Wishing To Be Wise From Self-intelligence

 Lastchurch - The Eternal PurposeFrom Apocalypse Explained ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
As “to eat” signifies to appropriate to oneself, it can be seen what is signified by:
Eating of the tree of life which is in the midst of the paradise (Rev. 2:7);
namely, to appropriate to oneself celestial life; also what is signified by “eating of the tree of knowledge” in Genesis:

Jehovah God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden eating thou shalt eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, of this thou shalt not eat, for in the day that thou shalt eat of it dying thou shalt die (2:16, 17).

The “tree of the knowledge (scientia) of good and evil” signifies the knowledge of natural things, through which it is not permitted to enter into the celestial and spiritual things which belong to heaven and the church, thus to enter from the natural man into the spiritual, which is the inverse way, and therefore does not lead to wisdom, but destroys it.

“Adam and his wife” mean the Most Ancient Church, which was a celestial church. Because the men of that church were in love to the Lord, they had Divine truths inscribed on them, and thence they knew from influx the corresponding things in the natural man, which are called knowledges [scientifica]; in a word, there was with them spiritual influx, that is, influx from the spiritual mind into the natural, and thus into the things that are in it, and what these were they saw by correspondence as in a mirror.

With them spiritual things were entirely distinct from natural things; spiritual things had their seat in their spiritual mind, and natural things in their natural mind, and thus they did not immerse what is spiritual in their natural mind, as spiritual-natural men are wont to do. For this reason, if they had consigned spiritual things to the natural memory, and had appropriated them to themselves in that way, that which was implanted with them would have perished, and they would have begun to reason about spiritual things from the natural man, and thus to form conclusions, which celestial men never do. This, moreover, would have been wishing to be wise from self-intelligence, and not from Divine intelligence, as before, and by this they would have extinguished all their celestial life, and they would have entertained natural ideas even about spiritual things. This, therefore, is what is signified by their “not eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,” and if they did eat, “dying they should die.”

The like is true of those who are in the Lord’s celestial kingdom as of these most ancient people meant by “Adam.” If these were to imbue the natural man and its memory with knowledges of spiritual truth and good, and should wish to be wise from these, they would become stupid, while yet they are the wisest of all in heaven.

(Apocalypse Explained 617:15,16)
March 27, 2017
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Chapter XX. Growth During Childhood.

THIS diagram presents the growth and storage of the mind during childhood, infancy having preceded, youth yet to follow.

Compare this diagram with XVIII, XIX, and XXI.

The principal growth and implantation of remains during childhood have taken place in b the middle degree of the spiritual mind, in c the middle degree of the natural mind, and in e the middle of the limbus. The five. senses of the body have increased in quickness and strength. The remaining three degrees not here lettered have somewhat advanced in preparation for future development.

The plane b is the middle degree of the spiritual mind and is the middle heaven. This degree ultimates in the natural mind; its first ultimate is c which is the middle degree of the natural mind; and its lowest ultimate is e the middle degree of the limbus.

This degree b and its ultimates are characterized by spiritual good and truth which are those of love to the neighbor; spiritual good is the good of that love, and spiritual truth is the truth that teaches, contains and defends it. These in their beginnings are stored imperceptibly in the middle degree of the spiritual mind during childhood, the child during this time being under the ministration of spiritual angels. While the LORD imperceptibly stores spiritual principles immediately from Himself and mediately through the angels of the spiritual heaven in the degree b, He by various perceptible and imperceptible means stores the corresponding degrees below with the affection of knowledge and with knowledge itself The perceptible means are external instruction and training.

In the Writings, two distinctions are drawn between the celestial and the spiritual. The view presented in this diagram coincides with only one of these distinctions. The other puts things celestial and things spiritual in each of the three degrees of the internal and of the external mind. These distinctions may be illustrated by the body. In one view the head is celestial, the trunk spiritual, the extremities natural; this is like the celestial, the spiritual and the natural in this diagram. In the other view the right part of the head is celestial, the left spiritual; so of the trunk and extremities.

To exemplify these distinctions take the whole mind consisting of will and understanding. The mind is organized with three distinct degrees from above down, celestial, spiritual and natural. Each degree has a voluntary which is the internal, essential, affectional, and an intellectual which is the external, formal, thinking. In the highest degree this voluntary and intellectual are celestial, in the middle spiritual, in the lowest natural. The voluntary in the highest receives love to the LORD, and the intellectual in the highest, the truth of that love. In the highest degree then exist celestial good and truth, in the middle spiritual good and truth, in the lowest natural good and truth. Thus there is the celestial and the spiritual or what is the same the voluntary and the intellectual in each degree as mentioned in Chapter XIX, page 81. This is one distinction. The other is the distinction between the highest degree which is celestial and the middle which is spiritual. The first distinction is between good and truth in one degree; the second is between good and truth in one degree in relation to good and truth in another.

These distinctions may be illustrated by the examples of a married pair in the celestial heaven, a pair in the spiritual, and a pair in the natural. In the highest, the husband and wife are related to each other as love and its wisdom or as the celestial and its spiritual; yet both are celestial in relation to the pair in the heaven below. The lower pair are related to each other as truth, and good from truth, or as the spiritual and its celestial; yet both are spiritual in relation to the pair above. So the pair in the lowest heaven are natural in relation to the pairs above; but in relation to each other one is celestial and the other spiritual.

To return to the diagram. We have said in substance that the germ of the degree b undergoes development during childhood and receives interior spirituals, while that in c also becomes developed and receives exterior spirituals. The exterior as well as interior spirituals are voluntary and intellectual – the affection of knowledge being voluntary, the knowledge itself intellectual. We call the plane c in the external mind spiritual because it answers to the middle or spiritual degree b in the internal mind. But c is properly the natural spiritual. Observe that the plane c which is paternal in its origin, acts in and by the plane e and the gross body which are from the mother. Hence the affections and acquisitions of the paternal are clothed with qualities which are maternal. Thus, as shown in Chapter XVIII page 71, maternal character and quality adhere for a time to the external of the higher faculties which as to their germinal forms and states were from the father; for which reason this external is called maternal.

During the period of childhood represented in this diagram there is a lingering continuance of the state of infancy that preceded-the celestial love of parents and the celestial-spiritual love of brothers and companions with somewhat of the innocence and peace inherent in those loves together with a continual addition of sensual and corporeal ideas and impressions.

So childhood with the affection of knowing continues into youth, though the predominant desire of the youth is to know causes and reasons. He asks not so much, What? as Why? This state we present in the next diagram.


Previous: Chapter XIX. Growth During Infancy. Up: Discrete Degrees Next: Chapter XXI. Growth During Youth.

Chapter XIX. Growth During Infancy.

IN this diagram B is the spiritual mind in three degrees answering to the angelic heavens the highest or celestial degree of which is a; C is the natural mind in three degrees answering to the world of spirits, the lowest degree of which is b. For the designation of each degree in the spiritual and natural minds see Diagram XIII. D is the spiritual body consisting of the spiritual-sensual and spiritual-corporeal, E the limbus in three degrees the lowest of which is c, F the gross body as distinct from the limbus. The limbus and gross body together constitute the entire natural or material body.

This diagram illustrates the commencement of two orders of discretely progressive development one from above down in the spiritual mind the other from below up in the natural mind, and shows the origin and nature of the principles by which this development is effected during infancy. In the Writings the periods from birth to manhood are called infancy, childhood and youth, each covering some years. During manhood with him who becomes fully regenerate there are also three periods.

During the period from conception to adult life man is not actually regenerated but is prepared for regeneration to he accomplished in after years. The nature of this preparation is the principal subject of this and the next two diagrams.

Order requires that man be first imbued with celestial principles, afterward with spiritual. The celestial are love of the LORD, charity, innocence and peace; the spiritual, wisdom, intelligence, knowledge and scientifics, or what is the same, truths of every degree. This order however does not exclude another which obtains during reformation preparatory to regeneration, that of being led by truth to good or by the spiritual to the celestial.

Concerning the states and changes during minority, we read-

(1.) The celestials of love and charity and the essential innocence that is in them “are insinuated into man primarily in infancy till childhood, and this without cognitions, for they inflow from the LORD and affect before man knows what love is and what affection is, as appears from the state of infants and afterwards from the state of early childhood; these in man are remains and are stored up for use in after life”. -AC 1450.

(2.) “Celestials are insinuated into man as well without cognitions as with them; celestials without cognitions from infancy to childhood, but celestials with cognitions from childhood to adult age.” -AC 1451.

(3.) ” It is one thing to he in celestials, and another to he in the cognitions of celestials- Infants and children are in celestials more than adults because in love toward their parents and in mutual love and also in innocence [within these loves]; but adults are in the cognitions of celestials more than infants and children, and very many are not even in the celestials of love.”-AC 1453.

(4.) “From first infancy to early childhood man is introduced by the LORD into heaven and indeed among the celestial angels by whom he is kept in a state of innocence, in which state, as is known, infants are till early childhood. When childhood commences he by degrees puts off the state of innocence, but still he is kept in a state of charity by the affection of mutual charity toward his like, which state with many continues even to youth, he is then among spiritual angels. At this time, [youth after childhood and after passing from under spiritual angels], inasmuch as he begins to think from himself and act accordingly, he cannot be kept in charity as before, for he then calls forth hereditary evils by which he suffers himself to be led. When in this state, the goods of charity and innocence which he had received, according to the degrees in which he thinks evils and confirms them by acts, are exterminated; still they are not exterminated but withdrawn by the LORD toward the interiors and there stored up. But as he has not yet known truths, the goods of innocence and charity received in the two former states have not been qualified, for truth gives quality to good and good gives essence to truth, therefore he is from that age by instructions and especially by his own thoughts and confirmations imbued with truths. So far as he is now in the affection of good, so far truths are conjoined to good in him by the LORD and stored up for use.”-AC 5342.

(5.) “From infancy to childhood and sometimes to early youth, man imbibes goods and truths by instructions from parents and masters, for he eagerly seizes them and believes in simplicity, innocence helps them forward and fits them in the memory but places them in the first threshold, for infantile and childish innocence is not the internal innocence which affects the rational but is external innocence affecting only the exterior natural. But when man advances in age and begins to think not as before from parents and masters, but from himself, he then again takes up and as it were ruminates upon what he had learned and believed, and either confirms them, or doubts about them, or denies them.”-AC 5135.

(6.) “Man’s rational is begotten by celestial Divine good as a father…. but not conceived by spiritual truth as a mother [but by the affection of knowledges in the natural. (See AC 1895.)]

… Man is not born into any knowledge nor into any rational, but only into the faculty of receiving them. [He learns in an external way and as he learns he becomes rational.] There continually inflows something from the interior [into the natural], which receives the things that enter and are insinuated [or imbibed] [from without] and arranges them. That which inflows and receives and arranges is celestial Divine good from the LORD. Hence [the things which enter from without have “their life and their order.”-AC 2557. (To see why “not spiritual truth,” but an “affection of knowing, in the natural, is the mother in this case, consult the whole number; and also Nos. 1895, 1902, and 1910.)

(7.) “As soon as man is born he is introduced [by the LORD] into a state of innocence that it may be a plane of the remaining states, and the inmost in them;….. next he is introduced into a state of the affection of celestial good, that is of love toward his parents, which at this time, is instead of love to the LORD;…. afterwards he is introduced into a state of the affection of spiritual good, or of mutual love, that is, of charity toward his like; as he advances further in age, he is introduced into a state of the affection of truth.”- AC 3183. At length other states follow till the last which is that of true wisdom signified by old men. In this state is the innocence of infancy ; and thus the first state and the last are united.

(8.) “Goods of three kinds are signified by remains, viz.: goods of infancy, goods of ignorance, and goods of intelligence. [Infancy, is from nativity to the age of instruction and knowledge; ignorance, when he begins to be instructed and to know; and intelligence when he reflects from himself on good and truth.]

“The good of infancy is from infancy to the tenth year; the good of ignorance [that is man being ignorant is instructed] from the tenth to the twentieth; from this year man begins to become rational, to have the faculty of reflecting on good and truth and to procure the good of intelligence.”-AC 2280. The ages here specified for these three kinds of good are only general approximations.

(9.) Cognitions with man never come in childhood from his interior but from objects of the senses, especially from hearing. Cognitions are learned and implanted in the memory according to the influx of the internal man,” [that is, the external, by good flowing into it from the LORD through the internal, is gifted with an affection for knowledge, which good not only gives to the external the affection for knowledge but by that affection arranges all the knowledge acquired and implants it properly in the memory.]- AC 1460.

(10.) “The external man cannot be brought to correspondence and concordance with the internal except by knowledges. The external man is corporeal and sensual, nor does it receive anything celestial and spiritual unless cognitions be implanted therein as in soil, in which cognitions celestials may have their recipient vessels.”-AC 1461

(11.) States of innocence, charity and mercy which man receives from the LORD in infancy and childhood, and the knowledges and truths of faith, are what are called remains and are preserved with man when man (in adult age) is about to be regenerated “these states are the beginnings of regeneration and man is led into them, for the LORD operates by them. “-AC 1050. (See AC 10110.)

The state of boyhood extending from the fifth year to the twentieth (AC 10225) is generally subdivided into childhood and youth as in Diagrams XX and XXI.

The development and preparation of the spiritual mind B progresses through its three discrete degrees successively from above down; the preparation and development of the natural mind C progresses through its three discrete degrees from below up. This diagram illustrates the accomplishment of the first step in these two directions. These processes meet midway between the natural and the spiritual mind at adult age. This diagram represents man at the close of infancy and at the beginning of childhood. Infancy and childhood, though distinct, measurably coexist-infancy subsiding and childhood commencing.

Comparing this with Diagram XVIII (“Man at Birth”) we see a remarkable growth and change mostly in a b c and F, the other parts having attained a moderate advancement.

From this and the next two diagrams we see that the growth of the spiritual mind is from above down and of the natural from below up.

While the LORD by inscrutable influences directly from Himself and mediately through the highest angels deposits the initials of love and thence of wisdom in the plane a, He at the same time acts upon the ultimates through the intermediate degrees and also immediately, imbuing them with what is celestial in its external form. Hence arise external growth as well as external loves, innocence and peace with the infant and at the same time internal development and a storing of love, innocence and peace corresponding to them; but the internal are imperceptible.

While (a b D c F) are rapidly growing and their appropriate principles are being deposited, the other faculties also slightly increase. During the reign of innocence in the external of the infant, “the interiors are forming for use.” (AC 10225.) Through the innocence in the infant in its perceptible and conscious operation is merely external (as is also the love to parents and others in which love that innocence inheres) yet it flows in “through the interiors,” into the externals, where it produces the palpable and other effects mentioned in the Writings. (HH 277.) This innocence thus flowing in with the Divine life in it must cause some growth and deposit of its initial forms as remains in those internals which correspond to the externals now developing and receiving remains. This agrees with the law that the LORD works from Himself in first principles and by Himself in last principles to order and arrange intermediates, which law involves that He works at the same time by principles just below the first and just above the last. (DP 124, 125, 220.) So He comes down the steps through the spiritual mind at the same time that He goes up the steps of the natural mind, while preparing man for regeneration. The natural must be developed in its three degrees and stored before the first step in adult regeneration can be taken. This development must be from without in, first the sensual in infancy, second the scientific in childhood, and third the natural rational in youth or adolescence. These steps cannot be taken without corresponding ones in the spiritual mind. Regeneration requires the action of the spiritual mind to excite the reaction of the natural mind, but the spiritual cannot act without suitable development and supply of spiritual and celestial goods and truths from which to act and with which to flow into the natural mind.

The lowest degree of the natural mind b which is developed and imbued with celestial influences during the state of infancy, is the corporeal and sensual. Corporeal sensations and sensual affections and ideas are being formed and treasured as remains and as a base for future states to be developed and for processes to be effected by the higher faculties operating in the lower.

That these externals are formed, enlivened and gifted from appropriate and corresponding internals, is clear from Arcana Coelestia,

“The internal man with every one [meaning the inmost] is of the LORD alone, for there the LORD stores up goods and truths with which He gifts man from infancy: hence by means of those He flows into the interior or rational man, [elsewhere called the spiritual mind] and through this into the exterior.”-AC 1707

The lowest plane of the limbus c is developed and imbued with love, innocence and peace. This degree coincides with the lowest of the natural mind b and with it responds to the highest degree of the spiritual mind a. Each degree of the natural mind composed of spiritual substances must have a corresponding degree in the limbus which is the ultimate of the natural mind and is formed of natural substances; and as the spiritual mind rests at last on the limbus there must be a degree in the limbus answering to each degree of the spiritual mind, otherwise the limbus would be abnormal and unadapted. The natural body and the spiritual body the natural mind and the spiritual mind have each its three degrees.

We read, “The internal by degrees elevates the natural to itself” (AC 6239.) The work here diagramed is in part the work of the internal preparing the external for regeneration. Such preparation must of course be by degrees successively. Hence the limbus must be developed and prepared by degrees. The trinality of the limbus thus comports with the trinality of all else in man and with the trinality of everything in the universe.

That truth from the LORD flows immediately into the external man C D E F, as well as mediately through the higher degrees to develop and store the external appears from Arcana Coelestia

“From the LORD proceeds Divine Truth immediately and mediately. What proceeds immediately is above all the understanding of the angels. But what proceeds mediately is adapted to the angels in the heavens, and also to men, for it passes through heaven, and hence puts on angelic quality, and human quality; but into this truth also the LORD inflows immediately, and thereby leads angels and men both mediately and immediately; for all and singular things are from the First Esse and the order is so instituted that the First Esse may be present in the derivatives both mediately and immediately.”-AC 7004.

This shows that the external degrees are developed and filled by intermediate Divine operation and that the external is formed and stored through the internal and of course each external degree by its corresponding internal as in the diagrams.

The growth of each degree involves its formation and storage with two Divine principles- the Divine celestial which is love and all its attributes, and the Divine spiritual which is wisdom and all its attributes. The recipient of the celestial is the will, and that of the spiritual the understanding. The will and the understanding are in each of the three degrees of the natural mind and in each of the spiritual mind. Hence celestials which are of the will do not flow into the highest degree of the spiritual mind a without celestial spirituals which are of the understanding, for these must be with the celestials. And as both celestials and celestial spirituals flow into and develop the degree a during this period, so they both flow thence through the intermediates into the ultimates and develop them, namely, the sensual degree of the natural mind, b, the spiritual body D, the lowest degree of the limbus, c, and the body F; thus affecting even the body with love and wisdom from the highest degree of the spiritual mind.

The two important truths, first that the external mind is developed and stored in part by influx from the internal mind, and second that while the external is consciously growing and being stored the internal is being unconsciously developed and filled, are involved in the following teaching, –

“Cognitions with man never come in childhood from the interior, but from objects of the senses, especially from hearing. There are with the external man recipient vessels, and these are formed by cognitions, the internal man inflowing and assisting. Cognitions are learned and implanted in the [external] memory according to the influx of the internal man.”-A. C. 1460.

This relates alike to infancy, childhood and youth. The doctrine is that the external is formed and filled so that it can act from the influx of the internal. From this it follows that the internal during the same time grows and becomes receptive, else it could not act and impart.

This formation and storage during infancy, childhood and youth as well as the operations of Providence therein are imperceptible, as set forth in the following –

“The rational is in the internal man [in B] and what transpires therein is unknown to the natural [that is, to C, and all below it.].. Man, who lives a merely natural life, can know nothing of what transpires in his internal man. The LORD disposes such things while man is entirely ignorant of it. Hence too it is that man knows not [perceptibly] how he is regenerated.”-AC 3570. This can be known only from Doctrine.

During infancy hereditary evil is mostly quiescent, less so during childhood represented in the next diagram, and still less in youth. Were hereditary evil not quiescent, man could not he imbued with love and instructed by truth by which he may be reformed and regenerated. Before regeneration hereditary evil is within and the goods and truths of remains in the natural man are without, after regeneration the reverse.

As regeneration and the preparation for it proceed by three great distinct degrees and as each degree of the spiritual mind and each of the natural is composed of less and yet lesser degrees, so each step is a progressive work. (Diagrams XIV and XVII.)

The work accomplished in infancy may be summarized under two heads, (1.) Organic growth, and (2.) Storing of the several degrees.

(1.) A marked development of the highest degree of the spiritual mind, of the lowest degree of the natural mind, of the spiritual body, of the lowest degree of the limbus, of the gross body, and a moderate growth of the germs of the other degrees. (See the diagram.)

(2.) Storing the developed degree of the spiritual mind with the initial forms of celestial love and wisdom in which dwell innocence and peace, and gifting the lowest parts of the natural with the celestial ultimates of those higher faculties.

The ultimate celestial states (just mentioned) whose presence is indicated by the tinge of red in b D c and F include the innocence and peace which imparts that celestial tenderness and sweetness so observable in infants, and also love of parents, mutual love, confidence and obedience, with the external delights; appropriate to this age which embraces the first five years.

During this period and largely through childhood and youth hereditary evil is held quiescent. Potent among the forces effecting this are the states of celestial innocence and peace.


Previous: Supplement. Up: Discrete Degrees Next: Chapter XX. Growth During Childhood.

Chapter V. Will and Understanding. – Another View.

THIS diagram presents the will as a distinct faculty above the understanding, or, in simultaneous order, within the understanding. The will is called the celestial faculty and sometimes the celestial kingdom, and the understanding the spiritual; love is celestial, truth is spiritual. The will in every man and angel answers to the celestial kingdom of heaven, the understanding to the spiritual kingdom. (Consult Diagrams IX, X, XII.)

Considering the will as the highest and inmost degree and the understanding as the middle, the spiritual body D will be the lowest or outmost degree of the spirit. The spiritual body, however, is not another faculty, but merely an ultimate of the will and the understanding, so organized that by it the will and the understanding may enjoy outward sensation and give expression corresponding with affection and thought. In this view the mind constitutes the whole spirit of man, and the spirit is but an internal and an external will and understanding.

And as the material body is merely an intellectual and voluntary organism superadded for lowest and outmost sensation, perception and expression, it must be included when we say that the whole man is but an organic form of will and understanding. (DLW 358 to 432.)