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meet, how they will be situated, and what they will be, when they have passed through death, and the spiritual body is no longer clothed with the natural body.
The termination of life is deemed by all a more awful event than any
which occurs during its course; and the condition into which we pass through death, must needs be a subject of profound and anxious solicitude. If, then, the veil be lifted, why do not all men hasten to learn what it so much imports them to know? It is, of course, because they do not know that such disclosures are made; because they do not believe that the book, in which they are made, is true. We would have him, who rejects Swedenborg's work concerning heaven and hell, without inquiry, or without fair, calm and patient inquiry, consider whether he does not so reject it, because, in fact and reality, he has no belief that there is any heaven or hell.
There are some who suppose that when a man dies, he continues dead until a certain time, a great while hence, when all who have ever lived and died, are to be resuscitated and live again. Such persons may believe that after this great day of general awakening, there will be a heaven and hell for human beings; but, of course, they cannot think there is a heaven and hell for those who have neither life nor sense; and they must necessarily regard as a pure falsity, any account of a heaven and hell now existing, composed of human beings, and every day increased by those who go from this world. But probably the generality of men do not think exactly thus. They have an indistinct, glimmering notion, that their friends, who have left them, are still, somewhere and somehow, existing with sensibility and consciousness. In their prayers, and in their reflections and feelings towards them, they consider those whom they loved and lost, as in some sort living ; but though their feelings are sometimes strong upon this subject, they have no very distinct opinions about it. Such persons, and we suppose them to be at present the great majority, are offended with Swedenborg's account of heaven and hell, not because it contains any thing which they think contrary to what reason and scripture teach as belonging to another life, but because it sets forth, clearly, plainly and simply, the fact of another life; of another state of existence, where are human beings in full life, and in the full enjoyment and exercise of the powers and consciousness proper to life.
When a man dies, the natural body is separated from the spiritual body; and its principle of life being withdrawn, it becomes insensible, and decays. But the spiritual body is not, by this, destroyed ; nor are its qualities changed. The natural, fleshly eye remains, after death, for some moments at least, unchanged; it does not see, however, and, in fact, it never did see; but the soul, the eye of the soul, of the spiritual body, while united to the natural eye, saw through it the things of this world. Now, the power or sense of sight remains in the spiritual body, although the instrument, which the natural body supplied, has fallen away. An eye which cannot see a distant object, is enabled to see it by a glass, and when the glass is withdrawn, can see it no longer. Precisely so, the spiritual eye cannot see the things of nature, of this world, but through the natural eye, which is exactly accommodated to it; and when the connection between them is dissolved, the obvious consequence follows. It is so with all the senses, organs, limbs and parts of the body. It is common to speak of the bodily senses ; but the powers and faculties of these senses reside solely in the organs of the spiritual body, which organs, in this, their first state of existence, are exercised only upon natural objects, and through the vestment of earth, which forms the natural organs. When this temporary vestment falls off, the spiritual body is said to rise; then the natural sun will rise and set no more upon the individual, and his Last Day has come; and the principle of life having left the natural body, it dies, and becomes that grave, from which every one is forthwith summoned. Spiritual bodies are to each other what natural bodies are to each other; and spiritual things are to spiritual bodies, what natural things are to natural bodies. The natural body is perfectly and precisely accommodated to the spiritual body, and every atom of the natural body derives its life from that which is within it, and every function of the natural body is but the action through it of the internal body, which, at death, leaves forever the external form; hence it is, that we may learn, from the natural body, precisely what the spiritual body is. Disembodied spirits, as they are called, that is, men who have no longer natural forms superinduced upon their spiritual forms, live in, and, with the spiritual circumstances about them, constitute the spiritual world. What this world is, Swedenborg, in the work before us, teaches. He was permitted to do so, and for this purpose was enabled, while living in the natural world, to have such perceptions of spiritual existences, and hold such intercourse with them, as if divested of the natural body. As it belonged to the first christian dispensation to assert the fact of a future life, so it belongs to this dispensation to shew what this future life is ; to make it not only believed, but understood, seen and known.
In the introduction, the author states why he has been enabled to write this work.
“Where the Lord discourses with His disciples concerning the consummation of the age, which is the last time of the church, at the end of the predictions concerning its successive states as to love and faith, He thus speaks : Immediately after the affliction of those days the sun shall be obscured, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be in commotion. And then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven; and then shall all the tribes of the earth wail : and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and much glory. And He shall send forth His angels with a trumpet and a great voice, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from the extreme of the heavens even to their extreme.' Matt. xxiv. 29, 30, 31. They who understand the above words according to the sense of the letter, no otherwise believe than that all those things will come to pass according to the description in that sense, at the final period which is called the last judgment; thus not only that the sun and moon will be obscured, and that the stars will fall from heaven, and that the sign of the Lord will
appear in heaven, and that they will see him in the clouds, and at the same time angels with trumpets, but also, according to predictions in other places, that the whole visible world will perish, and that afterwards a new heaven with a new earth will have existence. In this opinion are most at this day within the church : but they who believe thus, are not aware of the arcana which lie concealed in singular the things of the Word.”
“By the above words of the Lord is understood, that in the end of the church, when there is no longer any love nor consequently any faith, the Lord will open the Word as to its internal sense, and will reveal the arcana of heaven: the arcana which are revealed in the following pages, are concerning Heaven and Hell, and at the same time concerning the life of man after death. The man of the church at this day scarcely knows any thing respecting heaven and hell, or respecting his life after death, although they all stand described in the Word; yea, many, even, who are born within the church, deny those things, saying in their heart, who has ever come thence and given information ? Lest therefore such a negative principle, which prevails especially amongst those who have much worldly wisdom, should also infect and corrupt the simple in heart and the simple in faith, it has been given me to be with the angels, and to discourse with them as man with man, and also to see things which are in the heavens, likewise which are in the hells, and this during thirteen
years ; thus now to describe them from what has been seen and heard; in the hope that by these means ignorance may be enlightened, and incredulity dissipated. The reason why such an immediate revelation exists at this day, is, because this is what is understood by the coming of the Lord.” pp. 5, 7.
In the first section, Swedenborg declares that Jesus Christ is the God of heaven.
“The first object of concern must be to know who is the God of heaven, since all other things depend on that knowledge. In the universal heaven no other is acknowledged as the God of heaven but the Lord alone: it is there said, as He Himself taught, that He is one with the Father; that the Father is in Him, and He in the Father; and that whosoever seeth Him, seeth the Father; and that every thing holy proceedeth from him, John X. 30, 38; chap. xiv. 10, 11; chap. xvi. 13, 14, 15. I have frequently discoursed with angels on this subject, and they constantly said, that they cannot in heaven distinguish the Divine into three, inasmuch as they know and perceive that the Divine is one, and that it is one in the Lord : they said also, that such of the church as come from the world, and have entertained an idea of three Divine beings, cannot be admitted into heaven, inasmuch as their thought wanders from one to another, and it is not there allowable to think of three and to speak of one, since every one in heaven speaks from thought, for speech there is cogitative, or speaking thought: wherefore they, who, in the world, have distinguished the Divine into three, and have conceived a separate idea of each and have not made and concentrated it into one in the Lord, cannot be received; for in heaven there is given a communication of all thoughts, wherefore if any one should come thither thinking of three and confessing one, he would be immediately discovered and rejected. It is however to be noted, that all they, who have not separated truth from good, or faith from love, receive in the other life, when instructed, the heavenly idea concerning the Lord, viz. that He is the God of the universe; but it is otherwise with those who have separated faith from life, that is, who have not lived according to the precepts of true faith.” p. 8.
He goes on to state that they who acknowledge only the Father, or profess to believe in an invisible divine nature, denying the Lord, and have steadfastly confirmed themselves in such a faith, when they get into another life, find that they believe in no God and are not in heaven. He adds, that all infants are, after death, initiated into the acknowledgment and faith that the Lord is their Father, and afterwards, that He is the Lord of all things, thus the God of heaven and earth; and that they grow up in the heavens and are perfected by accessions of knowledge, even to angelic intelligence and wisdom.
In the next section our author shews “ that the divine of the Lord makes heaven."
“The angels taken collectively are called heaven, because they constitute it; nevertheless it is the Divine proceeding from the Lord, which flows in with the angels, and is received by them, which makes heaven in general and in particular. The Divine proceeding from the Lord is the good of love and the truth of faith; in proportion therefore as they receive what is good and true from the Lord, in the same proportion they are angels, and in the same proportion they are heaven.” p. 10.
He then goes on to state, that all in the heavens perceive and acknowledge that they will and do nothing good, and think and know nothing true of themselves, but from the divine proceeding from the Lord. Also, that all of life flows from Him as the first cause, and this unceasingly; the continuance of the effect depending on the continuance of the cause.
They say moreover, that there is only one single fountain of life, and that the life of man is a stream thence derived, which would instantly cease to flow, if it did not subsist continually from its fountain. They further insist, that from that one single fountain of life, which is the Lord, nothing proceeds but divine good and divine truth, and that these affect every one according to reception; thus that those who receive them in faith and life have heaven in them, but that those who reject them or suffocate them turn them into hell, since in such case they turn good into evil, and what is true into what is false, thus life into death. That the all of life is from the Lord, they also confirm by this consideration, that all things in the universe have reference to good and truth; the life of the will of man, which is the life of his love, to good, and the life of the understanding of man, which is the life of his faith, to truth; wherefore since every thing good and true comes from above, it follows that the all of life is likewise from the same source. Inasmuch as the angels thus believe, therefore they refuse all thanks on account of the good which they do, and are indignant and withdraw themselves if any one attributes good to them. They wonder how any one can believe that he is wise from himself, and that he doeth good from himself, for they do not call this good, to do good for the sake of self, because it is done from self; but to do good for the sake of good, this they call good from the Divine, and say that this good is what makes heaven, because this good is the Lord.”
“The spirits who, during their abode in the world, have confirmed themselves in the belief, that the good which they do and the truth which they believe are from themselves, or appropriated to them as their own, (in which belief all those are who place merit in their good actions, and claim justice to themselves,) are not received into heaven, being shunned by the angels, who regard them as stupid and as thieves; as stupid, because they continually have respect to themselves, and not to the Divine, and as thieves, because they rob the Lord of what is His. These are opposed to the faith of heaven, viz. that the Divine of the Lord received by the angels makes heaven.” pp. 11, 12.
The subject of the next section, is the nature of the divine proceeding, which constitutes heaven. It is declared to be, in its essence, “divine good conjoined to divine truth, and because it is conjoined, it vivifies all things of heaven, as the heat of the sun conjoined to the light in the world fructifies all things of the earth, as is the case in the time of spring and summer : it is otherwise when heat is not conjoined to light, thus when light is cold, in which case all things are torpid, and lie lifeless."
It is then stated, that love is the essence of every one's life, whether good or evil; and that the quality of every one's life