True Christian Religion #76

By Emanuel Swedenborg

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76. The first experience.

One day I had been meditating on the creation of the universe. This was noticed by the angels above me to the right, where there were some who had several times meditated and reasoned about the same matter; so one of them came down and invited me to join them. I passed into the spirit and accompanied him; on my arrival I was brought to the prince, in whose hall I saw as many as a hundred assembled with the prince in their midst.

Then one of them said: 'We noticed here that you have meditated about the creation of the universe, a subject which has several times occupied our thoughts. But we were unable to reach a conclusion because our thinking clung to the idea of chaos being like a great egg, from which everything in the universe in its due order was hatched. Yet now we perceive that such a vast universe could not have been hatched like this. Another idea which stuck in our minds was that everything was created by God from nothing; yet now we perceive that nothing comes from nothing. Our minds have not yet been able to disentangle themselves from these two ideas and shed a little light on how creation happened. For this reason we have summoned you from the place where you were, to expound your thinking on the subject.'

[2] 'I will indeed,' I replied on hearing this. 'I meditated on this,' I said, 'for a long time but to no purpose. But later, when I was admitted by the Lord into your world, I perceived that it was futile to form any conclusions about the creation of the universe, unless it were first known that there were two worlds, one occupied by angels and the other by men; and that men after death pass from their world into the other. Then I also saw that there are two suns, one from which pour forth all spiritual things, and one from which pour forth all natural things; and that the sun from which all spiritual things pour forth is pure love from Jehovah God, who is in its midst, while the sun from which all natural things pour forth is pure fire. When I had grasped these facts, once when I was in a state of enlightenment, I was granted the perception that the universe was created by Jehovah God by means of the sun in the midst of which He is; and because love cannot exist except together with wisdom, that the universe was created by Jehovah God from His love by means of His wisdom. I have been convinced of the truth of this by everything I have seen in the world where you are, and in the world where I am at present in the body.

[3] 'It would be too tedious to explain how creation progressed from its first beginning. But while I was in a state of enlightenment I perceived that by means of the light and heat from the sun of your world, one after another spiritual atmospheres were created, which are in themselves substantial. Because there are three of them, and they therefore have three degrees, three heavens were made, one for angels in the highest degree of love and wisdom, one for angels in the second degree, and a third for angels in the lowest degree. But because this spiritual universe could not come into being without a natural universe, in which the spiritual one might produce its effects and perform its services, at the same time the sun which is the source of all natural things was created; and through this in the same way, by means of light and heat, three atmospheres were created to surround the first three, like a shell round a kernel or bark round wood; and it was finally through these that the globe with its lands and seas was created from the earth consisting of soil, stones and minerals, to be the home of men, animals, fish, trees, shrubs and plants.

[4] 'This is an extremely general outline of how creation took place and progressed. It would take a series of books to explain all the particular details; but all lead to this conclusion, that God did not create the universe from nothing, since, as you said, nothing comes of nothing, but through the sun of the heaven of angels, which is from His Being (Esse) and so is pure love together with wisdom. Every single detail of the universe, by which I mean both the spiritual and natural worlds, bears witness and proclaims that the universe was created from the Divine love by the Divine wisdom. This you can clearly see, if you consider these facts in due order and in their connexions, by the light which illuminates the perceptions of your understanding. But it should be kept in mind that the love and wisdom, which in God make one, are not love and wisdom in the abstract, but are in Him as substance. For God is the very, sole and consequently prime substance and essence, which is and continues in existence in itself.

[5] All things being created from the Divine love and the Divine wisdom is what is meant by this passage in John:

The Word was with God, and the Word was God; all things were made through Him; and the world was made through Him, John 1:1, 3, 10.

God there means the Divine love, and the Word the Divine truth, or the Divine wisdom. That is why the Word is there called the light; light, when referring to God, means the Divine wisdom.'

At the end of this speech when I was saying good-bye, gleams of light from the sun there came gliding down through the heavens of the angels and entered their eyes, and through them the dwellings of their minds. Under this enlightenment they applauded my speech, and then escorted me into the courtyard; and my earlier companion took me to the house where I was living, and from there went back up to his own community.

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