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DLW 209. The doctrine of degrees which is taught in this Part, has hitherto been illustrated by various things which exist in both worlds; as by the degrees of the heavens where angels dwell, by the degrees of heat and light with them, and by the degrees of atmospheres, and by various things in the human body, and also in the animal and mineral kingdoms. But this doctrine has a wider range; it extends not only to natural, but also to civil, moral, and spiritual things, and to each and all their details. There are two reasons why the doctrine of degrees extends also to such things. First, in every thing of which anything can be predicated there is the trine which is called end, cause, and effect, and these three are related to one another according to degrees of height. And secondly things civil, moral, and spiritual are not something abstract from substance, but are substances. For as love and wisdom are not abstract things, but substance (n. 40-43), so in like manner are all things that are called civil, moral, and spiritual. These may be thought of abstractly from substances, yet in themselves they are not abstract; as for example, affection and thought, charity and faith, will and understanding for it is the same with these as with love and wisdom, in that they are not possible outside of subjects which are substances, but are states of subjects, that is, substances. That they are changes of these, presenting variations, will be seen in what follows. By substance is also meant form, for substance is not possible apart from form.

DLW 210. From its being possible to think of will and understanding, of affection and thought, and of charity and faith, abstractly from the substances which are their subjects, and from their having been so thought of, it has come to pass, that a correct idea of these things, as being states of substances or forms, has perished. It is altogether as with sensations and actions, which are not things abstract from the organs of sensation and motion. Abstracted, that is, separate, from these they are mere figments of reason; for they are like sight apart from an eye, hearing apart from an ear, taste apart from a tongue, and so forth.

DLW 211. Since all things civil, moral, and spiritual advance through degrees, just as natural things do, not only through continuous but also through discrete degrees; and since the progressions of discrete degrees are like progressions of ends to causes, and of causes to effects, I have chosen to illustrate and confirm the present point, that the outmost degree is the complex, containant, and base of prior degrees, by the things above mentioned, that is, by what pertains to love and wisdom, to will and understanding, to affection and thought, and to charity and faith.

DLW 212. That the outmost degree is the complex, containant, and base of prior degrees, is clearly seen from progression of ends and causes to effects. That the effect is the complex, containant, and base of causes and ends can be comprehended by enlightened reason; but it is not so clear that the end with all things thereof, and the cause with all things thereof, are actually in the effect, and that the effect is their full complex. That such is the case can be seen from what has been said above in this Part, particularly from this, that one thing is from another in a threefold series, and that the effect is nothing else than the end in its outmost. And since the outmost is the complex, it follows that it is the containant and also the base.

DLW 213. As regards love and wisdom:--Love is the end, wisdom the instrumental cause, and use is the effect; and use is the complex, containant, and base of wisdom and love; and use is such a complex and such a containant, that all things of love and all things of wisdom are actually in it; it is where they are all simultaneously present. But it should be borne in mind that all things of love and wisdom, which are homogeneous and concordant, are present in use, according to what is said and shown above (n. 189-194).

DLW 214. Affection, thought, and action are also in a series of like degrees, because all affection has relation to love, thought to wisdom, and action to use. Charity, faith, and good works are in a series of like degrees, for charity is of affection, faith of thought, and good works of action. Will, understanding, and doing are also in a series of like degrees; for will is of love and so of affection, understanding is of wisdom and so of faith, and doing is of use and so of work;. as, then, all things of wisdom and love are present in use, so all things of thought and affection are present in action, all things of faith and charity in good works, and so forth; but all are homogeneous, that is, concordant.

DLW 215. That the outmost in each series, that is to say, use, action, work, and doing, is the complex and containant of all things prior, has not yet been known. There seems to be nothing more in use, in action, in work, and in doing than such as there is in movement; yet all things prior are actually present in these, and so fully that nothing is lacking. They are contained therein like wine in its cask, or like furniture in a house. They are not apparent, because they are regarded only externally; and regarded externally they are simply activities and motions. It is as when the arms and hands are moved, and man is not conscious that a thousand motor fibers concur in every motion of them, and that to the thousand motor fibers correspond thousands of things of thought and affection, by which the motor fibers are excited. As these act deep within, they are not apparent to any bodily sense. This much is known, that nothing is done in or through the body except from the will through the thought; and because both of these act, it must needs be that each and all things of the will and thought are present in the action. They cannot be separated; consequently from a man's deeds or works others judge of the thought of his will, which is called his intention. It has been made known to me that angels, from a man's deed or work alone, perceive and see every thing of the will and thought of the doer; angels of the third heaven perceiving and seeing from his will the end for which he acts, and angels of the second heaven the cause through which the end operates. It is from this that works and deeds are so often commanded in the Word, and that it is said that a man is known by his works.

DLW 216. It is according to angelic wisdom that unless the will and understanding, that is, affection and thought, as well as charity and faith, clothe and wrap themselves in works or deeds, whenever possible, they are only like something airy which passes away, or like phantoms in air which perish; and that they fist become permanent in man and a part of his life, when he practises and does them. The reason is that the outmost is the complex, containant, and base of things prior. Such an airy nothing and such a phantom is faith separated from good works; such also are faith and charity without their exercise, with this difference only, that those who hold to faith and charity know what is good and can will to do it, but not so those who are in faith separated from charity.

Divine Love and Wisdom previous · next Author:  E. Swedenborg (1688-1772). www.TheisticScience.org