<< THE FINITING OF THE INFINITE >>
THE FIRST FINITING OF INFINITY is in the nature of vortex rings small as points, produced in the substance of the Infinite. These are the “natural points” of Swedenborg’s Principia, and the * ‘simples” and “primitives” of his work On the Infinite. They are the primitives of the Spiritual Sun. They are “the Only Begotten,” “the nexus,” the Logos, the seed of creation.
Around the Spiritual Sun are two successive radiant belts ; these are the volumes of the first and second finites. The third thing in succession is an atmosphere, which is the atmosphere of the celestial heaven and of the universe. By this atmosphere the Lord is immediately and universally operative and active in the spiritual world and in the natural.
GOD, WHO IS INFINITE, the Divine Esse, the I Am, is substance in Itself, and as the Infinite and the only substance. He is everywhere. There is no place where He is not. Therefore the universe and all the finite or bounded things thereof are brought forth in Him. The universe is finited only in the Infinite. Hence there exists an apparent vacuum which still is not a vacuum ; for an interstitial nothing is not possible. What appears empty is filled by the living Substance in Itself the Divine which Is. Thus in God we live, and move and have our being.
God wills to create finite, bounded, recipient forms, individuals, which He can both infill, and act upon. God, by the predicates of His living Esse, could not bring those recipient individuals into existence by fiat. But He could form them from small discrete particles of substance, or substantial, previously produced.
GOD, THE ORIGIN OF CREATED SUBSTANCES. What is the source of these substantials, these minimal, first finited particles of substances, these primordial substantials from which God creates His universe? Since their creation by fiat, or from nothing, is precluded, therefore the Infinite, the living expanse, Substance in Itself, must be the Source and Origin of these minima of substance, of these primordial leasts, which are to act as the seeds and primitives of creation. There is no other substance from which recipient forms may be created.
God, the Infinite Esse, must needs give of His own substance to frame creation. This is the sacramental gift, as of His flesh, to be the bread and the flesh of His creatures.
The primitive substantials of creation must be formed from the substance of the Infinite Esse, God must give portions of His own substance to be the substantia prima from which He creates all things. God, therefore, must first finite His Infinity as a preparation for a universe.
THE MODE OF THE FIRST FINITING . The concept of the accommodation of Infinity to finiteness, in order that the finite may exist, arises here. How can the Infinite God, who is Substance Itself, finite His Infinity, without destroying His own non-finiteness? In what manner can the accommodation of the Infinite to finiteness be given, without the essential infringement of the Infinity of God, and of His Infinite Oneness?
This problem is perhaps the most central among the problems of creation ; and the answer will qualify all our thoughts of God the Creator, and of the relation of the universe to Him.
Swedenborg approaches this problem directly; and the answer he gives impresses its stamp and feature on his whole system of the universe. It underlies as a very foothold the Theology of the New Church, and is regnant in it from first to last. It conditions alike the heavens and the earths, the organic and the inorganic kingdoms.
SWEDENBORG’S DEFINITIONS. In following Swedenborg we approach this subject in a series of comparative definitions of what is meant by Infinite and finite: a series covering expanse, origin, duration, characteristics of substance, and activity or motion.
These definitions are as follows:
Expanse, in relation to the Infinite signifies that which is without bound, term, or limit; when predicated of the finite, it signifies that which is comprised within definite terminations, that which is of limited extense, bounded.
Origin cannot be predicated of the Infinite, since as to substance the Infinite is self-existent; is not framed or put together of something in prior existence; is not concreted from prior entities. But origin is predicated of all finite entities ; for a finite is always framed or put together of parts already existent; always owes its substance to something else, to something prior to itself.
Neither can duration be predicated of the Infinite, since it is without bound or term, without beginning or end, always was, and is, and will be. But for all finite entities there are distinct ages, epochs, periods of time, prior to which they did not exist ; and an hour in which they began to be formed. There is also an hour in which they are broken up or come to an end, their substance being scattered to enter into combination with other particles, in other forms of some other period of duration. For all created entities or individuals, — save the universe as a whole, solar systems, and man, — have such an end. Animals have it, and almost all inorganic individua, although the latter have the longest duration.
In respect to characteristic of substance, the Infinite is one and indivisible. It does not consist of parts, or is not compounded of smaller particles. It is one purely continuous substance. In it, infinite things are distinctly One.
The characteristic of finite substance is that it is framed of myriads of distinct particles. It therefore consists of parts, or is compounded of smaller discrete particles contiguous to each other. It is not a continuous substance.
And finally in respect to activity or motion, the Infinite is infinitely active. It is without any passivity or inertia. It is therefore frictionless. The current of its motion, as it is in itself, never bounds, never encloses, nor finites, that is, never describes a circle ; for to describe a circle of any diameter is to describe and bound an area of that diameter. Infinite motion cannot describe an area, or make an enclosed field.
On the other hand a finiting motion is a motion the current of which defines or bounds, and discovers lines of least resistance, of opposition, of reaction with or against the current. The simplest motion which describes a boundary is a circular motion. Therefore a finiting motion is a circling motion, or that which describes a circle or closed field of some diameter. The ideal of the circular motion, that which comprises in itself every type and degree of circling motion, is the circulo-spiral, or perpetually vortical motion.
THE ACCOMMODATION OF THE INFINITE TO THE FINITE. Under which of these five definitions can we see possible a first accommodation of the Infinite to the finite, a primal finiting of the Infinity of God, which will not infringe upon the Infinity of the Creator, and which will contain the seed adequate to the purposes of creation?
The Accommodation of the Infinite to the Finite. Under the first, second, and third heads, viz., under expanse, origin, and duration, are at once negatived; on their faces they are absurd, impossible, and incompetent to the purpose.
The accommodation of Infinity to finiteness under the fourth head, namely, character of substance, is also negatived. For since the Infinite, as Substance Itself, is a unity or a one, purely continuous, the distinction and marking off of the portions thereof, by any means involving severance, cutting off, separation, while it would indeed finite the portions so given and cut off, would also finite the remainder; and so in destroying the continuity of the Infinite, it would essentially infringe upon the oneness of the Creating Substance. Moreover that which is severed from its first is by that act annihilated.
Under the fifth head, activity or motion, Swedenborg places the primal accommodation of the Infinite to the finite, or the first finiting of Infinity. Under this head alone accommodation is at once possible without essential infringement of the non-finiteness and unity of the Infinite, and adequate to the purpose; at once setting aside, distinguishing and defining portions of the Infinite Substance to be the substantia prima and seed of creation; and by the very mode of defining, imparting to the portions thus defined and appropriated, certain active powers of motion, capable of being a further means to their self -composition or concretion into a series of derivative finites, substantial, or substantiates ; and abiding as a spring of reflexing motor force in all things of creation forever. Moreover in finiting by means of motion, there is no actual severance from the substance of the Infinite.
THE PRODUCTION OF VORTEX RINGS. The first finiting of Infinity, is, according to Swedenborg, the production of minimal and simplest points of circulospiral motion, that is, the production of vortex rings, small as points, in the Substance of the Infinite. The interior conatus to circulation of these vortex points is circulo-spiral ; so that the whole point is not only in a vortex flow, but also gyres continually around its own axis.
So long as the vortex flow of these minimal rings is continued and sustained by the will of God, they continue to exist as entities in the Substance of the Infinite; they continue in one aspect distinct and bounded, enclosed and limited; that is, the circling motion of their flow is a first delineation of finiting.
These simple minimal vortices were existent in the Infinite before any finite or concrete entity had existence. They are to be called the medium between the Infinite and the finite. They are not only the primitives of the first substantial or composites of creation, but they are its force and life. They are immediately Divine and superlatively perfect. In them are supremely involved the ends of the universe, its human result, and the providence of the future.
THE NATURAL POINT. The natural points, therefore, are the first substance and source of that which, in its derivative composition, we call the created universe. They are the inmost, the first and primitive both of the spiritual world and of nature. They are produced by the Infinite, and are the immediate act of the Infinite finiting itself by reactive motion. They are in space without space ; for the Infinite, prior to this first finiting, was everywhere existent without space; for space was not until the lower finite came into existence, being simultaneous and coincident with that act. They exist in all space without space in relation to the Divine; but in relation to derivative creation there is in them the first beginnings and motions of space. Hence space and time have their origin in God, who is in all space and time without space and time.
The natural points or first simples are thus the medium between the Infinite and the finite ; they are the first entia, and in their multitude and activity they so fill all the spaces of the universe that a vacuum is precluded. Their composite is the first substantial.
First substantials are the first boundary of matter ; that is, they are the first of the series of concrete substances, the beginning and end of the Daedalian thread from which the compound universe is woven. In them the natural points or primitives become as it were a part of nature, since nature begins with them. For the natural points have in them an end and purpose toward the creation of man, for the sake of whom nature is, with all its suns and stars and solar svstems.
For the leasts and greatests of every series mutually regard each other, and have coincident existence in the Creative Will. Thus the least vorticles of motion regard the greatest ; the motion of singulars regards the motion of mass; the motion of natural points regards solar centres and systems ; and both together, operating as one in God, regard the production of man, as a sensitive microcosm, loving God and reacting to Him.
THE PRODUCTIVE ACTION OF THESE NATURAL POINTS is as follows: —
The perpetually vortex conatus in the natural points, or first simples of finition, is such that it sets these points into a local motion or gyre, of a pattern emulous of its interior circulation. This is of immense importance since it involves the law and the pattern of all the derivative production of the series of finites or substantials. And from this it is that all things which involve an end, constitute a circle.
All the motion of these simples is thus perpetually reflexive or circular, all their action, all the lines in which they. flow. For what they are within, that they do, that they act. That which is the pattern of their interior conatus or endeavor, that they reproduce in all their derivative motions.
Moreover, the perpetually reflexive flow of these vortex points, these primitives and simples of finition, involves something deeper, more living still. In them is present in very figure and embodiment the image which manifests the inmost action of love, of love as a substance. For all love tends to return as a circle to the source from which it came.-And love exists as a substance in God the Creator. There is thus a conatus in each thing of creation to return to its source. Therefore the primitive force in a simple is most perfectly adaptable and modifiable along all human building lines ; for the Infinite is capable of varying it in infinite ways.
Moreover in this perpetually reflexive, or circulo-vortical flow, all powers afterwards manifested in mechanics are actively infolded.
It is indeed this perpetually circling character, both of their interior conatus, and of their operation, in which resides the power which enables the primitives, which are the first finiting of Infinity, to composite themselves, to flow together into new com- pound entities, substantial, or finites; into subsfantials or finites of definite form, size, power of permanent cohesion, and of derivative motion ; and in fact into substantial of definite powers to produce a series of such substantial, or finites, or concrete corpuscles, of five descending grades or degrees.
THE PRIMITIVES OF THE SPIRITUAL SUN. This series of finites or substantials originating in the primitives, points, or simples of the Principia, are the same with the substantiates originating from the primitives of the Spiritual Sun. In the perpetually reflexing conatus of the points or simples of finition, all those things have their in-being, which exist throughout the series of finites or substantiates, successively compounding themselves, even to the most gross and ultimate, such as we see existing in the world.
The importance of this conatus and potency of circular motion in the primitives or vortex points, is seen when we consider that the primitives and firsts of finition constitute what is called the Spiritual Sun, which is the prime substance, the first finiting of the Infinity of God, the primitives of which are given to be primordial seeds of creation.” The intrinsic circulo-spiral motion of these primitives of the Spiritual Sun, therefore, acts as the instrumental means in compounding the series of derivative substantiates or finites ; a series composed of five distinct grades of composite vortex-ring corpuscles, destined for distinct grades of use, both in the composition of the successive degrees of auras or atmospheres, and in the composition of distinct degrees of structure in recipient organic forms, reactive or reflexive to the Divine.
Thus by means of the perpetually reflexive motion inhering in the primitives of the Spiritual Sun. that is, in the firsts or simples of finiting, a series of substantials or finites is produced, or concreted, by which the substances and forces of the universe are successively finited “more and more.”
Moreover, it is from this perpetually reflexive impetus, in the primitives or simples of the Spiritual Sun, and derived from them into all their composites or substantials, — embodying the generic impulse of love as a substance in God, — that the elementaries or active atmospheres derive their peculiar and characteristic habit and nature of motion which is always circular. So that the very reaction of the auras to any action, or beginning, or centre of inciting force, is always to run into a vortex or circling gyre; nor do they ever move by other than circling lines.
It is from the same primitive substantial cause that animate forms are characterized by some kind of interior circulation f^ for the order and round of the bloods arises from this deep and living conatus in the leasts of the substances from which they are framed.
There is an emulation of a circulation even in the non-animate kingdom. Vegetables have it ; the molecules of the mineral kingdom have it, and crystals themselves strive toward it internally. Moreover, in order that the molecules of the mineral kingdom may not exhale and emanate themselves out of existence by the ethers which flow through the molecular pores and channels, as bloods through vessels, there is a perpetual renewal of the form, and a perpetual giving forth of effluvial spheres, as its contribution to the finer uses of the world. That which has not some type of circulation does not exist, or swiftly ceases to exist, dissolves, dissipates. Thus the primitives of the Spiritual Sun by means of their circling motion give some stamp and feature of themselves upon every substantiate form-, derived or moulded from them, — the image of the Divine Love going forth and returning to Itself.
THE ESSENTIAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THE NATURAL POINT. The firsts of primordial finiting, the simples and natural points of the Principia, standing as intermediate between the Infinite and the finite, are the same with the primitives and simples of the work On the Infinite. These primitives and simples are there called the nexus between the Infinite and the finite. The name they are known by in the Sacred Scriptures, is the Only Begotten, the Son from eternity. They are themselves infinite. They are the first creative essence mentioned in the Spiritual Diary, (n. 4847), Itself Divine or Infinite, and Man in conatus or beginning, (fieri) y or Man reflexively. They are therefore the “Divine Essence,” related to the Infinite Esse, as the Essence is related to the Esse, in the True Christian Religion (nos. 18, 36). They are the Existere of God Man described in Divine Love and Wisdom (n. 14) ; in whom Esse and Existere are one, yet one distinctly; the Esse being the soul of God Man, the Existere His Divine Body. Of the Divine Essence the Spiritual Sun consists; and it is alive.
These simples, primitives, or points, are therefore not dead, but are living, life itself. Infinite. They are not the fortuitous points “of no predication and therefore not in themselves anything,” nor the atoms of Epicurus, nor the monads of Leibnitz, nor the simple substances of Wolf; and so are not what is condemned in the True Christian Religion, n. 20, and Divine Providence, n. 6. They are the Infinites of God Man, and the origin of the finites of the universe. They are the seeds of the universe, the sole substance of which all substances are made. They involve supremely all the human end of creation, sustainment, providence, redemption. For ends are in the Spiritual Sun, causes in the spiritual world, and effects in the natural world; ends are then Infinite. Hence in the finiting conatus of the points or simples, all the human ends of the created universe have their in-being, and are supremely involved and embodied in them ; while their derivative activity or motion presents as in a figure the universal endeavor of love to return as by a circle to its source.
Illustrating the perpetually spiral form and interior fluxion of finites.
Moreover, as has already been indicated, the circling figure of the motion of the primitives is the sole instrumentality needed, to enable them to conflow together by myriads, and impel them to coalesce into compound vortex ring corpuscles. These are the substantial, substantiates, or finites.
Here the finite really begins. For the derivative corpuscles or substantial are concrete, but the component primitive points, or simples are not. Therefore the latter are not to be called finite, but only the first of finiting, or the intermediate, or nexus, between the Infinite and the finite, as was shown above.
These finest concrete substantials, or first finites, are only less perfect than the pure simples or primitives themselves, of which they are the first and only direct production. For while the primitives are “immediately Divine,” the first finites or substantial are only mjediately Divine througfi the primitives or simples.
THE FIRST FINITES, or simplest concrete substantial, are bodies of a vortex ring form; each composed of great numbers of primitives bound together into a cohering aggregate corpuscle by their common circling motion.
These finites have an interior circulation coinciding with the reflective endeavor and activity of the primitives, which is actually produced by the flow of those primitives in them. From this interior circulation they have, all of them, a derivative endeavor and potency of local motion; of the same general reflexive or perpetually circling type as the motion of the primitives. For with them also, “as is their interior circulation, so they do, so they move, so they act.” But the diameter of this composite substantial is vastly larger, and its velocity of motion and momentum in collision, is greatly less than that of the primitives.
Thus originated the first substantial composites from the primitives of the Spiritual Sun, produced in a volume vast enough to fill the universe. And as it were instantly in and from their volume, by means of their own circling motions among each other, a myriad volume of second substantial was formed, swinging on towards the production of an aura or atmosphere or volume of bullae, in which was attained the first equilibrated rest of creation.
The Second Finite. The second substantial are related to the first, as the first to the primitives. And although they are of like generic form, interior circulation and derivative power of circling or orbital motion, these second finites are still larger, still more finited, move in still larger orbits, have less velocity of movement, and a weakened force of penetrative impact.
These are the second successives of accommodation and finiting, produced from the primitives of the Spiritual Sun. And the volumes of the first and second finites are the two radiant belts under the Spiritual Sun, above the angelic heaven. The corresponding belts below the natural sun are the volumes of third and fourth finites, which are the primitives of the family of metals. The fifth finites are formed near the earth, and are able to exist only in the vicinage of earths.
The First Aura. Next in order after the first and second degrees of finiting, or the creation of volumes of first and second finites, follows the formation of the first atmosphere, or the first plane of the Divine as to Use, — the first and universal aura of the Principia, the Infinite and the Economy, — the first created volume of elastic bullular forms.
This is the third successive under the Spiritual Sun, the third thing brought forth ; the atmosphere at once of the celestial heaven, and of the whole universe ; the particular atmosphere by which the Lord is present, as in firsts so in lasts ; as within so without; as in heavens immediately so also immediately in all His world. It is the first proceeding of the Lord, formed as use or atmosphere, going forth and filling both worlds, the spiritual and the natural, operating the effects of the ends of creation ; for it is the supreme conjugial sphere. In accordance with this we find that the human formative substance, the soul, the human internal, the human spirituous fluid, which receives the influx of the life of God, is formed from and in this aura. And moreover this first aura describes a vortex and universe embracing and directing all other vortices or universes ; and it is that supreme aura without which the minutest forms could not be held together in connection ; nor could effects flow from their first causes, according to the order of nature.
Author: Lillian G. Beekman From AN OUTLINE OF SWEDENBORG’S COSMOLOGY (1907)