The Development of the Mind by Degrees

Selection from  Divine Love and Wisdom ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

• These three degrees of height [natural, spiritual, and celestial] are in every man from birth, and can be opened successively; and, as they are opened, man is in the Lord and the Lord in man.

• That there are three degrees of height in every man, has not until now become known for the reason that these degrees have not been recognized, and so long as they remained unnoticed, none but continuous degrees could be known; and when none but continuous degrees are known, it may be supposed that love and wisdom increase in man only by continuity. But it should be known, that in every man from his birth there are three degrees of height, or discrete degrees, one above or within another; and that each degree of height, or discrete degree, has also degrees of breadth, or continuous degrees, according to which it increases by continuity. For there are degrees of both kinds in things greatest and least of all things…  for no degree of one kind is possible without degrees of the other kind.

These three degrees of height are called natural, spiritual, and celestial.

• When man is born he comes first into the natural degree, and this grows in him, by continuity, according to his knowledges and the understanding acquired by means of knowledges even to the highest point of understanding, which is called the rational. Yet not by this means is the second degree opened, which is called the spiritual. That degree is opened by means of a love of uses in accordance with the things of the understanding, although by a spiritual love of uses, which is love towards the neighbor. This degree may grow in like manner by continuous degrees to its height, and it grows by means of knowledges of truth and good, that is, by spiritual truths. Yet even by such truths the third degree which is called the celestial is not opened; for this degree is opened by means of the celestial love of use, which is love to the Lord; and love to the Lord is nothing else than committing to life the precepts of the Word, the sum of which is to flee from evils because they are hellish and devilish, and to do good because it is heavenly and Divine. In this manner these three degrees are successively opened in man.

• So long as man lives in the world he knows nothing of the opening of these degrees within him, because he is then in the natural degree, which is the outmost, and from this he then thinks, wills, speaks, and acts; and the spiritual degree, which is interior, communicates with the natural degree, not by continuity but by correspondences, and communication by correspondences is not sensibly felt. But when man puts off the natural degree, which he does at death, he comes into that degree which has been opened within him in the world; he in whom the spiritual degree has been opened coming into that degree, and he within whom the celestial degree has been opened coming into that degree. He who comes into the spiritual degree after death no longer thinks, wills, speaks, and acts naturally, but spiritually; and he who comes into the celestial degree thinks, wills, speaks, and acts according to that degree. And as there can be communication between the three degrees only by correspondences, the differences of love, wisdom, and use, as regards these degrees are such as to have no common ground by means of anything continuous. From all this it is plain that man has three degrees of height that may be successively opened in him.

• Since there are in man three degrees of love and wisdom, and therefore of use, it follows that there must be in him three degrees, of will, of understanding, and of result therefrom, thus of determination to use; for will is the receptacle of love, understanding the receptacle of wisdom, and result is use from these. From this it is evident that there are in every man a natural, a spiritual, and a celestial will and understanding, potentially by birth and actually when they are opened. In a word the mind of man, which consists of will and understanding, is from creation and therefore from birth, of three degrees, so that man has a natural mind, a spiritual mind, and a celestial mind, and can thereby be elevated into and possess angelic wisdom while he lives in the world; but it is only after death, and then only if he becomes an angel, that he enters into that wisdom, and his speech then becomes ineffable and incomprehensible to the natural man. I knew a man of moderate learning in the world, whom I saw after death and spoke with in heaven, and I clearly perceived that he spoke like an angel, and that the things he said would be inconceivable to the natural man; and for the reason that in the world he had applied the precepts of the Word to life and had worshiped the Lord, and was therefore raised up by the Lord into the third degree of love and wisdom. …

(Divine Love and Wisdom 236-239)
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The Neighbor Who Is To Be Loved

Selection from New Jerusalem and Its Heavenly Doctrines ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbor.  (Leviticus 19:15)

It shall first be shown what the neighbor is, for it is the neighbor who is to be loved, and towards whom charity is to be exercised. For unless it be known what the neighbor is, charity may be exercised in a similar manner, without distinction, towards the evil as well as towards the good, whence charity ceases to be charity: for the evil, from benefactions, do evil to the neighbor, but the good do good.

It is a common opinion at this day, that every man is equally the neighbor, and that benefits are to be conferred on everyone who needs assistance; but it is in the interest of Christian prudence to examine well the quality of a man’s life, and to exercise charity to him accordingly. The man of the internal church exercises his charity with discrimination, consequently with intelligence; but the man of the external church, because he is not able thus to discern things, does it indiscriminately.

The distinctions of neighbor, which the man of the church ought altogether to know, are according to the good which is with everyone; and because all good proceeds from the Lord, therefore the Lord is the neighbor in the highest sense and in a supereminent degree, and the origin is from Him. Hence it follows that so far as anyone has the Lord with himself, so far he is the neighbor; and because no one receives the Lord, that is, good from Him, in the same manner as another, therefore no one is the neighbor in the same manner as another. For all who are in the heavens, and all the good who are on the earths, differ in good; no two ever received a good that is altogether one and the same; it must be various, that each may subsist by itself. But all these varieties, thus all the distinctions of the neighbor, which are according to the reception of the Lord, that is, according to the reception of good from Him, can never be known by any man, nor indeed by any angel, except in general, thus their genera and species: neither does the Lord require any more of the man of the church, than to live according to what he knows.

(New Jerusalem and Its Heavenly Doctrine 84 – 86)
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Without Spiritual Temptation, No Regeneration

Selection from Arcana Cœlestia ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

They who have not been instructed about man’s regeneration suppose that a man can be regenerated without temptation; and some that he has been regenerated when he has undergone one temptation. But be it known that without temptation no one is regenerated, and that many temptations follow on, one after another. The reason is that regeneration takes place to the end that the life of the old man may die, and the new heavenly life be insinuated, which shows that there must needs be a fight, for the life of the old man resists, and is not willing to be extinguished, and the life of the new man cannot enter except where the life of the old man has been extinguished. Hence it is evident that there is a fight on both sides, and this fight is a fiery one, because it is for life.

He who thinks from enlightened reason can see and perceive from this that no man can be regenerated without a fight, that is, without spiritual temptation; and also that he is not regenerated by one temptation, but by many. For very many kinds of evil have made the delight of his former life, that is, have made his old life; and it is impossible for all these evils to be suddenly and simultaneously mastered, because they cling to the man very firmly, having been rooted in parents from time immemorial, and consequently are innate in him, besides having been confirmed in him from his infancy through his own actual evils. All these evils are diametrically opposite to the heavenly good that is to be insinuated, and that is to make the new life.

(Arcana Cœlestia 8403:2,3)
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The Lord’s Foresight and Providence

Selection from Arcana Cœlestia ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

As regards foresight and providence in general, it is foresight relatively to man, and providence relatively to the Lord. The Lord foresaw from eternity what the human race would be, and what would be the quality of each member of it, and that evil would continually increase, until at last man of himself would rush headlong into hell. On this account the Lord has not only provided means by which man may be turned from hell and led to heaven, but also from providence He continually turns and leads him.

The Lord also foresaw that it would be impossible for any good to be rooted in man except in his freedom, for whatever is not rooted in freedom is dissipated on the first approach of evil and temptation. This the Lord foresaw, and also that man of himself, or from his freedom, would incline toward the deepest hell; and therefore the Lord provides that if a man should not suffer himself to be led in freedom to heaven, he may still be bent toward a milder hell; but that if he should suffer himself to be led in freedom to good, he may be led to heaven. This shows what foresight means, and what providence, and that what is foreseen is thus provided.

And from this we can see how greatly the man errs who believes that the Lord has not foreseen, and does not see, the veriest singulars appertaining to man, and that in these He does not foresee and lead; when the truth is that the Lord’s foresight and providence are in the very minutest of these veriest singulars connected with man, in things so very minute that it is impossible by any thought to comprehend as much as one out of a hundred millions of them;

for every smallest moment of man’s life involves a series of consequences extending to eternity, each moment being as a new beginning to those which follow; and so with all and each of the moments of his life, both of his understanding and of his will.

And as the Lord foresaw from eternity what would be man’s quality, and what it would be to eternity, it is evident that His providence is in the veriest singulars, and as before said governs and bends the man to such a quality; and this by a continual moderating of his freedom.

(Arcana Cœlestia 3854:2,3)
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The Church WITH a People or The Church IN a People

Selection from Arcana Cœlestia ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

It is one thing for the church to be with a people, and another for the church to be in a people — as for example, the Christian Church is with those who have the Word, and from doctrine preach the Lord; but still there is nothing of the church in them unless they are in the marriage of good and truth, that is, unless they are in charity toward the neighbor, and thence in faith; thus unless the internals of the church are in the externals. The church is not in those who are solely in externals separate from internals; neither is it in those who are in faith separate from charity, nor in those who acknowledge the Lord from doctrine and not life. Hence it is plain that it is one thing for the church to be with a nation, and quite another to be in the nation.

… [T]he shade of the understanding is in these things may be seen from the fact that at this day scarcely anyone knows what the internal of the church is. And who knows that charity toward the neighbor consists in willing, and from willing in acting, and hence that faith consists in perceiving? … They who do not know that charity is the internal and thus the essential of the church, stand very remote from the first step toward the understanding of such things, and therefore very far from the innumerable and ineffable things that are in heaven, where the things relating to love to the Lord and love toward the neighbor are the all of life, and consequently the all of wisdom and of intelligence.

(Arcana Cœlestia 4899)
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Why Scarcely Anyone Knows What the Heavenly Is

Selection from Arcana Cœlestia ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

[T]hose who were of the Ancient Church — their doctrinals were doctrinals of love and charity, which contained innumerable things that at this day are wholly obliterated. From these doctrinals they knew what charity to exercise, or what duty they owed the neighbor, thus who were called widows, who orphans, who sojourners, and so on. Their knowledges of truth and memory-knowledges were to know what the rituals of their church represented and signified; and those who were learned among them knew what the things on the earth and in the world represented; for they knew that universal nature was a theater representative of the heavenly kingdom. Such things elevated their minds to heavenly things, and their doctrinals led to life.

But after the church turned aside from charity to faith, and still more after it separated faith from charity, and made faith saving without charity and its works, men’s minds could no longer be elevated by knowledges to heavenly things, nor by doctrinals be led to life; and this to such a degree that at last scarcely anyone believes that there is any life after death, and scarcely anyone knows what the heavenly is. That there is any spiritual sense in the Word which does not appear in the letter, cannot be believed. In this way men’s minds have been closed.

(Arcana Cœlestia 4844:17)
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A Shell Without A Kernel

Selection from Arcana Cœlestia ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.  And the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan.  And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there.  So he went and did according unto the word of the Lord: for he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan.  And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook. And it came to pass after a while, that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land.

And the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee.  So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there gathering of sticks: and he called to her, and said, Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink. And as she was going to fetch it, he called to her, and said, Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand.  And she said, As the Lord thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.  And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son.  For thus saith the Lord God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the Lord sendeth rain upon the earth.  And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days.  And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake by Elijah.       (1 Kings 17:1-16)

What is related of Elijah, that when there was a famine for want of rain in the land he was sent to Zarephath to a widow, and that he asked of her a little cake, which she was first to make and to give to him, and was afterwards to make for herself and her son, and that then the barrel of meal with her was not consumed, and the cruse of oil did not fail, was representative, like all the other things related of Elijah, and in general all that are in the Word.

• The famine that was in the land because there was no rain, represented the vastation of truth in the church…
• The widow in Zarephath represented those outside of the church who desire truth.
• The cake which she was to make for him first, represented the good of love to the Lord… whom, out of the little she had, she was to love above herself and her son.
• The barrel of meal signifies truth from good…
• The cruse of oil charity and love…
• Elijah represents the Word, by means of which such things are done …

This is meant also, in the internal sense, by the Lord’s words in Luke:

No prophet is accepted in his own country. But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when there was a great famine over all the land; but unto none of them was Elijah sent, except to Zarephath of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow (Luke 4:24-26);

that is, to those without the church who desire truth. But the widows within the vastated church, to whom Elijah was not sent, are they who are not in truth, because not in good, for wherever there is no good there is also no truth, however much truth may appear with them in outer form like truth, and yet be as a shell without a kernel.

(Arcana Cœlestia 4844:12, 13)
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