Part III. CONCERNING LIFE.
The life of man is his love. This life or love is varied with all men, but is one in its origin, which is the Divine Love, the fountain of all life. Man has no life in himself, but it is a free gift of God; it is given to man as his own, and he is in freedom to use it according to his pleasure.
Created out of the dust of the ground, God breathed into him the breath of life. The clay became living, but within the living clay there remained, higher and distinct from it, the breath of life itself. Hence the. life or nature of man is twofold, higher and lower, heavenly and earthly, spiritual and natural, internal and external. In the higher region within man the Lord resides with immortal life. In the lower dwells the “ego,” the self-hood or “proprium,” endowed with the appearance of original and independent life.
Since the Fall of man these two lives are not only opposite to one another, but irreconcilable. Both cannot rule together in him, one must rule and the other must give way. In the midst between these two dwells human reason; it is able to view both, and can freely determine which of the two shall rule in him.
If man then freely turns to the Lord, subdues his self-life and self-love and subjects this to the love and life of God, he will become conjoined with God and live forever with Him in Heaven, If, on the other hand, he turns to himself, and away from God, if he gives free reins to the gratification of his selfish lusts, he will become utterly disjoined from the source of life; he will lose his soul, and dwell forever with death in Hell.
“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give exchange for his soul.” (Math. 16: 25, 26.)
Free will in spiritual things is therefore an inalienable essential of human life. For life is of the Lord, and the Lord is Freedom itself. It is our love that He would have, but love forced is love no longer.
“Behold, I have set before thee this day life and the good, death and the evil. Therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.” (Deut. 30: 15-19.)
“Choose ye this day whom ye will serve.” (Jos. 24:15.)
And yet, in all the Reformed churches, the dogma is held (with some variation) that man has no free will in spiritual things, that he is like a stock or a stone in matters of faith and of good and evil. If he receives faith, it is by the pure grace of God. If he does what is good, it is by the grace of God, If he does evil,—why, it is because God withholds His grace!
What is this, essentially, but Predestination, and what is Predestination but the most cruel, insane and blasphemous heresy ever hatched by disordered minds? A child would recognize its injustice. A heathen would reject it with loathing. And yet there are Christians who believe in it!
There is, indeed, a Divine Predestination, a predestination of all men for Heaven and its eternal blessedness, for that is the destination intended by the Creator for all His creatures, And every one is able to gain this goal, who is willing, freely willing, to choose it, to turn to it, to strive for it. Divine grace will then accompany him and sustain him in his efforts, but will not supercede these efforts, will not push or force him into Heaven.
Freedom of choice, however, cannot exist without the knowledge and the understanding of Truth, for falsity is of Hell, and Hell is slavery itself. In order, therefore, that all men might be free, the Word of God was given, first in the Letter and now in its internal sense.
“Henceforth I call you not servants, for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends.” (John 15:15)
“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” (John 8:32.)
Will and understanding are the names of the two universal organs of life in the spirit of mm, answering to the heart and the lungs in his body. The will is the vessel created to receive the influx of life and love from God, and the understanding is the vessel set apart for the influx of truth and perception.
Ever since the Fall of mankind, these two faculties have been entirely distinct and separate from one another. Thankful, indeed, may we be for this separation, for on it depends our whole salvation,
Ever since the Fall, the human will or heart has been entirely and utterly evil, a mass of filthy inclinations and lusts, the very gate of Hell with man. It has become so thoroughly corrupt, that it can never, to all eternity, be reformed and regenerated. It is bad! Nothing can be done with it, except to subdue it, and shut it up below. An entirely new will, a will of good, will then be created in its place by the Lord.
Now, if the human understanding were one with this evil will, man would be like any ferocious beast, rushing head long into the gratification of his lusts, without any regard to consequences.
In order, therefore, to save the race from utter damnation and extinction, the Lord, after the Fall, separated the understanding from the corrupted will. Hence man is able to see and distinguish with his understanding between truth and falsity and good and evil; is able to realize his own conditions, and is able to compel or force himself to abstain from evil and to do what is right.
It is thus, alone, that the old will can be subdued, and a new will be created.
THE REGENERATE LIFE.
Repentance is the first step in the life of regeneration, but by repentance is not meant the mere oral confession that one is a sinner, nor the violent enthusiastic contrition which in the old Church is said to be followed by the “consolation of the Gospel” But true repentance is the recognition of the hellish love of self, and the earnest resolution to shun evils,—not on account of the fear of punishments,—but because they are sins against the Lord. And actual repentance consists especially in the act of shunning and compelling some one particular sin and evil love. For no man is able to fight against all evil, and all the Hells at once; but he is able to put away one evil at one time, and another afterwards, in the degree that his eyes are opened to the infernal nature of that particular evil.
“Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes, Cease to do evil; learn to do well,” (Isa. 1:16).
“When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die: if he turn from his sin, and do that which is lawful and right; if the wicked restore the pledge; give again that which he robbed; walk: in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity, he shall surely live. He shall not die.” (Ezech. 33: 14, 15.)
Reformation and Regeneration follow Repentance, as conception is followed by gestation and birth. For Regeneration is not. a mere figure of speech. It is an actual new birth, the birth of a new man, a man angel, and the process corresponds in every detail to the conception, formation and birth of the bodily man. The seed from which the spiritual man is begotten is the seed of Divine Truth,—the Word of God,—from the Heavenly Father. This, when received in the mind, and when not only heard, but loved and obeyed in life, causes a reformation of the whole understanding. The old fallacies, misconceptions, prejudices and false notions are cast out. Man learns to view God, the Word, the world and himself in an entirely new light. He learns to distinguish between truth and falsity, and between good and evil. And as he perseveres in his efforts to walk in this Light, shunning his former evils as sins against his God, he will gradually withdraw from death and Hell, and draw nearer unto life and Heaven. He will first learn to fear evil as hurtful; afterwards he will come to hate it as undelightful and deadly to his soul, and finally he will learn to love what is good, which formerly he regarded as utterly opposed to his own interests and pleasures.
In this manner by slow degrees, by temptations and vastations, the old selfhood, “the old Adam” in him, will be cast down from his throne, and a new will, a new love and life will be created and born. But as the creation of the natural man is not the work of a moment, but of forty weeks, neither is the new birth the effect of any “instantaneous conversion.” It is the one great work and business of man during his entire life in this world, and the work of perfection continues in Heaven to all eternity.
For not even the angels are perfect in the sight of God, but are forever drawing nearer unto Him, who alone is perfect.
“Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit is spirit,” (John 3: 3,7)
“Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.” (1 Peter 1: 23.)
On these same subjects read “The Doctrine of Life for the New Jerusalem,” “The True Christian Religion,” and “Angelic Wisdom Concerning the Divine Love and the Divine Wisdom,” by Emanuel Swedenborg.
Death and Resurrection
What is termed “death” is nothing but the change which man undergoes when he lays aside the natural body and enters consciously into the life of his spirit. The man himself cannot die or cease to exist, for the real man is spirit and life, and life is eternal, because God is Life.
When the motions of the heart and of the lungs have entirely ceased, the spirit is fully separated from the body and awakes immediately in the spiritual world where, indeed, his spirit has lived from the beginning of his life, though not consciously. The worn-out natural body returns to the dust out of which it was made, and arises never more.
There is not, therefore, any “resurrection of the material body,” as is believed in the old Church. Such a doctrine is utterly unscriptural and irrational, Paul is explicit enough on that point, where he says:
“Some will say, How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come? Thou fool! That which thou so west is not quickened, except it die: and that winch thou sowest is not that body which shall be. But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased Him, and to every seed its own body, There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body, There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption,” (1 Cor. 15:35-50)
Common sense alone shows that the material flesh and blood cannot arise again after life has once departed from the body. The latter returns unto dust, and the dust enters into plants, and the plants become food for beasts and men. In the body which we now carry there may be substances derived more or less directly from the dead bodies of a million men. Our own bodies are thus inseparably interlaced with those of our ancestors. If, on the “day of Judgment,” each one should take what is his own, would there, be bodies enough for all the waiting souls?
But what need to dwell on these ancient superstitions? “There is a spiritual body,” and this body is the human form and substance of the spirit of man, which, in this life, exists within and permeates the flesh and blood. When the material covering falls off, this spiritual body remains as before in a perfectly human shape, possessing all the senses, all the organs and viscera and limbs, without which man would not be human.
The Spiritual World.
Where, then, is the spiritual world in which man is to awaken immediately after death? Is it in some sublimated aerial sphere, high above the stars? Or is it in Tartarus, beneath us? Or are spirits and angels floating about us, invisible, in our own atmosphere? No! It is not anywhere in space, for space, as well as time, is nothing to the spirit. Thought is of the spirit, and in your thought you can transfer yourself, in a moment, to the ends of the earth, to the regions beyond the boundaries of the universe. What is space but an appearance, a relative condition of dead matter, distinctly inferior to the intelligence of man? A hundred years ago we were separated from Europe by a journey of three months. Now the distance is measured by a week or less.
You close your eye at night. You dream. Where are you in your dream? In the world of matter, of time and space? No, for in a moment you may pass through the experiences of a whole day, or may accomplish any distant journey. Dreams are but fleeting glimpses of that inner world, in which your own spirit dwells together with countless other spirits. In dreams, long ago, the angels of God descended to patriarchs and prophets, bringing messages of instruction or of warning to mankind; in dreams and in visions of the night the kingdom of God descended and still sometimes communes with the half-conscious spirits yet fettered in the clay.
You see a man. Yet you do not really see him if you do not see his spirit at the same time. In a crowd of a thousand yon may see but one single man, and that because you know that man’s internal mind and spiritual characteristics. It is not your material eye that sees his spirit, but your spiritual eye. Thus like sees like. Matter can not view spirit, nor spirit matter, for they are of totally different substance, origin and degree. The natural eye sees the paper and printing of a book; the spiritual eye sees the meaning of the book. Hence we may know the falsity of modern spiritism, which claims that spirits appear in the material world, that they may be photographed by a natural camera, that they can produce natural writing, move slate-pencils, etc. They cannot do this anymore than you are able to lift up a stone by the mere action of your thought.
But though invisible and totally distinct from this world, yet the spiritual world is not unreachable or far away from us. Where is the spiritual world? It is where man is, and nowhere else! He cannot get away from it, for he is in it now, as to his spirit, as really as he is In the world of nature as to his body, He is not conscious of his spiritual life and surroundings, but in a moment these may be opened to him, by the will of God. This immediate presence of the spiritual world is evinced most clearly in the Word (2 Kings, 6:17), when the servant of Elisha feared, because he saw the city of Samaria surrounded by enemies on horses and chariots. But Elisha answered,
“Fear not, for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray Thee, open his eyes, that he. may see And the Lord opened the eyes of the young: man: and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire, round about Elisha”
The kingdom of God is not of this world, but of another world. This other world, therefore, is where the kingdom of God is established in everlasting reality and glory. And where is this?
“The kingdom of God cometh not with observation, neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17: 20, 21.)
It is in the spiritual body, then, that man awakens after death, a real and substantial being in an actual and tangible world. So easy is the transition called death, that many, on awakening, are persuaded that they still live in the natural world. They find themselves surrounded by familiar scenes and loving friends, they arise, clothe themselves, eat and drink; little or nothing seems changed at first, excepting this, that they no longer carry with them the bodily infirmities and ailments from which they suffered in the former world. After a while, however, new scenes and faces present themselves, as the spirit enters further into the spiritual world on the journey that is to carry him to his final destination. For few if any are so good or so wicked that they enter at once into Heaven or into Hell. A state or world of final preparation is needed for almost all, and this state is called the “world of spirits,” or the world where all spirits are together, immediately after death.
The World of Spirits.
This “world of spirits” is an intermediate state between Heaven and Hell, “the great gulf,” spoken of in Luke 16: 26, and corresponds to the mouth and the digestive organs in man, which first receive the food and separate its good parts from the evil.
In this world of spirits the final judgment takes place and the separation of the good from the evil, for the judgment after death must take place in a world where the good and the evil are still together. And the judgment is effected by everybody being put into a state of perfect freedom, without any fear of shame and punishments. The evil then rush joyfully into the indulgence of their lusts, and thus lay bare their inmost character, which in the natural world had been carefully and hypocritically concealed. They hasten from one enormity into another, and finally cast themselves headlong into Hell among their like.
Evil, therefore, is its own punishment, God casts no one into Hell. He seeks not the death of any sinner. He would draw all unto Himself in Heaven, but such is His Love and Wisdom, that He compels no one to love and serve Him.
But those whose inmost and ruling love has been the love of good, pass through a state of final preparation for Heaven. For few in this world have attained to a sufficient degree of perfection. External, worldly and selfish loves still cling to most good people some time even after death, and the ignorance concerning the real nature of Heaven and of the Lord is so great that instruction becomes absolutely necessary. In this state are all who die as children, most of the Gentiles and many of the Christians All these are now given the opportunity to learn the fundamental things of the true Christian Religion, and they enter into Heaven when there is a balance between their faith and their will of good.
Each one, therefore, seeks his final abode according to his ruling love. This love remains unchanged after death, for he has made it his very life. Hence we read:
He that is unjust, let him be unjust still. And he that is filthy, let him he filthy still. And he that is just, let him be just still; and he that is holy, let him be holy still.” (Rev, 22:11)
The kingdom of the devil is not a place outside of or beneath man. Like the Kingdom of God, it is within him.
Hell is, essentially, the state or condition of evil itself, and hence the general state of the wicked spirits who in the other life, by self- gravitation and mutual attraction, gather themselves together into vast congregations of satans and devils.
For like seeks like. Where the carcass is, there the eagles are gathered. Thieves seek the company and dens of thieves. Adulterers are happy only among the lascivious. The dog returns to his vomit, and the swine to his mire.
Hell-fire is not material fire, for such cannot exist in the spiritual world. Nor is it, as some suppose, the hopeless, unceasing pangs of a conscience awakened too late, for conscience is the voice of God in man and leads to Heaven. No one can go to Hell who has left within him one spark of conscience.
But the fire of Hell is the burning lust of doing evil. It is the evil will of self-love, which, when not extinguished or subdued in this life, will burn up and consume all good and truth which Divine Mercy has bestowed upon man.
Wickedness burneth as fire and the people shall he as the fuel of fire; no man shall spare his brother ” (Isa. 9:27,29)
The essence of Hell is the love of self, which, when opposed, flames tip as deadly hatred against all outside of one’s self. It is the love of domineering over all, the love of possessing all things and depriving others of all that is theirs: their wealth, their faith, their innocence and their life. It is the hatred against all that is good and true, and it is especially the cruel, undying hatred against the Lord, who is Mercy and Innocence itself.
Far from being tormented, whilst burning in this fire of infernal love, the devils feel its flames as the inmost joy of their life, their very heaven, in the degree that they are permitted to revel in the indulgence of their insane lusts. The self-denial and purity of Heaven would be death and hell to them.
So great is the Divine mercy that the internals are permitted, to some extent, to indulge in their evils, for otherwise they could not remain alive. And their very evils are the means of preserving some degree of order in Hell, for the devils love to punish and torment one another, and they are thus kept in continual fear of one another, and are restrained by this fear.
But let no one think that the devils are happy, on the whole. Evil is misery and horror and torment in itself. The devils feel the fire of Hell as burning when they are not permitted to hurt their fellows or the innocent. Their headlong rush into ever deeper evils is continually checked, their cunning plans are baffled, their triad desires disappointed, their conspiracies exposed, and their crimes direfully punished.
Most of their lives are spent in prisons and work-houses, where they are compelled to labor for their miserable subsistence. To be forced to work and thus to be of some use, this is direful torment to them, as it is to all who hate the neighbor,
As there are degrees of evil, so there are degrees in Hell. All are not equally wicked. Some fare better and some fare worse, according to the depth and persistency of their malice. And those who are in like evils are herded together by themselves into various congregations. To themselves and to each other they appear, indeed, like men and women, but when the light of Heaven falls upon them they are seen in their “true inwardness,” deformed, monstrous and disgusting, like filthy and ferocious beasts.
Their surroundings are in harmony with their own inner nature. They dwell, and love to dwell, in hideous holes and caverns, in deserts and stagnant mighty become paupers and vile slaves. Here the learned become foolish, and the refined forget their polish. Nor is Hell for these alone, but for the slothful and vicious among all classes of men.
It is to be noted that all the inhabitants of Hell have been men and women upon some earth, and that there is no class of devils or satans who had once been created in Heaven, but had fallen from their angelic estate. But of this later on. Nor is there any one special Devil, who is, as it were, king and god over the whole of Hell. By the “Devil ” is meant simply the love of evil, and by “Satan” the love of falsity, both of which rule as one in the minds of all in Hell.
Thus they live in Hell from age to age. “Their morning is the itch of cupidities; their noon is the heat of lust; their evening anxiety and their night torment.”
But is there, then, no hope for their final restoration? No, for they know what they have freely chosen, and they prefer it immeasurably to heavenly good and truth. Their will is formed, their choice is made. Heaven would be hell to them were they lifted up thither by force. They are happier in Hell, and so they are permitted to remain there forever.
Reader, would you have a more objective and nearer view of Hell? Look then, in the light of these teachings, upon the state of this “Christian” world in which we live! And look nearer still, into your own heart, and you will find that Hell is not very far away, nor foreign to our nature. But while we are in this world we may still escape from the Hell within us, if we will.
The ignorance concerning Heaven, and the disbelief in a life after this is so great among Christians, that but few think about it or wish to know what it is. They reason that if there is a Heaven then they will learn all about it after death. In the meantime they prefer to bury their minds in the things of this world.
Whatever ideas are prevalent in regard to Heaven, are either so vague as to amount to nothing, or else so filled with the hopes of sensual and selfish gratifications, as to be gross and revolting to a spiritually-minded man.
Some picture Heaven as a cloudy dreamland, without substantial reality or actual human life, where angels, with wings on their backs and palm-branches and harps in their hands, fly about the throne of God or pray and sing without a pause.
Others imagine that life in Heaven consists in everlasting church-going, or in eternal feasting with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, or in unending promenades in heavenly paradises. Each one, in fact, makes up an imaginary heaven of his own the chief blessedness of which is to consist in the free and eternal indulgence in his particular “weakness of the flesh,” whether this be some form of religious frenzy, or sloth fulness, or the satisfaction of some bodily appetite.
But mouth-worship or self-gratification, cannot be the true service of God in which men are to spend a whole eternity. What then is Heaven? We are taught “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God,” and “Thy will be done, as in Heaven, so upon the earth.” But how are we to find the Lord‘s Kingdom, and how are we to do His will on earth, if we do not know nor care to know how it is done in Heaven and what Heaven is?
It is to dispel this universal ignorance that the Lord Himself has now vouchsafed an immediate Revelation concerning Himself and His Kingdom in the Writings of His servant, Swedenborg. These revelations are not the vapid mutterings of any spiritistic medium about ” the summer land,” etc., but they present the universal laws of eternal life and order in a light so rational as to be self-evident, and established throughout by the testimony of the Scriptures.
The Lord is the God of Heaven, This is the first and all-important truth concerning eternal life. The Lord Jesus Christ,— not any three divine persons,—is the one and only God, who is acknowledged, worshiped and loved in Heaven. In the Sun of Heaven, which is the Divine sphere of glory surrounding and emanating from Him, the Lord Himself is constantly visible as the Divine Man, the “Father in the Heavens,” before the eyes of the angels,
“To Me is given all power in Heaven and on earth.”
“The Lord is a Sun and a shield,’1 (Ps. 84: it, )
“Unto you that fear My name, shall the Sun of righteousness appear, with healings in His wings.” (Mal. 4:9.)
“Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say tin to you, that in Heaven their angels do always behold the face of My Father who is in Heaven” (Matth. 18: 10)
“I and the Father are One. He who sees Me, sees the Father.”
The Divine of the Lord Makes Heaven.
From the sun of Heaven there proceed or emanate spiritual heat and light, which is the Divine Good and Truth. These fill and make the universal Heaven. This heat gives light to the angelic love of God and of the neighbor; and this light makes the whole of angelic wisdom and intelligence. The angels, therefore, do not in themselves make Heaven, but Heaven is in and with the angels, because the Lord is in them and they in Him.
“God is Love, and he that dwelleth in Love, dwelleth in God, and God in him,” (1 John 4:16.)
But who are the angels? Are they, as is commonly supposed, certain favored beings, who were created in Heaven in the beginning? And did some of them fall and become devils? No, this story is an allegory, quoted by Jude from an ancient oriental work, in which the fall of man from Eden was symbolically described. How could any “fall” take place in Heaven itself, where nought that is evil can enter in? All angels, and all devils, who are in the spiritual world, have been men on earth, and have here developed their heavenly or their infernal nature.
An evil man is even here a devil, in so far as he is in falsity and evil; and a good man is even here an angel, in so far as he is in love to the Lord and to the neighbor.
” Have I not chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil” (John 6: 70.)
“When they shall rise from the dead, they are as the angels in the Heavens.” (Mark 12: 25.)
Heaven is a Greatest Man. As the Lord is the Divine Man, and as His Divine Humanity makes Heaven and all the angels in His own image, so the whole of Heaven, or all the angels regarded together as a whole, are spiritually in the form of a Greatest Man,
As we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office, so we, being many, are one body in Christ.” (Rom. 12:4,5.)
There are three distinct heavens. And as the body is most generally divided into three parts,—the head, the trunk, and the extremities,—so is the Greatest Man, or Heaven as a whole, distinguished into three Heavens, the one superior to and more perfect than the other.
“Behold, the Heaven, and the Heaven of Heavens, is the Lories.4‘ (Dent 10:14.)
“I knew a man in Christ about fourteen years ago (whether in the body or out of the body I cannot tell: God knoweth); such a one was caught up into the third Heaven.” (2 Cor. 12:2.)
The lowest of these three heavens is called “the natural heaven,” the angels there being more than the others similar to men in the natural world. These angels are such as in this life had not advanced very far in love and wisdom, yet in simplicity believe and obey the LORD and do good to the neighbor.
The second or middle heaven is called “the spiritual heaven,” and consists of such angels as in this life had not advanced as far in the love of God as in the love of the neighbor, The delight of their life is to understand clearly the spiritual things of the Church, and to perform the offices of charity to the neighbor, whom they love as themselves.
The third or inmost heaven is called “the celestial heaven,” because it is the only perfect and truly “heavenly” heaven. Here, in bliss inconceivable, dwell those who in this life had reached that state in which they love the neighbor more than themselves, and the Lord above all They do not reason about truth, for or against, but perceive it and do it instantly, and they are in innocence, humility and perfect trust as little children before their Heavenly Father.
“Whosoever, therefore, shall humble himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven,” (Matth. 18:3, 4.)
The innumerable Societies of Heaven.
Not only are there three distinct Heavens, but in each there are innumerable Societies or associations of those who are in greater similarity of love, wisdom and use. These Societies are to the Greatest Man what the various organs are to the human body. Each Society performs a distinct and special use to the whole. And even in each Society each member or angel performs a different and distinct use. No one is or does exactly the same as any other. Some are wiser, others more simple; some are masters, others servants; some govern, others obey, but all are inspired by the universal love of serving the Lord and the neighbor.
” He that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.” (Luke 22: 26.)
“Well done, thou good and Faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” (Matth. 25:21)
Mansions in Heaven, To each angel a house is given by the Lord in the Society of which he is a member, a mansion which in beauty and grandeur corresponds to the degree and abundance of love and wisdom in his own mind. The angels, therefore, do not fly about in space, but each one lives in his own heavenly home, with his own wife (for what would a home be without a wife?),
“In my Father’s House are many mansions.” (John 14:2.)
“For we know, that if our earthly house of tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, not made with hands, eternal in the Heavens.” (2 Cor. 5; 11)
Worship in Heaven. Life in Heaven does not consist in everlasting church-going and mouth-worship, for that would prevent any actual service of God in the loving service of the neighbor. But each angel is continually worshipping and serving the Lord in his life, and each heavenly home is a temple dedicated to this service. Nevertheless, there are also public Temples in Heaven, of unsurpassable magnificence and beauty, and here the angels, at stated times and together with one another, engage, also in the external worship of the Lord, and are instructed more and more in the deeper mysteries of faith and life, through discourses of wisdom delivered by preachers who are inspired from the Lord.
The Happiness of Heaven. The angels possess magnificent palaces and beautiful garments, delicate food and drink, every innocent amusement and pleasure, and this in a degree of perfection incomparably exceeding our earthly conceptions. Yet these things do not constitute Heaven and heavenly felicity to them, but are as nothing when compared with the unspeakable joy and blessedness which they receive from their love of serving the Lord and the neighbor, without any thought or motive of self.
Yet such service does not consist in the mere thinking and speaking about God and the neighbor, or in the mere sensation of loving emotions in the breast.
“Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of Heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father, who is in Heaven.”(Matth. 7: 21.)
And the will of the Heavenly Father, the will of the Divine Love, is that each one, in that office and work for which he is best fitted and which he loves best, should do good to his neighbor, should strive to be of the greatest possible use to him. Heaven, therefore, is a ” Kingdom of Uses,” a kingdom of love expressed in acts and works.
This, it is to be feared, is not a “popular” idea of Heaven, for to most men work is a curse and not a blessing, and hence they have imagined Heaven to be a kingdom of everlasting idleness. Yet they ought to know better from the Scriptures :
“My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.” ( John 5: 17.)
“Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bring forth much fruit.” (John 15: 8)
“To such as keep His covenant, and to those that remember His Commandments to do them, the Lord hath prepared His throne in the Heavens,” (Ps. 103: 18.)
But is not Heaven a kingdom of “eternal rest?” Is it not said, “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth; Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours?” Yea, verily, Heaven is eternal peace and rest, rest from the “labours” of temptations, from the struggles against evil, but not rest from a life of blissful usefulness, for the same verse continues and their works do follow them.”
The occupations of the angels are as manifold and varied as is the number of angels in Heaven. For as every plant and every animal has been created by the Lord for some particular and distinct use in the Great Economy, so also has every man been created for some distinct purpose and use. Circumstances may prevent a man from finding this his special calling in this world, but in Heaven it will be given to him, and in it he will find Heaven itself. In it he will find his angel-hood, for angels are
“All ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of” salvation.” (Heb. 1:4.)
The angels, one and all, minister to the spirits of men upon the earth, gently insinuating and suggesting good affections and thoughts, drawing men nearer to God and to Heaven, and at the same time warning against evil, and protecting and defending men against the soul-destroying assaults of evil spirits.
Another general use performed by them is to instruct and prepare for Heaven such spirits as have newly arrived from the earth. And beside these, there are innumerable uses and offices of charity performed by the angels to one another, in all the various functions of a perfectly organized community.
Children in Heaven. But one of the most excellent of all heavenly uses is the use of education, that is, of preparing for Heaven such tender spirits as have left this world in infancy and childhood. For not one of these little ones is lost. All, whether of Christian or Gentile parents, whether baptized or not, are received by the angels immediately after death. Here they are at first given into the loving care of women-angels, such as in this life had tenderly loved little children. These they are taught to look upon as their mothers, and upon the Lord as their only Father Afterwards, as they grow up, they are most carefully taught and trained by angel teachers, and finally, when matured men and women, they are introduced by the Lord into Heaven and made members of some angelic Society.
“Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in Heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.” (Matth 18: 14.)
Age in Heaven, The Lord’s Heavenly Kingdom is eternal innocence, peace, strength, beauty and youth. To grow old in Heaven is to grow young. Aged and decrepit men and women, when they become angels, regain the first bloom and vigor of youth, for youth means the fulness of life, and Heaven is complete and eternal life from Him who is Life itself.
Love is life and life is eternal. Every pure and holy love is therefore in itself eternal, and hence it is that Conjugial Love, or the love of marriage, remains after death and continues unto eternity.
Marriage in Heaven. Marriage in this world is regarded by most people rather as an evil necessity than as an ideal condition, A wicked and adulterous generation cannot sever from their thought about marriage the idea of what is merely sensual and impure, and hence they cannot imagine that marriage exists in Heaven, Hence in the wedding ritual of many denominations the contracting parties agree to abide with one another until death do us part.”
But in the Church of the New Jerusalem marriage is an eternal and spiritual covenant, pure and holy above every earthly love. For here it means a conjunction of minds as well as of bodies, an internal friendship and mutual inclination which death cannot rend asunder.
For the soul or spirit of the male man is clearly masculine in every thought and affection, and so is the spirit of the woman feminine in all and every respect. It is not the external difference in the bodies that makes the two sexes, but the fundamental, unchangeable difference in. the minds. After death we shall still be men and women, attracted spiritually to one another as now naturally. Is it not a common saying that “marriages are made in Heaven,” and do not all true lovers trust that they shall find one another after death? Would God disappoint so holy a hope?
Spiritual nuptials. But, is it not expressly Stated in the Scripture that there are no marriages in the other life? Is it not said that
“Those who shall be accounted worthy to attain to another generation, and the resurrection from the dead, shall neither marry nor be given in marriage, neither can they die any more,” (Luke 30; 35)
Reader, the “letter killeth” but the “spirit giveth life,” But in the spiritual sense these words of the Lord refer to the spiritual marriage, which is the same as the regeneration of man, for they begin by speaking of ” another generation”or another birth, the new birth, by means of which “resurrection from the dead.” or salvation from spiritual death is given. This is self-evident to any one who observes the context. The “marriage” spoken of here is the marriage which must take place within each individual man, the marriage or conjunction between his will and his understanding, between his faith and his love.
When this conjunction has been effected within man, then it is that he has “attained to another generation” and has “arisen from the dead.” But these spiritual nuptials must take place within him while he is in this life. If he has not been born anew while here he cannot be born anew in the other life. But if thus “married” in his spirit when entering the spiritual world, the process of regeneration, of temptation and victory, is not repeated there, nor will he ever be in danger of losing his soul, for “neither can he die any more.”
The Divine Marriage
Heaven and the Church are everywhere in the Word spoken of as the Divine Marriage union between “the Lamb” and “the Bride.” Heaven itself is this marriage, and the angels partake of the married nature of that whole of which they are the constituent parts.
All the angels are married, and none can enter Heaven who is opposed to this holy covenant. To each man-angel is given a woman-angel, a conjugial partner who from the beginning was provided and appointed for him and for him alone.
By each others’ side and in each others’ arms the angelic husband and wife find the supreme bliss of Heaven, Thus they progress together unto eternity, becoming more and more closely conjoined in every thought and affection, until they become, internally, one heart, one mind, one angel.
On these subjects read, further, Swedenborg’s works on “Heaven and Its Wonders, the World of Spirits and Hell,” and “The Delights of Wisdom Respecting Conjugial Love.”