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I have concluded to publish these slight and hastily-written papers for the little good that they may do, but with very great reluctance from the fear that their faults and imperfections may be attributed to the System of Truth, of which they present a few portions. Whatsoever is found in them new and just and interesting, belongs to that system; and the obscurities which mingle with the light I have endeavored to borrow, are my own. I call them Essays, only for want of another name ; for if I knew one of less significance I should certainly adopt it. They have been somewhat circulated in manuscript, – the purpose for which I began to write them, - and I have yielded to the advice of others and put them in print, only in the hope that they may sometimes lead a reader to seek in the writings of Swedenborg and in the Word as it is resplendent with the light which these writings unveil, the Truth that is now descending from Heaven.
The wants and cares of life occupy
most persons and employ their thoughts exclusively; but there are always some who would answer the deeper questions which the worlds without and within them constantly suggest. The enigma of existence presses upon them. Human destiny, the Nemesis of an old religious philosophy, is to them, if they are feeble, a terror; and to the strong and weak alike, it is a mystery. If religious tendencies lift up their thoughts, they seek a God whom they may worship; and they who seek, find Him. But clouds are all around Him. The statue at Sais, above which “ the learning of the Egyptians” had written “I am whatever Is, or Has been, or Will be," wore upon its face an impenetrable veil. How many, in all ages, have sought to raise this veil ; how many have labored to reconcile the world into unity with itself, and into a higher unity with God. Is this end reached at last ? Has this veil been lifted ? I believe so; and will try to sketch the outlines, the bare and naked outlines, of that system of the laws of existence, which gives back his creation to God and fills his creation with Himself.
I begin then with saying that there are three degrees of Life — or of Existence. To those who hear this for the first time, the words have no meaning; and I must first endeavor to explain the truth they express before I use it as the means of explaining others. There are three degrees of life ; and they are in everything that exists, because they are primarily in Him from whom everything exists. In God is Infinite Love, - Infinite Wisdom, - and the eternal Action of that Love by or through that Wisdom. And in Him these three are always
For His perfect Love perpetually desires and seeks that which His perfect Wisdom contemplates, and precisely that which His Power is always effecting. To repeat this in other words, His Power is incessantly exerted, for if it ceased for a moment, the universe would cease to be; and this Power always acts in perfect conformity with His Wisdom; and this Wisdom is always warm with the life of His perfect Love. He is always active, and every Action is guided by his Wisdom and springs from his Love. Thus these three elements of the Divine Nature, Love, Wisdom, and Power,
are distinct, yet essentially coöperative and conjoined into Unity.
The universe exists from Him; for before Him, or without Him, there is nothing; or else it would be another and an equal Eternal and Infinite. And as He creates all things from Himself, so everything reflects Him; the universe is His mirror, and everything in the universe bears his impress and is sig. nificant of Him. The three elements of his divine life are, in Him, perfectly one; but when they come forth from Him to do the work of creation, and as they exist in his works, they are more or less separated and one or another becomes more or less dominant; and this may be regarded as the first cause of the infinite variety among the existences in His universe. Thus there are three hea
In that which is nearest to Himself, His Love is the ruling element; because they who compose that heaven have permitted Him to infuse His Love into their wills, so that it has become their love ; so that they love what He loves. They who compose the heaven which is only lower than the highest, have not permitted him to do more than open their eyes and their hearts to His Wisdom. But they see the beauty of His divine order; they perceive that out of that order grows justice; and they love justice; they seek always to know and to do what is right, and they find what they seek, and thus they love their neighbor, and have the happiness of that love. Below this is another heaven;
and its angels have reached their eternal home by the way of obedience; they acknowledge and adore His power ; they listen to His Word; they obey His commands, and in this they find their happiness. Thus, these heavens are severally arranged, animated and governed by the elements of His Divine Nature. Opposite to the heavens are the hells; and they are in these unhappy states, who have permitted Him to awake in their hearts, neither a love for Himself, nor a sense of right and thence a love of the neighbor, nor even a disposition to obey. They have no conscience, and they have no heaven. But they have their own happiness, because He gives them all the happiness such as they can enjoy ; but it is not the happiness of heaven; and they are necessarily subjected to such punishment and coercion as may prevent their casting away, or destroying for each other, the happiness they may enjoy.
Between the heavens and the hells are the earths of the universe and all their inhabitants; and all of them have three distinct planes or degrees in their minds, or three distinct grounds on which the elementary principles of their life and character rest. These three degrees in human minds, correspond to the three heavens, just as these correspond to the three elements or degrees of the Divine Nature. For every man may have a disposition to obey vivified within him, and this will place him in close connection with the lowest heaven, where that love