God wants to be loved, too!

I am not trying to imply that God has joined a lonely-hearts club or has a pitiful existence. It is simply a divine necessity for a God of Infinite Love.

Love needs a subject. This is clear to all of us when we reflect that our desires, passions, and intentions must be focused on something real – something that exists outside of us.

God created the external world as a focus for divine love. This does not mean that God creates matter so that quarks, atoms, and molecules could be “admired.” Rather, God focused divine love in a way that allowed its spiritual force to take form in concrete physical things.

In other words, all matter is a recipient form of God’s influence.

The Infinite occupies finite things according to reception. This is why nature displays a profound endeavor toward self-organization and complexity. Nature organizes itself into new levels of order as an increased response to God’s love.

The essence of love is to unite. Even a physicist will admit that the universe is obviously unified. There is no physical principle for why nature becomes so rationally ordered and coherent. Going a step further, there is no reason why the laws of the physical universe are so fine-tuned towards bio-friendliness.

Nature goes beyond the organization of galaxies and solar systems. Nature creates bio-structure, culminating in the profound structure of the human brain. What is not taken into consideration by the physical sciences is that this process of creation and evolution is the exaltation of love.

God’s love in the universe increases as structure becomes more complex. Everything is organized for cooperation and utility – which expresses God’s goodness. It is God’s love that attaches usefulness to various combinations of matter and their increasing complexity.

But ultimately, love needs more than a subject. Love is perfected and exalted when it is reciprocal.

Love wants to love and be loved in return.

This is the reason why evolution has led to the emergence of the human race. Humans have the cognitive ability to recognize the Creator and love God back – by applying spiritual values to their lives. Religious tenets are the means by which humankind becomes the ultimate recipient form of God’s love. Thus humankind indeed becomes an image and likeness of God.

Humans have an inner reality not shared by other creatures, called first person phenomenal experience. This inner psycho-reality allows evolution and bio-complexity to continue into a non-physical realm.

How?

The arrangement and ordering of human experience in the human heart and mind is a real organic process that creates real non-physical bio-structure, or spiritual body. This innermost body of the spirit is formed from one’s life choices and values, and, can survive physical death and the tyranny of time. (One’s choices and values are one’s spirit and are derivatives of love.)

Heaven is not to be thought of as simply a place that one goes to for being “good.” Heaven is beyond time, space, and physical law. It is something you become – inwardly. Heaven is a state of love – and the non-material organic form it takes from the quality of our personal response to God’s divine love.

This is the real purpose behind religion – to create a covenant between God and the human race through love finding its ultimate fulfillment.

God needs us to bring this wonderful plan to fruition.

Posted on September 3, 2008by thegodguy

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The New Physics and the New Jerusalem

 

My experience over the past several years with both physicists and theologians who are concerned with fundamentals is that I detect a real sense of anxiety. Both “sides” strongly believe that we are in need of a major paradigm shift.

The issue is unity.

Contemporary physicists, unable to unify the two pillars of modern physics—relativity theory and quantum theory—feel that a more adequate reformulation of these concepts still needs to be achieved. The universe cannot be based on two theories that do not mesh.

Similarly, contemporary theologians are acknowledging that a fresh approach to the doctrine of Scripture is needed to make its interpretation more inclusive and perpetually relevant to all faith-seekers, in all periods of human history, including the future. Religion, which has roots in the Latin word for ligament (ligare), meaning to bind and bring together, has unfortunately had an opposite effect all throughout history.

These problems become unimaginably intensified for those pioneering and rare individuals who are seriously attempting to unify the truth claims of both science and religion. It is useless to unify inadequate theology with inadequate scientific theory.

Humans will not find solutions to these difficult problems by means of academia and scholarship. The final answers can only come from the Lord God. Thankfully, since God wishes to share deeper knowledge about the ultimate reality with the human race, a divine delivery system has been set up to accomplish that very thing.

It is called the Lord’s Second Coming. And it is taking place right now.

Don’t look for earthquakes and great battles to begin. Rather, the Second Coming will be a shaking of the very foundations of our world-views. And the great battle to take place will happen within our hearts and minds over whether we should defend our old thinking or embrace the Lord’s promise to make all things “anew.” So God is promising a shake-up and overhaul of all our scientific and theological thinking.

The first Advent of the Lord was physical. The second is psychical. First we see, next, we understand.

The Lord is now revealing potent new concepts to the world. God’s guidance is required because these new ideas exist on deeper levels of meaning that are contained within the narratives of the Holy Word. The New Jerusalem will be a new church formed of individuals who are able to accept and adopt these doctrinal revelations into their faith-system.

How does this help science? Will modern science also benefit from the Second Coming?

Yes.

As these deeper levels of meaning in Scripture are revealed to us we will be able to gain an intelligible idea of how everything in the universe and its laws emerged from patterning principles hidden within the architecture of the Holy Word (John, 1:1-3).

I have had access to these new ideas (a new dispensation from the Lord) for almost 35 years. I can attest to the potency of these revelations because they have allowed me to write a book that will address such challenging issues as the nexus between the Infinite and the finite, resolve the problem of the Big Bang singularity, the emergence of spacetime and matter from nonphysical and pre-geometric (spiritual) principles, address top-down causality, offer a new theory of evolution, provide a comprehensive multi-level model of human cognitive function, explore the neural basis of religion, answer the mystery of the Neanderthals, explain the mechanism behind hypnotism, address quantum gravity, life after death, and the reality of the spiritual world.

All this will revolve around the totally unexpected idea that LOVE is ultimate formative substance and ultimate reality. In other words, a cosmological model, based on the dynamics of love, can provide us with an exact science (with real explanatory and predictive powers).

If taking the concept of love beyond its usual romantic connotation, and making it the fundamental stuff and law-giving agent of the universe, sends a shockwave through your brain, then congratulations. You have just experienced a small taste of what the “end of days” really address.

If you have been following my posts you will know how to gain access to the hottest news to come directly out of heaven.

I am sure you must have lots and lots of questions.

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Creation and the Metrics of Love

While this has led some theorists to believe in a Creation out of nothingness (Creatio ex nihilo), the problem with such a scenario is that it leads us to a cosmic dead end if we have set our hearts at finding the first causal principles of reality. How can we understand agency and natural law emerging from a pre-physical void? What special initial conditions could exist in a non-spatial and non-temporal realm that would be capable of carrying the seeds for our fruitful universe?

Thankfully, some serious forward-thinking physicists are working with the idea that time and space may have emerged from a realm of pre-geometry. In this pre-space, pre-temporal realm, there is a new kind of “activity.” Rather than the usual concept of motion or trajectory as a displacement of position, this activity would involve a change of states.

Is there anything that falls within our human experience that can verify whether dynamical change can really take place apart from spacetime measurement? Yes there is! In fact, change of state or non-physical action actually represents the most intimate perception of reality that we are conscious of. We even apply a unique standard of measurement to this non-physical activity.

We experience these change of states as our mental states (and changing dispositions). The human mind cannot be said to be located in space yet the mind’s thoughts and feelings are real activities that have real trajectories and measurement (metrics). Our goals and wishes represent these non-physical trajectories and we possess an inner sense of the psychical “distance” between where we are and where we need to be upon accomplishing our goals. We can also have big goals and smaller goals.

Obviously, our individual mental goals are not measured in meters, inches, miles or yardsticks. They are measured by what we value (which are all derivatives of love). This inner measurement is even more real to us then our physical reality because IT IS “US.”

People can seem close to us, or miles apart, according to whether we have similar values and affections (which has nothing to do with physical distance). If a person is unselfish and loving, we see him or her as “big” person (sometimes a giant among others) but if an individual is selfish he or she is seen as acting very “small.”

So size, distance, and place all come under a different standard of measurement when concerning our inner or spiritual reality. In this inner world, love sets the parameters.

So what does all this have to with discovering the first principles and special initial conditions of the universe before the appearance of time and space? Well, rather than nothingness, perhaps the world was created from LOVE. In other words, love should be scientifically considered as fundamental formative substance.

If the universe had a beginning (and was created) then first causal principles and agency must be sought after in a non-physical realm where time equaled zero (t=0). This realm must provide us with the origin of natural law and offer an explanation of how the quantum world of possibilities can logically take us to the time-irreversible outcomes of least actions that we see operating on larger scales of the cosmos (Newtonian physics). But I believe first principles must do even more than this, much more!

There is a concept in physics called the correspondence principle in which prior realities must help explain posterior realities. So if we truly seek a priori or first principles these principles must show us why nature is unified and has a continuous compulsion (endeavor) for self-organization and increased complexity, including bio-complexity.

First principles must not only be able to function in a pre-space world but they must represent living and organic principles right out of the starting gate!

Existence is relationship. Nothing exists without co-existence. The essence of love is an endeavor to unite. Even the organized mutual cooperation of living systems is a physical analog of Love. In humans, the bio-complexity of the brain has reached a level of sophistication where we can consciously choose to improve civilization through noble acts of love and the mutual sharing of our talents.

In such a cosmic scheme, first principles descend from a non-physical realm into the world of matter, than ascend back towards the invisible realm through increased complexity, the evolution of human consciousness, and resulting in the development of a non-physical, inner reality. This non-physical realm is called heaven.

Therefore, religion was given to humans in order that their activities and lives could put the first principles of the universe on display and help God realize the ultimate scheme of creation – the exaltation of love.

Love is the only force I know of that manifests endeavor and possibility. And, since love seeks self-representation in all things created (which is why everything is interconnected through utility), it absolutely requires the correspondence principle, self-consistency, a principle of least action, and the fine-tuning of natural laws.

Love is the ultimate science. The purpose of my next book, Proving God, is to flush out all these ideas in order to unify science with God’s wonderful plan.

Evolution and Religion

A big obstacle in unifying science with religion comes from the point of view that science deals with facts and religion deals with values. They each address quite different topics so some people feel there is no need to waste time trying to forge them together. Let them each do what they do best.

My new book project entitled “Proving God” will challenge this assumption. In my previous post I pointed out that the laws of physics somehow emerged from of a non-local and non-temporal void (that is, if you believe, like most scientists and theologians, that the universe had an actual beginning).

What is most conspicuous about the creation of the universe is that it not only entailed a distribution of energy and momentum but an ongoing process of self-organization. This organization of the cosmos continued to increase in the complexity of biosystems that ultimately led to the human brain. Whether this happened by design or chance scientists know that it is a fact that the manifest universe and organic life could not have come into existence unless the constants of nature met very tight tolerances. Did this “fine-tuning” of the universe, which allowed for the increase of intelligence and consciousness to emerge, have its origins from a creative principle operating in the pre-space void?

In the neo-Darwinian synthesis, which includes microbiology and genetics, evolution occurs from the ongoing strategies of genes to ensure reproduction under the pressures of a changing external environment. New species are the result of these survival strategies. However, the evolutionary trajectory has led to the human race, which enjoys first-person phenomenal experience. So evolution has a complex creature where values are very important.

All human values are derivatives of love. Affection, emotion, appetite, and intention all give focus to human cognitive function and steer it towards some valued goal. This is where religion enters into the picture of evolution. The human mind, which does not operate in space, can continue to develop and raise its level of complexity by adopting a more universal and noble love. What we love defines how our thoughts and ideas are put into some corresponding order and structure. In the same way that a human ear has evolved to be a subject for sound, human ideas represent the higher-ordered forms and subjects of our affections. Our thoughts and ideas are the non-material forms and bio-structure of what we love and intend. This creates our spiritual body.

Religion, which serves as a guide for choosing the optimum values for living, can therefore be looked at as a Divine strategy by which humans can extend evolution and bio-complexity into a non-physical domain. We call this realm heaven.

It is rational to think that the constancy and fine-tuning of laws in the universe is a faithful articulation of first causal principles. If the universe is self-consistent then the perfection of bio-complexity will more perfectly express the first principles of creation. Humans who raise their hearts and minds to spiritual love and its inclusiveness have successfully created a complexity of spirit that mirrors Divine Love. The ultimate scheme of creation and evolution is to create angels from the human race. This completes the dynamic and holistic process of creation emerging from an eternal non-physical reality and merging back into it. What do you think?

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Hello, serious thinkers!

God & Science

Both religion and science make truth claims about ultimate reality. For that reason there is growing interest among scientists, theologians, and laypeople to ask if science and religion can both answer the same questions about reality and have real points of interaction. I like to think of myself as part of this exciting and stimulating movement. I personally am coming to the last stages of completing the manuscript for my new book that hopefully will offer fresh ideas to this important discussion.

There are of course, landmines everywhere. For instance, in order to unify science and God one has to offer at least some rational evidence (if not empirical evidence) that God indeed exists. Next problem: what theological interpretation of religion and what scientific interpretation of quantum physics do you choose to unite? From my humble point of view, any successful encounter between the two would require that theology offer new insights to solving the perplexing issues of the New Physics, and that these solutions of science lead to a more rational approach to the deepest mysteries of faith. Since this has not happened I fully expect that an upheaval in both science and theology will be required. My book deals with this shake-up.

In the hopes of starting a dialog with open-minded and serious thinkers I would like to share with you reasons for my confidence that such a thing is possible. (Agnostics and atheists are more than welcome to participate.)

Before anyone pooh-poohs the existence of God, it is important to understand exactly where science is hitting a brick wall – its fundamental understanding of reality. Even science based on a strict materialistic philosophy is finding that nature, on her most fundamental level, is radically “weird” and resists a reductionist approach. In the invisible world of the quantum vacuum nothing physical or solid exists, there are only “tendencies to exist.” If God exists it will be in a non-local and non-temporal realm – exactly where science does not have a firm grasp on what is going on.

On the other side of the physics coin, relativity theory and the Big Bang Singularity presents us with another weird problem. Since the universe is expanding scientists assumed that if you turn time backwards the universe will shrink into an ever- decreasing radius and disappear into the void as a zero-dimensional point (essential singularity) where time and space no longer exist. Where there is no spacetime there are no physical laws either. So, if the laws of physics break down in a singularity than physics cannot explain the beginning of the universe.

Both quantum physics and the Big Bang point to a non-physical beginning (even though they do so in different ways). Therefore, the laws of physics must have their origin in an invisible, non-temporal and non-spatial realm. What non-material principles and agency made up the special initial conditions of the universe where time equaled zero (t = 0)?

It is the premise of my forthcoming book that the laws and forces of nature are actually spiritual laws and forces extended into the constraints of time and space. In other words, the various qualities of God’s Divine Love and Wisdom create all the ratios, proportions, and analogies we find in the extensiveness of the physical world.

Most physicists agree that Nature is unified. The essence of love is to unite and the essence of truth is to differentiate. Nature is the perfection of unity through difference. This is why Nature is a mirror image of God’s nature. What do you think

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The Order of Creation

The Order of Creation

A Sermon by the Rev. James P. Cooper

revcooper.ca

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. (Gen. 1:1)

Everyone who believes in God, no matter what the details of their faith may be, also believes that God is the creator of everything. The difficulties that we have with the concept of creation begin to arise when we try to understand the process of how He created the universe. We want to know things like, “What is our relationship as created beings to our Creator?” and “Are people fragments of God that will eventually return to unity with Him?” and “Where did the matter of the universe come from in the first place?” These are some of the questions we will address today.

The first thing we must establish is that humans are not part of the “cosmic oneness” of God, but in fact depend on a degree of separation from Him to allow for individual development of personality and character. In order for people to live in freedom, able to respond to God’s leading each in his own unique way, it is absolutely essential that each person be separate from the Divine, while at the same time be of such a form as to be able to receive and use the constantly inflowing Divine life.

God created the universe because He is Divine Love and Divine Wisdom itself, and the nature of Divine Love is to continually seek to express itself, to go forth and give pleasure to others. Therefore, unless there were human beings to love, the Divine Love could not be received and it was frustrated, so God’s whole effort was directed to correcting this situation, to creating individual human beings whom He could love. In the same way, the Divine Wisdom of God also continually seeks to express itself, but it expresses itself in the forms of the created world, it represents God’s infinite knowledge. We can think of an example from our own experience. We feel a need for something, we desire to have it to enable us to perform some use. We then think about the steps that are required for us to make or buy that thing. The desire is like the Divine Love, the steps required to get it and use it, stand for the Divine Wisdom.

Another way to illustrate the Divine Love and Wisdom in God is to think of them like the heat and light that proceed from the sun. We are told that God appears to the angels in the spiritual world as a sun, as the sun of heaven itself, to represent this truth about His nature. When we think of God as the sun of the spiritual world, we can then think of the Divine Love proceeding from Him as heat, and the Divine Wisdom proceeding as light.

Such symbols are commonly used in the world today. When we are loved by someone, we say we feel the ‘warmth’ of their love. When someone explains something to us, we say that they have put a little ‘light’ on the subject. These common illustrations of human relationships are derived from their correspondence with God as He appears in the spiritual sun of heaven.

In the world of nature, the sun provides all the energy (except that which is provided by nuclear reaction). The sun shines on an innumerable variety of green plants which then use that energy to make their food. The sun’s energy is stored in the plants, and is later released when eaten by animals, or when burned in fires, or when turned to coal or petroleum over the passage of time. Even the electricity provided by a hydroelectric plant comes from the sun, for the sun causes the water to evaporate, clouds to form, and rain to fall into the reservoirs, thus the sun lifts the water from the sea into the mountains, and we collect some of the energy released as it rushes back to the sea. Everywhere we turn, we see that the very power to move and live in the natural world is provided by the sun, and if we lift our minds out of the world of nature just for a moment, we can see that this is so because God Himself is the sun of Heaven, and He created the natural sun to correspond to and represent His relationship to all of His creation.

The spiritual sun, and its heat and light are “a proceeding” from the Divine Love and Divine Wisdom of God (DLW 290). The Divine Love proceeds from the Lord as heat, and the Divine Wisdom proceeds from the Lord as light, and these two, taken together, are perceived as the sun of the spiritual world. This sun enlivens spiritual beings by its heat, and renews spiritual objects by its light (DLW 93), that is to say that it is by means of the Divine Love and Wisdom proceeding from the Lord as a sun that the spiritual world and its inhabitants have their life and their continual creation or renewal.

We know that the natural sun is incredibly active, and gives off strong radiation over a wide range of frequencies. In fact, the only reason the sun is life-giving instead of life-destroying is that it is 150 000 000 kilometers away, and the earth’s atmosphere blocks and filters out most of the harmful frequencies of radiation. In the same way we need to have some spiritual distance and spiritual atmospheres between God and us in order to survive His presence with us. The Lord’s Divine Love and Wisdom flow out from Him as a sun, with fierce power. But the first things that He created were spiritual atmospheres to soften and moderate His Divine power so that it could be received by the highest angels. He also created the spiritual world so that it itself acted like atmospheres, receiving the Lord’s Divine presence, softening, changing, and passing it on to the next level in a form particularly suited for the states of those who were to receive it. The warmth of that sun warms the will, and the light of it is the light of the understanding (DLW 96). But although the Divine Love and Wisdom proceed from God as the heat and light from a sun, and although the angels see Him above the heavens as a sun, we must also hold to the clear, repeated teaching of the Heavenly Doctrines that God is not a sun, but a Man: it is just that “The first proceeding from His Love and Wisdom is that fiery spiritual (substance) which appears before the angels as a sun” (DLW 97). In Himself He is not anything but Divine Man (See DLW 97).

The Lord cannot be present with us as He is in Himself, any more than we could live on the surface of the sun. Therefore, the Lord is present with us by means of those things which a person may receive from Him without harm, such as: love, wisdom, and use. Neither love nor wisdom can go out from God and be received by a person except by means of something that conducts it, any more than light and heat can travel from the natural sun to earth without something to carry them. For example, electricity must travel through its proper conductors — it cannot travel through an open switch. Sound and heat must have air (or some other substance) to carry them. Every form of energy that we know about must travel through its proper medium. In the case of love and wisdom, that thing that carries them from the Lord to mankind is use, for the Heavenly Doctrines teach that the spiritual atmospheres carry the effects of the spiritual sun to heaven, and then through heaven to men in the world, making “the Lord’s presence everywhere manifest” (DLW 299). And where the Lord is present, there uses are being performed.

The creative force flowed out from God and a spiritual atmosphere was formed. His power then flowed into that atmosphere which changed it and a lower atmosphere was formed, and so on until the heavens, and the world of nature were created. And, all these degrees and layers of creation continue to exist moment by moment because Life from the Lord is continually flowing into them, renewing them, and maintaining their existence.

Even though in themselves they are dead, each of these degrees of creation has something of the Divine within it, and therefore has a drive (or “conatus”) to return back to the Lord, to rise up in higher uses wherever and whenever the opportunity is present. The material substances of the world are dead in themselves, but there still is life in them from the Lord through the spiritual sun and atmospheres. The Lord has reached out and created level after level of substances and forms, until they are so far from Him that they seem to us to be inert and lifeless, yet they are capable of responding to the influx of life.

In this way, layer by layer, the Infinite was finited, and the material “stuff” of the universe was created. Then having reached the bottom, the most ultimate things of the natural world, the Lord then directed His life into these things so that they began to combine with each other and become more complex forms capable of receiving more life, and performing higher uses. From the basic matter of the universe, He created the mineral kingdom. With that as a foundation and basis, He then added a new level of life and created the vegetable kingdom. When that was well established and could support a new form of life there was another distinct jump and the animal kingdom was added as another kingdom capable of perform even higher uses. Then, when all was in readiness, He drew things together from the whole of creation and created human beings. This creation was unique and remarkable in that it could receive influx immediately from God into an eternal, human soul, it could receive the inflowing life from God into a conscious, rational mind, and it could receive an inflowing life into the material substances of the world and so build a body of natural substances which could serve as a means for acquiring and learning sensual knowledges from the world which would serve as a basis for the intellectual processes of the growing spiritual mind.

But the point of creation was not for the human beings to live for a few years in the natural world, but that there could be eternal, spiritual life for us, and to this end the Lord created people with an internal spiritual form to receive His life which could never be harmed and never die. It is difficult for us to sense this for ourselves, because the feeling of life from the soul has been hidden from people in the world as a protection for them. If people were able to become conscious on the level of the soul, they might choose to do something that would damage it, or make it no longer capable of receiving life from the Lord — certainly people make choices in the natural world that destroy their ability to be rational, so the same principle would apply on the spiritual level. If a person were to do damage to his soul, it would be the end of his eternal life, and so this is why the soul is particularly protected by the Lord — for the sake of man’s eternal life and happiness.

Creation descends from God to the ultimates of nature, and then ascends back to heaven, or as the Heavenly Doctrines say, “from firsts to lasts and thence into intermediates.” (ref.?) God created the universe not from nothing, but from Himself (DLW 55, 56, 291-306). He did so by successive degrees of accommodation until He had created all the material things in the world. These materials were from Him. He then built up the various degrees of creation until He had a vessel that could contain a living soul: a human being. He could inflow directly into this creation, giving it the gift of life, and with it the gift of the feeling that life is one’s own.

Although this treatment has barely touched the surface of this rich doctrine, it should be plain that the Lord created the universe for the sake of mankind. He created it from Himself in such a way that it is not continuous with Him, but that it is in order and thus responsive to Him. From the spiritual sun, life and truth descend by degrees through the spiritual atmospheres, taking on layer after layer of appropriate forms that clothe them. Yet every level is created to receive life or truth, and pass it on, or hold it, so that through his life, each person has the opportunity to act freely as of himself within the spiritual and natural environment created for him by the Lord. Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. AMEN.

Lessons: Genesis 1:1-19, Rev. 4, AE 739

1st Lesson: Genesis 1:1-19,

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. {2} The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. {3} Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. {4} And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. {5} God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day. {6} Then God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.” {7} Thus God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so. {8} And God called the firmament Heaven. So the evening and the morning were the second day. {9} Then God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so. {10} And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters He called Seas. And God saw that it was good. {11} Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth”; and it was so. {12} And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. {13} So the evening and the morning were the third day. {14} Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; {15} “and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so. {16} Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. {17} God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, {18} and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. {19} So the evening and the morning were the fourth day. Amen.

2nd Lesson: Rev. 4,

After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.” {2} Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. {3} And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald. {4} Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads. {5} And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. {6} Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back. {7} The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. {8} The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!” {9} Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, {10} the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: {11} “You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.” Amen.

3rd Lesson: A. E. 739:2-4

[2] … Every man at his birth is altogether sensual, so that even the five senses of his body must be opened by use; he next becomes sensual in thought, since he thinks from the objects that have entered through his bodily senses; afterwards he becomes more interiorly sensual; but so far as by visual experiences, by knowledges (scientiae), and especially by the practices of moral life, he acquires for himself natural light (lumen), he becomes interiorly natural. This is the first or ultimate degree of man’s life. [3] … But if he goes on further, namely if he lives according to these knowledges from the Word, the interior degree is opened in him and he becomes spiritual, but only so far as he is affected by truths, understands them, wills them, and does them; and for the reason that evils and the falsities thence which by heredity have their seat in the natural and sensual man, are removed and as it were scattered in this and in no other way. … The interior degree with man can be opened in no other way, because the evils and falsities that are in the natural man keep it closed up; for the spiritual degree, that is, the spiritual mind, contracts itself against evil and the falsity of evil of every kind … On the other hand, when … Divine truths from the Word that derive their essence from good, approach that mind, it opens itself; yet the opening is effected not otherwise than by the reception of the good of love flowing in through heaven from the Lord, and by its conjunction with the truths that man has stored up in his memory, and this conjunction is only effected by a life according to Divine truths in the Word, for when these truths come to be of the life they are called goods. Thence it may be clear how the second or middle degree is opened. [4] … The third or inmost degree is opened with those who apply Divine truths at once to life, and do not reason about them from the memory, and thus bring them into doubt. This is called the celestial degree. Amen.

THE CREATION OF THE UNIVERSE

THE CREATION OF THE UNIVERSE

Excerpts from the True Christian Religion
by Emanuel Swedenborg


TCR 75
As the subject of this first chapter is “God the Creator”, the creation of the universe by Him must also be considered; as in the next chapter on the Lord the Redeemer, redemption will also be treated of. But no one can gain a right idea of the creation of the universe until his understanding is brought into a state of perception by some most general knowledges previously recognized, which are as follows:

(i) There are two worlds, a spiritual world where angels and spirits are, and a natural world where men are.

(ii.) In each world there is a sun. The sun of the spiritual world is nothing but love from Jehovah God who is in the midst of it. From that sun heat and light go forth; the heat that goes forth therefrom in its essence is love, and the light that goes forth in its essence is wisdom; and these two affect the will and understanding of man- the heat his will and the light his understanding. But the sun of the natural world is nothing but fire, and therefore its heat is dead, also its light; and these serve as a covering and auxiliary to spiritual heat and light, to enable them to pass over to man.

(iii) Again, these two which go forth from the sun of the spiritual world, and in consequence all things that have existence in that world by means of them, are substantial, and are called spiritual; while the two like things that go forth from the sun of the natural world, and in consequence all things here that have existence by means of them, are material, and are called natural.

(iv.) In each world there are three degrees, called degrees of height, and in consequence three regions; and in accordance with these the three angelic heavens are arranged, and also in accordance with them human minds are arranged, which thus correspond to those three angelic heavens; and the same is true of everything else in both worlds.

(v.) There is a correspondence between those things that are in the spiritual world and those in the natural world.

(vi.) There is an order in which each thing and all things belonging to both worlds were created.

(vii.) It is necessary that an idea of these things should first be gained, for unless this is done the human mind from mere ignorance of these things easily falls into a notion of a creation of the universe by nature; while on mere ecclesiastical authority it asserts that nature was created by God; and yet, because it does not know how creation was effected, as soon as it begins to look interiorly into the matter, it plunges headlong into the naturalism that denies God. But it would be truly the work of a large volume to explain and demonstrate these statements properly one by one; moreover, the matter does not properly enter into the theological system of this book as a theme or argument; therefore I will merely relate some memorable occurrences from which an idea of the creation of the universe by God may be conceived, and from such a conception some offspring that will represent it may be born.


THE FIRST DAY OF CREATION

THE FIRST DAY OF CREATION

by Candidate David C. Roth

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was void and empty, and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light” (Genesis 1:1-3).


These familiar words are a portion of the whole creation story as given in the Lord’s Word. We often hear that we should disregard this story because we know that it is not literally true, that “It’s just a parable.” However, this is a true story, a wonderful story, which should never be disregarded. It contains the whole story of how the Lord patiently and mercifully regenerates each and every one of us if we let Him. It represents the story of regeneration in man, his new creation, the creation of a spiritually alive person from a spiritually dead one.

The Lord in His second coming reveals that there are seven states which comprise the whole process of regeneration. Therefore, in the story of creation there are seven days comprising the whole process of creation illustrating and representing each of these seven states in man. Each day is a new state of greater, more delightful, spiritual life created by the Lord. The portion which we will focus our attention on today is the first day of creation: the first day of our new spiritual life, the life which leads to heaven.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” In this simple beginning of the Lord’s Divine Word is described two general things. One, the period in a man’s life when he is beginning to be regenerated by the Lord. Two, the fact that it is the Lord alone who reforms and recreates us. As we are told in the Writings, “The new creation, or regeneration, is the work of the Lord alone” (AC 88). The “beginning” spoken of here is the actual preparation the Lord does in us for our eventual regeneration (see AC 16). He does this by reforming our minds and our understandings by means of His Divine truth, the Divine truth found in the teachings of His Word.

But the Lord can teach us these truths only if we open His Word and read and study it. Whether we are an adult or child we are subject to this same condition: The Word must be read or heard in order for us to learn its truths, truths by which the Lord will lead us and reform us. This reformation by Divine truth is what is meant by “God created” (see AC 4402:5, AE 1057). What He is attempting to create, and thus make new within us, is the church, both as to its internal and external qualities, or what is the same, as to our internal and external man or mind. These two aspects are signified by “the heavens and the earth.”

“And the earth was void and empty; and darkness was on the face of the deep.” A person who has not yet begun regeneration is described as “void and empty.” This means that he or she is devoid of any good or truth of a spiritual nature. He is living in a completely external and natural state. He is a person without good and truth (see AC 17).

A person in this state is referred to as a dead man, a spiritually lifeless and dead individual. He is referred to as dead because the only things which are of interest to him are things which belong to the body and the world. These also become the center of his worship, if we can call it that. He doesn’t know what eternal life is, and if he does know, he doesn’t believe it. The life of the body and its pleasures are his only concern. We are told, “The dead man when involved in conflict nearly always gives in” (AC 81). Evil and falsity, and what is merely natural, have become his master, and he has become their enchained slave, obeying their every command. The only bonds that keep him in order are external ones, such as obeying laws solely out of the fear for the loss of honor, reputation, and worldly gain (see AC 81).

It is obvious that this person is in a state of thick darkness. Consequently, his life is clouded by stupidity and a “lack of knowledge about anything having to do with faith in the Lord and so anything that has to do with spiritual and celestial life” (AC 17). As illustrated in the Sacred Scripture, “My people are foolish; they know Me not; they are stupid children, having no understanding; they are wise to evil and know not how to do good” (Jeremiah 4:22). Because man is entrenched in such darkness as to what is really true and good, and is absorbed in selfish desires and the false rationalizations and excuses which accompany and confirm them, he is in complete darkness; and until he is ready to admit his condition, there is no light to dispel it; there is no truth. This is what is meant in our text by the phrase, “and darkness was on the face of the deep.”

This darkness in us can be from several things. It could be a result of pure ignorance from a lack of knowledge concerning the Lord and His Word. It could be from the overshadowing cloud which comes upon one who has chosen to believe what is false, or from the blindness which envelops one who has gotten caught up in some natural love or lust. Whatever the cause, the important thing for us to realize is that the Lord can, and desires more than anything to, pull us up out of our darkness. How He is able to accomplish this miracle, even when we are in what seems to be an almost spiritually hopeless state, is what is meant by the following: “And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.”

When properly understood, this small verse tells so much about how the Lord can lift us up and save us. “The Spirit of God” represents the Lord’s mercy which hovers over and protects the one thing in us which He can use to raise us up out of our thick darkness. This one means is our remains. They are the knowledges of what is true and good which the Lord has implanted in us in infancy and throughout our lives for use at a later time when they are needed – a time like this; a time of darkness. These remains are what are called in our text, “the face of the waters” (AC 19).

Even when we are in this dark state the Lord is ever protecting these precious cognitions of good and truth, is ever patiently waiting for an opportunity to stir them within us. The Lord is said to hover or brood over our remains like a hen over her eggs. Have you ever noticed how zealously a hen will guard her eggs while she waits for them to hatch? She covers them with her body and wings, and keeps them warm and safe until they are ready to come forth out of their protective shell. In the same way the Lord in His mercy is ever guarding and protecting these precious affections for and knowledges of good and truth that remain with us until they are ready to be brought into light and used to commence our spiritual life.

But these knowledges cannot be brought out to stir our minds and move our hearts until those things which might cause resistance and harm are laid waste and removed (see AC 18). “Thus,” we are told, “the old man must die before the new one can be conceived” (AC 18).

For an illustration, we might picture a child who will not listen to what his parents or teachers have to say. But then in his life he reaches a dead end or a problem which he sees can’t be handled on his own. In order to solve it he has to turn to a parent or a teacher in search of help and answers. To do this he has to let down his resistance and humble himself in the realization that he can’t do it alone.

The same must be true of us if we are going to allow the Lord to reform and regenerate us. The self-deceptions and superficial delights derived from such a natural and self-centered life have to be removed before the Lord can enter in (see AC 5037). But what is it that makes us want to break away from the old life of ignorance, falsity, and self-serving evil, the life which we love so much? What causes us to be jolted out of this state to realize that we need a change and need it now? Sometimes it can come about from hitting rock bottom in a life of drug or alcohol abuse. Or maybe the sudden passing of a loved one causes us to reevaluate our life and own inevitable death. It can also come from something less extreme in our lives. Whatever the reason, there must be some incentive to come out of our void and empty state.

For this reason, if the Lord sees that we can be regenerated, or moved in freedom toward good, He allows us to run aground and experience anxiety, grief, and despair, even to the point of feeling utterly helpless. The Writings tell us that it is only then that our “persuasive is broken, and our state is changed; and then we can be led into the belief that we can do nothing of ourselves, but that all power, prudence, intelligence, and wisdom are from the Lord” (AC 2694:3). This state comes about through what is called vastation. Vastation is the removal of what we love, the removal of those things which appear to us to be good and true, but which the Word teaches are not. The loss of these causes us to become anxious and enter into despair.

This loss may sound unfair, but is actually an act of the Lord’s mercy from His will to save us. Some vastation is necessary so that our remains can be safely brought to our assistance through His mercy. When these knowledges of what is good and true are now stirred by the Lord, we see in them answers to our problems. We start to realize that what is good and true is something far superior to the falsities and evil which we thought were good and true for us (see AC 20). The Lord’s light can now shine on them and illumine His truths with us as things to be desired. We can now begin to see that the Lord in His Word is the way, the truth and the light. This new awakening is what is signified by the phrase, “And God said, ‘Let there be light; and there was light.'” We now realize that what He has said is true: “I am the light of the world”(John 8:12). The Lord’s Divine truth is the only true light because it is the Lord Himself revealed in His Word (see AR 200). “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?” (Ps. 27:1)

However, this awakening from darkness into light is a gradual process. Still, even the first glimpse of the Lord’s light compared to our previous darkness is like the difference between the light of the sun and that of the moon. The Writings tell us, “When a person is conceived anew, first he starts to recognize that the good in him is not really good, and then, when he enters more into light, to recognize the existence of the Lord and that the Lord is good and truth themselves” (AC 20; see also AC 24).

“And God saw the light that it was good.” The reason that the light here is called good is because first of all, it is a relatively good state, and second, because it is from the Lord. For He is good and truth itself, and all truth and good are from Him. In this state we can now see this for the first time. Yet we need to realize that this first state of acknowledgment is just that; it is a first state. There are still more and better states which need to dawn before we become regenerate. We are reminded that the story of man’s new creation is a seven-day story. This first day is just a beginning, but it is the beginning of something good, and we should rejoice in it. “And God saw the light that it was good.” We are now on the good path, the path of regeneration which leads to heaven.

“And God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light day, and the darkness He called night.” This further describes just how different our old beliefs are from the life of truth which is now shown to us by the Lord and which is the Lord’s. It is truly the difference between day and night. The truth which the Lord has shown us enables us to distinguish between what was our own, our evil and falsity, from what is the Lord’s, His good and truth, the darkness being what is man’s own, and the light being what is the Lord’s. And these are then called night and day respectively (see AC 21). This separation has allowed us to see the light or truth, and to see that it is good. And with this light now clearly showing what is ours and the Lord’s, we can seek the day and leave the night.

“And there was evening, and there was morning, the first day.” Described here is the closing of the discussion of the first state of man’s regeneration, meant by the first day. In this new day we can now see the Lord’s truth in the Word as the answer to our prayers; it begins to become the lamp unto our feet and the light unto our path. We have come from being in no faith at all, meant by evening, to being in the first of faith or morning. It has been revealed that “the Lord does exist, and that He is good itself and truth itself, and that no good or truth exists except from the Lord” (see AC 24). We have been awakened from spiritual sleep. Morning has broken the darkness of our night. The Lord has made His coming into our lives, and has shed His light upon us. His Word can now be opened and read, and its truths can begin to lead us to a life of good in the light of this new day. “Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of the Lord has risen upon you” (Ps. 60:1). Amen.

Lessons: Genesis 1:1-5, John 1:1-13, AC 3913


Arcana Coelestia 3913

When a man is being regenerated, the internal man is to be conjoined with the external, consequently the goods and truths of the internal man with the goods and truths of the external; for from truths and goods man is man. These cannot be conjoined without means. Means are such things as derive something from the one side and something from the other, and which are attended with the effect that insofar as the man accedes to the one, the other becomes subordinate. These means are what are signified by the “handmaids,” the means on the part of the internal man by the handmaids of Rachel, and the means on the part of the external man by the handmaids of Leah.

That there must be means of conjunction may be seen from the fact that of itself the natural man does not in the least agree with the spiritual man, but disagrees so far as to be altogether opposite. For the natural man regards and loves himself and the world, but the spiritual man does not regard himself and the world except insofar as is conducive to the promotion of uses in the spiritual world, and thus regards its service and loves it from the use and end. The natural man seems to himself to have life when he is elevated to dignities, and thus to super-eminence over others; but the spiritual man seems to himself to have life in humility, and in being the least. Nor does he disregard dignities, provided that by them as means he can be of service to his neighbor, to the community, and to the church. Yet he does not reflect for the sake of himself upon the dignities to which he is elevated, but for the sake of the uses which he regards as the ends. The natural man is in his bliss when he is richer than others and possesses the world’s wealth; but the spiritual man is in his bliss when he is in the knowledges of truth and good, which are his riches, and still more when he is in the practice of good according to truths; and yet he does not despise riches, because by means of them he can be in that practice, and in the world.

From these few considerations it is evident that the state of the natural man and that of the spiritual man are opposed to each other by their ends but that nevertheless they can be conjoined, which takes place when the things of the external man are made subordinate and subservient to the ends of the internal man. In order therefore that a man. may become spiritual, it is necessary for the things of the external man to be reduced to compliance, thus that the ends in favor of self and the world be put off, and ends in favor of the neighbor and the Lord’s kingdom be put on.

The former can by no means he put off and the latter put on, and thus the two be conjoined except through means. These means are what are signified by the “handmaids,” and in particular by the “four sons” born of the handmaids.

The first means is one that affirms or is affirmative of internal truth, that it is so. When this affirmative comes, the man is in the beginning of regeneration; good is being worked by the internal, and causes the affirmation. This good cannot inflow into what is negative, nor even into what is full of doubt, until this becomes affirmative. But afterwards it manifests itself by affection, that is, by the man’s being affected with truth, or beginning to be delighted with it, first in knowing it, and then in acting according to it.

Take for example the truth that the Lord is the salvation for the human race. Unless this is made affirmative by the man, all the things he has learned from the Word or in the church concerning the Lord, and that are in his natural memory among the memory-knowledges, cannot be conjoined with his internal man, that is, with what can be there of faith. Thus neither can affection flow in, not even into the generals of that truth which are conducive to man’s salvation. But when it becomes affirmative, innumerable things are added, and are filled with the good that flows in; for good continually flows in from the Lord, but where there is no affirmative, it is not received. An affirmative is therefore the first means, and is as it were the first abode of the good that flows in from the Lord. The same is the case with all the other truths that are called truths of faith.


The True Meaning of the 7 Days of Creation: Spiritual Rebirth

7 Days of Creation in Genesis 1.info

The True Meaning of the 7 Days of Creation: Spiritual Rebirth

   

Introduction

From the literal meaning of the first chapters of Genesis, no one realizes that it refers to anything besides the creation of the world, the Garden of Eden which is called “Paradise,” and Adam, the first human to be created. Who thinks anything else? However, these things contain details that have never been revealed until now. . . . In this inner meaning, the first chapter of Genesis is about new creation of a human being.
In other words, it is about our rebirth.

It is a wonderful story to start out with in the Bible. You know how there is often a preface in a book, and the preface will tell you what the book is going to tell you. They always told us that in school: when you write a paper, first you tell them what you’re going to tell them, then you tell them, then you tell them what you told them. The Creation story is God telling us what he’s going to tell us in the whole Bible. He is summarizing the entire Bible, which is really, Swedenborg tells us, about our own spiritual growth. It’s about our process from when we first start to awaken spiritually to the time when we become angels in heaven. The Creation story is a wonderful summary, in just a little over one chapter, of the whole Bible story.

Briefest Summary:

Stages: External representation

Spiritual State: Internal

Initial state: without form and void Prior to rebirth: no spiritual form
First state: light and darkness Knowing that the good and the true are something higher.
Second state: heavens and earth Distinguishing those spiritual things from God (in the internal man), from those of oneself (in the external)
Third state: tender grass, tree bearing fruit Acting from knowledge, not from the heart
Fourth state: sun and moon Love and Insight begin in the internal
Fifth state: whales of the sea, birds of the heavens Actions to confirm oneself in truth and good: deep principles & rising thoughts
Sixth state: living soul, beast, ‘image of God’ Actions from insight, and hence from love: alive at last – ‘spiritual’
Seventh state: day of rest Actions from love, and hence from insight: ‘celestial’

God and Creation

God and Creation

from H. Lj. Odhner, Creation. Doctrinal Essays.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
– Genesis 1:1

“The firstthing of the Church is the knowledge that there is a God and that He is to be worshipped. His first quality to be known is that He has created the universe and that the created universe subsists from Him.”[1]

The first instruction given in the Divine Word is, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” This is the primary truth about God’s quality, because in it everything else is involved. If this truth is sincerely received, all other truths will flow from it. Without it, all spiritual truth perishes. It is the first among the canons of the New Church, the first subject treated of in the True Christian Religion. It is necessary that we should know the Lord as the Creator of the world – of the heavens and of the earth – before we can learn to know Him as Creator of the new world of regenerate life which He is endeavoring to create within us….

As the Creator, the Lord comes to us in the years of tender infancy. The child is surrounded with gifts for which he has not labored. He is faced with the marvels of growth, of production. He finds his little world expanding into ever wider horizons. And there is within him the stirring seed of a rational mind, which asks, `Where did this thing come from? and that? Who made these things?’

Happy is the child who receives the true answer: ‘The Lord made them!’ For this truth is immanent in the wonder of the child; this truth is the real, but unperceived source of the question! It prompted the awe in the child’s mind. And the answer therefore leaves the mind of the little one at peace, with a sense of fulfillment and assurance. The soul’s own prompting has been satisfied.

The truth that God has created all things, is the first fact of spiritual education. It connects all things of sense observation with the idea of the Lord, and thus keeps an avenue of influx open from the Lord into all the knowledges of the mind. It makes worship of Him full of meaning. It fits into the scheme of the infant’s life, because to him love is that upon which he depends at all times, and love is the source of all good things, the maker and provider of everything of life. Love is what creates his world around him, and now he learns what the final source of these things is. He has a name for it – God. God created him and – everything! It does not matter how. The fact is enough.

The question ‘How?’ comes later. And when it comes, the Word in its literal sense gives a sufficient answer to the child: “God said, Let there be light. And there was light . . . And God said, Let the earth bring forth the tender herb . . . And it was so . . .” The means and the modes are not important. The child strikes through, with the unspoilt logic of its nature, into the essentials, the power of the creative Word, the spoken will of God. And there is, in simplicity, in the child-like heart, something which loves magic, which loves to know that there are powers which exceed any understanding. If we ever, through much learning, lose that sense of the magic of things, we lose the essence of wisdom.

The creation story of Genesis conveys the essential truths about the mode of creation, by the use of symbolic pictures and in phrases of profound significance. Indeed, it conveys all the truth that can ever be known, for it contains the infinite truth in an ultimate form which reflects that truth to us so far as we are prepared to see it, but no further. It does not express these truths except in the barest generals, but it involves them all, as in a whole.

The origin of the Genesis account of the creation of the world in six days, lies in the remotest antiquity. Distorted and incomplete echoes of the same story are found in the mythological lore of many ancient nations. Even up to modern times Jews and Christians have insisted that the account is literally true; and Swedenborg, in his early treatises, also defended it against the scoffing of modern science, by explaining that while creation could not have occurred in so short a time, or in such exact order, yet the sacred text contains a true description of the progressive stages of the creative process as viewed from the earth and as couched in pictorial language, with the understanding that the ‘days’ were in actuality epochs of uncertain duration.[1a]

The Arcana Coelestia nonetheless asks us to ponder on the particulars of the Genesis description, and to conclude “that the creation of the universe is not there meant!” Such particulars “may be known from common sense not to have been so,” and can hardly be acknowledged to be possible “by any one who thinks interiorly.”[2] The Writings do not deny that certain general truths about Creation are found in these early chapters of Genesis – nor do they claim that the idea of stages in the formation of the earth and its kingdoms is erroneous. But it is pointed out that the purpose of the Genesis story is a spiritual one – that it is “a history so framed as to contain within it heavenly and Divine things, and this according to the received manner in the ancient churches,” since the custom of writing in symbolic and allegorical style about the things of the church was common amongst the people of antiquity.

Actually, or in a spiritual sense, the six days of creation describe the establishment of the Most Ancient Church. And since the spiritual stages by which this was done involved the states through which man passes in his reformation and regeneration, until the paradise of his mind is fully prepared and populated, these states also are described as a “creation” wrought by God when, out of the chaos and vastness of ignorance and cupidity, He labors to order man’s mind.

Yet the child, and those who are in simple ignorance, cannot grasp what the Writings evolve out of the story of the six days; cannot as yet understand what is meant by the various details of spiritual creation. And for such, the Mosaic account is to be held believable and true – as it indeed is in all that matters. It is a holy ultimate for something far more vital than physical science. As the child’s comprehension grows, explanations can be inserted which fill in the physical truths. The picture given is elastic, but the solemn words of the sacred text remain fixed in the mind, ready – not to be broken – but, when the time comes, to be seen as full of a truth far more marvelous than had been before imagined.

Thus gently, the two creations are distinguished one from the other, to be studied separately. Yet it will be seen that, although in point of view, and in use, they differ, yet each study casts an enriching light upon the other. Inwardly, the two creations have the same purpose, the same end; and have principles in common, laws which are universal in both. In each there is something which corresponds to something in the other. The same God creates both the universe and the regenerate mind of each human soul.

* * * * *

It is for this reason that the New Church has been given not only a doctrine concerning Regeneration, but a doctrine concerning the Creation of the universe. The child lives in a world of representations – and representative truth is sufficient for him. But when he enters the real and actual world, he needs to know it as it is. He needs to distinguish the natural from the spiritual, and must learn the nature and origin of each. His reason becomes active and he inquires into the relations of things, their connection and order, the modes of their actions, their forms and composition, their functions, their origins, how and why they came to be.

The maturing mind is not satisfied with blind faith. It must see how and why; it clamors for the experiences of seeing for itself. The reflecting youth accepts the facts that there is this great arena of natural and physical things around him, and that there is also an inner world of realities – spiritual things, of which he is also partly conscious, because they enter into his own imagination and thought. It is quite normal that his Reason should wish to survey all the possibilities as to the origins of these two worlds, before he can feel sure of his own place in the universe. And with the penetrating teachings of the Writings as a cicerone, he can fearlessly embark on such a voyage of exploration. They guide him safely through seas of absurdities into calm waters and into the rich harbors of faith.

The first assurance which the Writings give is that creation did occur. “It cannot be thought by anyone that the universe is from eternity, or that it is from nothing; and hence it cannot be denied that it was created, and by Some One . . .”[3] “It cannot be thought!” Yet there are those who deny creation; who point to the much amended “law” that matter – or rather mass, or rather the energy of which mass is the measure – is indestructible, and thence conclude that neither could it be created. There are also ancient religions which are founded on the assumption that while God was eternal, Matter also was eternal – both co-existing, as a positive and a negative force, the respective origins of a dualism of good and evil; or, that God was not a Creator, but a Former, a Potter who shaped the co-eternal clay into a universe; or else, that matter existed from eternity as an undistinguished chaos of many mixed elements, which – for some reason – were then separated and joined with their affinities to form the world, and this either from a latent force of their own, or from the prompting of a Divine Spirit.

But these are ideas – not completed thoughts. They evade the call of Reason which demands a cause for every effect. Imagination is not thought. The refusal to follow out the demands of the rational, and instead stop in the middle of a process of thought, is not thinking.

The Natural sees only from effects. The Rational looks for causes.[4] And because this is instinct in the rational mind, the common sense of men (i.e., the spontaneous intuition of the rational mind) has led men to acknowledge that the world must have its cause in an infinite Source.

Still there are those who stick in the idea that this creative source of all the things of space and time which we discern about us and which compose us, may be Nature; that is to say, that the particular things we know of are merely the changes of form which are assumed by the basic substance of Nature, and that that substance is eternal, or from eternity. But this still involves that a finite substance could be from eternity. It supposes that an infinity of space and an infinity of time can be predicated of Nature or of the finite. For eternity is an infinity, as regards time. Yet – the thought is impossible! For space and time, and even their spiritual equivalent, which is finite state, are the antitheses of infinity. Therefore we read in the Writings: “God from eternity can be thought about, but in no wise Nature from eternity; consequently the creation of the universe by God can be thought about, but in no wise creation from Nature.[5] “The world was created by God, not in time, but times were introduced by God with creation . . .”[6] “In the sight of God, there were no spaces or times before creation, but after it.”[7]

If our thoughts are to be led by the Writings, we must be willing to accept the conditions which the Writings require. Sensual thinking – from mere appearances and from merely material realities – cannot reach where the Writings would have us follow. “Creation itself,” they tell us, “cannot be brought within one’s grasp unless space and time are removed from the thought.”[8] “The eye beholds the universe, and the mind . . . concludes in the first place that it was created, and then wonders who created it. The mind that thinks from the eye comes to the conclusion that it was created by Nature; but the mind that does not think from the eye concludes that it is from God. The mind that takes a middle course, thinks that it is from a Being of which it has no idea, for it perceives that not anything is from nothing; but such a mind falls into Nature, because about the Infinite it has an idea of space, and concerning eternity it has an idea of time; these are interior-natural [men] ; while those who simply think of Nature as a creatrix, are external-natural. But those who, from religion, simply think of God that He is the Creator of the universe, are external spiritual men; while those who from religion think wisely of God as Creator of the universe, are interior spiritual men . . .”[9]

Those think wisely who realize that nothing of nature can be eternal, since space and time – by division into parts – are what take away infinity and eternity. Wise thought is thought which is not only rational, but interiorly rational. Such thought do angels and spirits have.[10]

In an early treatise on “The Infinite as the Final Cause of Creation,” Swedenborg demonstrated that by analytical thought a man must necessarily arrive at the conclusion that the finite world owed its existence and thus its origin to the Infinite. But he also admitted that this was as far as the mere logic of the natural mind could carry one. The quality of this Infinite, he pointed out, could not be known without the aid of Revelation. It was not a mere Infinite of space or of matter; but an Infinite which must be grasped by thought purified of space, time, and material concepts. If these be removed from our ideas, the Writings show, the Infinite from which all things are created, can be seen as to its quality, which is the love and wisdom which the Divine revelations ascribe to God: the quality which is meant when God is called God-Man, the Divine Human.

At one extremity of the spiritual world, Swedenborg records, there sometimes appear two statues in monstrous human form – with their great jaws open. Spirits who – from ideas of space and time – think vain and foolish things concerning God from eternity seem to themselves to be devoured by those cavernous mouths. It is the representation of their own fantasies – the recoil of a reason threatened to be drawn into the impossible idea of infinite time![11]

For no idea of God the Creator or of His omnipresence and eternity can be had by any delirium about what God might have been doing before creation. In His sight there is no time, but all things are infinitely present. For Him there is no “before,” or “after.” We can only come to apprehend the Divine Infinite through the knowledge of His essence, which is Love itself and Wisdom itself. These have no time, are not in space. They are Life in its origin, Being, Reality itself. These terms convey but little to the mind if life is not measured in terms of love and wisdom. Yet in that volume of the Writings which treats especially of Creation, and which is called “Angelic Wisdom concerning the Divine Love and the Divine Wisdom,” we are challenged with the following words: “Sum up all things you know and submit them to the intuition of your mind, and in some elevation of spirit search for what is the universal of all things, and you cannot conclude otherwise than that it is Love and Wisdom.”[12] But the work goes further, and shows that the Divine love and the Divine wisdom are not a mere term or a something abstracted from a substance of which they are predicated, but that they are Substance itself, and Form itself, the only substance which is in and of itself.

It is God as Substance – infinite and absolute – that is the final Cause of creation, and thus the source of all created things. The Divine love and the Divine substance are identical, and are God-Man.

Now, in this idea of the Creator as God-Man, we find the child’s belief, that the Lord made all things, restored. Not the belief that God, as a great Person of magical powers, walked about the universe and, by a command, fashioned one thing after another. But the concept of God-Man as the infinite Love and absolute Substance whence we derive all ideas of the human form; the concept of God-Man as the center and origin of all human things – the infinite prototype in whose limited, finite image and likeness man was to be formed.

The idea of creation would be impossible to us, if the infinite Source were pictured as a blank abstraction devoid of qualities and powers: it would then be like a vacuum – a purely negative concept. But Love alone can create; and Love gives of its own. It creates out of Its own Substance and lends of Its own qualities, although these can be but finitely reflected in Its creations. Therefore the Writings state that the Lord is called the Infinite not only because He is Esse and Existere in itself, but also because in Him are infinite things – or “infinities” – which we may see to be One, but which we can also distinguish. We are warned against speaking of these as “infinitely many” – for this partakes of limitations and parts. But we may not deny to God anything which in finite measure composes the frame of man – whose form is the image of God.[13] Thus the Eye of the Lord is upon them that fear Him; the Finger of God works wonders; His Feet stand in our holy places; His Voice reveals His secrets to the prophets. Each thing with Him is infinite; and all are One in His undivided perfection. “In God-Man infinite things are distinctly one.”[14] In His infinite uses He regards only infinite and eternal ends.

God is Love. This is the reason for creation. The essence of love is to love others, not self. There is something called ‘love,’ which loves only that which pleases one; as when one feels joy in another, but does not feel the joy of the other as joy in oneself. This is called ‘love,’ but it is only self-love, and will eventually turn to hatred unless the other submits.[15] There can be no reciprocation in such love.

The Divine Love is not such. The Divine looks to others outside of itself, desires to be one with them, and to make them happy by the gifts which He bestows.[16] Here there is no desire to rule, but to give. The Infinite cannot give to itself, cannot love itself. Nor does Divine Love rest after creating inanimate nature, which cannot feel its happiness. Not until mankind was created – in the image of God and after His likeness – it is said, on the seventh day of creation, that God “rested” from all His work. All that had preceded was a preparation: the Divine Love is not received except in freedom: which is what makes man an image of God.

Yet there is nothing Divine in man, nothing of the essence of love in itself, or of the Infinite.[17] God’s love must create others whose reciprocal love it can love; others, with whose free finite response it can conjoin itself. It cannot love itself in others.

Here, then, we see the reason of creation, and also the reason why nothing created can be Divine.[18]

But how can this be? How can the Infinite, out of its own Substance, form the finite such that it has nothing of the Divine in itself?

For note, that the finite has, in its esse or being, “nothing of God which is God.” “That which is created in God from God is not continuous from Him.”[19] It is still in the Divine, and the Divine is in it, since the Divine, being infinite, has no limits, and cannot be limited or excluded by the finite which it has produced. And the Divine is – even after creation – the only Substance in se. But there is a distinct break, a discrete step, between Infinite Substance and created things. Is it possible for man to conceive of this process? Is it allowable to reflect how it might have occurred?

Certainly we are not forbidden to try. Yet the responsibility is ours if we do so without removing from our minds those ideas of space and of time, of person and of matter, which lead the thought to a continuum of matter instead of to the Infinite of Divine Love.

* * * * *

The baffling problem of conceiving of the first creation, or “finition,” by which God emitted of His substance to form the primitives of the universe, and at the same time avoiding the concept that what was thus produced from the Divine was Divine still, is called, in the Writings, a “Gordian knot.[20] Yet it is not such a knot except from the introduction of natural ideas from space and time; which leads to the idea of a Divine matter shaped into finite corpuscles in such a way that the mind is inclined to say that the created thing also is Divine. This is Pantheism. It is the endeavor to derive spatial substances directly from God’s infinite substance, that is confusing. The angels use spiritual thought about creation; and by spiritual ideas it is clearly seen that what comes from God by creation or is produced by Him has nothing of the Divine in it, and is in no wise infinite. They see this – not by having any pictorial idea of the process of first finition – but from the necessities of the case. They see that thus alone could the Divine Love give of its own to others outside of itself.

In his philosophical treatise on “The Infinite,”Swedenborg addressed himself to this problem of first finitions. In his Principia, to which this work was an adjunct, he had suggested that all nature, all material things, were but compositions and derivations of a type of primitive “simples” or first entities, which he described as vortex-like motions, or infinitesimal dynamic points; focal points of a conatus or endeavor by which the Creator can form the beginnings of nature. Except for these, there was nothing substantial in the entirety of nature. After assuming such primal entities, one could, he said, proceed by analogy and rational analysis, to account for all other substances, investigate their forms, and speculate on their motion and modes. But – he now writes – “All modes, and analogues of modes (and of such it is that analysis is formed), begin in the simple or primitive of nature, and not in the Infinite, in and from Whom nothing can be said to exist, or issue, immediately, by any mode which is intelligible to us in any geometrical, analogical, rational, or philosophical sense whatsoever.”[21]

If this means anything, it means that the mode by which the first entity of geometrical and mechanical nature was formed out of its eventual source in the Infinite, is not to be explained by either geometry or natural rational arguments, or any kind of mechanical concepts.

When writing this, Swedenborg had not yet been introduced into the knowledge of the mediating world of causes which is the source of the creative “conatus.” But a growing spiritual understanding of the media by which the Lord formed the first entity of nature, came to him as he was led by the Lord, through enlightenment from the Word and finally by his introduction into the spiritual world, to see that everything in the natural world has its cause in the spiritual. He then confessed that he had long meditated about creation, but in vain; but that after being admitted into the spiritual world he “perceived that it would be vain to conclude anything about the creation of the universe, unless it were first known that there are two worlds . . .”[22] Certain general teachings are indeed prefatory: “In every thing created, the greatest as well as the least, there are three [things], end, cause, and effect . . . In what is greatest, that is, in the universe, these three exist in the following order: in the Sun which is the first proceeding of Divine love and Divine wisdom, is the end of all things; in the spiritual world are the causes of all things; in the natural world are the effects of all things.”[23] “Jehovah God, through the Sun in the midst of which He is, created the spiritual world; and through this, mediately, He created the natural world .”[24] “The origin and maintenance of spiritual things is from a Sun which is pure love . . . but the origin and maintenance of natural things is from a sun which is pure fire. That the latter is from the former, and both from God, follows of itself, as the posterior follows from the prior, and the prior from the First.”[25] “All things that exist in the world of nature, atmospheric, aqueous, or earthy, as to every particle thereof, are effects produced by the spiritual as a cause . . .”26 “The natural draws its origin from the spiritual, and in its existence is nothing other than congeries congregated out of spiritual things.”[27]

This conception of an intermediation by the spiritual world in the process of the creation of nature by God, does not (of itself) take away the problem of how to conceive of the first finition by which “God first finited His Infinity through substances emitted from Himself, from which stood forth His nearest compass, which makes the Sun of the spiritual world.”[28] Neither does it explain how this spiritual world, by a process of further finition, gave origin to the substances of nature, which are of time and space, and thus in essence totally different. But it does show the order of creation, the complex character of the process. It demonstrates the true nature of the world, as a clothing of the substantial realities of the spiritual that wells forth from the bosom of the Divine Love.

* * * * *

The chapter on Creation in the True Christian Religion therefore lists some prerequisite knowledges:

“No one can obtain for himself a just idea concerning the creation of the universe, unless some universal knowledges, previously acquired, put the understanding into a state of perception; which knowledges are the following: I. That there are two worlds, the spiritual world in which angels and spirits are, and the natural world, in which men are.

II. That in each world there is a sun, and that the Sun of the spiritual world is pure love from Jehovah God who is in the midst of it; and that from that Sun proceed heat and light; and that the heat thence proceeding is in its essence love, and that the light thence proceeding in its essence is wisdom, and that those two affect the will and understanding of man, the heat his will, and the light his understanding; but that the sun of the natural world is pure fire, and that therefore the heat thence is dead, as in like manner the light; and that they serve for clothing and support for spiritual heat and light, that they may pass to man.

III. Then, that those two things which proceed from the Sun of the spiritual world, and thence all the things that exist there by means of them, are substantial, and are called spiritual; and that the two similar things which proceed from the sun of the natural world, and thence all the things which exist here by means of them, are material, and are called natural.

IV. That in each world there are three degrees, which are called degrees of altitude, and thence three regions, according to which the three angelic heavens are arranged, and according to which human minds are arranged, which thus correspond to the three angelic heavens; and that other things are arranged in like manner, both here and there.

V. That there is a correspondence between those things which are in the spiritual world and those things which are in the natural world.

VI. That there is an order into which all and everything in both worlds was created.

VII. That an idea concerning these things ought first of all to be obtained; and unless this be done, the human mind, from mere ignorance concerning them, may easily fall into the idea of the creation of the universe by nature, and say only from the authority of the church, that nature was created by God; but because it knows not how, if it inquires into it more interiorly, it falls headlong into naturalism, which denies God.”[29]

Degrees and Correspondences

  Lecture VI

Degrees and Correspondences

Whatever theory of creation we may adopt, we must admit that all things are connected and related. If we make matter the origin, and rise to man, as along an inclined plane; or if we begin with God stance and force, and descend from Him to the lowest as the First Cause and the embodiment of all substance and force, and descend from Him to the lowest forces of matter, and ascend from them to man, it is evident that there must be a constant connection between the first and the last step. We may give different names to the process by which one organized form is evolved from another; we may call it evolution, progress, development; but the change of name does not touch the constant fact that there is an unbroken chain of cause and effect, binding all things to each other and each to all. “Whatsoever is unconnected does not exist.” The materialist and the Christian stand on the same ground in this respect, though setting out from opposite positions. I propose to state as clearly as I can, and as fully as the limits of a lecture will allow, the doctrine concerning this constant connection between the Creator and the creation, first distinctly taught by Swedenborg, and which runs through his philosophy and all his doctrines concerning God and man and nature, and their relations to each other.

According to this doctrine, all substances and forces have their origin in the Lord, and flow forth from Him as their infinite fountain. He is the Every substance that emanates from Him descends from its source, and in its descent parts with some “Most High.” Departure from Him is descent. of its energy and activity. If we regard the sun as representing the Lord, we shall have a perfect example of this descent and loss of activity in the substances which flow from him. His heat constantly diminishes, and his light grows dim and the sub stances less active until they rest in the rock. But this loss of energy and change in he nature of substance does not take place by a regular, constant and continuous diminution. As the rock did not this loss of energy and change in the nature of substance does not take place by a regular, constant, emanate from the sun as a rock, or water as water, but in some purer, more active substance, possessing qualities entirely distinct and impossible to solid matter, so the creation descends from its Infinite Fountain, and in its descent changes into substances and forces entirely distinct from those which first proceeded from their source. The substances combine and form a composite, a grosser and less active one. They form distinct degrees or planes of substance. These degrees do not shade off and run into each other by imperceptible gradations. They are steps; they are discrete degrees, each one of which is as distinct from the other as the atmosphere from the ether, or water from the gases which compose it. Each degree becomes a plane of creation separate from every other. Its boundaries are clearly defined; its substances possess qualities which belong to no other degree. “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 is by itself, and the final by itself; yet is formed by a combination of the substances of a higher degree. taken together they make one.” Each lower degree is formed by a combination of he substances of a higher degree.

We find abundant examples of this universal law of creation in our own natures and in everything around us. A gas and a fluid are entirely distinct from each other in substance and qualities. But one is created from the, other. Two gases unite and form water, which is an entirely different substance from either. A grain of powder, which can be measured, possesses color and form, can be instantly changed into gases. It is a well-established fact that our earth and all the planets were derived or evolved from the sun, and consequently the matter which composes them was of the same ‘substance as the sun. These examples, which might be indefinitely multiplied, are sufficient to show what is meant by a discrete degree of the creation.

There are three of these discrete degrees In the whole creation and in every part of it. They exist in the least things and in the greatest; in every mineral, plant, animal, and man. It is universal law of existence. The three essentials of the Divine nature are love, wisdom, and the two combined in use, or in the thing or being created. Taking the whole of being and creation into view, we have the Creator, the infinite source of all substance and power; the spiritual universe and the material universe. There are three heavens, the celestial, the spiritual, and the natural, each of which is as distinct from the other in substance as earth, water, and atmosphere. Each has its own sun, consequently, its own light and heat, its own earth and sky, formed of its special degree of substance, and possessing its special qualities. There are three material atmospheres derived from the sun the aura, the ether, and the air. Nature is divided into three kingdoms : the animal, the mineral, and the vegetable. Three degrees or planes of organs in potency or actual creation compose the human spirit. These planes are organized of the substances of the three heavens; they partake of their nature. Each degree can receive influx from its corresponding degree in the heavens, and is specifically adapted to it, as the eye to the ether, the ear to the atmosphere, and the stomach to liquid and solid food. There are three vital organs in the material body : the heart, the lungs, and the brain, each performing its specific functions and having its boundaries. Everything in its least and largest parts is created in a threefold order.

This trinal order originates in the nature of things. There must be the trinity of end, cause, and effect in the creation of everything, and these three are entirely discrete from one another. The end is not the cause, the cause is not the effect, but the effect is the result of both acting together. In the relation of these three essential factors of every act, we can see the absurdity of materialism. It leaves out the prime factor. According to that doctrine there is no end or purpose in it.

Every material thing must have three dimensions: length, breadth, and thickness. Take either of the factors away and the others would have no existence. In every complete mental or spiritual act there must be love, wisdom, and use; or affection, thought, and act. This universal mode of action and being in the least and greatest things, is not a hypothesis or theory. It is a law of the Divine order which can be verified by science and philosophy, and even by the senses, in everything that comes within the domain of human knowledge. It has its ground in the necessity of existence. It is, therefore, a universal law of the Divine order embodied in the creation. It is a thread which, originating in the Divine nature, runs through every secret labyrinth of spirit and matter. By following its clew we can pass from one realm of the creation to another, and from every one to the Lord. “The doctrine of degrees,” as Swedenborg has truly said, “is the key to open the causes of things.” Without it we cannot know the difference between spirit and matter, creation and the. Lord.

Degrees are of two kinds, discrete and continuous. Discrete degrees are related to each other as end, cause, and effect. Continuous degrees consist in the gradual increase of some quality of the same discrete degree of substance. The increase’ of light from the faintest indications to the most intense brightness; the change from cold to intense heat; all the variations of matter from soft to hard, fine to gross, dense to rare, weakness to strength, are examples of continuous degrees.

According to this doctrine, the creation is divided into distinct planes or degrees of descent from the Creator, between which there is no continuity of substance by continuous and insensible decrease of quality, as from finer to grosser, from the active to the inert. There is a distinct cleavage between them, each degree possessing kinds of substance and force and qualities which cannot be transmitted to the other. Neither realm can invade the other and appear in its own form. While intimately connected as cause and effect, they are still separated by an impassable gulf. The higher degree can create the lower, but it cannot become the lower. It can create it as an instrumental cause, as affection can create thought and move to action, but cannot become thought and physical motion. It follows from this law of discontinuity between the distinct degrees of the creation, that while God creates the universe of matter and being from Himself, He does not become the universe. Nature is not God though a constant emanation from Him.

The same law rules in the ascent as in the descent. The lower cannot become the higher by any purification or sublimation of its substance. Matter cannot become spirit, as physical action cannot become thought, and thought cannot become affection, and knowledge love. Man cannot become God, however high he may rise in the scale of being in intelligence and power.

While there is this distinct cleavage between the different degrees of substance and being, there is still the most intimate connection between them. So intimate and constant is the connection, and so dependent is a lower step upon the one above it, that the substance and power and even the existence of the lower depend upon the higher. The universe and all it contains are a constant creation from the Lord and by the Lord, and if His creative energy were withheld for a moment, all worlds and all created beings would fade into non-existence, as light and heat vanish when their cause ceases to act.

Creation is not a mechanical work, resulting from the action of one thing upon another by contact, as men shape and arrange material objects and combine. them into new forms. Creation is effected by the operation of forces and substances flowing from within. These substances and forces originate in the Lord as their infinite fountain, and constantly emanate from Him. This first substance contains within itself the promise and potency of every created substance, being, and thing. It contains within itself a tendency, an effort towards the human form. It is an organizing force. As there is in quantities, a power that moulds it into spheres, and water and in every fluid, in the largest and smallest which does it when the world, or ocean, or globule of mist is left free to move, so there is in every substance and force a tendency constantly acting to organize it into the human form. Matter in every state, gaseous, fluid, or solid, is formed from this substance, and constantly retains qualities which fit it to become a part of an organized body. Organization is not effected by matter itself. It is not a chance hit in the ebb and flow of its forces. It is the effect of a force of a distinctly higher degree of substance acting upon it from within. This force, like attraction, which is one form of it, is everywhere present in all planes and degrees of creation, and is constantly operating in the least and largest things, sustaining and binding all together, and out of innumerable distinct things making one harmonious whole.

The distinct degrees of substance are first created, as materials out of which to organize plants, animals, and men. Then, by the inflowing and constant action of the forces into the substances created, the kingdoms of nature and intelligent beings are formed. The universe is pervaded by these spiritual and Divine forces in constant operation, working to pro: vide the inorganic materials and mould them into organic forms which are capable of receiving life. The result of the action of these influent forces is always determined by the state and quality of the materials into which it flows. It may be some form of a plant. It is a well-known fact that every plant has a specific form, color, and quality, and that no plant will grow in soil which does not possess the substances that enter into its composition. It may be some Form of animal life. Where special conditions are present the same insects and animals will appear. Climate and soil and the state of matter determine the special form of creation, though they are only the materials out of which it is formed. The fish must have water, the bird air, the animal special vegetable substances to supply the materials for its organization. The same power that creates a plant, an animal, or a man constantly flows into the forms created and manifests itself according to the nature of the thing or being formed.

The degree of life and the quality of life will be determined by the capacity of the object to receive and communicate it. And not only the measure and quality of the life on one plane, but the distinct degree of it. The plant has a form which inorganic matter does not possess, and consequently it can receive life and possesses qualities impossible to the mineral. The animal is not merely formed out of substances contained in the plant, but those substances serve as a basis for the organization of forms that can receive life in a higher degree. The animal can be endowed with consciousness and intelligence in the form of instinct which is a quality of life entirely distinct, discreted from the life of the plant. It is not evolved from the plant. It is created by the influent forces entirely distinct from any that the plant was capable of receiving. The plant supplied materials of such a nature that substances of a higher degree could find a basis in them for creating higher forms which could receive life of a corresponding nature.

The same principle applies to man. His intellectual and moral qualities are not evolved from the nature which he possesses in common with animals becomes the basis and the instrumental means for the consciousness and instinct of the animal. The nature which he possesses in common with animals becomes the basis and the instrumental means for the creation of a distinctly higher plane of faculties or forms organized of spiritual substances; and, therefore, capable of receiving the inflowing forces of life creation of a distinctly higher plane of faculties or from the Lord of a pre-eminently superior quality. The spiritual degree of man’s nature is created; a nature or an organization homogeneous to the spiritual and celestial degrees of the creation, and capable of being acted upon by the supreme excellence of their forces. It can be endowed with a distinctly finer and higher consciousness, and is, therefore, capable of becoming the subject of the most exquisite delight. The substances which flow from the Lord descend step by step from Him, becoming more concrete and less active, until they reach the circumference of creation, form its boundary and rest in the form of dead matter. This matter which constitutes the material universe becomes the foundation on which the kingdoms of nature and the universe of intelligent being rest, and the materials which the same intelligent Power that constantly creates it can use in the organization of the higher forms of life. The order and process is the same in principle as that which every man pursues in building a house and providing a home for his family. He must procure the materials and lay the foundation for this superstructure.

Having a basis for His creation of intelligent beings, the superstructure begins to rise from story to story, until the circuit is complete and returns to Him from whom it commenced. The stories are distinct stages of forms increasing by distinct steps until it reaches the highest degree of ascent. It rises through the material universe by three distinct steps, which are the kingdoms of nature. Then from the material universe to the spiritual, when it again ascends by the more distinct steps from natural to spiritual, from the spiritual to. the celestial. The three steps are three universes of spiritual beings, each one of which has its distinct boundaries which its members cannot pass. They may constantly increase in the excellence of their own organization, and, consequently, in the qualities of life they can receive from the Lord. But it is as impossible to ascend out of it as it would be for a fish to rise out of the water and breathe the atmosphere which gives life to the animal.

Every step in the creation is complete in itself, but yet forms a distinct factor and component part of the whole. Every step is created by the Lord by forces and substances which constantly flow from Him and constantly operate to sustain and multiply the forms of vegetable, animal, and spiritual life. No created thing or being has any power which is not constantly given to it by influx from the Lord. Power cannot be created; it can only be communicated. Forms only can be created capable of being moved to action by the untreated forces which flow in and set all things in motion. The kind of action will always be determined by the quality of the form. Thus we make the Lord the centre and constant source of the material and the spiritual universe, and of every form of matter, and being from the rock to the highest angel. He is the First and the Last.

Having considered the subject of degrees in the creation, and the manner in which the Lord creates and sustains all things, it remains to show the relation which these discrete degrees hold to one another, and how the different planes of existence act and react upon each other; how the innumerable variety of objects and forces of every conceivable form and degree of power whose currents flow into each other act and react against each other, move in perfect harmony and give stability to the universe; and, though infinitely complex, move in the paths of a perfect order to the accomplishment of a specific purpose. The law, according to which these discrete degrees of creation. are bound together, and the forces of one degree act upon another, and the inhabitants in one state of being communicate with the inhabitants of another, is called Correspondence.

The doctrine of Correspondence holds a most important place in the system of creation; and when it is known and understood, it will enlarge the boundaries of human knowledge beyond all present conception by the most intelligent students of nature. It will solve a multitude of problems which have baffled the power of scientist and theologian, and bridge the gulf between matter and spirit, between the inhabitants of the material and the spiritual universe, and between the whole creation and the Lord. Swedenborg calls it “the science of sciences,” and says it was the principal subject of study by the wise men in the Golden Age of humanity.

Correspondence is the relation between one discrete degree of the creation and another. As it man is an epitome of the universe, a microcosm in whose nature are gathered all its substances, forms, orders, degrees, and relations, we can find in him holds equally between small and large things, and as perfect examples and illustrations of the nature of Correspondence. We all know that man’s affections and thoughts manifest or represent themselves in his looks, speech, and the motions of the body. His affections show themselves in the tones of his voice, in the changes of the muscles of his face, and in the various movements of the whole body. They do this naturally, that is, without any purpose or effort on his part. Grief will cause weeping; shame mantles the face with blushes; joy expresses itself by smiles and laughter. Sadness darkens the countenance and draws a veil over the features. Humility bows the head and softens the voice, while pride and disdain lift it up. Anger inflames the eye, clinches the hands, and gives harshness to the tones. Every feature and limb may express the same affection but each in its own way. The affections and passions cause these effects. There is nothing arbitrary or artificial in their production. They are not limited to particular persons. They are the same among all nations and in all ages. They exist in the nature of a human being; they are a universal language which is understood without any instruction. All these actions are correspondences. Weeping and tears correspond to grief; a blush corresponds to shame; laughter to joy; the bowed head and somber face to sadness; the fierce look and the clinched hand to anger; the crouching form and the uncertain step and the wild look to fear. These physical actions are the effects of which those emotions or passions are the cause. They are related to them as effects are related to their causes. They are the forms in which those affections express themselves when they come down from the spiritual plane of being into the material. Therefore they perfectly represent them. They are the language of the soul in material forms. There is a most intimate connection between them, but a clear distinction. They are totally unlike, and yet the natural motion, form, tone is the perfect expression of the affection which caused it. A tear is not grief; a smile is not a pleasant affection; a blush is not shame; the clinched hand is not anger; laughter is not joy. The effect is never the cause, is always wholly unlike it, and yet is most intimately connected with it and perfectly represents and expresses it. The physical act responds to the spiritual or mental act. It always responds in the same way, always speaks the same language, and, so far as relates to man himself, it can be understood. The affections come down into the material plane, clothe themselves with the physical organs, and declare their nature and purposes. They use the material faculties to express and do their will. By looking on the face, by listening to the tones of the voice, and watching the motions of the body, we can learn the intentions and qualities of the affections; we can see the thoughts, and form some conclusion concerning the character and intelligence of those with whom we associate.

From these examples, which might be indefinitely multiplied, and which every one can understand, we can get a distinct and true idea of the law of Correspondence. We can see how one discrete degree of the creation manifests itself in a lower degree and by correspondence binds the two together. We can see how a higher and a lower plane act as one while they remain entirely distinct. Let us apply this law to the relation of the Creator to the creation.

Every act of creation is effected by forces and substances which originate in the Lord, reach nature and man from within. Creation is not an arbitrary, mechanical work. A tree is not made like a house; an animal is not created in the same way as an engine. While it is true that one material thing is used as an instrument in creating another, the power which uses it comes from within. It is an influence, an inflowing, as light and heat from the sun, as affection and thought into the physical organs of the body.

According to this law, the universe is a constant creation of the Lord by substances and forces which flow from Him. It follows as a natural and inevitable consequence that the universe, as a whole and in every particular that is in true order, corresponds to Him and represents His love and wisdom. It is no poetic fancy; it is no invention of the imagination; it is not by any arbitrary and artificial conception of the human mind; it is a fact based on the immutable laws of the Divine order, and the inherent relations between cause and effect. As a tear corresponds to sorrow, as laughter is the effect of joy, of material forms and living beings is the embodiment of the Divine love and wisdom, corresponds to them, represents them, and expresses them in a natural and perfect language: In the sublime and scientific words of the Psalmist : “The heavens declare, the glory of God and the firmament showeth His handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard.”

Let us now look for a moment at some particular things which voice the love and wisdom of the Lord. It is true that but little of this language is now understood. But some natural things by universal consent are employed to express thoughts and affections, and, in general, states and activities of the mind. Light is used as the correlative and correspondent of truth. It is not in an arbitrary way that light gains this meaning; it is not by way of figure of speech. It is the specific effect of a correspondential cause. That is the reason why it is understood without any explanation. Light is to the material universe as truth to the spiritual universe. Truth is spiritual light, and natural light is a lower form of truth. It corresponds to it; it renders man stood without any explanation. Light is to the same service. Natural light reveals the forms, qualities, and relations of material objects. Truth reveals the forms, qualities, and relations of ideas and principles which are spiritual objects. The analogy between these two discrete degrees of light is perfect. Learning truth upon any subject is getting light upon it. We call an intelligent mind an enlightened one. We describe the qualities of the intellect by the qualities of light. The intellect is bright, clear, brilliant, luminous, or unenlightened, obscure, and dark.

In the same way, and for the same reason, heat corresponds to love, and represents it. It acts in the same’ manner and performs the same use in material things that love does in the spiritual plane of being. Love is the end or purpose which moves all the spiritual faculties to action. Heat renders the same service in the material world. Love is the life of the soul; heat is the life which sets all things in. motion. Love is represented by the heart. Love is the heart of the spiritual body, and performs the same functions that the material heart performs-to the material body. The terms of heat are therefore constantly applied to express the state of the affections. We speak of a cold, frozen, icy, warm heart, of ardent affections, burning and fiery passions. All the qualities, activities, and relations of heat are employed to express the qualities, relations, and activities of love. But to see the correspondence between heat and love clearly we must have some true knowledge of the nature of love. When we understand that love is something more than a feeling or an emotion; when we know that it is the inmost and highest form of substance and power, we can see that the correspondence between heat and love runs through the universe. Both are a substance in motion, and each performs the same office in its own sphere. We can therefore accurately describe love in terms of heat, or heat in terms of love.

This law of correspondence is of universal application. It is beautifully exemplified in the three kingdoms of nature. Each kingdom corresponds to and represents the Lord. They represent His love and wisdom and power in different forms and degrees. The mineral kingdom corresponds to them in the most general and lowest forms. The rock which is the most stable of material things, and forms the foundation for land and water, corresponds to the immutability of the Divine purposes and methods of accomplishing them. For this reason the Lord is often called a rock. Water is a general solvent of substances of which plants and animals are organized and the means of life to them. As all life and the substances which support it come from the Lord in a constantly flowing stream, the ocean, the clouds, the rain, and dew, the springs which well forth from the hills and the flowing stream are perfect correspondents and representations of the methods by which He works in all planes of the creation. The atmosphere, from its motions and qualities and use in the creation of plants and animals, and especially in its relations to the material body and its agency in setting all its organic forms in motion and endowing man himself with consciousness, performs the same office as the Holy Spirit, which is the. Divine truth, and, consequently, corresponds to and represents it. It performs the same office as water, which is also the correspondent of Divine truth, but on a lower plane of the creation. Divine truth is to man’s spiritual organism as water to his physical organism.

As matter becomes fixed in the mineral kingdom and determines space and time, high and low, and the various spatial relations of one thing to another, we obtain a great number of correspondences that represent the relations and qualities of -spiritual beings to each other and to the Lord. He is called the Most High, to designate His supreme perfections. Improvement in the excellence of character is called ascent, rising. We use the terms high, low, broad, narrow, deep and shallow, large and small, and many others to express degrees of intelligence and moral excellence. Nature supplies us with a language to express the qualities of spirit, because the objects of nature correspond to spiritual qualities and activities. When we use them we think only of their spiritual meaning.

The vegetable and mineral kingdoms represent the Lord’s love and wisdom in higher forms. The special qualities of the Divine character. They are forms of life; and every step in the process of organization is taken according to a law which originates various objects in these kingdoms correspond to special qualities of the Divine character.  They are forms of life; and every step in the process of organization is taken according to a law which originates in the Divine nature. Organization is the Divine method of creating forms that can receive the Divine love and wisdom, become conscious of their possession, recognize their qualities, and be made happy and blessed by them. This is the reason why so much is said about trees and animals in the Sacred Scriptures which are written according to the relation between natural and spiritual things. The Lord calls Himself a vine. All plants, from the tender grass to the oak,. cedar, and palm, are employed as symbols of the processes of spiritual growth. The Lord is also called a lion and a lamb, because the strength of the one and the innocence of the other are primary qualities of His nature. Nature is the created word of God. It is a revelation of His love and wisdom, of the laws of His order, purposes, and the means by which He attains them. The objects in nature are not arbitrary characters. They are correspondences, they are the actual effects of the ends and causes they represents They have not become, and never can become, obsolete. They are connected with the First Cause by a living bond; they are the creation of a power which acts with uniform and ceaseless energy. Consequently, they represent the qualities of the Divine nature, not only in their forms and qualities, but in their growth and in all their relations.

As man was made in the image of God, and all the elements of the Divine nature are finited in him, the material universe as a whole and all the objects which compose it, correspond to the faculties and forces of his own spiritual being. They are a mirror in which he can see himself faithfully and variously reflected. Nay, more, they are his affections and thoughts, embodied in material and objective forms. As a smile is the embodiment of a pleasant emotion, as the brightness which shines in the eye and illuminates the face when a new and beautiful thought is born in the intellect, so every plant and animal, and the light of the sun which reveals and glorifies the material world, is the embodiment of some affection, some thought or principle in the composition of the human mind. God reveals Himself to man in nature. He reveals man to Himself in nature. In this way the outward and visible world becomes the means of communion and conjunction between man and his Maker. It is a common ground on which they can stand, a common language, which expresses in the fullest and most specific manner the nature and purposes of both. If man, by the perversion of his faculties, has become blind to the real meaning of the living characters which environ him, if he has become deaf to the Divine harmonies and the many-toned voices in which the Lord speaks to him in the sounds of nature, it does not invalidate the fact that they are a Divine language, and, consequently, full of infinite and specific meanings.

This doctrine of evolution does not banish God from the universe, or, having once created it, make Him a remote spectator of a work completed ages ago. It brings Him near to it as a constant, active agent in vital connection with it. It is a manifestation of what He is doing to-day. It is the embodiment of the love and wisdom He is exercising now before our eyes. It is not a creation effected by accident in the wild conflict of unconscious forces which originate in no intelligent purpose and have no meaning. Every substance has a Divine origin; every force is adjusted to the specific work to be done; every motion follows in the paths of a Divine order towards its accomplishment. There is no conflict and waste of power of one element with another. What seems so is but the play and balance of forces which are directed by infinite skill to accomplish a special purpose. Every object is luminous with a Divine meaning. Creation is not a theatre formed by chance on which puppets appear and disappear without cause or meaning, and are whirled about in an endless maze which has no beginning, no orderly connection, and no end. It is a grand panorama in which its Divine author displays His love and wisdom in infinitely complex but orderly forms, giving to every part a freedom according to its nature and mission, and a power to cooperate in its own way with every other in the accomplishment of a heavenly purpose. It is not a chaos but a cosmos, over which broods a Divine power guided by a Divine intelligence to the accomplishment of the ends of infinite love.

This doctrine gives us an evolution that is not chaos but a cosmos, over which broods a Divine  spread out on the level of an indefinitely extended plane, where there is but one substance existing in various forms, which melt into one another by continuous and indistinguishable degrees. The universe is divided into distinct planes, each of which has its boundaries, containing substances peculiar to itself, which contain qualities and motions and capacities for a distinct degree of life, richer and fuller and finer than is possible to any form of matter. But these degrees are themselves bound into a perfect unity by correspondence. It is not a unity of similarity of substance with no distinction but more or less, grosser or finer. It is a distinction which gives infinite variety of form and quality, in which each discrete degree is a complement of the other, increasing its excellence and forming a more perfect whole. This doctrine gives us an infinite fountain from which all things are evolved, and which must therefore contain the promise and potency of substances, qualities, and forms, without any limit; which reveal a Divine personal Creator, distinct from His creation, and yet as intimately connected with every part of it as cause and effect. Who creates man and endows him with faculties capable of knowing and loving the Divine Author of his being, of seeing His love and wisdom in the means He has provided to supply his wants, develop and perfect his faculties, and crown him with joy.  

The Office of Environment in Evolution

 Lecture V

The Office of Environment in Evolution

 “Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid Thine hand upon me.” Psalm cxxxix. 5.

Heredity and environment play a most important part in all the theories of evolution. They are, indeed, regarded as the chief factors whose product is life. A creative power is attributed to them a power inhering in them and even if not self-originating, has its source in Nature which stands in many theories of the creation in place of God. The creation taken collectively is called Nature, and then the particular operations and objects in the world are called the works of Nature. According to this notion, creation is the author of the parts which cornpose it, and consequently must have existed prior to itself. It involves the same absurdity that it would to say that a tree created its roots, trunk, limbs, and leaves. In every scientific treatise, and in many theological works, we are constantly told about Nature’s works, Nature’s laws, as though Nature was an intelligent being. But Nature has no purpose or power of its own; Nature enacts no laws. It is merely a passive instrument in the hands of an intelligent power wielded to accomplish the purposes of infinite love. To attribute the works of Nature or the influences of Nature to itself, is as absurd as brush and colors and canvas on which they were laid, it would be to attribute the Dresden Madonna to the brush and colors or the Cologne cathedral to the stones of which it is constructed. We do speak in common language of what the pen and the chisel and the engine perform, but the language is always understood figuratively. We attribute to the instrument the skill and power that wields it. But when we mistake figure for fact, we fall into the most fatal errors.

That heredity and environment are most important instrumentalities in the creation and in the development of human beings needs no proof. The fact is evident to the most casual observer. But they are not causes in themselves; they are merely instruments in the hands of an intelligent power to secure a special end. The theory of evolution as it is commonly understood is that they are original, but not intelligent causes; that they are the drift of blind and purposeless forces, and that the products of these forces and substances are the creation of the wonderful organisms and conscious activities we find in the three kingdoms of Nature. But how do the scientists know that Nature has this power? They do not know it. It is an Assumption, and one that is constantly contradicted by man himself in all his operations. The assumption or hypothesis is not adequate to the effects claimed for it. If we must frame a hypothesis or make a demand, why not make one large enough to cover the whole ground and honor all the drafts we can make on it?

The philosophy of the New Church does this. It sets out from the hypothesis, if any one desires to regard it as an hypothesis rather than a matter of revelation, that the whole creation is evolved from an infinite Being, who is substance, love, wisdom, and power in Himself. This postulate covers the whole ground. It even embraces Revelation; it accounts for all the facts. All the facts which the scientists have accumulated with so much industry and sagacity confirm it. It accounts for heredity. Heredity is a necessary consequence of the I would prefer to call it axiom rather than hypothesis from which we set out. It accounts for the variety and similarity and difference of the various objects in the three kingdoms of Nature. It discriminates and unifies, but does not confound. It defines Nature, and assigns to it its true origin, qualities, and use.

Let us, in the first place, get as distinct an idea as possible of what we mean by environment. It means everything which surrounds us. Physically it means the material objects which we can see, the sounds which we can hear, the forces which constantly act upon us. It comprises the air we breathe,  the food we eat, the houses we dwell in, the occupations we pursue, and all external things that in any way touch us. Socially and civilly it means the society in which we move, the direct and indirect influence we receive from friends, acquaintances, and all the men and women with whom we associate and come in contact in the employments, the duties, and the pleasures of life. Our civil environment is the government, the general and special laws, customs, and institutions of our country, and of the community in which we live. Our intellectual environment consists of all the means within our reach of gaining knowledge and the development of our intellectual faculties. Our moral and spiritual environment is composed of all the moral and spiritual influences in the midst of which we live and move. In its largest sense our environment comprises everything without and around us which can in any way affect our physical, moral, intellectual, or religious nature. In modern science it is wholly limited, so far as I know, to the influences of those things and forces which lie around and without us. The subject for , our consideration is the office of environment in the evolution of man as an individual and a race. In more common phrase the subject is the influence of circumstances upon our physical, intellectual, and spiritual nature. It is a most important one from whatever point of view we regard it, and it will richly repay us for any amount of thought we may give to it.

The position of science, as I understand it, is that our environment has some inherent power in itself from which it acts and helps to fashion body and mind. It is not merely an instrument, but an independent agent which, co-operating with heredity, is the efficient cause of life and all the products of life. If there is any power behind Nature, it is an unknown power; it is the somewhat outside of Nature. It is not the action of an intelligent personal Being who has a distinct end to accomplish, and who is providing the means and using them to accomplish it. The effects of our environment are described effects are wonders, curiosities, which are produced by the wild play of unconscious elements. They with precision, but they have no meaning. The are like the colors of a kaleidoscope turned by an unconscious hand, without even the purpose of seeing the constant succession of beautiful colors, forms, and useful products. Evolution is the grand result. The largest and most important part of man’s environment is entirely ignored. All that gives definiteness, purpose, and significance to it is denied a hearing. It is a toss of dice, it is the play of wild forces acting and reacting upon each other that is directly the reverse of this. All the objects, the social, intellectual, and moral forces which compose man’s environment, are the provisions of infinite

The doctrine I am endeavoring to state and illustrate is directly the reverse of this.  All the objects, the social, intellectual, and moral forces which compose man’s environment, are the provisions of infinite love and wisdom for the development of human beings. They are the instrumental means which the Lord employs to effect the purposes of His love. They have a meaning, a distinct and definite purpose. The winds which seem to human ignorance so wild and lawless are running on His errands; the waves that ebb and flow with ceaseless and apparently idle motion are doing His work; the more interior and subtile forces which elude man’s senses and seem to be subject to no law are His servants, doing His bidding and promoting His ends. Every object in the three kingdoms of Nature is an instrument in His hand, created and guided with infinite skill and the most delicate power to create intelligent human beings who can receive and reciprocate His love in ever-increasing fullness and excellence for fortuitous events; there is nothing without a meaning and a purpose. The universe itself in its largest ever. There are no lawless forces; there are no and smallest forms, collectively and individually, is penetrated and environed with a beneficent and intelligent mind directing all things to the accomplishment of a specific purpose. The Lord says to everything in the universe, in language which can be understood, “Let us make man.” With this light to guide us, and with the consciousness and assurance that we are not walking in the midst of forces which have no supreme intelligence to direct them, let us notice some of the agencies in man’s environment and see how they operate in the evolution of his physical and spiritual faculties.

We have no difficulty in discovering that the outward world into which man is born, is adjusted with infinite precision to sustain and develop his physical organism. The most common things are the best examples of this adaptation, and of the agency of environment in effecting the Lord’s purpose concerning us. Take the atmosphere as an example. We live in an ocean of air as fishes in an ocean of water. It presses upon us on all sides; we breathe it every moment. It contains the substances we need to purify and vitalize the blood and give us natural sensation and consciousness. It is the universal symbol of life, because it is the material medium by which physical life is given to us. Notice its adjustment to our physical organism and to all our needs.. It would require but a slight change in its composition to destroy instead of sustaining life. The most potent cause of disease comes through the atmosphere. Consider its weight. It presses upon us with the power of many tons, but we do not feel it; we move freely in it. It is so elastic that we can pass easily, through it. It parts for us as we advance, and closes behind us, leaving no vacant space. A little more pressure would make it an intolerable burden; a little less, and the delicate organism of the body would be destroyed by distention. When men ascend high mountains breathing becomes difficult, the blood will often start from the ears and nostrils, and if they were carried high enough the body would be blown to pieces. These are common facts, which are generally known. How delicate must be the adjustment, how perfect the equilibrium to enable us to move freely in this great ocean, or to remain at rest in it!

But it not only sustains life directly as we inhale and exhale it. It is the proximate cause of sensation. It is to the material body what steam is to machinery : it sets it in motion. It is a well-known fact that there is no sensation in the material body until the atmosphere enters the lungs and sets the whole machinery of the body in action. When respiration is suspended, as in swooning and suffocation, consciousness is lost. There can be no sensation without motion. The office of the atmosphere, then, is not limited to supplying certain substances which are necessary to vitalizing the body. It is the universal motor adapted in the most exquisite manner to every form and state of the lungs, which communicate their general motion to every part of the body, and set every wheel in its infinitely complex organ-. ism revolving upon its axis, and give to every muscle and nerve the power to expand and contract and vibrate in the performance of its use, and in this way to fill every organ in the whole universe of the body with the power of sensation. It is one of the factors of physical life, though not the only one. Is it not a wonderful power, exhaustless in extent, always ready for use, and adapted to every possible form of lung, giving a just measure of supply to the microscopic insect and to beasts of mammoth size.

We are environed with atmospheres or ethers of  finer substances which are the media of light, magnetism, and attraction. I need not speak of the exquisite adaptations of light to the eyes, and the uses it performs in giving color to the various objects of nature, revealing their forms and photographing them upon the sensitive retina of the eye, where they become ideas and food for the sustenance and development of the natural mind and the materials of knowledge. I only need to mention how attraction is adapted to our strength. If it grasped us with stronger arms locomotion would be impossible; if its hold were relaxed, we should be thrown from the surface of the earth and sent flying through space to destruction. It is perfectly adjusted to the least and largest bodies, holds all things in connection and gives stability and permanence and motion to all. Surely we are girded about and penetrated and moved by omnipotent forces, which are yet so exquisitely adjusted to our organism and so perfectly balanced that we move in freedom in the midst of them. They give us power; they sustain our life; they run on our errands and are obedient to our will.

But we are not only environed by these invisible and formless forces, we are set in the midst of an infinite variety of objects which constitute the three kingdoms of the material universe. They, too, stand ready to offer us their service. They supply us with an abundance and variety of food. They are corn, posed of the same elements as our material bodies and can be woven into their organic forms. They gratify our taste, they satisfy our hunger, quench our thirst, and supply the constant wastes of life. They furnish us with materials to clothe our bodies, to build our houses. In one form or another they meet every material want. But this is not their only service. They minister to our pleasure and contribute to our human needs in manifold ways. They delight us with their beauty; they charm us with their variety; they awaken emotions of awe by their grandeur; they pique our curiosity and rouse us to action; they win our affections, and charm our fancy, and supply us with images which become. the bases of knowledge and the materials of intelligence. With such an endless variety of objects differing in form, color, nature, and use, each one of which offers us a special service, are we environed.

This universe of forms and forces which environ us, is itself environed within and without by spiritual forces guided by an infinite intelligence.  The kingdoms of Nature are forms of the Divine love; they are the implements which a Divine and personal intelligence provides and uses, moment by moment, for the creation of man and the development of those faculties which constitute a human being.

Nature is the garment with which the Lord clothes Himself; it is the veil which partly conceals and partly reveals His face. He stands behind it, imbues it with power, moulds its forms, guides its movements, directs and adjusts with infinite precision all its forces, to embody His own life, own love, wisdom, and power, in human beings who can bear His image and become the heirs of His power and blessedness. This conception gives meaning and an intelligent purpose to our environment. It insures the stability and perfectibility of the universe and of the human race. Everything becomes transparent, and we can see shining through all the objects in the three kingdoms of Nature, colored by its own light and modified by its own form, the image of our Heavenly Father, who is seeking to reveal Himself to us and bless us by all these instrumentalities.

But man is not created and set in a solid and unchangeable environment. Adjusted as all the objects and forces which compose it are with infinite precision, they are elastic and capable of constant change. Man inherits from the Lord the power to modify his own environment. He cannot create it; but he can change it and adapt it to his changing states. There is a reciprocal action constantly going on between man and his environment. The Lord touches him on all sides and in every conceivable form by his environment, rouses him to action, calls his faculties into play, enlarges and enriches his intellect with mental images, and awakens his affections to, conscious life. By these means the infant man soon outgrows his environment. He is not content to lie in the cradle or in the mother’s arms. He creeps, he walks, he sees a larger world than the nursery, and he longs to explore it. He begins to have ideas, tastes, and purposes of his own. He is not content with the food which Nature provides, and he prepares it to suit his taste and wants. He finds that his body needs protection from cold and storm, and he provides clothing for it. He seeks a cave for shelter, but in time discovers that he can build one better suited to his purpose, and we have the wigwam, the log-cabin, and finally the modern dwelling. He is not content to live on acorns and roots and the fruits which grow spontaneously around him. He finds that he has an agency in multiplying varieties and improving the qualities of grains and fruits, and the forests vanish away, the wild beasts disappear, and are replaced by vineyards, orchards, gardens, and fields waving with wheat and rich with golden corn. He changes his whole environment to adapt it to his new condition.

There is no better illustration of the power of man to change his environment than the place where we now are. It is but a few years since the site of our city and the region around us, from the lakes to the ocean, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, was an unbroken forest inhabited only by savage men and wild beasts. What has caused this miraculous change? Why have the forests and the wild beasts and the more savage men disappeared? Why are the bills covered with orchards? Why are the fields rich with herds and flocks, with corn and various products to gratify the taste and sustain the life of man? Why the paved streets, the stores filled with the products of all climes, the comfortable dwellings and elegant mansions, the factories resonant with the hum of revolving wheels, the market, the banks, the courts of justice, the school-houses and colleges, and the churches whose spires point to heaven and whose walls resound with praises to the living God? The answer is easy. A people of greater intelligence, of finer tastes, of wider culture, a people who had some knowledge of God and of their own natures as spiritual beings, settled here. The environment of the savage was not suited to them; it did not meet their physical, much less their intellectual, moral, and spiritual wants. It did not correspond to their tastes and ideas; it did not give sufficient scope to their energies, and they gradually have wrought the miraculous change in their environment which is familiar to us all.

But this transformation was not wrought at once, or even conceived in the beginning. The civilized people who first planted their feet on the banks of the Delaware had no conception of a multitude of things which now environ us; which enter into our daily lives, and have become common necessities. The people have changed with their environment, and the environment with the people. Action and reaction have been in constant play, each modified and modifying the other. This is a most important law of human progress, and demonstrates that man possesses faculties entirely distinct from and superior law of human progress, and demonstrates that man to the plant and animal. The animal can hear sounds even more accurately than men; he hungers and thirsts, and the objects in his environment form the same images upon his eye. But he cannot make the same use of them. They do not enlarge and change his nature, and, consequently, he is content with his environment.

But it is not so with man. By the ideas he gains from Nature his intellectual faculties are called into play, and acquire strength and enlargement. By working for others-and by association with them his affections are awakened. He is drawn into closer union with them. He discovers that they have a common nature and common wants, and can render environment is created entirely distinct from the one another a larger and higher service; and a new material one. He lives in the same place, he breathes the same atmosphere, the same sun shines upon him. But he has risen into a new world. He becomes a factor in social life; he is quickened into action by new affections; he is touched by ideas instead of things; he sees principles as well as rocks and trees. He is environed by institutions which he has formed, and which constantly react upon him and raise him to a higher level of thought and life. He breathes an atmosphere of art, of music, of intellectual and moral culture. His horizon not only enlarges and the objects become more numerous and varied, but he is brought into more intimate and vital relations with them. By the aid of the printing-press he can sit in his home and commune with the wisest men of the past and the present age. By other means and by mutual service all men come to his door and offer him their gifts.

There is another remarkable process constantly going on in our environment. It is being transferred from without to within us. The objects of the outward world become ideas in the inward world. The memory becomes our environment. Such is its amazing capacity that every object we have seen with its colors, form, relations to other objects, its size and qualities, and all the associations and circumstances connected with them, are gathered into the memory, and form the environment of thought and feeling. They gird us round and bound our existence, and constitute the field of all our activities. This horizon can be indefinitely extended and filled with new ideas; but we can never pass beyond it. There is no limit to the combinations which can be made of the images. that have been photographed upon its delicate surface. But only those can enter into the combinations which exist in the mind. We think little of it, and yet it is a fact that we are daily and hourly forming the environment in which we must live forever. Every truth or error we learn, every deed we do, every object we look upon, every person we meet, enters into that environment and becomes a part of it which can never be eliminated. The material ideas may fade, but they enter into new combinations and. become the elements of a life.

Are we, then, the creatures of circumstance? Are we passive instruments to be played upon by all forces? Empty vessels to be filled with whatever happens to be poured into them? By no means.

The Lord has placed man in an environment designed with infinite wisdom to call all his faculties into orderly play. The essential principle of a human being is love, and love, as I have said in former lectures, is a vital substance, the embodiment of power. It is of its nature to act; to give itself to others, and to draw all others into union with itself. It gains power and delight by action. Man is, therefore, born into the world in perfect helplessness, naked and destitute, with only the possibilities of becoming a man, that his physical, natural, and spiritual faculties may be evolved by his own effort; and to this end that every possible motive and means of physical, intellectual, and spiritual action should be supplied .

Man is endowed with faculties which enable him to co-operate with the Lord in supplying his wants and in forming his spiritual environment. The Lord creates the material types in their general forms without man’s agency. He supplies the materials for food, clothing, and habitation, and equips man with all the means necessary to sustain his existence; endows him with faculties capable of endless enlargement and perfection, and shares with him the work and the delight of adapting himself to his material environment, and of shaping that environment to himself as his wants multiply.

The problems of human life can never be solved while we leave out their most important factor, and that is, that man is a spiritual being. In the creation of man the ford’s purpose was an immortal and an intelligent personal being who could partake of His nature and share His love and wisdom; and not a more excellent animal. Consequently everything in man’s environment is adapted to secure that end. His voluntary co-operation is necessary to the attainment of it, and consequently there is something left for him to do. His affections and intellectual faculties are to he developed by exercise, and every conceivable inducement is placed before him to think, to know, and to love. He is impelled by necessity; he is aroused by curiosity; he is won by beauty; he is attracted by novelty; and sustained in the most laborious exercise of all his intellectual faculties by the delight of seeing the order and complicated harmonies which open to his advancing footsteps. He has difficulties to overcome that he may gain strength by overcoming them; his wants multiply that he may be them; the most precious things are hidden that his intellectual sight may be sharpened and his rational faculties strengthened in finding them. There is always an element of uncertainty and incompleteness in the attainment of every apparent good that he may have constant occasion to use his judgment; his natural appetites and desires are strong and clamorous for gratification that his spiritual faculties may gain power by controlling them; he is placed in the midst of many attractions and repulsions and conflicting interests that he may freely choose the right; he is led to feel his own weakness, and brought into despair that he may distrust his own wisdom and seek strength and light from their fountain in the Lord. Thus everything in man’s environment from the least to the greatest, through all his changing states, is ordered by infinite wisdom to repress and keep in subordination his animal nature, develop his spiritual and distinctly human faculties; to create the purest, the largest, the most lovely spiritual environment, and, at the same time, preserve untouched his spiritual freedom, and make him a man, and not a machine or an animal.

In the evolution of human life in its physical, social, intellectual, and spiritual qualities, whether they relate to man as an individual or a race, we bring into the account a third factor of vastly more importance and active power than heredity or environment, a factor which the evolutionists for the most part practically ignore – that factor is God, the Supreme Intelligence, the omnipotent and constantly operating power. Grant that, and we gladly admit the methods and natural agencies which the scientists describe with much accuracy and power. But they are His agencies and His methods of accomplishing the ends of His love according to the forms of His wisdom.

This as it seems to us is a most important point. It bridges the gulf between science and religion. It gives to science everything that it claims for itself as science. It does more; it illuminates it with a light higher than its own. It puts a soul into the lifeless mechanism of the universe. The scientist describes the changes which take place in the form, color, and character of animals by domestication. That .is the Creator’s method of adjusting them to human use, and an instance of His constant care to provide, in the least as well as in the largest things, the means of human happiness. We are told how the exercise of every physical organ increases its power. This is a well-known and most significant fact. But whence comes the increase of power? Does it originate in the muscle or mental organism? Certainly not. It comes from a source outside of them. A large muscle is stronger than a small one, ‘because it can receive the influx of more power, on the same principle that a large vessel will hold more than a small one. The use of the power we possess is the Divine method of increasing it. It is an instance of the essential nature of perfect love which desires “to give its own to become another’s own.” The Lord seeks to give to every living thing the power to co-operate with Him in its own development. He bestows upon animals and men a semblance of creative power, leads them by their delights to exercise it, and rewards them by its increase.

This truth gives purpose and meaning to the creation. It is not a mechanical universe given up to the control of unconscious laws, the embodiment of awful forces which have no purpose, but act and react upon each other, and which at any moment may come in conflict and reduce everything to chaos. It is not a desolate and dead universe. It is the product of a personal Intelligence. It is warm with a Divine love; it is bright with a Divine wisdom; it is moved by a Divine hand; it is animated with a Divine life. In whatever direction we turn we can see in every movement God working; we can hear His voice in every sound; we can see His face, veiled and its glory obscured to adapt it to our feeble vision, in every object that is useful to man. We can look up to Him, and with reverent joy say, in the words of the Psalmist, “Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid Thine hand upon me.” It is a Father’s hand, omnipotent in power, guided by infinite wisdom, but tenderer than a woman’s, and it is laid upon our heads in loving benediction.  

Heredity

 Lecture IV

Heredity

He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.” Rev. xxi. 7

The fact that man was created to be the Lord’s heir and to inherit His love and wisdom, His power and riches and glory, is clearly declared in the Sacred Scriptures. But not only is the Divine intention clearly revealed, the means by which man is to enter into his possession, or forfeit all possibility of gaining it, are repeatedly stated. The title to our Divine and heavenly inheritance is not merely a legal one depending on arbitrary will it grows out of the inherent and essential relations between the Lord and His children. Man’s inheritance falls to him by an immutable law which has its origin in the Divine nature, and is enacted in every organic form in the creation. That law is called in modern science the law of Heredity. The principle of the law is : like always tends to produce like. It needs no argument to certify it. We see the evidences of it everywhere around us, and we constantly act on our implicit confidence in it. The seed produces a plant similar to the one that bore it. What a man sows he reaps. Every animal begets its own kind. The offspring of plants, animals, and men inherit the qualities of their parents.

Mr. Herbert Spencer has used this law with great effect in establishing the modern theory of creation by heredity and environment in opposition to that of special creation. According to this theory, all. improvement in plants, animals, and in the human race, has been evolved from protoplasm, or the first living substance, and the lowest forms of life. Whatever any individual in this vast chain of being had gained by the influences of its environment, its own action and relations to other forces and beings, was incorporated into its nature and transmitted to its offspring. By this process through many ages there has been a gradual improvement in the forms and qualities of matter. Dead matter has become organized and gained sensation, -consciousness, and the power of locomotion. The senses have been formed, instinct has been acquired, and finally all the intellectual and moral faculties and qualities of men and women have been gained.

There is much truth in this theory. It is true that everything was created out of protoplasm, or a first substance. But we must go back much farther into the past eternity than the common nettle, or the elements of matter, for the substance which contains within itself the promise and potency of every form of life. I believe as heartily as Mr. Spencer that there is such a substance, such a protoplasm. I believe there is a first substance which embodies infinite power, which contains within it life itself, love itself, form itself, all possibilities of intelligence and all modes of motion, sensation, affection, and delight. That substance is the First Cause; it is the Creator; it is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the ending, the First and the Last. From this substance all substances are derived; from this infinite fountain all things proceed; from this source all forms and qualities of created being inherit every faculty and power which they possess.

I ask your attention to some instances of -this law of Heredity from this point of view. I think we shall find it to be much wider in scope and more specific in application than Mr. Spencer or any of the evolutionists suppose, and that in no case do we claim an effect without a sufficient cause. It may be regarded as an assumption, if any one pleases so to consider it. Every evolutionist begins with an assumption. I think it will be found to account for all the facts. I do not, however, regard it as a theory, or a hypothesis; but as a distinct and emphatic declaration of Him who is the Fountain of life and the First Cause of all existence. The doctrine is this : Every substance, form, quality, motion, and sensation is derived from. the Lord, and, in its measure and degree, inherits from Him all that can be predicated of it.

In the process of creation the first step necessarily consists in providing the materials of which it is to be made. God is substance itself in its purest and perfect form. He could not, therefore, create the material universe directly from that substance in its intense and inconceivable activities. It must become modified; it must part with much of its power and life. The necessity for this change is perfectly exemplified by one grand step in the creation which is apparent to our senses. The earth is composed of substances which existed in intense activity in the sun. But it is not taken directly as a solid body from the bosom of the sun. The sun’s heat and light, which are its substances in intense action, lose their power as they recede from it. They become less active, more concrete, and finally they rest in solid forms, in rock and earth, which can become the basis on which a new and higher creation, as that of plants and animals, can rest.

Now, it is evident that a tree or an animal could not be created directly from the substances of the sun. Their intense activity would not admit of it. If they could be created in any other way, and conveyed to the sun, they would be instantly consumed in his intense heat. The creation of organized forms requires rest as well as motion; it requires a substance devoid of life, as well as the plastic forces of life. The first step in the creation of conscious and intelligent beings, therefore, was necessarily the pro. vision of substances sufficiently at rest to remain passive under the action of the creative forces, and permanently retain the forms given to them. A cup cannot be made out of water, an engine cannot be formed out of steam or gas. Matter must become solid, tenacious; its particles must be firmly knit together before it can be moulded into instruments of permanent use to men according to the purposes of their affections and the forms of their ideas. The Lord was under the necessity, therefore, of creating substances and solidifying them, by depriving them of motion which is a form of life, before He could create a man. His action and ours does not differ in principle. When we desire to make anything we must select our materials. But there were none for the Lord to select. He must create them. That He created those which would be exactly adapted to the purposes of His Divine love and wisdom it is impossible to doubt.

We have seen that the Lord created the material universe out of substances derived from Himself; that these substances continued to part with life as they receded from Him, until they became inert and capable of being organized into plants and animals and human beings who could receive life in conscious forms in ever-increasing fullness and excellence. Now let us consider the bearing of this origin of substance upon the doctrine of Heredity. As all substances are derived from life they are capable of being moulded into the forms of life. It is native to them. They are of a homogeneous nature; they yield to the forces of life, and can be employed as the means of embodying and expressing the qualities of love. Look at this fact a moment in familiar things. Take a field of wheat or corn, an orchard of peaches, pears, or apples. The substances in the ground, and those which come from the sun in the forms of heat and light, are of such a nature that they can be evolved into these beautiful and useful forms. The forces from the sun and the matter upon which they act are perfectly adjusted to each other, and they can co-operate with each other to effect this beneficent end. The end is a Divine one. It is a specific provision of the Divine love for the wants of man. It is a provision of the Lord to minister to the wants and delights of His children. All material substances derive or inherit from Him qualities which He can organize into plants, animals, and men. These qualities are of indefinite variety, and every one is of some use. The hardness and immobility of the rock is just as essential to His purpose as the finest vegetable and animal substances. They inherit these qualities from the Lord. They embody and express the principles of His nature. For this reason He is called a rock, a vine, a tree of life, a lion and a lamb. He is the substance and basis of the universe, and of all the dead and living forms of which the universe is composed. But He gives to the rock, the grass, the tree, to every insect, worm, and animal the power to become the basis and support of something else. Here is an’ important respect in which the lowest forms of the creation perform the use of the Lord Himself.

Again, God is infinite. Does the creation which is finite inherit this quality in any degree from Him? Let us see. What is the infinite? It is simply that which has no limit. It does not mean limitless in size or extent or duration. The infinite may be comprised in the smallest space. By the infinite is meant that which has no limit to the power it can exert, the forms and qualities which it can assume. Now look at the material creation and see if you cannot find a hint at least of the infinite in it. Is it possible to assign any limit to the number or varieties of vegetable or animal life? Can we say that only a certain number of human beings can be created, and when that number is reached, the Lord must cease to create? There are no two things exactly alike in all respects in the universe. The Lord never repeats Himself; He never duplicates anything. Neither can man. Take the human face as an example. It is small in extent, and there are but few distinct features in it. But how widely they differ in form and expression! Will the limit of variety ever be reached? That is impossible in the nature of things, because new influences are constantly operating upon men, which must change the qualities of character and consequently the form of the face. Here, then, we see the nature of the in. finite in one direction, and can understand it as well as we can anything else.

People often mystify themselves upon this subject. They think the infinite is incomprehensible because they cannot see its boundaries. But how can they see its limits when it has none? Scientists declare that a knowledge of God is impossible, because, if there be a God, He must be infinite. But that is absurd. If we cannot know anything about a stone, or a sheep, or a woman because we cannot know everything about them, we might in truth de-. dare ourselves to be agnostics in every respect, and take our place with stones and dust. But we can know something about every object or principle, and there are no limits to the truths to be learned even about a stone. We find, therefore, in the least and lowest, as well as in the greatest and highest, a hint and a tendency to the infinite, and it is inherited from Him who contains the infinite within Himself, and has impressed it upon all the works of His hands.

As another instance in which even the material universe inherits from God, let us take power. God is power in itself. Everything in the creation is the subject of His power and inherits some measure of it from Him. The wind and the wave have power. The earth has power to draw all bodies to herself. Suns and planets stretch out their mighty arms and hold each other in their embrace. The plant has a wonderful power to select from the ground the specific substances necessary to build up its organs and reproduce itself in seeds. The infinitesimal forms of life have power to act in the circuit of their nature. So has every animal. Man has powers not accorded to the lower orders of creation. He has mental and spiritual power capable of unlimited extension. The universe is penetrated and imbued with it, and men and animals can use it as their own. But it is not their own in the sense of being inherent and underived. It is a constant inheritance; it comes in a constant stream from the Almighty.

God is infinite; but it is of His nature to finite and make everything distinct in form and quality from every other thing. “In Him,” says Swedenborg, “infinite things are distinctly one.” The Lord gives to every substance, every plant and animal, a form of its own. He gives it the power to be itself and not another. He individualizes. The perfection of every plant and animal and of every human being consists in its becoming more fully and distinctly itself. Grass is not evolved into wheat and forest– trees. Its perfection consists in preserving its own form and improving its qualities. The perfection of a grape does not consist in becoming a peach, but a better grape. Its evolution does not consist in becoming something ‘else, but in the perfection of its own qualities. The same law holds with regard to the kingdoms of nature. A plant is not improved by becoming an animal, or an animal by being evolved into a man, if that were possible. The perfection of the vegetable kingdom consists in its being vegetable. The perfection of an animal is attained by the development of those qualities which constitute the animal nature and limit it to the circle of animal life. Man has an animal nature, but his perfection does not consist in the evolution of that nature into something else. On the contrary, those qualities which constitute his human nature can only be gained by means of his physical nature, and by keeping it in subordination to his spiritual nature. By evolution or development man cannot become Divine. He cannot be evolved into a god. In every step of his progress the lines between him and his Creator become more sharply and distinctly drawn. He sees more clearly that he is only a form capable of receiving life from the Lord, and that his perfectibility consists in the development of his spiritual organism to become a larger recipient of a more
excellent form of life.

This tendency which we see in everything in the creation to become its own form and more distinctly itself, has a most important bearing upon the common doctrine of evolution. According to that theory, everything must be on its way to become something else than itself. Dead matter must be looking up to become living matter. The plant must be working to become an animal, and animals must be struggling to become men. If this is a fact, we ought to see some evidence of this movement. We ought to see some change going on by which lower things are rising to higher forms and uses. As a plant is perfected it ought to be more like an animal. As the breed of sheep, or cows, or horses is improved, they ought, by the theory, to be becoming more like human beings. But this is not so. By development a sheep bears finer wool or becomes better mutton; a cow gives more milk of a richer quality; a horse becomes swifter of foot and stronger of muscle, and more beautified as a horse.

Here we see the limits as well as the action of the law of heredity. It is given to every plant and animal to produce its own kind. But it cannot produce anything else. If any species of plant or animal gains any increase in excellence of organizes Con or form, it communicates it to its offspring; but the result is a better plant or animal of its own kind, and not of another species. But so far as I am able to learn, neither plants nor animals do tend to improvement of themselves. How are tulips, chrysanthemums, roses, peaches, strawberries, grapes, and fruits of all kinds improved? Is it by the action alone of any inherent power in themselves? Is it by the power of any “natural selection” of their own providing? How is the breed of animals improved? Is it by any thought or provision of their own? On the contrary, is it not by the supervision of man, who is endowed with the power of seeing the relation of means to ends, and is able to provide means suitable to secure these ends? Does instinct ever provide means for the improvement of its species? It requires but little observation and knowledge of natural history to see that evolution is effected by intelligence; by the operation of mind upon matter; by spiritual, not by natural selection. Matter does not effect it. Intelligence causes it by means of matter. Matter is the clay, and mind or spirit is the potter.

There is a power manifested here which both matter and spirit inherit from the Supreme Intelligence that is worthy of notice. There is no limit to the possibilities of development of a spiritual form. Every vegetable and every animal has a soul which is spiritual in its origin. There is a constant effort in these souls, from the Lord, to perfect themselves, and wherever the conditions are favorable, they do it. When a plant or an animal is supplied With better and more abundant food, or is placed in a climate more favorable to its growth, there is a fuller and finer development of its form; and whatever is gained tends to perpetuate itself. But in all cases it is the evolution of its own form, and not a change of that form into something else. The perfection of the universe consists in the number, beauty, and excellence of the variety of objects which compose it, and not in the predominance of one form or one quality, however excellent it may be in itself.

We have so far considered the universality of the law of heredity in the lower forms of the creation, and we find some of the Divine attributes faintly shadowed forth in all things. Even the rock and the ground have inherited some qualities which exist in their infinite perfections in the Lord. They have not inherited life, but their substances are of such a nature that life can use them to organize forms in which it can dwell, and by means of which it can manifest some of its more excellent qualities. Life can extract from dead matter substances and imbue them with qualities which will sustain higher and more precious fors of life. Plants contain the same elements as minerals, and yet animals cannot live on minerals. Life gives to dead elements some quality, imbues them with its own substance, or by some alchemy unknown to man fits them to become the basis and instruments of a higher degree of life. They can be endowed with sensation, gifted with consciousness, and become the instruments of thought and affection. We are now prepared to consider the principle of heredity in man.

God is love. Man inherits the power of loving, or that quality of his mind which we call love or affection from Him. This faculty was not evolved from the animal; it does not come froth below him it comes from above him. Love in its essential nature is life; and it is a higher form of life and possesses finer qualities than can be bestowed upon matter. It is of the same nature as the Divine life. It is power, and it is in the constant effort to communicate itself and to set .all things in concordant motion. It is attractive : it tends to draw all beings into conjunction and communion with itself. It contains, as a quality of its substance, the capacity of communicating the most exquisite sensations of delight, joy, happiness. It is in its nature creative: it tends to draw all substances and forces into its service, and organize them into faculties which it can employ to communicate itself to others. We all know how an intense love moves us to speech; to look around us to find means for its transmission to others. This faculty does not come to us from the ground. It is not evolved from matter, from plant or animal. It is an inheritance from the Lord.

God is intelligence, and His intelligence is the form of His love and the means of communicating it. Man inherits this quality of the Divine nature from the Lord. It has the same relation to human love that omniscience has to the Divine love. It is of the same nature as the Divine love, as the fine globule of mist is of the same nature as the ocean. It is feeble, but it inherits the capacity of indefinite increase in power and excellence. Love and intelligence constitute the Divine wisdom. They also constitute human wisdom. Love alone is not wisdom; truth alone is not wisdom. It is their union which constitutes wisdom. Therefore love seeks knowledge, woos it, and constantly strives to become married to it. These two faculties are the image and the likeness of God in man; and in the degree that man becomes them he is a child of God, and inherits the nature of his Divine. Parent, and becomes the heir of all the riches and power and glory and blessedness he is capable of receiving. He does not inherit these supreme human qualities from his animal nature. They are not a quality of that nature. The natural mind was made to be the servant of these pure human faculties, and to find its happiness and perfection in serving them.

I ask your attention to only one more quality of life which man inherits from the Lord. He, as I have stated, is life in Himself. It comes from no source without Him. He is substance, power, consciousness, intelligence, love. It is, therefore, of their nature to carry with them the power of giving to every human being the feeling that they are his own; that they originate within him, and belong to him. So complete is this impression that we have no conscious knowledge that our life is derived from any source outside of ourselves. We are as unconscious of it from any sensation as the machine is that its power of motion -is constantly derived from steam. We seem to ourselves, therefore, to be independent beings, though every particle of life is constantly derived from the Lord. We gain our moral and spiritual freedom from this quality of life to give itself wholly away to those who receive it, though we are dependent upon it for every faculty we possess. We gain our personality from this quality of life. We are not emerged into other beings. We are not an unconscious part of God though we live and move and have our being in Him. We are personalities distinct from God, and from every other form of being. Such being the nature of life, the more largely we become the recipients of it, and the more perfect the qualities of the life we receive, the more distinctly will be our personality. In this way we inherit from the nature of God the grandest of all our faculties, the power of becoming, in ever-increasing fullness and distinctness, personal beings.

I have endeavored to show that the law of heredity is universal in every plane of the creation; that it originates in the Divine nature, and plays a most important part in all the Lord’s operations. Let us, in conclusion, briefly notice some of the more important uses of heredity in giving unity in variety in the creation of intelligent beings.

According to heredity every living organism tends to beget its kind and thus to preserve its special form of life, with such variations as are effected by changed conditions. In this way the Lord secures the perpetuity of distinct general forms with perpetual variety. Plants and animals may improve or deteriorate, but the general type remains the same, and there is such a relation between them that we are constantly impressed with the feeling that all things are governed according to universal laws, and by an intelligence which sees the end in the beginning, and directs all the means which are employed to effect it.

Heredity gives a sufficient degree of certainty to human employments. The husbandman knows that he will reap what he sows. If he plants corn he has an undoubting confidence that he will harvest corn. If he plants a vine he will gather grapes of the variety he planted. If he engages in sheep husbandry he is perfectly sure that the product of his flock will be sheep. This is the universal rule. But suppose it were not. Suppose there was no certainty about the product of any seed. Would it not destroy all confidence in nature and all motives to industry? Would it not paralyze the arm of labor? What motive would the farmer have to sow his field with wheat if oaks or some poisonous plant might spring from it? Suppose the product of the farmer’s flocks to be wolves; of his herd, lions; of his fowls, serpents. Would not this uncertainty destroy every human industry and make the provision of human wants impossible?

According to the same principle heredity is the basis of the family and of domestic life; The child inherits the natural qualities of the parents. There is, therefore, some similarity of nature between parent and child which is the ground of parental and filial affection. Parent and child are bound together by. innumerable ties which grow out of a common nature. They can give and receive affection; they can know and understand the same truths; there can be communion and mutual service between them. But suppose parents and children to possess different forms and entirely opposite natures. There could be no community of thought and feeling. They could render no mutual service. Suppose their natures to be repugnant to each other. They would be driven asunder, and the final results would be the termination of the human race. The same principle makes social and civil life possible.

Heredity secures the solidarity of the human race. It prevents it from degenerating into a merely animal condition, and it secures the means of combining individuals into a race. Every human being is something more than himself. He is a part of a larger being. There is a life common to a nation and to the race which differs from that of the individual, as the whole human body differs from any organ or part of an organ which composes it. This life is richer,’ fuller, more various, and is shared by all. There is no isolation in the universe. The individual, however free and independent he may seem to be, is but a filament in the thread of influence. We are all woven together in one web, and this web has an inner and invisible surface forming an organic part of the whole, composed of those who have thrown aside their material garments and have passed from our consciousness, but not from their power to influence us.

But this law, so grand and beneficent in its scope, and so essential to our progress in life, and even to the continuity of the human race, operates in a most fatal way when man becomes the organized form of evil. Then his posterity become the heirs of his sins. Every taint of evil leaves its stain, every perversion of heavenly order is transmitted, until posterity becomes the embodiment of the evil tendencies of former generations. This was the way man fell from his primitive perfection. The change was hardly perceptible at first. It was merely a tendency to turn from the path of heavenly order; a shadow too faint for recognition by any but an omniscient eye. But it grew darker from generation to generation. The tendency became a reality. So the terrible transformation went on until the glory and the beauty and the perfection of the Divine image which man inherited from God, was effaced, and the natural plane of man’s nature which he inherits from his ancestors became wholly perverted. I say the natural plane of his organization, for that only transmitted from parent to child. The higher degrees of his nature he inherits from the Lord. They never have been and never can be touched by a disturbing influence. The perversion and corruption of the natural mind only prevents their development.

Heredity is a universal law in the creation. It inheres in the nature of life and of all creative power. It is the method of infinite Wisdom, by which all things and all creatures bear some marks of their Divine origin, and the universe of being, however diversified in form and various in quality, is held in orderly connection, and becomes a unit. It necessitates the evolution of force and form and quality, according to immutable law. This law must be in the strictest and highest sense scientific, and when correctly understood, it will unlock many secrets and solve many problems which have resisted the power of the scientist and the theologian, and which cannot be solved from a natural point of view. All the facts which the scientist has accumulated with so much industry and patient observation testify to the existence of this law of heredity, and when rightly understood, confirm it. The principle accounts for all the facts; it embraces all spiritual and natural forces, and advances from step to step and link to link in the chain of being from the first to the last. It begins and ends in Him Who is in all and over all; from Whom all life and power issues, and to Whom it returns; Who is the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Almighty.

The Descent of Man

Lecture III

The Descent of Man

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.

So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them.” Genesis 1:  26, 27

And the Lord God formed man of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Genesis 2; 7

There are two entirely distinct and opposite doctrines concerning the origin of man. The doctrine of materialism declares that man originated in the material world, and is essentially a material being; that he was evolved from material substances by slow and gradual steps from inorganic to organic forms, from inertia to power, from unconscious growth as exhibited in the plant, to sensation and conscious action as in animals. Instinct was developed into the intellectual and moral qualities of a human being. These steps have beets traced with immense industry and learning. It has been clearly and truthfully shown that every step in this progress has been attended by perfection of organism, and increase in the size and quality of the brain. It is a fact well authenticated by history that the intellectual and moral progress of the human race has been slow, but is now increasing with constantly accelerating rapidity, and the natural causes that have retarded or advanced it are described with much power and with many appearances of truth. The fatal defect in this theory is the assumption of the existence and constant operation of a power above and distinct from matter while, at the same time, it is regarded as a property of it, and of attributing causes to effects. It affirms and denies in the same breath. It points out the conditions of life and the means by which it is manifested, and then attributes life to them. It affirms that life is a product of organization. The materialist begins at the bottom and evolves motion from inaction, power from inertia, organization from matter in mass, the greater from the less, life from death.

The other theory begins at the infinite fountain of life and power and substance, and teaches that all things and all created beings descend, or are evolved from that. It assumes that matter is the product of life, and is then used by it to manifest its own qualities. It teaches that all substance and all power and life exist in the First Cause who is God, and are evolved from Him. There is a descent from firsts to lasts where substance rests, becomes inert and passive; forms a basis for finer substances to rest upon, and a storehouse of materials which the Lord can employ to embody and manifest the perfections of life in permanent and conscious forms. Life gives motion to matter, life organizes, life causes sensation, consciousness, and all intellectual and moral power. Life creates the brain and uses it as its most perfect instrument and means of manifesting its nature and power. The size and quality of the instrument would necessarily determine the measure and quality of life manifested by it. This doctrine is adequate to its effects. If we regard it as a supposition, it is a much better working hypothesis than materialism, because it accounts for all the facts, and is in accordance with all the processes of nature, so far as we have any knowledge of them. It has also the Lord on its side, as He has revealed Himself and His methods of creating and sustaining the universe of matter and intelligent being.

This doctrine is stated with mathematical precision in the philosophical and theological writings of Swedenborg, and applied to every department of spiritual and natural life in a logical chain of causes and effects which has no missing link in it. No scientist has ever been more loyal to his theory, or has examined facts more patiently or acutely, and with more judicial impartiality, than he has. No one has taken in so wide a range of creation. The scientist limits his observation to one section of it, and to the superficial part of that; while Swedenborg takes in the whole circle of life, from its inmost principles to its most external manifestations. He brings religion itself and the mysteries of spiritual life into clear and logical connection and harmony with science. No profounder, more philosophical, rigidly scientific and logical works have been written than his “Divine Love and Wisdom” and “Divine Providence.” In these works he has clearly set forth the essential principles and laws of life in the clearest and most forcible manner, and always with perfect loyalty to the Sacred Scriptures and to the Lord. He takes his position in them, and brings Divine authority and the light of Divine truth with him in every step he takes, and examines every natural force and law by them. In the exposition of the laws and principles which I am able to give in these lectures I am wholly indebted to him, and I am constantly oppressed with the consciousness that I can only give hints and imperfect samples of the power, clearness, logical coherence, and firm grasp of principles with which he sets them forth. It is in the light of these principles derived from the Word of the Lord and sanctioned by all His works, that I propose to consider “The Descent of Man,” which is the subject before us this evening. You will all agree with me that it is a most important one. The questions, “Whence came I” “What am I?” ” Whither am I going?” must interest every thoughtful mind. The possibility of gaining any clear light upon subjects which touch. the deepest springs of our being is worthy of our most serious attention.

The answer which the Lord Himself gives to the first question, Whence came I? is distinct and emphatic. Man has his origin in God, and descends from Him according to the universal laws of generation. This is a startling assertion. Man descended from God! This is His repeated and solemn affirmation. This is His announcement in the beginning of His Word: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He  them:” In these words the Lord has revealed in the most clear, positive, and explicit manner the fact that man has his origin in Him, and is evolved from Him. This declaration is of itself sufficient to settle the question of fact beyond doubt. But it is repeated directly and indirectly, all along down the whole history of the human race, as it is recorded by the Lord Himself in the Sacred Scriptures. He calls  men His children. He regards them as His children. He declares that He is their Father, and He treats them as His children. He watches over them, protects them, instructs them; feeds, clothes, guides,  retrains, corrects, and in every possible way does all  He can for their happiness. The material universe  was created for man. It was created and it is sustained to be the basis on which’ those spiritual faculties, which constitute the essentially human principles of his nature, could rest; to be the cradle of his infancy and the means by which his human faculties could be developed. The sun and moon and stars were created to give-him light. There is not a grain of sand, a particle of earth, a rock or plant, a fish or worm, a bird or animal, that was not created for man, and is not rendering him directly or indirectly some service. Every term which means the descent of one being  from another is employed to express our relations to  the Lord. We are taught to address Him as our Father. Men are called His offspring. They are said to be born of God, sons of God, the children of  God. These terms, which are often employed to express our relations to our Heavenly Father, are not  figures of speech. They are clear and positive statements of fact. The Lord is our Father in a fuller, a more intimate and specific sense than our earthly father. Our being originates in God. The earthly  parent has no life in himself, and consequently he cannot communicate any. He is merely an instrument in carrying into effect the Divine purpose. But there is other testimony that man has his descent from God, which appeals to human reason and confirms what is revealed. When God declares that He created man in His own image, He affirms the grand truth that man inherits His nature; that the Divine attributes are finited in man. To see this to be the basis on which those spiritual faculties, which constitute the essentially human principles of his nature, could rest; to be the cradle of his infancy and the means by which his human faculties could be developed. The sun and moon and stars were created to give him light. There is not a grain of sand, a particle of earth, a rock or plant, a fish or worm, a bird or animal, that was not created for man, and is not rendering him directly or indirectly some service.

Every term which means the descent of one being from another is employed to express our relations to the Lord. We are taught to address Him as our Father. Men are called His offspring. They are said to be born of God, sons of God, the children of God. These terms, which are often employed to express our relations to our Heavenly Father, are not figures of speech. They are clear and positive statements of fact. The Lord is our Father in a fuller, a more intimate and specific sense than our earthly father. Our being originates in God. The earthly parent has no life in himself, and consequently he cannot communicate any. He is merely an instrument in carrying into effect the Divine purpose.

But there is other testimony that man has his descent from God, which appeals to human reason and confirms what is revealed. When God declares that ,He created man in His own image, He affirms the grand truth that man inherits His nature; that the Divine attributes are finited in man. To see this important truth clearly, we must have a true conception of the Divine method of creating. There is no difficulty of discovering what that method is, because we can see it in operation all around us. We see in every plant and animal, and in every material object. God creates by forces which flow in and are constantly operating. As I stated in my last lecture, the Divine life contains within itself substance and a plastic power which tends by constant effort to beget everything in its own likeness, and to give to it its own nature. As it is the nature of light to illuminate, of heat to warm and set everything in motion, so it is of the nature of life to communicate life. So far as we have any knowledge creation is not effected by a spoken word, or by an arbitrary and omnipotent fiat. Speech is nothing in itself but sound. Everywhere, in the least as well as in the largest things, we see force acting by means. It does not act mechanically. It operates by influence from within. We see, also, that like always tends to beget like; to give itself, its form and qualities, to others. But as this law of heredity will be the special subject of the next lecture, it is not necessary to dwell upon it now. But whatever may be our theory of creation, if man was created in the image of God he must necessarily partake of His nature. If he does not there is no meaning in the words image, father, son, child.

But we are not left to any abstract theories for evidence that man inherits. his nature from God. We have abundant proof in man himself,, though his nature in many respects has become perverted and lies in ruins. Let us, then, consider some of man’s essential qualities and see what marks we can find in them of Divine origin. Man derives his form from God. Man was created in the image of God. If that is a fact, does it not include external form as well as internal qualities? Man’s external form is the combined effect of his whole organization. The human form is the highest of created forms; it possesses every excellence it, is possible to conceive, and it is capable of indefinite perfectibility. It is the highest form for the manifestation of life. Regarding it from its own qualities, we are logically borne to the conclusion that man inherits his form from the Lord.

The Lord, also, is everywhere represented in the Sacred Scriptures as in the human form. Every organ of the human form is attributed to Him. He has eyes, ears, hands, feet. He breathes, therefore He must have lungs; He speaks, consequently He must have vocal organs. Whenever He has distinctly appeared to men it has been in the human form. When He assumed our nature, and by means of it came upon the earth and dwelt visibly among men, He came in the human form. He did not assume it for the occasion. When He was transfigured before His disciples He was in the human form. When John’s spiritual sight was opened to see Him after His ascension, He was still in the human form. I know He is generally regarded as a diffused essence, whatever that may be, but personality cannot be predicated of an atmosphere or an essence. If God is not in the human form, all the representations of Him in revelation are a delusion, and any idea or conception of Him is impossible. But there are other evidences-that testify to man’s descent from God. Man possesses intellectual faculties by means of which he can know and understand. They are an essential part of his nature. The stone and the plant possess no such faculty, and the animal is endowed with it only in limited and rudimentary forms. Man can gain ideas he can compare one idea with another, and discern the differences and relations that exist between them. He can combine them into new forms and construct systems, and in this way gain rational knowledge. He can view isolated facts in the light of general truths, and see the relations of the whole to the particular and of the particular to the whole. He can learn and constantly extend the horizon of his knowledge. How small that horizon is in the infant! How greatly it is extended in the intelligent mind! This extension, also, is not merely on the surface. It does not consist merely in knowing more facts. It penetrates beneath the surface, discerns many qualities of substances and forces, and their relations to him and to each other. There can be no assignable limit of knowledge in any direction beyond which it is impossible for man to advance.

Is not the faculty of knowing a quality of the Divine nature? God is omniscient. lie possesses all knowledge. He is truth itself. He knows all things in their least and largest forms, in all their qualities, relations, and possibilities. Man knows something, and he has the capacity of constantly knowing mare. There is an infinite distance between the Lord’s knowledge and man’s knowledge; but the faculty is the same. The faculty in the child is of the same nature that it is in the philosopher, and the same in the philosopher that it is in the Lord. Here, then, we find one respect in which man is created in the image of God, and one proof that he descends from Him. The fact that man’s power of knowing is finite, and that he can never attain to the infinite, does not in the least invalidate his claim to have his origin in God and his descent from Him.

Man has the power of loving. It is the inmost and highest faculty of his nature, which gives quality and efficiency to all others. It gives keenness to his intellect and alertness to every mental action. Love is the source of his freedom. It is his power to choose, to will, and to act. Within the limits of his knowledge and power he is as free to think, to will, and to act as the Lord Himself. The limit may be a small one, but that does not destroy its nature. Love is the power which draws human beings together, and the bond which holds them in serviceable relations. Love binds husband and wife, parent and child, friend and friend. Love woos and wins the scientist and the philosopher to study the laws of God in nature; the inventor, to discover forces and devise new means of bringing them into the service of man; the philanthropist, to alleviate human suffering and direct human activities to the attainment of a greater amount of happiness.

Is not this faculty in man of the same nature that it is in the Lord? Does it not operate in the same way, and within the limits of its power produce the same effects? Man cannot create, but he can select, arrange, adapt, and apply what the Lord creates, for the good of his fellow-man. He can see how the love of God is manifested in everything around him; in the provisions which He has made to supply human wants and secure human happiness; and he can reciprocate the love which the Lord is constantly exercising towards him. He can do to others as-the Lord is doing to him. In this way the husband and wife, the parent and child, the laborers in the field, the mechanic in his shop, the merchant in his store, the teacher in the school, and every one who is doing anything for the good of others from love to them, is acting from the same motives that move the heart of infinite love to create and sustain and bless the universe of intelligent beings. Human love is the Divine love in finite measure and power in human affections. It is the likeness of God in human character, however faint in outline and feeble in action it may be. It is the proof of man’s descent from God, organized in his spiritual nature, and testifying in every unselfish affection and useful deed.

Again, man has a moral nature. That is, the principles of right and good are organized in his understanding and will.. The principles of the Divine order which constitute right are embodied in his spiritual faculties. Before his nature was perverted by evil and error, he was law unto himself. There was no more necessity for him to learn the principles of right than there is for a tree to learn how to grow, to put forth leaves, to cover itself with the beauty and glory of blossoms, and distil its blood into delicious fruit. There was no more necessity for man to learn how to get the greatest amount of the most precious good out of the conditions and means of life, than there is for the bee to learn how to build its cell and gather honey from the flowers to fill it. Unperverted love contains this power within itself. Man has lost it, and now he must be instructed by an outward way. But it can be -restored to him, and the Lord has promised to do it, and He is doing it as fast as man will receive instruction from Him and obey it. The promise is contained in the new covenant, which the Lord declares He will make with man when He says, “I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord” for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more. “This human perfection is also promised by our Lord when He says, “If ye abide in me and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will and it shall be done unto you.”

The Divine life is law and order in itself, and it is -of its nature to give to every thing and being it creates to be law and order unto itself. Right and wrong are not arbitrary distinctions. The laws of the Divine and infinitely perfect life constitute right. ‘Man was created according to those laws. They were embodied in him; they were God’s likeness and image in him. He inherited them from God, and while he lived according to them he no more needed instruction how to live a good life, obtain complete happiness, and find his way home to the Lord, than the fish needs it to guide its way through the pathless waters to the stream in which it was born. Man is a part of the system of the creation. The lines of its order are woven into him, the currents of its life run through him as blood flows through his arteries and veins. Its material and spiritual substances and laws are organized in him, and the forces of the Divine life brood over him, pervade him, and pulse through him, moving or tending to move every physical and spiritual organ, into concordant action.

The creation of man was not one act which was suspended when performed. It is a constant act. As I stated in my last lecture, life cannot be created and transferred from one person to another as a commodity. It can only be communicated, and the transfer must be constant. God continually breathes into man the breath of life; and if the breath of His spirit should be suspended for a moment, man would die as the body dies when the man himself ceases to breathe into it. This is an additional evidence that man descends from God. Not only the first man, but every man descends from Him. He gets his physical nature through along line of ancestry, modified by all the influences which have made their impress upon it; but that nature itself is vivified, sustained, and modified by the life which the Lord constantly breathes into it. The Lord’s power, by which man is created and sustained, is not limited to one line of communication” it reaches man from every direction, through every medium, from within and from without, directly and indirectly. In this way there is a constant conjunction between man and the Source of his life which tends to enlarge and perfect every faculty of his nature.

Examples of this method of creating. are abundant, The earth was created mediately by the sun; it came from substances and .forces existing in the sun. But when thrown from his flaming bosom, it was not cut off from his influence. He still illuminates it with his light, and breathes into it the breath of physical life with his heat, and holds it in friendly conjunction with him in the powerful arms of his attraction So the infinite Father of intelligent being hold all His children in the embrace of His love, breath s into them the breath of life, and draws them into communion and conjunction with Him, as closely is they will voluntarily yield to His power, He is t e vine and we are the branches. Is not the branch born of the vine, and does it not partake of its nature? As the branch cannot bear fruit when severed from the vine, so, “severed from me,” our Lord says, “ye can do nothing.”

But there is if possible, a more conclusive evidence that man descends from God, and one which appeals to the rational mind with more convincing power than any we have given. It is only by means of similarity of nature that any knowledge of God is possible. This is a point in evidence of our origin and descent that is worthy of special notice. We are taught that God is love. But what knowledge of the Divine character can that expression convey to one who does not possess the capacity of loving? Shout the words to the rocks. Can you give them any idea of the existence or nature of God? Tell it to the trees. Can they hear and understand? Speak of it to animals. Can they get any idea or conception of Oat attribute of the Divine nature? It is impossible in the nature of things. Human beings alone can gain some conception of the nature of love, because they have the witness of its nature in themselves. The stone and the plant possess no such faculty, and consequently they cannot gain “any such knowledge.

God is omniscient; He possesses all knowledge. He has the faculty of knowing. Could man gain any idea of the nature of this faculty if he did not himself possess it? The supposition that he could, know and have some conception of the nature of knowledge, without the power of knowing, is absurd. The principle can be applied to every attribute of the Divine nature. If God’s love is not of the same nature as human love, then we can form no idea of it. If mercy, pity, fidelity, patience, tenderness, which are qualities of human character, are not of the same nature in the Divine character, then the words have no meaning for us. They are utterly misleading. They make us all agnostics whether we confess it or not. The fact that these qualities are infinite in purity, perfection, extent, and power is no hindrance to our knowledge of their nature, though it is often supposed to be. It is not necessary to examine every particle of water in the ocean in order to know the nature of that substance. Water is the same in its least as in its largest bodies. It is not necessary to examine every organic form to learn the nature and laws of organization. When we have learned how one plant or animal is organized, we have learned the general principles of all organization. So when we know the nature of a pure, unselfish love in our own hearts, we know what it is in the Lord’s heart. Human love is, indeed, weak, often impure and perverted, but its existence in man’s nature is indisputable evidence that his nature is an image of the Divine nature, and was derived from it. Man’s capacity to know the qualities of anything is hoed on similarity of nature. We can only know what love, goodness, truth, mercy, hope, fear, or any 9f the qualities of human character are, from the nature which is common to us all, and which we inherit from the Father of all men. If this doctrine is not true, then revelation is a misnomer; it has no meaning. If this doctrine is not true, there is no common bond of union between man and man, there is no medium of intelligence between man and the Lord. Human beings are like pebbles on the sea-shore, having no connection and no relation but proximity in spaces There is no evidence of a Supreme Being.

But man is a being of a large and varied nature. He is the crown of the Lord’s works. Everything was made to serve him. All currents of influence flow to him as rivers to the ocean. He inherits from the Lord, therefore, not only in one line, but in all lines. He descends from Him mediately through his parents and ancestry; and directly by the constant ‘action of the inflowing Divine life. “The Lord God formed man dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul,” is a plain statement of a literal fact. Man’s physical nature is organized from material substances. In the material plane of his being he possesses an animal nature in common with the ox and horse, the monkey and the worm. They can see, hear, taste, feel. They have heart and lungs and brain, and powers of locomotion. Their organization is formed in the same way, and is subject to the same laws. But man is something quite distinct from an animal. His physical nature does not constitute his manhood. If it did we might call an ape or a fish or a worm a man, at least in the process of evolution. If we admit that man’s material body was evolved from the ground through the various steps of ascent in the animal form until it reached the human, it does not follow that those principles which are distinctly human were derived from them. They could not have been, because they do not exist in the animal.

Man becomes a living soul, and gains all those intellectual, moral, and spiritual qualities from the Lord without the intervention of any human instrumentality. This fact is revealed in the words, “And the Lord God breathed into his nostrils the breath of lives; and man became a living soul.” The word life in the original is in the plural number to denote the two factors which constitute the spiritual plane of his being, his will and understanding. The distinctly spiritual degree of his being, which constitutes his human faculties, man does not derive from his natural parents, and it is only in the lower degrees of his nature that he resembles them. When these higher faculties which constitute the Lord’s image and likeness in man, are developed by the  action of the Holy Spirit, which is the breath of the Lord, he is born again or from above; he is born of the Spirit, and becomes a living soul. Those who are the subjects of this new birth are called the children of God. They are said to ” be born not of blood or of flesh, but of the love of God.” They are said to bear His image, to be the heirs of His kingdom, and the infinite riches of His power and blessedness.

Such is a brief and imperfect statement of some of the more important reasons for believing that man has his origin in God, and, according to the immutable laws of heredity, derives his nature from Him. The subject is too large for a single lecture. It involves all the fundamental principles of human life, all human relations, the grounds of right and wrong, the immortality of man, and the possibilities of human progress through the eternal future.

If it is justly regarded as a great blessing to be the descendants of a wise, pure, and noble ancestry, what language can describe, or what imagination conceive the worth and honor of being the offspring of God Himself? of being the partakers of His nature? of being able to know Him; to commune with Him; to receive and reciprocate His love; to be illuminated with the glory of His truth; and to become the heirs of His infinite power and blessedness? What is the wealth, the power, and all the ancestral glories of kings and emperors, or the purest strain of blood, compared with this? But such will be the inalienable and priceless inheritance of every human being who is born of God and bears His image.

We had nothing to do in determining the character of our ancestors, and we are not responsible for the nature we inherited from them. We had no choice whether we should be basely or nobly born. But we have an agency in determining our second birth. The Lord puts it into our hands to determine whether we will be born again. He gives us the power to co-operate with Him in the creation ,of the highest faculties of our being, and freedom to receive into our hearts the highest forms of His love, and into our understanding those spiritual and Divine truths which create us into His image and likeness, and bring us into communion and conjunction with Him. We decide to inherit from Him just in the degree we learn His will as He has revealed it to us in His Word and regulate our affections, thoughts, and conduct by the commandments, which are the laws of eternal life.

The Origin And Nature Of Life

Lecture II

The Origin And Nature Of Life

I am the way, the truth, and the life.” John xiv. 6

The subject to which I invite your attention this evening is the most profound and important that can be offered to human investigation. It relates to first causes, to the origin of creation and of human existence, and embraces all its substances, forces, and activities. It has engaged the attention of the scientists and philosophers of all ages, the profoundest thinkers and the wisest and best men of all religions. It is as old as the human race, and yet it comes up in every age for a new hearing. An unusual interest is awakened in it, at the present time, by the scientists who are seeking to penetrate the mysteries of the universe and solve the problems of creation.

Many theories have been advocated with zeal and ability, only to give place to others. For a time it was believed that the secret had been discovered. Dr. Bastian thought he had demonstrated that life was self-originating. But more careful experiments showed that he was mistaken, and the old enigma remained unsolved. The scientist has not been able to penetrate the mystery of life. It is believed by those who are acquainted with the writings of the New Church that they contain important disclosures. upon this subject, which present it in a new light, and help to solve its mystery so far as it can be comprehended by the finite mind. These disclosures are-in full accordance with what the Lord Himself has revealed in the Sacred Scriptures, and with all true science. I invite your attention to a brief statement of what our doctrines teach upon the origin and nature of life, and to some illustrations which may help us to see their reasonableness and ground in the nature of things.
By the origin of life I mean life as it-appears in the creation, in plants, animals, and men, and not in its primary source. In this latter sense it has no origin. It is in its essential nature untreatable and consequently has no beginning. This is the affirmation of the Lord Himself. The name of the Supreme Being means existence in itself. When asked His name He replied, I am the I am.” That is the meaning of the word Jehovah. He not merely lives; He is life itself. He has life in Himself. He does not receive it; He does not originate it; He is it. This cannot be said of any created being or thing. The plant and the animal have life, but they are not life. Human beings have life, but they are not life itself. Life can be given to all organized forms, and it can be taken away from them. We live and move and have our being in the Lord. Life cannot be created and deposited in plant, animal, or man, and remain as an independent and self-sustaining power. It can be communicated and received, but not retained when cut off from its source.

This is a most important fact which can be easily understood, and one which throws a flood of light upon our relations to the Lord, and upon many profound problems of human life. We can give and receive solid and fluid substances, leave them in the possession of others, and withhold all connection with them. We can receive a mineral, a sum of money, a flower, or a fruit, and it will remain in our hands after the giver has departed. But light cannot be given and held in that way. It does not remain after the source, the luminous body, is removed. ‘The light which fills this room and seems steady and permanent cannot be retained when the source from which it originates is extinguished. Heat is of the same nature. Remove the source from which it ,emanates and all warmth soon ceases to exist. Annihilate the sun and the earth would soon be enveloped darkness and frost. Light and heat must be constantly given. They cannot be retained as a permanent possession. They are a form of sub- stance in motion. Motion is one of their factors. Consequently when the motion rests light and heat cease. A more familiar example of this method of creation is sound, one of the factors of which, as every school-boy knows, is the motion of the form of substance we call the atmosphere. The sound dies when the motion ceases. So it is with life. It is not a commodity that can be gained and stored up and used when occasion requires, as we can lay up food or money. It is the activity of a substance, and consequently must be a constant gift, and it must be constantly received. It is a stream, a river, from its uncreated and infinite fountain, the Lord; and when the current ceases life in the recipient becomes extinct. Life therefore cannot be created, it can only be communicated. The Lord is life. All created beings are forms capable of receiving life. But life itself being from its essential nature uncreatable has no origin.

Let us, then, proceed to answer the question, What is life? This is a question which, according to general opinion, it is impossible to answer. But life is no more incomprehensible than a stone or a plant. We do not know what anything is in itself. All our knowledge of material things or of human beings, of mind and matter, is gained and limited by their influence upon us; by experience either our own or that of others. The most ignorant persons know something of the nature of heat and cold. They see their effects on all things in nature, and feel them in their own persons. They know that heat is a force which moves matter to action. It causes growth in plants; it changes solids to liquids, and liquids to gases. It warms, and when its action is intense, it consumes and destroys. We know what light is by its effects. This is all we know or can know about any substance or- force.
In the same way we know what life is by its effects. It causes seeds to grow into plants and trees, and plants and trees to put forth leaves, to blossom and bear fruit after their kind. A child knows that a dead vine will not grow and bear fruit however carefully it may be cultivated and rich the soil. We see the nature of life in higher and more various forms in animals and men. We feel its power in ourselves. We have a clearer and fuller and more various knowledge of life than we have of a stone or plant, of light and heat, or of any material force or object. It is a force. Heat is a force; but life is a much greater and finer power. Heat moves to action; life does the same, but in far higher and more various forms.

It may be asked how we know that life causes the effects we attribute to it. The answer is evident. In the same way we know that heat will melt ice and iron, change water to steam, and solids to gas. We know it by observation and experience. We know the one just as well as we do the other. That life is a force, the cause of all action in plants, animals, and men, is evident to the senses.

This is the simplest, the essential, and the universal quality of life. We must be careful, however, to distinguish effects from causes. A common idea of life is that it is the result of organization, or the effect of the action of material forms. But the truth is directly the reverse. Life organizes the plant and animal and moves them to action and manifests itself by means of them. To attribute life to the organic forms by which it is manifested, is as absurd as it would be to claim that the power of steam was derived from the engine, and was clue to the perfection of the machinery which it sets in motion. Life, as we shall see, is modified by organization, but it is not the result of it. It is, here that the materialistic theory of evolution fails. It puts effects in the place of causes, and in this way reverses the whole order of the creation. When organizations are formed, life is manifested, and it is taken for granted that the life is the product of the organization. This is as unphilosophical and absurd as it would be to assert that the cart moved the horse, or that the engine created the steam, or that the earth gave light and heat to the sun. It involves the absurdity of attributing to the tool the power and skill that wields it, and of making creation the author of the Creator.

I have said that the simplest and universal conception of life is that of force; it is the supreme, underived, self-existing, self-acting, universal, omnipotent power. If it is pure power it must be a self-acting substance. Power is not an abstraction. It is the energy with which substance in some form acts. Life is substance in motion in its highest and, perfect form. There can be no force distinct and separate from substance. We can conceive of power apart from any substance, but it exists only in its subject. The power of steam exists only in steam; it cannot be separated from it. It is the force with which steam expands. It is the action of the for of substance we call steam. The power of wind and wave is the force with which they move; the power of men and animals resides in their organization, and has no existence apart from them. We conclude, therefore, that life must be substance; it must be the primary, self-existent, and self-acting substance from which all the worlds and all things are created. The universe was not created out of nothing; it was created by life and out of the substance of life. It has its origin in God who is substance and life. Here we are brought again face to face with the universal order which reigns in the universe. Life cannot be created, but it can create and sustain by the constant communication of its power. It cannot create itself. It cannot give to the forms which it creates an existence independent of itself.  If it could the creation would be life; it would be God. This is pantheism.

If God creates all things from Himself, the natural and superficial inference is that creation must be a part of God. But this by no means necessarily -follows. We have abundant examples with which we are all familiar, that one thing may be created from other things and out of their substance and yet be no part of them, and differ from them in – form and qualities. Water is created by the combination of oxygen and hydrogen gases; but it is unlike them in substance and possesses entirely distinct qualities. A grape is created by substances derived for the most part from the vine. But it differs in form, organization, and qualities from the vine which bore it. When we eat a cluster of delicious grapes we are not eating a grape-vine. The earth, the scientists truly tell us, was created from substances derived from the sun; but the assertion that the earth was a part of the sun would be regarded. as absurd. So there is a distinct cleavage and an impassable gulf between the creature and the Creator. All created things and beings are forms having no life in themselves, but capable of receiving it. Men and, angels are not God; they have no underived independent life. They are simply forms capable of receiving life from Him and being constantly blessed by it. This is the ineradicable distinction between the creature and the Creator. This is the gulf which never can be passed.

Let us again take our stand in the Divine nature as revealed in the Sacred Scriptures, and regard life as it exists and is manifested in another form. God is love and wisdom. God is life. In Him is life, and the life was the light of men. Love is therefore life. God is love. But much more is meant by this simple affirmation than that God is capable of loving. He is not only capable of exercising the affection of love, but He is love itself. What is love? How would you define it? Is it merely a sentiment? Is it nothing more than a pleasurable emotion, the effect of a thought, a look, or the conscious presence of another” It is vastly more than any or all of its effects. It is not an abstraction; it is not a feeling; it is not an emotion that comes and goes. Love is substance and power in their essence and origin. Love is the substance of the Divine Being. It is another name for life; it is life. It contains within itself the promise and potency of the whole creation; of all that is not God. As a Divine and a self-existing substance it contains within itself the power to create all finite substances from itself, and out of them to organize all forms and imbue them with life. Loving is love in action; emotion is the effect of the power of love, as the motion of an engine is due to the power of steam. The delights which flow from love are the effects of its power, and as distinct from love itself as the sensation of warmth is the effect of heat and distinct from it. Love contains within its substance a plastic moulding power which constantly operates to create everything in its own image and likeness and give to it the capacity of receiving itself. It is the nature of unperverted love to give itself to others, and to help others to receive it. God being love itself, created all human beings for the purpose of giving Himself to them, and He created everything in the material universe to be an instrument and means of doing it.

If you ask me how I know this, I answer, I know it as I know that it is of the nature of light to illuminate, of heat to give itself to other bodies. I know it from the nature of love as it is manifested in history, and in universal and personal experience. Does not a mother’s love move her to protect her child and provide for its wants” The purer and more ardent the love, the more energetic and devoted the parent will be to minister to all the wants and secure the happiness of his offspring. Love of home will incite to constant labor; love of country will lead to the surrender of property and, if need be, to the peril of life. Love of the Church and of the Lord, when it is the dominant motive, will lead to giving up all things and following Him. What we are willing to give and to give up is the test of our love. “Greater love bath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” If such is the nature of human love, weak and imperfect as it is, what must be the nature of the Divine love” If love impels men to use all the means at their command to effect its purposes, will not the Lord whose love is infinite, do the same thing” The supposition that He could do otherwise would be contrary to the nature of love and universal experience. “It is the nature of love,” says Swedenborg, “to give its own to become another’s own.” We know, therefore, as well as we can know anything, that if God is pure, infinite love, He could not refrain from. communicating it to others, and from providing the most ample and the best possible means of giving it in the largest measures and the highest forms. Love, therefore, may be regarded as the most perfect embodiment and exhibition of the qualities of life.

Life being infinite in substance and power, its forms and qualities are infinite; ,that is, there is no limit to the substances it can create, the forms it can assume, and the qualities it can reveal. In general there are three kinds of substances entirely unlike
and distinct from each other. There is a Divine substance, a spiritual substance, and a material substance which we call matter. Divine substance is life in itself, uncreated and underived. It is the substance of the Divine Being. Spiritual substance is of a lower order. It is created from the Divine. It is the substance of which our minds or spirits are organized. It is the substance of which the spiritual world is created. Material substance we are more familiar with. It is the matter of which the earth and the material universe is formed, and has its origin in the sun. We know that material substance exists in a great variety of forms, as solids, fluids, gases, atmospheres, ethers, and auras. Nature has three kingdoms – the mineral, the vegetable, and the animal. The lowest, the mineral, is destitute of life. It is only capable of motion. It is unorganized, and its particles have no definite and essential relations to each other but contact, like the grains of sand and drops of water. In this condition they cannot receive and become forms of life. They can only serve as materials for life to build itself a body, a house to dwell in and an instrument to reveal its nature. Life can only show itself in organic forms. We find, therefore, in the vegetable kingdom the first indications of life in its lowest qualities. It appears as order, as growth according to immutable laws. It selects from mineral and mould, from air and water and light, with unerring precision the substances that will serve its purpose, and weaves them with infinite skill that is above all finite comprehension into grass and vines, shrubs and trees; clothes them with leaves, adorns them with blossoms, and distils from their gross elements delicious juices and nourishing substances, and embodies them in fruits each after its kind. In this kingdom of nature we see life in its means, methods, and results. It unveils its mysterious face and gives us glimpses of its nature. We can see that it is a quality of its nature to organize, to reduce chaotic elements to order, and establish relations between them, and bring the various substances which stand apart into mutual service. Is not that an important and significant quality of life? Does it not give us a hint of love and wisdom” We see it forming the plant into food for animals and men, and moulding them into a diversified and glorious beauty to cultivate the taste, charm the fancy, and win the affections. We see life giving to each plant its own form, its own beauty, its own qualities, and its own use? Is not that a mark of wisdom” a token of love” an evidence that the Lord; who is love, regards the good of His children in all His works? Is He not providing food for the fowls of the air, which have neither storehouse nor barn”

But life can give only hints and faint outlines of its nature in these coarse elements of matter. It can give beauty to the rose and lily, grandeur to the oak and pine, and provision for the sustenance of man and beast, to corn and the fruit-bearing tree. But it cannot bestow upon them a consciousness of their own life, a knowledge of the use they are serving, and the power to rejoice in the warmth and glory of the sun, and to drink pleasure from dew and rain. It requires a purer and higher form of substance to receive and manifest these higher forms of life.

A basis and support having been provided for a higher form of life, the animal kingdom is now created. Spiritual substances also are employed, which can receive the influx of life and manifest the more excellent qualities of its nature. To the animal is given a more complex and delicate organization. It is endowed with sensation. It can see and hear and feel. It is endowed with a degree of freedom. Instead of being fixed immovably in the earth, its roots are turned within itself. It has the power of locomotion; it can know something of its relations to the earth, to other animals, and to man. It is capable of association with its kind, and can render a more or less voluntary service to man.

In this kingdom life reveals its nature in clearer characters, in higher and more varied forms. It shows that it is of its nature to feel, to know, to associate with others, to enjoy, and to bring many material substances into its own service. Consider instinct, for a moment, as one of the qualities of life. There is given to every insect, fowl, and animal a specific and perfect knowledge. It is limited to-its own wants. Its range is narrow and it cannot be extended; but it is perfect within its limits. It is given round and complete at once. Here we can see that it is a quality of life to give every form it can create, a full and perfect measure of power according to its capacity to receive. It may be a small measure; it may be a measure which cannot be enlarged; but it is adequate to the wants of the recipient. Here is love in a higher form. Here is wisdom in specific and perfect measure. Does it not demonstrate that it is the essential nature of life to give itself to others in good measure pressed down and running over” Does it not prophesy to us that so farm we come into a true order and become pure and perfect forms of life, that the Divine promise will be fulfilled, “Ye may ask what ye will and it shall be done unto you”? I might speak of the use of animals to man for food, for clothing, to bear his burdens, to delight him with their beauty and affection animal. He has animal instincts, desires, passions, tastes, habits, powers, in a word, an animal nature. He possesses not merely the special faculties of one animal. The qualities of all animals are embodied in him. Plants and animals are special forms and qualities of life, all of which are combined in every human being. But within and above these he has a distinct plane of faculties organized of spiritual substances capable of receiving life in spiritual forms, and of discerning its distinctly spiritual faculties. In this degree of his nature he is not subject to the limitations of time and space. He can’ pass instantly from the present to the past; he can visit all climes and all worlds, while in the body he remains at home. Mountains and oceans and the vast spaces which lie between planets and suns, offer no obstacle to his thoughts. He can be everywhere present within the limits of his knowledge.

He has the power of rational thought and affection. He can see ideas and principles in their true forms and relations, can gain a knowledge of their nature and use, and from the heights of this knowledge he can look down upon his inferior mind. He can restrain and guide his thoughts, and provide means for extending his knowledge, a faculty which. the animal does not possess. He can see higher truths and finer qualities and more complex and varied uses in nature. He has power to bring rock, and plant, and animal into his service. This is one of the higher qualities of life. It creates and organizes all things and uses them as instruments to effect its purposes.

As life is infinite it cannot weaken its power or diminish its substance by creating and giving itself to others. This quality is distinctly revealed in man, and is the best evidence and surety of his immortality. The human mind or spirit, though created and consequently finite and only a form receptive of life, is of such a nature that its capacities can be indefinitely enlarged and perfected. Unlike a material substance it is not diminished by giving its own to others. If we give a sum of money, a morsel of food, or any material substance to another, we diminish our store by the amount we part with; but it is not so with any spiritual possession. We cannot part with a truth or au affection. We may give our love to others continually and still retain it. We may communicate our thoughts and, if possible, every truth we possess, without diminishing our store of knowledge. Nay, more, our love is increased by giving; our thoughts and our joys are multiplied by sharing them with others. We keep all that we give, and our own treasures of love and wisdom are multiplied and enriched by drawing from them for the benefit of others. Does not this quality of the mind clearly demonstrate the impossibility of its annihilation” Does it not insure the immortality of man?
But it possesses another quality which is directly opposite to those possessed by any material form, and one which gives another proof of its indestructibility. Its capacity for the reception of life never can be filled. It is a fact certified by observation and universal experience, that the more there is put into the mind the more capacious it becomes. It is not filled up and its capacity diminished by what it receives, like a material vessel. On the contrary, it is enlarged by it. Every new, idea or truth gained becomes a new vessel for the reception of more truth and a new means of gaining it. Every faculty of the mind be, comes enlarged and strengthened, and gains a finer, a more delicate power, a keener sense, and a more comprehensive grasp by every truth learned and every affection exercised. Where, then, can we assign any limits to its capacity to receive life in the qualities of love and the forms of truth” We cannot draw any lines around it and say, Thus far can we go and no farther. The human spirit was created to receive life from the Lord in conscious forms and in ever-increasing measures. All it acquires it retains, and all it retains adds to its capacity to receive. As life cannot be created, so it cannot be destroyed. The material forms, which it creates can be destroyed, but the human form organized of spiritual substances cannot. This assures not only our immortality, but the possibility of endless progress.

Time prevents me from mentioning only one more quality of life. But it is one of such transcendent excellence that it will fitly crown our view of it. Life is the source of personality, and it is of its nature to give to everything a form of its own, and to man, who is the highest form of life, a personality which he can never lose, but which will become more distinct as he advances in perfection, and capacity to receive life in higher and more excellent qualities. Materialism teaches that when the body dies man ceases to exist as an individual, like a plant that turns to dust, and only gains his immortality by his influence on the race. The doctrine of the Hindoo is that man is re-absorbed into the Divine substance from which he was created, and becomes an unconscious part of the Divine, as the dead tree decays and is resolved into its original elements.

But as man is immortal and his capacities are capable of indefinite expansion and perfectibility, he will preserve his identity and individuality. Instead of being merged into humanity, he will become more distinctly himself. The lines and features which distinguish his form from other human beings, in.- stead of fading out, will become more distinct. They will become clearer and finer and more individualized. The qualities of his affections and the power of his intellectual faculties will not shade off and blend with the peculiar forms of other beings. A man will become more distinctly masculine in every form and feature and in every quality of his mind; and a woman will become more distinctly feminine in every feature and quality of affection and thought. The more distinctly every human being becomes himself, the more perfect will be the unity in heavenly societies; the richer and more varied its charms, and the deeper and more exquisite its delights.

I have been able to give only the most general outline of this doctrine of the origin and nature of life. The succeeding lectures will fill it up and round it out more distinctly. But the more critically and sharply it is scrutinized, the more clearly it will be seen to be in accordance with all human observation that extends beneath the appearances of the senses, with personal experience, and the trend of human knowledge. Especially it will be seen to be in full harmony with all that the Lord has revealed to us in the Sacred Scriptures of the origin and nature of life. It holds out to man complete assurance of the preservation of his identity and the continuity of his being, and the most glorious hopes for the perfectibility of his nature, the increase of his knowledge and power, and the attainment of happiness which will continue to increase in fullness of joy and exquisite blessedness forever.