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Lectures by Hugo Lj. Odhner

Chapter II


1.    Earliest ideas of the world of matter being "alive.  Most Ancient Church.  Animism: a remnant of this knowledge.  Confusion of the natrual with the spiritual, and vague line of demarcation between them.

2.    Anthropomorphism.   Definitio

    a)  Giving a human characteristic to things.
    b)  Giving to God a human form or character.
    c)  Taking a teleological point of view, which sees an intelligent purpose in the universe, and thus a Creator.

3.    Ancestry-worship.  A perversion of the idea of God as Man, and of the Churches as in the human form.

    a)  Primitive tribal worship of an ancestor, or grand original man.
    b)  Deification of men as gods.  See TCR 292.
    c)  The personification of the dispensional ages as ruling gods:

      OURANOS (Uranus)   -   Most Ancient Church
      CHRONOS (Saturn)    -   Antediluvian age
      ZEUS (Jupiter)              -   Ancient Church

4.    Myths about Creation from a Grand Man.  Reference: C. T. Odhner's "Golden Age, pp 162, 164, 166, 168, 175.

 Creation from gigantic beings:

      From Ti' amat (Assyria)|
      From Omorka (Chaldea)
      From the Divine Word (Egypt)
      From Purusha (Xth Rig Veda)
      From Ymer (Norse Eddas)

Compare also the Egyptian representation of heaven as a star-spangled woman bending over the earth.

5.    Philosophic Heritages from the Ancient Church.  The Oriental impetus in Greek Thought.  Plato's "world of ideas" or prototypes (patterns) for the created and sensible world.  Not really pictured as a human form, the idea of a world of "prior forms" (see Aristotle) represents a transition from the mythological concept of the heavens as a living essence, or a spiritual Being, emanating from God's infinity.  Confusion reigned as to whether this realm was Divine or not, because of the essential falsity of the Ancient Church, the persistent spectre of "pantheism".

    Plato and Aristotle essentially regarded the total world as an animated being.  The Stoics spoke of the world as a living thing -     - or Grand Man, of which the rational soul was God.  They also had the doctrine of man as a microcosm, and Philo Judaeus so cites them.

    The Wisdom Literature of the Jews took up this idea of the cosmos as an animate being.

    In Hermes Trismegistes the world is treated as a complete body with a soul and with all physical and psychic parts.*

*  Professor Martin Lamm, in his "Swedenborg (Stockholm 1915) p. 259ff, cites the history of this concept and gives interesting references.  

    Paracelsus taught that all the substances of the world enter the composition of the human body which is a microcosm, while the world has all human proportions and divisions.  (Paramirum alterum, lib. II, cap.2)

    The same traces of the organic idea of the cosmos is seen in Astrology and in modern Theosophical revivals.

6.    Swedenborg's relation to the Mystical Tradition.

    The foregoing outline is a testimony of the antiquity of the conception of the Grand Man.

    Naturally Swedenborg's doctrine of the Grand Man has also suffered by being classed, by outside students, with the theosophical dreams of the Midievals and the Neo-Platonists; and it is generally thought that he borrowed and built upon these ancient notions.  Swedenborg's very presentations of the idea of a spiritual Grand Man is sufficient, for many superficial students, to dismiss him as either a madman or a child of his age.  Even students as thorough as Prof. Martin Lamm nave failed to see anything in Swedenborg's doctrine but a crude anthropomorphism, which is utterly unjust to Swedenborg.

    But no philosophic or clear knowledge of the doctrine of the Grand Man existed before the time of the Arcana (A. 3624).  The preparatory works of Swedenborg indeed refer to the current traditions in their classical and Pauline forms (See History of Creation, prefatory sentence, and W.E. 182, 541, 596, etc.).  But the mystical ideas which we have traced above are of little account except as indications of a predisposition in the race to look for an essential unity in the order of the cosmos in terms of the human form and image.

    Swedenborg's preparation was a universal one - and drew elements from all the remnants of the Ancient Church.  He was, however, led away from any study of the mystics or of the dogmatists of the Church.  He therefore wrote to Beyer, in February of 1767: "You desire to know my opinion respecting the writings of Bohme and L[aw]; I have never read them, and I was forbidden to read authors on dogmatic and systematic theology before heaven was opened to me; because unformed opinions and fictions might easily have insinuated themselves thereby, which afterwards could only have been removed with difficulty."  (Docu. 234; cf. 230)*

*  Abbe Pernety's account of undated remarks by Swedenborg on Bohme and the Hermatic Philosophy superficially seem to contradict the force of this statement (See Docu. 6, SS 16, 17).

    In his search for a universal key by which the interior realms of knowledge might be opened, Swedenborg advanced from the "universal Mathesis" (or
"Mathematical Philosophy of Universals"), already suggested by Locke, Leibnitz, Wolff, etc., to the Hieroglyphic Key and the doctrine of the Correspondence of all natural things with spiritual things.

    This doctrine was the consummation of his philosophy; but he did not arrive at it until after the preparatory stages for his introduction into an open sensing of the spiritual world had well begun.

7.    Uniqueness of Swedenborg's Doctrine of correspondence.

    It is a revealed doctrine which centers about the worship of the Divine Human of the Lord as revealed in Jesus Christ - the only incarnation of the God-Man whose impress is universal on created forms.

A. 4318.

        "The chief of intelligence with angels is to know and perceive that all life is from the Lord, and also that the universal heaven corresponds to His Divine Human, and consequently that all angels, spirits, and men, correspond to heaven; and to know and perceive the nature of this correspondence.

        "These ar the chief elements of intelligence in which angels ar above men.

        "From these they know and perceive innumerable things which are in the heavens, and from these those also which are in the world; for the things which exist in the world and its nature are causes and effects from those as beginning, for universal nature is a theatre representative of the kingdom of the Lord.."

    This doctrine is the necessary basis fo regenerate thought, and the essential of all religion.

    It is all-embracing and universal, and unifies our thought about the universe, both spiritual and natural.

    It has a revolutionary character and a distinctive role in Philosophy in forming a connective for philosophic thought,* and in being the only logical defense of the teleological viewpoint.

*  A. 5377.  (See below)

    It is also the future fertile ground for a distinctive Science for the New Church, that is, for the formation of progressive theories of interpretation of the field of accumulating empirical knowledge.

A. 5377.

        "Whatever is in man, as well what is in the external man as what is in the internal, has correspondence with the Grand Man.

        "Without correspondence therewith, that is, with heaven, or what is the same, with the spiritual world, nothing would ever exist and subsist, for the reason that it would have no connection with what is prior to itself, nor consequently with the First, that is, with the Lord.

        "What is unconnected, and thus independent, cannot subsist even one moment; for its subsistence is from its connection with its existence.

        "Thence it is that not only all things and each in man correspond, but also all and each in the universe.  The sun itself corresponds, and also the moon.  The sun's flame and heat, as well as its light, correspond; for it is the Lord's love toward the whole human race to which the flame and heat correspond, and the Divine Truth to which the light corresponds.  The very stars correspond, the societies of heaven and their habitations being what they have correspondence with ; not only that they are there, but that they are in a similar order.  Whatever appears under the sun corresponds, as all and each of the subjects in the vegetable kingdom; and unless there were an influx from the spiritual world into one and all, they would instantly fall away to dissolution.

        "This has been granted me to know by much experience; for I have been shown with what things in the spiritual world many things in the animal kingdom, and many more in the vegetable kingdom, and also that without influx they would not at all subsist; for when that which is prior is taken away, the posterior necessarily falls away, and in like manner when the prior is separated from the posterior.

        "As there is a correspondence more especially of man with heaven, and through heaven with the Lord, therefore a man appears in the other life in the light of heaven according to the quality of his correspondence.  Hence the angels appear in ineffable brightness and beauty, but the infernals in inexpressible blackness and deformity."

End of Chapter 2