Five Memorable Relations #1

By Emanuel Swedenborg
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On the nature of the merely natural man

Once, wishing to know the nature of the mind of the merely natural man, I looked up to heaven and made this request of the Lord. The reason was that I had heard a man who was especially natural saying that he could see, understand, and perceive many matters as rationally as those who are called spiritual, and as the angels of heaven. He added the remark: 'Have not both a similar power of reasoning? What difference is there, but casual opinion?'

Then there suddenly came up from the nether regions a certain Satan; all satans are merely natural, and can reason cleverly, but from the fallacies of the senses; consequently they see falsities as truths, for all falsities take their rise from those fallacies. When he came in sight, he appeared first to have a live, shining face; then, a dead, pale face; and finally a hellish, black face. I asked why his face underwent these changes, and was answered from heaven that such are the successive states of mind of those who are merely natural, for faces are expressions of mental states (typi animorum). The inmost parts of their minds, since they are hellish, are represented in their faces as blackness, the middle parts, owing to their falsification of truth, as the pallor of a corpse; but the outermost parts as living radiance, because when they are in externals, which happens when they are in company, they can think truths, confirm, understand, and teach them. They have this ability because the power of reason is the essence of humanity; this is what makes man and distinguishes him from beasts. Satans, however, have the power of reason solely in externals, and have none in internals, since in their internals there reigns the longing to adulterate the goods and falsify the truths of the Church; and this longing flows into their power of reason and casts a shadow over its light, inducing such thick darkness that they can then see only falsities in place of truths.

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Thanks to the Swedenborg Society for the permission to use this translation.