24. (5) The doctrine of a plurality of gods, both in past ages and at the present day, has sprung solely from a failure to understand the Divine Esse. It has been shown above (n. 8) that the unity of God is inmostly inscribed on the mind of every man, since it lies at the center of all that flows from God into the soul of man; and yet it has not descended therefrom into the human understanding, for the reason that the knowledges by which man must ascend to meet God have been lacking. For everyone must prepare the way for God, that is, must prepare himself for reception; and this is done by means of knowledges. The knowledges that have been lacking, and that enable the understanding to penetrate far enough to see that God is one, and that not more than one Divine Esse is possible, and that from Him is every thing in nature, are as follows:(1) Heretofore no one has known anything about the spiritual world, the abode of spirits and angels, which every man enters after death. (2) It is equally unknown that there is in that world a sun, which is pure love from Jehovah God, who is in the midst of it. (3) That from this sun a heat goes forth, which in its essence is love, and a light which in its essence is wisdom. (4) That in consequence all things in that world are spiritual, and affect the internal man, and constitute his will and understanding. (5) That Jehovah God from His sun has produced not only the spiritual world and all the spiritual things in it, which are innumerable and substantial, but also the natural world and all the natural things in it, which also are innumerable but are material. (6) Hitherto no one has known what the distinction is between the spiritual and the natural, nor even what the spiritual is in its essence. (7) Nor has anyone known that there are three degrees of love and wisdom, in accordance with which the angelic heavens are arranged. (8) Nor that the human mind is divided into that number of degrees, to the end that it may be raised after death into one of the three heavens, which takes place in accordance both with its life and its faith. (9) Finally, that not the least particle of any of these things could have had existence except from a Divine Esse which in itself is the Itself, and thus the First and the Beginning, the source of all things. Hitherto these knowledges have been lacking; and yet these are the means through which a man may rise to a knowledge of the Divine Esse.  It is said that the man rises; but the meaning is that he is raised up by God. For in acquiring knowledges for himself man exercises his freedom of choice; but as he acquires for himself knowledges from the Word by means of his understanding he prepares the way by which God comes down and raises him up. The knowledges by means of which the human understanding rises, God holding it in His hand and leading it, may be likened to the steps of the ladder seen by Jacob, which was set upon the earth with the top of it reaching to heaven, by which the angels ascended while Jehovah stood above it (Gen. 28:12, 13). It is wholly different when these knowledges are lacking, or when man despises them. In that case the elevation of the understanding might be likened to a ladder reaching from the ground to the windows in the first story of a magnificent palace which is a dwelling-place of men, and not to the windows of the second story which is a dwelling-place of spirits, and still less to the windows of the third story which is a dwelling-place of angels. The result of this is that man remains in the atmospheres and material things of nature only, and confines his eyes and ears and nostrils to these, and from these he derives no other ideas of heaven and of the Esse and Essence of God than such as pertain to the atmospheres and to matter. Thinking from such ideas man can form no conclusions about God, as to whether He is or is not, or whether He is one or many; still less what He is in respect to His Esse and Essence. This is the origin of the belief in the plurality of gods, both in past ages and at the present day.