310. I. WHAT ONE'S OWN PRUDENCE IS, AND WHAT PRUDENCE NOT ONE'S OWN IS. They are in their own prudence who confirm appearances in themselves and make them truths, especially the appearance that one's own prudence is everything and the Divine Providence nothing, unless it is something universal; and yet this is impossible without the individual things of which it must consist, as was shown above. They are, moreover, in fallacies, for every appearance confirmed as a truth becomes a fallacy; and so far as they confirm themselves by fallacies they become materialists; and to that extent they believe nothing but what they can at the same time perceive by one of the bodily senses, principally by the sense of sight, for this especially acts as one with thought. Such persons finally become sensual; and if they confirm themselves in favour of nature against God, they close the interiors of their mind and interpose as it were a veil, and make the object of their thought what is under the veil but not what is above it. The ancients called such men serpents of the tree of knowledge; and of them in the spiritual world it is said that as they confirm themselves they close the interiors of their minds, at length even to the nose; for the nose signifies perception of truth, and this means that they have no such perception.
 What their character is will now be described. They are more cunning and crafty than others, and are more ingenious reasoners; and cunning and craftiness they call intelligence and wisdom, nor do they know otherwise. Those who are not of this nature they regard as simple and stupid, especially those who worship God and acknowledge the Divine Providence. With respect to the interior principles of their minds, of which they themselves know very little, they resemble those called Machiavellians, who regard murder, adultery, theft and false witness, viewed in themselves, as of no account; and if they reason against these, it is only from prudence that they may not appear to be of this nature.
 Concerning man's life in this world they think it is like the life of a beast; and concerning his life after death, that it is like a vital vapour which, rising from the body or from the grave, sinks back again and so dies. From this arises the foolish idea that spirits and angels are formed of air, and in the case of those who have been enjoined to believe in life everlasting, that the souls of men are the same, and therefore that they do not see, hear or speak, and thus are blind, deaf and dumb, and that they merely think in their own small portion of air. They say, How can the soul be anything else? Did not the external senses die together with the body? These cannot be resumed until the soul is reunited with the body; and because they could have only a sensual and not a spiritual idea of the state of the soul after death they confirmed this state; otherwise belief in eternal life would have perished. Especially do they confirm themselves in the love of self, calling it the fire of life and the incentive to various uses in the state. As this is their nature they are the idols of themselves, and since their thoughts are fallacies formed from fallacies, these are images of falsity. Moreover, as they indulge the delights of lusts they are satans and devils, those being called satans who confirm in themselves the lusts of evil, and those devils who live according to them.
 It has also been granted me to know the nature of the most crafty sensual men. Their hell is deep down, and behind, and they do not desire to be conspicuous. Therefore, they appear hovering about there like spectres, which are their fantasies; and they are called genii. Some of them were once sent out from that hell that I might know their character. They at once directed their influence to my neck beneath the occiput and from there they entered my affections, not wishing to enter my thoughts, which they dexterously avoided. They then kept changing my affections one after another with the design of bending them imperceptibly into their opposites, which are lusts of evil; and as they did not in the least touch my thoughts they would have bent and inverted my affections without my knowledge had not the Lord prevented this.
 Such do those become who in the world do not believe there is a Divine Providence, and who search out in others nothing but their cupidities and desires, and so lead them on till they acquire an ascendency over them. As they do this so secretly and craftily that others do not know it, and as these after death become like themselves, therefore immediately after their arrival in the spiritual world they are sent down into that hell. When seen in the light of heaven they appear without any nose; and what is wonderful, although they are so crafty yet they are more sensual than the rest.
 As the ancients called a sensual man a serpent, and as such a man is more cunning and crafty and is a more ingenious reasoner than others, therefore it is said,
The serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field. Gen. iii. 1;
and the Lord says:
Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. Matt. x. 16;
and also the dragon, which is likewise called the old serpent, the devil and satan, is described as
Having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. Rev. xii. 3, 9.
By the seven heads is signified craftiness, by the ten horns the power of persuading by means of fallacies, and by the seven crowns the holy things of the Word and of the Church when these are profaned.