A Compendium of the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg/4 Man


What Man is.

All men, as to the interiors which belong to their minds, are spirits, clothed in the world with a material body, which is in every case subject to the thought of the spirit, and to the decision of its affection. For the mind, which is spirit, acts, and the body, which is matter, is acted upon. Every spirit, too, after the rejection of the material body, is a man, in a form similar to that which he had while he was a man in the world. (Ath. Cr. n. 41.)

Man is so created as to be, at the same time, in the spiritual world and in the natural. The spiritual world is the abode of angels, and the natural of men; and being so created, he is endowed with an internal and an external—the internal being that by which he is in the spiritual world, and the external that by which he is in the natural world. His internal is what is called the internal man, and his external is what is called the external man. (T. C. R n. 401.)

Man is not life, but a recipient of life from God. It is generally believed that life is in man, and is his own; consequently that he is not merely a recipient of life, but actually is life. This general belief is founded upon the appearance; for man lives—that is, he feels, thinks, speaks, and acts altogether as of himself. . . . But how is it possible, according to any rational conception, for the Infinite to create anything but what is finite? Can a man, therefore, being finite, be reasonably conceived to be anything but a form, which the Infinite may vivify from the life which He possesses in Himself? (ib. 470.)

Man is an organ of life, and God alone is life. God infuses His life into the organ and all its parts, as the sun infuses its heat into a tree and all its parts. And God grants man a sense that the life in himself is as if it were his own; and is desirous that he should have such a sense of it, to the intent that he may live, as of himself, according to the laws of order —which are as many in number as the precepts of the Word—and may thus dispose himself to receive the love of God. Yet God continually, as it were, with His finger holds the perpendicular tongue that is over the balance, to moderate it; but still He never violates free determination by compulsion. . . . Man's free determination results from the fact that he has a sense that the life he enjoys is his own. (ib. n. 504.)

What the Internal and External Man are.

Few, if any, at the present day know what the internal and the external man are. It is generally supposed that they are one and the same; and the reason of this is, that most persons believe that they do good and think truth of themselves, or from their proprium; this being a necessary consequence of submission to its influence. . . . The internal man is as distinct from the external as heaven from earth. Both the learned and the unlearned, when reflecting on the subject, have no other conception of the internal man than that it consists of thought, because it is within; and they believe that the external man is the body, with its sensual and voluptuous principle, because they are without. But thought, which is thus ascribed to the internal man, does not, in fact, belong to it; for in the internal man there are nothing but goods and truths derived from the Lord, conscience being implanted in the interior man by the Lord. For example, the wicked, yea, the very worst of men, and even those who are destitute of conscience, have a principle of thought; from which it is evident that the faculty of thought does not belong to the internal, but to the external man. That the material body, with its sensual and voluptuous principle, does not constitute the external man, is manifest from the consideration that spirits, who have no material bodies, have an external man as well as men on earth. . . . The internal man is formed of what is celestial and spiritual; and the external man of what is sensual—not belonging to the body, but derived from corporeal things; and this is not only so with man, but also with spirits. (A. C. n. 978.)

The very Inmost of Man.

With every angel, and likewise with every man, there is an inmost or supreme degree, or a something inmost and supreme, into which the Divine of the Lord first or proximately flows, and from which it disposes the other interior things in the angel or man, which succeed, according to the degrees of order. This inmost or supreme may be called the Lord's entrance to the angel and to man, and His veriest dwelling-place with them. By virtue of this inmost or supreme man is man, and is distinguished from brute animals; for these have it not. Hence it is that man, different from animals, as to all the interiors which are of his mind [mens] and mind [animus] can be elevated by the Lord to Himself, can believe in Him, be affected with love to Him, and thus see Him; and that he can receive intelligence and wisdom, and speak from reason. Hence also it is that he lives to eternity. But what is disposed and provided by the Lord in that inmost does not flow manifestly into the perception of any angel, because it is above his thought, and exceeds his wisdom. (H. H. n. 39, see also p. 57.)

The Life of Man.

The very life of man is his love; and such as the love is such is the life, and even such is the whole man. But this is to be understood only of the ruling or governing love; for it is this that determines the quality of the man. This love has many others subordinate to it, which are its derivatives. (T. C. R. n. 399.)

Man knows of the existence, but not the nature, of love. He is aware of its existence from the use of the word in common speech, as when it is said one loves me; the king loves his subjects, and the subjects love their king; the husband loves his wife, and the mother her children, and vice versa; or when it is said that one loves his country, his fellow-citizens, or his neighbour; so when it is said of things abstract from person, that we love this or that thing. Yet, though the word love is so universally in the mouths of men, scarcely any one knows what love is. While meditating upon it, since he can form no idea of thought concerning it, one says either that it is nothing real, or that it is merely something that flows in by sight, hearing, feeling, and conversation, and so affects him. Man is quite ignorant of the fact that it is his very life, not merely the common life of his whole body, and the common life of all his thoughts, but the life also of all their particulars. A wise man may perceive this from the following queries: If you take away the affection, which is of love, can you think on any subject? or can you do anything? In proportion as the affection, which is of love, grows cold, do not thought, speech, and action grow cold also? and in proportion as it is warmed, are they not also warmed? But this the wise perceive, not from knowledge that love is the life of man, but from experience of this fact. (D. L. W. n. 1.)

The Origin of Vital Heat.

It is well known that there is vital heat in man, and in every animal, but its origin is not known. Every one speaks of it from conjecture. Those, therefore, who have no knowledge of the correspondence of natural things with spiritual, have ascribed it either to the heat of the sun, or to the activity of particles, or to life itself; but as they did not know what life is, they proceeded no further than barely to say this. But he who knows that there is a correspondence of love and its affections with, the heart and its derivations, may know that love is the origin of vital heat. Love proceeds as heat from the spiritual sun, where the Lord is, and is also felt as heat by the angels. This spiritual heat, which in its essence is love, flows by correspondence into the heart and the blood, and imparts heat to it, and at the same time vivifies it. That a man is heated, and as it were fired, according to his love, and its degree, and grows torpid and cold according to its decrease, is well known, for it is felt and seen; it is felt from the heat of the whole body, and is seen in the redness of the face. And, on the other hand, its extinction is felt from the coldness of the body, and seen from the paleness of the face. (ib. n. 379.)

The Primitive Condition of Man.

That man was created a form of Divine order follows from his being created in the image and likeness of God; for since God is order itself, man was therefore created the image and likeness of order. There are two origins from which order exists, and by which it subsists—Divine love and Divine wisdom; and man was created a receptacle of them both. Consequently he was created in the order according to which these two operate in the universe; and particularly into that according to which they operate in the angelic heaven; for by virtue of such operation the whole heaven is a form of Divine order in its largest portraiture, and appears in the sight of God as a single man, (T. C. R n. 65.)

In the first ages of the world men acknowledged in heart and soul that they received all the good of love, and hence all the truth of wisdom, from God. They were, therefore, called images of God, sons of God, and born of God. (ib. n. 692.)

I have been informed that the men of the Most Ancient Church were of so heavenly a character that they conversed with angels, and that they had the power of holding such converse by means of correspondences. From this the state of their wisdom became such that when they looked upon any of the objects of this world they not only thought of them naturally, but also spiritually, thus in conjunction with the angels of heaven. (ib. n. 202.)