Page:A Compendium of the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg.djvu/124

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The evil of the Most Ancient Church, which existed before the flood, as well as of the Ancient church founded after that event, of the Jewish church, and subsequently of the new church or church of the Gentiles after the coming of the Lord, and also the evil of the church of the present day is, that instead of believing the Lord, or the Word, they trusted to themselves and the evidence of their senses. Hence faith became annihilated, and when there was no faith there was no love to the neighbour, so that all was evil and falsity.

At this day, however, the evil is much greater than in former times, because men can now confirm the incredulity of the senses by knowledges of which the ancients were ignorant, which have given birth to indescribable darkness, at which mankind would be astonished did they but know how great it is. (ib. n. 231, 232.)


Loss of Internal Perception by the Fall.

The Most Ancient Church had a perception of what was good and true; the Ancient church had no perception, but in the place of it a different kind of internal dictate, which may be called conscience. But, what has hitherto been unknown to the world, and will perhaps appear incredible, the man of the Most Ancient Church had internal respiration, and none that was externally perceptible. They therefore did not converse so much by words as afterwards, and at the present day, but like the angels, by ideas which they were able to express by innumerable variations of the looks and countenance, and especially of the lips. For in the lips there are innumerable series of muscular fibres which at the present day are not developed, but which, being then unloosed, served so perfectly to set forth, signify, and represent their ideas, that in a minute they could relate what it would now require an hour to express by articulate sounds or words; and that more fully and evidently to the apprehension and understanding of those present, than can ever be by words, and series of combined sounds. This is perhaps incredible, but nevertheless it is true. There are also many others, not inhabitants of this earth, who have conversed and at this day converse in a similar manner. I have, moreover, been informed as to the nature of this internal respiration, and how in the progress of time it became changed. As they breathed like the angels—for they respire in a similar manner—so also they were in profound ideas of thought, and were capable of enjoying such perception as cannot be described; and indeed, were it done the description would be rejected as incredible, because it could not be understood. Among their posterity, however, this internal respiration