April 15, 2015

The Insane Idea of the Serpent

From True Christian Religion ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
It is generally believed that life is in man as his own, thus that he is not only a receptacle of life, but is also life. This general belief is from its so appearing, since man lives; that is, feels, thinks, speaks, and acts, wholly as if from himself. Wherefore the statement that man is a receptacle of life, and not life, must needs seem like something unheard of, or like a paradox, because it is opposed to the appearance, and thus to sensual thought. The cause of the fallacious belief that man is also life itself, consequently that life was created in man and afterward generated by parents, I have adduced from the appearance; but the reason why the fallacy is drawn from the appearance, is that most men at the present day are natural, and but few are spiritual, and the natural man judges from appearances and their fallacies, which are diametrically opposed to the truth that man is not life but only a receptacle of life.

That man is not life but a receptacle of life from God can be seen from these evident proofs, that all created things are in themselves finite, and that man, being finite, could have been created only from things finite. Therefore it is said in the book of Creation, that Adam was made from the earth and its dust, from which he was also named, for "Adam" means the earth's soil; and it is a fact that every man consists only of such things as are in the earth, and from the earth in the atmospheres. Those things that are in the atmospheres from the earth man absorbs by means of his lungs and the pores of his whole body, and the grosser elements he absorbs by means of food composed of earthy substances.

But in regard to man's spirit, that also is created from finite things. What is man's spirit but a receptacle of the life of the mind? The finite things of which it is composed are spiritual substances, which are in the spiritual world, and are also brought together in our earth and hidden therein. Unless they were therein along with material things no seed could be impregnated from things inmost, and then grow in a wonderful manner undeviatingly from the first shoot even to fruit and to new seed. Neither could any worms be procreated from effluvia from the earth and exhalations from vegetable matters, with which the atmospheres are impregnated.

Who can think rationally that the infinite can create anything but finite things, and that man, being finite, is anything but a form which the infinite can vivify from the life in itself? And this is what is meant by these words:

Jehovah God formed man, the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of lives (Gen. 2:7).

God, because He is infinite, is Life in Himself. This He cannot create and then transfer into man, for that would be to make man God. That this was done was the insane idea of the serpent or the devil, and from him of Adam and Eve; for the serpent said:

In the day ye eat of the fruit of this tree your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as God (Gen. 3:5).

This dire persuasion, that God transfused and transferred Himself into men, was held by the men of the Most Ancient church at its end, when it was consummated. This I have heard from their own mouths; and on account of that horrible belief that they were consequently gods, they lie deeply hidden in a cavern near to which no one can approach without being seized by an inward dizziness which causes him to fall. That the Most Ancient church is meant and described by Adam and his wife....

Who does not see, when he is able to think from reason elevated above the sensual things of the body, that life is not creatable? For what is life but the inmost activity of the love and wisdom that are in God and are God, which life, indeed, may be called the essential living force? He who sees this can also see that this life cannot be transferred into any man, except in connection with love and wisdom. Who denies or can deny that every good of love and every truth of wisdom is solely from God, and that so far as man receives these from God he lives from God, and is said to be born of God, that is, regenerated? On the other hand, so far as one does not receive love and wisdom, or what is the same, charity and faith, he does not receive from God the life that is life in itself, but life from hell, and this is no other than inverted life which is called spiritual death.
(True Christian Religion 470 - 471)