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degrees. All perfections increase and ascend with degrees, and according to degrees. In successive order the first degree constitutes the highest, and the third the lowest ; but in simultaneous order, the first degree constitutes the inmost, and the third the outmost. The ultimate degree is the complex, continent, and basis, of the prior degrees. The degrees of altitude in their ultimate, are in their fulness and power. There are degrees of both kinds in the greatest and least of all created things. There are three infinite and uncreate degrees of altitude in the Lord, and three finite and created degrees in man. These three degrees of altitude are in every man from his birth, and may be opened successively, and as they are opened, a man is in the Lord, and the Lord in him. Spiritual light flows into man by three degrees, but not spiritual heat, except so far as he avoids evils as sins, and looks to the Lord. If the superior or spiritual degree is not opened in a man, he becomes natural aud sensual. The natnral degree of the human mind, considered in itself, is continuous, but by correspondence with the two superior degrees, while it is elevated, it appears as if it were discrete.
“ The natural mind, being the tegument and continent of the higher degrees of the human mind, is a re-agent, and if the superior degrees are not opened, it acts against them, but if they are opened, it acts with them. The abuse of the faculties which are proper to man, called rationality and liberty, is the origin of evil.
A bad man may enjoy these two faculties as well as a good man,
but a bad man abuses them to confirm evils and falses, while a good man uses them to confirm goods and truths. Evils and falses, when confirmed, remain ; and become parts of a man's love and life. The things which become parts of a man's love and thence of his life, are communicated hereditarily to his offspring.
"All these evils and consequent falses, both hereditary and acquired, reside in the natural mind. Evils and falses are entirely opposed to goods and truths, because evils and falses are diabolical and infernal, and goods and truths are divine and heavenly. The natural mind, which is in evils and falses, is a form and image of hell, and descends by three degrees. These three degrees of the natural mind, which is an image and form of hell
, are opposed to the three degrees of the spiritual mind, which is a form and image of heaven : thus the natural mind which is a hell, is in complete opposition to the spiritual mind which is a heaven. All things of the three degrees of the natural mind, are included in works, which are performed by acts of the body.”
Part IV. pronounces that “the Lord from eternity, who is Jehovah, created the universe and all things therein from Himself, and not from nothing; this would not have been possible if the Lord were not a Divine Man; He from himself producing the sun of the spiritual world, and by it creating all things. In the substances and matters of which earths consist, there is nothing of the Divine in itself, but still they are from the Divine in itself. All created things in the created universe, viewed from uses, represent man in an image; this testifies that God is Man. All things created by the Lord are uses ; and they are uses in the order, degree, and respect, in which they have relation to man, and by man to the Lord their Creator.
Evil uses were not created by the Lord, but originated together with hell, on man's fall. The visible things in the created universe testify that nature has produced nothing, and does produce nothing, but that the Divine has produced and does produce all things from Himself, and through the spiritual world.
Part V. is devoted to a description of man's spiritual nature. It is shown that “the Lord has formed and created in man two receptacles and habitations for Himself, called the will and the understanding; the will for His Divine Love, and the understanding for His Divine Wisdom. The will and understanding are in the brains, in the whole and every part thereof, and thence in the body, in the whole and every part thereof.
There is a correspondence of the will with the heart, and of the understanding with the lungs; and all things that can be known of the will and understanding, or of love and wisdom, consequently all that can be known of man's soul, may be known from the correspondence of the heart with the will, and of the understanding with the lungs.”
There are many volumes in the world whose thinly spun thought, spread over page after page, it would be easy to condense into one brief paragraph, but the treatise on the Divine Love and Wisdom is not such a work. It is one of those rare books which suggest and expand thought, but can bear no abridgment or compression. We have well studied it, but we do not expect to finish it while life here shall endure. Time was, when, immersed in man-made systems of faith, and wont to walk abroad in the green fields and woods, by the sea side, and on the mountains—we found it difficult, nay we should rather say impossible, to see the God we read of in our books, and thought of in our chamber, to be the same kind Father to whom those wide and beauteous scenes owed their existence. Justification by faith-Jerusalem--the Jews-ephod and teraphim—the Temple, and the sacrifice-seemed to have no connection with the landscape, the wind, the falling rain, the flowing river, and the broad and limitless ocean.
We knew it should not be so. If the Bible were God's book, it must have some closer affinity with his great work of nature. We knew that one Lord was over all, and that this disunity should by no means exist. Much mental pain and travail were our portion. The easy soothsayings of Atheism beguiled us. We “wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way, and found no city (doc
trine) to dwell in.” We longed for the rest of Zion. We sighed not in vain. The divine philosophy of this precious book was revealed to us, and we knew the blessing of a faith which finds a confirmation in every item and phase of creation, and makes the Bible and nature evermore at one, each confirming and illustrating the other. It gave to life new aims and aspects; it brought a mental peace we had never hoped to enjoy, and we went on our journey of life rejoicing.
The Continuation of the Last Judgment” is a small pamphlet forming a supplement to the treatise on the Last Judgment, with which it is now generally published. It contains a very interesting account of the Last Judgment upon the Reforined. Reformed, upon whom the Last Judgment was effected, Swedenborg means those who professed a belief in God, read the Word, heard sermons, partook of the sacrament of the Supper, yet lived all manner of evils. Living like Christians in externals, and outwardly in unity with heaven, while inwardly united with hell, they were permitted after death to form societies, and to live as in the world; and by arts unknown in the world, to cause splendid appearances, and by this means to persuade themselves and others that they were in heaven. From this outward appearance, therefore, they called their societies heavens. The heavens and the lands in which they dwelt, are understood by the “former heaven, and the former earth, which passed away."--Rev. 21. 7.
At the Last Judgment, the hypocrisy of these spirits was revealed in the light of heaven, and the simple good with whom they had associated, separated themselves with horror from them. No longer able to simulate Christian lives, they rushed with delight into evils and crimes of every description, openly appeared as devils, and found for themselves the hells corresponding to their loves. At the same time all the splendid appearances they had made for themselves vanished away; their palaces were turned into vile huts; their gardens into stagnant pools; their temples into piles of rubbish ; and the hills on which they dwelt, into heaps of gravel, in correspondence with their depraved dispositions and Insts.
“After the Judgment was effected,” writes Swedenborg, “there was joy in heaven, and also light in the world of spirits, such as was not before. A similar light also then arose on men in the world, giving them new enlightenment. I then saw angelic spirits, in great numbers, rising from below, and elevated into heaven. They were the sheep there reserved, and guarded by the Lord for ages back, lest they should come into the malignant sphere of the dragonists, and their charity be suffocated. These are they who are understood in the Word by those who went forth from the sepulchres ; also by the souls of those slain for the testimony of Jesus, who were watching; and by those who are of the first resurrection.”
After this follows a description of many things seen in the spiritual world. He writes, “there are lands in the spiritual world, just as in the natural world: there are hills and mountains, and plains and valleys, also fountains and rivers, lakes and seas ; there are paradises and gardens, and groves, and woods, and palaces, and houses ; there are writings and books, functions, [Latin functiones) and employments; there are precious stones, gold and silver ; in short, there are all the things, in general and in particular, which exist in the natural world, but in the heavens all these things are infinitely more perfect."
He then describes the noble English nation” in the spiritual world; the more excellent of whom are in the centre of all Christians, because they have interior intellectual light. This light they derive from the liberty they enjoy of thinking, and thence of speaking and writing. The Dutch are then described, and then the Papists, and the Popish saints. The Mahometans, the Africans, and the Gentiles follow; and tinally the Jews, the Quakers, and the Moravians. The description of all these people, as they appear beyond the grave, has an interest of a most absorbing kind, and the light thrown by Swedenborg on their internal character, serves to show cause for much that happens in the external world, otherwise difficult of explanation.
Angelic Wisdom Concerning the Divine Providence. Still living in Amsterdam, Swedenborg published, in 1764, his work netitled "Angelic Wisdom concerning the Divine Providence.” Its purpose is to
“ assert eternal Providence, And justify the ways of God to man.” In the first place, it is shown that the Divine Providence is the government of the Love and Wisdom of the Lord. This Providence has for its sole end the formation of a heaven out of the human race, and thus has respect only to what is infinite and eternal. In the Di. vine sight, things temporal and natural are of no importance except so far as they contribute to man's salvation.
Although the Lord thus wills and works for man's eternal happiness, yet, after all, heaven can only be attained through man's co-operation. The Lord ever performs his share of the work, but man too often fails to do his. Weeping over Jerusalem, the Lord exclaimed, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee, bow often would I have gathered thy children together a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not ! ”—Matthew 23. 37. How powerfully and tenderly is here expressed the Divine willingness to save, and how pointedly and decisively is man's misery attributed to his own obstinacy. As the Lord Jesus in another place says, “ Ye will not come to me that ye might have life.”—John 5. 40.
In all the operations of the Divine Providence, human freedom is respected. The Lord forces no man to do what is good, or believe what is true. He drives none to heaven. It is of the Divine Provi. dence that whatsoever a man hears, sees, thinks, speaks, and does, should appear altogether as his own. Without this appearance, men would have no reception of Divine Truth, no determination to do good, no appropriation of love and wisdom or of charity and faith, and thence no conjunction with the Lord, consequently no reformation and regeneration, and thereby salvation. Without this appearance, it is evident there can neither be repentance from sins nor even faith ; and a man, without that appearance, is not a man, but is void of rational life like a beast. It is very plain, then, that in order that man may be saved, he must be induced to live a good life by means which in nowise trench upon this appearance of free and independent life. Regeneration in man is effected by his removing evils from his external life, as of himself ; yet, knowing that all good and truth is from the Lord, he acknowledges, as a consequence, that all power to remove these evils is necessarily derived from the Lord alone.
Intensely as the Lord desires that man should shun evils, and lead a holy life in obedience to his commandments, yet He only seeks to win man to peace and heaven by means which do not infringe upon his freedom. It is a law of His Divine Providence, that man should not be forced by external means to think and will, and so to believe and love the things which are of religion. It has been asked by atheists, “ If there be a God, why does he not write so on the sun, and so save men from unbelief?” Swedenborg answers this question most satisfactorily, by showing that miracles, signs, visions, conversations with the dead, threats, and punishments, are totally ineffective to produce that state of love and spiritual life which make true happiness and heaven, because they force, and destroy that rationality and liberty which constitute the inmost life of humanity, and by the exercise of which, man can alone be delivered from evil.
Let us read Swedenborg's testimony on miracles. He writes, “ That such is the nature of miracles, may plainly appear from those wrought before the Jewish and Israelitish people. Although they saw so many miracles in Egypt, afterwards at the Red Sea, others in the Desert, and especially upon Mount Sinai, when the law was promulgated, yet, in the space of a month, when Moses tarried upon that mountain, they made themselves a golden calf, and acknowledged it for Jehovah who brought them out of the land of Egypt. The same