Chapter XXII. Adult Life. – First Degree of Regeneration.

< Chapter XXI. Growth During Youth. ^ Discrete Degrees ^ Chapter XXIII. The Second Degree of Regeneration. >


DURING minority there was an ascent through the degrees of the natural mind C even into its highest b and at the same time a descent of heaven through the degrees of the spiritual mind B into its lowest a, meeting between the two minds. This is shown in the three preceding diagrams.

Standing now at the threshold of adult life man can under the LORD enter heaven if he will and allow heaven to flow down into his natural, by discrete degrees successively. Such is the structure of the mind, such the order of heaven, and such the nature and order of regeneration. (AE 940.)

During minority, the course was upward in the natural mind and downward through the spiritual. Thenceforth, should the man become regenerate, it will be the reverse-up through the spiritual, down through the natural. The first great step in this process is the opening of the lowest or natural degree of the spiritual mind a and elevation of the man into it with the descent of influx thence into the highest degree of the natural mind b, and into c the highest degree of the limbus which is the lowest scat of thought and affection, and thence into word and deed by the gross body.

This first step in adult regeneration, may be elucidated. The lowest degree of the spiritual mind a having been previously stored with good and truth is prepared for the man’s entrance into it; he then rises into it and plants therein the interior seat of his thought and affection. Thus he begins to be a distinctively spiritual man but has not yet become so, especially not permanently so. To ensure this result the highest degree of his natural mind b and the corresponding plane of the limbus c must be cleansed of evil and falsity and appropriate good and truth adopted in their stead. (AC 3539 and 6724.) Evil and falsity can be removed only by combat in obedience to the Divine command to shun them as sins, for the LORD can work in man to remove his disorders only when man co-operates with Him. (AE 790 [b].) This combat is waged by good and truth on the LORD’s side against evil and falsity assaulting on the other. The goods and truths immediately brought into use as the hosts of the LORD in this combat are those;already stored in these degrees (b and c) during youth, But these goods and truths cannot combat and expel the evils and falsities from these degrees except as infilled and animated by the higher goods and truths in a of the spiritual mind. Thus the combat is primarily between the spiritual mind and the evils and falsities of -the natural mind. The spiritual mind however fights from its own goods and truths by the goods and truths of the natural mind. (AC 6724, AE 176, 790.) Then the spiritual rests securely on the natural and the man thereafter holds his interior seat in that lowest degree of the spiritual mind. This degree of the natural mind is now conjoined with the spiritual and makes one with it. The man dying in this state goes to the lowest or natural heaven because he is regenerate to the natural degree of his spiritual mind and to the corresponding degree of his natural mind. This first great step of regeneration requires years for its accomplishment, with most persons, many years. Neither does it always actually commence at twenty-one years of age.

But cannot man be saved unless this degree be completely regenerate in this world? Yes. If the work be well commenced it will be completed in the other world. (TCR 571.) With most who are saved, indeed with an who are properly saved by entering into heaven, that is who cultivate in themselves the heavenly marriage of good and truth, the spiritual mind is opened and as to their interior life they live distinctly and clearly within. There are however a few in whom that mind is neither strictly closed, nor properly open. These acknowledge God and shun as sin but have little or no concern about truths, being content with a few simple ideas. Truth as well as good is requisite to open the spiritual mind and secure elevation into it. As they do not lead a wicked life but a certain species of good life they neither close heaven against themselves nor properly enter it. Their abode after death is in the very lowest part of heaven, or in the outskirt of a superior heaven, where they perform service under direction of those who are in heaven. (DLW 253.)

When a man with the lowest degree of the spiritual mind, opened and the highest of the natural regenerate enters his appropriate heaven the unremoved evils of the two lower degrees of the natural mind are thereafter held in quiescence, chiefly by the goods and truths appropriated in the higher degrees. The like occurs with him who is so far regenerated as to enter the spiritual or middle heaven after death. His lowest natural degree is yet tainted with evil, but the two higher degrees of the natural mind being purified, the evils of this degree are held in quiescence. It is different with him who enters the highest heaven because (as will be seen in Diagram XXIV) every degree of his natural mind is cleansed of evil and filled with good and truth.

There is a difference between evil from the father and evil from the mother. (Chapter XVIII.) The evil which is from the father (resident in the three degrees of the natural mind C and thence in the spiritual-sensual and spiritual-corporeal), cannot be expelled, but only removed from the centre to the circumference and there held in subjection and, as it were, lifeless, to eternity. But the evil from the mother may be dispersed as regeneration descends through the degrees of the limbus. (AC 1414, 1444, 1573.)

Dispersion of the maternal evil does not involve the rejection of the limbus as an organism but only a change of state by expulsion of impure substances and disorderly forms and the appropriation of other substances pure and orderly. The good and truth of -the paternal degrees rest on corresponding states in this material plane, the limbus, as their ultimate base. Even the gross body becomes purified in proportion to the regeneration of the higher degrees-a change effected by rejection of impure substances and incorporation of material substances pure and orderly.

As the unremoved evil in the two lower degrees of the natural mind with him who dies in the state presented in this diagram is held forever quiescent in those degrees, so the undispersed evil of the two lower degrees of the limbus is held in quiescency by the power of the good appropriated in the regenerated degrees above. “Every place whereon the sole of your foot shall tread shall be yours, no man shall be able to stand before you, JEHOVAH your God will lay the dread of you and the fear of you upon all the land that you shall tread upon.” (Deut. xi, 24, 25 ; Gen. ix, 2.)

From earliest infancy remains have been stored preparatory for regeneration in after years. (Pages 67, 73, 75-83, 85.) During adult life there are added new good by an internal way and new truth by an external way. This increase continues after death but only of good and truth of the same degree as appropriated during life in the world. After death no new degree can be opened. Angels of a lower heaven never become angels of a higher, nor do the higher fall to a lower. While in the world man acquires a certain measure of good or evil which after death he neither transcends nor falls below. (AC 7984; S.D. 4037-9.)

The cause of this permanence is that the limbus, the plane of the natural memory, then quiesces. During life this lowest mental plane was active and usable under volition and could be changed in quality and thus made the basis of new openings of the higher degrees. But in quiescing after death it becomes fixed. Should a degree higher than that attained in the world be providentially opened it could not be held permanently because this opened state would not be terminated in the limbus. No spiritual degree nor state of a degree can endure except it rest on the limbus, the indestructible base and containant of the whole spirit and of all its states. (DLW 257; D.W. in AE VIII, quoted pp. 54-56.)

Why does the limbus quiesce? When man becomes a spirit he must close the memory of natural things and enter into interior consciousness without which he could not properly inhabit the spiritual world. Were not the limbus then quiescent he would relapse into it and thus be withdrawn from conscious life in the states and scenery of that world. When a spirit for a special purpose experiences temporary activity of his natural memory he is withdrawn from the consciousness and memory of things spiritual. This exercise of the material memory however causes no permanent change of its state. During life the limbus is clothed with the gross body which furnishes a reactive plane for the operation of the natural memory. When this reactive plane is removed by death the natural memory quiesces and the spiritual memory is opened.

Should the limbus not quiesce at death the spirit could not thereafter permanently retain his interiors in due form and order as they would have no unchangeable ultimate; the regenerate could not then be preserved forever in heaven, nor the wicked in hell. (AC 2469 to 2494; S.D. 4037 to 4039.)

Nor does this quiescence merely fix the happy state of the angels in the degree to which they have advanced, but as the Divine acts by universal laws this quiescence also holds the evil in their life’s love without possibility of either descent or ascent to other degrees than those opened in their perverted minds and founded in the limbus during life in the world. “As the tree falls so it lies.”

The fixed state of the limbus fixes the interiors because interiors must be and flow according to exteriors, so that no permanent change can be made in the interior without a corresponding change in the exterior.

“Unless the natural assist, no birth of interior truth exists, for it is the natural which receives into its bosom interior truths when born, since it gives them ability to come forth. In regard to the things which are of spiritual birth, reception must be wholly be in the natural. This is the reason why, during man’s regeneration, the natural is first prepared to receive; and so far as this is made receptive, so far interior goods and truths can be excluded [that is, begotten by the interior, and received and brought forth by the exterior], and multiplied. This also is the reason why, if the natural man be not prepared to receive the goods and truths of faith in the life of the body, he cannot receive them in the other life, thus he cannot be saved. For man has with him in the other life the natural memory or the memory of the external man, but in that life they are not allowed to use it (see 2469 to 2494;) wherefore it is as a foundation plane into which interior goods and truths descend; and if that plane is not receptive of the truths and goods which flow in from the interior, the interior goods and truths are either extinguished, or perverted, or rejected.”-AC 4588.

The quality of man’s affection and thought and thus of his state of life depends entirely on the agreement or disagreement of his natural with his spiritual mind or what is the same on his natural being rightly or wrongly receptive of Divine influx through his interiors.

The spiritual mind is always in true order. But influx thence into the natural mind becomes natural good and truth embodying spiritual and thus regenerating the natural C only so far as the limbus is regenerated. (DP 119, 120.) Hence,

“The thought of spirits and angels is terminated in she natural, for they have all the natural memory and its affections, but they are not allowed to use it. Although they are not allowed to use that memory, still it serves them as a plane or as a foundation, so that the ideas of their thought are therein terminated; hence it is that their thought is such as is the correspondence [or non-correspondence] of their natural with the rational.”-AC 3679.

The natural corresponds or discorresponds causing rationality or insanity according to life in the world which life determines the state of the limbus and this unalterably fixes the state of the spirit or the angel.

The numberless inner evils of the natural mind C are enrooted in the limbus D wherein they present themselves as one.

Cupidities within, the man sees not; these are known to the LORD alone. But the LORD can remove them only when man who is together with Him in the limbus fights against them there as seen by the light of truth. Thus their basis is removed, and the inner mind is cleansed. Good and truth can then descend from the spiritual mind into the natural mind C, regenerating it, become enrooted in the limbus, and be rendered as act and speech by the gross body. Good and truth thus implanted in the natural band enrooted in the limbus D are also permanently enjoyable as to their interiors in the spiritual mind B. (DP 119, 120, 125) The “internal man” in these passages of Divine Providence is the natural mind C, the “external man” is the limbus and gross body. (Chapter XV.)

Thus far as to the quiescence of the limbus.

The temporary activity of the limbus above alluded to is caused by the spirit or the angel being for the time so joined to man’s externals as to furnish a reactive base for the purpose.

Another feature of regeneration pertaining alike to him in whom only the first degree of the spiritual mind is opened (as shown in this diagram) and to him whose states are represented in Diagrams XXIII and XXIV, should be especially noted. Since the spiritual mind is formed of spiritual substances of a purer kind and the paternal natural C is formed of spiritual substances of a grosser kind therefore good and truth flow from the spiritual into the natural simply by taking on a more compound form.

But they cannot flow from the natural mind into the limbus and gross body in the same manner, as these are composed of material substances, and hence as already stated undergo renovation by rejection of impure natural substances, and incorporation of such as are pure,

Previous: Chapter XXI. Growth During Youth. Up: Discrete Degrees Next: Chapter XXIII. The Second Degree of Regeneration.




A Sermon by Rev. Daniel W. Heinrichs

Preached in Boynton Beach, Florida, October 13, 1991

“I say to you, make friends for yourselves of the unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations. If … you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?” (Luke 16:9,11)

Divine revelation has, through all ages, been accommodated to the state of the people to whom it was given. The Writings reveal that the Jews of the Lord’s time were not capable of receiving interior truths, so the Lord told them parables which served as examples which they could follow. An example of this is the parable of the Good Samaritan. A lawyer asked the Lord who his neighbor was. In answer to this query the Lord told this parable, and concluded by asking him: “Which of these three, do you think, was neighbor to him who fell among thieves?” The lawyer answered: “He who showed mercy on him.” To this the Lord replied: “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10:36,37).

Parables, in the letter, appear to be little more than example stories, but they contain Divine truths within them in every particular, for the Lord spoke in correspondences. They contain an internal sense that treats, inmostly, of the Lord’s glorification, next of the progressive states of man’s regeneration, and finally of the successive states of the Lord’s church on earth. In our sermon this morning we shall consider this parable as it relates to man’s regeneration.

The Writings tell us that everyone derives from parents the tendency to love self and the world above everything else. Because this nature is impressed on us from birth, we tend to lapse into the evils which come naturally to us from our heredity. To the extent that we indulge these evil affections, the evil becomes, as it were, ingrafted in our nature. Such evils are altogether contrary to spiritual life and are destructive of it.

Everyone has an internal and external mind, and it is in the external that these hereditary tendencies reside. The internal mind, on the other hand, is created according to order. Thus “man’s external things have been formed according to the image of the world, and his internal things according to the image of heaven” (AC 9279:2).

Because the internal mind is created according to order, we have influx from the Lord through the internal into the external, and therefore the internal can have a perception of the state of the external, “for that which is in the external can be seen from the internal” (AC 10468). It is this relationship between the internal and external minds that makes self-examination possible, and therefore also regeneration. For unless we were able to see from the internal the evils residing in the external, we could have no desire to turn away from, resist, or fight against these evils. Regeneration, then, would be impossible.

In the parable it is said that a certain rich man had a steward who had been accused “of wasting his goods.” He called him, and said to him: “What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your stewardship, for you may no longer be steward.”

The Writings tell us that by a “steward” in the Word is meant the unregenerate external of man. This is called a steward because it has nothing that is really its own; it merely administers the things of the internal of man (see AC 1795). We note that the steward was accused of wasting his master’s goods. That is, the unregenerate external of man wastes the goods which the internal receives by influx from the Lord, who is represented in the parable by the rich man. He is called a “rich man” because spiritual riches are goods and truths, and all goods and truths are the Lord’s.

We see from this that the internal, which is created in the order of heaven and abounds in goods and truths, perceives that the external, born into the loves and pleasures of the world and the cupidities of the body, has been squandering, that is, misusing the goods and truths which inflow from the Lord. The rich man then demands of the steward an account of his stewardship. Since the rich man represents what is the Lord’s in the internal of man, and the steward the external, this indicates self-examination from interior truth, which is from the Lord in the internal. We read: “The interior man can see, as from a higher position, what is going on in the exterior, . . . and . . . the interior . . . has the capacity and ability of chastening the exterior” (AC 5127:2). Note that the master threatens his steward with banishment for having squandered his wealth.

When interior truths from the Word, which reside in the interiors, shed their light on the external, they reveal corrupt loves there. A person then becomes aware of evil lovesthe inordinate love of pleasure, selfish ambition, contempt for others, the evils of deceit and self-justification; and perceiving his unworthiness, and fearful of impending damnation, the person seeks for ways to avert spiritual disaster. The steward said within himself: “What shall I do? For my master is taking the stewardship away from me; I cannot dig; I am ashamed to beg.”

The phrase “I cannot dig” means that the external, in this state of perception, realizes that of himself he is incapable of acquiring truths. The phrase “I am ashamed to beg” means that although he realizes that he cannot acquire truths of himself, still he cannot rely on receiving truths without doing something to acquire them. He must acquire them as of himself.

The steward then devised a plan whereby to assure himself of future employment. He called his master’s debtors to him and inquired as to the amount of their debts to his master. We note that there were two debtors, one owing a hundred measures of oil and the other a hundred measures of wheat.

The two debtors represent the human will and understanding, which owe their existence to the Lord. It is from influx from the Lord through the interiors that man has the faculties of willing and understanding. The Writings tell us that oil corresponds to the good of love to the Lord and to the neighbor. Wheat corresponds to the truths of the church and the wisdom derived from them. A hundred corresponds to what is full and complete. The one debtor’s owing a hundred measures of oil and the other of wheat mean that the hereditary will is totally lacking in good of its own, and the understanding is totally lacking in truth of its own. What they have they owe to the Lord (see AC 977). They are debtors.

The steward then told the debtor who owed the oil to write out a bill for fifty. Fifty in the internal sense also signifies what is full. We read: “In the Lord’s parable of the steward, who said to him who owed the oil . . . ‘Take the bond and sit down quickly, and write fifty’; ‘fifty’ denotes full payment” (AC 2252:5).

Since both a hundred and also fifty signify what is full and complete, we see that even though the will is lacking in anything of the good of love, still the Lord, in His mercy, will accept as full payment any sincere effort that the will may make to do good. The Lord does not demand full payment because we can never return to the Lord all that we receive from Himthe will can never become perfect.

This is evident from the teaching that man “can never be so regenerated that he can in any way be said to be perfect; for there are things to be regenerated that are innumerable” (AC 5122:3). Since this is the case, the Lord accepts as full payment any effort that we make to regenerate.

But the debtor who owed the wheat was told to write his bill for eighty. The number eighty, which is a multiple of forty, signifies temptation (see AC 1936, 4617). The reason the debtor representing the understanding was told to write his bill for eighty measures of wheat is that the understanding cannot be regenerated without undergoing spiritual trials. The Writings teach that “temptations take place to the end that man may be confirmed in truths against falsities” (AC 2272). When a person is undergoing spiritual trials, the delights of evil come to a cessation. The effect of this on the person who is enduring the trial is that he has new thoughtsthoughts of a nature contrary to what he had beforethoughts to which one may afterwards be bent by the Lord.

The master of the steward then commended him on his cunning action, that is, the internal of man perceives that the external acted prudently when it saw its impending ruin. Therefore the Lord said: “The children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.” Here, “the children of this world” mean the things of the external mind of man. They are referred to as “children of this world” because the external is, by birth, an image of the world. Its being wiser than the children of light means that, motivated by self-love, the external of man in an unregenerate state acts more prudently than it would if it was motivated by genuine love for the neighbor.

More interiorly, this means that the Lord uses our love of selfour love of honor and self-advancement, with its accompanying prudenceto lead us from what is lower to what is higher. Therefore, the Lord said: “If you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?”

Considered only as to its literal sense, this parable is perplexing. It seems that the Lord is not only condoning evil, but even commending it by encouraging us to follow the example of the unjust and crafty steward. But when we see its interior meaning, then we see the Lord’s mercy in regenerating us. We see how, in providence, He leads us from evil to good, step by step, providing us with delights in every stage of our progress. We must make use of these external delights even though they are not genuinely good if we are to prepare ourselves for the reception of genuine good and truth.

The unrighteous mammon are the knowledges of truth and good which exist with evil and external people. With such they become falsities, because applied to evil, “but as they continue to be knowledges . . . they are serviceable to use with the good by application to what is good” (AE 700:17).

These knowledges, called the unrighteous mammon, are referred to in the Writings as “mediate goods,” which are said to be absolutely essential as a means in the regenerative process. This process involves a complete reversal of man’s nature.

We read: “Seeing . . . that man’s state of life has to be so greatly changed, it must need be that he is kept in a kind of mediate good, that is, in a good which partakes both of the affections of the world and of the affection of heaven; and unless he is kept in this mediate good, he in no wise admits heavenly goods and truths” (AC 4063:3, emphasis added).

The truths which we first learn are not genuine truths but appear as truths, and serve to introduce us into genuine goods and truths. When genuine goods and truths have been insinuated by means of these, they are separated or dismissed, and the genuine goods and truths are retained (see AC 3974).

In the process of regeneration there is always a gradual progression from what is lower to what is higher, or from what is outmost to what is inmost. If our lives were suddenly changed, so that from being evil we became good, we would be deprived of all our delights. We would be as if dead, for it is in delights our lives consist.

For example: Parents and teachers must frequently appeal to a child’s pride or love of reputation in order to induce the child to do better work. They cannot, realistically, appeal to the child’s love of use, for as yet it does not exist. An employer appeals to a young employee’s ambition and love of self-advancement to encourage greater effort. Again he cannot appeal to the person’s love of use and of the neighbor, for as yet the person has very little of such love, and so it would not prove a sufficiently strong motive to produce the kind of effort desired. The delights which are appealed to are not good in themselves, but by means of them a person may be led to greater effort, and eventually may be led by the Lord to feel delight in that which is genuinely good, true and useful.

Although “mediate goods,” or unrighteous mammon, in the Lord’s merciful providence, serve as a means of regeneration, we must be careful only to make friends of them, that is, use them. We must not become slaves to such delights. The Lord solemnly warns us against this, saying: “You cannot serve God and mammon” (Luke 16:13).

If we make use of natural appetites, affections and delights as a means of attaining genuine delights from the Lord, that is to say, if we are faithful in the unrighteous mammon, we will be entrusted with the true riches, that when we leave this world, we will be received into everlasting habitations. Amen.

Lessons: Matt. 25:14-30, Luke 16:1-13, AC 4063:2-5

Arcana Coelestia 4063:2-5

How the case is with the good signified by “Laban” relatively to the good of truth represented by Jacob may be seen from what has been stated and shown in the foregoing chapter. This may be further illustrated by the states of man’s regeneration, which in the representative sense is also here treated of. When a man is being regenerated, he is kept by the Lord in a kind of mediate good. This good serves for introducing genuine goods and truths, but after these have been introduced, it is separated from them. Everyone who has learned anything about regeneration and about the new man can understand that the new man is altogether different from the old; for the new man is in the affection of spiritual and heavenly things, and these produce its delights and pleasantnesses, whereas the old man is in the affections of worldly and earthly things, and these produce its delights and pleasantnesses; consequently the new man has regard to ends in heaven, but the old man to ends in the world. From this it is manifest that the new man is altogether different and diverse from the old.

In order that a man may be brought from the state of the old man into that of the new, the concupiscences of the world must be put off, and the affections of heaven must be put on. This is effected by innumerable means, which are known to the Lord alone, and many of which have also been made known by the Lord to angels, but few if any to man. Nevertheless, all of them both in general and particular have been made manifest in the internal sense of the Word. When therefore a man from being the old man is made a new one (that is, when he is being regenerated), it is not done in a moment as some believe, but through a course of years; nay, during the man’s whole life, even to its end; for his concupiscences have to be extirpated and heavenly affections have to be insinuated; and the man has to be gifted with a life which he had not before, and of which indeed he knew scarcely anything. Seeing therefore that the man’s states of life have to be so greatly changed, it must needs be that he is long kept in a kind of mediate good, that is, in a good which partakes both of the affections of the world and of the affections of heaven; and unless he is kept in this mediate good, he in no wise admits heavenly goods and truths.

This mediate or middle good is what is signified by “Laban and his flock.” But man is kept in this middle good no longer than until it has served this use; but this having been served, it is separated. This separation is treated of in this chapter. That there is an intermediate good, and that it is separated after it has subserved its use, may be illustrated by the changes of state which every man undergoes from infancy even to old age. It is known that a man’s state is of one kind in infancy, of another in childhood, another in youth, another in adult age, and another in old age. It is also known that a man puts off his state of infancy with its toys when he passes into the state of youth; that he puts off his state of youth when he passes into the state of young manhood; and this again when he passes into the state of mature age; and at last this state when he passes into that of old age. And if one will consider, he may also know that every age has its delights, and that by these he is introduced by successive steps into those of the age next following; and that these delights had served the purpose of bringing him thereto; and finally to the delight of intelligence and wisdom in old age.

From all this it is manifest that former things are always left behind when a new state of life is put on. But this comparison can serve only to show that delights are means, and that these are left behind when the man enters into the state next following; whereas during man’s regeneration his state becomes altogether different from his former one, and he is led to it, not in any natural manner but by the Lord in a supernatural manner; nor does anyone arrive at this state except by the means or media of regeneration, which are provided by the Lord alone, and thus by the mediate good of which we have been speaking. And when the man has been brought to that state in which be has no longer worldly, earthly, and corporeal things as his end but those which are of heaven, then this mediate good is separated. To have anything as the end is to love it more than anything else.