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Arcana Coelestia, by Emanuel Swedenborg, [1749-56], tr. by John F. Potts [1905-10], at

Arcana Coelestia


Verse 22. And Serug lived thirty years, and begat Nahor. "And Serug lived thirty years," signifies the beginning of the seventh state of this church; "Serug" signifies the same here as before "and begat Nahor," signifies a derivation therefrom. Nahor was a nation so named from him as its father, whereby is signified worship verging to what is idolatrous.


Verse 23. And Serug lived after he begat Nahor two hundred years, and begat sons and daughters. "And Serug lived after he begat Nahor two hundred years," signifies the duration and state; "Serug" and "Nahor" signify the same here as before; "and begat sons and daughters" signifies the rituals of that worship.


Verse 24. And Nahor lived nine and twenty years, and begat Terah. "And Nahor lived nine and twenty years," signifies the beginning of the eighth state of this church; "Nahor" signifies here, as before, worship verging to what is idolatrous; "and begat Terah," signifies a derivation therefrom. Terah was a nation so named from him as its father whereby idolatrous worship is signified.


Verse 25. And Nahor lived after he begat Terah a hundred and nineteen years, and begat sons and daughters. "And Nahor lived after he begat Terah a hundred and nineteen years" signifies the duration and state; "Nahor" signifies here, as before, worship verging to what is idolatrous; "Terah" signifies idolatrous worship; "and begat sons and daughters," signifies idolatrous rituals.


Verse 26. And Terah lived seventy years, and begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran. "And Terah lived seventy years," signifies the beginning of the ninth state, which was the last; "Terah" signifies here, as before, idolatrous worship; "and begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran," signifies the derivations therefrom. Abram, Nahor, and Haran were persons, from whom also nations were named that were idolaters.


That by "Terah" is signified idolatrous worship, may be seen from the derivations spoken of from the twentieth verse to this place. This Second Ancient Church degenerated from a kind of internal worship, and was so adulterated that at last it became idolatrous; as churches are wont to do, in that from internal things they go to external, and finally terminate in mere external things, internal things being blotted out. That such was the case with this church, insomuch that a great part of them did not acknowledge Jehovah as God, but worshiped other gods, is evident in Joshua: Joshua said unto all the people, Thus hath said Jehovah the God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt of old time beyond the river, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nahor; and they served other gods. Now therefore fear Jehovah, and serve Him in integrity and in truth; and put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the river, and in Egypt, and serve ye Jehovah. And if it be evil in your eyes to serve Jehovah, choose ye this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods that your fathers served, that were beyond the river, or the gods of the Amorites (Joshua 24:2, 14-15). Here it is very plain that Terah, Abram, and Nahor were idolaters. [2] That Nahor was a nation in which there was idolatrous worship, is also evident from Laban the Syrian, who dwelt in the city of Nahor, and worshiped the images or teraphim which Rachel carried away (Gen. 24:10; 31:19, 26, 32, 34). And that there was one god of Abraham, another god of Nahor, and another of their father, that is, of Terah, is evident from Genesis 31:53. It is also plainly stated by Moses concerning Abram, that Jehovah was not known to him: I Jehovah appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, in God Shaddai, but by My name Jehovah I was not known to them (Exod. 6:3). From all this it is evident how much this church fell away among this nation into the idolatrous worship which is here signified by Terah; and because it is signified by Terah, it is also signified by Abram, Nahor, and Haran.


There are three universal kinds of idolatry. The first comes of the love of self; the second, of the love of the world; the third, of the love of pleasures. All idolatrous worship has one or other of these for its end. The worship of idolaters can have no other ends; for they know not and care not for eternal life; they even deny it. These three kinds of idolatry are signified by the three sons of Terah.


That Abram, Nahor, and Haran were persons, from whom also nations were named that were idolaters, is evident from the historical parts of the Word. As regards Nahor this has been already shown; for the city was called the city of Nahor (Gen. 24:10). At that time cities were nothing else than families that dwelt together; and a number of families constituted a nation. That a number of nations were born of Abraham, is evident not only from the posterity of Ishmael, or the Ishmaelites, but also from that of his several sons by his wife Keturah, who are named in Genesis 25:1-4.


Verse 27. And these are the births of Terah: Terah begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran begat Lot. "And these are the births of Terah," signifies the origins and derivations of the idolatry from which came the representative church. Terah was the son of Nahor, and was also a nation named from him as its father. By him there is signified idolatrous worship. Abram, Nahor, and Haran were sons of Terah, and also nations named from them as their fathers. By them are here signified the idolatrous worships derived from that one. From Lot also there came two nations that were idolaters.


And these are the births of Terah. This signifies the origins and derivations of the idolatry from which came the representative church. It has been shown above (at verse 10 of this chapter) that "births" signify origins and derivations. Here now the Third Church after the flood is treated of, which succeeded when the second-treated of from verse 10 to this-became idolatrous in Terah. It has been shown that Terah, Abram, Nahor, and Haran were idolaters, as well as the nations derived from them, as the Ishmaelites and Midianites, and others who were descendants of Abram; besides others in Syria that were derived from Nahor; and also the Moabites and Ammonites, who were descendants of Lot.


That from being idolatrous the church became representative, no one can know unless he knows what a representative is. The things that were represented in the Jewish Church, and in the Word, are the Lord and His kingdom, consequently the celestial things of love, and the spiritual things of faith: these are what were represented, besides many things that pertain to these, such as all things that belong to the church. The representing objects are either persons or things that are in the world or upon the earth; in a word, all things that are objects of the senses, insomuch that there is scarcely any object that cannot be a representative. But it is a general law of representation that there is no reflection upon the person or upon the thing which represents, but only upon that thing itself which is represented. [2] For example, every king, whoever he was, in Judah and Israel, and even in Egypt and elsewhere, could represent the Lord. Their royalty itself is what is representative. So that the worst of all kings could represent, such as the Pharaoh who set Joseph over the land of Egypt, Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon (Dan. 2:37-38), Saul, and the other kings of Judah and of Israel, of whatever character they were. The anointing itself-from which they were called Jehovah's anointed-involved this. In like manner all priests, how many soever they were, represented the Lord; the priestly function itself being what is representative; and so in like manner the priests who were evil and impure; because in representatives there is no reflection upon the person, in regard to what his quality is. And not only did men represent, but also beasts, such as all that were offered in sacrifice; the lambs and sheep representing celestial things; the doves and turtledoves, spiritual things; and in like manner the rams, goats, bullocks, and oxen represented lower celestial and spiritual things. [3] And not only were animate things used as representatives, but also inanimate things, such as the altar and even the stones of the altar, the ark and the tabernacle with all that was in them, and, as everyone may know, the temple with all that was therein, such as the lamps, the breads, and the garments of Aaron. Nor these things only, but also all the rites in the Jewish Church were representative. In the Ancient Churches, representatives extended to all the objects of the senses, to mountains and hills, to valleys, plains, rivers, brooks, fountains, and pools, to groves and trees in general, and to every tree in particular, insomuch that each tree had some definite signification; all which, afterwards, when the significative church had ceased, were made representatives. From all this it may be seen what is meant by representatives. And as things celestial and spiritual-that is-the things of the Lord's kingdom in the heavens, and of the Lord's kingdom on earth could be represented not only by men, whosoever and of what quality soever they were, but also by beasts, and even by inanimate things, it may now be seen what a representative church is. [4] The representatives were of such an efficacy that all things that were done according to the rites commanded appeared holy before the spirits and angels, as for instance when the high priest washed himself with water, when he ministered clothed in his pontifical garments, when he stood before the burning lights, no matter what kind of man he was, even if most impure, and in his heart an idolater. The case was the same with all the other priests. For, as before said, in representatives the person was not reflected upon, but only the thing itself that was represented, quite abstractly from the person, as it was abstractly from the oxen, the bullocks, and the lambs that were sacrificed, or from the blood that was poured round about the altar, and also abstractly from the altar itself; and so on. [5] This representative church was instituted-after all internal worship was lost, and when worship had become not only merely external, but also idolatrous-in order that there might be some conjunction of heaven with earth, that is, of the Lord through heaven with man, even after the conjunction by the internal things of worship had perished. But what kind of conjunction this is by representatives alone, shall of the Lord's Divine mercy be told in what follows. Representatives do not begin until the following chapter; in which, and in those that follow, all things in general and in particular are purely representative. Here, the subject treated of is the state of those who were the fathers, before certain of them and their descendants became representative; and it has been shown above that they were in idolatrous worship.


That Terah was the son of Nahor, and also a nation named from him as its father, and that by him is signified idolatrous worship, has been shown before. That Terah was a nation, may be seen from the fact that the nations which originated from his sons acknowledged him as their father, just as the sons of Jacob, or the Jews and Israelites, and also the Ishmaelites, Midianites, and others, acknowledged Abraham; and the Moabites and Ammonites acknowledged Lot. Although these nations were not named from them, but from their sons, yet when all acknowledge a common father and call themselves his sons-as the sons of Terah, the sons of Abraham, or the sons of Lot-in a general sense a nation is signified by each one of these, as here by Terah, by Abram, by Nahor, and by Lot; for they are the stocks or roots of the nations. So with the descendants of Jacob, who were all named from his twelve sons, and yet were called Jacob and Israel, as also the seed and the sons of Abraham (John 8:33, 39).


That Abram, Nahor, and Haran were sons of Terah, and that they were also nations named from them as their fathers, and that by them idolatrous worships are here signified, is evident from the explanations given above; and also from the fact that idolatry is signified by Terah, whose sons they were. But what idolatrous worships are here signified by the three sons of Terah, and afterwards by Lot the son of Haran, may be seen if idolatrous worships are examined according to their kinds. There are in general four idolatrous worships, one more interior than another. The three more interior ones are as the sons of one parent; the fourth is as the son of the third. Idolatrous worships are internal and external; the internal are those which condemn man; the external not so much. The more interior the idolatrous worship is, the more it condemns; but the more exterior, the less. Internal idolaters do not acknowledge God, but adore themselves and the world, and make idols of all their cupidities; whereas external idolaters are able to acknowledge God, although they do not know who is the God of the universe. Internal idolaters are known from the life they have acquired; and in proportion as this life departs from the life of charity, in the same proportion are they more interior idolaters. External idolaters are known solely from their worship; and, although idolaters, they can still have the life of charity. Internal idolaters can profane holy things, but external idolaters cannot; and therefore external idolatry is tolerated, in order to prevent the profanation of holy things; as may be seen from what has been said before (n. 571, 582; and at verse 9, n. 1327).


That from Lot there sprang two nations that were idolaters, is evident from his two sons, Moab and Ben-Ammi, by his daughters (Gen. 19:37, 38), from whom descended the Moabites and the Ammonites, who, as is evident from the Word, were idolaters. Lot is mentioned here as the father of the idolatrous worships signified by Moab and Ben-Ammi.


Verse 28. And Haran died upon the faces of Terah his father, in the land of his nativity, in Ur of the Chaldees. "And Haran died upon the faces of Terah his father, in the land of his nativity, in Ur of the Chaldees," signifies that interior worship was blotted out and became merely idolatrous; by "Haran" is signified interior idolatrous worship; by "Terah his father," as before, idolatrous worship in general; by "the land of his nativity," the origin whence it was derived; by "Ur of the Chaldees," external worship in which there are falsities.


And Haran died upon the faces of Terah his father, in the land of his nativity, in Ur of the Chaldees. That this signifies that interior worship was blotted out and became merely idolatrous, is evident from the signification of "Haran," of "Terah," of "nativity," and of "Ur of the Chaldees;" and also from its being said that he "died upon the faces of Terah his father." As regards the fact that interior worship was blotted out, or that there came to be none, the case is this. The church cannot come forth anew among any nation until it has been so vastated that nothing of evil and falsity remains in its internal worship. So long as there is evil in its internal worship, the things that are good and true, which constitute its internal worship, are impeded; for so long as evils and falsities are present, goods and truths cannot be received. This may be seen from the fact that they who have been born in any heresy, and have so confirmed themselves in its falsities that they are entirely persuaded, can with difficulty, if ever, be brought to receive the truths which are contrary to their falsities. But with Gentiles who do not know what is the truth of faith, and yet live in charity, the case is different. This was the reason why the Lord's church could not be restored among the Jews, but among Gentiles who had no knowledges of faith. The former, by their falsities, entirely darken and thus extinguish the light of truth; but the Gentiles not so much, for they do not know what is the truth of faith; and what they do not know they cannot darken and extinguish. [2] As a new church was now to be restored, 1366-1 those were taken to form it with whom goods and truths could be implanted, being those with whom all knowledge of the good and of the truth of faith had been blotted out, and who, like the Gentiles, had become external idolaters. As regards Terah and Abram, it has been shown above that they were of this character, that is to say, they worshiped other gods, and had no knowledge of Jehovah, nor consequently of what is the good and the truth of faith. They had thus become better fitted to receive the seed of truth than others in Syria among whom knowledges as yet remained. That they did remain with some is evident from Balaam, who was from Syria, and who not only worshiped Jehovah, but also offered sacrifice, and was at the same time a prophet. These therefore are the things contained in this verse, namely, that interior worship had been blotted out and had become merely idolatrous.


That by "Haran" is signified interior idolatrous worship, and by "Terah" idolatrous worship in general, has been stated and shown before. That the origin is signified by "the land of his nativity;" and that their idolatrous worship was thence derived, is evident from the signification of nativity," as being origin and derivation, concerning which see under verses 10 and 27.


That by "Ur of the Chaldees" is signified external worship in which there are falsities, is evident from the signification in the Word of "the Chaldeans." It has been shown above, at verse 9, that by "Babel" is signified worship in which interiorly there are evils; but by "Chaldea" is signified worship in which interiorly there are falsities. Consequently by "Babel" is signified worship in which there is inwardly nothing of good; and by "Chaldea," worship in which there is inwardly nothing of truth. Worship in which there is inwardly nothing good and nothing true, is a worship wherein there is interiorly what is profane and idolatrous. That such worship is signified in the Word by "Chaldea," may be seen from the following passages. In Isaiah: Behold the land of the Chaldeans; this people is no more; Asshur founded it in Ziim; they shall set up the watchtowers thereof, they shall raise up her palaces; he shall make it a ruin (Isa. 23:13). "The land of the Chaldeans which is not a people," denotes falsities; "Asshur founded it," denotes reasonings; "the watchtowers," phantasies. Again: Thus hath said Jehovah, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, For your sake I have sent to Babylon, and have thrown down the bars, all of them, and the Chaldeans in whose ships is a cry (Isa. 43:14). "Babylon" denotes worship in which inwardly there is evil; "the Chaldeans," worship in which inwardly there is falsity; the "ships" are knowledges of truth which are corrupted. [2] Again: Sit thou silent and get thee into darkness, O daughter of the Chaldeans; for they shall no more call thee the lady of kingdoms. I was wroth with My people, I profaned My inheritance, and gave them into thy hand; these two things shall come to thee suddenly in one day, the loss of children and widowhood together; to the full shall they come upon thee, because of the multitude of thy sorceries, and because of the greatness of thine enchantments (Isa. 47:5-6, 9). Here it is evident that "Chaldea" is the profanation of truth, and is called "sorceries" and "enchantments." Again: Go ye forth out of Babylon, flee ye from the Chaldeans (Isa. 48:20); that is, from the profanation of good and of truth in worship. In Ezekiel: Cause Jerusalem to know her abominations; thy father was an Amorite, and thy mother a Hittite; thou hast committed whoredom with the sons of Egypt; thou hast committed whoredom with the sons of Asshur; hence thou hast multiplied thy whoredom even into the land of Chaldea (Ezek. 16:2-3, 26, 28-29). This is said specifically of the Jewish Church; "the Sons of Egypt" denote memory-knowledges; "the sons of Assyria," reasonings; "the land of Chaldea into which she multiplied her whoredom," the profanation of truth. That countries are not meant by Egypt, Assyria, and Chaldea, and that no other whoredom is spoken of, may be seen by anyone. [3] Again: Oholah hath committed whoredom, and hath doted on her lovers the Assyrians, her neighbors; and she hath not forsaken her whoredoms from Egypt; she hath added to her whoredoms; and she saw men, it was portrayed upon the wall, images of the Chaldeans portrayed with vermilion, girded with girdles upon their loins, dyed turbans hanging down on their heads, all of them leaders to look upon, the likeness of the sons of Babylon, of the Chaldeans, the land of their nativity. As soon as she saw them she loved them lewdly, and sent messengers unto them into Chaldea; the sons of Babylon polluted her by their whoredoms (Ezek. 23:5, 8, 14-17). Here the Chaldeans are called "sons of Babylon," and denote truths profaned in worship. "Oholah" denotes the spiritual church, which is called Samaria. [4] In Habakkuk: I stir up the Chaldeans, a bitter and hasty nation, that march through the breadths of the earth, to possess dwelling places that are not theirs, a horrible and a terrible one, and from itself doth its judgment and its exaltation go forth; whose horses are swifter than leopards, and keener 1368-1 than the evening wolves; and the horsemen thereof spread themselves, yea, the horsemen thereof come from afar; they fly as an eagle that hasteth to devour; wholly doth it come for violence; the panting desire of its faces is toward the east (Hab. 1:6-9). The Chaldean nation is here described by many representatives that are significant of the profanations of truth in worship. [5] Moreover, Babylon and Chaldea are described in two entire chapters in Jeremiah (chapters 50 and 51), where what is signified by each is plainly evident, namely, by Babylon the profanation of celestial things, and by Chaldea the profanation of spiritual things, in worship. From all this therefore it is evident what is signified by "Ur of the Chaldees," namely, external worship in which there is inwardly profane idolatry. Moreover it has been permitted that I should be instructed by themselves that such was the character of their worship.


Verse 29. And Abram and Nahor took them wives; and the name of Abram's wife was Sarai; and the name of Nahor's wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah, and the father of Iscah. "And Abram and Nahor took them wives; and the name of Abram's wife was Sarai; and the name of Nahor's wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah, and the father of Iscah," signifies marriages of evil with falsity in idolatrous worship; which stand in the relationship here indicated. By the husbands are signified evils; by the wives, falsities.


That these things are signified it would take too long to set forth; for it would involve a setting forth of the genera and derivations of idolatries. These cannot be known except from the opposite things, that is, from profanations, as of the celestial things of love, of the spiritual things of the same, and of the rational things therefrom, and lastly of memory-knowledges. The profanations themselves of these things constitute the genera and species of idolatries; but not the worships of idols, which are external idolatries, and which worships can be conjoined with affections of good and truth, and thus with charity, as takes place among Gentiles who live in mutual charity. It is interior idolatrous worships that are signified in the Word by the external idolatrous worships. The births, the generations, and also the marriages of them, which are those of evil and falsity, are circumstanced precisely as are these relationships and these marriages, which have been described in the 27th verse, and also in this one.


Verse 30. And Sarai was barren, she had no offspring. These words signify that what was evil and false reproduced itself no further.


This may be seen from the signification of "barren," concerning which elsewhere. For, as before shown, a son and a daughter signify truth and good; and in the opposite sense, evil and falsity. Hence "barren" signifies that the evil and falsity of idolatrous worship reproduced itself no further.


Verse 31. And Terah took Abram his son; and Lot the son of Haran, his son's son; and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram's wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came even unto Haran, and stayed there. These words signify that those who had been in idolatrous worship were instructed in the celestial and spiritual things of faith, in order that a representative church might come forth from that source.


That this is signified may be seen from what has been said above, and from what is to be said in the following chapter.


Verse 32. And the days of Terah were two hundred and five years; and Terah died in Haran. "And the days of Terah were two hundred and five years," signifies the duration and state of the idolatrous worship meant by Terah; "and Terah died in Haran," signifies the end of idolatry, and the beginning of a representative church through Abram.


CONTINUATION CONCERNING SITUATION AND PLACE,AND ALSO CONCERNING DISTANCE AND TIME, IN THE OTHER LIFE. I have frequently conversed with spirits concerning the idea of place and of distance among them-that it is not anything real, but appears as if it were, being nothing else than their states of thought and of affection, which are thus varied, and are in this manner presented to view in the world of spirits; but not so much so in heaven among the angels, since these are not in the idea of place and time, but in that of states. But the spirits to whom bodily and earthly ideas adhere, do not apprehend this, for they suppose that the case is exactly as they see it to be. Such spirits can hardly be brought to believe otherwise than that they are living in the body, and are not willing to be persuaded that they are spirits; and thus scarcely that there is any appearance, or any fallacy, in relation to the matter, for they desire to live in fallacies. Thus do they preclude themselves from the apprehension and acknowledgment of truths and goods, which are as far as possible from fallacies. It has been shown them many times that change of place is nothing but an appearance, and also a fallacy of sense. For there are two kinds of mutation of place in the other life; one is that which has been spoken of before, when it is said that all spirits and angels in the Grand Man constantly keep their own situation therein; which is an appearance. The other is that spirits appear in a place when in fact they are not there, which is a fallacy.


That in the world of spirits place, change of place, and distance, are an appearance, has been evidenced from the fact that all souls and spirits whatever who have existed from the first creation, appear constantly in their own places, and never change their places except when their state is changed; and that as their state is changed, so are the places and distances with them varied. But as everyone has a general state which is regnant, and as the particular and individual changes of state have regard to the general state, therefore after these changes all return to their own situation.


I have been informed, both by conversation with angels, and by living experience, that spirits, as spirits, in regard to the organic forms which constitute their bodies, are not in the place where they are seen, but may be far away, and yet appear there. I know that they who suffer themselves to be carried away by fallacies will not believe this, but still the case is so. This has been illustrated to those spirits who have believed nothing to be true that they did not see with their eyes-even if this were mere fallacy-by the fact that something similar is exhibited among men in the world. Take for instance the sound of a speaker's voice coming to the ear of another person: if the person who hears it did not know to the contrary, by the discriminations of sound, learned by experience from infancy, and did not see the speaker at a distance, he would have no other belief than that the speaker was close to his ear. So with a man who sees remote objects: if he did not at the same time see intervening objects, and know from them, or judge of the distance by what he knows, he would believe a distant object to be near his eye. Much more is this the case with the speech of spirits, which is interior speech; and with their sight, which is interior sight. [2] And the spirits were told, further, that when plain experience declares a fact, they ought not to doubt, and still less deny it, on the ground that it does not so appear to the senses, and that they do not perceive it. For even within the realm of nature there are many things that are contrary to the fallacies of the senses, but are believed because visible experience teaches them. For example, the sailing of a ship around the globe: they who suffer themselves to be carried away by the fallacies of the senses, might believe that ship and sailors would fall off when they came to the opposite side, and that the people at the antipodes could never stand upon their feet. Such also is the case with the subject before us, and with many things in the other life that are contrary to the fallacies of the senses, and yet are true-as that man has no life of himself, but from the Lord; and very many other things. By these and other considerations, incredulous spirits could be brought to believe that the case is as we have stated it.


From all this it may also be seen that the walking and removal of spirits from place to place, and their advancements, which are so frequently seen, are nothing but changes of state; that is to say, they appear in the world of spirits as changes of place; but in heaven, as changes of state. The case is similar with many other things that are representative, and are there presented to view, concerning which of the Lord's Divine mercy hereafter.


That in the other life place, change of place, and distance are a fallacy, has been evidenced by the fact that spirits can by phantasy be carried up on high in a moment, even to a very great height, and can also at the same moment be carried into the depths below; and also as it were from one end of the universe to the other. Nay, the sorceresses and magicians there, can by phantasies induce others to believe that when they are in one place they are also at the same time in another, even in several places, thus counterfeiting as it were a universal presence. They who in the life of the body have aspired to exalted station, and also those who have been deceitful, often appear above the head, while really they are in a hell under the feet; and as soon as their soaring arrogance is taken away, they sink down into their own hell, as has been shown me. Their appearance on high is not an appearance, but a fallacy; for, as already said, there are two kinds of mutation of place; that arising from all spirits and angels keeping constantly in their own situation, being an appearance; and their appearing in one place when their real situation is not there, being a fallacy.


The souls and spirits who have not as yet been allotted a constant situation in the Grand Man, are carried to various places, now to this, now to that; now are seen on one side, now on another; now above, now below. These are called wandering souls or spirits, and are comparable to the fluids in the human body, which rise up from the stomach, sometimes to the head, sometimes to other parts, and are carried about. So is it with these spirits, until they come to their designated place, and to a situation in conformity with their general state. It is their states that are thus changed, and that are wandering.


Men cannot but confound the Divine Infinity with infinity of space; and as they have no apprehension of infinity of space except as of a nothing, which in fact it is, they do not believe in the Divine Infinity. Such also is the case with the Eternity, which men cannot conceive of except as an eternity of time, since it is presented by means of time to those who are in time. The true idea of the Divine Infinity is insinuated into the angels by the fact that they are instantly present under the Lord's sight, with no intervening space or time, even though they were at the furthest extremity of the universe; and the true idea of the Divine Eternity is insinuated by the fact that thousands of years do not appear to them as time, but scarcely otherwise than as if they had lived only a minute; and both ideas are insinuated by the fact that in their present they have past and future things together. Hence they have no solicitude about future things; nor have they ever any idea of death, but only the idea of life; so that in all their present there is the Lord's Eternity and Infinity.


CHAPTER 12 CONCERNING THE PERCEPTION OF SPIRITS AND OF ANGELS AND CONCERNING SPHERES IN THE OTHER LIFE. Among the wonderful things in the other life are perceptions, of which there are two kinds. One kind, which is angelic perception, consists in perceiving what is true and good, and what is from the Lord, and what from the persons themselves; and also in perceiving the source and quality of their thoughts, words, and actions, when these are from themselves. The other kind is common to all, to angels in the highest perfection, and to spirits according to their respective qualities, and consists in knowing the quality of another on his first approach.


As regards the first kind of perception, which is angelic, and which consists in perceiving what is true and good, also what is from the Lord and what from the persons themselves; and also in perceiving the source and quality of their thoughts, words, and actions, when these are from themselves-it has been granted me to converse with the sons of the Most Ancient Church concerning their perception. They said that of themselves they neither think nor can think anything, nor of themselves will anything; but that in all things whatever which they think and will, both in general and in particular, they perceive what comes from the Lord, and what from other sources; and they perceive not only how much is from the Lord, and how much is as from themselves, but also, when it is as from themselves, they perceive whence it is, from what angels, and likewise the quality of the angels and what their thoughts are, distinguishing every difference; thus they perceive what the influx is, and numberless other things. Perceptions of this kind exist in much variety. With the celestial angels, who are in love to the Lord, there is a perception of good, and from this, of all things of truth; and as they perceive truth from good, they do not admit of any speaking, and still less of any reasoning, about truth; but they say that it is so, or that it is not so. Whereas the spiritual angels, who likewise have perception, although not such as the celestial have, speak concerning truth and good; but still they perceive them, although with a difference; for there are innumerable varieties of this perception, the varieties having reference to their perception as to whether a thing is of the Lord's will, as to whether it is of His leave, or as to whether it is of His permission, all of which are perfectly distinct from each other.


There are spirits who belong to the province of the skin, especially the scaly skin, who desire to reason about everything; they have no perception of what is good and true; indeed the more they reason, the less they perceive; they make wisdom consist in reasoning, and on this base their claim to seem wise. 1385-1 They have been told that it is of angelic wisdom to perceive without reasoning whether a thing is good and true; but they do not apprehend that such perception is possible. These are they who in the life of the body had confused truth and good by means of matters of knowledge and of philosophy, and thereby had seemed to themselves to be pre-eminently learned; but as they had not previously adopted any principles of truth from the Word, they have less common sense than others.


So long as spirits suppose that they are under their own guidance and think from themselves, and that they have knowledge, understanding, and wisdom from themselves, they cannot have perception, but believe it to be a fable.


I have several times conversed about perception with those in the other life who, while they lived in the world, had regarded themselves as able to penetrate and understand all things; telling them that angels perceive that they think and speak, and will and act from the Lord. But still they could not conceive what perception is, but supposed that if all things were to inflow in this way, they would be bereaved of all life; because in that case they would think nothing from themselves, or from what is their own; and in this they had made life to consist; and that in that case it would be another who was thinking, and not themselves; so that they would be mere organs devoid of life. But they were told that between having perception, and not having it, the difference of life is like that between light and darkness; and that men first begin to feel alive when they receive such perception; for then they live from the Lord, and also have what is their own, which is given together with all happiness and delight. It was also shown them by varied experience how the case is with perception, and at the time they acknowledged the possibility of it; but after a while they again did not know, doubted, and denied. From this it has been made evident how difficult it is for man to comprehend what perception is.


The second kind of perception, as has been said, is what is common to all, in the highest perfection to angels, and to spirits according to their quality. It consists in knowing the quality of another at his first approach, even if he does not speak. He manifests himself forthwith by a certain wonderful influx. It is known of a good spirit, not only of what goodness he is, but also of what faith; and when he speaks, this is known from every word. Of an evil spirit it is known of what evil he is and of what unbelief; and when he speaks, this is known from every word, and so manifestly that there can be no mistake. Something similar appears with men, who likewise can sometimes know from another's gesture, looks, or speech, what he is thinking, even although it is contrary to what he says; and this knowledge is natural to man, deriving its origin and character from the nature of spirits, and thus from the spirit of the man himself, and its communication with the world of spirits. This communicative perception has its beginning in the fact that the Lord wills that all goods may be communicable, and that all may be affected by mutual love, and so be happy. Hence such a perception reigns universally also among spirits.


Souls that have come into the other life have wondered that there is such a communication of another's thoughts, and that they at once know the quality of another person's faith, as well as that of his disposition. But they were told that the spirit receives much more excellent faculties when it has been separated from the body. During the bodily life there is an influx of the objects of the senses; and also of phantasy from those things which thence inhere in the memory; besides anxieties for the future; various cupidities that are excited by external things; cares for food, clothing, place of abode, children; and other things, concerning which they take no thought in the other life; and therefore on the removal of these obstacles and hindrances, together with the corporeal parts that are of gross sensation, they cannot but be in a more perfect state. The same faculties remain, but are much more perfect, clear, and free; especially with those who have lived in charity and faith in the Lord, and in innocence; for the faculties of all such are immensely elevated above those which they had in the body, being finally elevated even to the angelic faculties of the third heaven.


Nor is there a communication merely of another's affections and thoughts, but also of his memory-knowledge, to such an extent that one spirit supposes that he has known what another knows, even if he had known nothing about such matters. Thus there is a communication of all the other's knowledge. Some spirits retain what is thus communicated, and some do not.


Communications are made both by conversation with one another, and by ideas together with representations; for the ideas of thought of spirits are simultaneously representative, and by this means all things are set forth in great fullness. They can represent more by a single idea than they can utter by a thousand words. But the angels perceive what is within the idea, what the affection is, what the origin of the affection, what its end; besides other things that are interior.


The delights and happiness in the other life are wont to be communicated from one to many by a real transmission that is wonderful, by which they too are affected in a similar manner; and these communications are effected without any loss to him who makes the communication. It has been granted me also thus to communicate delights to others by transmissions. From this may be seen what must be the happiness of those who love the neighbor more than themselves, and who desire nothing more than to transfer their happiness to others; a condition that originates in the Lord, who in this manner communicates felicities to the angels. The communications of happiness are such continual transmissions; but without any reflection that they are from such an active origin, and from a determination as it were open and voluntary.


Communications are also effected in a wonderful way by means of removals, the nature of which cannot be perceived by man. Sad and troublesome things are removed in an instant, and thus things that give delight and happiness are presented without any hindrances; for when these have been removed, the angels flow in, and communicate their happy feelings.


It is owing to the existence of such perception as enables one to know in an instant what is the quality of another in respect to love and faith, that spirits and angels are joined together into societies in accordance with their agreement, and are separated from fellowship according to their disagreement; and this so exquisitely that there is not the smallest difference which does not dissociate or consociate. Hence the societies in the heavens are so distinct from one another that nothing can be conceived to be more so; and this in accordance with all the differences of love to the Lord, and of faith in Him, which cannot be numbered. Hence comes the form of heaven, which is such as to represent one man; and this form is continually being perfected.


As regards this kind of perception, I have learned many things from experience, but it would be tedious to relate them all. Often have I heard the deceitful speaking, and have perceived not only that there was deceit, but also what the deceit was, and what special wickedness there was in it. There is as it were an image of the deceit in every tone of the voice. I could also perceive whether the deceit belonged to him who was speaking, or to others who spoke through him. The case is similar with those who are in hatred: the nature of the hatred is at once perceived, and more things that are in it than man can in any wise be induced to believe. When the persons are presented against whom the hatred has been felt, a lamentable state results, for whatever had been thought and plotted against them stands forth to view.


A certain spirit who while he lived in the world had desired to arrogate to himself merit for his acts and his teaching, went away to the right and came to those who were not of such a character. In order that he might be associated with them, he said that he was nothing, and that he desired to serve them; but instantly, on his first approach, and indeed while he was still far away, they perceived what he was; and they at once replied that he was not what he professed to be, but that he desired to be great, and therefore could not be in agreement with them, who were little. Being ashamed at this, he withdrew, wondering that they knew him so far away.


As the perceptions are so exquisite, evil spirits cannot approach a sphere, or any society, where there are good spirits who are in mutual love. When they merely approach it they begin to be distressed, and they complain and lament. In his audacity and self-confidence, a spirit who was evil obtruded himself into a certain society that is at the first threshold of heaven; but from the moment of his arrival he was scarcely able to breathe, and became sensible of a cadaverous stench from himself, and therefore fell back.


There were a number of spirits about me who were not good. An angel came, and I saw that the spirits could not endure his presence; for, as he came nearer, they fell back more and more. I wondered at this, but it was given me to know that the spirits could not stay in the sphere which he had with him. From this, and also from other experience, it has been made evident that one angel can put to flight myriads of evil spirits, for they cannot endure the sphere of mutual love. And yet it was perceived that the sphere of the angel had been tempered by means of others who were associated with him: if it had not been tempered, they would all have been dissipated. From all this it is evident what a perfect perception exists in the other life; and how those who are there are associated together, and also separated from fellowship, in accordance with the perceptions.


Every spirit has communication with the interior and with the inmost heaven, though he is wholly ignorant of it, and without this communication he could not live. What he is inwardly, is known by the angels who are in his interiors, and he is also ruled by the Lord by means of these angels. Thus there are communications of his interiors in heaven, as there are of his exteriors in the world of spirits. By means of interior communications he is fitted for the use into which he is led without his being aware of it. The case is the same with man: he likewise communicates with heaven by means of angels-although of this he is wholly ignorant-for otherwise he could not live. The things which flow in therefrom into his thoughts, are only the ultimate effects; all his life is from this source, and from this are ruled all the endeavors [conatus] of his life.


A continuation concerning perceptions and the spheres that arise from them, will be found at the end of this chapter. CHAPTER 12 1. And Jehovah said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy land, and from thy birth, and from thy father's house, to the land that I will cause thee to see. 2. And I will make thee into a great nation; and I will bless thee, and will make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing. 3. And I will bless them that bless thee, and will curse him that curseth thee; and in thee shall all the families of the ground be blessed. 4. And Abram went as Jehovah had spoken unto him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was a son of five years and seventy years, when he went forth out of Haran. 5. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their substance that they had gotten, and the soul that they had gained in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came. 6. And Abram passed through the land, even unto the place Shechem, even unto the oak-grove Moreh: and the Canaanite was then in the land. 7. And Jehovah was seen of Abram, and said, To thy seed will I give this land. And there he built an altar to Jehovah, who was seen of him. 8. And he removed from thence into the mountain on the east of Bethel, and spread his tent; having Bethel toward the sea, and Ai on the east. And there he built an altar to Jehovah, and called on the name of Jehovah. 9. And Abram journeyed, going and journeying, toward the south. 10. And there was a famine in the land. And Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; because the famine was grievous in the land. 11. And it came to pass that when he drew nigh to come into Egypt, he said unto Sarai his wife, Behold I pray, I know that thou art a woman beautiful to look upon: 12. And it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they will say, This is his wife; and they will kill me, and will make thee to live. 13. Say, I pray, thou art my sister; that it may be well with me for thy sake, and that my soul may live because of thee. 14. And it came to pass when Abram was come into Egypt, that the Egyptians saw the woman, that she was very beautiful. 15. And the princes of Pharaoh saw her, and praised her to Pharaoh; and the woman was taken to Pharaoh's house. 16. And he did well unto Abram for her sake; and he had flock and herd, and he-asses and menservants, and maidservants and she-asses, and camels. 17. And Jehovah smote Pharaoh with great plagues, and his house, because of the word of Sarai, Abram's wife. 18. And Pharaoh called Abram, and said, What is this that thou hast done unto me? why didst thou not tell me that she is thy wife? 19. Why saidst thou, She is my sister? and I might have taken her to me for a woman. And now, behold thy wife; take her, and go. 20. And Pharaoh commanded the men concerning him; and they sent him away, and his wife, and all that he had.


1366-1 As Swedenborg all through his theological Writings speaks of "restoring" (restaurare) and "renewing" (instaurare) a new church, he may have had a special reason for this seeming solecism. [REVISER.]

1368-1 The Latin has oculi, a manifest misprint for acuti Vide Schmidius in loco.

1385-1 Compare Arcana 5556, and Spiritual Experiences 3703. [REVISER.]

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