A Compendium of the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg/3 Creation


God created the Universe from Himself, not out of Nothing.

Every one who thinks with clear reason sees that the universe is not created from nothing, because he sees that it is impossible for anything to be made out of nothing. For nothing is nothing, and to make anything out of nothing is contradictory, and what is contradictory is contrary to the light of truth, which is from the Divine wisdom; and whatever is not from the Divine wisdom is not from the Divine omnipotence. Every one who thinks from clear reason sees also that all things were created of substance which is substance in itself; for this is the very Being from which all things that are can exist. And as God alone is substance in itself, and hence the very Being, it is evident that the existence of things is from no other source. Many have seen this, for reason gives to see it, but have not dared to confirm it; fearing that thereby they might come to think that the created universe is God, because it is from God; or that nature exists from itself, and thus that its inmost is what is called God. Hence, although many have seen that the existence of all things is from no other source than from God and from His Being, yet they dared not proceed beyond the first thought on the subject, lest they should entangle their understanding in a Gordian knot, as it is called, from whence they might not afterwards be able to extricate it. The reason why they might not have been able to extricate their understanding is, that they thought of God, and of the creation of the universe by God, from time and space, which are peculiar to nature; and no one can perceive God and the creation of the universe from nature, but every one whose understanding is in any degree of interior light, may perceive nature and its creation from God, because God is not in time and space. (D. L. W. n. 283.)

All Things in the Universe were created from the Divine Love and the Divine Wisdom of God Man.

The universe in its greatest and least parts, as well as in its first and last principles, is so full of Divine love and Divine wisdom that it may be said to "be Divine love and Divine wisdom in an image. That this is so is manifest from the correspondence of all things in the universe with all things in man. Each and all things that exist in the created universe have such correspondence with each and all things of man that it may be said that man also is a kind of universe. There is a correspondence of his affections and of his thoughts from them with all things of the animal kingdom; a correspondence of his will, and of his understanding from this, with all things of the vegetable kingdom; and a correspondence of his ultimate life with all things of the mineral kingdom. It does not appear to any one in the natural world that there is such a correspondence, but it appears to every one who attends to it in the spiritual world. In that world are all things that exist in the natural world, in its three kingdoms; and they are the correspondences of the affections and thoughts—of the affections of the will and the thoughts of the understanding,—as also of the ultimates of the life, of those who dwell there. They appear around them with an aspect like that of the created universe, with the difference that they are in lesser form. From this it is manifest to the angels that the created universe is an image representative of God Man; and it is His love and wisdom that are manifested in the universe in an image. Not that the created universe is God Man, but that it is from Him. For nothing whatever in the created universe is a substance and form in itself, or life in itself, or love and wisdom in itself; yea, neither is man a man in himself; but all is from God, who is Man, wisdom and love, and form and substance, in Himself. That which is, in itself, is uncreate and infinite; but that which is from this, having nothing about it which is, in itself, is created and finite. And this represents the image of Him from whom it is and exists. (D. L. W. n. 52.)

Two Worlds, the Spiritual and the Natural.

There are two worlds, the spiritual and the natural; and the spiritual world derives nothing from the natural world, nor the natural world from the spiritual world. They are altogether distinct, and communicate only by correspondences. (D. L. W, n. 83.)

Two Suns, by means of which all Things in the two Worlds were created.

There are two suns by which all things were created from the Lord, the sun of the spiritual world and the sun of the natural world. All things were created from the Lord by the sun of the spiritual world, but not by the sun of the natural world; for the latter is far below the former, and in a middle distance. The spiritual world is above and the natural world is beneath it; and the sun of the natural world was created to act as a medium or substitute. (D. L. W. n. 153.)

Spiritual things can proceed from no other source than love; and love can proceed from no other source than Jehovah God, who is love itself. The sun of the spiritual world therefore, from which all spiritual things issue as from their fountain, is pure love, proceeding from Jehovah God, who is in the midst of it. That sun itself is not God, but is from God, and is the sphere next about Him from Him. Through this sun the universe was created by Jehovah God. By the universe all the worlds [systems] in one complex are understood, which are as many as the stars in the expanse of our heaven. (Influx, n. 5.)

The centre and the expanse of nature are derived from the centre and expanse of life, and not the contrary. Above the angelic heaven there is a sun, which is pure love, of a fiery appearance like the sun of the world. From the heat proceeding from that sun angels and men derive will and love; and from its light, understanding and wisdom. All things derived from that sun are called spiritual; and all things proceeding from the world's sun are containants or receptacles of life, and are called natural. The expanse of the centre of life is called the spiritual world, which subsists from its sun; and the expanse of the centre of nature is called the natural world, which subsists from its sun. Now, as spaces and times cannot be predicated of love and wisdom, but instead of them states are predicated, it follows that the expanse around the sun of the angelic heaven is not an extense; and yet it is in the extense of the natural sun, and is with living subjects there according to reception; and reception is according to forms and states. The fire of the sun of the world is from the sun of the angelic heaven, which is not fire, but is the Divine love,—the nearest proceeding from God, who is in the midst of it. Love in its essence is spiritual fire; hence fire in the Word, or Holy Scripture, according to its spiritual sense, signifies love. This is the reason why priests, when officiating in the temple, pray that heavenly fire may fill the hearts of those who worship; by which they mean heavenly love. (T. C. R. n. 35.)

The sun of the natural world is pure fire,[1] and is therfore dead; and since nature derives its origin from that sun, it also is dead. Creation itself cannot in any wise be ascribed to the sun of the natural world, but all to the sun of the spiritual world, because the sun of the natural world is wholly dead; but the sun of the spiritual world is alive, being the first proceeding of the Divine love and the Divine wisdom; and what is dead does not act from itself, but is acted on. Therefore to ascribe to it anything of creation would be like ascribing the work of the artificer to the instrument with which the hand of the artificer operates. . . . The actuality of the sun of the natural world is not from itself, but from the living power proceeding from the sun of the spiritual world. If therefore the living power of the latter sun were withdrawn or taken away the former sun would perish. Hence it is that the worship of the sun is the lowest of all kinds of worship of a God; for it is as dead as the sun itself. And therefore in the Word it is called an abomination. (D. L. W. n. 157.)

Atmospheres, Waters, and Earths, in the Spiritual and Natural Worlds.

The spiritual world and the natural world are similar, with the only difference that each and everything in the spiritual world is spiritual, and each and everything in the natural world is natural.

These two worlds being alike, therefore in both there are atmospheres, waters, and earths, which are the generals by and from which each and everything exists with infinite variety.

The atmospheres, which are called ethers and air, in the spiritual and natural worlds are alike, only that those in the spiritual world are spiritual and those in the natural world are natural. The former are spiritual because they exist from the sun which is the first proceeding of the Divine love and Divine wisdom of the Lord; and from Him they receive within them Divine fire, which is love, and Divine light, which is wisdom, and convey these two to the heavens, where the angels dwell, and cause the presence of that sun in the greatest and least things there. The spiritual atmospheres are discrete substances, or most minute forms, originating from the sun. And as they severally receive the sun, hence its fire—being divided into so many substances or forms, and as it were covered or enclosed in them, and tempered by these coverings—becomes heat, proportioned finally to the love of the angels in heaven and of spirits under heaven. The same may be said of the light of the sun. The natural atmospheres are similar to the spiritual atmospheres, in being also discrete substances of very minute form, originating from the sun of the natural world. Which sun also they each of them receive; and they treasure up in them its fire, and temper, and convey it as heat to the earth, which is the dwelling-place of men. And in like manner the light.

The difference between the spiritual atmospheres and the natural is, that the spiritual atmospheres are receptacles of Divine fire and Divine light, thus of love and wisdom, for they contain these within them; while the natural atmospheres are not receptacles of Divine fire and Divine light, but of the fire and light of their own sun, which in itself is devoid of life (as was shown above); and therefore they contain nothing from the sun of the spiritual world, but still are surrounded by spiritual atmospheres which come from that sun. That this is the difference between the spiritual atmospheres and the natural is learned from the wisdom of the angels.

The existence of atmospheres in the spiritual world as well as in the natural, is evident from the fact that angels and spirits breathe, speak, and hear equally with men in the natural world; and respiration, speech, and hearing are effected by means of the air or ultimate atmosphere. Also from the fact that angels and spirits see equally with men in the natural world; and sight is not possible but by means of an atmosphere purer than air. From this also, that angels and spirits think and are affected equally with men in the natural world; and thought and affection do not exist but by means of still purer atmospheres. And lastly from the fact, that all things belonging to the bodies of angels and spirits, as well external as internal, are held in proper connection by atmospheres; their externals by an aerial atmosphere, and their internals by ethereal atmospheres. Were it not for the circumpressure and action of these atmospheres, it is evident that the interior and exterior forms of the body would be dissolved. Since the angels are spiritual, and each and all things of their bodies are held in their connection, form, and order, by atmospheres, it follows that those atmospheres also are spiritual; and they are spiritual because they originate from the spiritual sun, which is the first going forth of the Divine love and Divine wisdom of the Lord. (D. L. W. n. 174-176.)

The Origin of Matter.

That substances or matters, such as are in the earth, have been produced from the sun through its atmospheres, who does not affirm that considers well that there are perpetual mediations from the first to the last, and that nothing can come into existence but from something prior to itself and finally from a First. The First is the sun of the spiritual world; and the First of that sun is God Man, or the Lord. Now as the atmospheres are the prior things through which that sun presents itself in the last things, and as those prior things continually decrease in activity and expansion to the last, it follows that when their activity and expansion cease in the last things they become substances and matters such as are in the earth,—which retain from the atmospheres, whence they originate, an incitement and endeavour to bring forth uses. Those that do not evolve the creation of the universe and all things therein by continual mediations from the First, cannot but build hypotheses that are incoherent and disconnected from their causes, which, when examined by a mind that looks interiorly into things, appear not as houses but as heaps of rubbish. (D. L. W. n. 303.)

The origin of earths, treated of in the preceding article, may show that in the substances and matters of which they consist there is nothing of the Divine in itself, but that they are deprived of all that is Divine in itself; being, as was there said, the ends and terminations of the atmospheres, whose heat has ended in cold, whose light in darkness, and whose activity in inertness. But still they have brought with them, by continuation from the substance of the spiritual sun, that which was there from the Divine, which was the sphere surrounding God Man or the Lord. From this sphere, by continuation from the sun, proceeded, by means of the atmospheres, the substances and matters of which the earths consist. (D. L. W. n. 305.)

The Divine Object in the Creation of the Universe.

The end of the creation of the universe is, that there may be an angelic heaven; and as the angelic heaven is the end, so also is man or the human race, because heaven consists of the human race. Hence all things that are created are mediate ends and uses, in the order, degree, and respect that they have relation to man, and by man to the Lord. (D. L. W. n. 329.)

The universal end, which is the end of all things in creation, is, that there may be an eternal conjunction of the Creator with the created universe; and this is impossible unless there be subjects in which His Divine may be, as in Himself, thus in which it may dwell and remain. Such subjects, in order that they may be His habitations and mansions, must be recipients of His love and wisdom as of themselves. They must therefore be such as can, as of themselves, elevate themselves to the Creator, and conjoin themselves with Him. Without this reciprocation no conjunction can be effected. These subjects are men who can, as of themselves, elevate and join themselves. By this conjunction the Lord is present in every work created from Himself; for every created thing is finally for the sake of man. Therefore the uses of all things that are created ascend by degrees from ultimates to man, and through man to God the Creator, from whom they originate.

Creation is in continual progression to this ultimate end, by the three [gradations], end, cause and effect; for these three exist in God the Creator, and the Divine is in all space without space, and is the same in the greatest and least things. Hence it is evident that the created universe, in its general progression to its ultimate end, is relatively the mediate end; for forms of uses are continually raised from the earth by the Lord the Creator, in their order up to man, who as to his body is likewise from the earth. Next, man is elevated by the reception of love and wisdom from the Lord; and all means are provided that he may receive them; and he is made such that he can receive them if he will. (D. L. W. n. 170, 171.)

All Things of the Created Universe, viewed from Uses, represent Man in an Image.

Man was called a microcosm by the ancients, because he resembled the macrocosm, which is the universe in the whole complex. But at this day it is not known why man was so called by the ancients; for there appears in him nothing more of the universe or the macrocosm than that he is nourished and lives, as to his body, from its animal and vegetable kingdoms, and that he is kept in a living state by its heat, sees by its light, and hears and breathes by its atmospheres. These, however, do not make man a microcosm, as the universe with all things therein is a macrocosm. The ancients called man a microcosm, or little universe, from the knowledge of correspondences which the most ancient people possessed, and from their communication with the angels of heaven; for the angels of heaven know, from the visible things about them, that all things in the universe, viewed as to uses, represent man in an image.

But that man is a microcosm, or little universe, because the created universe viewed as to uses is man in an image, cannot enter the thought and knowledge of any one, except from an idea of the universe as seen in the spiritual world. It cannot therefore be shown but by some angel in the spiritual world, or by some one to whom it has been granted to be in that world, and to see the things therein. As this has been granted to me, I am enabled, by what I have seen there, to reveal this arcanum.

Be it known that the spiritual world, in external appearance, is altogether similar to the natural world. Lands, mountains, hills, valleys, plains, fields, lakes, rivers and fountains appear there, consequently all things of the mineral kingdom; also paradises, gardens, groves, woods, with trees and shrubs of all kinds, fruits and seeds, also plants, flowers, herbs and grasses, thus all things of the vegetable kingdom; and animals, birds, and fishes of all kinds, thus all things of the animal kingdom appear there. Man, there, is an angel and a spirit. This is premised that it may be known that the universe of the spiritual world is altogether similar to the universe of the natural world; only that things there are not fixed and stationary, like those in the natural world, because in the spiritual world nothing is natural, but everything is spiritual.

That the universe of that world resembles a man in image, may be clearly seen from the fact that all the things just mentioned appear to the life, and exist about an angel and about angelic societies, as produced or created from them; they remain about them, and do not go away. That they are as things produced or created from them, is evident from the fact that when an angel goes away, or a society departs to another place, they no longer appear; also, that when other angels come in their place, the face of all things about them changes; the paradises change as to trees and fruits, the gardens as to flowers and seeds, the fields as to herbs and grasses; and the kinds of animals and birds like-wise change. Such things exist and so change because all these exist according to the affections and derivative thoughts of the angels; for they are correspondences. And as things which correspond make one with him to whom they correspond, therefore they are a representative image of him. The image does not indeed appear when all these are seen in their forms, but only when they are seen in their uses. It has been given me to see, that the angels, when their eyes have been opened by the Lord, and they have beheld these things from the correspondence of uses, have acknowledged and seen themselves in them.

Now, as the things that exist about the angels according to their affections and thoughts resemble a kind of universe, in the fact that there are earths, vegetables and animals, and these form a representative image of an angel, it is clear whence it was that the ancients called man a microcosm. (D. L. W. n. 319-323.)

Creation began from the highest or inmost, because from the Divine, and went forth to the ultimates or extremes and then first subsisted. The ultimate of the creation is the natural universe; and in it the terraqueous globe and all things thereon. When these were completed man was created, and into him were gathered all things of Divine order, from the first to the last. In his inmost parts were gathered those things which are in the first [degrees] of that order, and in his ultimates those which are in the last. So that man was made Divine order in form. (L. J. n. 9.)

  1. In another place the author states, more definitely, that—"The sun of this world consists of created substances the activity of which produces fire." (T, C. R. n. 472.)