∙ From creation man has an ability to be more and more nearly conjoined with the Lord. …
∙ There are three discrete degrees or degrees of height in man from creation. These three degrees are in every man from birth; and as they are opened, man is in the Lord and the Lord in man. All perfections increase and ascend along with degrees, and according to them. From all this it is clear that from creation man has an ability to be more and more nearly conjoined with the Lord through degrees.
∙ But it is necessary to know fully what degrees are, and that there are two kinds, discrete degrees, that is, degrees of height; and continuous degrees, that is, degrees of breadth, also how they differ; and to know that every man by his creation and consequently by birth has three discrete degrees or degrees of height; also that man comes into the first degree, which is called the natural, when he is born, and may develop this degree in himself continuously until he becomes rational; also that he comes into the second degree, which is called the spiritual degree, if he lives according to the spiritual laws of order, which are Divine truths; and finally that he can come into the third degree, which is called the celestial, if he lives according to celestial laws of order, which are Divine goods.
∙ These degrees the Lord opens in man according to his life, actually in this world, but not perceptibly and sensibly till after he leaves this world; and as they are opened and afterwards perfected man is more and more nearly conjoined with the Lord. This conjunction by continued approach may go on increasing to eternity, and with the angels it does increase to eternity. And yet no angel is able to attain to or to touch upon the first degree of the Lord’s love and wisdom, because the Lord is infinite and an angel is finite, and there can be no relation between what is infinite and what is finite.
∙ As no one is able without a knowledge of these degrees to understand the state of man, and the state of his elevation and approach to the Lord, they have been treated of in detail in the work on The Divine Love and the Divine Wisdom (n. 173-281)
(emphasis by editor)