Chapter XV. The Limbus.
diagram presents a view of the LIMBUS which man derives from the purest
substances of the natural world and which he retains as a cutaneous
envelop of his spiritual body after death. This cutaneous envelop is
called Limbus in the Latin of True Christian Religion TCR
103 where we read, -
"The soul which is from the father is the man himself,
and the body, which is from the mother, is not in itself the man, but from
him. The body is only the clothing of the soul woven of such [substances]
as are of the natural world; but the soul is of such [substances] as are
in the spiritual world. Every man after death lays aside the natural [body]
which he carried from the mother, and retains the spiritual which was from
the father, together with a certain Limbus of the purest [substances]
of nature around it."
The degrees A B C and D combined, represent
the whole of the spiritual part of man, that is, all which is composed
of spiritual substances (TCR 103, DLW 388), A representing
the supreme degree or soul-proper; B the internal or spiritual mind
with all its degrees; C the external or natural mind with its degrees;
and D the spiritual body, consisting of the spiritual sensual and
spiritual corporeal as shown in Diagram XIII.
The Limbus E and gross body F together constitute
the entire natural or material body; the limbus being nearer to the spirit
and invisible to the natural eye, the gross body more external and rejected
at death. E is drawn in green to distinguish it from the spiritual
structures above, F consisting of gross natural substances is
drawn in dark.
This Limbus, man does not cast off at death but retains
as a permanent cutaneous envelop of his spiritual body. The substances
of the limbus are the natural substances meant in Divine Love
and Wisdom, where we read-
"The natural mind of man consists of spiritual substances
and at the same time of natural substances; from its spiritual substances,
thought is produced but not from its natural substances; these [natural]
substances recede, [or pass from activity to quiescence] when man dies
but not the spiritual substances, wherefore that same natural mind after
death when man becomes a spirit or an angel, remains in a form similar
to that in which it was in the world. The natural substances of this mind,
which as was said recede by death, make the cutaneous envelop of the spiritual
body in which spirits and angels are. By such envelop, which is taken from
the natural world, their spiritual bodies [permanently] subsist, for the
natural is the [fixed] containing ultimate."- DLW 257.
The limbus is described in the same work as something
fixed containing the spiritual organism:
"The material form [or natural body of man] which is
added and superinduced [upon his spirit] in the world, is not a human form
of itself, but from the human form of the spirit, added to and superinduced
[upon the spirit] that man may do uses in the natural world, and also that
he may carry with him [after death] from the purer substances of the world,
something fixed containing his spirituals, and so continue and perpetuate
life."- DLW 388.
And in Divine Providence, we read, -
"Man by death puts off the grosser [substances] of nature
and retains the purer which latter are next to his spiritual, and these
are then his containants."-DP 220.
The necessity of a limbus composed of natural substances
to keep the spiritual body in form and order arises from the difference
between natural substances and spiritual substances. This difference also
necessitates the natural world to contain and preserve the spiritual world.
The substances of which the bodies of spirits and angels are composed,
being interior and evanescent, not ultimate and fixed like material substances,
require an envelop of natural substances to hold them permanently in form.
But even this natural cutaneous envelop could not preserve the spiritual
body of an angel or spirit, in form, were not the envelop itself contained
within and resting upon something firmer and more solid than itself, that
is, upon the finer substances and through them upon the grosser substances
of the natural body of man. (LJ 9.) The evanescence of spiritual
substances may be illustrated by the escapement and diffusion of fluids
in the natural world. The whole physical universe is related to the spiritual
universe as man's physical body to his spirit, and the highest or inmost
plane of this physical universe is related to the spiritual universe as
man's limbus to his spirit. The inmost plane being the nearest covering
of the spiritual universe must be the medium by which the life of the spiritual
world flows into and operates upon all lower natural substances which constitute
the gross physical body of the universe. (Read attentively D. W. in
AE VIII, 4, 5.)
Inasmuch as the bodies of men rest on the earth, and spirits
and angels through the limbus rest on men, it follows that angels and spirits
rest mediately upon the earth itself as the last foundation. (LJ 9.)
Angels and spirits rest on men by means of their limbus because
the natural substances composing the limbus are joined with the lowest
spiritual substances and are in a sense intermediate between the spiritual
and the grosser and palpable natural organisms of men. The limbus must
be kept in form by connection with natural substances coarser and firmer
than itself in graded structures even down to earthly solids.
When we say the limbus is composed of the purest substances
of nature we mean the purest of the human body; the substances of the natural
sun and others proximately emanating therefrom are doubtless prior to these.
On the nature of spiritual substance on the one hand and
material on the other, on the intermediate nature of the Limbus and its
use in giving permanence to the existence of angels and spirits and connecting
them with men, we read in Divine Wisdom,-
"The angelic mind cannot be procreated, and through
procreation be multiplied except in man.
In Divine Providence we read, -
"He who knows the quality of substances in the spiritual
world, and the quality respectively of matters in the natural world, can
easily see that there is no procreation of angelic minds nor can be, except
in those and from those who inhabit the ultimate work of creation, the
earth. But because the quality of substances in the spiritual world in
relation to matters in the natural world is unknown [it shall now be told].
Substances in the spiritual world appear as if they were material, but
they are not; and because they are not material therefore they are not
constant. They are correspondences of the affections of the angels, and
with the affections or the angels they are permanent, and with them they
are separated [that is, on the cessation of the affections, the substances
composing the object are dispersed, and the Object vanishes, see D.
L. W. 344; TCR 78]. Similar would it have been with the angels,
had they been created there. But besides, there is not, nor can be, with
the angels any procreation and thence multiplication other than a spiritual
one, which is that of wisdom and of love, such as is also of the souls
of men who are generated anew or regenerated. But in the natural world
there are matters, by which and from which procreations and afterwards
formations can take place, thus multiplication of men and thence of angels.
"Spirits and angels hence derive substance and life
"The reason is that every angel and spirit from having
been first born a man in the world derives substance, for he retains with
himself from the inmost [substances] of nature a medium between the spiritual
and the natural by which he is finited [that is, definitely terminated
and fixed in form] so that he may subsist and be permanent; by this medium
he has something related to the things which are in nature and also correspondent
"By this [medium] also spirits and angels can
be adjoined, and conjoined to the human race, for there is conjunction
and where there is conjunction there must be a medium.
"That there is such a medium the angels know, but because
it is from the inmost [substances] of nature and the words of languages
are from the ultimates of nature it cannot be described except by abstract
[terms]." -D.W. in AE VIII, 3, 4, 5,
(See also DLW 344; 6 to 9.)
"The natural and temporal are the outmosts and ultimates
into which man first enters, which he does at birth in order that he may
afterwards be introduced into things interior and superior; for outermosts
and ultimates are containants, and these are in the natural world. This
is why no angel or spirit was created immediately, but why all were first
born men and so introduced [into things interior or superior]; hence they
have the outermosts and ultimates which in themselves are fixed and established,
within which and by which interiors can be held together in connection.
But man first puts on the grosser [substances] of nature; his body is from
them but by death he puts them off, and retains the purer [substances]
of nature which are nearest to spiritual [substances] and these then are
his containants. Furthermore in outermosts or ultimates, all things interior
or superior are together; wherefore every operation of the LORD is from
firsts and ultimates together, thus in fullness. But as the outermosts
and ultimates of nature cannot receive the spiritual and eternal things
to which the human mind is formed, as these are in themselves, and yet
man was born to become spiritual and live forever, therefore man puts off
the ultimates, and retains only the natural interiors which meet and accord
with the spirituals and celestials and subserve them as containants. This
is done by the rejection of temporal and natural ultimates, which is the
death of the body."-.DP 220.
In the above we have the reason of the universal order of
creation-the finer in the grosser, the active in the inert, the first in
the last, the spiritual in the natural. This difference of substances is
necessary, for were there no active, fluid, evanescent substances there
would be no life, force, or motion; and were there no solid, inert substances
there would he no stability and duration of form.
From the foregoing we see that
Because substances in the spiritual world are evanscent
and matters in our world are stable and constant especially in ultimates,
the whole spiritual universe acquires organic permanence solely by the
natural universe clothing and sustaining it.
Inasmuch as the human spirit in its rudimental form as
an offshoot from the soul of the father is an organism of spiritual substances
evanescent in their nature (DLW 432; TCR 103;
it must (when begotten) be immediately fixed by taking on the
primordial rudimentary form of the material body from the purest elements
of nature supplied for the purpose by the mother, thus securing permanence
and subsequent growth.
Man does not at death cast off the whole of his material
form but only the gross mass and retains the purest part which was nearest
his spirit, as a limbus or cutaneous envelop to hold his spirit in endless
duration, and as a medium conjoining him with man in the world, thus preserving
both; spirits and angels resting on men and men receiving influx from them.
Hence man at death, when he becomes a spirit, is not utterly separated
from the material world since he does not reject ALL he has taken on from
this world but remains (to the extent of his limbus) unconsciously connected
with it: all this is to secure the Divine end of creation, an ever increasing
and ever enduring heaven of human beings.
There is a difference between the states of the limbus
of those who die in infancy and of those who die in adult age. In Heaven
and Hell we read:
"They who die adult have and carry with them a plane
acquired from the earthly and material world. This plane is their [external
or natural] memory, and its bodily, natural affection. This remains fixed,
and is then quiescent; but still it serves their thought after death as
an ultimate plane, for the thought flows into it. Hence such as that plane
is and such as is the correspondence of the rational with the contents
of that plane such is the man after death. But those who died infants and
were educated in heaven have not such a plane, but a spiritual natural
plane: because they derive nothing from the material world and the earthly
body they cannot be in so gross affections and hence thoughts; for they
derive all from heaven."- HH 345.
We must not infer from the above that those who die in infancy
retain no limbus from nature to preserve their spiritual organism. The
meaning is they have not a merely natural memory, that is a memory formed
in the plane of the limbus by the use of the natural senses as those have
who grow up in this life. But while growing up in the other life, their
memory is formed in a spiritual structure just within the plane of the
spiritual senses and is called spiritual natural because it is in a spiritual
plane resting upon the natural. Should their limbus he insufficient for
adult stature, it will necessarily be increased as they advance.
As all living organisms undergo change by a resolution
and passing off of their substances and renewal by appropriation of new
substances, so must it be with the limbus.
We must not suppose that the limbus is taken into the
spiritual world. It is natural and must remain in the natural world. Man
as to his spirit being of the spiritual world even from birth and unconsciously
an inhabitant there during life in the body, does not go into that
world at death but merely awakens to manifest presence there by the opening
of his spiritual senses. This is because the spiritual and the natural
worlds are not separated by distance but are together and conjoined like
soul and body.
How can spirits move from place to place in the spiritual
world while clothed with a cutaneous envelop of natural substances? Change
of locality in that world is effected by change of state. Swedenborg so
traveled there as to his spirit while clothed with the gross body even.
(See E.U. 127, HH 192, 195.) A fuller answer to this question
is given at the end of Chapter XXIII.
The mental functions of the Limbus will be presented in
Chapters XVIII to XXIV.
The meaning of the statement "This limbus with those who
come after death into heaven is below and the spiritual above, but with
those who come into hell the limbus is above and the spiritual below,"
etc., (TCR 103) will be best understood after study of the mental
functions of the limbus above referred to. (See Diagram XXIV.)