(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 697

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697. Sixth Memorable Relation:
I once saw not far from me a meteoric display. I saw a cloud divided into little clouds, some of which were blue, and some dark; and I saw them dashing against each other as it were, with rays of light glittering in streaks across them; which at one time appeared sharp like pointed swords, and again blunt like broken swords, now the streaks would shoot out at each other, and again they withdrew into themselves, exactly like combatants. In this way those differently colored clouds seemed to be fighting with each other, but it was only play. As this display did not seem to be far from me, I raised my eyes and looked at it carefully, and beheld boys, young men, and old men entering into a house built of marble on a foundation of porphyry. The phenomenon was over this house. I then spoke to one of those who were entering, and asked him what was there.
He replied, "It is a gymnasium, where youths are initiated into various matters pertaining to wisdom."
[2] Hearing this, I entered with them. I was in the spirit, that is, in a state like that of the inhabitants of the spiritual world, who are called angels and spirits. And behold, in the gymnasium opposite the entrance was a desk, in the center were benches, round about the sides were seats, and over the entrance was an orchestra. The desk was for the youths who were to give answers to the problem to be proposed on that occasion; the benches were for the auditors, the seats at the sides for those who had answered wisely on former occasions, and the orchestra for older men, who were to be arbiters and judges. In the center of the orchestra was a pulpit, where a wise man, whom they called the head teacher was sitting, who proposed the problems to which the youths gave answer from the desk.
When they had assembled, the man arose in the pulpit and said, "Now please to answer this problem, and solve it if you can, What is the soul, and what is its nature?"
[3] All were amazed when they heard this, and murmured at it; and some of those seated on the benches exclaimed, "What man, even from the Saturnian age to our own, has been able by any rational thought to see and fully comprehend what the soul is, still less what the nature of it is? Is not this question above the sphere of the understanding of all men?"
But to this those in the orchestra replied, "The question is not above the understanding, but in and before it; only answer it."
And the youths who had been chosen for that day arose and went up to the desk and answered the problem. There were five of these who had been examined by the elders and found endowed with much sagacity, and who were then sitting on sofas near the desk, and who afterward went up to the desk in the order in which they sat. Each one as he went up put on a silk tunic of an opalic color, and over it a gown of fine wool inwoven with flowers, and also a cap, on the top of which was a rosette encircled by small sapphires.
[4] I saw the first one go up so clothed, and he said, "What the soul is and what its nature is, has not been revealed to any man since the day of creation; it is hidden in the treasure house of God alone. But this much has been disclosed, that the soul has her seat in man like a queen; but where her court is, learned masters have but guessed; some, that it is in the small tubercle between the cerebrum and the cerebellum, which is called the pineal gland; in this they have fixed the seat of the soul because the whole man is governed from those two brains, and that tubercle regulates them; therefore, this, which regulates the brain at will, also regulates the entire man from head to foot. And this," he continued, "seemed therefore to be the truth or the probability to many in the world; but after their time it was rejected as a mere invention."
[5] When he had so spoken he put off the gown, tunic, and cap, and the second of those chosen put them on and entered the desk. His statement respecting the soul was that throughout all heaven and all the world it is not known what the soul is, or what its nature is. "This much," he said, "is known, that there is a soul and that it is in man, but where it is, is a matter of conjecture. This is certain, that it is in the head, for there the understanding thinks, and there the will intends, and in the fore-part of the head, that is, in the face, are man's five sensories; and the only source of life to all these is the soul which has its seat within the head. But where its court there is, I dare not say. Sometimes I agree with those who have assigned it a seat in the three ventricles of the brain, sometimes with those who assign it a seat in the corpora striata, sometimes with those who locate it in the medullary substance of both brains, or again with those who say it resides in the cortical substance, or with those who say it is in the dura mater; for evidences have not been lacking in favor of each of these locations; in favor of the three ventricles on the ground that these are the receptacles of the animal spirits and the different kinds of lymph belonging to the brain; in favor of the corpora striata on the ground that they form the marrow through which the nerves go forth, and through which both brains are continued into the spinal column, and from this column and this substances the fibers emanate from which the whole body is woven; in favor of the medullary substance of both brains on the ground that this substance is a collection and mass of all the fibers that go to form the rudiments of the entire man; in favor of the cortical substance on the ground that first and last ends reside there, and therefore the beginning of all fibers, and thus of all sense and motions; in favor of the dura mater, on the ground that it is the common covering of both brains, and extends itself therefrom, by a kind of continuity, over the heart and over the viscera of the body. As for myself, I do not decide in favor of one more than another. Do you decide, I beg of you, and choose which you prefer."
[6] When he had said this he came down from the desk and handed the tunic, gown, and cap to the third, who stepped up to the desk and spoke as follows, "What has a youth like me to do with so sublime a problem? I appeal to the learned men sitting here beside me, I appeal to you wise men in the orchestra; I appeal even to the angels of the highest heaven, whether anyone from his own rational light can acquire for himself any idea respecting the soul. But respecting its seat in man, I can like others form conjectures; and my conjecture is that it has its seat in the heart, and therefrom in the blood. And this is my conjecture, because the heart by its blood rules both the body and the head; for it sends forth the great vessel called the aorta throughout the whole body, and the vessels called the carotid arteries into all parts of the head. Therefore it is universally agreed that the soul, from the heart through the blood, sustains, nourishes, and vivifies the whole organic system of both the body and the head. It adds credence to this assertion, that soul and heart are so frequently mentioned in Sacred Scripture, as,
That thou shalt love God with the whole soul and the whole heart, and that God creates in man a new soul and a new heart (Deut. 6:5; 10:12; 11:13; 26:16; Jer. 32:41; Matt. 22:37; Mark 12:30, 33; Luke 10:27 and elsewhere).
It is also openly stated that the blood is the soul of the flesh (Lev. 17:11, 14)." Some when they heard these remarks, cried out, "Learned, Learned!" These were of the canonical order.
[7] Then the fourth, having put on the vestments of the preceding speaker, stepped to the desk and said, "I too suspect that there is no man of so acute and cultivated a genius as to be able to see clearly what the soul is, and what its nature is; and I am therefore of the opinion that the acuteness of anyone who wished to pry into this subject will be exhausted without result. Nevertheless, from my boyhood I have held steadfastly to the belief of the ancients, that man's soul resides in the whole of him and in every part of this whole, and thus both in the head and each part of it, and in the body and each part of it; and that it is a useless invention of the moderns to assign it a seat, in anyone place, and not everywhere. Moreover, the soul is a spiritual substance, of which neither extension nor place can be predicated, but only habitation and impletion. Furthermore, does not everyone mean the life, when he says the soul? Does not the life reside in the whole and in every part?"
Many of the audience favored these remarks.
[8] After him the fifth arose and having put on the same vestments, he spoke from the desk as follows, "I will not stop to inquire where the soul is, whether in some part of the body or everywhere in the whole; but from my own store and larder I will open my mind respecting what the soul is and what is its nature. No one thinks of the soul except as a pure something which may be likened to ether or air or wind, in which there is a vital element arising from rationality, which man possesses in higher degree than the beasts. This opinion I have based upon the fact that when a man dies he is said to breath out his soul or give up the ghost, and therefore the soul as it lives after death is believed to be such a breath having in it a cogitative life that is called the soul. What else can the soul be? But as I have heard some of those in the orchestra saying that the problem respecting the soul, what it is, and the nature of it, is not above the understanding, but in it and before it, I ask and pray that they themselves will open to us this eternal mystery."
[9] The elders in the orchestra then looked at the head teacher who had proposed that problem, and he understood by their nods that they wished him to descend and instruct them. And he at once descended from the pulpit, crossed the auditorium, and went into the desk; and there stretching forth his hand he said, "Listen, I pray. Who does not believe that the soul is man's inmost and finest essence? Yet what is an essence without a form but a mere figment of the reason? The soul is therefore a form, but what kind of a form shall be explained. It is the form of all things of love and all things of wisdom; all things of love are called affections, and all things of wisdom are called perceptions. These perceptions from their affections and with them constitute one form in which are innumerable things in such an order, series, and coherence and that they may be called a unit; and they may be called a unit because if it is to be such nothing can be taken from it or added to it. What is the human soul but such a form? Are not all things of love and all things of wisdom the essentials of that form? And in man these are in the soul, and from the soul in the head and body. [10] You are called spirits and angels; and in the world you believed spirits and angels to be like wind or ether, and thus to be minds or dispositions; but now you see clearly that you are truly, really, and actually men, who in the world thought and lived in a material body; and you knew that it was not the material body that lives and thinks, but the spiritual substance in that body; and this you called the soul, although of its form you had no knowledge, and yet you have now seen it and still see it. All of you are souls, respecting the immortality of which you have heard, thought, spoken, and written so much; and being forms of love and wisdom from God, you can never die. Thus the soul is a human form, from which not an iota can be taken away, and to which not an iota can be added; and it is the inmost form of all the forms of the entire body. And as exterior forms receive both essence and form from the inmost form, so you, as you appear to yourselves and to us, are souls. In a word the soul is the man Himself, because it is the inmost man; and therefore its form is fully and completely the human form. Yet it is not life, but the nearest receptacle of life from God, and thus God's dwelling-place."
[11] Many applauded these remarks: but some said, "We will think about it."
I then went home. And behold, in the place of the former meteoric display there appeared over the gymnasium a bright cloud, without any contending streaks or rays. This cloud penetrated the roof and brightened the walls; and I heard that they saw writings, among other things this:
And Jehovah God formed man, and breathed into man's nostrils the breath of lives; and man became a living soul (Gen. 2:7).


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