Swedenborg Study.com

Online works based on the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg


Spiritual Offspring

by Rev. Robert S. Jungé

Question: Just what exactly are spiritual offspring, and what, if any, importance do they have for us in this world? They seem to be goods and truths which are born of a conjugial marriage (CL 44, 65, 211), but this gives a very vague idea. Are they just all the good and true thoughts and feelings that a husband and wife produce by pooling their respective wisdom and love? Can they be visualized somewhat as natural offspring - separate, growing entities which need to be nurtured and which eventually mature and become independent forms of use? How are they different from ordinary goods and truths, conceived in the minds of individuals? These also require a combining of love and wisdom.

Is there any connection between procreating natural offspring and procreating spiritual offspring? Does prevention of natural offspring harm present or future procreation of spiritual offspring? With older couples- whose days of natural offspring are over, and who are approaching love truly conjugial, do spiritual offspring become perceptible?

Perhaps this is seeking too natural an idea of something spiritual, but it would be helpful to have a clearer idea of what is meant by "spiritual offspring" and to know whether there is an application in this world.

Answer: While procreation of natural offspring is the very seminary of the angelic heaven, the body is simply organized to carry out the behests of the soul. (CI; 222) Conceived of a mutual willingness to be led by the Lord, requiring patient germination, sometimes pain to be delivered, spiritual offspring are states of tender trust and love. "Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them." (Psalm 127:5) "That wisdom that is with men from the Lord feels nothing more delightful than to propagate its truths, and the love of wisdom which is in wives feels nothing more pleasing than to receive them, as in the womb, and so to conceive, carry in the womb, and bring them forth. Of such kind are spiritual prolifications among the angels of heaven. And if you will believe it, natural prolifications also are from this origin." (CL 115:5) Thus all celestial and spiritual love "are derived from conjugial love as offspring from their parent. . ." (AC 4277) They are "living and essential, or as they are called substantial, and therefore they come forth into actual existence in ultimate nature." (AC 1808:2)

Thus all spiritual uses are called spiritual offspring. But such spiritual uses are the cause of natural offspring as well. (Cf. First Index on Marriage, Substance) An example of the spiritual in the natural might be when we think of the care of natural offspring, to ask ourselves, "Which care is more real, food on the table, or spiritual worship and instruction?" Both on their own plane are essential and are deeply interrelated, but "the external derives its value from the internal." (TCR 595:e) True, the doctrine often seems vague and abstract and beyond our affectional grasp, as do many spiritual things, but we must learn to rise above the appearances.

The seasons of natural fertility are relatively few in perspective; the states of spiritual fertility stretch to eternity. Even angelic couples look to bringing forth spiritual uses in their lives together. And even in heaven spiritual offspring are associated with wonderful ultimate delights. (CL 44:e) In this world the spiritual dwells within the natural, giving it its order and its power. Yet through natural actions we make spiritual thoughts and affections our own. ". . . The interiors are terminated and closed in the ultimates of order . . . and as it were dwell together in one house." (AC 4539) Spiritual offspring need some form of ultimation if they are to become a part of man's eternal character. And the Writings contain hundreds of numbers concerning the correspondential relationship of natural gestation to spiritual.

The home can be considered to be the womb of society, a fertile ground for the implantation of the seeds of truth. But the good ground does not just happen. It takes cultivating and response. The forensic uses of the man, like his role of initiation, seem very concrete and real, but these uses will only become spiritually real as they reflect the conjugial. Without a receptive sphere of love in the home man's work becomes spiritually sterile, not just in his eyes, but in actuality. There is no implantation, no reception of his efforts. Spiritual offspring as mutual uses require nurturing and quiet gestation which only the asylum of the home can provide. And nurturing uses from deep spiritual affection can even lead to the struggles of labor itself, before the use comes to fruition. The spiritual marriage requires the conjunction of the masculine and feminine spheres through their respective forensic and domestic offices. Genuine spiritual births depend upon it.

Consider this parallel between the spiritual and the natural in relation to those just setting out in marriage. As in the state of newly-weds looking towards a family, so the Lord gives tender and innocent delights in the beginning of any use. We desire a new beginning, and the Lord fosters that affection. Our effort to cooperate with Him is conscious, full of hope and trust as we strive to conjoin some truth to our desire to serve the Lord. Yet only with time do we know if a new use has germinated from these innocent hopes. The Lord alone can give life to any use. Therefore the true conception of a use is ruled by hope and prayer for something we recognize is in the Lord's hands.

Consider also the contrast of disorderly states in this correspondential relationship. The Writings speak of the lust of defloration which destroys innocence. The delight of initiating new uses is given by the Lord, but there are those who seek only the delight of initiating uses without taking the responsibility to bring them to birth and to foster them to maturity. Ruled by a lust of variety rather than a love of use, the delight of innovation gradually becomes common. Often it leaves behind disillusionment with those who looked for a genuine establishment of new uses. Loves and hopes were roused, but then thoughtlessly or cruelly abandoned.

However, it is not the orderly initiation of new uses which is condemned, but innovating uses without seeing them to purposeful maturity. Such disorders and many more grow out of care merely for the things of this world. Through natural delights the Lord provides for the conception of children. He moderates these states until gradually spiritual uses in these conceptions become more and more clear. Partners who truly love each other share spiritual uses, when for example, they express their love during pregnancy when no further natural conception takes place. (SD 6110:64) ". . . With consorts who love each other conjugial love is conjoined with parental love through spiritual and rational causes and natural causes from these which are with them from the Lord. . ." (First Index on Marriage, Parental Love) But spiritual uses are contained within all genuine natural uses and find their ultimation there.

As the states of life progress the natural conceptions fade as in an orderly state concern in general for natural things fades. The spiritual conceptions which continue through a wide variety of natural ultimations become a confirmed part of man's eternal character and blossom and produce spiritual fruit, some even a hundredfold. Even though natural conception does not take place, no wise man would deny that the wisdom of old age is the result of spiritual fructification.

No man will know for sure just what his spiritual state is. But as you reflect on spiritual offspring as the product of a chaste and conjugial relationship consider the breadth and beauty of the following passage: ". . . The good works of chastity concern either the married pair themselves, or their offspring and posterity, or the heavenly societies. The good works of chastity that concern the married pair themselves are spiritual and celestial loves, intelligence and wisdom, innocence and peace, power and protection against the hells and against the evils and falsities therefrom, and manifold joys and felicities to eternity. Those who live in chaste marriages as before described have all these. The good works of chastity that concern the offspring and posterity are that so many and so great evils do not become innate in families. For the ruling love of parents is transmitted into the offspring and sometimes to remote posterity, and becomes their hereditary nature. This is broken and softened with parents who shun adulteries as infernal and love marriages as heavenly. The good works of chastity that concern the heavenly societies are that chaste marriages are the delights of heaven, that they are its seminaries and that they are its supports. They supply delights to heaven by communications; they are seminaries to heaven by producing offspring, and they are supports to heaven by their power against the hells; for at the presence of conjugial love diabolical spirits become furious, insane, and mentally impotent, and cast themselves into the deep. . ." (AE 1002:2-3)

As we try to get a real grasp of spiritual offspring, think of the support of heaven that a true home can become. Think of the sphere such a home can provide as a hidden spiritual strength to all who are touched by it. We have but to think of the farreaching effects of one broken home to see this potential power by contrast. The spirit of the home rests on a rich variety of ultimates, and yet though the conjugial is not just the seminary of heaven, but its support as well. And as with heaven so with the Church and society in general.

As you consider the contrast of these uses with those within an individual consider the following: ". . . The husband has been so created as to be the understanding of truth, and the wife so created as to be the will of good; thus that both may be truth and good in form, which form is man, and the image of God. And because it is from creation that truth should be of good, and good of truth, thus mutually and reciprocally, therefore it is impossible for one truth to be united to diverse goods, or the reverse. Neither is it possible for one understanding to be united to two diverse wills, or the reverse; neither for one person who is spiritual to be united to two diverse churches; neither in like manner one man (vir) to be inmostly united to two women. Inmost union is like that of soul and heart; the soul of the wife is the husband, and the heart of the husband is the wife. The husband communicates and conjoins his soul to the wife by actual love, it is in his seed; and the wife receives it in her heart, and from this the two become one, and then each and all things in the body of the one look to their mutual in the body of the other. This is genuine marriage which is possible only between two. For it is from creation that all things of the husband, both of his mind and of his body have their mutual in the mind and in the body of the wife; and thus the most particular things look mutually to each other and will to be united." (AE 1004:2)

- from "Let’s Apply," Theta Alpha Journal 1977;8:29-32

Back to Pastor's Corner


Pastor's Corner


• Back • Home • Up • Next •

Spriritual Offspring

Webmaster: IJT@swedenborgstudy.com