4329. There came spirits at some height who from the sound heard appeared to be many, and it was discovered from the ideas of their thought and speech as conducted to me, that they seemed to be in no distinct idea, but in a general idea of many things. From this I supposed that nothing distinct could be perceived by them, but only something general and indistinct, and thus obscure; for I was of the opinion that what is general cannot be otherwise. That their thought was general or in common (that is, that of many together), I was able to plainly observe from the things which flowed in from them into my thought.
 But there was given them an intermediate spirit, through whom they spoke with me; for such a general thing could not fall into speech except through others. When I spoke with them through the intermediate, I said (as was my opinion), that generals cannot present a distinct idea of anything, but only one so obscure that it is as it were no idea. But after a quarter of an hour they showed that they had a distinct idea of generals, and of many things in the generals; and especially by this, that they accurately and distinctly observed all the variations and changes of my thoughts and affections, together with the singulars of them, so that no other spirits could do it better. From this I was able to conclude that it is one thing to be in a general idea which is obscure, as are those who have but little knowledge, and are thus in obscurity in regard to all things; and that it is another thing to be in a general idea which is clear, as are those who have been instructed in the truths and goods which are insinuated into the general in their order and series, and are so well-ordered as to be distinctly seen from the general.
 These are they who in the other life constitute the general voluntary sense, and are those who by knowledges of good and truth have acquired the faculty of looking at things from the general, and thence contemplating things broadly together, and distinguishing instantly whether a thing is so. They do indeed see the things as it were in obscurity, because they see from the general the things that are therein, but as these are well ordered in the general, they are for this reason nevertheless in clearness to them. This general voluntary sense falls to none but the wise. That these spirits were of this character was also proved, for they viewed in me all things both in general and particular from which inference could be drawn, and from these they drew inferences so skillfully in regard to the interiors of my thoughts and affections that I began to be afraid to think any more; for they disclosed things which I did not know to be in me, and yet from the inferences made by them I could not but acknowledge them. Hence I perceived in myself a torpor in speaking with them, and when I took note of this torpor it appeared as if it were a hairy thing, with something in it speaking mutely; and it was said that by this was signified the general sensitive corporeal that corresponds to these spirits. On the following day I again spoke with them, and once more found that they had a general perception not obscure, but clear; and that as the generals and the states of the generals were varied, so were the particulars and their states varied, because the latter relate in order and series to the former.
 It was said that general voluntary senses still more perfect exist in the interior sphere of heaven; and that when the angels are in a general or universal idea, they are at the same time in the singulars, which are set in distinct order by the Lord in the universal; also that the general and universal are not anything unless there are particulars and singulars in them from which they exist and are so called, and that they exist just insofar as these are in them; and that from this it is evident that a universal providence of the Lord, without the veriest singulars being in it, and from which it exists, is nothing at all; and that it is stupid to maintain that there exists with the Divine a universal, and then to take away the singulars from it.