Last things, as was said above, are each and all things of the mineral kingdom, which are materials of various kinds, of a stony, saline, oily, mineral, or metallic nature, covered over with soil formed of vegetable and animal matters reduced to the finest dust. In these lie concealed both the end and the beginning of all uses which are from life. The end of all uses is the endeavor to produce uses, and the beginning is the acting force from that endeavor. These pertain to the mineral kingdom. Middle things are each and all things of the vegetable kingdom, such as grasses and herbs of every kind, plants and shrubs of every kind, and trees of every kind. The uses of these are for the service of each and all things of the animal kingdom, both imperfect and perfect. These they nourish, delight, and vivify; nourishing the bellies of animals with their vegetable substances, delighting the animal senses with taste, fragrance, and beauty, and vivifying their affections. The endeavor towards this is in these also from life. First things are each and all things of the animal kingdom. Those are lowest therein which are called worms and insects, the middle are birds and beasts, and the highest, men; for in each kingdom there are lowest, middle and highest things, the lowest for the use of the middle, and the middle for the use of the highest. Thus the uses of all created things ascend in order from outmost things to man, who is first in order. [DLW65]

In the natural world there are three degrees of ascent, and in the spiritual world there are three degrees of ascent. All animals are recipients of life. The more perfect are recipients of the life and the three degrees of the natural world, the less perfect of the life of two degrees of that world, and the imperfect of one of its degrees. But man alone is a recipient of the life both of the three degrees of the natural world and of the three degrees of the spiritual world. From this it is that man can be elevated above nature, while the animal cannot. Man can think analytically and rationally of the civil and moral things that are within nature, also of the spiritual and celestial things that are above nature, yea, he can be so elevated into wisdom as even to see God. But the six degrees by which the uses of all created things ascend in their order even to God the Creator, will be treated of in their proper place. From this summary, however, it can be seen that there is an ascent of all created things to the first, who alone is Life, and that the uses of all things are the very recipients of life; and from this are the forms of uses. [DLW66]

It shall also be stated briefly how man ascends, that is, is elevated, from the lowest degree to the first. He is born into the lowest degree of the natural world; then, by means of knowledges, he is elevated into the second degree; and as he perfects his understanding by knowledges he is elevated into the third degree, and then becomes rational. The three degrees of ascent in the spiritual world are in man above the three natural degrees, and do not appear until he has put off the earthly body. When this takes place the first spiritual degree is open to him, afterwards the second, and finally the third; but this only with those who become angels of the third heaven; these are they that see God. Those become angels of the second heaven and of the last heaven in whom the second degree and the last degree can be opened. Each spiritual degree in man is opened according to his reception of Divine Love and Divine Wisdom from the Lord. Those who receive something thereof come into the first or lowest spiritual degree those who receive more into the second or middle spiritual degree, those who receive much into the third or highest degree. But those who receive nothing thereof remain in the natural degrees, and derive from the spiritual degrees nothing more than an ability to think and thence to speak, and to will and thence to act, but not with intelligence. [DLW67]

Of the elevation of the interiors of man, which belong to his mind, this also should be known. In everything created by God there is reaction. In Life alone there is action; reaction is caused by the action of Life. Because reaction takes place when any created thing is acted upon, it appears as if it belonged to what is created. Thus in man it appears as if the reaction were his, because he has no other feeling than that life is his, when yet man is only a recipient of life. From this cause it is that man, by reason of his hereditary evil, reacts against God. But so far as man believes that all his life is from God, and that all good of life is from the action of God, and all evil of life from the reaction of man, so far his reaction comes to be from [God’s] action, and man acts with God as if from himself. The equilibrium of all things is from action and simultaneous reaction, and in equilibrium everything must be. These things have been said lest man should believe that he himself ascends toward God from himself, and not from the Lord. [DLW68]

In uses all the delights of heaven are brought together and are present, because uses are the goods of love and charity in which angels are; therefore everyone has delights that are in accord with his uses, and in the degree of his affection for use. That all the delights of heaven are delights of use can be seen by a comparison with the five bodily senses of man. There is given to each sense a delight in accordance with its use; to the sight, the hearing, the smell, the taste, and the touch, each its own delight; to the sight a delight from beauty and from forms, to the hearing from harmonious sounds, to the smell from pleasing odors, to taste from fine flavors. These uses which the senses severally perform are known to those who study them, and more fully to those who are acquainted with correspondences. Sight has such a delight because of the use it performs to the understanding, which is the inner sight; the hearing has such a delight because of the use it performs both to the understanding and to the will through giving attention; the smell has such a delight because of the use it performs to the brain, and also to the lungs; the taste has such a delight because of the use it performs to the stomach, and thus to the whole body by nourishing it. The delight of marriage, which is a purer and more exquisite delight of touch, transcends all the rest because of its use, which is the procreation of the human race and thereby of angels of heaven. These delights are in these sensories by an influx of heaven, where every delight pertains to use and is in accordance with use. [HH402]

Author: EMANUEL SWEDENBORG (1688-1772)