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Chapter 30

The Wisdom of the Angels of Heaven.

265. The nature of angelic wisdom can scarcely be comprehended, because it so greatly transcends human wisdom that the two cannot be compared; and whatever is thus transcendent does not seem to be any thing. Moreover, some truths that must enter into a description of it are as yet unknown, and until these become known they exist in the mind as shadows, and thus hide the thing as it is in itself. Nevertheless, these truths can be known, and when known be comprehended, provided the mind takes any interest in them; for interest carries light with it because it is from love; and upon those who love the things pertaining to Divine and heavenly wisdom light shines forth from heaven and gives enlightenment.

266. What the wisdom of the angels is can be inferred from the fact that they are in the light of heaven, and the light of heaven in its essence is Divine truth or Divine wisdom; and this light enlightens at the same time their inner sight, or sight of the mind, and their outer sight, or sight of the eyes. (That the light of heaven is Divine truth or Divine wisdom may be seen above, n. 126-133.) The angels are also in heavenly heat, which in its essence is Divine good or Divine love, and from that they have an affection and longing to become wise. (That the heat of heaven is Divine good or Divine love may be seen above, n. 133-140.) That the angels are in wisdom, even to the extent that they may be called wisdoms, follows from the fact that their thoughts and affections all flow in accordance with the heavenly form, and this form is the form of Divine wisdom; also that their interiors, which are recipients of wisdom, are arranged in that form. (That the thoughts and affections of angels flow in accordance with the form of heaven, and consequently their intelligence and wisdom, may he seen above, n. 201-212.) [2] That the angels have supereminent wisdom is shown also by the fact that their speech is the speech of wisdom, for it flows directly and spontaneously from thought, and their thought from their affection, thus their speech is thought from affection in outward form; consequently there is nothing to withdraw them from the Divine influx, and nothing from without such as enters into the speech of man from other thoughts. (That the speech of angels is the speech of their thought and affection may be seen above, n. 234- 235.) That the angels have such wisdom is in accord with the fact that all things that they behold with their eyes and perceive by their senses agree with their wisdom, since they are correspondences of it, and thus the objects perceived are representative forms of the things that constitute their wisdom. (That all things seen in the heavens are correspondences with the interiors of angels and representations of their wisdom may be seen above, n. 170-182.) [3] Furthermore, the thoughts of angels are not limited and contracted by ideas from space and time, as human thoughts are, for spaces and times belong to nature, and the things that belong to nature withdraw the mind from spiritual things, and deprive intellectual sight of its proper range. (That the ideas of angels are apart from time and space, and thus less limited than human ideas, may be seen above, n. 162-169 and 191-199.) Again, the thoughts of angels are neither brought down to earthly and material things, nor interrupted by anxieties about the necessities of life; thus they are not withdrawn by such things from the delights of wisdom, as the thoughts of men in the world are; for all things come to them gratuitously from the Lord; they are clothed gratuitously, are fed gratuitously, are housed gratuitously (n. 181-190), and besides this they receive delights and pleasures in the degree of their reception of wisdom from the Lord. These things have been said to make clear why it is that angels have so great wisdom [30.1].

267. Angels are capable of receiving such wisdom because their interiors are open; and wisdom, like every other perfection, increases towards the interiors, thus to the extent that interiors are opened [30.2]. In every angel there are three degrees of life, corresponding to the three heavens (see n. 29-40) -- those in whom the first degree has been opened are in the first or outmost heaven; those in whom the second degree has been opened are in the second or middle heaven; while those in whom the third degree has been opened are in the third or inmost heaven. The wisdom of angels in the heavens is in accordance with these degrees. Therefore the wisdom of the angels of the inmost heaven immeasurably surpasses the wisdom of angels of the middle heaven, and the wisdom of these immeasurably surpasses the wisdom of angels of the outmost heaven ( see above, n. 209, 210; and what degrees are, n. 38). There are such differences because the things which are in the higher degree are particulars, and those in the lower degree are generals, and generals are containants of particulars. Particulars compared with generals are as thousands or myriads to one; and such is the wisdom of the angels of a higher heaven compared with the wisdom of the angels of a lower heaven. In like manner the wisdom of the latter surpasses the wisdom of man, for man is in a bodily state and in those things that belong to the bodily senses, and man's bodily sense belongs to the lowest degree. This makes clear what kind of wisdom those possess who think from things of sense, that is, who are called sensual men, namely, that they have no wisdom, but merely knowledge [30.3]. But it is otherwise with men whose thoughts are raised above the things of sense, and especially with those whose interiors have been opened even into the light of heaven.

268. It can be seen how great the wisdom of angels is from the fact that in the heavens there is a communication of all things; intelligence and wisdom are communicated from one to another, and heaven is a common sharing of all goods; and this for the reason that heavenly love is such that it wishes what is its own to be another's; consequently no one in heaven perceives his own good in himself to be good unless it is also in another; and this is the source of the happiness of heaven. This the angels derive from the Lord, for such is His Divine love. That there is such a communication of all things in the heavens it has been permitted me to know by experience. Certain simple spirits were at one time taken up into heaven, and when there they entered into angelic wisdom, and then understood things that they were never before able to comprehend, and spoke things that they were unable to utter in their former state.

269. The wisdom of the angels is indescribable in words; it can only be illustrated by some general things. Angels can express in a single word what a man cannot express in a thousand words. Again, a single angelic word contains innumerable things that cannot be expressed in the words of human language; for in each of the things uttered by angels there are arcana of wisdom in continuous connection that human knowledges never reach. Again, what the angels fail to express in the words of their speech they make up by the tone, in which there is an affection for the things in their order; for (as has been said above, n. 236, 241) tones express affections, as Words express ideas of thought from the affections; and for this reason the things heard in heaven are said to be ineffable. So, too, the angels are able to express in a few words every least thing written in an entire volume, and give to every word meanings that elevate the mind to interior wisdom; for their speech is such as to be in accord with their affections, and each word is in accord with their ideas; and their words are varied in infinite ways in accord with the series of things which in complex are in the thought. [2] Still again, the interior angels are able to perceive from the tone and from a few words the entire life of one speaking; for from the tone as varied by the ideas in the words they perceive his ruling love upon which, as it were, every particular of his life is inscribed [30.4]. All this makes clear the nature of angelic wisdom. In comparison with human wisdom it is as a myriad to one, or as the moving forces of the whole body, which are numberless, to the activities from them which appear to human sense as a single thing, or as the thousand particulars of an object seen under a perfect microscope to the one obscure thing seen by the naked eye. [3] Let me illustrate the subject by an example. An angel from his wisdom was describing regeneration, and brought forward arcana respecting it in their order even to some hundreds, filling each of them with ideas in which there were interior arcana, and this from beginning to end; for he explained how the spiritual man is conceived anew, is carried as it were in the womb, is born, grows up and is gradually perfected. He said that the number of arcana could be increased even to thousands, and that those told were only about the regeneration of the external man, while there were numberless more about the regeneration of the internal man. From these and other like things heard from the angels it has been made clear to me how great is their wisdom, and how great in comparison is the ignorance of man, who scarcely knows what regeneration is, and is ignorant of every least step of the process when he is being regenerated.

270. The wisdom of the angels of the third or inmost heaven shall now be described, and also how far it surpasses the wisdom of the angels of the first or outmost heaven. The wisdom of the angels of the third or inmost heaven is incomprehensible even to those who are in the outmost heaven, for the reason that the interiors of the angels of the third heaven have been opened to the third degree, while the interiors of angels of the first heaven have been opened only to the first degree; and all wisdom increases towards interiors and is perfected as these are opened (n. 208, 267). [2] Because the interiors of the angels of the third or inmost heaven have been opened to the third degree, Divine truths are as it were inscribed on them; for the interiors of the third degree are more in the form of heaven than the interiors of the second and first degrees, and the form of heaven is from the Divine truth, thus in accord with the Divine wisdom, and this is why the truth is as it were inscribed on these angels, or are as it were instinctive or inborn in them. Therefore as soon as these angels hear genuine Divine truths they instantly acknowledge and perceive them, and afterwards see them as it were inwardly in themselves. As the angels of that heaven are such they never reason about Divine truths, still less do they dispute about any truth whether it is so or not; nor do they know what it is to believe or to have faith. They say, "What is faith for I perceive and see that a thing is so." This they illustrate by comparisons; for example, that it would be as when any one with a companion, seeing a house and the various things in it and around it, should say to his companion that he ought to believe that these things exist, and that they are such as he sees them to be; or seeing a garden and trees and fruit in it, should say to his companion that he ought to have faith that there is a garden and trees and fruits, when yet he is seeing them clearly with his eyes. For this reason these angels never mention faith, and have no idea what it is; neither do they reason about Divine truths, still less do they dispute about any truth whether it is so or not [30.5]. [3] But the angels of the first or outmost heaven do not have Divine truths thus inscribed on their interiors, because with them only the first degree of life is opened; therefore they reason about truths, and those who reason see almost nothing beyond the fact of the matter about which they are reasoning, or go no farther beyond the subject than to confirm it by certain considerations, and having confirmed it they say that it must be a matter of faith and must be believed. [4] I have talked with angels about this, and they said that the difference between the wisdom of the angels of the third heaven and the wisdom of the angels of the first heaven is like that between what is clear and what is obscure; and the former they compared to a magnificent palace full of all things for use, surrounded on all sides by parks, with magnificent things of many kinds round about them; and as these angels are in the truths of wisdom they can enter into the palace and behold all things, and wander about in the parks in every direction and delight in it all. But it is not so with those who reason about truths, especially with those who dispute about them, as such do not see truths from the light of truth, but accept truths either from others or from the sense of the letter of the Word, which they do not interiorly understand, declaring that truths must be believed, or that one must have faith, and are not willing to have any interior sight admitted into these things. The angels said that such are unable to reach the first threshold of the palace of wisdom, still less to enter into it and wander about in its grounds, for they stop at the first step. It is not so with those that are in truths themselves; nothing impedes these from going on and progressing without limit, for the truths they see lead them wherever they go, and into wide fields, for every truth has infinite extension and is in conjunction with manifold others. [5] They said still further that the wisdom of the angels of the inmost heaven consists principally in this, that they see Divine and heavenly things in every single object, and wonderful things in a series of many objects; for every thing that appears before their eyes is a correspondent; as when they see palaces and gardens their view does not dwell upon the things that are before their eyes, but they see the interior things from which they spring, that is, to which they correspond, and this with all variety in accordance with the aspect of the objects; thus they see innumerable things at the same time in their order and connection; and this so fills their minds with delight that they seem to be carried away from themselves. That all things that are seen in the heavens correspond to the Divine things that are in the angels from the Lord may be seen above (n. 170-176).

271. Such are the angels of the third heaven because they are in love to the Lord, and that love opens the interiors of the mind to the third degree, and is a receptacle of all things of wisdom. It must be understood also that the angels of the inmost heaven are still being continually perfected in wisdom, and this differently from the angels of the outmost heaven. The angels of the inmost heaven do not store up Divine truths in the memory and thus make out of them a kind of science; but as soon as they hear them they perceive them and apply them to the life. For this reason Divine truths are as permanent with them as if they were inscribed on them, for what is committed in such a way to the life is contained in it. But it is not so with the angels of the outmost heaven. These first store up Divine truths in the memory and stow them away with their knowledge, and draw them out therefrom to perfect their understanding by them, and will them and apply them to the life, but with no interior perception whether they are truths; and in consequence they are in comparative obscurity. It is a notable fact that the angels of the third heaven are perfected in wisdom by hearing and not by seeing. What they hear from preachings does not enter into their memory, but enters directly into their perception and will, and comes to be a matter of life; but what they see with their eyes enters into their memory, and they reason and talk about it; which shows that with them the way of hearing is the way of wisdom. This, too, is from correspondence, for the ear corresponds to obedience, and obedience belongs to the life; while the eye corresponds to intelligence, and intelligence is a matter of doctrine [30.6]. The state of these angels is described in different parts of the Word, as in Jeremiah:--

I will put My law in their mind, and write it on their heart. They shall teach no more every one his friend and every one his brother, saying, Know ye Jehovah; for they shall all know Me, from the least of them even unto the greatest of them (xxxi. 33, 34).
And in Matthew,
Let your speech be Yea, yea, Nay, nay; what is more than these is from evil (v. 37).
"What is more than these is from evil" because it is not from the Lord; and inasmuch as the angels of the third heaven are in love to the Lord the truths that are in them are from the Lord. In that heaven love to the Lord is willing and doing Divine truth, for Divine truth is the Lord in heaven.

272. There is a still further reason, and this is in heaven the primary reason, why the angels are able to receive so great wisdom, namely, that they are without the love of self; for to the extent that any one is without the love of self he can become wise in Divine things. It is that love that closes up the interiors against the Lord and heaven, and opens the exteriors and turns them toward itself; and in consequence all in whom that love rules are in thick darkness in respect to the things of heaven, however much light they may have in worldly matters. The angels, on the other hand, are in the light of wisdom because they are without the love of self, for the heavenly loves in which they are, which are love to the Lord and love towards the neighbor, open the interiors, because these loves are from the Lord and the Lord Himself is in them. (That these loves constitute heaven in general, and form heaven in each one in particular, may be seen above, n. 13-19). As heavenly loves open the interiors to the Lord so all angels turn their faces towards the Lord (n. 142); because in the spiritual world the love turns the interiors of every one to itself, and whichever way it turns the interiors it also turns the face, since the face there makes one with the interiors, for it is their outward form. Because the love turns the interiors and the face to itself, it also conjoins itself to them (love being spiritual conjunction), and shares its own with them. From that turning and consequent conjunction and sharing the angels have their wisdom. That all conjunction and all turning in the spiritual world are in accord may be seen above (n. 255).

273. Although the angels are continually perfected in wisdom [30.7], their wisdom, even to eternity, cannot become so perfect that there can be any ratio between it and the Lord's Divine wisdom; for the Lord's Divine wisdom is infinite and the wisdom of angels finite; and between what is Infinite and what is finite no ratio is possible.

274. As it is wisdom that makes the angels perfect and constitutes their life, and as heaven with its goods flows into every one in accordance with his wisdom, so all in heaven desire and hunger for wisdom much as a hungry man hungers for food. So, too, knowledge, intelligence, and wisdom are spiritual nutriment, as food is natural nutriment; and the one corresponds to the other.

275. The angels in the same heaven, or in the same society of heaven, are not all in like wisdom; their wisdom differs. Those at the center are in the greatest wisdom, and those round about even to the borders are in less wisdom. The decrease of wisdom in accord with the distance from the center is like the decrease of light verging to shade (see n. 43 and 128). Their light is in the same degree as their wisdom, since the light of heaven is the Divine wisdom, and every one is in light in the measure of his reception of wisdom. Respecting the light of heaven and the varying kinds of reception of it see above (n. 126-132).

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Footnotes to Chapter 30

[30.1] The wisdom of angels, that it is incomprehensible and ineffable (n. 2795, 2796, 2802, 3314, 3404, 3495, 9094, 9176).

[30.2] So far as man is raised up from outward towards inward things he comes into light, that is, into intelligence (n. 6183, 6313).

There is an actual elevation (n. 7816, 10330). Elevation from outward to inward things is like elevation out of a mist into light (n. 4598).
As outer things in man are farther removed from the Divine they are relatively obscure (n. 6451).
Likewise relatively confused (n. 996, 3855). Inner things are more perfect because they are nearer to the Divine (n. 5146, 5147).
In what is internal there are thousands and thousands of things that appear in what is external as one general thing (n. 5707).
Consequently as thought and perception are more interior they are clearer (n. 5920).

[30.3] The sensual is the outmost of man's life adhering to and inhering in his bodily part (n. 5077, 5767, 9212, 9216, 9331, 9730).

He is called a sensual man who judges all things and draws all his conclusions from the bodily senses, and believes nothing except what he sees with his eyes and touches with his hands (n. 5094, 7693).
Such a man thinks in externals, and not interiorly in himself (n. 5089, 5094, 6564, 7693).
His interiors are so closed up that he sees nothing of spiritual truth in them (n. 6564, 6844, 6845).
In a word, he is in gross natural light and thus perceives nothing that is from the light of heaven (n. 6201, 6310, 6564, 6598, 6612, 6614, 6622, 6624, 6844, 6845).
Interiorly he is antagonistic to the things of heaven and the church (n. 6201, 6316, 6844, 6845, 6948, 6949).
The learned who have confirmed themselves against the truths of the church come to be such (n. 6316).
Sensual men are more cunning and malicious than others (n. 7693, 10236).
They reason keenly and cunningly, but from the bodily memory, in which they place all intelligence (n. 195, 196, 5700, 10236).
But they reason from the fallacies of the senses (n. 5084, 6948, 6949, 7693).

[30.4] That which universally rules or is dominant in man is in every particular of his life, thus in each thing and all things of his thought and affection (n. 4459, 5949, 6159, 6571, 7648, 8067, 8853-8858).

A man is such as his ruling love is (n. 917, 1040, 8858); illustrated by examples (n. 8854, 8857).
That which rules universally constitutes the life of the spirit of man (n. 7648).
It is his very will, his very love, and the end of his life, since that which a man will he loves, and that which he loves he has as an end (n. 1317, 1568, 1571, 1909, 3796, 5949, 6936).
Therefore man is such as his will is, or such as his ruling love is, or such as the end of his life is (n. 1568, 1571, 3570, 4054, 6571, 6935, 6938, 8856, 10076, 10109, 10110, 10284).

[30.5] The celestial angels know innumerable things, and are immeasurably wiser than the spiritual angels (n. 2718).

The celestial angels do not think and talk from faith, as the spiritual angels do, for they have from the Lord a perception of all things that constitute faith (n. 202, 597, 607, 784, 1121, 1384, 1442, 1898, 1919, 7680, 7877, 8780, 9277, 10336).
In regard to the truths of faith they say only "Yea, yea, or Nay, nay," while the spiritual angels reason about whether a thing is true (n. 2715, 3246, 4448, 9166, 10786, where the Lord's words, "Let your discourse be Yea, yea, Nay nay" (Matt. v. 37), are explained).

[30.6] Of the correspondence of the ear and of hearing (n. 4652-4660).

The ear corresponds to and therefore signifies perception and obedience (n. 2542, 3869, 4653, 5017, 7216, 8361, 9311, 9397, 10061).
The ear signifies the reception of truths (n. 5471, 5475, 9926).
The correspondence of the eye and its sight (n. 4403-4421, 4523-4534); from which the sight of the eye signifies the intelligence that belongs to faith, and also faith (n. 2701, 4410, 4526, 6923 9051, 10569).

[30.7] Angels are perfected to eternity (n. 4803, 6648).

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