Esoteric history


[1 of 1] Swedenborg (1688-1772, Sweden): primary subject "History, esoteric" (search under Outer Life/People, Places, History)": source "Arcana Coelestia, vol.1": detail "Section 607"
The Most Ancient Church was celestial, but this church became spiritual. The Most Ancient Church had a perception of good and truth; this, or the Ancient Church, had not perception, but in its place another kind of dictate, which may be called conscience. But what is as yet unknown in the world, and is perhaps difficult to believe, is that the men of the Most Ancient Church had internal respiration, and only tacit external respiration. Thus they spoke not so much by words, as afterwards and as at this day, but by ideas, as angels do; and these they could express by innumerable changes of the looks and face, especially of the lips. In the lips there are countless series of muscular fibres which at this day are not set free, but being free with the men of that time, they could so present, signify, and represent ideas by them as to express in a minute's time what at this day it would require an hour to say by articulate sounds and words, and they could do this more fully and clearly to the apprehension and understanding of those present than is possible by words, or series of words in combination. This may perhaps seem incredible, but yet it is true. And there are many others, not of this earth, who have spoken and at this day speak in a similar manner concerning whom, of the Lord's Divine mercy, we will treat hereafter. It has been granted me to know the nature of that internal respiration, and how in process of time it was changed. As these most ancient people had a respiration such as the angels have, who breathe in a similar manner, they were in profound ideas of thought, and were able to have such perception as cannot be described; and even if it could be described such as it really was, it would not be believed, because it would not be comprehended. But in their posterity this internal respiration little by little came to an end; and with those who were possessed with dreadful persuasions and phantasies, it became such that they could no longer present any idea of thought except the most debased, the effect of which was that they could not survive, and therefore all became extinct.
 When internal respiration ceased, external respiration gradually succeeded, almost like that of the present day; and with external respiration a language of words, or of articulate sound, into which the ideas of thought were determined. Thus the state of man was entirely changed, and became such that he could no longer have similar perception, but instead of perception another kind of dictate which may be called conscience; for it was like conscience, though a kind of intermediate between perception and the conscience known to some at this day. And when such determination of the ideas of thought took place, that is to say, into spoken words, they could no longer be instructed, like the most ancient man, through the internal man, but through the external. And, therefore, in place of the revelations of the Most Ancient Church, doctrinal things succeeded, which could first be received by the external senses, and from them material ideas of the memory could be formed, and from these, ideas of thought, by which and according to which they were instructed. Hence it was that this church which followed had an entirely different genius from that of the Most Ancient Church, and if the Lord had not brought the human race into this genius, or into this state, no man could have been saved.
 As the state of the man of this church which is called ''Noah" was altogether changed from that of the man of the Most Ancient Church, he could no longer —as before said —be informed and enlightened in the same way as the most ancient man; for his internals were closed, so that he no longer had communication with heaven, except such as was unconscious. Nor, for the same reason, could he be instructed except as before said by the external way of sense or of the senses. On this account, of the Lord's providence, doctrinal matters of faith, with some of the revelations to the Most Ancient Church, were preserved for the use of this posterity. These doctrinal things were first collected by "Cain," and were stored up that they might not be lost; and therefore it is said of Cain that a "mark was set upon him, lest anyone should slay him". These doctrinal matters were afterwards reduced into doctrine by "Enoch"; but because this doctrine was of use to no one at that time, but was for posterity, it is said that "God took him."