BY JOHN WORCESTER
MASSACHUSETTS NEW-CHURCH UNION
THAT part of the chyle which is taken up by the lacteals is initiated into the quick and gentle flow of the mesentery, is modified, and, as it were, instructed in the mesenteric glands, and then is carried to the receptacle of chyle, and through the thoracic duct and the left subclavian vein to the heart.
The portion of the chyle which is taken up from the stomach and intestines by the veins, is collected in the great portal vein, where it mingles with the blood returned from all the viscera of digestion, and then by the portal vein it is conducted for its training, instruction, and purification to the liver.
The portal vein enters the liver side by side with the hepatic artery which brings fresh blood from the heart, the bile duct which returns its peculiar secretion to the intestines, and a coating [p. 87] of cellular tissue which appears to be the origin and home of a host of lymphatic vessels.
These proceed together, dividing and subdividing again and again, till their minute twigs enclose in their embrace minute little lobes or lobules. The walls of these lobules are composed of small tubes running inward, and lined with cellular matter peculiar to the organ.
To these the portal vein and the hepatic artery offer their burdens of chyle and blood, both fresh and refuse; and the tubuli, with sensitive perception adapted to their use, drink in from them the harmonious elements which will combine in a rich, wholesome current for the use of the body, and this they offer to the open mouths of the hepatic veins. These veinlets open in the cavities of the lobules, and there receive, and thence convey to the vena cava, for the heart, whatever the liver may present to them. The lighter portion of the chyle and lymph, not needed for the present use of the blood, flows quickly on its pleasant lymphatic path, and joins its companions in the chyle [p. 88] receptacle. The hard and obstinate particles which cannot conform to the requirements of the tubuli, and would be of no use elsewhere in the body, are remanded to the bile ducts and the gall bladder; the worst of them to be cast out, the better for a low use in the intestines.
"There are gyres into which recent spirits must be inaugurated, that they may enter into consociation with others and may speak and think together with them. There must be concord and unanimity of all, in the other life, that they may be one; as all things in man, which, although they are everywhere various, yet by unanimity make one, so in the Greatest Man. For this end the thought and speech of one must agree with that of others. It is a fundamental thing that the thought and the speech should in themselves be in concord in every member of a society; otherwise something discordant is felt as a harsh noise which affects the minds of others. Every thing discordant also is disunient and is an impurity which must be rejected. This impurity from discord is represented by impurity with the blood and in the blood from which it must be defecated. This defecation is effected by vexations, which are nothing [p. 89] else than temptations of various kinds, and afterwards by introduction into gyres." (A. C. 5182.)
As there is a flow of thought and affection in every heavenly society peculiar to itself, so there are forms and motions in every organ of the body peculiar to itself, to which all fluids and particles which are introduced must conform, or they will be immediately rejected. If they do not agree with the little tubes, either in size or shape, or do not flow readily or smoothly through their windings, the tubes refuse to admit them, or contract and expel them. And in this they are guided by an exquisite, unerring sensitiveness, given them continually in kind and degree adapted to their use.
The liver may be regarded as a very large gland whose primary use it is to prepare good blood for the general uses of the body. It receives its supplies from the portal vein which brings new chyle and older blood from the abdominal viscera, and from the hepatic artery which brings fresh blood and old from the heart. It selects from [p. 90] these the materials demanded by the wants of the body, examines them thoroughly, carefully strains and sorts them, makes intimately acquainted and combines the new and the old, and thus mingles wisely a stream rich and wholesome and suited to its use, which it sends through the hepatic veins and the vena cava to the heart. A secondary secretion of fresh, lively fluid, suited to replenish the streams returning from the left side of the head and the left arm, it sends thither through the lymphatics and the thoracic duct. And a third secretion of materials, not suited to the general circulation, but still capable of doing service in the digestion of new food, it despatches to the intestines through the hepatic duct and the gall bladder.
It is also regarded as an important function of the liver to reduce the surplus of sugary material, not immediately needed in the work of the body, to a starch-like condition, in which form it is called glycogen, and store it up until it is wanted for use. In the form of glycogen it remains [p. 91] unchanged until it is summoned, and then is quickly changed again into sugar. While it is proper to mention this use here, the consideration of its significance will be deferred till we study the omentum.
The noble use of the liver to the body corresponds to a noble spiritual use of a vast province to the heavens. The province is large; for the liver is larger than any other viscus, if we except the whole mass of the intestines. And its use is to assimilate to the life and uses of the heavens newly-arrived spirits, especially those with a zeal for usefulness; to instruct, also, and expand the minds of others drawn from various provinces of the heavens; and to separate from the system perverse individuals and affections.
"It has been given me to perceive the gyres of those who belong to the province of the liver, and this for a space of hours. Their gyres were gentle, flowing around variously, like the operation of that organ. They affected me with great delight. Their operation is diverse, but it is in [p. 92] general orbicular. That their operation is diverse is represented also in the functions of the liver, that they are diverse; for the liver draws to itself the blood, and separates it; pours the better part into the veins, that of a middle sort it remands to the hepatic duct, and the vile it leaves to the gall bladder.
"(It is thus in adults; but in embryos the liver receives the blood from the mother's womb, and purifies it; the purer part it infuses into the veins, that it may flow by a short way to the heart. It then acts as a guard before the heart.)" (n. 5183.)
"By the liver is signified interior purification; for the liver purifies the blood, but the intestines those things of which the blood is composed. . . . In other cases by the liver is signified the external good of innocence, such as appertains to infants; by reason that infants, before the rest of the viscera are fully formed to their use, as is the case when they are embryos, are nourished through the liver; for all the nutritious juice is brought thither through the placenta and the navel from the womb of the mother; this juice corresponds to the good of innocence." (n. 10031.)
A part of the spirits newly received into the spiritual world are conducted into heaven by the [p. 93] way of the lacteals, being trained in the flow and varieties of heavenly thought and affection in the devious paths of the mesentery, and examined and instructed in the schools represented by its glands. Another, and probably the larger, part ascend by the way of the veins, -- not yet fairly in the circulation, for they have yet to be trained and instructed in the province of the liver and then received and sent forth by the heart.
As the treatment received by these two portions of the chyle is so different, it may be well to consider briefly the materials of which they consist. Nearly all the elements which enter into their composition they have in common, with the marked exception of the red globules which are already in the veins. There are white globules in the lacteals as well as in the veins, and even imperfect red globules soon appear. The chief difference seems to be in the proportions in which they are mingled. There are fibrine and fat, sugar, water, and salts, in both; but very much more of fibrine and sugar in the veins, and very [p. 94] much more of water and fat, and probably of some salts, in the lacteals. From the comparative redness and solidity of the contents of the veins, it would appear that they represent those who are more in the love of goodness and of usefulness, which love is especially represented by the fibrinous, muscle-making element of the blood; the sweetness of the stream also represents the sweetness of character of those who have suffered hard things, and perhaps the enjoyment in the love of goodness in those in whom this love has been purified. And from the whiteness and waterincss of the contents of the lacteals, it seems plain that they represent those who are more in the love of truth and the good life which truth teaches. The considerable quantity of fat contained in the lacteals may seem to conflict with this, since fat has a celestial meaning. But the fat in this case may represent the celestial of the spiritual, -- that is, the kindness and good-will of those who are in the love of truth; as the butter of milk represents the mother's love for the children whom she teaches. [p. 95]
It seems safe then to conclude that they who ascend by the portal way to the province of the liver are those who are especially in the love of goodness, and in the desire to be trained and instructed in angels' uses. They walk in company with those who have been sent to assist in the preparation of new spirits, and who now, delighted with their docile companions, discourse with them of heavenly employments, inspire into them their own love of use, and enter, together with them, the great province of instruction.
Thither come also, by the way of the heart, other new spirits who have entered the circulation by shorter ways, and angels from all provinces of the body who need to be relieved of opinions and feelings too narrow for their present uses, and initiated into broader views and quicker sympathies; and possibly also some spirits who, by reason of their urgency, have been permitted to enter heaven unprepared, and by this way are cast out, if evil, or have an opportunity for instruction if good. (A. R. 611). Perhaps it is not [p. 96] by chance that Swedenborg describes some of both of these kinds in the midst of his description of the places of instruction. (H. H. 518.)
"The third state of man, after death," Swedenborg says, "is a state of instruction; this state appertains to those who come into heaven and become angels, but not to those who come into hell, since these latter cannot be instructed" (H. H. 512). We should, therefore, look for the places of instruction in some province through which the chyle passes after it is separated from worthless materials in the proper digestive organs, and before it reaches the heart. The only organs thus situated are the mesentery and the liver. The province of the mesentery appears to serve for this use, or at least for initiation into exercises of wisdom for a part of the new spirits; but the chief places of instruction and of introduction to heavenly uses evidently must be situated in the province of the liver.
"Those places of instruction," we are told, "are to the north, and are various, arranged and [p. 97] distinguished according to the genera and species of heavenly goods, that each and every person may there be instructed according to his particular temper and faculty of reception. Those places extend in all directions there to a considerable distance. The good spirits who are to be instructed are conveyed thither by the Lord, when they have passed through their second state in the world of spirits, but still not all; for they who had been instructed in the world were there also prepared by the Lord for heaven, and are conveyed into heaven by another way; some immediately after death; some after a short stay with good spirits, where the grosser thoughts and affections which they contracted from honors and riches in the world are removed, and thus they are purified; some are first vastated, which is effected in places under the soles of the feet, which are called the lower earth, where some suffer severely; these are they who have confirmed themselves in falsities, and still have led good lives; for falsities confirmed inhere with much force, and until they are dispersed truths cannot be seen, thus cannot be received." (H. H. 513.)
"All who are in the places of instruction have distinct habitations
there; for every one as to his interiors is connected with the society
of heaven to which he is about to come; wherefore since the [p. 98] societies
of heaven are arranged according to a heavenly form, so likewise are the
places where instructions are given; it is on this account that when those
places are inspected from heaven, there appears then as it were a heaven
in a lesser form. They extend themselves there lengthways from east to
west, and breadthways from north to south; but the breadth to appearance
is less than the length. The arrangements, in general, are as follows:
In front are those who died infants, and have been educated in heaven to
the age of first adolescence, who, after completing the state of their
infancy with the females appointed to educate them, are brought thither
by the Lord and instructed. Behind them are the places where they are instructed
who died adults, and who in the world were in affection for truth from
the good of life. Behind them are they who have professed the Mohammedan
religion, and in the world have led a moral life. . . . Behind these, more
to the north, arc the places of instruction of various Gentile nations,
who in the world have led a good life in conformity with their religion.
. . . These in number exceed all the rest; the best of them are from Africa."
They who have been educated from infancy in heaven are here instructed by angels of the [p. 99] interior heavens; they who have died adult mostly by angels of the lowest heaven; Mohammedans by angels who once were Mohammedans; and gentiles by their respective angels. (n.515.) But the "instructions differ from instructions on earth in this respect, that knowledge is not committed to memory, but to the life." "The affection for truth for the sake of uses of life is continually inspired; for the Lord provides that every one may love the uses suited to his particular genius, which love is also exalted by the hope of becoming an angel." "Truth is thus implanted in use, so that the truths which they learn are truths of use. Angelic spirits are thus instructed and prepared for heaven." (n. 517.)
It may have nothing to do with the four departments of the places of instruction, that there arc two larger and two smaller lobes of the liver; but it may be worth bearing in mind. Undoubtedly it is true that the lobes have their respective characteristics, and draw from the supplies accordingly, and furnish correspondingly varied products. [p. 100]
"After the spirits have been prepared for heaven in the above-mentioned places by instructions, which is effected in a short time, by reason that they are in spiritual ideas which comprehend many things together, they are then clothed with angelic garments, which for the most part are white, as of fine linen, and thus they are brought to the way which tends upwards toward heaven." (n. 519.)
There are eight ways which lead from the above places to heaven, and by which the novitiate angels are introduced, two from each place of instruction, one going up towards the east, the other to the west; they who come into the Lord's celestial kingdom are introduced by the eastern way, but they who come to the spiritual kingdom are introduced by the western way. The four ways which lead to the Lord's celestial kingdom appear adorned with olive trees and fruit trees of various kinds; but those which lead to the Lord's spiritual kingdom appear adorned with vines and laurels. This is from correspondence, because vines and laurels correspond to the affection for truth and to its uses, whilst olives and fruits correspond to the affection for good and its uses." (n. 520.)
May not this distinction be represented in the body by the distinction between the veins and the [p. 101] lymphatics of the liver. For these are the only two kinds of vessels by which there is ascent to the heart; they both go from every part of the liver, and also from every gland in the mesentery; and the lymphatics do go up to the left, and the veins to the right.
The rejoicing of the new angelic spirits in their salvation from evil, and their enjoyment in the uses of heavenly life, may be represented in the abundant sugar which is found everywhere in the liver and in the fresh blood which it sends to the heart. The warmth of the liver, said to be greater than that of every other organ in the body, may represent that supreme exaltation of love which angels feel in initiating new spirits into heavenly joys.
But, besides the angelic spirits who ascend from the places of instruction, rejoicing in new life, there are some, corresponding to the bile, who reject the wise and kindly instruction given in this province, adhere obstinately to their own opinions, are embittered because they are not [p. 102] received into heaven by reason of the natural depravity which they have done nothing to overcome, and therefore delight to find fault and to punish. (H. H. 518.) (Compare A. R. 611, 839, where is described the casting down of such in the neighborhood of the places of instruction of good boys.) These are permitted to go by the way of the hepatic duct to the intestines, where they may do a use in exposing evil, and in the vastations of the good who have some confirmations of evil and falsity; and as they go they are warned and threatened and guarded lest they should punish more than is useful. (A. C. 5185.) Perhaps the best of them, who love to punish for the sake of rescuing the good, may return with them to the safe places of instruction, and again go forth upon similar errands; as the better elements of the bile are absorbed by the veins and lacteals, and are again separated by the liver. Possibly some such may be said to be subjects of the liver sent to perform this use, as the solvents of the stomach were said to be subjects of that organ. [p. 103]
Swedenborg believed that the worst of the bile was deposited in the gall bladder; and either this is true, or the bile after it is carried there is severely wrung out, the lighter portions being carried away by veins or lymphatics, and the denser and bitterer portion being left, of course to be discharged into the intestine at suitable times. The bladder itself is tough and membranous; its inner surface being wrinkled and knotted. Its neck is furnished with a spiral staircase, by which bile is assisted in passing up from the hepatic duct as by the turns of a hollow screw. Through the same spiral way, by a reversal of the turns, the bile descends to the intestine, and possibly it is exercised by being driven alternately one way and then the other, which exercise well corresponds with the mode of discipline described by Swedenborg as peculiar to the province.
Swedenborg describes those who are represented by the bile as loving to punish; the worst of them hardly being willing to desist. He says, "their delights are in punishing, and thus doing good; nor [p. 104] do they abstain from filth" (A. C. 5185). Those in the bladder itself cooperate in the use, moderating and restraining too great severities, and perhaps quickening the slow in the manner presently described. Of those in the gall bladder, he says,--
"They are those who in the life of the body have despised what is honorable and in some degree what is pious, and also who have brought them into discredit." (n. 5186.)
"A certain spirit came to me inquiring whether I knew where he might stay. I thought that he was honest, and when I told him that possibly he might stay here, the vexatory spirits of this province came, and vexed him miserably, which I was sorry for, and in vain desired to prevent. I then observed that I was in the province of the gall bladder. The vexatory spirits were of those who despised what is honorable and pious. It was given to observe one kind of vexation there, which was a compulsion to speak with a rapidity exceeding that of the thoughts, which they effected by an abstraction of the speech from the thought, and then by compulsion to follow their speech, which is done with pain. By such vexation the slow are inaugurated into greater quickness of thinking and speaking." (n. 5187.) [p. 105]
From the "Spiritual Diary," nos. 1012-1014, it would appear that in general it is the spirits who have despised spiritual and heavenly things who are thus dealt with, and who are represented by the bile. Excessive slowness has the effect of unwillingness and sullenness; if it can be overcome by temporary suffering the subjects will be forever happier and more useful.
Perhaps some who intend well in the main, but are obstinately slow, -- too slow to be initiated into the gyres of the liver, -- are brought here for a time, and then are again taken up by the lacteals, more willing to be instructed, and themselves giving useful warnings to others.
The influx from the province of the liver of the Greatest Man into our minds must produce a desire and capacity, first, to assimilate the knowledge we have loved and received to the uses of our life. As particles of fat and mucilage and gluten cannot always remain in the circulation as fat and mucilage and gluten, but must be combined with the fluids of the body into one homogeneous [p. 106] fluid, ready to turn its hand to any use that may be required of it, so the knowledge of good works that others do, of the goodness of the Lord and of the uses that He desires us to do, cannot remain in the mind in those forms, but must be transformed into thought and love of what it is good and right for us to do, and so enter the life current of our will. And this initiation of new ideas and intentions into the life of the spirit is done to a great extent in the province of the mind corresponding to the liver.
A secondary, though very important, effect of that influence is to separate and expel from the current of our thoughts, ideas and opinions which prevent harmonious cooperation with others, especially such as are self-asserting, bitter, and faultfinding. If the liver of the body does not act efficiently, and separate such effete materials, the body becomes heavy and sleepy, suffers much pain and general discomfort, and digests new food imperfectly, or rejects it altogether. And if the corresponding mental faculty does not faithfully do [p. 107] its duty in removing vain regrets and bitter faultfinding, the mind loses its living relation to present circumstances; it adheres tenaciously to its own ways and opinions, refusing new ideas and affections, and becomes morose, stupid, and miserable.