Series

SERIES >> Truths are arranged into series with man,
according to the arrangement of angelic societies

The Truths of Faith are disposed into Series, thus, as it were into bundles. This has been hitherto unknown. It is unknown because the spiritual truths of which the whole Word is composed could not be seen, owing to the mystical and enigmatical faith which forms every point of the present theology; consequently they have been buried in the earth like storehouses. To make clear what is meant by series and bundles, it shall be explained. The first chapter of this book, which treats of God the Creator, is divided into a series of sections, the first of which treats of the Unity of God, the second the Being of God or Jehovah, the third the Infinity of God, the fourth the Essence of God (which is Divine love and Divine wisdom) the fifth the Omnipotence of God, and the sixth Creation The arrangement of each section into its articles constitutes the series, and the contents of these are bound together as if into bundles. These series in general and in particular, thus conjointly and separately, contain truths which, according to their abundance and coherence, exalt and perfect faith.

[2] He who does not know that the human mind is organized, or that it is a spiritual organism terminating in a natural organism, in which and according to which the mind produces its ideas or thinks, must needs suppose that perceptions, thoughts, and ideas are nothing but radiations and variations of light flowing into the head, and presenting forms which man sees and acknowledges as reasons. But this is foolishness; for everyone knows that the head is full of brains, that the brains are organized, and that in them the mind dwells, and that its ideas are fixed therein, and are permanent so far as they are accepted and confirmed. The question is, therefore, What is the nature of that organization? The answer is, that it is an arrangement of all things in series, as it were in bundles, and that in this way the truths belonging to faith are arranged in the human mind. That it is so, may be illustrated as follows.

[3] The brain consists of two substances, one of which is glandular, and is called the cortical and cineritious substance, and the other fibrillous, and is called the medullary substance. The first, or the glandular substance, is arranged into clusters like grapes on a vine; these clustered formations are its series. The second, or the medullary substance, consists of perpetual bundlings of little fibers issuing from the glandules of the former substance; these bundlings are its series. All the nerves that proceed from the brain, and pass down into the body for the performance of various functions, are nothing but groups and bundles of fibers; in a like manner all the muscles, and in general all the viscera and organs of the body. All these are such because they correspond to the series in which the mental organism is arranged.

[4] Moreover, in all nature there is nothing that is not formed into series of little bundles; every tree, every bush, shrub and plant, nay, every ear of corn and blade of grass in whole and in part, is so formed. The universal cause is, that such is the confirmation of Divine truths; for we read that all things were created by the Word, that is, by Divine truth, and that the world also was made by it (John 1:1). From all this it can be seen that unless there were such an arrangement of substances in the human mind, man would possess no ability to reason analytically, which everyone has according to this arrangement, thus according to his supply of truths cohering, as it were, in a bundle; and the arrangement is in accord with his use of reason from freedom.[TCR 351].

To this let me append two arcana of angelic wisdom showing further what divine providence is like. One is that the Lord never acts on one thing by itself in man, but on all things at the same time, and the other is that He acts at once from inmosts and outmosts. He never acts on some one thing by itself but on all things together because all things in man are in such connection and from this in such form that they act not as a number but as one. We know that there is such connectedness and by it such organization in man’s body. The human mind is in similar form as a result of the connection of all things, for the mind is the spiritual man and truly the man. Hence man’s spirit or the mind in the body in its entire form is man. Consequently man is man after death equally as he was in the world with the sole difference that he has thrown off the clothing which made up his body in the world.

[2] As the human form, then, is such that all its parts form a community which acts as a whole, some one thing cannot be moved out of place or altered in state except with adaptation of the rest, for if it were, the form which acts as a whole would suffer. Hence it is plain that the Lord never acts on any one thing without acting on all. So He acts on the total angelic heaven since in His view it is like one man; so He acts on each angel, for each angel is heaven in least form; so He acts also on each man, most nearly on all things of man’s mind and by these on all things of his body; for man’s mind is his spirit and in the measure of conjunction with the Lord is an angel, and the body is obedience.

[3] It is to be well noted, however, that the Lord does act on each particular thing in man singly, singularly so, when acting on all things in man’s organization; even so He does not alter the state of any part or of any one thing except suitably to the whole form. But more will be said of this in following numbers where we shall show that divine providence is general because it extends to particulars, and particular because it is general.

[4] The Lord acts from inmosts and outmosts at the same time because only in this way are all things held in connection, for the intermediate things depend one upon another from inmosts to outmosts and are assembled in outmosts (it was shown in Part III of the treatise Divine Love and Wisdom that all things from the inmost onward are present simultaneously in what is outmost ). For this reason the Lord from eternity or Jehovah came into the world and assumed and bore human nature in outmosts. He could thus be at once from firsts in lasts, and from firsts by lasts govern the whole world and so save whom He could save according to the laws of His divine providence, which are also the laws of His divine wisdom. For it is true, as Christendom knows, that no mortal could have been saved had the Lord not come into the world (see Doctrine for the New Jerusalem on Faith, n. 35). For the same reason the Lord is called “The First and the Last.” [DP124]

And the earth made gatherings [collections] in the seven years of abundance of produce. That this signifies the first states when truths are multiplied in series, is evident from the signification of “seven years,” as being the first states, for the seven years of abundance of produce came first, and the seven years of famine came after (that “years” are states, see n. 482, 487, 488, 493, 893); and from the signification of “abundance of produce,” as being the multiplication of truth (n. 5276, 5280, 5292); by “the earth made” is signified that this multiplication took place in the natural, for the “earth” here is the natural (as just above, n. 5338); and from the signification of “gatherings,” as being series. In regard to the series signified by “gatherings,” the case is this. With the man who is being reformed, general truths are first instilled, then the particulars of the generals, and finally the singulars of the particulars; the particulars are arranged under the generals, and the singulars under the particulars (n. 2384, 3057, 4269, 4325, 4329, 4345, 4383, 5208). These arrangings or settings in order are signified in the Word by “bundles,” here by “handfuls” or “gatherings,” and they are nothing but the series into which truths when multiplied are arranged or set in order. With the regenerate these series are according to the setting in order of the societies in the heavens; but with those who are not and cannot be regenerated, they are according to the setting in order of the societies in the hells. Hence the man who is in evil, and thence in falsity, is a hell in the least form; and the man who is in good, and thence in truth, is a heaven in the least form. But in regard to these series, of the Lord’s Divine mercy more elsewhere. [AC5339]

And they gathered them together in heaps and heaps. That this signifies that these false reasonings were arranged in bundles in the natural, is evident from the signification of “being gathered together in heaps and heaps,” as being to be arranged in bundles. That “to be gathered together in heaps” denotes these things, is because all things in the mind of man have been arranged into series, and as it were into bundles; and into series within series, or into bundles within bundles (see n. 5339, 5530, 5881). That there is such an arrangement, is plain from the arrangement of all things in the body, where fibers are seen arranged into bundles, and glandules into clusters, and this everywhere in the body, and still more perfectly in the purer parts not discernible by the naked eye. This bundling is especially to be seen in the brain, in the two substances there, one of which is called cortical and the other medullary. It is not dissimilar in the purer things, and finally in the purest of all, where the forms which receive them are the very forms of life.

[2] That forms or substances are recipient of life can be seen from every single thing that appears in living creatures; and also that recipient forms or substances are arranged in the way most suitable for the influx of life. Without the reception of life in substances, which are forms, there would be no living thing in the natural world, nor in the spiritual world. Series of the purest filaments, like bundles, constitute these forms. It is the same with those things therein which are highly modified; for modifications receive their form from the forms which are the substances in which they are, and from which they flow, because the substances or forms are the determining subjects. The reason why the learned have regarded the things belonging to man’s life, that is, to his thought and will, as being devoid of recipient substances or forms, has been that they believed life or the soul to be something either flamy or ethereal, thus such as after death would be dissipated; hence comes the insane notion of many, that there is no life after death. From all this it is evident how it is to be understood that the reasoning falsities were arranged in groups in the natural. [AC7408]

And thou shalt bruise of it small. That this signifies the disposing of truths into their series, is evident from the signification of “bruising,” when said of frankincense and spices; by which are signified truths, as being the disposing of truths into their series; for “bruising” has a like signification with “grinding,” but “grinding” is said of wheat, barley, and spelt; and “bruising,” of oil, frankincense, and spices.

[2] What is specifically signified by “bruising” and “grinding” cannot be known unless it is known how the case is with man in respect to the goods and truths which are signified by “wheat,” “barley,” “meal,” “fine flour,” “oil,” “frankincense,” and “spices,” when these goods and truths have been disposed for uses; for “grinding” and “bruising” denote so to dispose them that they may be of use. When “grinding” is said of the goods which are signified by “wheat” or “barley,” then by “grinding” is signified the disposing and bringing forth of good into truths, and in this way its application to uses. Moreover, good never puts itself forth into uses except by means of truths. In these it is disposed, and thus qualified, for unless good has been disposed in truths it has no quality; but when it is disposed in truths, it is then disposed, into series in application to things according to uses, into which things good enters as the affection of love, whence comes what is grateful, pleasant, and delightful. The like is here signified by “bruising small,” for “pure frankincense” denotes spiritual good (n. 10296); and the truths which are disposed by this good are denoted by the spices stacte, onycha, and galbanum (n. 10292-10294).

[3] What is meant by disposing into series shall also be briefly told. Truths are said to be disposed into series when they have been disposed according to the form of heaven, in which form are the angelic societies. What this form is may be seen from the correspondence of all the members, viscera, and organs of man with the Grand Man, which is heaven (concerning which correspondence see at the places cited in n. 10030). In these members, viscera, and organs, each and all things have been disposed into series and series of series. These are formed by the fibers and vessels, as is known to those who from anatomy are acquainted with the textures and contextures of the interiors of the body. Into like series have been disposed the truths from good with man.

[4] From this it is that a regenerated man is a heaven in the least form corresponding to the greatest; and that a man is wholly his own truth and good. (That a regenerated man is a heaven in the least form, see at the places cited in n. 9279; and that a man is his own truth and good, n. 10298; and that the truths with man have been disposed into series according to the angelic societies with the regenerate, n. 5339, 5343, 5530.) The series into which truths have been disposed with the good, and the series into which falsities have been disposed with the evil, are signified in the Word by “sheaves” and “bundles” (as in Lev. 23:9-15; Ps. 126:6; 129:7; Amos 2:13; Micah 4:12; Jer. 9:22; Zech. 12:6; Matt. 13:30).

[5] It therefore being evident what is signified by “bruising,” and “grinding,” it can be known what is signified in the internal sense by the statement that:

The sons of Israel ground the manna in mills, or bruised it in a mortar, and baked it into cakes (Num. 11:8);

for by the “manna” was signified celestial and spiritual good (n. 8464); and by “grinding” and “bruising,” a disposing that it might serve for use; for whatever is said in the Word is significative of such things as are in heaven and the church, for every detail has an internal sense. It can also be known what is signified by the statement that:

They should not take to pledge the mill or the millstone, for he taketh the soul to pledge (Deut. 24:6);

for by “the mill and the millstone” is signified that which prepares good so that it can be applied to uses; by “barley” also and by “wheat” is signified good, and by “meal” and “fine flour” truths; and as before said, good is applied to use by means of its own truths.

[6] From this it can be seen what is signified by the “mill,” by the “millstone,” and by “sitting at the mills,” in the following passages:

Then shall two be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left (Matt. 24:41).
He that shall cause to stumble one of these little ones that believe in Me, it were better for him that an ass millstone were hanged on his neck, and he were sunk into the depth of the sea (Matt. 18:6; Mark 9:42).
A mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall Babylon be thrown down, and the voice of the mill shall be heard no more at all in her (Rev. 18:21, 22).
I will cause to cease from them the voice of joy, and the voice of the millstones, and the light of the lamp (Jer. 25:10).
O daughter of Babylon, sit on the earth; there is no throne, O daughter of the Chaldeans; take the mill and grind meal (Isa. 47:1, 2)

As in a good sense a “mill,” and “grinding,” signify application to good uses, so in the opposite sense they signify application to evil uses; hence when they are said of Babylon and Chaldea, they signify application in favor of their loves, which are the loves of self and of the world; for by the “barley and wheat” with them is signified good adulterated, and by the “meal” thence, truth falsified. The profanation of good and truth by application in favor of these loves is also signified by the statement that:

Moses ground to powder the golden calf, and scattered it upon the waters that came down from Mount Sinai, and made the sons of Israel drink it (Exod. 32:20; Deut. 9:21). [AC10303].

Author: EMANUEL. SWEDENBORG (1688-1772)

Picture Credit: Romanesco Broccoli courtesy of Jacopo Werther