380. To this I will append two narrative accounts. Here is the first:
I was once in a state of amazement at the great number of people who attribute creation to nature, attributing to it therefore all things under the sun and all things above the sun. Whenever they see anything, they say with an acknowledgment of the heart, "Is this not a product of nature?" When they are asked then why they attribute these things to nature, and not to God, even though they sometimes say with everyone else that God created nature, and so could just as well attribute the things they see to God as to nature, they reply in a muffled, almost inaudible tone, "What is God but nature?"
As a result of their persuasion regarding the creation of the universe from nature, and that insanity masquerading as a product of wisdom, they all give the impression of being vainglorious, so vainglorious as to scorn all who acknowledge the creation of the universe as being from God, regarding them as ants crawling on the ground and treading the beaten path, and some as butterflies flitting about in the air. They call their dogmas dreams, because they see what they themselves do not see, and they say, "Who has seen God? And who has not seen nature?"
 As I was in a state of amazement at the multitude of such people, an angel stood beside me and said to me, "What are you meditating on?"
So I replied, "On the multitude of those who believe that nature created the universe."
Then the angel said to me, "The whole of hell consists of people like that, and they are called there satanic spirits and devils - satanic spirits, those who have convinced themselves on the side of nature and for that reason have denied God; devils, those who have lived wickedly and so have rejected from their hearts any acknowledgment of God. But I will take you down to forums located in the southwestern zone, where such people gather who are not yet in hell."
The angel then took me by the hand and led me down. And I saw cottages in which the forums were housed, and in the middle of them one that seemed to be the headquarters of the rest. It was built of pitchstones, which were overlaid with thin glass-like sheets of gold and silver, seemingly glittering, like those which are called isinglass 1
; and interspersed here and there were oyster-shells, similarly glistening.
 We went over to it and knocked; and presently someone opened the door and said, "Welcome." Then he ran to a table and brought back four books, saying, "These books are the wisdom which a number of countries are applauding today. This book or wisdom here is applauded by many in France; this one by many in Germany; this one by some in Holland; and this one by some in Britain."
He then went on to say, "If you care to see it, I will cause these four books to shine before your eyes." Whereupon he poured out and projected around them the glory of his reputation, and soon the books shone as though with light. But the light immediately vanished from before our eyes.
At that point we asked, "What are you presently writing?" And he replied that he was presently extracting and elucidating from his stores of knowledge points which were matters of the most interior wisdom, being in summary the following: 1. Whether nature is a product of life, or life a product of nature. 2. Whether a center is the product of an expanse, or an expanse the product of a center. 3. How this applies to the center and expanse of nature and life.
 Having said this, he sat down again at the table, while we walked around in his forum, which was quite large. He had a candle on the table, because there was no daylight from the sun in the room, but a nocturnal, lunar light. And what surprised me, the candle seemed to move all about there and so cast its light - although, because the wick was not trimmed, it provided little illumination. Moreover, as he wrote, we saw images in various forms flying from the table on to the walls, which in that nocturnal lunar light looked like beautiful birds of India. But when we opened the door and let in daylight from the sun, behold, in that light they looked like birds of the evening, having net-like wings. For what he was writing were semblances of truth, which by his confirmations became fallacies, which he had ingeniously woven together into logical series.
 After witnessing this, we went over to the table and asked him what he was writing now.
"I am dealing," he said, "with the first point, as to whether nature is a product of life, or life a product of nature." And he remarked in regard to it that he could confirm either one and make it to be true; but that because he harbored something in him that made him afraid, he dared to confirm only that nature is a product of life, meaning that it is derived from life, and not that life is a product of nature, or derived from nature.
We asked amiably what it was that he harbored within to make him afraid.
He replied that it was the possibility of his being labeled by the clergy an adherent of naturalism and thus an atheist, and by the laity a man of unsound reason, since both clergy and laity consist of people who either believe in accordance with a blind faith or see in accordance with the sight of those who defend it.
 However, being moved then by a certain indignation out of zeal for the truth, we addressed him, saying, "Friend, you are greatly deceived. Your wisdom, which lies in the ingeniousness of your writing, has led you astray, and the glory of your reputation has induced you to confirm what you do not believe. Do you not know that the human mind is capable of being elevated above sensual appearances, which are appearances in the thoughts from the bodily senses, and that when it is elevated, it sees such things as have to do with life above, and such things as have to do with nature below? What is life but love and wisdom? And what is nature but a vessel of these by which they work their effects or ends? Can these two be one other than as a principal and instrumental cause? Can light be one with the eye? Or sound with the ear? Where do the powers of these senses come from except from life, and their forms except from nature?
"What is the human body but an organ of life? Are not each and all elements in it organically formed to produce the effects that love wills and the understanding thinks? Are not the organs of the body from nature, and the love and thought from life? Are these not entirely distinct from each other?
"Raise the sight of your genius yet a little higher, and you will see that to be affected and think are properties of life; and that the capacity to be affected derives from love, and to think, from wisdom, and both of these from life - for, as we said, love and wisdom are life.
"If you raise the faculty of your understanding a little higher still, you will see that no love or wisdom is possible unless somewhere it has an origin, and that its origin is love itself and wisdom itself, thus life itself; and these are God, from whom comes nature."
 Afterwards we spoke with him about his second point, as to whether a center is the product of an expanse, or an expanse the product of a center. And we asked why he was discussing this.
He replied that he was doing it in order to draw a conclusion concerning the center and expanse of nature and life, thus concerning the origin of the one and the other. When we asked then what his thinking was, he answered in regard to this in the same way as before, that he could confirm either one, but that for fear of losing his reputation he was confirming that an expanse is the product of a center, or in other words, derived from the center - "even though I know," he said, "that there was something prior to the sun, and this everywhere in the universe, and that these things flowed of themselves into an order, thus into centers."
 But then again out of an indignant zeal we spoke to him and said, "Friend, you are insane."
And when he heard it, he pushed his chair back from the table and regarded us timidly; after which he turned to us his ear, but laughing as he did so.
Nevertheless we continued, saying, "What is more insane than to say that the center comes from the expanse. We interpret your center to mean the sun, and your expanse to mean the universe, thus that the universe came into being without a sun. Does the sun not produce nature and all its properties, which are dependent solely on the heat and light emanating from the sun and conveyed through the atmospheres? Where were these before? But we will tell you where they originated later on.
"The atmospheres, and all things on the earth - are they not like surfaces, and the sun their center? What would all these things be without the sun? Could they for one instant endure? So, then, what would all these things have been before the sun? Could they have endured? Is not continued existence a continual coming into existence? Consequently, since the continued existence of all things of nature depends on the sun, it follows that their coming into existence does, too. Everyone sees this and acknowledges it from his own observation.
 "Does not something subsequent as it comes into existence also continue in existence from something prior? If the surface were prior, and the center subsequent, would not the prior then subsist from the subsequent - which is, however, contrary to laws of order?
"How can subsequent things produce prior ones? Or outer ones inner ones? Or grosser ones finer ones? How then can surfaces which form an expanse possibly produce centers? Who does not see that this is contrary to laws of nature?
"We have advanced these arguments from an analysis of reason, to confirm that an expanse arises from a center, and not the reverse, even though everyone who thinks rightly sees this without these arguments.
"You said that the expanse flowed together into a center of itself. Was it by chance, then, that it flowed into such a marvelous and astounding order that one thing exists for the sake of another, and each and all things for the sake of man and his eternal life? Is nature able to act from some love by means of some wisdom to produce such effects? Is nature also able to form men into angels and angels into a heaven? Contemplate this and think about it, and your idea of nature's arising from nature will fall to the ground."
 After that we asked him what he had thought and what he thought now in respect to the third point, regarding the center and expanse of nature and life. Did he think the center and expanse of life to be the same as the center and expanse of nature?
He said that he hesitated. He had previously thought that the inner activity of nature was life; that from it originated the love and wisdom which essentially form a person's life; and that it was the fire of the sun, acting through its heat and light by means of the atmospheres, which produced these. But now, he said, from what he was hearing about people's eternal life, he was in a state of vacillation, and this vacillation carried his mind sometimes upward, sometimes down. When it was carried upward, he acknowledged a center of which he had previously known nothing; and when down, he saw the center which he had believed to be the only one; thus thinking that life is from the center of which he had previously known nothing, and that nature is from the center which he had before believed to be the only one, each center having its own expanse surrounding it.
 To this we said, well and good, provided he was willing also to regard the center and expanse of nature as being from the center and expanse of life, and not the other way around.
We then told him that above the angelic heaven there is a sun which is pure love, fiery in appearance like the sun of the world; and that it is owing to the warmth emanating from that sun that angels and men have will and love, and owing to the light from it that they have understanding and wisdom. We said, too, that such things as are matters of life are called spiritual, and that such things as emanate from the sun of the world are vessels of life and are called natural. Furthermore, that the expanse of the center of life is called the spiritual world, which subsists from its sun, and that the expanse of nature is called the natural world, which subsists from its sun.
Now, because love and wisdom cannot have spaces and times ascribed to them, we said, but instead of these states, the expanse surrounding the sun of the angelic heaven is not dimensional, but yet is present in the dimensional expanse of the natural sun, and in living objects there according to their reception of it, and this in accordance with their forms.
 However, at that point he asked what produced the fire of the sun of the world or of nature.
We replied that it originated from the sun of the angelic heaven, which is not a ball of fire, but the Divine love most immediately emanating from God, who is love itself. Then because he wondered at this, we demonstrated it as follows:
"In its essence, love is spiritual fire. So it is, that fire in the Word, in its spiritual sense, symbolizes love. That is why priests in temples pray that heavenly fire may fill people's hearts, by which they mean love. In the Tabernacle among the Israelites, the fire of the altar and the fire of the lampstand represented nothing else but Divine love. The warmth of the blood, or the vital heat in people and in animals generally, is from no other origin than the love which forms their life. It is in consequence of this that a person is set on fire, grows hot, and bursts into flames whenever his love is roused up into zeal, anger and rage. Since it is spiritual heat, or love, which produces the natural heat in people, even so as to ignite and inflame their faces and limbs, it can accordingly be seen from this that the fire of the natural sun arose from no other origin than the fire of the spiritual sun, which is Divine love.
 "Now because an expanse arises from its center, and not the reverse, as we said earlier, and the center of life, which is the sun of the angelic heaven, is the Divine love most immediately emanating from God, who is in the midst of that sun; and because from it arose the expanse of that center, which is called the spiritual world; and because from that sun arose the sun of the world, and from this its expanse, which is called the natural world, it is apparent that the universe was created by God alone."
After that we departed, with him accompanying us outside the grounds of his forum. And he spoke with us about heaven and hell, and about the Divine superintendence, with a new sagacity of acumen.
1. I.e., laminae of mica.