August 30, 2015

The Lord's Presence According to Reception

Selection from Divine Love and Wisdom ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

The distance between the [spiritual] sun and the angels in the spiritual world is an appearance according to reception by them of divine love and divine wisdom.

All fallacies which prevail with the evil and the simple arise from appearances which have been confirmed. So long as appearances remain appearances, they are apparent truths, according to which every one may think and speak; but when they are accepted as real truths, which is done when they are confirmed, then apparent truths become falsities and fallacies. For example: It is an appearance that the sun is borne around the earth daily, and follows yearly the path of the ecliptic. So long as this appearance is not confirmed it is an apparent truth, according to which any one may think and speak; for he may say that the sun rises and sets and thereby causes morning, midday, evening, and night; also that the sun is now in such or such a degree of the ecliptic or of its altitude, and thereby causes spring, summer, autumn, and winter. But when this appearance is confirmed as the real truth, then the confirmer thinks and utters a falsity springing from a fallacy. It is the same with innumerable other appearances, not only in natural, civil, and moral, but also in spiritual affairs.

It is the same with the distance of the sun of the spiritual world, which sun is the first proceeding of the Lord's Divine Love and Divine Wisdom. The truth is that there is no distance, but that the distance is an appearance according to the reception of Divine Love and Wisdom by the angels in their degree. ... distances, in the spiritual world, are appearances ... the Divine is not in space; ... the Divine, apart from space, fills all spaces. If there are no spaces, there are no distances, or, what is the same, if spaces are appearances, distances also are appearances, for distances are of space.

The sun of the spiritual world appears at a distance from the angels, because they receive Divine Love and Divine Wisdom in the measure of heat and light that is adequate to their states. For an angel, because created and finite, cannot receive the Lord in the first degree of heat and light, such as is in the sun; if he did he would be entirely consumed. The Lord, therefore, is received by angels in a degree of heat and light corresponding to their love and wisdom. The following may serve for illustration. An angel of the lowest heaven cannot ascend to the angels of the third heaven; for if he ascends and enters their heaven, he falls into a kind of swoon, and his life as it were, strives with death; the reason is that he has a less degree of love and wisdom, and the heat of his love and the light of his wisdom are in the same degree as his love and wisdom. What, then, would be the result if an angel were even to ascend toward the sun, and come into its fire? On account of the differences of reception of the Lord by the angels, the heavens also appear separate from one another. The highest heaven, which is called the third, appears above the second, and the second above the first; not that the heavens are apart, but they appear to be apart, for the Lord is present equally with those who are in the lowest heaven and with those who are in the third heaven. That which causes the appearance of distance is not in the Lord but in the subjects, that is, the angels.

That this is so can hardly be comprehended by a natural idea, because in such there is space, but by a spiritual idea, such as angels have, it can be comprehended, because in such there is no space. Yet even by a natural idea this much can be comprehended, that love and wisdom (or what is the same, the Lord, who is Divine Love and Divine Wisdom) cannot advance through spaces, but is present with each one according to reception. That the Lord is present with all, He teaches in Matthew 28:20, and that He makes His abode with those who love Him, in John 14:23.

As this has been proved by means of the heavens and the angels, it may seem a matter of too exalted wisdom; but the same is true of men. Men, as to the interiors of their minds, are warmed and illuminated by that same sun. They are warmed by its heat and illuminated by its light in the measure in which they receive love and wisdom from the Lord. The difference between angels and men is that angels are under the spiritual sun only, but men are not only under that sun, but also under the sun of this world; for men's bodies can begin and continue to exist only under both suns; but not so the bodies of angels, which are spiritual.
(Divine Love and Wisdom 108 - 112)