at the first step. It is not so with those that are in truths themselves; nothing impedes these from going on and progressing without limit, for the truths they see lead them wherever they go, and into wide fields, for every truth has infinite extension and is in conjunction with manifold others.

[5] They said still further that the wisdom of the angels of the inmost heaven consists principally in this, that they see Divine and heavenly things in every single object, and wonderful things in a series of many objects; for everything that appears before their eyes is a correspondent; as when they see palaces and gardens their view does not dwell upon the things that are before their eyes, but they see the interior things from which they spring, that is, to which they correspond, and this with all variety in accordance with the aspect of the objects; thus they see innumerable things at the same time in their order and connection; and this so fills their minds with delight that they seem to be carried away from themselves. That all things that are seen in the heavens correspond to the Divine things that are in the angels from the Lord may be seen above (n. 170-176). [DLW270]

Such are the angels of the third heaven because they are in love to the Lord, and that love opens the interiors of the mind to the third degree, and is a receptacle of all things of wisdom. It must be understood also that the angels of the inmost heaven are still being continually perfected in wisdom, and this differently from the angels of the outmost heaven. The angels of the inmost heaven do not store up Divine truths in the memory and thus make out of them a kind of science; but as soon as they hear them they perceive them and apply them to the life. For this reason Divine truths are as permanent with them as if they were inscribed on them, for what is committed in such a way to the life is contained in it. But it is not so with the angels of the outmost heaven. These first store up Divine truths in the memory and stow them away with their knowledge, and draw them out therefrom to perfect their understanding by them, and will them and apply them to the life, but with no interior perception whether they are truths; and in consequence they are in comparative obscurity. It is a notable fact that the angels of the third heaven are perfected in wisdom by hearing and not by seeing. What they hear from preachings does not enter into their memory, but enters directly into their perception and will, and comes to be a matter of life; but what they see with their eyes enters into their memory, and they reason and talk about it; which shows that with them the way of hearing is the way of wisdom. This, too, is from correspondence, for the ear corresponds to obedience, and obedience belongs to the life; while the eye corresponds to intelligence, and intelligence is a matter of doctrine.{1} The state of these angels is described in different parts of the Word, as in Jeremiah:

I will put My law in their mind, and write it on their heart. They shall teach no more everyone his friend and everyone his brother, saying, Know ye Jehovah; for they shall all know Me, from the least of them even unto the greatest of them (31:33, 34).

And in Matthew,

Let your speech be Yea, yea, Nay, nay; what is more than these is from evil (5:37).

“What is more than these is from evil” because it is not from the Lord; and inasmuch as the angels of the third heaven are in love to the Lord the truths that are in them are from the Lord. In that heaven love to the Lord is willing and doing Divine truth, for Divine truth is the Lord in heaven. [DLW271]

Author: EMANUEL SWEDENBORG  (1688-1772)

http://www.scienceofcorrespondences.com/celestial-heaven.htm

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

 

There Are Three Heavens

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HEAVEN >> Divine Order >> Divine Form >> Divine Human

THERE ARE THREE HEAVENS

There are three heavens, entirely distinct from each other, an inmost or third, a middle or second, and an outmost or first. These have a like order and relation to each other as the highest part of man, or his head, the middle part, or body, and the lowest, or feet; or as the upper, the middle, and the lower stories of a house. In the same order is the Divine that goes forth and descends from the Lord; consequently heaven, from the necessity of order, is threefold.[HH29]

The interiors of man, which belong to his mind and disposition, are also in like order. He has an inmost, a middle, and an outmost part; for when man was created all things of Divine order were brought together in him, so that he became Divine order in form, and consequently a heaven in miniature.{1} For this reason also man, as regards his interiors, has communication with the heavens and comes after death among the angels, either among those of the inmost, or of the middle, or of the outmost heaven, in accordance with his reception of Divine good and truth from the Lord during his life in the world. [HH30]

The Divine that flows in from the Lord and is received in the third or inmost heaven is called celestial, and in consequence the angels there are called celestial angels; the Divine that flows in from the Lord and is received in the second or middle heaven is called spiritual, and in consequence the angels there are called spiritual angels; while the Divine that flows in from the Lord and is received in the outmost or first heaven is called natural; but as the natural of that heaven is not like the natural of the world, but has the spiritual and the celestial within it, that heaven is called the spiritual-natural and the celestial-natural, and in consequence the angels there are called spiritual-natural and celestial-natural.{1} Those who receive influx from the middle or second heaven, which is the spiritual heaven, are called spiritual-natural; and those who receive influx from the third or inmost heaven, which is the celestial heaven, are called celestial-natural. The spiritual-natural angels and the celestial-natural angels are distinct from each other; nevertheless they constitute one heaven, because they are in one degree. [HH31]

In each heaven there is an internal and an external; those in the internal are called there internal angels, while those in the external are called external angels. The internal and the external in the heavens, or in each heaven, hold the same relation as the voluntary and intellectual in man-the internal corresponding to the voluntary, and the external to the intellectual. Everything voluntary has its intellectual; one cannot exist without the other. The voluntary may be compared to a flame and the intellectual to the light therefrom. [HH32]

Author: EMANUEL SWEDENBORG  (1688-1772)

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

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The Magical Power of Prayer

Swedenborg Foundation

By Jeremy Simons

It is not hard to spot the flaw in the idea of intercessory prayer.

God is going through his day, making plans, running the universe. Suddenly, he receives a message. Someone is praying, asking for his help. He hears the prayer, decides the petitioner has a good case, and makes the requested change. Or maybe he just ignores it.

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So what is the flaw in this scenario? Well, if God knows everything, then a prayer tells him nothing that he doesn’t know already. Would he really change the course of events based on a request, as if he did not already understand the situation? Swedenborg says no. That is not the way that it works. The omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent God never changes. He never changes his mind. He never reverses direction.

Since no one can influence God, such prayer is pointless.

In Swedenborg’s system, however, prayer is not pointless. It just isn’t about influencing God.

Regarded in itself, praying is talking with God, while taking an inward view of the things we are praying about. In answer we receive a similar stream of speech into the perceptions or thoughts of our mind, so that our inner depths open up to God, in a way. The experience varies, depending on our mood and the nature of the subject we are praying about. If we pray from love and faith and focus on or seek only what is heavenly and spiritual, something resembling a revelation emerges while we pray. It discloses itself in our emotions in the form of hope, comfort, or an inward stirring of joy. (Secrets of Heaven §2535)

The point of prayer here is not to influence God. The point is “hope, comfort, or an inward stirring of joy.” The way that this works is that “our inner depths open up to God” (Secrets of Heaven §2535). In this setting, God is always the same; it is we who change. Prayer plays a role in this. But there is more to it. True prayer entails a person’s whole life.

Truths with [a person] are what pray, and [a person] is continually in such prayers when he lives according to truths. (Apocalypse Explained §493:3)

And the essence of prayer is that God’s will be done.

When prayer has a divine origin, it always contains the thought and belief that the Lord alone knows whether the object of the prayer is useful or not. The person praying therefore submits the hearing of the prayer to the Lord and immediately adds the plea, “Lord, let your will be done, not mine,” in keeping with the Lord’s words during his heaviest trial, in Gethsemane (Matthew 26:39, 42, 44)(Secrets of Heaven §8179)

The message is that prayer is not just a ritual, an aspect of our devotional life, but is key to a person’s whole life.

This may seem to take the magic out of prayer. But in Swedenborg’s system, there is something else that puts the magic right back in.[1]

There are those who think they deserve heaven because of their earnest prayers, and yet who pray, not for others, much less for all, but for themselves alone. Their prayers, therefore, are not heard. (Spiritual Experiences §1850)

People, of course, do not just pray for themselves. It is human nature to care for other people. This is surely what religion is all about. One thing that people may not know, however, is that the emotions involved in that caring and the prayers that naturally spring from them do not remain contained within the person who feels them. They are communicated without our even being aware of it.

According to Swedenborg, angels are able to “communicate to another the goodness, blessedness and bliss that they themselves have received” (Secrets of Heaven §6478)Goodness in heaven is thus “communicated from one to many by means of a real transferring that is remarkable” (Secrets of Heaven §1392). This communication happens by means of the spheres that surround everyone, both in heaven and on earth (Secrets of Heaven §§8794:5, 10130:3)—for a person’s sphere “deeply affects other people” (True Christianity §433).

The communication of love has tremendous power, whether it is expressed in tangible or intangible ways, for love carries all good fortune, success, and healing within it. When people—whether many or few—love and pray for someone, that love is communicated through heaven to that person. While it may or may not have any tangible physical effect, the spiritual and emotional effects can be like the moving of a mountain. The collective love and prayers of large numbers of people exert a tremendous societal force, something that people are only beginning to understand.

So, according to Swedenborg, prayer does not influence God. But prayer is not pointless: it has the power to literally change the world.

 

Jeremy Simons is former Senior Pastor at the Bryn Athyn Cathedral and today in retirement serves as the Cathedral Chaplain.

 

[1] See also Spiritual Experiences §§1300, 5976; Secrets of Heaven §§452, 952.

http://www.swedenborg.com/