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Essays on the Influence of Spirits upon Men as Described in the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg.

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  1. 1. Spirits and Men Some Essays on the Influence of Spirits upon Men, as Described in the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg By Hugo Lj. Odhner THE ACADEMY BOOK ROOM· Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania 1960
  2. 2. COPYRIGHT 1958 AND 1960 BY THE ACADEMY OF THE NEW CHURCH First printing 1958, 500 copies Second printing 1960, 500 copies PRINTED IN UNITED STATES OF AMERICA BY LANCASTER PRESS, INC., LANCASTER, PENNA.
  3. 3. CONTENTS PAGE Acknowledgments I The Knowledge of the Afterlife 1 II Spirits and Men 7 III The Danger of Open Communication with Spirits 20 IV Our Spiritual Guardians 42 v Spirits and Human States 63 VI Spiritual Associations 75 VII Influx and Persuasion 87 VIII Influx and Cupidity 101 IX Enthusiastic Spirits 112 x Spiritual Causes of Fortune 124 XI "Cuticular Spirits" and "Sirens" 131 XII Dreams 138 XIII General Influx 152 XIV Influx and Disease 171 xv Mental Causes of Illness 185 XVI Spiritual Sources of Health 205 XVII Angelic Intermediacy in Divine Revelation 211 Subject Index
  4. 4. AC AE AR Can. Char. CL CLJ Coro. DLW Dom. DP DV EU SMem. HD HH Infl. Inv. LJ LJ post. Lord Love 9Q SD SDmin. TCR WE W is. 1Econ. 2Econ. Fibre R. Psych. Docu. KEY TO REFERENCES Cited Works by Emanuel Swedenborg Arcana Coelestia Apocalypse Explained Apocalypse Revealed Canons of the New Church Doctrine of Charity Conjugial Love Continuation of the Last Judgment Coronis ·Divine Love and Wisdom De Domino Divine Providence De Verbo Earths in the Universe Five Memorable Relations New Jerusalem and Its Heavenly Doctrine Heaven and Hell Influx, or Intercourse of Soul and Body Invitation to the New Church The Last Judgment The Last Judgment (posthumous) The Doctrine concerning the Lord On the Divine Love Nine Questions concerning the Trinity The Spiritual Diary The Spiritual Diary Minor The True Christian Religion The Word Explained (Adversaria) On the Divine Wisdom Economy of the Animal Kingdom, Part I Economy of the Animal Kingdom, Part II Economy of the A1Jimal Kingdom, Part III The Rational Psychology Documents concerning Swedenborg (R. L. Tafel)
  5. 5. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS A large part of the material used in the following essays was originally collected for some doctrinal addresses given before audiences in Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania, some twenty years ago. Chapter IV is based on an article published in New Church Life in May 1932. With reference to the chap- ters on Disease, Doctor Marlin W . Heilman and Doctor Robert Alden made several kind suggestions. And the Rev- erend W . Cairns Henderson has acted as my valued con- sultant in the preparation of the manuscript for the press. Selected references to the Writings of Emanuel Sweden- borg have been inserted as footnotes for the convenience of those who might wish to consult our sources on specific points ; and a list of abbreviations used to designate various cited works of Swedenborg is given at the beginning of the volume. Since the subjects of the chapters intertwine, a certain amount of reiteration could not be avoided except at the sacri- fice of clarity. The book is submitted in its present form- with many references--in the hope that it may encourage its readers to further studies of the unique testimony of Sweden- borg about the relationship of the two worlds and the connec- tion of the spirit with the body. Its publication by the Book Room of the Academy of the New Church adds to the many debts which the author owes to his Alma Mater. HUGO LJ. ODHNER May 1958
  6. 6. I "In My Father's house are many tnatisiotis. If it were tiot so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.'' John 14: 2 The Knowledge of the Afrerlife Few deny that man has a mind as well as a body. And since time immemorial it has been felt-in a parallel fashion- that there is an unseen realm of spiritual life, the abode of souls, the real home of the human mind, beyond or within the material world. But in this pragmatic century any mention of a "spiritual world" will likely cause embarrassment or misgivings unless t_he reference is simply to the familiar haunts of our own mind. Even from Christian pulpits the doctrine of man's immortality is often spoken of only in apologetic whispers. And when the more conservative among the clergy speak at a funeral, it is only to announce in dolorous tones that the departed will sleep in the grave until a mythical day of gen- eral resurrection. Nothing is said of the bourne to which the deceased has departed, nor of the life-functions which might now become his, or the spiritual treasures which he takes with him. Since the churches are silent, it is not sur- prising to find a credulous multitude who draw a confused comfort from the report of mysterious and unusual happen- ings which they interpret as interventions by the spirits of the dead in our human affairs. Nor is it any wonder that the respectable scientist shies off from the study of such a field-wherein fact and fancy seem to intertwine. When the imagination has once bee~ aroused, a less cautious mind may easily overstep the evi- 1
  7. 7. 2 SPIRITS AND MEN dence. Even science has bred a fiction of its own, and there has been a recrudescence of a specific brand of popular lit- erature which solemnly gathers hearsay evidence not only about apparitions and "poltergeists" who play noisy havoc in haunted houses and spirits who at will assume "ecto- plastic" bodies, but about space-wanderers in "flying saucers" which defy gravity and dematerialize in a moment! Such fantasies are enough to discourage sober minds from an acceptance of inconclusive claims. Yet the failure to prove the presence of spirits by' sensual demonstrations does in no wise disprove the existence of a spiritual world which influences our lives intimately and in orderly ways, but which by its very nature eludes experimental approach. And al- though there is much self-delusion, and much trickery and deception among the so-called "mediums" who claim contact with spirits, there is also evidence at hand to show that man~ kind is still confronted with unsolved problems and that there are undiscovered depths within the human mind itself which transcend our rational analysis. Empirical science has not given any satisfying explanation even of the ordinary proc- esses of our thought, memory, and emotion. Nor can it with any surety deny the visionary experiences of many who assert thaf they have "seen spirits." Revelations about the Spiritual Wodd Besides all this ; Can we ignore the testimony of all the prophets, philosophers, saint$ and seers, many of whom we still reckon among the most enlightened of men, and who not only sincerely believed in guardian spirits but whose ·eyes were at times open to glimpses o.f the world of the hereafter? Did not our Lord Himself confirm the age-long c.onviction ~f mankind when He said, "In My Father's house are many mansions. If not, I would have told you. I go to prepare a
  8. 8. THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE AFTERLIFE 3 place for you"? Yet He also intimated that the time was not yet ripe to speak openly of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. He could speak of them only in parables. "These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs," He said, "but the time cometh when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall show you plainly of the Father" (John 16: 25). "When the Spirit of Truth is come, He will guide you into all truth" (John 16: 13). The promise of such an explicit revelation was fulfilled in an unexpected way. It was granted to Emanuel Sweden- borg, the Swedish savant and philosopher of the eighteenth century, to become a citizen of two worlds for a period of twenty-seven years. Inspired by the Spirit of Truth he was given to write down his experiences gathered during his intercourse with spirits and angels in the spiritual world, and to publish the truth about the afterlife, lest the spirit of denial which was already then beginning to rule the worldy-wise should also corrupt the simple in heart and the simple in faith.1 Only a Divine revelation could disclose to our race the truth about heaven and hell. At the same time Swedenborg, after diligent study of the Sacred Scriptures, was inspired to find its internal or symbolic meaning which accorded in every part with the doctrine known to the angels ill heaven. Doctrinal Preliminaries Since the present little book may find its way into the hands of readers who are not familiar with the doctrines of the New Church, it seems well at the outset to review some of the leading truths which New Church readers take for granted. These teachings, which must be postulated if we are to understand the Scriptures rationally and explain the 1HH 1
  9. 9. 4 SPIRITS AND MEN phenomena of the mind and of nature, may be summarized as follows: 1. The Divine purpose in creation is to provide a heaven from the human race. 2. Man is a spirit or mind clothed, while on earth, with a material body. 3. There are two distinct worlds-a material world in which men live as to their bodies, and a spiritual world where angels and spirits dwell. The spiritual world is substantial, yet independent of what we know as "space" and "time"-which are properties of nature. 4. The spirit or mind of man is immortal. At death he lays aside his material body, never again to assume it. 5. No angels were created directly into the spiritual world, nor did any spiritual beings exist before the crea- tion of mankind. The spiritual world contains a heaven and a hell, both of which consist of the spirits of men who have been born on some earth in the vast universe. There are no angels, spirits, or devils who were not born as men. 6. Between heaven and hell there is a "world of spirits," which is the realm or state into which all spirits pass immediately after death to prepare f?r their chosen heaven or for their chosen hell. When evil becomes predominant in this intermediate realm, it is ordered by a general "last judgment." The final of these judgments- symbolically predicted in the Book of Revelation-took place in the year 1757. 7. The inhabitants of the spiritual world constantly ex- ert an influence on the human race on earth analogous to the influence which a man's own spirit exerts on his body. 8. Nonetheless the two worlds are utterly separate in appearance and invisible to each other, lest the freedom of man or the progress of spirits be disturbed.
  10. 10. THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE AFTERLIFE 5 9. It is therefore disorderly and injurious for men to seek open intercourse with spirits, and it is also forbidden for spirits to seek to obsess men. 10. The only legitimate way to learn about the afterlife is through the teachings of Divinely appointed prophets and seers : "If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead" (Lu. 16 : 31). The doctrines given through Swe- denborg constitute a final revelation granted for the sake of the restoration of a true Christian religion or a New Church. The title of our book does not imply any claim that it covers all the relations of spirits and men. Nor is it our purpose here to describe the spiritual world or to define the nature of the soul and its life. But in the voluminous Writ- ings of Swedenborg we have an inexhaustible field of infor- mation about the arcana of the spiritual world "from things seen and heard" and about the laws which govern the impact of that world upon our lives. . There, also, are shown the different angelic influences which succeed each other as man advances along the path of regeneration. What we here wish to stress is that man's character is finally formed by the spiritual influences which he invites from the unseen world. It is often claimed that man is merely a product of his heredity and his environment. But while the parental strain determines the initial form of his mind and the more active loves and abilities with which he starts in life ; and while his surroundings are at first pre- determined and certainly limit his opportunities for knowl- edge and usefulness ; yet within the range of these two factors of heredity and environment man exercises a choice which gradually builds within him a character quite individual and free. For as to his mind he moves in a spiritual environ-
  11. 11. 6 SPIRITS AND MEN ment which always corresponds to his own states of mind. The ability of man to become responsible for his own inner character and final destiny is due to the fact that he can-in freedom and according to his reason---choose what kind of spirits shall inspire his thoughts, purposes, and decisions. Although he feels at all times as if he were moved by his own affections, his spirit is actually held, unknowingly, in an equilibrium between influences from heaven and from hell, and is motivated either by the affections of angels or by the lusts of evil spirits. He does not live from himself. He is only a receptacle of a life which originates from God but which is mediated by the souls, good and evil, who inhabit the spiritual world. And the purpose of the following essays is to examine some of the manifold ways in which our lives are moulded for good or ill by the influx of these invisible agencies.
  12. 12. II "What is man that Thou art mindful of him?" Psalm 8 : 4 Spirits and Men Faith and Superstition The ages preceding the dawn of the New Church were steeped in superstition. Every graveyard was peopled wit.h spectres. The Devil made his appointments with witches and wizards, and ministers of the church solemnly cooperated with panicky magistrates to prevent unlawful intercourse with spirits. Diseases were often treated by exorcism-by driving the obsessing demons away. Today most of us sneer at superstitions. And when we of the New Church nevertheless proclaim our faith in the proximity and influence of the spirit-world, there are those who sneer at us. But true faith is a very different thing from superstition. Superstition wishes to assign to tpe supernatural all unknown causes of natural happenings and evades reasonable explana- tions. It lacks authority. It creates fear rather than under- standing. It advances elusive claims to special sanctity or unusual enlightenment which some will capitalize for their own gain or repute. It leads not towards freedom and charity and social progress, but to a slavery to forms and castes, and often ·engenders distrust and persecution. Superstition does not draw its origin from Divine revela- tion, but is conceived from human anxieties and undue ambi- tions while it is mothered by ignorance. It is not satisfied with the revealed knowledge ii.nd shows .a lack of faith in the Lord's omnipotent laws. But over against Superstition stands Skepticism, which 7
  13. 13. 8 SPIRITS AND MEN proudly spurns admitting the existence of any invisible factors in life except the purely physical. Not unlike a company of physicians of whom Swedenborg speaks in one of his memor- able relations, and who claimed to have cured the pains of conscience by mustard-plasters and cupping-glasses, many skeptics now explain all unusual mental states as mere symp- toms of digestive disorders, wrong diet, or glandular de- ficiencies, and deny any other cause for crime than physical appetites and social maladjustments.2 A rational faith in the interdependence of the inhabitants of the spiritual world and those of the natural, and in the normal but unconscious communion of spirits and men, stands free from both superstition and skepticism. Such a rational faith is derived solely from Divine revelation. Yet it is also founded on the primary testimony of man's own consciousness -that he is essentially a spiritual being, a free thinking mind, although he is clothed by a body of carefully selected material substances which in many ways limit the expression of his mental powers. Nor can any authentic experience upset our faith in the continual operation of the spiritual world-the proper world of human minds and living forces-into the world of nature. Without any hesitation we can postulate, and challenge any one to disprove, that life does not inhere in matter but inflows from an inner source. Indeed it is beyond the scope of science ever to deny that-ultimately-matter is derived from life. The mode by which the Lord created the universe is a subject far afield from our present discussion. Still it must be premised that the spiritual can act upon the natural, that the mind can be present in the body, and that there can be an influx of !_he life ~f_s~s into men living on earth. And this because the world of matter is created and sustained by the Lord mediately through the spiritual world.3 The natural 2 TCR 665 s Can., God iv
  14. 14. SPIRITS AND MEN 9 originates from the spiritual, as an effect is produced from its cause! The material world is therefore an "open world" which constantly receives a formative influx from the~p~itual world. It is the spiritual world which-as the soul of the mechanical universe-imposes patterns and forms and at length moulds material substances to its own purposes, imag- ing its own forms in the forms of living organisms, whether plants or men. Only when the necessity of this is seen and acknowledged, can our faith in the existence of the spiritual world become rational. Faith, to be rational, must be calm. It must not ·be based in hysteria or upon passing moods, or on the testimony of purely exceptional and questionable phenomena ; nor on re- search conducted in darkened chambers. Faith must see the operation of the soul upon the body and of spiritual things upon natural, not as a mechanical process or as a transfer of energy from one physical realm to another, but as the be- stowal of the qualities of life upon visible things of ~e, which, -so far astheir o~substance and motions are con- cerned, are dead. Such a bestowal of qualities takes place, we conceive, by what the Writings call "infllix." The spir- inml does not act upon matter as do physical forces; inste~, it bestQ__v.,'.s_ qualities. When the Writings expound the doctrine that the life of God is mediated for human minds by the spiritual world, or by the spirits and angels there, they are not discussing the cur- rents of natural energy which fashion corpuscular matter and course through the bodies of men, but the transmission of hu- man qualities-of good and evil-qualities which make the natural activities of one man vastly different from those of another; different throughout, different in intention, different in mode, different in effect. The things of dead, elemental nature have attributes, dimensions, conditions, motions. But •TCR 280: 8
  15. 15. 10 SPIRITS AND MEN in a strict sense, nature has no qualities, no "states" of life. Its only state is one of death. Its only quality is its inertia, its lack of any power to change its state. All appear~£ ·life in nature is borrowed from the spiritual world. In plants and ;;;animals we see s~mething added that is not of nature, somethirig which gives an appearance not of blind motion but of purposeful change--a conatus or endeavor, an. appearance of aspiration, will, and freedom. Human Freedom In man, this freedom becomes self-conscious. He is sensi- tive to the qualities of life. He is subject to various states and attitudes, and feels that he can to an extent determine them. He can choose between right and wrong. He cannot change his natural environment of a sudden, although this also will yield somewhat to his will. But in the inner realm of his spirit he feels himself above the conditions of nature, feels himself part of a free world in which he can will and think as he pleases; and for what he does in that world he feels responsibility. But even in his mind man is not utterly free. His natural mind is built up out of elements drawn from heredity and from education, from early impressions and unconscious influences. Is he solely accountable for all the changes within his mind- all the suggestions and impulses of his inner world? If he were, ~ould it not be a terrible responsibility-beyond his power to bear? One moment of impulse could determine his entire spiritual destiny-one decision might send him into anguish forever- if that were so! And if thus determined, he would no longer be free to change his general state. Even spiritual freedom is therefore governed.most care- fully by the Lord. The Lord leads man gently into his free- dom. Even the spirit of man has to be surrounded by re-
  16. 16. SPIRITS AND MEN 11 straining conditions and circumstances. Its freedom has to be limited to a few things, tested. Its bounds have to be let out gradually, his states have to change by degrees. Therefore it is provided, that man's spirit should be sur- rounded with attendant spirits, good and evil, through whom the influx of life may be accommodated so that his choice and his responsibility can be particularized and limited to his capacity at each moment. It is of Divine mercy that this is so; otherwise man could never be saved, but he would plunge himself into hell with the first evil choice. Instead of being at once introduced into the responsibility for hi§ who~~~r­ it~al destiny, he is therefore gradually introduced into a choice between particular states, or between the delights offered by particular spirits, good and evil. He is not made responsible for the state of his whole mind at once. This, then, is the explanation of the many shifting and contradictory states of a man. He is held in an equilibrium between go2<!_spirit~n~d evil ~~ts. He is given liis-chance to change his general state, by countless particular oppor- tunities of choice. His spiritual freedom is doled out to him "piecemeal," and from his moments of choice, a series of free decisions, his character is built up and gradually matures, and becomes able to enter an ever wider choice, a more intelligent freedom. This is, of course, illustrated by the gradual way in which one acquires freedom in natural affairs in youth and adult age. Parents, teachers, masters or employers will give the youth more freedom, more autonomy, so far as he can be trusted to understand what he is actually committing himself to. But when it is seen that he does not yet have any real insight into a situation or into the consequences of his actions, but is blinded by prejudice or simply borne away by impulsive desires, so far his freedom is-if possible-prudently with- held by wise governors.
  17. 17. 12 SPIRITS AND MEN Th~ spirit of man is therefore f!~ and responsible only w_h~n he r~alizes the spi~itual situation in which he is, and feels himself free to choose. In orcferthat-this may be the case, the Lord so orders the lives of men and spirits, that men should not sensibly feel th€ presence of spirits, or their influx into his mind. If vve felt our will as the -will of- another prompting us we would not feel free-whether the prompting were good or evil. Yet at the same time, if we were never able to know how the case actually is, we would n«~t be able to realize the nature of our choice. From doctrine wa are therefore taught about the functions of the spirits who are with us; so that we may see the importance of om choice, the inward nature of our responsibility, the fact that in our con- sent or resistance to various states, suggestions, desires, and moods, we are in fact turning either towards heaven or towards hell. Man's Dependence on Spirits It is therefore revealed as a truth in the Gospel, that man can do nothing except it be given him from above. And this general truth is in the Writings filled in with infinite particu- lars which show that man cannot lift hand or foot or think the least idea from his own will or understanding: for his will and understanding are vessels responsive to the spheres of spirits and angels. Swedenborg, in order that he might be instructed, was brought into a state in which he perceived the operat~on of spirits, yet-by a miracle:--was at the same time not deprived of freedom.5 He then received "the clearest ex- perimental proof that all human thought, will, and action are directed determinatively by the Messiah alone"; that there was "not even the least of thought that did not sensibly in- flow" from spirits who were themselves also "ruled as passive ~ AC 6191
  18. 18. SPIRITS AND MEN 13 powers" by the Lord. The spirits sensibly ruled the very movements of his body; convincing him that what appears to be our own deeds is the doing-or rather the willing-of spirits.6 Yet a man is free so far as he can decide what spirits shall attend him ! Spirits who use man as a subject in this manner are not aware that they are with man. Such a spirit "knows so little of the man that he is not even aware that the man is anything distinct from himself." Man is thus nothing in the eyes of spirits. And if they knew him-as they did Swedenborg- they might chide him with "being nothing" or at best an in- animate machine. Meanwhile the man all the time supposes himself to be living and thinking and the spirits to be "nothing !"7 In his Diary Swedenborg tells that, despite the fact that he could not make the least little motion of his body from himself, yet at the same time there was insinuated into him a faculty of choice in whatever he did. Spirits then supposed that he might have acted otherwise. But it was shown them that as a matter of fact the circumstances and the spiritual in- fluxes had conspired and led Swedenborg to what he had (afterwards) decided to do; and also that they themselves had effected nothing from themselves but were subjects of other spirits and societies in an unending chain. It then seemed to these spirits that, if so, they were "nothing" ; and they were unwilling to admit this. But Swedenborg insisted that this was indeed true; still, it was enough for them that they seemed·to themselves to be able to think, speak, and act as from themselves, and to be their own. What more did they want ?8 - Surprisingly, Swedenborg instructed some spirits that only when they acknowledge that they are nothing, can they begin 6 WE 1147, 943 8 SD 2464, 2465, 4100 7 SD 3633
  19. 19. 14 SPIRITS AND MEN to be something. Nor was it enough to know or say that one is nothing; one must believe it.9 "Such is the equilibrium of all in the universal heaven, that one is moved by another, thinks from another, as if in a chain; so that not the least thing can [occur from itself] ; thus the universe is ruled by the Lord, and indeed with no difficulty !"10 But when some spirits were unable to tolerate the expres- sion "that they were nothing," the seer consoled them by say- ing that "they are always something, but that something is from the Lord."11 And it is the same with man : "Unless the Lord saw the man to be something," the whole world of spirits would see him as nothing-or as an inanimate thing. He is "something-not a mere idea of being !"1 2 And this some- thing is something of reception. Man cannot control the ex- periences that come to him: but he can receive or reject, react affirmatively or negatively. Ii~~~il~y -0n~ re- g<!rding himself as nothing.13 The celestials kno; this. They know that to attribute anything to themselves, except reception, is of evil. No doubt this is involved in the Lord's saying : "Your speech shall be Yea, yea, Nay, nay ; whatsoever is more than these, cometh of evil!" The Non-appropriation of Evil Evil has no power over one who in sincerity of faith be- Iieve~-;ifto ben otlllng !14 - - - - How vitally important and practically effective this truth of faith is, may be judged from the doctrine which describes how evil enters into man. Evil is continually infused by un- clean spirits into man's thoughts, and is as constantly dis- pelled by the angels. This does not actually harm man. 9 SD 2043£, 2060, 2467, 2671: 2 10 SD 2466 11 SD 4100 1 2 np 46 : 3, 308: 2, 309 13 SD 2520 H SD 4067, 4228
  20. 20. SPIRITS AND MEN 15 "Not that which enters the mouth defileth a man," but that which proceedeth from the heart! It is by detention in the thought and by consent and afterwards by act and enjoyment that evil enters into the will.15 If so, it is appropriated to man-imputed to him as his. But the reason that it is appro- ( priated to a man is that the man believes and persuades him- self that he thinks and does this from himself. He identifies himself with it-and so takes sides with the evil. Believing tJ1at it is his own, all his self-pride uphold;-it ;nd defef!_ds it. The evil was not produced by man! Evil spirits-the whole network of hell-produced it, infused it, and subtly made man to feel as if he did it from himself. "If man be- lieved as the case really is, then evil would not be appropriated to him, but good from the Lord would be appropriated to him; for then, immediately when evil flows in, he would think that it was from evil spirits with him; and when he thought this angels would avert and reject it. For the influx of angels is into that which a man knows and believes and not into what man does not know and does not believe."16 If an evil is appropriated it can be removed only by the arduous and long road of self-examination and of actual re- pentance. But here we are shown an easier way! Shown how to shun evils before they become man's own or before they become actual or confirmed; shown how faith defends men from evil! And if a man really b~lieves that the good that prompts him inflows from the Lord through heaven, he is thereby freed from any self-righteous reflection on his own act-a thought which would poison the good which he has received and turn it into the evil of merit and the pride and the contempt of others that follow in its wake. he knowl~dge and be_!!ef that all our affections, emotions, and moods are the actual results of the presence of spirits, 15 AC 6204 1s AC 6206, 761, 3743, 6324£, DP 320
  21. 21. 16 SPIRITS AND MEN good or evil, m_J§t b~me a watchman w~o mJ!st !:!ever slum- ber. This faith-that good- inflows from heaven and that evil inflows from hell, and that man, except for reception, is "nothing"-must be firmly fixed in definite knowledge. And to the New Church the knowledge is given in a vast body of information about spirits of all types and classes. From the instruction given in the Writings we_may perhaps also gather information as to h_~~ !_o say "N~nay" !_o _the spirit~~~o produce various evil ~~ds that captivate us ; as to how we can to some extent modify or change these states into which we fall--or rather withdraw from them by degrees. Choice versus Freedom Man's spirit is free. Yet it is bound up with the states of the men and spirits around him. No one can deny that our thoughts and affections are influenced by the men of the society with which we are associated in the world'~ work and pleasures. Even the church undergoes its cycles of common states, its temptations, its progression in which all take part. Even angelic societies whose uses are intertwined by mar- velous modes experience common states, recurrent mornings, noons, and evenings; for each af!.gel is a center for the influx of all others.u Man's spirit is free, but never independent! It cannot alter its general spiritual environment by any sudden decision, any more than a man in the world can change the face of na- ture. The speed of the growth of the mind and of the pro- gression of a man's spirit is not measured by the fixed time which is associated on earth with the clock and the calendar and the orbit of the planets. Yet spiritual states have their durations-require a preparation and a gradual growth, have their own cycles, rhythms, and climaxes which cannot be cir- 1 r SD 4-090, 605Be, AC 4225, 2057: 2
  22. 22. SPIRITS AND MEN 17 cumvented. And the development of the state of one spirit often waits upon that of another, for it depends upon the pro- gressions of the society of which he is a part. How men's spirits are affected by the spirits who live in the world of spirits is seen from the state before the coming of the Lord, when no flesh could have been saved unless the spirits of that world had been reduced into order. And his- tory repeats itself. For Swedenborg notes that in his day tht. whole world of spirits had become evil, and therefore it could not but be that mankind should become worse through the nearer influx of hell. The good inflowing from the Lord availed less and less, until man could hardly be bent to any genuine good.18 A general judgment then became inevitable; and it took place in the world of spirits in the year 1757.19 Its result was to restore spiritual freedom. Men and spirits had been in spiritual captivity-had been in states which they could not alter or change. The progression of their spiritual life of reformation and regeneration had been arrested because they had been intricately entangled with evil spirits from whom they had no power to separate. It is not to be thought that men living before the last judg- ment·dil!l not have free agency in spiritual things. All men have free choice, then as now. In the issues which they dis- cerned from time to time they had their choice. But freedom implies more than choice. It implies that one should be free to follow out one's choice, to progress according to the choice, and find and enter into the delights of his ruling love. In- teriorly, all salvable spirits in this world and in the "lower earth" of the other life had made a choice of good as -over against evil. Yet they were so much a part of the perverted world of spirits that they could not shake off their infesters is SD 4285, 4286, 2180 19 AR preface, TCR 772, LJ and CLJ passim
  23. 23. 18 SPIRITS AND MEN who stole their delight in spiritual good and truth, insinuated unhappiness, destroyed cooperation, induced obscurity and confusion as to what was right and wrong, and prevented them from finding their way to heaven-or to the true uses of heavenly life. The freedom to progress requires an ability to perceive interior truths. It was this new freedom that was "restored" when the Lord ordered the world of spirits by His redemptive work.20 The ordering was done by separating the spirits there according to their various qualities, so that spirits in different spiritual states might be seen in contrast, in their true colors, or-in the light of heaven. The light of Divine truth which brought about the judg- ment and reduced the spiritual world into order is still present in that world; and that Divine light is spreading also into this world of ours, through the teachings of the Writings of the New Church. It is the same light. It passes "not through spaces, like the light of ilie world, but through the affections and perceptions of truth."21 It affects, and tends to dis- tinguish and order, the spirits who are with us. We would surmise that it also orders the things which go on- subcon- sciously-within man's thinking; and thus ensures the free operation of the rational faculty with men, for good or for evil. But consciously and directly it reaches us in the Writings. The teaching is, therefore, that after the last judgment (when the group of spirits which the Apocalypse calls "the Dragon" was cast down), "there was light in the world of spirits. . . . A similar light also then arose with men in the world, from which they have a new enlightenment."22 The Writings are shedding a new light on all the states through which men pass on earth. They also disclose the character of the spirits who are responsible for our moods of 20 LJ 73, 74 22 CLJ 30 21 CLJ 14
  24. 24. SPIRITS AND MEN 19 sadness, temptation, melancholy, enthusiasm, rashness, con- fusion. They give us a knowledge by which to judge wisely how far we can resist such states, and how far they should be left to the Divine providence. It is our purpose to consider this new approach to a rational and spiritual life thus opened to the New Church. But before we enter upon this task it is necessary to recount the perils which·attend any mortal effort to breakopen the gates of the unseen world.
  25. 25. III "Regard not them that hav e familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards to be defiled by them. I am I ehovah your God." Leviticus 19 : 31 The Danger of Open Communication with Spirits Sensual Thought about the Afterlife Despite the official teachings of the churches, few men in Christendom believe that they will live after death.23 Few believe that there are spirits with them, or "even that there are any spirits." The chief reason assigned for this prevalent condition is that at this day there is no faith, because genuine charity is lacking.24 So testify the Writings. Belief is more than a mere lame assent. There are few who would not give a superficial assent to the possibility, nay the probability of human survival after death. But only those believe who live in the full conviction and consciousness that this earthly existence is but a preparation for eternal life. Among the winds of doctrine that blow across the world, one of the chilliest is this fallacy that nothing is real beyond the world of matter and that the grave marks the end of all our hopes. It looks back to childhood with nostalgia as the halcyon time of one's life, when one could still live in blessed fancies. It robs manhood and even parenthood of any genuine delight, leaving only the struggle for bread and social posi- tion. It saves up for old age only the dried crusts of memory and a final disillusionment. Perhaps it might be doubted that so few, in their actual 2a AC 5006: 4 24 AC 5849 20
  26. 26. OPEN COMMUNICATION WITH SPIRITS 21 life, are motivated by a belief in another world. And fortu- nately "few" is an elastic word ! Yet compared to the time of Swedenborg, to whom this scarcity of faith was revealed, this our day presents on the surface an even bleaker picture of spiritual desolation. Religious hopes are pushed to the side in modern life, where the mind is instead preoccupied with so many concerns for the improvement of the mechanism of natural existence that there i.s room for little else. Natural life has become an end in itself. The art of living gracefully and in comfort here on earth is dignified as the height of achievement, ranking above the wisdom of spiritual charity. And though many find that the art of "getting along" requires them to conform to customs and to belong to a church, to profess a creed and to give to some philanthropic cause, yet what meditative thought do they ever give to the question of eternal life, unless they are confronted by the shock of death to kin or companion? How empty life must seem for those who think of death as the termination of everything, and those whose only sure hope of immortality lies in the size of their grave-stones or the survival of their names. The thoughts of those who at- tend the funeral of a friend are usually directed to natural life, in tribute to his virtue or accomplishment ; yet his death stands out as an object lesson that all is vanity. For before the thought of an afterlife most men's minds recoil with a deep discomfort, a pathetic realization of ignorance and doubt, which the formal confessions of their churches cannot dispel. At such times those who are bereaved grope about for com- fort, and their minds are somewhat more ready than usual to seize upon either truth or falsity if it will but relieve their sadness and apprehension. Their hearts may be hardened and embittered and they may sternly dismiss the possibility of the soul's survival. But others may feel a desperate desire for some confirmation that the dead still live, or will live; may
  27. 27. 22 SPIRITS AND MEN seek for something of a purpose in this endless waste of hu- man lives, and for an ordered scheme and goal in the other- wise futile struggle of existence. Even so, people are wont to think sensually about the life beyond the grave. Even when the teachings of the New Church are presented, the imagination often kindles only to the descriptions of the objective appearances of heaven which seem to fulfil some of our beautiful wish-thoughts, while the real fact is forgotten that all things in the eternal world are spiritual. Swedenborg's revelations of the afterlife have in- deed had a tremendous influence quite apart from the New Church, and have colored the thoughts of millions. But when first broached, our doctrine about heaven usually meets only with an interested tolerance and a politely suppressed wonder that we seem so sure about it all. For to the average person in Christendom nothing is very sure. There are few cham- pions of definite views of the afterlife, although you often meet with the complacent philosophy that no one church has a monopoly in matters of truth, and that there may be some truth in all religions, however contradictory. And so the pul- pits in most churches avoid preaching against falsities; per- haps on the principle that those who live in glass houses should not throw stones, but also because "church-goers" absorb far more of their spiritual food from prevailing spheres of thought -from opinions which are dished out promiscuously in maga- zines and books or offered in casual conversations-than from their own church. A certain saving measure of common sense has to a large part modified the orthodox teachings of Protestants that the dead sleep in the grave until the Day of Doom and the general resurrection. Hamlet's reverie recurs: "To die: to sleep- perchance to dream. For in that sleep of death what dreams might come. . . . " The idea has found favor that the spirit -waiting for the final judgment-is somewhere consciously
  28. 28. OPEN COMMUNICATION WITH SPIRITS 23 alive. But his state during this interval between death and judgment is a matter of speculation. Whether he flits amid dark space as a luminous etherial body which possibly might haunt mortals below ; or whether memory might through some fourth dimension reconstruct a dreamlife in which the con- sequences of error are punished according to poetic justice ; or whether the soul, released, lives on as a flame of life await- ing a new incarnation! What does it matter, men ask, if we cannot know for sure? The doctrine of the Roman Catholics is couched more definitely. It states that the soul is committed to heaven or to hell immediately after death, although even a penitent person must make up for his omissions by sufferings in the fires of purgatory; and later-at the last judgment---each soul will join its body in a material resurrection on a reconstructed earth. Sensual thought about heaven places its reality in material things. It pictures a place-whether this earth, purified by fire, or some central star-in which the blessed should gat):ier in refined and sexless material bodies; perhaps a place presided over by a race of "angels" created before earth ever was. It pictures heaven as a place of sensual rewards. The quality of men's ideas of what they expect heaven to be is described in the work on Conjugial Love, where it is told how novitiate spirits were cured of their persuasions as to the various imaginary joys in which they believe eternal bliss to consist: paradisal delights, feasting, conversations, wealth and power, or perpetual glorifications and ecstatic songs of praise; or- as some thought- mere admission into the sphere of heaven.25 Ignorance about man's state after death naturally breeds fantasies. Lack of any rational teaching encourages the imagination to roam at will. Heaven becomes merely the ful- filment of the cravings thwarted on earth, the satisfaction of 25 CL 2-10
  29. 29. 24 SPIRITS AND MEN natural affections, such as we see instanced in the mythologies among the heroes of Valhalla or, for the more philosophically minded Greeks, a submersion into the memories of earthlife, as was the fate imagined for the brooding shades of the Under- world. The idea of real spiritual uses and of delights of charity and wisdom is seldom given any stress or significance in connection with such imaginary heavens. Nor is the con- cept of God's justice purified from questionable ethics-for most of the "orthodox" doctrines give little chance of salva- tion except to the elect few. But whatever ideas about heaven they have been offered, men in these distracting times of ours have found it increasingly difficult to believe, in the afterlife at all merely upon the say-so of the churches. They have de- manded proofs in personal experience by which to confirm the very existence of spirits, if not of angels. And like every church in the past, so the Christian Church began from olden times to give birth to various irresponsible sects which par- ticularly catered to such a desire and purported to furnish sen.sual proofs of the presence of spirits. Ancient and Modem Spiritism Divine revelation has consistently warned against this at- tempt of man to pry open the gates of the unseen world. "Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards ... "- it was written in the Mosaic law. "There shall not be found among you any one . . . that useth divina- tion, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.... "26 Such were to be punished with death. But this prohibition soon proved to be ineffective. Israel could not resist the pressure of the combined supersti- tions of the East! Even Saul, after banishing all sorcerers, 2e Lev. 19: 31, 20: 6, 27, Deut. 18: 9-14
  30. 30. OPEN COMMUNICATION WITH SPIRITS 25 succumbed to the temptation and sought counsel of the ghost of Samuel. But Isaiah later warned against witchcraft when he proclaimed, "When they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep and mutter: Should not a people seek unto their God? For the living unto the dead? To the Law and to the Testimony! If they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them."21 The Lord while on earth constantly refused the testimony of evil spirits as he drove them out of those who were "pos- sessed." And in one of His parables He cites Abraham as refusing to send Lazarus back into the world to warn the five brethren of the rich man; saying, "If they hear not Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead."28 But even at that time angels, un- solicited, appeared to men in vision. And in the early days of Christianity, the Christian Fathers were careful to warn their followers against trusting spirits. John wrote in his epistle, "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God. . .. Any spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is not of God. . . . "29 But the early Christian "gift of prophecy" inadvertently paved the way for incantations and sorcery, and in medieval times the belief in the afterlife was accompanied by a dread of ghosts and ghouls that haunted the cemeteries, and of fantastic vam- pires and of elemental spirits that could control the wild forces of nature unless curbed by magical formulas or exorcised by the prayers and solemn rites of the church. Within the pale of the church, priests and "saints" were subject to visions and revelations, while unauthorized mystics and seers claimed in- tercourse with the unseen world. The hysteria which marked the great witch-trials even on the American continent was but 2 7Jsa.-g: 19, 20 29 r John 4: l, 3 2s Luke 16 : 19-31
  31. 31. 26 SPIRITS AND MEN an indication of the insanities to which men laid themselves open by illicit attempts to communicate with spirits and thus invite obsession. After the last judgment in 1757, there came something of a lull in the efforts to seek intercourse with spirits. It be- came frowned upon as superstitious, and although the same abuses continued, outstanding instances became rarer. And then, towards the middle of the nineteenth century, there sprang up a new movement towards its revival in a more respectable garb and in more "scientific" form: a movement which goes under the name of Modern Spiritualism. This was supposedly a research into occult phenomena by empirical methods. Although claiming continuity with the work of seers, prophets and mystics of all previous ages and denying any kinship to sorcerers and magi, the partisans of this movement date its practical beginning with the "Rochester spirit- rappings" in 1848, when the Fox family heard knocks and noises which they ascribed to spirits who answered their ques- tions according to a pre-arranged code. Children at that time, the Fox sisters later toured this country and England to dis- play their peculiar spirit-telegraphy. And although one of them publicly disavowed her own part in these phenomena as so much fake, the movement had gathered too ~eat momen- tum to be stopped. People were eager to believe the mar- velous, and many soon discovered themselves also to be "sen- sitives"; found that they could serve as "mediums" for spirits who then "controlled" them. Once estab1ished as mediwns, they could draw profitable audiences of ardent believers; and from time to time for the next fifty years the free publicity given these mediums was tremendous. In 1884 unsubstan- tiated claims were made of many million "adherents" in Amer- ica. It was claimed by spiritists that the world of the departed had long been seeking for this means of coming into contact
  32. 32. OPEN COMMUNICATION WITH SPIRITS 27 with mortals, and that now spirits were crowding the air and descending to inaugurate a new era in which unbelief would be wiped out. The particular accomplishments which spirits learned to perform included the power to give messages about dead friends, through the voice or pen of the medium; to write on covered slates; to lift bouquets of flowers from room to room, blow trumpets and beat tambourines without human aid ; to suspend the laws of gravity, lifting people or chairs or tables into the air ; and finally-but more rarely-to materialize themselves in a substance ("ectoplasm") which perspired from the body of the medium so that they could become tangible and visible, and even be kissed and photographed and engaged in conversation. The spirits (or the mediums) were unwilling to participate in most of these phenomena except amidst small groups of affirmative friends, and an extra-ordinary preference was shown for dark rooms and closed cabinets. Yet several prominent scientists, like Sir William Crookes, Sir Oliver Lodge, W. F. Barrett and Charles Richet, were converted to a belief in the genuiness of some of the phenomena. In many lands some society for psychical research now gathers and sifts the evidence presented by alleged mediums and others, and so far as is possible, some of their learned investigators have imposed almost fool-proof conditions upon their experi- ments. One fact, however, is universally admitted: that al- most every "physical" medium has been proved at some time to have cheated by producing the desired phenomena by clever trickery. This is variously explained by spiritualists: first of all they admit that the spirits who use the medium are quite apt to encourage deception, since they retain human failings; secondly, they concede that a medium whose powers are ex- hausted and abused, will naturally be reluctant to admit it; and
  33. 33. 28 SPIRITS AND MEN thirdly, the genuine adherents disown all responsibility for professional exhibitionists, The societies and laboratories established for psychical re- search and "parapsychology" make it their task to investigate all proffered claims to extra-sensory perception, telepathy, precognition, clairvoyance, psycho-kinesis, etc., as well as al- leged occurrences of "materializations" and poltergeists. Most of such studies are conducted quite apart from any re- ligious inferences. Within the small group of learned men who confess themselves baffled by some of the experiments, many are inclined to explain their results as due to physical and mental powers within man, hitherto not understood. Cer- tain psychologists have indeed suggested that some echo of man might survive death, not as an individual but as a part of an interpersonal psychic field perhaps capable of contact with the living.* But the hope of spiritualists to convince the world of the survival of the dead has not been fulfilled. To most people, the clever accomplishments of the mediums are a nine-days wonder soon dismissed. And the vapid mes- sages of cheer from the other world which the seances pro- duced have been so. ambiguous and valueless that they spoke poorly for the intelligence of the departed. Confused pratings that suggest marvelous revelations to come-but which never come--hold the attention of the devotee. People soon recog- nized that an atmosphere of unbounded credulity was basic to the spiritistic movement. Its organized cults have dwindled in membership, although it has uncounted adherents and sympathizers among the laity and even the clergy of various denominations, and its beliefs and practices are shared by several strange sects that dabble in occultism. As a religion, spiritualism is of course founded on a sifting out of certain common elements within the contradictory *Professor Gardner Murphy, "Field Theory and Survival," in Jounial of the American Society for Psychical Research, Oct. 1945.
  34. 34. OPEN COMMUNICATION WITH SPIRITS 29 "revelations" of the mediums and the "automatic writers." This means that they honor the Lord, but usually only as a great medium and a lofty spirit; they place the Bible among a number of other messages from above; they picture the spir- itual world as a realm of unending progress, with redemption possible for evil spirits also--who, they say, are merely "un- developed"; and they reject the idea of any resurrection of the material body. One organization encourages belief in astrology, palmistry, prophecy, and the interpretation of dreams. Another believes in elemental spirits, and has chosen as its emblem the pond lily which shoots up from the mud "through putrid waters," yet evolves beauty and purity. But all encourage the seeking of sensual proofs of the soul's sur- vival. The opposition to Spiritualism comes mainly from the Roman Catholic Church, from many literalistic sects, from some of the clergy of more conservative churches, from most scientists and from skeptics everywhere. Each group has reasons of its own, either doctrinal or pragmatic, for resisting the movement. But as is usual in such opposition, each-in denouncing the spiritistic movement-also rejects the funda- mental truths which that movement has misused and per- verted. An instance of this is seen in the attitude of some physicians who from their studies of the psychopathic wards have contracted the habit of regarding all extraordinary hu- man states as abnormal and due to mental disorder. Such men are not content to condemn the practice of spiritism be- cause of its ill effects on the nervous system of its victims : they also regard all claims to spiritual intercourse as the re- sult of a disordered mind and would classify even the visions of the prophets and disciples as sensory hallucinations due to paranoia, paraphrenia, or other forms of disease. Such an attitude, born from a preconceived denial of the existence of a spiritual world, precludes all further understanding of the
  35. 35. 30 SPIRITS AND MEN distinctions between the orderly means by which, in the Lord's providence and according to His protecting laws, the spiritual world could at times of need be opened to allow prophets and seers to serve as instruments of a Divine revelation, and the disorderly enterprises by which men seek to pry into the un- seen world and by which spirits seek to dominate and obsess human minds when these are diseased or voluntarily submis- sive. Swedenborg and Modern Spiritualism In several works on the history of modern spiritualism, considerable space is given to Emanuel Swedenborg, who has been labeled as "the foremost mystic and seer of modern times" or as "the father of our new knowledge of supernal matters." "When the first rays of the rising sun of spiritual knowledge fell upon the earth they illumined the greatest and highest human mind before they shed their light on lesser men. That mountain peak of mentality was this great reformer and clairvoyant medium, as little understood by his own followers as ever the Christ has been. . . . In order fully to understand Swedenborg one would need to have a Swedenborg brain, and that is not met with once in a century." So writes Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, lately the leading champion and biographer of the movement. His words are flattering to Swedenborg; but not to the New Church, which-he says-"has allowed itself to become a backwater instead of keeping its rightful place as the original source of psychic knowledge."30 It would seem that Conan Doyle, delving into clues for the solution of the final mystery, himself lacked the Swedenborg brain. For the theology of the New Church and the dis- so Arthur Conan Doyle, M.D., LLD., The History of Spiritual- ism, 2 vols. (New York: George H. Doran Company, 1926), I, pp. 11, 12, 20. See also J. Arthur Hill, Spiritualism, Its History, Phenomena and Doctrine (Cas- sell and Co., Ltd, 1918)
  36. 36. OPEN COMMUNICATION WITH SPIRITS 31 closure of the spiritual sense of the Word, which were the net result of Swedenborg's revelations, are not of any comfort to the spiritistic movement. But in spite of this side of Sweden- borg's work, Doyle hails "the immense store of information which," he says, "God sent to the world through Swedenborg. Again and again they have been repeated by the mouths and the pens of our own Spiritualistic illuminates."30 To the eyes of New Church readers this admission un- wittingly reveals more than was intended. For when spirits do speak to men, it is spirits who are of his own religion or who adopt his ideas; they can only "confirm whatever the man has made a part of his religion; thus enthusiastic spirits confirm in a man all that pertains to his enthusiasm; Quaker spirits all things of Quakerism; Moravian spirits all things of Moravianism, and so on." This is said to show that it is un- true "that man might be more enlightened . . . if he had di- rect revelation through speech with spirits and angels."31 Spirits who speak with a man speak only from his affections and according to his thoughts and knowledge. This provision is made to preserve man's freedom even when he tries to squander it by offering himself as the dupe of evil spirits. The only real information that has been given to men since known history began comes, of course, from the Word and now especially from the Writings of Swedenborg. And some of this knowledge, mixed with all manner of superstition, con- torted by Christian traditions and modified by wishful think- ing and hoax, has found a fruitful soil in the imagination of many a spiritist. At the seance, this welter of information is present in the mind either of the medium or the questioner. So far as there is any clarity in the supposed answer, it comes indirectly from the Writings. Nothing new-nothing which in the slightest adds to the comprehension of the life and order of the spiritual world-has ever been furnished by the "wiz- a1 AE 1182: 4, DV 29
  37. 37. 32 SPIRITS AN D MEN ards that peep and mutter." The futility of seeking open in- tercourse with spirits is abundantly clear from the paucity of the results. Possibility of the Intercourse of Spirits and Men There are many powers latent within man that are not well understood. Far above our conscious thought there is an in- terior memory in which all that we have experienced resides in perfect detail, although beyond our ability to recollect. In known cases, as for instance in hypnotic sleep, the astonishing contents of this memory may be divulged or become active as "subconscious intellection," as "automatic writing," or as som- nambulency. That spirits can operate this memory of man is clear from our dreams and may lie behind the emergence of a "split personality." There is also a possibility that people who are united in bonds of kinship or affection may at times convey their thoughts or fears to each other at a distance by what is called "telepathy." There is attested evidence that in rare cases visual ideas may similarly be communicated by "clairvoy- ance." It is told of Swedenborg that when at Gothenburg he was able to report on the progress of a fire raging near his house in Stockholm (Docu. 273). Seemingly the prophet Elisha was clairvoyant when he told the king of Israel the plans of the Syrians (2 Kings 6: 12). That such unusual oc- currences are caused by the communication existing between associated spirits is not unlikely. But it is also well to note that many of the claims of mod- ern mediums go directly counter to what is taught us in the Writings. There is indeed an influx of the spiritual world into the natural, and it is by this influx that all organic growth, vegetable and animal, takes place. Destructive organisms, such as noxious pests, are-we are taught--('.reations that re-
  38. 38. OPEN COMMUNICATION WITH SPIRITS 33 ceived their contorted forms from the influx of the hells into corresponding substances on earth.32 But this influx is not any materialization of the evil spirits; it is merely an activity of the spheres of the hells. There is no conjunction of the two worlds except by the mediation of man, that is, by man's mind.33 We find no ground in the Writings for a belief that spirits can move the objects of earth or sky without the agency of the human body, or that they can materialize, whether through a man or separately. Since biblical times, Jews and Christians have thought that angels appeared by suddenly as- suming material bodies when they were seen by prophets or apostles. Before his full enlightenment, Swedenborg also en- deavored to reconcile such a belief with his conception of the nature of the soul, suggesting that by the omnipotence of God a spirit might be clothed with a temporary embodiment from materials present in the atmospheres.34 But in the inspired Writings we read this disavowal: "It is believed in the Chris- tian world that angels have assumed human bodies and have thus appeared to men ; but they did not assume them, but the eyes of the man's spirit were opened, and so they were seen."85 The explanation is simple and reasonable. For man is created with spiritual senses as well as with natural senses. He possesses a body of matter held together by physical forces -by electromagnetic and gravitational fields of force. But these fields of force are ruled, unified, disposed and directed by a soul or spirit, and thus by a spiritual purpose and a super- conscious wisdom which is far above our comprehension. In fact, the spirit is the real man, and is organized far more in- tricately than the body. It is indeed a spiritual body36 which is endowed with spiritual senses and thus with the power to p~rceive knowledge--to see spiritual objects, "see" truths, 32DLW 343 33 HH 112, AC 3702, 4042 34 R Psych. 523, WE 1457 85 Dom. 14 36 TCR 583
  39. 39. 34 SPIRITS AND MEN civil, moral and spiritual, and to feel and recognize mental states and sense the relations of all the things which compose his spiritual environment. These things are seen by the un- derstanding more clearly than physical objects are seen by the bodily eyes. But ordinarily they are sensed by us only as abstractions, as thoughts, imaginations and logical relations. Yet if "the eyes of a man's spirit were opened," he would see beyond the contents of his own memory. He would see the spirits and angels immediately present with him, and see these in their own spiritual and mental environment which in every detail would be descriptive of their character and state. All men are thus equipped for actual vision into the spiritual world.37 And if men were in the perfect state of the celestials, as Providence had intended, angels and men could openly dwell together without harm.88 Swedenborg distinctly claimed that such intercourse as his own with spirits was not miraculous. "These revelations," he wrote, "are not miracles, since every man as to his spirit is in the spiritual world without separation from his body in the natural world; but I with a certain separation, but only as to the intellectual part of my mind. . .. "89 He claimed no uniqueness in being able to converse with spirits, but noted that the type and the marvelous extent of these revelations surpassed even the visions of the men of the Golden Age ; for they remained in natural light while Swedenborg was granted to be in spiritual light and in natural light at the same time. Such intercourse had never before been known in history, and -taken in connection with the manifestation of the Lord in person to Swedenborg and the revelation of the spiritual sense of the Word-was "superior to any miracles."40 In the Most Ancient Church, direct or immediate revelations were given through open intercourse with angels, and there was no need sr AC 69 s0 Inv. 39, Coro., Miracles v. .ss SD 2541£, AC 125 ~0 Inv. 52, 43, 44, 39
  40. 40. OPEN COMMUNICATION WITH SPIRITS 35 for a written Word.41 This is indeed the mode of revelation on other earths also, because of the genius of their inhabit- ants.42 But when our race, through the eating of the fruit of knowledge came into its peculiar external and scientific genius, this way of communicating with heaven was closed. Instead, the Word of God was given through appointed prophets whose spiritual senses were opened ;4 3 and by means of this Word, written and preserved for all ages, men could be reformed through rational things of doctrine. Indeed, the Writings abound in statements to the effect that no one is reformed by visions and by speech with the dead, because such things compel.44 Visions Something should here be added concerning the visions which were permitted to the prophets and others whose spir- itual senses were opened so that they could perceive events which occurred in the spiritual world. The fact that those who are infirm in mind and indulge much in fancies are apt to become subject to hallucinations, does not mean that genuine visions have never been granted. Pathological symptoms-such as manic-depressive delusions and schizophrenia and hallucinations- are only perversions of man's normal faculties and are due to "spirits who by means of fantasies induce appearances which seem to be real." People with visionary tendencies may thus-like credulous children-see monsters behind the trees of the forest or con- vert shadows into ghosts.45 But genuine visions are the actual seeing of "such things in the other life as have real existence."46 They are seen by 41 DV 27, AC 3432 44 DP 134, HH 309 •2 AC 7802, 7804, 10632, 10380ff 4G SD 1752, DP 13-f 4S Num. 24: 15 seq., II Kings 46 AC 1970 6; 17
  41. 41. 36 SPIRITS AND MEN the eyes of the spirit, either by day or night.47 Such were the visions of the prophets who saw not only various representa- tives shown in the spiritual world and containing Divine arcana, but saw the spirits themselves and heard their speech. The men of the Most Ancient Church were instructed by such heavenly visions, for they were given to know their inner meaning.48 The Hebrew prophets, and John at Patmos, had such real or Divine visions significant of the thoughts and affections of angels, but understood them not.4 9 Some of the prophets were actually possessed by spirits; like Saul, who spoke and acted in a state of trance.50 Others exercised their own discretion, and spirits spoke to their inner h&aring.n When in "vision" the prophets were not in the body, but "in the spirit."52 As was foretold in Daniel, prophetic visions· of whatever kind were discontinued after the Christian dispensa- tion had begun.63 The Divine visions which the Lord from childhood had in His Human on earth were most perfect, because "He had a perception of all things in the world of spirits and in the heavens, and had an immediate communication with Jehovah."54 Swedenborg also experienced certain visions. But his normal state, he tells us, was not one of vision as usually understood or one of "trance." But what he saw, heard and felt in the spiritual world was experienced in full wakefulness of body.65 And like the "Divine visions" seen by the prophets, Swedenborg's explorations in the other world were for the sake of his being instructed by the .Lord. The Scriptures were not revealed in a state of vision, but were "dictated by 41 AC 6000, 1975, DP 134 48 AC 125, 1122 49 AE 575 : 2, AR 7, 36, 229e 50 AC 6212, SD 2022, 2282 61 AC 6212 62 Lord 52, DP 134 63 Dan. 9 : 24, 12 : 9, DP 134 54 AC 1584, 1784, 1786 &s. AC 1885, CLJ 35, TCR 157, cp WE 1351, 1353
  42. 42. OPEN COMMUNICATION WITH SPIRITS 37 the Lord to the prophets by a living voice."56 In the case of Swedenborg, the Lord instructed him through spiritual sight, but the Heavenly Doctrine and the internal sense of the Word were given him by a dictation into the interiors of his rational mind, with varying degrees of perception, while he read the Word.57 A type of diabolical visions can be induced by "enthusiastic spirits." This is produced by the "magic" of hell, and it dis- torts the truth, as was the case with the lying prophets men- tioned in the book of Kings.58 The spirits who cause such visions are now separated and restrained in their hells.59 The Writings have now made unnecessary any private revelations or visions. Divine or prophetic visions are no longer provided and would not be understood if they were. Diabolical visions are severely restricted by spiritual laws. And there remain now only fantastic visions, which are "mere delusions of an abstracted mind."60 Warnings against Seeking Speech with Spirits "Nevertheless, conversation with spirits is possible, though rarely with the angels of heaven; and this has been granted to many for ages back."61 And human nature is such that those who have only had fantastic visions are inclined to boast about them and exaggerate them to gain the ear of an audience.62 Speech with spirits "is rarely permitted, because it is perilous. . . . Some who lead a solitary life occasionally hear spirits speaking to them, and without danger." A spirit may thus come to a man and communicate some words ; but still it is not permitted the man to speak with him mouth to mouth, lest the 56 AR 36, AC 7055 : 3, HH 254 s1 AC 6597, 6608, 5171, SD 4820, TCR 779, DV 5, 6. See chapter XVI! 58 DP 134, AE 575: 2, I Kings 22: 23 59 SD 1756 60 DP 134 61 DP 135, comp. HH 253 62 SD 1752
  43. 43. 38 SPIRITS AND MEN spirit should come to realize that he is with a man.63 There- fore a spirit who addresses a man is permitted to speak "only a few words; and they who speak by the Lord's permission never say anything that takes away the freedom of reason, nor do they teach. For the Lord alone teaches man, but mediately by the Word in a state of illustration.... "64 A man who is in enlightenment from the Lord through a love of the truths of the Word may sometimes hear the speech of spirits, but he is never taught by them, but "led" with every precaution for his freedom.65 This speech may be perceived by such men as a kind of "response by vivid perception in their thought or by a tacit speech therein, and rarely by open speech ; and it is to the effect that they should think and act as they will and as they are able, and that he who acts wisely is wise and he who acts foolishly is foolish; but they are never instructed what to believe and what to do. . . . They who are taught by influx what to believe or what to do are not taught by the Lord nor by any angel of heaven, but by some en- thusiastic spirit .. . who leads them astray."66 Those who desire to be instructed by spirits "do not realize that it is conjoined with peril to their soul !"67 Only evil spirits come to the summons of man : "When spirits begin to speak with a man he ought to take heed lest he should believe anything whatever from them; for they say almost anything! They fabricate things and lie. . . . If they were permitted to describe what heaven is . . . they would tell so many lies-and this with solemn affirmations-that a man would be amazed. Therefore when spirits are speaking, I have not been permitted to have faith in the things they related. a3 HH 249 64 DP 135, 172 65 AE 1183 66 DP 321 : 3 e1 AE 1182, HH 456: 3
  44. 44. OPEN COMMUNICATION WITH SPIRITS 39 For they have a passion for inventing; and whenever a subject comes up in conversation they think they know it and give their opinions-one after another-one in one way and another in another, quite as if they knew! And if a man then listens and believes, they press on and de- ceive and seduce in diverse ways. For example, if they were permitted to talk about things to come. . . . "68 And they can impersonate others so that they even deceive themselves that they are some one else! "Let those who speak with spirits beware, therefore, lest they be deceived when the spirits say that they are those whom they have known and who have died. For ... when like things are called up in the memory of man and so are represented to them, they think that they are the same persons."69 "These things make evident the danger in which a man is who speaks with spirits or who manifestly feels their operation."70 Such warnings against seeking sensual proof for the exist- ence of spirits should suffice for any New Church man. Yet from the beginning, the temptation to explore the other world, as Swedenborg did, or to call upon its powers of influx il- licitly, has threatened the New Church. A few instances may be cited.71 In 1786, a French society of "Illuminati" was formed by Abbe Pernety, which mixed New Church doctrine with spiritism and Freemasonry. Similar ideas, in milder forms, such as the practice of "animal magnetism" and the healing of the sick by exorcising spirits, brought an early end to a genuine New Church movement in Stockholm about 1790. 68 SD 1622 69 SD 2860£, 2687 10 AE 1182, Docu. n. 246; Let- ters and Memorials of Emanuel Swedenborg (Swed. Sc. Ass'n 1955), pages 533, 534. 71 See C. T. Odhner, Annals of the New Church, vol. I (Bryn Athyn, Pa., 1904) ; and Mar- guerite Beck Block; The New Church i11 the N ew W orld (New York : Henry .Holt and Co., 1932)
  45. 45. 40 SPIRITS AND MEN In 1817, James Johnston, a simple-minded working man be- longing to the Salford New Church in England, began to receive visions in which Abraham and other "arch-angels" dictated nonsense which has been published in his spiritual "Diary." In 1846, Ludwig Hofaker, who had edited and translated some of the Writings, died of insanity after harm- ing the New Church in Germany by advocating spiritistic theories and practices. In 1844, Mr. Silas Jones, with the sanction of a leading New Church minister, conducted a spirit- istic circle in Brooklyn, profanely mixing sorcery and astrology with New Church rites. In 1859, Thomas Lake Harris, who had ostensibly embraced the New Church after megalomaniac adventures with spiritism on this continent, visited England and almost succeeded in turning the Sweden- borg Society there into an agency for spiritistic propaganda, converting, with his strange charm and marvelous eloquence, William White, the Swedenborg biographer, and Dr. J. J. Garth Wilkinson, a most profound student of the Writings; causing the latter to descend into the Hades of Harrisism for an interval of some years during which he produced verses by spirit-dictation. Harris's career ended in scandal and dis- grace. But it is not enough to say that the New Church, like many other worthy movements, must have its "lunatic fringe." For throughout the years the recurrent defense of spiritistic prac- tices in several New Church journals has shown that ~ temptation to find a sensual approach to the spiritual world is - -- --=--------==--------- -------likely to come wherever the faithful study of the Heavenly Doctrine is neglected, or where a secret or open desire is har- bored to abandon the arduous way of redemption which the Lord offers to thos~-~ho areof the spirit; al-church. This a_p~intes! ~ay_is_~formation through doctti~~ and reason, through the discipline of self-compulsion- and loyalty to- t he truth. It is a difficult road, but one which is necessary for
  46. 46. OPEN COMMUNICATION WITH SPIRITS 41 our race and genius, that is, for all those whose hearts must confess to being subject to hereditary and actual evils. The temptation is to think that we do not need to walk that road, to think that we have attained to a celestial state and may ignore the discipline of doctrine and can rely on our own power t~ with~tand the onslaughts of the_h<:_!!s and on our_in- s~ive dis_cernment to kn_ow <_!.~vil spi~it when we meet him. But let us humbly recognize that "the Lord enters into man through no other than an internal way, which is through the Word and doctrine and preachings from the Word."72 This way does not lead downward to a dependence on the senses and its innumer;tl;ie fallacies, but up to the rational mind where alone a man is free to see the spiritualthings otheave~~ their o~ light. 12 DP 131
  47. 47. IV "The a11gel of the Lord eiicampeth round about them that fear Him, and delivereth them. Psalm 34: 7 Our Spiritual Guardians Angelic Mediations At creation, as recorded in the book of Genesis, God said, "Let us make man in our image after our likeness." Some have been disturbed by this wording, which suggests that many Divine creators might have been at work. And the Hebrew word for God is Elohim, which is a plural construc- tion. It is a "plural of eminence" used for the one God; but only when. the Divine truth is referred to, for truth displays the manifold powers and aspects of God. Many Divine laws concurred in man's creation. The same word, elohim, is how- ever used also for the false gods of the nations and even for the angels and prophets who receive Divine truths.7 3 And in the spiritual sense, the six days of creation describe the process of man's regeneration, the name Elohim being used to indicate that in regenerating man the one God acts through innumer- able agencies, and that it is through the ministry of angels that He leads, awakens, governs, and disposes man's spiritual life and thus bestows upon him the truly human qualities which are meant by the image and likeness of God.74 The inmost soul of man, or the human internal, is indeed not affected by this angelic ministry. For it is, in degree, far above the angelic heavens and is acted upon only by the Lord whose life inflows into it by an immediate way.75 But as to 1s See John 10: 34 and Psalm 75 AC 1999: 3, 4; Infi. 8, LJ 82 25: 6 74 AC 50, 300 42
  48. 48. OUR SPIRITUAL GUARDIANS 43 . the interiors of his spirit or mind, and as to his ruling love and its inner thought which does not fall within the consciousness of man himself, he dwells in a society of heaven or of hell.76 And as to his natural, or what is the same, his rational mind and its conscious thought and will, man is-in all but realiza- tion-an inhabitant of the world of spirits.77 The body of man is under the general influx of heaven. It is in the order of its creation and governed by the soul. Spirits are not adjoined to man's body,78 and do not affect its life and its states directly; nor do they have any part in the expression of our thought and will in speech and act; for this influx of the mind into the body follows orderly laws outside of the control of either men or spirits.79 Spirits do however "inflow" into what is thought and con- sciously desired by man. Their hidden operations are what make possible man's conscious life and affection, and manifest themselves in us as impulses, imaginations and reasonings. The angels, on the other hand, act upon man's interiors, and produce no perceptible effects in man's mental life. For their influx is "tacit." It doe~ not stir up material ideas or object- memories ;80 but is directed to man's ends or inner motives, which are not consciously articulated in man's mind, but which are none the less efficient and secretly powerful.81 The angels also rule and regulate the evil spirits who are near a man, generally without the knowledge or perception of these spirits.82 Guardian Angels The revelations of the Second Advent lay bare the mag- nificent order of the spiritual empire of the Lord, in which the 10 AC 3644, 10604: 5, DP 307: 2, 278b: 6, TCR 14, CL 530: 2 11 HH 430, AC 5854 78 See chapter XIV 1 9 AC 5862, 5990; HH 296. See chapter XIII 80 AC 6209 81 AC 5854
  49. 49. 44 SPIRITS AND MEN Lord correlates the finite wills of all men, spirits, and angels, and holds them in mutual freedom, under the rule of a law which is able to guarantee a sense of "as-of-one's-self" life to every living being on every plane, yet is able to weave their uses together for the creation of a glorious form wherein the happiness of each one is reflected to all and that of all to each. To every man the Lord has assigned two guardian angels, one celestial and one spiritual.82 This is not an arbitrary number. It results from the fact that man's will and under- standing, at every stage of life, each have a ruling state and quality which responds to that particular influx which is most kindred to it. And each angel in heaven also instinctively seeks that ultimate expression for his life which most closely corresponds to his love. For life descends to ultimates. Yet the angel does not desire to descend to the level of merely ex- ternal human life, or to face again the imperfections of earthly conditions, such as are reflected in man's outward thinking. He dwells with man in the community of those spiritual riches of the internal man with which man's supraconscious thought is stored; which include not only childhood "remains" of innocence, but all the later states of faith and worship which abide where moth and rust do not corrupt. In this life, man is not conscious of his spiritual treasures, or of the brilliant wealth and glory that is concealed within his vague spiritual perceptions. They come to him only as the stirring of something of charity, or as occasional enlighten- ment and delight in truth.83 The spir_itual thought of man flows into his natural thought, which in turn clings to his memory. With Swedenborg, the case was indeed different. With him, by a Divine provision, a certain separation took place between the thought of his spirit and the thought of his body. And he could therefore perceive the presence of the s2 SD 3525 83DLW 252
  50. 50. OUR SPIRITUAL GUARDIANS 45 angels and spirits who were with him; which is not possible to ordinary men.84 It is not possible for guardian angels to see the man with whom they are, although they know when they are with a man. To lead and moderate his affections, and to modify and bend them in various directions as far as man's free will per- mits, is indeed ·one of the specific functions of angelic serv- ice.8 5 The angels observe if any new hells are opened; and if man brings himself into any new evil, they close those hells as far as man suffers it. They dissipate foreign or strange influxes which may tend to harm man, calling forth goods and truths from man's mind to combat the evil put forth by the wicked spirits; and they are vigilant every moment in regard to man's safety.86 They attentively and continually notice what the evil spirits and genii with man are intending and attempting, and they feel great joy when they perceive that their service has made it possible to remove some evils and to lead man nearer heaven.87 These angels, or angelic spirits, were seen by Swedenborg "near the head" of man. Yet it does not appear that they visualize the man. Unless they reflect, they think no other- wise than that they are the man-but the interior man, the man as to his interior thought which man does not yet con- sciously realize. If they reflect, they are able to discern that they are angelic spirits,88 and have been with a man; even as we know that some impulse we feel came from spirits. But the angelic spirits consciously perform the use of extending the Lord's protection to man. And the union at the time is intimate : they dwell in the man's affections,89 live themselves into his inmost unconscious life, and feel the utmost sympathy with all the good thoughts which thence issue into man's mind. a. Coro., Mir. v, HH 246 85 AC S.992, HH 39 86 AC 5992 81 AC 5980, 5992, HH 391 88 SD 3525 SD HH 391
  51. 51. 46 SPIRITS AND MEN They consider man as a brother and even defend his faults against too intensive self-criticism; or, on the other hand, they may keep him within sight of his evils.90 Yet angelic spirits are not aware of what man is doing or thinking in the externals of his thought. For their sphere is that of the interior memory.91 And especially is this the case, Swedenborg notes, at this day when angels cannot have any direct conjunction with man.92 The angels therefore have an ardent longing that the kingdom of God Messiah might come so that a closer conjunction might be brought about between them and mankind.93 In most ancient times, as still on certain other earths, spirits were at times able to communicate openly with men and converse with them. The spirit is then reduced to the state in which he was when on earth; his external memory is aroused so that he assumes again the whole complex of his former natural thought ; and then the interior sight of the man is opened, and they appear to each other as if both were men together.94 In such a way angels appeared to the prophets. But at this day such vision is rarely given, Jest men be com- pelled to belief. On the other hand, even today, those men who think abstractedly from the body, while in meditation, interior reflection, or sustained abstruse ideas, are sometimes seen as to their spirits in their own society in the spiritual world.95 There such are easily distinguished from other spirits; "for they go about meditating and in silence, not looking at others and apparently not seeing them ; and as soon as any spirit addresses them, they vanish."96 90 AC 761, 2890 01 SD 206, AC 2473, 2477 92 HH 593 93 SD 206 94 AC 10751 95 HH 438, SD 4769 96 HH 438
  52. 52. OUR SPIRITUAL GUARDIANS 47 Swedenborg's Testimony Because Swedenborg thought profoundly, he would, like other men, normally have appeared at times in societies of angelic spirits. But the peculiar state of Swedenborg was such that he could maintain himself in independent abstract thought and thus consciously converse with spirits and enjoy spiritual sensation even while in bodily wakefulness. When his spiritual thought was not abstracted from the thought of material objects he was invisible to the angelic spirits. For material objects cannot be reproduced as such in the spiritual world; and the ideas of such objects in time and space cannot be expressed by the universal spiritual lan- guage. But when he became "in the spirit"-that is, when material ideas were separated from his spiritual thought (and only those material ideas which were in entire correspondence with the spiritual ideas were at all active)-then he became visible to the spirits, could perceive their wisdom, and con- sociate with them as one of themselves. It was thus that Swedenborg could explore the heavens and live the life of angels and spirits. It was thus that the treasures of the spiritual sense of the Word, and every Divine arcanum, could be conveyed to his mind and be grasped in enlightenment and later, under Divine inspiration, could be written in rational natural language, "clear as crystal" (DV 6). But Swedenborg's mission also gave him an opportunity to instruct angels about their relation to men. We do not imagine that when he visited some heaven he reduced all the angels there into the state of that class of angelic spirits who "are with men" and are called "guardian angels." Still, Swedenborg was sometimes allowed to direct his spiritual thought into natural thought, and thus-by way of experiment -show approximately the change which occurs when angelic spirits are with men.
  53. 53. 48 SPIRITS AND MEN Thus it is told how certain angelic spirits, when they re- tired from Swedenborg into their own spiritual society, came into a spiritual state and into supereminent ideas of spiritual thought and into the understanding of spiritual speech and writing which conveyed this thought most accurately and fully.97 But when they returned to Swedenborg, they found themselves to have come into his natural state and were en- tirely unable to express their spiritual ideas or to understand the speech or writing of heaven: but they could now think only in terms of Swedenborg's thoughts or, rather, converse with each other by his ideas and speak to him only by the natural languages that he knew. In other words, from their ordinary state as angelic spirits they had been reduced to attendant spirits, by their directing their attention to his thoughts which were conjoined to his natural memory. Yet they were still able to converse openly and consciously with Swedenborg as a person, for he was in a state widely different from that of other men, and was obviously a different individual from them. Some of these spirits actually accompanied him to his home, and as he began to write they could see through his mind a moth which was walking on his papcr.97 This is not possible to our attendant spirits. The State of an Attendant Spirit From these incidents it is very clear that our guardian angels are--for the sake of their use--reduced into a state resembling man's. Angels principally inflow into the interior thought which a man is unable to perceive within himself be- cause it is in the realm of ends and is not articulated to his conscious reflection. This interior thought they assume as their own, implying an accommodated state not comparable to angelic wisdom itself. Since it is true of all angels that 97 CL 326-329, comp. DV, chap. iii.
  54. 54. OUR SPIRITUAL GUARDIANS 49 their common basis must be the human race on earth ;08 and since man is the plane upon which the thoughts of the angels rest; it might perhaps seem strange that angels attendant upon man are reduced into man's own general state. For if this is so, whence comes the progress of the heavens? The answer must be that the angels have access to man- kind as a general basis even when not serving a use as man's guardians. And it is indeed said that the particular spiritual beings who "are with men" are not from heaven or from hell, but are spirits who as yet await their judgment or final preparation.99 But such statements do not contradict the principle elsewhere laid down, that spirits who are with men can indeed be from hell or from heaven. If from hell, they must be such as are not confined there but who--not having been as yet fully vastated-have emerged into the world of spirits for a more complete vastation and are thus in the state of the world of spirits, or in something of a natural-rational state. In the case of angelic guardians, they-whether spirits or angels-must also be reduced into the state of man's natural thought and life. And the general rule may thus be seen that the guardian spirits with man are all emissaries or representa- tives of some spiritual society either in heaven or in hell. In other words, they are "subject-spirits."100 If all angels were reduced into a state attuned to that of man, it would defeat the purpose of influx and guardianship. Instead the Lord provides that each angelic society should act upon man through intermediates. These may be spirits in the world of spirits into one of whom the angels of the society concentrate their thought, and whom they inspire with their own illustration and power so that he may act for them and from them. Or else, one of the members of that society serves 98 LJ 9, SD 5190 09 AE 537, DLW 140, AC 5852, HH 600 loo AC 4403, 5983-5989, 5852, HH 601, AR 816 : 2, SD 5529, 3632e, comp. 4461
  55. 55. 50 SPIRITS AND MEN as an emissary and subject. In either case the subject acts and speaks and thinks from the society ; he thinks nothing from himself, although he feels entirely as if he did so from his own choice and his own thought. The greater the numbers in a society who thus "turn themselves" to some spirit and direct their "intuition" into him, the greater power and clarity does this spirit possess.101 Through these particular spirits the currents of life and illustration are directed to the varied states of man, so as to stir particular states in his mind, without rousing the whole dormant will of the proprium. For his will, from heredity and birth, is entirely evil in tendency. His will is a malforma- tion which can receive only the life of hell. If there should be a sudden excitation of the whole of this life, all would be over with man. He would be submerged in a flood of passion and fantasy; and heavenly influx would be impossible. The Lord has ordained otherwise. He has provided that man's native life shall not suddenly exhibit all its hideous potentialities, but that it shall be revealed only little by little while earth-life progresses--aroused only so far as it can be comprehended by conscious thought. In other words, the Lord has provided that there shall be no general influx into the conscious part of the mind, but that man's responsible life shall be carried on in the understanding by states of thought and will that develop gradually; and that all the forces of the spiritual world shall have their representatives near man and shall balance each other's influence, and so leave man in free- dom. The Number of Our Attendant Spirits In general, each man has four attendant spirits. Two angelic spirits are present. The othe~ arethe subjects- 101 AC 5987
  56. 56. OUR SPIRITUAL GUARDIANS 51 respectively-of the hell of "genii" and the hell of "satanic spirits." These four are generally invisible to each other, with the exception that the good spirits see the evil spirits ~hose wicked_in~nt they seeITo 1rustrate~~oneof them see the man with whom they are, but only his affec- tions.103 The intimacy of these spirits with man's whole mind may be seen from the revealed fact that the spirits near to man think that they are the man and, if evil, are unwilling to admit that they are no longer living in the body, although this could easily be shown them if they were willing to reflect.104 The appearances upon which their self-deception rests are indeed strong. For such spirits, while they are near man, possess or assume his whole memory ! Angelic spirits would assume his whole interior memory; other spirits his exterior mem- ory106 with all his past, with his whole personality, his active self; yet all this without disturbing man's feeling of self-life and freedom in the least. Nothing of a spirit's own natural memory is permitted to be active. Spirits forget themselves and their own natural past, lest confusion should result in man's mind by their communicating their memories to him. Several spirits, forgetting their own identities, may at the same time suppose themselves to be the man, and yet man be hap- pily oblivious of their illusions !1°0 Each spirit would then take, from the mazes of man's memory, all that harmonizes with his own affection, and man may thus find himself torn by opposing delights. But all the attending~pirits, because they thus identify man's mind with their own, act as his friends.107 Spirits generally do not remain long with a man but are 102 AC 6189, HH ?.07, AC 5848, 5983, 904 10a AC 1880, 5470, 5849 104AC 6192, HH m 105 SD 3104 1oa AC 6194, SD 3525 101 SD 2852, 796£, 4716, AC 6192, 6200
  57. 57. 52 SPIRITS AND MEN always changing according to man's advance in age or state. A striking exception to this rule is suggested in the teaching that death does not separate coajpgial ·partners, "since the spirit of the deceased dwells continually with the spirit of the one not yet deceased, and this even until the death of the other, when they meet again and reunite, and love each other more tenderly than before, because in the spiritual world."108 But that the partner is always in the state typical of an at- tendant spirit is not said, and in no wise follows. From a certain relation we judge that these four special attendants, or at least one among them, may be the same for a long time. In the presence of Swedenborg, and through his memory, spirits could sometimes become aware with what men they were closely consociated. Such consociate spirits resemble their earthly alter ego, sometimes even as to dress. One such spirit declared that he <:!:JUld upderstand clearly all that the man he attended said, but that the man could not ulllerstanCI the·things he,tl1e spirit, said. Another admitted that he thought and spoke from a certain man on earth as the man did from him.109 But this realization was exceptional, due to Swedenborg's presence. Without an associate spirit with an affectio~similar to his own, and thence perceptions of a like kind, a mlln could not think analytically, rationally or spiritually.110 T~e attendant spirits may take on the man's whole memory or only a part, and remain with the man as long as they represent a general state. As the man advances from childhood, both his angelic guardians and his infernal attendants are changed. In in- ~ngels of the celestial type, including infant spirits, are with him and insinuate innocence. In childhood, spirits of th.e natural heaven are close, instilling an affection of knowing. In youth, spirits of intelli~ence, subjects of the secortd heaven, 108 CL 321 1 0 9 TCR 137 110 TCR 380: 3 '