Swedenborg Study.com

Online works based on the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg


The Seed of Man

by Rev. Frederick L. Schnarr

The Writings instruct us that all loves, whether they be good or evil, seek to find form, expression, and activity in and through the ultimate or external things of natural life. Love seeks such natural things because through them it finds the means of its delight, pleasure, and use. And it is of Divine order that love should so operate, for it is only by doing so that the Lord can provide the communication and association of loves and uses necessary for the formation and .preservation of all human and angelic society. That internal love is in its fullness and its use when it enters into and conjoins itself with its orderly external forms, is one of the meanings of that familiar teaching that "in ultimates there is all power." (AE 726: 5; AC 9836: 2 ; CL 44: 8)

"All preservation depends on the state of ultimates, for all the interior things cease there, and form a plane there in which they may subsist." (AC 9836) But what of the ultimates, particularly the sense of touch, which relate to conjugial love? What is their importance? The Writings say: "It is a universal law, that primes exist, subsist, and persist from ultimates. So is it also with conjugial love." (CL 44)

There are three things of which every man consists, and which follow in order with him, the soul, the mind, and the body. All that flows into man from the Lord flows into his inmost which is the soul; and descends thence into his intermediate, which is the mind; and through this into his last, which is the body. In this way the marriage of good and truth flows into man from the Lord, immediately into his soul, and thence it goes on to the things that follow and through these to the extremes; and thus conjoined they make conjugial love. (CL 101)

The Writings make it clear how the sense of touch is the primary sense and ultimate of conjugial love. It is the universal of the five senses; all of the others rest in the sense of touch. By means of the sense of touch, loved ones, especially husband and wife, communicate the sphere and power of their inmost loves to each other, and receive the highest delights and pleasures therefrom. The Writings say that "the sense of touch is appropriated to conjugial love and is its own sense," and that "this is plain from its very sport, and from the exaltation of its subtleties to the supremest exquisiteness. But to pursue this further is left to lovers." (CL 210)

What Swedenborg heard was from certain angels who were instructing newcomers concerning marriage in heaven. The newcomers asked, "Whether there is a similar love between married partners in heaven as on earth?" And the two angelic spirits answered: "It is quite similar." And perceiving that they wished to know whether there are similar ultimate delights there, they said:

They are altogether similar, but far more blessed, because the perception and sensation of the angels is far more exquisite than human perception and sensation. And what life has that love unless from a vein of potency? If this fails does not that love diminish and grow cold? And is not that vigor the very measure, the very degree, and the very basis of that love? Is it not the beginning, the foundation, and the complement of it? It is a universal law that first things exist, subsist, and endure from the last. And so it is also with this love. If then there were no ultimate delights, there would be no delights of conjugial love. (CL 44)

For man and woman to enter into the orderly delights of the ultimates of conjugial love, even .as that love is in its beginnings, there must be a conjunction of minds that precedes the conjunction in ultimates. Ultimates do not create states by themselves; nor do they have a quality in themselves. They are the means of bringing interior states of love and affection into conscious perception and delight. Therefore, the Writings state, that "when the Lord operates, He operates not from first things through mediates into ultimates, but from first things through ultimates and thus into mediates." (AE 1085: 5) It is the nature and quality of the love of the husband and wife that flows into the ultimates, especially through the sense of touch, that then makes possible the existence of new spiritual delights and states of peace. This is why the husband and wife must turn to the Lord for instruction as to how their minds are to be formed that there may be a heavenly order formed with them in spiritual things.

Masculine and Feminine Essentials

The Lord created the masculine and the feminine as two distinct and different forms, even as to their very interiors. He made both to be forms of love, but with different qualities, so that one would desire to be conjoined to the other. The male is described as being inmostly a form of love with a clothing of wisdom, while the female is described as being inmostly the wisdom of the male, and its clothing the love therefrom. (CL 32) In another passage it is said that the masculine is "the truth of good or truth from good . . . and that the good of truth therefrom or the good from that truth is the feminine." (CL 90) The male is such that his understanding can be elevated into the light of wisdom, while the female is such that her love can be elevated to cherish the good of that wisdom, and so be conjoined with it. (CL 188, 75: 7) The masculine is said to be essentially a form of understanding or wisdom, and the feminine essentially a form of will or love. The Lord's love and wisdom as distinctly imaged and received by the masculine and feminine constantly seek to be united; so too therefore do the forms that receive them. When man and woman turn their attention to :the use that is to be made of the qualities of the Lord's love and wisdom, they find that their forms, internal and external, soul, mind, and body, incline to each other to conjunction just as love and wisdom come together in use. (CL 183) It is from this spiritual origin that the conjugial delights descend from the soul,

and by virtue of the wonderful communication of the inmost bosom with the genital region, these delights become there delights of conjugial love, which are exalted above all delights that are in heaven and in the world, for the reason that the use of conjugial love is the most excellent of all uses. (Ibid.)

The female, because she is created a form of love, receives an influx from the Lord that the male does not. He only receives it mediately through the female. This influx is called the conjugial influx. It is the desire of love to be conjoined with wisdom. "This is inspired into the man by the wife according to her love, and is received by the man according to his wisdom." (CL 161) Even the love of the sex is so inspired into man from the wife.

When the minds of husband and wife are conjoined, and the quality and state of this conjunction enters into the act of physical union, marvelous changes take place in both husband and wife. The spiritual enters into the natural, and through this effects many changes, changes that are eternal. (CL 480) What miracle takes place in the passing of the husband's seed to the wife, that makes a young man into a husband and a young woman into a wife?

The Writings state that a virgin becomes a wife from the moment of the first union, and that after this "the flame of love burns for the husband alone." (CL 502)

That a virgin becomes or is made a wife is because in a wife are things taken from the husband and thus acquired, which were not in her before as a virgin. That a young man becomes or is made a husband is because in a husband are things taken from the wife which were not in him before as a young man, and in him these exalt his ability of receiving love and wisdom. (CL 199)

To understand the change that is effected in both husband and wife from their ultimate conjunction, one must examine the nature of that which is the final ultimate of that conjunction, the seed of man.

We have already noted that the interior masculine is a form of understanding, a form of "truth from good." (CL 90; DLW 3: 2) And so we are taught, that "Man's seed is conceived interiorly in the understanding, and is given form in the will; is transferred therefrom to the testicle where it clothes itself with a natural covering, .and is thus conducted into the womb and enters the world." (CL 584) The seed is not only born from the understanding and given form in the will, but it is the first receptacle of the father's life, "for it is in the form of his love, and the love of everyone is like itself in the greatests and in the leasts, and there is in it a conatus into the human form." (CLW 269) The seed is the form of the ruling love of the father, with the proximate derivations of the love, which are the inmost affections of that love. (DP 277: 3 ; TCR 92)

Man's Initial Inmost Form

The Writings describe the seed as a receptacle. Indeed they say that in each seed there are two receptacles-one for the things of the will, and one for , the things of the understanding. These receptacles are arranged in three degrees, the potential three degrees of the human mind. We read:

Some one might possibly form a fallacious idea of the beginnings of the human form, which pertain to the seed of the man, because they are called receptacles. From the term receptacle one may easily fall into the idea of a vessel or a little tube. I desire, therefore, to define and describe that initial form, as it was seen by me and made clear to me in the heavens, as adequately as the expressions of natural language will permit.

These receptacles are not tubular, or hollowed out like little vessels, but they are like the brain, of which they are an exceedingly minute and invisible type, with a delineation resembling a face in front, with no visible appendage. This primitive brain in the upper convex part was a structure of contiguous globules or little spheres, each little sphere being a conglomeration of like spheres still more minute, and each of these again of the very least. In front, in the flattened region of the nose, a kind of outline appeared for a face; but in the recess between the convex part and this flattened part there was no fiber; the convex part was covered round about with a very thin membrane, which was transparent. Thus was seen by me and shown to me the primitive of man, the first or lowest degree of which was the structure first described, the second or middle degree was the structure secondly described, and the third or highest degree was the structure thirdly described, thus one was within the other.

I was told that in each little sphere there were indescribable interlacings, more and more wonderful according to the degrees, also that in each particular the right part is the couch or receptacle of love, and the left part is the couch or receptacle of wisdom, and that by wonderful connections these are like partners and comrades, the same as the two hemispheres of the brain. It was further shown in the light that fell brightly on it, that the structure of the two interior degrees was, in its position and flow, in the order and form of heaven, while the structure of the lowest degree in its position and flow, was in the form of hell. This is why it is said that the receptacles are distinguished into three degrees with man, one within another, and the two higher are dwelling places of the Lord, but not the lowest. The lowest degree is such because man, from a hereditary taint, is born opposed to the order and form of heaven, and thus into evils of every kind; and this taint is in the natural, which is the lowest of man's life, and it is not wiped away unless the interior degree that has been formed for the reception of love and wisdom from the Lord is opened in him. (D Wis. 111: 1, 2 ; cf. DLW 432)

From this teaching we can see something of the wonderful organization of natural and spiritual things that all connect in ordered form inside the little seed of man. On these substances are impressed part of man's physical heredity-the other part to be added from the ovum of the woman. Upon these substances are impressed the deepest natural and spiritual hereditary inclinations, all of which incline man to the things of hell, though they are not all in themselves evil. (Self preservation, storgé, etc.) Again these deepest hereditary inclinations are added to and clothed by similar inclinations impressed from the woman's mind and inmost form of love, upon the egg, and conjoined to the seed at conception. And even much more than this is impressed upon the seed, for as we have seen, the two inmost degrees of the seed, the potential home of spiritual and celestial loves, the Lord's dwelling place, even these receive impressions from the highest heavens which will make possible the reception of remains, celestial and spiritual delights.

While man's image and life is in his seed, the soul of the seed, and its inmost life, is not from man, but from the Lord. So we read,

the conception of a man from his father is not a conception of life, but only a conception of the first and purest form capable of receiving life; and to this, as to a nucleus or starting point in the womb, are successively added substances and matters in forms adapted to the reception of life, in their order and degree? (DLW 6)

"The Lord alone is the Father in respect to life . . . and the earthly father is the father only in respect to the life's covering, which is the body." (DP 330) This is what is referred to in the New Testament when it says, "Call no man your father upon the earth, for One is your Father, Who is in the heavens." (Matt. 23: 9)

The Seed Is Holy

When we see how the Lord is present in the seed of man, and that His presence is not just there as stored up energy of life, but that it is continuous from moment to moment, and inmostly contains His qualities as finited through the states of angelic reception, we may begin to realize why Divine revelation, from ancient times, has spoken of man's seed as being sacred, precious, and holy to the Lord. It is the final, ultimate form, wherefrom new human life is conceived, and the Lord's purpose of forming heaven from mankind has the means of fulfillment.

The Uses of Insemination in True Marriage

Because the seed is such a precious instrument of the Lord's life, to which is marvelously adjoined the state of human life, it serves as the primary means to join together into one the life of husband and wife. On the one hand the Lord has a special presence with the masculine in his seed, while on the other hand the Lord has a special presence with the feminine through the influx of conjugial love. In the very ultimates of conjunction therefore we find love through the feminine form and wisdom through the masculine form seeking each other in a finite image and likeness of the Lord's love and wisdom. Swedenborg was told from heaven that where husband and wife are in mutual love and look to the conjugial, the prolific gifts imparted by husbands are received by wives in a universal manner and add themselves to their lives; and that thus wives lead a life unanimous, and gradually more unanimous with their husbands; and that thereby is effectively wrought a union of souls and a conjunction of minds. They said [the angels] that the reason is this, that in the prolific gift of the husband is his soul, and his mind also as to its interiors which are conjoined to the soul. They added that this was provided from creation in order that the wisdom of the man which constitutes his soul may be appropriated to the wife, and that thus they may become, according to the Lord's Word, one flesh. ( CL 172 ; see CL 173)

Interior spheres of thought and love between husband and wife communicate and develop without the ultimates of conjunction. But it is clear beyond question that they are not confirmed and brought into a new life and new states of delight, happiness, and peace, without the medium of ultimates. And this is true in heaven, as on earth.

What the Lord has revealed concerning the nature and life of conjugial love; together with what He has taught concerning the order, use, and importance of ultimates; and the presence of the Divine life therein, requires the man and woman of the New Church to form a new and distinct idea of the nature of man's seed, and of his conception thereby. Whatever may be the disorders and confusions of our unregenerate states, and however false and ugly much of the attitude from the world of our environment, we need to keep before our eyes that picture of the Lord's order concerning the uses of the seed of man wherein is an image and likeness of the Lord Himself. This is a picture of great power, and one that contains all of the purity, the beauty, the spirit and the blessing of heaven itself. Now, as never before, the prophetic words of Isaiah can be understood, believed, and loved. "I will pour My spirit upon thy seed, and My blessing upon thy offspring." (Isaiah 44: 3) Now it can be seen that the Lord does pour forth His spirit on the seed of man, and that in the effort of that seed to fulfill the Divine purpose in creation and form new life is the Lord's potential blessing upon all things of human and angelic life.

- New Church Life 1979;99:199-204

Back to Introduction


Swedenborg Biography
Heavenly Doctrines
The revelation process
Who is God?
The Word of God
Bible & the Writings
Time and Eternity
History of Religion
On Being Useful
Providence and  Evil
Getting Rid of Evil
The Death Process
Life after Death
Life on Other Planets
The Second Coming
Spiritual Marriage
Art & Literature


• Back • Home • Up • Next •

The Seed of Man

Webmaster: IJT@swedenborgstudy.com