Page:A Compendium of the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg.djvu/427

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it cannot be described,—with innumerable differences, so that one society has not the same perception as another. There are genera and species of perceptions there, and the genera are innumerable, and the species of each genus are likewise innumerable; of which by the Divine mercy of the Lord hereafter. Since there are innumerable genera, and innumerable species of each genus, and still more innumerable varieties in each species, it can be seen how little,—almost nothing,—the world knows at this day about spiritual and celestial things, when it does not even know what perception is, and if told does not believe that it exists. And so with other things. The Most Ancient church represented the celestial kingdom of the Lord, even as to the generic and specific differences of perception. But as what perception is, in its most general character, is at this day utterly unknown, if the genera and species of the perceptions of these churches were described, nothing but strange and unaccountable things would be told. They were for that reason distinguished into houses, families, and tribes, and contracted marriages within the houses and families,—in order that genera and species of perceptions might exist, and be derived no otherwise than according to propagations of native qualities from parents. Those who were of the Most Ancient church therefore dwell together also in heaven. (A. C. n. 483.)

These three churches, Man, Seth, and Enos, constitute the Most Ancient church; yet with a difference of perfection as to their perceptions. The perceptive faculty of the first church here and there diminished in the succeeding churches, and became more general. Perfection consists in the faculty of perceiving distinctly; which is diminished when the perception becomes not so distinct and more general. Then in place of the clearer perception an obscurer succeeds; and so it begins to pass away. (ib. n. 502.)

Enos, as was said, is the third church,—one of the Most Ancient, but less celestial and consequently less perceptive than the church Seth; and this was not so celestial and perceptive as the parent church called Man. These three, which constitute the Most Ancient church, relatively to those that follow, are as it were the kernel of the fruits or seeds; and the following compare, relatively, to their investing membrane. {ib. n. 505.)

Perception in the Most Ancient Church.

With the man of the Most Ancient church there was ground in his will, in which the Lord inseminated goods; in consequence of which he was enabled to know and perceive what was true, or