Conjugial Love #156

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156. (xiv) The state of marriage is to be preferred to the state of celibacy. This is plain from what has been said so far of marriage and of celibacy. The state of marriage is preferable, being intended by creation. Its origin is the marriage of good and truth; its correspondence is with the marriage of the Lord and the Church; the Church and marital love are steadfast companions; its use excels all other uses in creation, for by marriage is the orderly propagation of the human race and also of the angelic heaven, which is from the human race. Add to these reasons that marriage is the fullness of the human being - by it one becomes a full human being, a truth which comes to demonstration in the following chapter. None of these things is true of celibacy. But suppose the proposition to be that the state of celibacy excels that of marriage, and suppose that this proposition is to be assented to only after examination and established by substantiation. Then these things would have to follow and be established: marriages are not holy, nor do they occur chaste; indeed there is no chastity in the female sex except in those who refrain from marriage and vow perpetual virginity. Moreover, those who have vowed perpetual celibacy must then be meant by the eunuchs who make themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake (Matthew 19:12); besides much else, which is itself untrue, following as it does from an untrue proposition. By eunuchs who make themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of God are really meant spiritual eunuchs, namely, those who in marriages refrain from the evil of whoredoms. The Italian castrati are obviously not meant.

151r. I append two Memorabilia.

I. When 1 I was returning home from the School of Wisdom (of which above, 132), on the way I saw an angel in raiment of the color of hyacinth. He joined me and said: "I see that you have come from the School of Wisdom, and are gladdened by what you heard there. I also perceive that you are not fully in this world, being at the same time in the natural world. You may not be acquainted with our Olympic Gymnasia where the ancient so phi meet and where they learn from those who come from your world what changes and successions of state wisdom has undergone and is undergoing. If you wish, I will conduct you to a place where many of the ancient sophi and their "sons" or disciples have their homes."

He led me toward the northeast. Looking ahead from a considerable prominence I beheld a city, and to one side of it two hills, the one nearer the city lower than the other. He told me, "That city is called Athens, the lower hill, Parnassus, and the higher, Helicon. All are so called because in and about the city dwell ancient wise men of Greece, like Pythagoras, Socrates, Aristippus and Xenophon, with their disciples and neophytes."

I asked about Plato and Aristotle. "They and their followers," he said, "dwell in another region, for they taught matters of reason which are of the understanding; but these taught morals which are of the life." [2] He said that students are frequently sent from this city of Athens to the learned from among Christians, to ascertain what at this day Christians think about God, the creation of the universe, the immortality of the soul, the state of man as compared with that of beasts, and about other things which are matters of interior wisdom. He also said that a herald had announced an assembly for that day - a sign that their emissaries had encountered newcomers from the earth, from whom they had heard strange things. We saw many leaving the city and its immediate vicinity, some with laurels on their heads, some bearing palms in their hands, some with books under their arms, and some with pens under the hair of the left temple.

We mingled with them and went up together. On the hill we found an octagonal palace, called the Palladium, which we entered. It had eight hexagonal recesses, each with a bookcase in it, and a table at which those crowned with laurel were sitting. In the Palladium itself appeared seats of hewn stone, on which the others seated themselves. [3] Then a door opened at the left through which two newcomers from the earth were ushered in. After the greetings, one of the laurelled ones asked them, "What news from the earth?"

They said, "There is a report that some men like beasts, or beasts like men, have been found in a forest. From face and body it was plain, however, that they were born men, and must have been lost or left in the woods when two or three years old." They said, "The report was that they could not utter anything of thought or learn to make words. Nor did they know the food suited to them as do beasts, but thrust into their mouths whatever they found in the woods, both clean and unclean," and many other like things. "From which," they said, "some of the learned among us have formed many conjectures, and some have come to many conclusions about the state of men compared with that of beasts."

(References: Isaiah 40:5-6)

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Thanks to the Swedenborg Foundation for their permission to use this translation.