True Christian Religion (Chadwick) n. 470

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470. II

Man is not life, but a receiver of life from God.

It is generally believed that the life which a person has is his own, so that he is not merely a receiver of life but also is life. This general belief exists because he appears to live, that is, to feel, think, speak and act exactly as if of himself. The result is that the statement that man is a receiver of life and is not life must inevitably seem an unheard-of idea or a kind of paradox to those whose thought is based on the senses, because it is contrary to appearances. I have traced to appearances the reason for this wrong belief that man is also life, and that consequently life is implanted in man from creation, and propagated subsequently by transfer. But the reason for this mistake based on appearances is that most people at the present time are natural, and only a few are spiritual; and a natural man bases his judgment on appearances and the mistakes these lead to, and these are diametrically opposed to this truth, that man is merely a receiver of life, and is not life.

[2] The fact that man is not life, but a receiver of life from God, is proved by the following clear evidence, that all created things are in essence finite, and man, being finite, could only be created of finite substances. That is why the Book of Creation tells us that Adam was made of earth and its dust, and this is the reason for his name, since Adam means the ground. In fact every person is composed exclusively of substances to be found in the earth or emitted from the earth into the atmosphere. The emanations from the earth in the atmosphere are absorbed by people by means of the lungs and by pores throughout the body; the denser substances are absorbed in the form of food made from the earth's products.

[3] As for man's spirit, however, this too was created from finite substances. What is man's spirit but a receiver of mental life? The finite materials of which it is composed are spiritual substances, to be found in the spiritual world, and also transferred to our earth and there stored up. If they were not present there along with material substances, no seed could at the inmost level have been made fertile, and so grow in a wonderful way without any aberration from its first structure until it produces fruits and new seeds. Nor would any worms be procreated by effluvia from the earth and from gases given off by plants and impregnating the atmosphere.

[4] Can anyone reasonably suppose that the Infinite could create anything other than that which is finite, or that man, being finite, is anything but a form, which the Infinite can bring to life by the life in itself? This is what is meant by the following:

Jehovah God formed man, dust from the earth, and He breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. Gen. 2:7.

God, being infinite, is life in Himself. This cannot be created and copied into man, for this would be making him God. The idea that this happened was the madness of the serpent, or the devil, which he passed on to Eve and Adam, for the serpent said:

On the day when you eat of the fruit of that tree, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God. Gen. 3:5.

[5] This deadly conviction, that God infused and copied Himself into men, was held by the people of the most ancient church in its final period leading up to its termination, as I have heard from their own lips. On account of their horrendous belief that they were thus gods, they lie hidden deep within a cavern, which no one can approach closely without falling victim to an inner vertigo. The previous section made it known that Adam and his wife mean and describe the most ancient church.

This page is part of the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg

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