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Academy of the New Church
Philosophy 4
Bryn Athyn, August, 1934

Lectures by Hugo Lj. Odhner

Chapter One


    Imagine the sensation among the literary in London and elsewhere, when in 1749 an anonymous work appeared with the high-sounding title of the "Arcana Coelestia"  -  "Heavenly Secrets Unfolded which have been contained in the Holy Scriptures... together with Wonderful Things Seen in the World of Spirits and in the Heaven of Angels"!!!!!  -- a pamphleteers's title, but a work of eight volumes octave.

    Surprising statements:

A. 1274.    

        "Among the marvelous things in the other life are:

        "First, the fact that societies of spirits and angels appear distinct from one another as to situation, although places and distances in that life are nothing else than varieties of states.

        "Second, that the situations and distances are determined by their relation to the human body, so that those who are on the right appear on the right whichever way the body is turned; and the case is the same with those who are one the left; and in all other directions.

        'Third, that no spirits or angels are at so great a distance away that they cannot be seen; and yet no more come into view that so many as the Lord permits.

        "Forth, that spirits of whom others are thinking - for example, such as had been known to them in some manner in the life of the body - when the Lord permits it, are present in a moment, and so closely that they are at the ear, in touch, or else at some distance greater or less; no matter should they be thousands of miles away, or even among the stars.  The reason is that distance of places has no effect in the other life." ...

A. 1276.   

         "As regards the situation in which spirits are in the world of spirits,  and angels in heaven, the case is this.  The angels are at the Lord's right hand; on His left are the evil spirits; in front are those of the middle kind; at the back are the malignant; above the head are those of a sel-exalted spirit who aspire to high things; under the feet are the hells which correspond to those who are on high.

        "Thus all have their situation determined relatively to the Lord; in all directions, and at all altitudes, in a horizontal plane and in a vertical one, and in every oblique direction.  Their situation is constant; and does not vary to eternity.

        "The heavens there constitute as it were one man, which is therefore called the Grand Man (Maximus Homo), to which all things that are in man correspond - concerning which correspondence, of the Lord's Divine mercy, hereafter.

        'It is from this that there is a like situation of all things around each angel, and with each man to whom heaven is opened by the Lord, for the Lord's presence is attended with this.  It would not be so unless the Lord were omni-present in heaven."

    Later on in the same work, Swedenborg, who was the anonymous author, begins a categorical treatment about "The Correspondence of all man's Organs and Members, both interior and exterior, with the Grand Man, which is Heaven".


         "It is now permitted to relate and describe wonderful things, which, so far as I know, have not tet been known to anyone, namely, that the universal heaven is so formed as to correspond to the Lord, to His Divine Huiman; and that man is so formed as to correspond to heaven in regard to each and all things in him, and through heaven to the Lord.

        "This is a great mystery which is now to be revealed; and which shall be treated of here and at the close of subsequent chapters."

    Reception of this idea by the learned: SCIENCE was rising into it new position of master over the modern mind.  Swedenborg was born at the juncture of two ages.

    Scholasticism (Aristotle and the Bible) vs.
    Cartesianism (all the world is a machine moved by mechanical laws, thebody included) with its empirical ideals prophetic of present day science.
    Mechanistic philosophy scoffed at the idea of "mystical" things.

    A rising wave of Vitalism (cosmos as a living thing endowed with SOUL or Life).

    Christian Platonism (Cambridge: Cudworth, Henry More, ets.) combats infidelity.

    Two points of vies of the World-body therefore:
       a) as a Machine;
       b) as a Living Body expresive of the Spirit of the Creator.

End of Chapter 1