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ALL PERFECTIONS INCREASE AND ASCEND ALONG WITH DEGREES AND ACCORDING TO THEM
DLW 199. That degrees are of two kinds, degrees of breadth and degrees of height has been shown above (n. 184-188); also that degrees of breadth are like those of light verging to shade, or of wisdom verging to ignorance; but that degrees of height are like end, cause and effect, or like prior, subsequent and final. Of these latter degrees it is said that they ascend or descend, for they are of height; but of the former that they increase or decrease for they are of breadth. These two kinds of degrees differ so much that they have nothing in common; they should therefore be perceived as distinct, and by no means be confounded.
DLW 200. All perfections increase and ascend along with degrees and according to them, because all predicates follow their subjects, and perfection and imperfection are general predicates; for they are predicated of life, of forces and of forms. Perfection of life is perfection of love and wisdom; and because the will and understanding are receptacles of love and wisdom, perfection of life is also perfection of will and understanding, consequently of affections and thoughts; and because spiritual heat is the containant of love, and spiritual light is the containant of wisdom, perfection of these may also be referred to perfection of life. Perfection of forces is perfection of all things that are actuated and moved by life, in which, however, there is no life. Atmospheres as to their active powers are such forces; the interior and exterior organic substances with man, and with animals of every kind, are such forces; all things in the natural world that are endowed with active powers both immediately and mediately from its sun are such forces. Perfection of forms and perfection of forces make one, for as the forces are, such are the forms; with the difference only, that forms are substances but forces are their activities; therefore like degrees of perfection belong to both. Forms that are not at the same time forces are also perfect according to degrees.
DLW 201. The perfection of life, forces, and forms that increase or decrease according to degrees of breadth, that is, continuous degrees, will not be discussed here, because there is a knowledge of these degrees in the world; but only the perfections of life, forces, and forms that ascend or descend according to degrees of height, that is, discrete degrees; because these degrees are not known in the world. Of the mode in which perfections ascend and descend according to these degrees little can be learned from things visible in the natural world, but this can be seen clearly from things visible in the spiritual world. From things visible in the natural world it is merely found that the more interiorly they are looked into the more do wonders present themselves; as for instance, in the eyes, ears, tongue; in muscles, heart, lungs, liver, pancreas, kidneys, and other viscera; also, in seeds, fruits and flowers; and in metals, minerals and stones. That wonders increase in all these the more interiorly they are looked into is well known; yet it has become little known thereby that the objects are interiorly more perfect according to degrees of height or discrete degrees. This has been concealed by ignorance of these degrees. But since these degrees stand out conspicuously in the spiritual world (for the whole of that world from highest to lowest is distinctly discreted into these degrees), from that world knowledge of these degrees can be drawn; and afterwards conclusions may be drawn therefrom respecting the perfection of forces and forms that are in similar degrees in the natural world.
DLW 202. In the spiritual world there are three heavens, arranged according to degrees of height. In the highest heavens are angels superior in every perfection to the angels in the middle heaven; and in the middle heaven are angels superior in every perfection to the angels in the lowest heaven. The degrees of perfections are such, that angels of the lowest heaven cannot attain to the first threshold of the perfections of the angels of the middle heaven, nor these to the first threshold of the perfections of the angels of the highest heaven. This seems incredible, yet it is a truth. The reason is that they are consociated according to discrete, not according to continuous degrees. I have learned from observation that the difference between the affections and thoughts, and consequently the speech, of the angels of the higher and the lower heavens, is such that they have nothing in common; and that communication takes place only through correspondences, which have existence by immediate influx of the Lord into all the heavens, and by mediate influx through the highest heaven into the lowest. Such being the nature of these differences, they cannot be expressed in natural language, therefore not described; for the thoughts of angels, being spiritual, do not fall into natural ideas. They can be expressed and described only by angels themselves, in their own languages, words, and writings, and not in those that are human. This is why it is said that in the heavens unspeakable things are heard and seen. These differences may be in some measure comprehended when it is known that the thoughts of angels of the highest or third heaven are thoughts of ends; the thoughts of angels of the middle or second heaven thoughts of causes, and the thoughts of angels of the lowest or first heaven thoughts of effects. It must be noted, that it is one thing to think from ends, and another to think about ends; that it is one thing to think from causes, and another to think about causes; and that it is one thing to think from effects, and another to think about effects. Angels of the lower heavens think about causes and about ends, but angels of the higher heavens from causes and from ends; and to think from these is a mark of higher wisdom, but to think about these is the mark of lower wisdom. To think from ends is of wisdom, to think from causes is of intelligence, and to think from effects is of knowledge. From all this it is clear that all perfection ascends and descends along with degrees and according to them.
DLW 203. Since the interior things of man, which are of his will and understanding, are like the heavens in respect to degrees (for man, as to the interiors of his mind, is a heaven in least form), their perfections also are like those of the heavens. But these perfections are not apparent to anyone so long as he lives in the world, because he is then in the lowest degree; and from the lowest degree the higher degrees cannot be known; but they are known after death, because man then enters into that degree which corresponds to his love and wisdom, for he then becomes an angel, and thinks and speaks things ineffable to his natural man; for there is then an elevation of all things of his mind, not in a single, but in a threefold ratio. Degrees of height are in threefold ratio, but degrees of breadth are in single ratio. But into degrees of height none ascend and are elevated except those who in the world have been in truths, and have applied them to life.
DLW 204. It seems as if things prior must be less perfect than things subsequent, that is, things simple than things composite; but things prior out of which things subsequent are formed, that is, things simple out of which things composite are formed, are the more perfect. The reason is that the prior or the simpler are more naked and less covered over with substances and matters devoid of life, and are, as it were, more Divine, consequently nearer to the spiritual sun where the Lord is; for perfection itself is in the Lord, and from Him in that sun which is the first proceeding of His Divine Love and Divine Wisdom, and from that in those things which come immediately after; and thus in order down to things lowest, which are less perfect as they are farther removed. Without such preeminent perfection in things prior and simple, neither man nor any kind of animal could have come into existence from seed, and afterwards continue to exist; nor could the seeds of trees and shrubs vegetate and bear fruit. For the more prior anything prior is, or the more simple anything simple is, the more exempt is it from injury, because it is more perfect.
|Divine Love and Wisdom||previous · next||Author: E. Swedenborg (1688-1772).||www.TheisticScience.org|