From Swedenborg's Works


Influx #1

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1. Influx 1

"When such as believe in nature see how these animals or insects are generated in the ground or on the leaves of plants, and when they examine the wonderful things in their organisms, and things made by their means, they think that nature produces them, not knowing that their formation and vivification is from the spiritual world, and their reception and clothing from the natural world; further, that the heat of the sun at the time of spring and summer dissolves and adapts the particles of purer nature for the reception of influx, and for the process of clothing. Wherefore the same argument and the same confirmation, which the believers of nature derive hence, are to me an argument for, and a confirmation of, a continual influx from the spiritual into the natural world. Written in the year 1750.

"The changes of caterpillars into butterflies, the government of bees, and many other things which are described in this book, are manifest signs of such influx." [See Heaven and Hell 567, also Heaven and Hell 39, 108, 109.]


1. On the fly-leaf of Swedenborg's copy of Swammerdam's Biblia Naturae, which he presented to Count Hopkin, and which is now in the possession of Dr. Loven of the "Carolinska Institut" in Stockholm, is written by his own hand the above remarks. See Documents Concerning Swedenborg. Vol. II., p. 750.

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

From Swedenborg's Works


Heaven and Hell #108

Study this Passage

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108. The fact that everything in this world arises from the Divine and is clothed with the kinds of elements in nature that enable it to be present there, serve some use, and therefore correspond, follows clearly from little things we can observe in both the animal and the vegetable kingdoms. In each there are things that anyone, with some deeper thought, can see must come from heaven. By way of illustration I may mention only a few out of the countless many.

First, some from the animal kingdom. In this field, many people realize what kind of knowledge is virtually instinctive in any creature you choose. Bees know how to collect honey from flowers, build cells from wax in which they store their honey, and so provide food for themselves and their families for the coming winter. Their queen lays eggs, while the others cover them over and lead her around so that a new generation may be born. They live under a kind of government that all their members know instinctively, protecting their useful members and expelling the useless ones and clipping off their wings. There are even more marvels that are given them from heaven for their use. In fact, their wax serves the human race throughout the world for candles, and their honey for flavoring foods.

[2] Then what about caterpillars, the lowest creatures in the animal kingdom! They know how to nourish themselves with the sap of their leaves and in due time how to make a covering around themselves and virtually put themselves in a womb and so to hatch offspring of their own species. Some first turn into nymphs and chrysalides and make threads, and after exhausting labor grace themselves with new bodies and adorn themselves with wings. Then they fly in the air as though it were their heaven, celebrate their "weddings," lay their eggs, and so provide themselves with a posterity.

[3] Over and above these particular examples, all the fowl of the air know the foods that are good for them - not only what they are, but where they are. They know how to construct nests for themselves, each species differently from all others, how to lay their eggs there, incubate them, hatch and feed their chicks, and expel them from the nest when they can be on their own. They also know the particular enemies they must avoid and the allies they can associate with, all from earliest infancy. I will say nothing about the wonders in the eggs themselves, where everything necessary for the formation and nourishment of the embryonic chicks lies properly available, or countless other wonders.

[4] Will anyone who thinks with any rational wisdom say that such things arise from any source but a spiritual world, a world that the natural world serves by clothing what comes from it with a body, or presenting in effect that which is spiritual in origin?

The reason why earthbound animals and the fowl of the air are born into all this knowledge while we, who are actually superior, are not, is that animals are in the proper pattern of their life and cannot destroy what is within them from the spiritual world because they are not rational. It is different for us, who think from the spiritual world. Because we have corrupted ourselves by living contrary to the design that reason itself has recommended to us, we cannot escape being born into total ignorance, so that we can be led from there, by divine means, back into the pattern of heaven.

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