(TCR) - True Christian Religion: Containing the Whole Theology of the New Church Predicted by the Lord in Daniel 7:13-14 and Revelation 21:1-2

TCR 692

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692. To this I will add the following Memorable Relations. First:
When returning home from a school of wisdom (see n. 48), I saw on the way an angel in violet-colored clothing. He came up beside me and said, "I see that you have come from a school of wisdom and are delighted with what you have there heard. And as I perceive that you are not fully in this world, being at the same time in the natural world, and therefore know nothing about our Olympic gymnasia where the old Sophi meet, and where they learn from the newcomers from your world what changes and successions of state wisdom has undergone and is still undergoing, if you wish, I will conduct you to a place where many of the ancient Sophi and their sons, that is, their disciples, dwell."
And he conducted me to the border between the north and east; and when I looked forward into it from an eminence, behold, a city appeared, and at one side of it two hills, the one nearer to the city being the lower. And the angel said to me, "That city is called Athenaeum, the lower hill Parnassium, and the higher Heliconeum. They are so named because in and about the city the old Grecian sages dwell, such as Pythagoras, Socrates, Aristippus, and Xenophon, with their disciples and scholars."
I asked about Plato and Aristotle, and he said that they with their followers inhabit another region, because they taught rational things, which pertain to the understanding, while the others taught morals, which pertain to life.
[2] He said that studious persons were frequently sent from the city Athenaeum to the Christian literati, to learn from them what they think at this day about God, the creation of the universe, the immortality of the soul, the state of man relative to that of beasts, and other subjects of interior wisdom. He said also, that a herald had this day proclaimed a meeting, an indication that their messengers had met with newcomers from the earth, from whom they had heard some curious things.
And we saw a number of persons going from the city and suburbs, some having laurels on their heads, some holding palms in their hands, some with books under their arms, and some with quills under the hair of the left temple. [3] We mingled with them and ascended the hill in their company; and behold, on the hill was an octagonal palace, which they called the Palladium; and we entered. And behold, there were eight sexagonal recesses there, in each one of which was a library, and also a table at which those crowned with laurel sat; and in the Palladium itself seats cut in stone were seen, upon which the others seated themselves.
A door was then opened at the left, through which were ushered two newcomers from the earth; and after salutations, one of those crowned with laurel asked them, "What news from earth?"
They said, "The news is that men like beasts, or beasts like men, have been found in a forest, whose faces and bodies showed that they had been born men, and had been left or lost in the forest when two or three years old; and it was claimed that they were unable to give expression by sound to anything of thought, or to learn to articulate any word; nor did they, like beasts, know the food that was suitable for them, but put into their mouths the productions of the forest, whether clean or unclean; and many such things were said of them. From all this some learned men among us have formed suppositions and others conclusions in regard to the state of men as related to that of beasts."
[4] Hearing this, some of the ancient Sophi asked, "What suppositions and conclusions do they draw from these facts?"
The two new-comers answered, "Many; but they may be referred to the following: 1. That man by his nature, and also by birth, is more stupid and therefore lower than any beast; and that he becomes such if not instructed. 2. That he could be instructed, because he had learned to make articulate sounds, and consequently to speak; and that he thereby began to express thoughts, and this gradually more and more fully, so that he is now able to frame laws of society, some of which however, are impressed upon beasts from birth 3. That rationality belongs as much to beasts as to men. 4. Therefore, if beasts were able to speak, they would reason as skillfully as men on any subject, a proof of which is, that they think from reason and prudence equally with men. 5. That the understanding is a mere modification of light from the sun, heat co-operating and the ether being the medium; thus it is a mere activity of interior nature; and this can be exalted to such a degree as to appear like wisdom. 6. That it is therefore vain to believe that man lives after death any more than a beast, except, perhaps, that for some days after death, owing to the exhalation of life from the body, he may appear like mist in the form of a ghost, before he is dissipated into nature; almost as a shrub raised from its ashes appears in a resemblance of its own form. 7. Consequently religion, which teaches that there is a life after death, is an invention to hold simple people in bondage by its laws internally, as they are held externally by civil laws."
To this they added that those who are merely ingenious so reasoned, but not the intelligent. The Sophi asked, "What do the intelligent think?"
They said, "We have not heard; but that is our opinion."
[5] Hearing this, all those who were seated at the tables exclaimed, "Oh what times they have now on earth! Alas! what changes wisdom has undergone! It is turned into an infatuated ingenuity. The sun has gone down, and is beneath the earth directly opposite to its noonday height. Who might not know from the evidence furnished by those persons lost in the forest and found again, that such is man when not instructed? Is he not what instruction makes him? Is he not born more ignorant than the beasts? Must he not learn to walk and talk? If he were not taught to walk, would he raise himself erect upon his feet? And without learning to talk could he even murmur anything of thought? Is not every man what instruction makes him, unwise from falsities or wise from truths; and is not the one who is unwise from falsities under a complete hallucination that he is wiser than the one who is wise? Are there not infatuated and senseless men, who are no more men than those found in the woods? Are not those who are devoid of memory like them? [6] From all these instances we conclude that a man without instruction is not a man, neither is he a beast, but a form capable of receiving into itself that which makes it a man; thus man is not born a man, but is made a man, furthermore, that man is born such a form as to be an organ receptive of life from God, to the end that he may be a subject into whom God may bring every good, and make him blessed for ever by union with Himself. We perceive from your remarks that wisdom is at this day so far extinguished or infatuated, that men know nothing whatever of the state of their own life relative to that of beasts; and for that reason they are ignorant of the state of man's life after death; and those who are able to know about this, but do not wish to, and consequently deny it, as many of your Christians do, we may liken to those found in the forest; not that they have become thus stupid from lack of instruction, but they have made themselves thus stupid by the fallacies of the senses, which are the obscuration of truths."
[7] But just then some one standing in the center of the Palladium holding a palm in his hand, said, "Explain, I pray you, this mystery; how man, having been created a form of God, could be changed into the form of the devil. I know that the angels of heaven are forms of God, and the spirits of hell forms of the devil; and the two forms are opposites, the latter being forms of insanity, the former of wisdom. Tell me, therefore, how a man created a form of God, could pass from day into such a night as to be able to deny God and eternal life."
To this the teachers answered in order: First the Pythagoreans, then the disciples of Socrates, and then the others.
But there was among them a Platonist, who spoke last, and his opinion prevailed. It was as follows: "The men of the Saturnian or golden age knew and acknowledged that they were forms receptive of life from God, and consequently wisdom was inscribed on their souls and hearts, and thus they saw truth from the light of truth, and through truths had a perception of good from the delight pertaining to the love of good. But as the human race departed in succeeding ages from the acknowledgment that all truth of wisdom, and consequently all good of love in them, flows in continually from God, they ceased to be dwelling places of God; and converse with God and affiliation with angels also ceased. For the interiors of their minds, which had been raised upward by God to God, were then turned from their proper direction to one more and more oblique, outwardly into the world, and thus through the world to God from God; and finally they were turned in the opposite direction, which is downward to self. And as a man who is thus interiorly inverted and turned away cannot look to God, men have separated themselves from God, and have become forms of hell, and thus of the devil. From this it follows, that in the first ages men acknowledged in heart and soul that all good of love, and all truth of wisdom therefrom came to them from God, and also were God's in them; thus that they were mere receptacles of life from God, and were therefore called images of God, sons of God, and born of God; but in succeeding ages they acknowledged this not with the heart and soul, but with a kind of persuasive faith, then with a historic faith, and finally with the lips only; and acknowledging such a truth with the lips only is not acknowledging it, but in heart is denying it [8] All this shows the kind of wisdom that now prevails on earth among Christians (although they might be inspired by a written revelation from God) for they do not even know the distinction between men and beasts, and in consequence many believe that if man lives after death, beasts must live after death also; or that as beasts do not live after death, therefore man does not. Has not our spiritual light, which illuminates the mental vision, become thick darkness among them, and their natural light, which illuminates the bodily vision only, become splendor?"
[9] After this the assembly all turned toward the two visitors and thanked them for their visit and the account they had given; they also begged of them to report what they had heard to their brethren.
The visitors answered that they would confirm their brethren in this truth, that so far as they attribute all the good of charity and truth of faith to the Lord, and not to themselves, so far they are men, and become angels of heaven.


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