A Compendium of the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg/2 Concerning God

 

A COMPENDIUM

 

OF THE

 

THEOLOGICAL WRITINGS

 

OF

EMANUEL SWEDENBORG.

 

 

CONCERNING GOD.

 

Importance of a just Idea of God.

The idea of God enters into all things of the Church, of religion, and of worship. Not only do theological subjects reside above all [others] in the human mind, but supreme therein is the idea of God. If this therefore be false all things which follow derive from the beginning whence they flow, that they are false, or falsified. For the supreme, which also is the inmost, constitutes the very essence of the sequences; and the essence, as a soul, forms them into a body after its own image; and when in its descent it lights upon truths, it infects them also with its own blemish and error. (B. E. n. 40.)

Upon a just idea of God the universal heaven and the Church universal on earth, and in general the whole of religion, are founded; for through this there is conjunction, and through con- junction light, wisdom, and eternal happiness. (Pref to A. R.)

Of how great importance it is to have a just idea of God may appear from the consideration, that the idea of God forms the inmost of thought with all who have any religion; for all things of religion and all things of worship have relation to God; and as God is in all things of religion and of worship universally and particularly, therefore unless there be a just idea of God there cannot be any communication with the heavens. Hence it is that in the spiritual world every nation is assigned a place according to its conception of God as a Man; for in this, and in no other, there is an idea of the Lord. That man's state of life after death is according to the idea of God confirmed within him clearly appears from its opposite, that the denial of God constitutes hell,—and in Christendom, the denial of the Lord's Divinity. (D. L. W. n. 13.)

 

God is One.

All the principles of human reason unite and as it were concentre in this, that there is one God, the Creator of the universe. A man who has reason, therefore, from a common attribute of his understanding, does not and cannot think otherwise. Say to any one of sound reason that there are two Creators of the universe, and you will find an aversion to you on account of it—and perhaps from the bare sound of the words in the ear. It is evident from this that all the principles of human reason unite and as it were concentre in the idea that God is one. There are two reasons why this is so. First, because the very faculty of thinking rationally, in itself considered, is not man's but is God's in him; upon that faculty human reason, as to the common attribute, depends; and this common attribute causes it to see this, as of itself. Second, because by means of that faculty man either is in the light of heaven, or derives thence the common principle of his thought; and the universal principle of the light of heaven is, that God is one. It is otherwise if by that faculty a man has perverted the lower principles of the understanding; he, it is true, has ability by that faculty, but through the intorsion of the lower principles, he turns it in another direction, whereby his reason becomes unsound. (D. L. W. n. 23.)

Who that has sound reason does not perceive that the Divine is not divisible, and that there is not a plurality of Infinite, Uncreate, Omnipotent beings,—and thus, Gods? If another, who has no reason, shall say that several Infinite, Uncreate, Omnipotent beings—therefore Gods,—are possible, if only they have one and the same essence; and that through this there is one Infinite, Uncreate, Omnipotent being and God:—Is not one and the same essence, the same one? and the same one cannot be several. If it shall be said that one is from the other:—Then he that is from the other is not God in himself; and yet God, from whom all things are, is God in Himself, (ib. n. 27.)

He who in faith acknowledges and in heart worships one God is in the communion of saints on earth, and in the communion of angels in the heavens. They are called communions, and are so, because they are in one God and one God is in them. They are also in conjunction with the whole angelic heaven, and I might venture to affirm with all and each of the angels there; for they all are as the children and descendants of one father whose minds, manners, and faces are resemblant, so that they mutually recognize each other. The angelic heaven is harmoniously arranged in societies, according to all the varieties of the love of good; which varieties all tend to one most universal love, which is love to God. From this love they who in faith acknowledge and in heart worship one God, the Creator of the universe, and at the same time the Redeemer and Regenerator, are all propagated. (T. C. R. n. 15.)

 

God is very Man.

In all the heavens there is no other idea of God than of a Man. The reason is, that heaven is a Man in form, in whole and in part, and the Divine which is with the angels constitutes heaven, and thought proceeds according to the form of heaven. It is therefore impossible for the angels to think otherwise of God. Hence it is that all those in the world who are in conjunction with heaven think of God in like manner, when they think interiorly within themselves, or in their spirit. It is from the fact that God is Man that all angels and all spirits are men in perfect form. The form of heaven effects this, which in its greatest and in its least parts is like itself. It is known from Gen. i. 26, 27, that men were created after the image and likeness of God; and also that God was seen as a Man by Abraham and others. (D. L. W. n. 11.)

If any one thinks of the very Divine without the idea of a Divine Man, he thinks indeterminately,—and an indeterminate idea is no idea,—or he forms a conception of the Divine from the visible universe without end, or with an end in darkness, which conception conjoins itself with that of the worshippers of nature,—even falls into nature, and so becomes no conception [of God]. It is evident that thence there would be no conjunction with the Divine, by faith nor by love. All conjunction requires an object; and the conjunction is according to the character of the object. Hence it is that the Lord as to the Divine Human is called the Mediator, and the Intercessor; but He mediates and intercedes with Himself. It is evident from the Lord's words in John that the very Divine cannot by any conception be apprehended:—"No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath manifested Him" (i. 18); and again, "Ye have neither heard the Fathers voice at any time, nor seen His shape" (v. 37). Yet, which is remarkable, all who think of God from themselves, or from the flesh, think of Him indeterminately, that is, without any definite idea; but those who think of God not from themselves, nor from the flesh, but from the spirit, think of Him determinately; that is, they present to themselves a conception of the Divine under the human form. The angels in heaven thus think of the Divine; and thus the wise Ancients thought, to whom when the very Divine appeared He appeared as a Divine Man. (A. C. n. 8705.)

 

God is not in Space.

That God, and the Divine which immediately proceeds from Him, is not in space, although He is omnipresent,—even with every man in the world, with every angel in heaven, and with every spirit under heaven,—cannot be comprehended by a merely natural conception; but it can be in some measure by a spiritual conception. The reason why it cannot be comprehended by a merely natural conception, is that in this there is space; for it is formed from such things as are in the world, in all and each of which, that appear before the eyes, there is space. Every idea of great and small, in the world, is according to space; all length, breadth, and height,—in a word, every measure, figure, and form therein, is of space. But yet a man may comprehend it by natural thought if only he admits into it something of spiritual light. Something shall therefore first be said concerning a spiritual conception and thought thence. A spiritual conception derives nothing from space, but derives its all from state. State is predicated of love, of life, of wisdom, of affections, and of the joys from these; in general, of good and of truth. A truly spiritual conception of these has nothing in common with space. It is higher, and sees conceptions derived from space below itself, as heaven looks down upon the earth. But as angels and spirits equally with men see with their eyes, and objects cannot be seen except in space, therefore in the spiritual world, where spirits and angels dwell, spaces appear similar to the spaces on earth. And yet they are not spaces, but appearances; for they are not fixed and stated as on earth, but may be lengthened and shortened, may be changed and varied. Now because they thus cannot be determined by measurement, they cannot there be comprehended by any natural conception, but only by a spiritual conception; which conception of distances in space is no other than as of distances of good, or distances of truth, which are affinities and likenesses according to their states. It is evident from these considerations that by a merely natural conception a man cannot comprehend that the Divine is everywhere, and yet not in space; and that angels and spirits comprehend it clearly: consequently, that man also can do so, if only he admit something of spiritual light into his thought. The reason that man can comprehend it is because it is not his body that thinks but his spirit, thus not his natural but his spiritual. And the reason why many do not comprehend it is that they love the natural, and are therefore not willing to elevate the thoughts of their understanding above it into spiritual light; and they who will not cannot think even of God except from space, and to think of God from space is to think of the expanse of nature. (D. L. W. n. 7-9.)

An angel of heaven can by no means think otherwise, when he thinks of the divine omnipresence, than that the Divine fills all things without space. What an angel thinks is truth, because the light which enlightens his understanding is divine wisdom. This thought concerning God is fundamental; for without it what is to be said of the creation of the universe from God Man, and of His providence, omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience, though it should be understood cannot be retained. Because the merely natural man, when he understands them, relapses yet into his life's love, which is of his will; and this love dissipates, and immerses them in space, in which what he calls his rational light is,—not knowing that in proportion as he denies those things he is irrational. (D. L. W. n. 71, 72.)

 

The very Divine Essence is Love and Wisdom.

No one can deny that in God love, and at the same time wisdom, is in its very essence; for He loves all from love in Himself, and leads all from wisdom in Himself. The created universe too, viewed in relation to its order, is so full of wisdom from love, that it may be said all things in the complex are wisdom itself; for things innumerable are in such order, successive and simultaneous, that together they constitute one. It is from this, and no otherwise, that they can be held together and perpetually preserved.

It is because the very Divine essence is love and wisdom that man has two faculties of life, from one of which he has his understanding, and from the other his will. The faculty from which he has his understanding derives all that it has from the influx of wisdom from God; and the faculty from which he has his will derives all that it has from the influx of love from God. That man is not justly wise, and does not exercise his love justly, does not take away the faculties, but inwardly closes them. (D. L. W. n. 29, 30.)

 

The Divine Love and the Divine Wisdom are Substance and Form.

The common idea of men, concerning love and wisdom, is that of a something volatile, and floating in subtile air or ether; or of an exhalation from something of the kind; scarcely any one thinks that they are really and actually substance and form. Those who see that they are substance and form, yet perceive love and wisdom out of their subject, as issuing from it; and that which they perceive out of the subject, as issuing from it, though it is perceived as a something volatile and floating, they also call substance and form; not knowing that love and wisdom are the subject itself, and that what is perceived as a something volatile and floating without it is only an appearance of the state of the subject within itself. The reasons why this has not heretofore been seen are several: one is, that appearances are the first things from which the human mind forms its understanding, and that it cannot shake them off but by an investigation of the cause; and if the cause lies very deep, it cannot investigate it without keeping the understanding, for some time, in spiritual light, in which it cannot keep it long, by reason of the natural light which continually draws it down. The truth however is, that love and wisdom are very and actual substance and form, and constitute the subject itself.

But as this is contrary to appearance, it may seem not to merit belief unless it be shown, and it cannot be shown, except by such things as a man can perceive by his bodily senses; wherefore it shall be shown by them. A man has five senses, which are called feeling, taste, smell, hearing, and sight. The subject of feeling is the skin, with which a man is encompassed, the substance and form of the skin causing it to feel what is applied; the sense of feeling is not in the things which are applied, but in the substance and form of the skin, which is the subject; the sense is only an affection thereof, from the things applied. It is the same with the taste; this sense is only an affection of the substance and form of the tongue; the tongue is the subject. So with the smell; it is well known that odours affect the nose, and are in the nose, and that there is an affection thereof from odoriferous substances touching it. So with the hearing; it appears as if the hearing were in the place where the sound begins; but the hearing is in the ear, and is an affection of its substance and form; that the hearing is at a distance from the ear is an appearance. So also with the sight; it appears, when a man sees objects at a distance, as if the sight were there, but yet it is in the eye, which is the subject, and is, in like manner, an affection thereof; the distance is only from the judgment forming its conclusions of space from intermediate objects, or from the diminution and consequent obscuration of the object, the image of which is produced within the eye according to the angle of incidence. It hence appears that the sight does not go from the eye to the object, but that the image of the object enters the eye, and affects its substance and form. For it is the same with the sight as with the hearing; the hearing does not go out of the ear to catch the sound, but the sound enters the ear and affects it. It thus appears that the affection of a substance and form, which constitutes sense, is not a thing separate from the subject, but only causes a change in it, the subject remaining the subject then, as before, and after. Hence it follows that sight, hearing, smell, taste, and feeling, are not a something volatile flowing from those organs, but that they are the organs themselves, considered in their substance and form, and that whilst they are affected the sense is produced.

It is the same with love and wisdom, with this only difference that the substances and forms which are love and wisdom are not extant before the eyes, like the organs of the external senses. But still no one can deny that those things of wisdom and love which are called thoughts, perceptions, and affections, are substances and forms, and that they are not volatile entities flowing from nothing, or abstract from that real and actual substance and form which is the subject. For in the brain there are innumerable substances and forms, in which every interior sense that has relation to the understanding and the will, resides. All the affections, perceptions, and thoughts therein are not exhalations from the substances, but are actually and really the subjects which do not emit anything from themselves, but only undergo changes, according to the influences which affect them, as may evidently appear from what has been said above concerning the senses.

Hence it may first be seen that the Divine love and the Divine wisdom in themselves are substance and form, for they are very Being and Existing; and if they were not such a Being and Existing as that they are substance and form, they would be a mere creature of reason which in itself is not anything. (D. L. W. n. 40-43.)

 

God is Love itself and Life itself.

If it is thought that Life itself is God, or that God is Life itself, and there is at the same time no idea of what life is, in that case there is no intelligence of what God is beyond these expressions. The Divine love—which in the Divine wisdom is Life itself, which is God—cannot be conceived of in its essence; for it is infinite, and so transcends human apprehension. But in its appearance it may be conceived of. The Lord appears before the eyes of the angels as a sun, from which heat and light proceed. That sun is the Divine love; the heat is the Divine love going forth, which is called Divine good; and the light is the Divine wisdom going forth, which is called Divine truth. But yet we are not permitted to have an idea of the Life which is God, as of fire, or heat, or light, unless there be in it at the same time an idea of love and wisdom—thus, that the Divine love is as fire, and the Divine wisdom as light; and that the Divine love together with the Divine wisdom is as a bright radiance. For God is perfect Man, in face and in body like Man; there being no difference as to form, but as to essence. His essence is, that He is Love itself and Wisdom itself, and thus Life itself. (Ath. Cr. n. 27. A. E. n. 1124.)

Because God is Life, it follows that He is uncreate. The reason that He is uncreate is that life cannot be created, though it can create. For to be created is to exist from another; and if life existed from another there would be another being that would be life, and this life would be life itself. (Ath. Cr. 29. A. E. n. 1126.)

If one can but think from reason elevated above the sensualities of the body, how plain it is to see that life is not creatable! For what is life but the inmost activity of love and wisdom, which are in God and which are God; which life may also be called the very essential living force. (T. C. R n. 471.)

Nothing exists, subsists, is acted upon, or moved by itself, but by some other being or agent; whence it follows that everything exists, subsists, is acted upon and moved by the First Being, who has no origin from another, but is in Himself the living force which is life. (Ath. Cr. n. 45. A. E. n. 1146.)

 

The Nature of the Divine Love.

There are two things which constitute the essence of God—love and wisdom. And there are three which constitute the essence of His love—to love others out of Himself; to desire to be one with them; and to make them happy from Himself. The same three constitute the essence of His wisdom; because love and wisdom in God make one, and love wills these things, and wisdom accomplishes them. The first essential—to love others out of Himself—is acknowledged to be in God, from His love towards the whole human race. And on their account God loves all things that He has created, because they are means; for whoever loves an end loves also the means. All persons and all things in the universe are out of God, because they are finite and God is infinite. The love of God reaches and extends, not only to men and things that are good, but also to men and things that are evil; consequently, not only to men and things in heaven, but to men and things also in hell; thus not to Michael and Gabriel only, but to the Devil and Satan also. For God is everywhere, and from eternity to eternity the same. He Himself also says, that "He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth His rain on the Just and on the unjust" (Matt. V. 45). But the reason why evil men and things are still evil, is in the subjects and objects themselves, in that they do not receive the love of God as it is, and as it is inmostly within them, but according to their own qualities or states, as the thorn and the nettle receive the heat of the sun and the rain of heaven. The second essential—to desire to he one with others—is also acknowledged, from His conjunction with the angelic heaven, with the Church on earth, with every individual therein, and with every good and truth in man and in the Church. Love indeed in itself regarded is nothing else than an endeavour towards conjunction. Therefore, in order that this essential of love might take effect, God created man in His image and likeness, that thus he might have conjunction with Him. That the Divine love continually intends such conjunction is evident from the Lord's words, expressing His desire That they may be one, He in them, and they in Him, and that the love of God may be in them (John xvii. 21-23, 26). The third essential of God's love—to make others happy from Himself—is acknowledged, from the gift of eternal life, which is blessedness, satisfaction, and happiness, without end. These He gives to those who receive His love in themselves. For God, as He is love itself, is also blessedness itself; and as all love breathes forth delight from itself, so Divine love breathes forth very blessedness, satisfaction, and happiness to all eternity. Thus God makes angels, and also men after death, happy from Himself; which is effected by conjunction with them.

That such is the nature of the Divine love is apparent from its sphere, which pervades the universe, and affects every one according to his state. This sphere especially affects parents, inspiring them with a tender love for their children, who are out of or without them, and with a desire to be one with them, and to make them happy from themselves. It affects even the evil as well as the good; and not only man, but beasts and birds of every kind. For what is the object of a mother's thoughts when she brings forth her child, but to unite herself, as it were, with it, and to provide for its good? What is a bird's concern when she has hatched her young, but to cherish them under her wings, and with every mark of endearment to feed and nourish them? It is a well-known fact that even serpents and vipers love their offspring. This universal sphere of Divine love affects in a particular manner those who receive within themselves the love of God, as they all do who believe in God and love their neighbour; the charity that reigns within them being the image of that love. Even what is called friendship among men of the world puts on the semblance of that love; for every one when he invites a friend to his table gives him the best that his house affords, receives him with kindness, takes him by the hand, and makes him offers of service. This love is also the cause and only origin of all the sympathies and tendencies of congenial and similar minds towards union with each other. Nay, the same Divine sphere operates even upon the inanimate parts of the creation, as trees and plants. But then it acts through the instrumentality of the natural sun, and its heat and light; for the heat entering into them from without conjoins itself with them, and causes them to bud, and blossom, and bear fruit—which operations may be called their state of bliss. And this is effected by the sun's heat, because it corresponds with spiritual heat, which is love. Representations of the operation of this love are manifested also in various subjects of the mineral kingdom, and their types may be seen in the uses and consequent value to which each is exalted. (T. C. R. n. 43, 44.)

 

The Infinity and Eternity of God.

The immensity of God has relation to spaces, and His eternity to times. His infinity comprehends both immensity and eternity. But as infinity transcends what is finite, and the cognition of it, the finite mind, in order to attain some degree of perception of the subject, it must be treated of in this order:—1. God is infinite because He is and exists in Himself, and all things in the universe are and exist from Him. 2. God is infinite because He was before the world, consequently before spaces and times had birth. 3. God, since the world was made, is in space without space, and in time without time. 4. Infinity in relation to spaces is called immensity, and in relation to times eternity; and yet, notwithstanding these relations, there is nothing of space in God's immensity, and nothing of time in His eternity. 5. From very many objects in the world enlightened reason may discover the infinity of God the Creator. 6. Every created thing is finite; and the infinite is in finite things as in its receptacles, and in man as in its images. (T. C. R. n. 27.)

Men cannot but confound the Divine Infinity with infinity of space; and as they cannot conceive of the infinity of space as other than a mere nothing, as it really is, they disbelieve the Divine Infinity. The case is similar in respect to eternity, which men can only conceive of as eternity of time, it being presented to the mind under the idea of time with those who are in time. The true idea of the Divine Infinity is insinuated into the angels by this: that in an instant they are present under the Lord's view, without; any intervention of space or time, even from the farthest extremity of the universe. The true idea of the Divine Eternity is insinuated into them by this: that thousands of years do not appear to them as time, but scarcely otherwise than as if they had only lived a minute. Both ideas are insinuated into them by this: that in their now they have at once things past and future. Hence they have no solicitude about things to come; nor have they ever any idea of death, but only of life. Thus in all their now there is the Eternity and Infinity of the Lord. (A. C. n. 1382.)

 

The Omnipotence of God.

As regards the Divine omnipotence, it does not involve any power of acting contrary to order, but it involves all power of acting according to order; for all order is from the Lord. (A. E. n. 689.)

God is omnipotent because He has all power from Himself, and all others from Him. His power and will are one; and because He wills nothing but what is good, therefore He can do nothing but what is good. In the spiritual world no one can do anything contrary to his own will. This they there derive from God, whose power and will are one. God also is Good itself; while therefore He does good He is in Himself, and He cannot go out of Himself. Hence it appears that His omnipotence proceeds and operates within the sphere of the extension of good, which is infinite. For this sphere, from the inmost, fills the universe and all and everything therein; and from the inmost it governs those things which are without, as far as they conjoin themselves according to their order. And if they do not conjoin themselves, still it sustains them, and with all effort labours to bring them into order, according to the universal order in which God is in His omnipotence; and if this is not effected, they are cast out from Him, where, nevertheless. He sustains them from the inmost. (T. C. R. n. 56.)

That the Lord has infinite power may appear from these considerations: That He is the God of heaven and the God of earth; that He created the universe, full of innumerable stars, which are suns, consequently so many systems and earths in the systems; that they exceed many hundreds of thousands in number; and that He alone continually preserves and sustains them since He created them. Likewise, that as He created the natural worlds, so also He created the spiritual worlds above them, and perpetually fills these with myriads of myriads of angels and spirits; and that He Has hidden the hells under them, which are as many in number as the heavens. Moreover, that He alone gives life to all and each of the things which are in the worlds of nature and in the worlds above nature; and as He alone gives life, that no angel, spirit, or man, can move hand or foot except from Him. The quality of the infinite power of the Lord is especially evident from the consideration that He alone receives all that come from so many earths into the spiritual worlds, who are some myriads every week from our earth, and consequently so many myriads from so many thousands of earths in the universe; and not only receives, but also by a thousand mysteries of Divine wisdom leads every one to the place of his life, the faithful to their places in the heavens, and the unfaithful to their places in the hells; and that He everywhere rules the thoughts, intentions, and wills of all, singly as well as universally; and causes all and each one in the heavens to enjoy their felicity, and all and each one in the hells to be held in their bonds, insomuch that not one of them can lift up a hand, much less rise out, to the injury of any angel. Also that all are thus held in order, and in bonds, howsoever the heavens and the hells may be multiplied, to eternity. These and many other things, which from their abundance cannot be enumerated, would be impossible if the Lord had not infinite power. (A. E. n. 726.)

 

The Omniscience of God.

God perceives, sees, and knows all things, even to the most minute, that are done according to order; because order is universal from things the most single. For the single things taken together are denominated the universal; as the particulars taken together are denominated a general. The universal together with its most single things is a work cohering as one, insomuch that one part cannot be touched and affected without some sense of it being communicated to all the rest. It is from this quality of order in the universe that there is something similar in all created things in the world. But this shall be illustrated by comparisons taken from things that are visible. In the whole man there are things general and particular, and the general things there include the particulars, and adjust themselves by such a connection that one thing is of another. This is effected by the fact that there is a common covering about every member of the body, and that this insinuates itself into the single parts therein, so that they make one in every office and use. For example, the covering of every muscle enters into the single moving fibies therein, and clothes them from itself; in like manner the coverings of the liver, the pancreas, and the spleen, enter into the single things of them that are within; so the covering of the lungs, which is called the pleura, enters into their interiors; likewise the pericardium enters into all and the single things of the heart; and generally the peritonæum, by anastomoses with the coverings of all the viscera; so also the meninges of the brain; these, by fibrils emitted from them, enter into all the glands below, and through these into all the fibres, and through these into all parts of the body. Thence it is that the head, from the brains, governs all and the single things subordinate to itself. These things are adduced merely in order that, from visible things, some idea may be formed as to how God perceives, sees, and knows all things, even to the most minute, which are done according to order.

God, from those things which are according to order, perceives, knows, and sees all and single things, even to the most minute, that are done contrary to order; because God does not hold man in evil, but withholds him from evil; thus does not lead him [in evil] but strives with him. From that perpetual striving, struggling, resistance, repugnance, and reaction of the evil and the false against His good and truth, thus against Himself, He perceives both their quantity and quality. This follows from the omnipresence of God in all and the single things of His order; and at the same time from His omniscience of all and the single things therein; comparatively, as one whose ear is in harmony and accord exactly detects every discordant and inharmonious sound, how much and in what manner it is discordant, as soon as it enters. (T. C. R n. 60, 61.)

 

The Omnipresence of God.

The Divine omnipresence may be illustrated by the wonderful presence of angels and spirits in the spiritual world. In that world, because there is no space, but only the appearance of space, an angel or a spirit may, in a moment, become present to another, if only he comes into a similar affection of love, and thought from this; for these two cause the appearance of space. That such is the presence of all there, was manifest to me from the fact that I could see Africans and Hindoos there very near me, although they are so many miles distant upon earth; nay, that I could become present to those who are in other planets of this system, and also to those who are in the planets in other systems beyond this solar system. By virtue of this presence, not of place, but of the appearance of place, I have conversed with the Apostles, with departed popes, emperors, and kings; with the founders of the present church—Luther, Calvin, and Melancthon—and with others from different countries. Since such is the presence of angels and spirits, what limits can be set to the Divine presence, which is infinite, in the universe! The reason that angels and spirits have such presence is, because every affection of love, and every thought of the understanding from this, is in space without space, and in time without time. For anyone can think of a brother, relation, or friend in the Indies, and have him then as it were present to him; in like manner, he may be affected by their love, from the remembrance of them. By these things, because they are familiar to every one, the Divine omnipresence may, in some degree, be illustrated; and also by human thought, in that when any one recalls to mind what he has seen in travelling in various places, he is as it were present in them. Nay, the sight of the body emulates the same presence. The eye does not perceive distances, except by intermediate objects, which as it were measure them. The sun itself would be near the eye, nay, in the eye, unless intermediate objects discovered that it is so distant. That it is so writers on optics have also observed in their books. Each sight of man, both the intellectual and corporeal, has such presence, because his spirit sees through his eyes. But no beast has similar presence, because they have no spiritual sight. From these things it is evident that God is omnipresent, from the first to the last things of His order. (T. C. R. n. 64)

 

Knowledge Respecting God only possible by Revelation.

As to the nature and character of the one God, nations and peoples have strayed and are still straying into diverse opinions; for many reasons. The first is, that there can be no knowledge respecting God, and consequent acknowledgment of God, except by revelation; and no knowledge and consequent acknowledgement of the Lord, that in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, except from the Word, which is the crown of revelations. But by revelation given man can approach and receive influx from God, and so from natural become spiritual; and a primeval revelation pervaded the whole world. But the natural man perverted it, in many ways; whence the differences, dissensions, heresies, and schisms of religions. . . . . Human reason, however, if it will, may perceive or conclude that there is a God, and that He is one. This truth it can confirm by innumerable things in the visible world. For the universe is as a theatre on which the testimony that there is a God, and that He is one, is continually set forth. (T. C. R. n. 11, 12.)