God is omnipresent from the firsts to the lasts of His order. God is omnipresent from the firsts to the lasts of His order by means of the heat and light of the spiritual sun, in the midst of which He is. It was by means of that sun that order was produced; and from it He sends forth a heat and a light which pervade the universe from firsts to lasts, and produce the life that is in man and in every animal, and also the vegetative soul that is in every germ upon the earth; and these two flow into each thing and all things, and cause every subject to live and grow according to the order implanted in it by creation. And as God, though not extended, fills every extense in the universe, He is omnipresent. It has been shown elsewhere that God is in all space without space, and in all time without time, and consequently that the universe in its essence and order is the plenitude of God; and this being so, by His omnipresence He perceives all things, by His omniscience He provides all things, and by His omnipotence He effects all things. From this it is clear that omnipresence, omniscience, and omnipotence make one, or that one implies the others; and thus that they cannot be separated. [TCR 63]
The Divine omnipresence may be illustrated by the wonderful way in which angels and spirits become present to each other in the spiritual world. Because there is no space in that world, but only an appearance of space, an angel or spirit may instantly become present with another whenever he comes into a like affection and consequent thought; for it is these two that cause the appearance of space. That such is the nature of presence with all there, has been made evident to me by having seen Africans and Asiatics there near together, although on the earth they are so many miles apart; and that I could even become present with those on the planets of our solar system, and also with those on planets belonging to other systems. Owing to this presence, not in space but in appearance of space, I have spoken with apostles, with departed popes, with emperors and kings, with the modern reformers of the church-Luther, Calvin, Melancthon,- and with others from widely separated countries. Such being the presence of angels and spirits, what limit is there to the Divine presence, which is infinite, in the universe? Angels and spirits are thus present, because every affection of love and every consequent thought of the understanding is in space without space, and in time without time. For anyone can think of a brother, relative, or friend who is in the Indies, and then have him as if present; in like manner he may, by remembrance, be moved by their love. From these facts, as they are known to man, the Divine omnipresence may in some measure be made clear; so, too, from human thought-as when anyone calls to mind what he has seen while traveling in various places, it is just as if he were present in those places again. Even bodily vision emulates this same kind of presence; it notices distance only by means of intermediate things, by which, as it were, the distance is measured. The sun itself would be near the eye, even as if in the eye, if intermediate objects did not reveal the fact of its being so distant. That this is so, optical writers have noted in their writings. This kind of presence pertains both to man‘s intellectual sight and to his bodily sight, because what sees is his spirit looking through his eyes; but such is not the case with any animal, because animals have no spiritual sight. All this enables us to see that God is omnipresent from the firsts to the lasts of His order. That He is also omnipresent in hell has been shown in a former section. [TCR 64]
THE DIVINE IS NOT IN SPACE.
That the Divine, that is, God, is not in space, although omnipresent and with every man in the world, and with every angel in heaven, and with every spirit under heaven, cannot be comprehended by a merely natural idea, but it can by a spiritual idea. It cannot be comprehended by a natural idea, because in the natural idea there is space; since it is formed out of such things as are in the world, and in each and all of these, as seen by the eye, there is space. In the world, everything great and small is of space; everything long, broad, and high is of space; in short, every measure, figure and form is of space. This is why it has been said that it cannot be comprehended by a merely natural idea that the Divine is not in space, when it is said that the Divine is everywhere. Still, by natural thought, a man may comprehend this, if only he admit into it something of spiritual light. For this reason something shall first be said about spiritual idea, and thought therefrom. Spiritual idea derives nothing from space, but it derives its all from state. State is predicated of love, of life, of wisdom, of affections, of joys therefrom; in general, of good and of truth. An idea of these things which is truly spiritual has nothing in common with space; it is higher and looks down upon the ideas of space which are under it as heaven looks down upon the earth. But since angels and spirits see with eyes, just as men in the world do, and since objects cannot be seen except in space, therefore in the spiritual world where angels and spirits are, there appear to be spaces like the spaces on earth; yet they are not spaces, but appearances; since they are not fixed and constant, as spaces are on earth; for they can be lengthened or shortened; they can be changed or varied. Thus because they cannot be determined in that world by measure, they cannot be comprehended there by any natural idea, but only by a spiritual idea. The spiritual idea of distances of space is the same as of distances of good or distances of truth, which are affinities and likenesses according to states of goodness and truth. [DLW7]
From this it may be seen that man is unable, by a merely natural idea, to comprehend that the Divine is everywhere, and yet not in space; but that angels and spirits comprehend this clearly; consequently that a man also may, provided he admits into his thought something of spiritual light; and this for the reason that it is not his body that thinks, but his spirit, thus not his natural, but his spiritual. [DLW8]
But many fail to comprehend this because of their love of the natural, which makes them unwilling to raise the thoughts of their understanding above the natural into spiritual light; and those who are unwilling to do this can think only from space, even concerning God; and to think according to space concerning God is to think concerning the expanse of nature. This has to be premised, because without a knowledge and some perception that the Divine is not in space, nothing can be understood about the Divine Life, which is Love and Wisdom, of which subjects this volume treats; and hence little, if anything, about Divine Providence, Omnipresence, Omniscience, Omnipotence, Infinity and Eternity, which will be treated of in succession. [DLW9]
It has been said that in the spiritual world, just as in the natural world, there appear to be spaces, consequently also distances, but that these are appearances according to spiritual affinities which are of love and wisdom, or of good and truth. From this it is that the Lord, although everywhere in the heavens with angels, nevertheless appears high above them as a sun. Furthermore, since reception of love and wisdom causes affinity with the Lord, those heavens in which the angels are, from reception, in closer affinity with Him, appear nearer to Him than those in which the affinity is more remote. From this it is also that the heavens, of which there are three, are distinct from each other, likewise the societies of each heaven; and further, that the hells under them are remote according to their rejection of love and wisdom. The same is true of men, in whom and with whom the Lord is present throughout the whole earth; and this solely for the reason that the Lord is not in space. [DLW10]
THE DIVINE IS IN ALL TIME, APART FROM TIME.
As the Divine, apart from space, is in all space, so also, apart from time, is it in all time. For nothing which is proper to nature can be predicated of the Divine, and space and time are proper to nature. Space in nature is measurable, and so is time. This is measured by days, weeks, months, years, and centuries; days are measured by hours; weeks and months by days; years by the four seasons; and centuries by years. Nature derives this measurement from the apparent revolution and annual motion of the sun of the world. But in the spiritual world it is different. The progressions of life in that world appear in like manner to be in time, for those there live with one another as men in the world live with one another; and this is not possible without the appearance of time. But time there is not divided into periods as in the world, for their sun is constantly in the east and is never moved away; for it is the Lord’s Divine Love that appears to them as a sun. Wherefore they have no days, weeks, months, years, centuries, but in place of these there are states of life, by which a distinction is made which cannot be called, however, a distinction into periods, but into states. Consequently, the angels do not know what time is, and when it is mentioned they perceive in place of it state; and when state determines time, time is only an appearance. For joyfulness of state makes time seem short, and joylessness of state makes time seem long; from which it is evident that time in the spiritual world is nothing but quality of state. It is from this that in the Word, “hours,” “days,” “weeks,” “months,” and “years,” signify states and progressions of state in series and in the aggregate; and when times are predicated of the church, by its “morning” is meant its first state, by “mid-day” its fullness by “evening” its decline, and by “night” its end. The four seasons of the year “spring,” “summer,” “autumn,” and “winter,” have a like meaning. [DLW 73]
From the above it can be seen that time makes one with thought from affection; for from that is the quality of man’s state. And with progressions of time, in the spiritual world, distances in progress through space coincide; as may be shown from many things. For instance, in the spiritual world ways are actually shortened or are lengthened in accordance with the longings that are of thought from affection. From this, also, comes the expression, “spaces of time.” Moreover, in cases where thought does not join itself to its proper affection in man, as in sleep, the lapse of time is not noticed. [DLW74]
Now as times which are proper to nature in its world are in the spiritual world pure states, which appear progressive because angels and spirits are finite, it may be seen that in God they are not progressive because He is Infinite, and infinite things in Him are one (as has been shown above, n. 17-22). From this it follows that the Divine in all time is apart from time. [DLW75]
He who has no knowledge of God apart from time and is unable from any perception to think of Him, is thus utterly unable to conceive of eternity in any other way than as an eternity of time; in which case, in thinking of God from eternity he must needs become bewildered; for he thinks with regard to a beginning, and beginning has exclusive reference to time. His bewilderment arises from the idea that God had
existence from Himself, from which he rushes headlong into an origin of nature from herself; and from this idea he can be extricated only by a spiritual or angelic idea of eternity, which is an idea apart from time; and when time is separated, the Eternal and the Divine are the same, and the Divine is the Divine in itself, not from itself. The angels declare that while they can conceive of God from eternity, they can in no way conceive of nature from eternity, still less of nature from herself and not at all of nature as nature in herself. For that which is in itself is the very Esse, from which all things are; Esse in itself is very life, which is the Divine Love of Divine Wisdom and the Divine Wisdom of Divine Love. For the angels this is the Eternal, an Eternal as removed from time as the uncreated is from the created, or the infinite from the finite, between which, in fact, there is no ratio.[DLW76]
THE DIVINE IN THINGS GREATEST AND LEAST IS THE SAME.
This follows from the two preceding articles, that the Divine apart from space is in all space, and apart from time is in all time. Moreover, there are spaces greater and greatest, and lesser and least; and since spaces and times, as said above, make one, it is the same with times. In these the Divine is the same, because the Divine is not varying and changeable, as everything is which belongs to nature, but is unvarying and unchangeable, consequently the same everywhere and always. [DLW 77]
It seems as if the Divine were not the same in one person as in another; as if, for instance, it were different in the wise and in the simple, or in an old man and in a child. But this is a fallacy arising from appearance; the man is different, but the Divine in him is not different. Man is a recipient, and the recipient or receptacle is what varies. A wise man is a recipient of Divine Love and Divine Wisdom more adequately, and therefore more fully, than a simple man; and an old man who is also wise, more than a little child or boy; yet the Divine is the same in the one as in the other. It is in like manner a fallacy arising from appearance, that the Divine is different with angels of heaven from what it is with men on the earth, because the angels of heaven are in wisdom ineffable, while men are not; but the seeming difference is not in the Lord but in the subjects, according to the quality of their reception of the Divine. [DLW78]
That the Divine is the same in things greatest and least, may be shown by means of heaven and by means of an angel there. The Divine in the whole heaven and the Divine in an angel is the same; therefore even the whole heaven may appear as one angel. So is it with the church, and with a man of the church. The greatest form receptive of the Divine is the whole heaven together with the whole church; the least is an angel of heaven and a man of the church. Sometimes an entire society of heaven has appeared to me as one angel-man; and it was told that it may appear like a man as large as a giant, or like a man as small as an infant; and this, because the Divine in things greatest and least is the same. [DLW79]
The Divine is also the same in the greatest and in the least of all created things that are not alive; for it is in all the good of their use. These, moreover, are not alive for the reason that they are not forms of life but forms of uses; and the form varies according to the excellence of the use. But how the Divine is in these things will be stated in what follows, where creation is treated of. [DLW80]
Put away space, and deny the possibility of a vacuum, and then think of Divine Love and of Divine Wisdom as being Essence itself, space having been put away and a vacuum denied. Then think according to space; and you will perceive that the Divine, in the greatest and in the least things of space, is the same; for in essence abstracted from space there is neither great nor small, but only the same. [DLW81]
Something shall now be said about vacuum. I once heard angels talking with Newton about vacuum, and saying that they could not tolerate the idea of a vacuum as being nothing, for the reason that in their world which is spiritual, and which is within or above the spaces and times of the natural world, they equally feel, think, are affected, love, will, breathe, yea, speak and act, which would be utterly impossible in a vacuum which is nothing, since nothing is nothing, and of nothing not anything can be affirmed. Newton said that he now knew that the Divine, which is Being itself, fills all things, and that to him the idea of nothing as applied to vacuum is horrible, because that idea is destructive of all things; and he exhorts those who talk with him about vacuum to guard against the idea of nothing, comparing it to a swoon, because in nothing no real activity of mind is possible.[DLW82]
Author: EMANUEL. SWEDENBORG (1688-1772)
PHOTO: The Hubble Heritage Team (AURA / STScI / NASA)