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borg before his illumination entertained such a notion, for he says, “In a word, we might say that infant heavens and earths were successively coming into existence in proportion as the others declined in age, grew hoary with years, and fell into decay” (Principia, vol. ii. p. 241). This is just what many philosophers of the present day teach respecting the planets of the solar system, more than a hundred years after Swedenborg. It seems, however, somewhat remarkable that he could entertain such an idea of the consummation of worlds, when he reasons in another part of the same volume respecting the progression of the earth from the sun to her permanent orbit. He
“At first the times it measured were only years of short duration, in the course of time the duration of its years was gradually extended until they finally reached their present limit, beyond which they are unable further to proceed, so long as the state of the solar vortex and axillary gyration of the earth continue as they are” (p. 344). But nowhere throughout the Principia does he give any reason or suggest any law in the constitution of the magnetic vortex which should or may change the state of the solar vortex. This idea of change of the state of the earth from infancy to decay seems rather to have sprung into his view from the theological ideas which he must then have entertained from his early education. The whole scheme of the Principia teaches the doctrine of permanent worlds; and as his mind was to be trained to see and teach that doctrine from another ground, doubtless his natural rational power in the main of his philosophical writings overleaped the old teachings in which he had been educated. And it is only to be expected that his early notions would rise before him whilst he was pursuing another direction of thought. This hypothesis, doubtless, will furnish the reason why he wrote in the early part of the Arcana (his first theological work) that there was a statement in the Divine Word which signified the end of the physical world. Nowhere, however, in his theological writings does he reiterate such an idea, or give any ground for such a doctrine, but quite the reverse. For in the very work in which, above all others, he ought to proclaim such a doctrine, he says, “They who have been unacquainted with the spiritual sense of the Word have always understood that all things in the visible world will be destroyed in the day of the last judgment. .
But they may now know that neither the visible heaven nor the habitable globe will perish, but that both will remain for ever” (L. J. 1). All, therefore, who can repose with confidence in so plain and unmistakable a statement, must be assured that the earth will abide for ever.
It is true that there are teachers of a natural philosophy, already hinted at, who would lead unlearned minds to believe that some time or other the planets in their turn will be hurled into the sun. Such philosophers often delight to reason that the earth is the only habitable globe, because she alone, probably, has reached the state or age in which she can be inhabited ; that Mercury and Venus are already burnt out, and are only waiting, like our moon, to be engulphed sooner or later into the body of the sun; that Jupiter and Saturn are in a molten or vaporous condition, and have not yet arrived at a state in which they can be inhabited, or rather, to use the reported language of one of our philosophers at the last meeting of the British Association, “to receive life probably from a particle of moss that might be dropped from a passing meteor”!! It is perhaps almost needless to say that such opinions of the constitution of the planets of the solar system are founded upon little more than conjecture. On the other hand, these conjecturing philosophers have never yet attempted to assign a reason why so many globes should continue to make similar and regular revolutions round the sun, and round their respective axes, and as far as long intervals show, never make their orbits larger or smaller. These globes have the regular succession of their seasons, and of day and night; but for what purpose if they are without inhabitants ? What proof is there that sooner or later the inferior planets, together with the earth and the moon, will be engulphed in the sun ? The annual revolution of the earth round the sun is as long now as it ever was known to be. The length of the year has never changed. The lengths of the days and nights remain the same. And all these measures apply equally to the other planets of the solar system so far as they have been ascertained. Until the conjectures, which have been set forth as certainties, can be made to agree with well-known, calculated, and established facts, the proclamation of them will only be regarded by thoughtful minds as mere empty sounds.
Now Swedenborg states, as already quoted, that “the substances of nature which constitute earths are immutable and fixed” (A. D. L. & W. 160). When he wrote this chemistry had not shown that there were immutable and indestructible elements, fluids, and gases ; elements and gases which cannot be changed or destroyed by any known process of evaporation. Indeed, evaporation produces nothing in substances beyond the expansion of their volumes. Now it is known and demonstrated that there are at least from fifty to sixty metallic elements, and thirteen non-metallic elements, including the simple gases, which cannot be changed or destroyed. All these elements and gases can be compounded but never annihilated: therefore their specific gravities can never be destroyed. And as the total substance of the earth is made up of these, so also is her total power of gravitation made up of them; and so long as they remain, so long will the gravitation of the earth remain unchanged; and so long as the gravitation of the earth remains unchanged, so long will she maintain her distance from the sun. Therefore, also, it follows that if the elements of the globe are immutable and indestructible, the earth is indestructible, and must endure for ever.
But there is a notion, founded upon some appearances of things, that the improvement of the race will require a globe of purer substance for its habitation, and that after this earth is consumed the germs of this superior coming race will be transferred to this purer coming globe. There can be no doubt that an improved race of human beings will exist. But why may it not exist on this globe? Suppose it is admitted that in some sense the earth is growing old, may not the ground and cause of her rejuvenescence be found in her own substance, just as an improved human race can arise only from the present human race? Has some purer kind of substance been brought from some more refined globe to enable the horticulturist and the agriculturist to make their constantly improving and ever varying and more delightful and useful exhibitions ? And if this has not been so, how have they been brought about? It is almost needless to answer the question. As human skill improves, so will the productions that depend upon it improve. Man, in more senses than one, was placed in the garden of Eden “ to dress it and to keep it” (Gen. ii. 15). But before considering this view of the subject, it may
be observed that the earth, with all her elements, metallic, non-metallic, and gaseous, together with her heat, light, and magnetic forces, is a huge laboratory. This laboratory, is constantly being worked without the aid of man, unless such aid be in the poisoning of rivers, streams, and the air, by his chemical and manufacturing processes. Combinations and recombinations are incessantly proceeding. Inorganic substance is thus constantly changing in its combinations, and this doubtless for the higher purposes of organic substance which depends upon it. Swedenborg saw this, and gives angels' wisdom concerning it. He says, “That in earths there is an endeavour, is evident from their origin, in that the substances and matters of which the earths consist, are the ends and terminations of the atmospheres which proceed as uses from the spiritual sun; and forasmuch as the substances and matters of which the earths consist are from that origin, and their accumulations are contained in their connection by the circumpressure of the atmospheres, it follows that they have thence a perpetual endeavour to produce forms of uses. It is said that endeavour and that quality are in the earths, but it is meant that they are in those substances and matters of which earths consist : whether they be in earths or exhaled from earths in the atmospheres, that the atmospheres are full of such substances is well known. That there is such an endeavour and such a quality in the substances and matters of the earths manifestly appears from this consideration, that seeds of all kinds, being opened to their inmost parts by means of heat, are impregnated by very subtle substances, which cannot but be from a spiritual origin, and thereby in a power of conjoining themselves to use; whence their prolific quality, and thereby conjunction with matters from a natural origin, produce forms of uses, and afterwards send them forth as it were from the womb, that they may also come into the light, and so germinate and grow” (A. D. L. & W. 310). Now what can these substances and matters be but the metallic and some of the non-metallic elements; and that these have, as it were, inherent powers in themselves is well known. These powers, Swedenborg says, are from the spiritual world, thence, also, it may be assumed that the gases, such as oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen,
names of "subtle fluids” not known in his day, have their
properties and powers. From all this it may be seen that there are sufficient forces in the earth herself to adapt and vary all her elements for uses to an unlimited extent; for whatever uses may be required on the earth, there is a constant endeavour in matter from a spiritual source to accomplish all that is or may be required.
It has already been observed, on the authority of Swedenborg, that all spirits and angels have been inhabitants of physical worlds. But how far did they go from their respective planets when they passed into the spiritual world ? Swedenborg answers this question by say. ing that the spiritual world of each planet is in close proximity to it. “ It is to be observed,” he writes, “ that all spirits and angels are from the human race, and that they are near their respective earths (E. U. 1.). Again, “ the spirits of every earth appear about their own earth, by reason that they are of a similar genius, in consequence of a similar state of life, and principally for this reason, that they may be with the inhabitants of their own earth who are of a similar genius; for man without spirits cannot live, and spirits of a like nature to every one are adjoined to him " (A. C. 9968). From this it is plain whence come all man's thoughts and affections for good or evil. Noble thoughts and kind affections are inspired in man by the spheres or presence of good spirits and angels, and foul thoughts and filthy affections by spirits of an opposite character. Now, as men work in the world from their thoughts and affections to realize as far as possible the purposes of them, so the substances of the earth yield them their desires for use. The cultivated mind will in this manner bring about a cultivated world. Here it is manifest how “ every good and perfect gift cometh down” through the spiritual world “from the Father of Lights."
The substances and matters, then, of this natural world, it may be presumed, will always be adapted to yield increase to the improved and constantly improving condition of mankind, and will also remain the basis and groundwork on which, and from which, all uses will return to God, and thus remain for ever the seminary for heaven and the footstool of the Almighty.
It further reasonable to infer that each earth in the solar system is physically adapted for the growth of organic forms and substances suited to the human beings who may inhabit them. That the inhabitants of each planet will be somewhat differently constituted is to be inferred from the statement that each planet is inhabited by a people of a peculiar genius; and as there is an endeavour in the substances and matters of which earths are composed to conjoin themselves to uses, and as uses vary according to the genius of the people, so also will the substances, matters, and atmospheres of each planet vary:
How narrow, then, is the rational horizon of any one who thinks that other planetary orbs in the solar system cannot be inhabited, because he can think of no other human beings but such as inhabit this earth.
It is to be observed that the terrestrial elements, in whatever vary
ing or compound form or motion they may be considered, did not originate organic forms of any kind. No substance can originate a form or organism, hence in this sense there is no such thing as spontaneous creation. Life alone can produce organic forms of any kind. And all life is from the spiritual into the natural. And as the elements of the natural world were in a state for the reception and growth of organisms, then life from God through the agency of the spiritual world produced living forms. The lowest of these were vegetable, the next animal, and finally man. And if the statement of Swedenborg be accepted, seeds and germs were not first produced in the prepared terrestrial elements, but the full-grown living forms themselves. He says the angels informed him, when he was meditating about the creation of the universe, that in the spiritual world all the living forms there, whether they appear as vegetable or animal objects, are created instantaneously according to the affections of the angels, and not from seeds, germs, or procreations, and that “in our world they were created in like manner at the beginning; but it was provided that they should be renewed successively by propagation from one another, and thus that creation should be continued."
The angels said further, " The reason why creation in our world is instantaneous, and in yours is continued by successive propagations, is because the atmospheres and soils in our world are spiritual, and the atmospheres and soils in your world are natural, and natural things were created to be a clothing for spiritual things" (U. T. 78). From this it appears that though organic forms are destroyed after growth by decay, yet the ends for which the forms exist, namely, the reproduction of themselves or their like, continue without interruption. Some suppose that the beginning, growth, and decay of organic forms illustrate the beginning, growth, and decay of worlds; but unfortunately the illustration as to the most important fact portrays too much for the purpose; for when an organic form has begun to decay it has already produced that out of which itself or its like can arise, and this cannot be said to hold good for the production of worlds.
Again, as all organic forms are produced, grow, and become perfected by the action of life through the spiritual world, and as terrestrial elements in themselves with all their conatus are unable to originate the simplest organic form, it follows that there must be intermediate something, perhaps the protoplasm of modern science, which life can operate on from within, and to which the conatus of the terrestrial elements can adjoin itself from without. It is well known that there are intermediates between the three kingdoms of nature, so much so, that it is difficult to tell where one kingdom ends and ancther begins. Swedenborg teaches that these intermediates exist throughout the spiritual and natural universe. This intermediate something or protoplasm, then, between what is material and what is spiritual must be communicated to the seed or germ which the organic form produces, and hence afterwards by it the seed or germ can live and grow. This intermediate something may be the purest substance of nature, which,