Spiritual Diary, by Emanuel Swedenborg, , tr. by Bush, Smithson and Buss [1883-9] at sacred-texts.com
It appeared from this that they were not at all touched by the love of the neighbor. It was shown also that they were prompted to destroy the innocent, which was represented by an infant that they wished to kill; for such is their sphere, that when they see an infant, they burn to slay it; and some would even, if possible, slay innocence itself. That they cherish love for their children was shown by a mother's kissing an infant; but it was said that their love was like that of brutes, which also love their young.3502.
It was said and perceived respecting them, that as soon as they enter into the other life, their rich men seem to themselves to dwell in splendid palaces, and to live in other respects as they did in the body; but as the life is successively changed, they by degrees pass from these into viler and viler habitations, till at last they are left without any; thus they are deprived of their [fancied] riches, and become poor, which they are forced to acknowledge, and then they wander about seeking wages; and because their quality is such, they are rejected by the societies to which they come, and every where subjected to some kind of penalty by loss. Thus their life is successively changed to its contrary, and they become mere refuse and offscouring, and exhale the fetid odor of [decayed] teeth.3503.
I conversed with these persons on various topics, as for instance that in the other life no respect is paid to persons; that the rich are saved equally with the poor; that men may become rich, and engage in business like the most active of that class, and still be saved, for everyone is regarded according to his end and love; that there are those of their rich men who did business in like manner, that yet enjoy eternal life; and that the greater part of the poor are worse than they, and are rejected. But they urged, on the other hand, that if they are saved, they must renounce their business and give their wealth to the poor, which would render them miserable. But it was given to reply, that the fact was not so; and that their rich men who were good and were saved, felt entirely otherwise. They know too the grounds on which this conceit is founded, but they explain them according to an interior and truer sense. Thus, for example, they who in saying the Lord's prayer, which I recited to them, pray that the Lord would not lead them into temptation, such persons, if truly Christians, are at once aware that the Lord leads no one into temptation, wherefore they do not abide in the letter, but in the interior sense of the letter. So also in regard to what is said about the rich young man's being commanded to sell all his goods and take up the cross, this too is to be understood otherwise in the interior sense. But the persons in question give utterance to such sentiments with their lips, because they are addicted to filty lucre, and wish to live their own nefarious life. They said, moreover, that unless the acquisition of riches was allowed, they would have no means of defending their little commonwealth against their powerful hostile neighbors. But it was shown to them that scarcely anyone acts from such a principle [of patriotism], but that it was a mere argumentative fetch; and that they might besides abound in wealth without desiring to deprive others of what belonged to them.3504.
I heard also what were the punishments of such, viz. a rending from the loins, the chest, the head; but what they signified as pertaining to the loins, the chest, and the head, I do not yet certainly know.3505.
I heard, moreover, that some [of them] do not acknowledge the Lord, still less that he rules the universe, and yet that they did acknowledge a certain supreme Being, which rules, for they are taught by their experience in business that there is such an overruling power, inasmuch as success crowns the efforts of one and not of another, how diligently soever he may labor. From this cause it is that they pray and perform sacred rites, having regard however to private ends and other considerations.3506.
When the conversation turned upon their republic, and they said that they act in this manner and become rich that they might be able to resist the enemies that bordered upon them, it was said to them, that this could not be their real end, for if they should learn that larger gains were to be made elsewhere, they would immediately convey themselves thither with their wealth, and leave the republic to take care of itself, which they confessed; beside what was said above, that they might increase in opulence, and still not be depraved. It was also shown them that business was not in itself an evil, for men might manufacture swords, muskets, and gunpowder, and yet be good men, although thus fabricating instruments which were destructive to the human race; for they do not think of nor regard the use to which they are to be applied; they only think that such things are necessary for the defense of society, which they surely are while societies are such [as they are].3507.
From being so dominantly natural, they scarcely know that they are in the other life, or what spiritual life is, of which also they were ignorant in the life of the body, despising and scoffing at those who discoursed of spiritual life. When in spiritual spheres they appear only as fetid teeth, their faces being so retracted above that scarce any face appears, which was manifest in a variety of ways.3508.
That the Hollanders are of different life or different nature from other nations is to be inferred from a variety of considerations, as that other nations, besides aiming at the acquisition of wealth, have also an idea of something honest, pious, religious, learned, and friendly, which they hold in esteem, as they do also those who are distinguished by these traits, but the Hollanders are altogether of a different genius, esteeming nothing in comparison of gold, and making light of everything except rich men.3509.
In speaking with them I asked what they could anticipate from the life of the body, when that life was a mere point of time, to be followed by a life after death, when even ten thousand years were nothing; what then was a life of fifty or sixty years? When they thought of this they acknowledged [the weight of the suggestion].3510.
They were moreover invisible to other spirits, who said they knew not where they were, nor how they get into heaven. They were also scarcely visible to me for the space of more than a whole day, and yet they operated very strongly with me, especially to prevent my writing anything about them, which power of acting upon me I perceived [in this] more strongly than in any other way, besides that they would not admit, but rather ridiculed the interior things [which I stated]. They acted the more strongly, more so in fact than any others had done before, in order if possible to provoke me to anger.3511.
That they are thus invisible arises with them from a natural cause, viz. their unwillingness that men should know their thoughts. Hence they are silent, and conceal their designs, and ponder upon the characters of others, and how they may be made useful to their ends. From this taciturnity, and the desire to veil their ends from others, they contract this character of invisibility, notwithstanding they are natural, and thus it is that other spirits know not where they are, nor in what way they enter heaven. There is another spiritual cause of the same fact, and that is, that they think so grossly of spiritual things and of the other life, believing, in their own fashion, simply in a Supreme Being, whom they acknowledge, but not diffusing their thoughts over a wider field. Hence they tolerate in their temples neither statues, images, nor pictures, lest their ideas should be rendered gross. This was evinced by their immediately flying away and vanishing when an image of the Lord on the cross, which is common in other places, was shown to them. I heard and perceived that they were of such a quality that things of this nature could not fix their ideas, but that they chose rather to abide in things obscure [and indefinite], so that they understand and perceive nothing that is superior or interior to nature, nor do they reason concerning them. On the other hand if they hear anyone reasoning on these subjects they think him insane, and openly make light of all but the rich, whom, from a view to private ends, they shrink from offending, leaving it to others to think and bewilder themselves [as they please], still cherishing the idea that their interior thoughts may be [at length] laid open. What their quality is was represented by a thin watery fluid contained between substances transparent on either side, which is the appropriate representation of the natural.3512.
It was shown also that when they were elevated to the sphere of interior and angelic spirits, the speech of their ideas was undulating, and became so wonderfully subtilized that I could scarcely perceive it. From their thus almost vanishing from my perception, I supposed that they were among the angels. They were represented as a thin whitish cloud, in which they were wholly in that sphere, not only the head and body, but also the feet, unlike most others who have their feet in the lower world of spirits. But it was said that those thus elevated think nothing of spiritual things, but only how they may become thus subtilized, which as before hinted, is only a kind of first plane, on which it is possible for them to come into connection [with a higher sphere].3513.
I heard some speaking from the same sphere, who had been instructed as to who the Lord is; who rules the universe; who are received [by him]; and when thus instructed were convinced and persuaded that the Lord alone is the ruler of the universe, from which they become more constant than others: 3513-1 and as they are then almost entirely in that sphere, they are unwilling to be among or to hear those in the world of spirits, who reason from visible things, and the like, and thus cloud and confound themselves. Indeed they rather deride all such, and renouncing all their speculations, abide in the truth, from which they do not suffer themselves to be drawn away. This character they contract from the life in the body, viz. from the cause above mentioned, that they do not reason concerning interior things, which they say no one can know; and from this also, that in their business transactions they rarely proceed through any other truths to their ultimate object than those that are certain and well-defined, and thus adopt such means and such a policy as they have learnt from experience will not deceive. Then again, being possessed of a subtlety of thought, which imbues their nature, they see how others err in adopting uncertain counsels and measures, without experience or principle, and thus generally fail of success. That they are of this character, may be known also to others; wherefore when in the other life they are confirmed and persuaded respecting whatever is true and truly good, they follow the same course, the Lord still upholding them in their peculiar nature, from which it is that they are confirmed and persuaded more strongly than others. It is for this reason that other spirits said they knew not where they were, or how they came into heaven. - 1748, October 10.3514.
They are not instructed like others, because they call [such instructions] reasonings; but when they have wandered about for a long time, not knowing how they can reach heaven or escape misery, they are left to reflect upon the means, and to be aware that they are not in [the use of] the means; the knowledges of faith are then gradually insinuated, and confirmed by reflection, till they are persuaded, they scarce know why; for it is not by means of instruction, as is the case with others. Among these are some in the heaven of spirits who may be called constancies, for they remain firm, nor do they suffer themselves to be led away by any deceit, or art, or reasoning, or injected doubts, or obscurity thence, or fallacy, or appearance, or phantasy, especially those whose life or soul was business, not money, and whose ruling end was a genteel style of living.3515.
But the sphere of those who have not yet received faith is to those who acknowledge and meditate upon interior things, continually repugnant, more so than that of all other spirits; whence for more than an entire day it was apparent to me with how much difficulty they are brought to the acknowledgement of the interior things of the Word; for they are not delighted or affected like others, by the exhibition of these interior things, but continually resist and fight against them, but in silence, without any open contradiction. They merely offer a general [internal] resistance; wherefore in the world they seem to be brought with more difficulty than others to the belief of those things which are of true faith. It was shown to me that their sphere conflicts with the sphere of those who are in faith, and who are yet so obstinate that they will not suffer themselves to be overcome. The sphere of the former drove that of the latter, and themselves with it, towards the right, but they still refused to yield, and again drove back their assailants, and so these also, in their turn, the latter, till finally the former, [the nullifidians] were compelled to recede. They moreover sometimes were seen clad in upper and lower garments like men of our earth, but in this dress appeared but obscurely, or as in an obscure vision. - 1748, October 10.3516.
They everywhere pretended with their lips that it was wholly for the sake of their republic that they were disposed to wrest from others their property, as if to them alone pertained everything in the whole extent of the earth. But it was told them that they had no [real] concern for the commonwealth, but merely laid hold of this as a confirmatory argument, as one does when he undertakes to defend any concupiscence to which he has become addicted. They were therefore remitted into a state which might put it to the test whether, if it had been possible, they would have seized and appropriated whatever belonged to the state and its citizens, and it was shown by an idea communicated to me, that they would have done it, and if the republic could not afterwards have sustained itself, that they would have gathered up their wealth and emigrated, not caring if the whole country should perish. Wherefore it is clear that the argument was post-assumed, and not a proof of their real end, which, if it had been, would have implied the presence of something good. As it was, it implied only evil, as they were wholly contrary to the love of the neighbor, not caring, as was shown, if they should so far deprive families of their substance that they should be compelled to go forth naked with their children and live by begging. There was therefore nothing in them but evil. They wondered when they perceived that they had nothing good in them, which they could not but perceive, as they were such as could perceive what is true, for they know that the love of the neighbor is the principal law: but whether they themselves had ought of this love, except towards the poor who favor [and assist] them in their writing and trading, though they ponder upon it, they find no evidence of it. As to others, they look upon them as laboring under phantasies with which their minds are infected. But when it was inquired whether they were not wholly contrary to love, and whether this was not still a principle of vastly higher excellence, they were unable to answer.3517.
Some of them being left to the thoughts which they formerly had of heavenly joy, it was said, that they conceived of it as some kind of joy different from that with which they had been acquainted on earth but whether it was to be preferred to terrestrial joy or not, they could not tell. It was evident, therefore, that they could have no idea of heavenly joy except from earthly. When they were asked what they could exact in the other life, where there was no more business, nor riches, nor traffic, -which are there unknown - they had nothing to reply.3518.
When it was said to them - but not in my hearing - that they could do nothing by their own efforts towards securing their entrance into heaven, I perceived that they [at once] took it for granted that they were to fold their hands and wait for [the divine] influence; for those of that character receive no other impression. But they were informed that this was not so, that men were to act, but that the work was still to be ascribed to the Lord, who gives power and strength to all; just as the preacher, when he says that the Lord speaks by him, that he directs his thoughts and words, and the like, does not hold his peace, and wait for [the divine] influence, but preaches as from himself, while he still says afterwards that he spoke from the Lord. The principle is the same in other cases. - 1748, October 10.3519.
They called their priests worldly priests, affirming this of them, because they live at home like others; wherefore it was not to be supposed that they could know anything of a celestial nature, for when they who ought to be of a heavenly character live thus, how could they believe there was anything heavenly among men? They moreover called the doctrine of faith a bond of society, that it was solely for the sake of the unprincipled, that they might be held together in some kind of union. As theirs is such a life of business, it was represented as a life of wintry light; and the sensible cold proceeding from them was felt in the foot and knee.3520.
The quality of the sphere of their faith was shown when I entered the temple of Paul, as it was then suddenly said to me, that some one had dreamed in his sleep that he was introduced by the Holy Spirit into this vast temple. Afterwards a certain person appeared to be raised up into heaven from the left towards the right, and it was said to me, and perceived, that it was some one who had recently died, and that he was immediately conveyed by angels to heaven. This gave occasion to a conversation, in which the circumstance was mentioned that some one had been immediately after his death taken to heaven by the angels who resuscitated him, and that it was seen that he was received by the Lord, and shown the glory of heaven. When this occurrence became a topic of conversation, the Hollanders around me induced such a sphere of incredulity as almost to stifle the belief of the fact, which it was also given me to tell them. I did not actually perceive their thoughts, but a sphere of incredulity is a collection of a great many thoughts which have been confirmed. They were moved by a kind of invidious wonder, that they should stand below, while others were raised to heaven.3521.
Continuing to converse with them respecting the operation of their sphere, some of them said they would believe if they should see me resuscitate a dead person who was lying on a bier. But is was given to reply, that even if they should see a dead person revived, they would not believe unless they should see me resuscitate a number, and even then they would ascribe it to natural causes, and so would believe less than before; for so it happens with anything which becomes familiar, that it makes no more impression than the sight of green meadows, which excite as little wonder when the causes are not considered, as did the manna with the Jews, though they saw it every day. Therefore faith cannot be rooted in a man's mind by means of miracles, nor even persuasion; if they are ever persuaded, it will be without miracles. They afterwards said, when left to their own thoughts that if they should see a priest raise [and reanimate] a dead body that was being borne to the burial, they should ascribe it to fraud; and when they were convinced that it was no fraud, they would say that the soul of the dead man had some secret communication with the priest, by means of which the resuscitation took place; and if they saw this happen in repeated instances, they would be confirmed in the idea that there was some secret in the case which they did not comprehend, as many things occur in the course of nature which are not well understood; but they would never believe the priest's assertion that the effect was wrought by a celestial power, and so would ascribe it to nature. The quality of their faith, even though miracles should be wrought, may hence appear. It is such that they neither believe in spirit, nor heaven, nor hell. 3521-13522.
They were remitted into their life, which, however incredible, is still done in the other world, and their life appeared like a whitish light, similar to that of the person spoken of above, who said that he was nothing; and it is a life without love of these latter, in naturals, because they have no love towards the neighbor - of him, because he would not acknowledge faith nor [admit] the word love. Thus it is a life without love, which is represented by such a whitish light. This kind of appearance ensues when they are remitted into the life of their business and the state of their thoughts when affairs were prosperous with them. A cold was perceived about the left region of the head, which was the cold of that kind of life; but they remarked that they did not feel the cold, because they were in their delights and the affection thereof, saying that they were in their heaven, from whence their heat was communicated to me, which affected the left region of the forehead, and the left cheek. But it was given to me to know that their life is turned into an icy coldness, and the splendor of their life into misery, thus all things into their contraries; for they cannot otherwise be affected by spiritual much less by heavenly things. - 1748, October 10.3523.
At length it was said to them through me, and, if I mistake not, by some of the same nation, that inasmuch as they had been persons of so much intelligence during life, and knew what truth was, they were able to know this also, that love to the neighbor is the principal law, without which no one can enter heaven, for heaven or the heavenly societies are made up of love, because from the Lord alone; hence they might know whether they possessed this love, and could thus be admitted into heaven. But they objected that those who were devoted to business could not attend to thoughts of this nature; to which it was replied, that there were rich men of business in heaven, and much richer than they, who spoke with them through me, confirming what I said, and saying, at the same time, that they had had the common good for an end, and love to the neighbor, and that they had carried on their mercantile pursuits for the sake of performing a use in the world, and had not set their hearts upon them, nor acquired a life from riches and trade. That they had actually become richer than the others, was shown by a spiritual idea. They said, moreover, that in the other life there was no respect of persons. - 1748, October 10. This only is to be added, that [the impression with these spirits that] the rich would remain [rich] that they would pertinaciously hold on [in their ruling character,] and would practice their multifarious wicked arts - these were perhaps the illusions of spirits respecting things to come.3524.
THAT SPIRITS HAVE AN EXQUISITE PERCEPTION THE THINGS THAT EXIST FROM SOCIETIES. I recollect its twice happening, that, while not aware of it, certain spirits, by means of a kind of affection or indignation induced upon my mind and my face the things which they perceived, and which were no otherwise made known to me than by that effect. It was hence given to know that spirits have a very exquisite perception of the changes of affections and persuasions which occur, but which I could perceive only from the effect. Thus they inspired a species of indignation or of shame, the cause of which I did not understand till some time afterwards. What kind of spirits they were I know not, nor do I think they spoke; still they were present. - 1748, October 10.3525.
CONCERNING TUTELARY ANGELS, AND THE SPIRITS BY WHICH MAN IS LED. I was instructed that with every man there are two angelic spirits at his head, by whom the Lord protects man, whose office it is to moderate and control the evil spirits who approach him, besides various other things pertaining to a man's truth and good. Those spoken of just above were, I think of this sort there are, moreover, spirits who think that they are themselves the man - one, two, or three, who are subjects of the world of spirits, upon whom their influence acts. These spirits are changed according to the general changes in the state of man, and are controlled by angelic spirits of whom they are entirely ignorant. Angelic spirits, without reflection, know no otherwise than that they are themselves the man, but the interior man, in whose interior thoughts they act - thoughts which do not fall within the consciousness of the man himself. But when reflection is given they know that they are angelic spirits. As to a change of these - whether others succeed in turn - instruction is not given. The case is similar with that of the inhabitants of Jupiter, with whom, when the chastising spirits approach, there are two angels present at the head. Thus, too, with the dead who are to be resuscitated, there are always two angels. - 1748, October 10.3526.
CONTINUATION CONCERNING THE HOLLANDERS. Many things were represented during this night, and after I awoke, concerning their wicked machinations, tending to the destruction of interior things, and against conjugial love; but as I was unable to learn what they signified, or whether they proceeded from themselves or from the prior instigation of other reprobate spirits, I omit the recital.3527.
I will only say that there was in no case a disposition to change anything true and good, as [being] what they truly and rightly believe, as that the Lord rules the universe, which is the doctrine of faith with them and others, for the Lord Himself said that all power was given to Him in heaven and earth; it is also known to them that they are nothing; that they ought to put off the old man, which is to die with its pleasures and lusts, that the new man may rise; as also that the Lord Himself is the all of life, for they pray and teach that all their thoughts, words, and actions may be governed by the Lord. It is known moreover that they say they believe that faith is everything, that the love of the neighbor is the principal law, and that thus love is in all and each of the things of heaven, and also in faith; and as the Lord is the only love and thence compassion, that the Lord rules the universe, and that faith is of love and therefore of Him. - 1748, October 10. Consequently their businesses are not condemned.3528.
Since then the state of things is such that two angels govern the interiors of man and at the same time rule the spirits who induce cupidities and think that they are the man; and especially since the state of things is such in general and in particular that evil spirits flow in so strongly as to have become acting powers, while good spirits or angels are mere resisting powers; it thence follows, that the world of spirits is filled with the spirits of evil, who infuse into man the evil of their own nature, and that to such a degree that good spirits and angels are scarce able to resist it any longer, and thus the equilibrium is in danger of perishing, which is the same thing with the predicted consummation of the Gentiles; for when evil begins to conquer, or rather to drive away good, if good spirits then recede, the case of the human race becomes hopeless. But that good spirits cannot resist without the immediate help of the Lord, has been abundantly shown me; yet immediate help is not according to order, for order requires that there should be an equilibrium of all things; and when the equilibrium perishes, then the last times have arrived. That this crisis is at hand may be gathered from various things in my experience; for at this day the throng of evil spirits is so immense, and their malignity so great, as to be incredible. They could indeed all of them be driven away by the slightest force, and even by the power of an infant, but in that case the evil come into such tortures, and into such a hell, that it could not otherwise be than that they should endure severer pains than would be conducive to their amendment and reformation. - 1748, October 10.3529.
THAT SPIRITS, ALTHOUGH THEY NEITHER SEE NOR PERCEIVE ANYTHING THROUGH THE SENSES OF MAN, YET KNOW WHAT HE THINKS, AND PERCEIVE WHAT HE COVETS. It was given me to know by experience that spirits, although they neither see nor hear anything through the eye or ear of man, yet they know his thoughts and perceive his desires; for I have spoken with spirits by whom my thoughts and desires were controlled, [who said] that they did not see when I was by the fire [for instance], and yet they knew and wished to dispose my actions. Those that are more remote do not thus see and hear, yet still they dispose; yea, spirits know the taste of the things that I eat and drink, although they have not taste. Even this they would not have been aware of, unless reflection had been given them, and yet they disposed my thoughts and desires, for they are in fact the thoughts, as it were, of the man himself, and his cupidities. Whatever enters through the senses he draws it up into his thoughts and into his concupiscences, and thus into the [attendant] spirits; wherefore, since this is the case, there is no need of their seeing or hearing otherwise with me. - 1748, October 10.3530.
THAT MUTUAL LOVE IN HEAVEN IS TO LOVE THE NEIGHBOR BETTER THAN ONE'S SELF. This may be seen in shadow from true conjugial love, in that a husband loves his partner better than himself; that he will undergo death for her; that he will lay out upon her all his goods; that he will give to her rather than [take for] himself. So also from the love of parents towards their children, as it is known to everyone, that a mother will suffer hunger herself rather than that her infant shall go without food. The beasts and birds, in like manner, are more solicitous for their offspring than for themselves. Thus too from true friendships, when one will die for his friend, and will serve him in every way before himself. So likewise from common civility, which draws its origin from this source, and in which mutual love is externally evinced by giving better portions, dishes, c., to another, and taking the poorer to one's self. And finally from deposits and loans, when those that are upright will guard and preserve what belongs to their neighbor more carefully than they do what is their own. - 1748, October 10. The same thing appears from the nature of love, which is such that it wishes to give itself to others, and its joy is to serve another and not itself: when there are many such there is mutual love, for what is similar is reciprocal. But they cannot receive this who love themselves supremely, or who are greedy of lucre, least of all the avaricious. Thus is the Lord [in his love] shadowed forth. These things are said in the presence of spirits.3531.
CONCERNING THE COMMON PEOPLE, RUSTICS, AND THE LIKE. At the right side, as if from a deep abyss, there rose up a voluminous mass or flood of people, as great numbers of people appear like such rolling masses or billows in the other life, as I had often observed before. They rose in this voluminous manner, as if with a hoarse sobbing kind of sound. I called it gurgling [kluncka], because it was of a gurgling sound [klunckweis]. Wondering who they were, it was told me that they were of the common people, rude but not depraved like robbers, the deceitful, or the malignant, but of other classes, which are vastly numerous, such as simple rustics. I spoke with them and found that they knew nothing except respecting the Lord, to whose name they commended themselves. As to other things they were profoundly ignorant, unless it were that they had some knowledge of faith. Other similar spirits succeeded in like manner, but their sobbing, as it were, or the modulation of their rolling mass resembling sobs, was quicker. They rose very near to the right side. Then others rose with more quickness [and animation] through the foot, through the body, even into the belly, whom I perceived to be those that possessed, during life, more of the knowledges of faith, and so pertained to the various provinces of the interior regions of the body. There were thus three classes of them, who knew almost nothing in life, except that they adored the Lord, some of them knowing something of faith, others a little more; thus they were collected from all that class of people who are simple in faith. I heard those who were on the side, and they read the Lord's prayer with so much simplicity that it scarcely amounted to the literal sense, still it was in such a manner as showed that their interiors might be opened. It was also given to perceive from the odor or stalls, that they were such as had been devoted to the tending of flocks, bullocks, and similar domestic cares.3532.
As to what relates to their speech, many of them, indeed all that came together, were prompted to speak simultaneously, and no one any different from another, although there was no society; still all spoke and thought alike, which made them better capable of being initiated I afterwards heard from these and others like them, who were nearer the side, a sonorous speech in society or choir, but somewhat hoarser; then a quicker one, indicating that they could shortly be initiated and come into concert with the societies of good spirits, and afterwards, when duly instructed, with the societies of angelic spirits, and so onwards. Their conscience and perception of good was communicated to me, and especially their conjugial love, which was such that they loved each other mutually, like married partners, but it was so extremely simple that I know not how to describe the perception of it. I spoke with them of conjugial love, and they said that they knew not whether their wives loved them. They conversed only partly by speech, yet from the perception communicated to me, it was given to know that they really loved. And if they did not abhor adulteries, yet they abstained from them from a certain law of conscience, which they now say they do not know, only that they had no inclination that way, and consequently no power.3533.
Such persons, and infants, in the other life, are they who remain firm and constant in faith, without doubts, nor do they suffer themselves to be drawn away by insidious objections, wherefore they do not vacillate, caring nothing for cavils, and being assured that the Lord rules the universe. - 1748, October 11.3534.
CONCERNING CERTAIN PERSONS OF EXTREME CRAFTINESS. A little before the left eye, and somewhat elevated in front, were gathered together in a kind of globe, those of such a quality that they act insidiously in secret, far more so than others, concerning whom it is permitted on this occasion to relate barely the fact, that they continually send forth insidious emissaries, whom they inspire as subjects, and who act with a subtlety that cannot be exceeded, simulating other persons, and practicing various deceits hitherto unknown to me. They especially practice their arts against conjugial love, thence against interior and more interior [principles], and so against those that are spiritual and celestial. Their subjects go forth to a considerable distance, and then return and report [their proceedings]. Some of them, like other [i. e. like good societies] dared to send their subjects to me, and to hold [me for a while under their influence]. - 1748, October 11.3535.
Some of those insidious spirits wished to instill into me their poisonous suggestions concerning the Lord, as those are accustomed to do who are made up, as it were, of mere scandals; but it was given to say to them what might suffice for their conviction - that the Lord was the Father, and thus one, as he Himself said, which might evidently appear from this, that from Him is Innocence, from Him Peace, from Him Mercy, from Him Mutual Love, from Him Goodness and Truth, all which are divine. Of Him Moses and the Prophets [wrote], and He was represented by all the typical rites of the Church; and as I was fully convinced and persuaded on all these points, what would they have more? They were unable to make any reply. - 1748, October 11.3536.
Such being the persuasions of their life, that whithersoever they come, they can, as it were, seduce other spirits by the life of their persuasions, as soon as their sphere begins to operate, it was given to ask them how, if anyone was warm and he should be surrounded with ice, he could help becoming cold? or if he was in light, and the windows should be closed, [how] he should not be enveloped in darkness, and thus unable to see?3537.
CONCERNING TRUTHS, AND THEIR BEING VARIED BY CIRCUMSTANCES I spoke with spirits respecting the position, that the character of a thing is often varied by circumstances. They suppose that no absolute truth is given, and maintain that from the power of circumstances to alter the character of a fact, Pilate said to the Lord, "What is truth?" It was given to reply, that all the knowledges of faith are verities, that truths are eternal, and that whatever is of the truth of faith is an eternal truth; but that while circumstances may affect, they do not take away truths; as, for instance, let it be granted that Adam was the first and only man, and that his sons and daughters might be joined in marriage, yet this does not nullify the eternal truth that such marriages are unlawful. Again, let it be assumed that it is better to enter into marriage in the season of youth than to practice concubinage previously; this does not take away the truth, that as society is constituted, such marriages cannot be contracted before they are able to bring up children. So in regard to the Jews and Gentiles; [as for instance] concerning the Jewish children who, from the persuasion of their parents that the Lord is not the Messiah, are not instructed to believe it; yet as it is owing simply to circumstances that the children cannot believe otherwise than they do, this does not abolish with them the truth, that the Lord is the promised Messiah. And thus as to the Gentiles who are in ignorance, not knowing that the Lord rules the universe; this ignorance, being a circumstance, does not preclude their being instructed in the other life, and thus saved; besides many other things. - 1748, October 11. Thus the literal sense of the Word [implying] that the Lord does evil, that he slays, that he is angry; as also that man does good, and other similar things in the Old Testament, do not affect the position, that the interior sense is the truth. - 1748.3538.
HOW ANGELIC SPIRITS VIEW WHATEVER COMES TO PASS. I perceived by a spiritual idea communicated by angelic spirits, that they so regard existing things as to recognize the Lord's disposal and permission in every particular. They unceasingly look upon the events that occur as proceeding from the Lord thus disposing and permitting, yet not as men, or non-evil, or evil spirits do, who would fain have the Lord dispose things according to their views, phantasies, and cupidities, and when they happen otherwise give way to doubt and deny a providence; all which flows from the fact that they are not in faith, and thus from their phantasies would have the universe and all its details governed just as they would govern it themselves. They neither can nor will acknowledge that all and singular events happen in such a way that man may not perceive it, and thus may be kept in faith, or brought to the state of angelic spirits, of whom I am now speaking, especially that man should not be solicitous about the future, or trust to his own prudence. Wherefore those that are in faith rarely obtain the objects of their desire, while they desire them, but yet, if it be for their good, they obtain them afterwards, when not thinking of them. - 1748, October 11.3539.
WHAT THE QUALITY OF THE LIFE OF THE EVIL IS. The life of the affections or of the will of the evil is like the fire of a torch, or of a wax candle, or of sulfur; for into such a life, which is one of cupidities, is the life of the Lord's love and mercy turned. The life of their understanding is as a dim lumen thence, which extends to a considerable distance, but yet verges to obscurity or goes out altogether. But when true celestial love approaches and spreads to a distance, as when the light of the sun dawns upon the world, it is extinguished. The fiery part first dies away, and is afterwards turned to cold because contrary to true love. The difference in the degree of cold is according to the nearness and quantity of the love, that is, according to the measure of mutual love, of conjugial love, of parental love, as also of mercy, peace, and innocence that there is in it. But at the approach of truth, which is intellectual light, their fiery lumen begins to grow dim, and at length turns into darkness, and that too according to the distance and quality of the light, the degrees of which are indefinite. Hence we may learn the nature of the rainbows, which correspond to affections and truths, or to will and understanding.3540.
CONCERNING THE GENERAL SPHERE OF THOSE WHO SUPPOSE SPIRITS TO BE OF THE NATURE OF THE ATMOSPHERE. I was for some time in a sphere which was very far from being agreeable, as it was so general that I could not perceive spirits any more than if there had been no spirit at all, as they disappeared so completely that I could scarcely perceive that they were anything. They were very numerous, and were manifested as in a small star or white scintillation, made up of a vast multitude of little wandering sparkles; and it was said that they were like these in number, so that no one of them could be perceived as anything. There was at the same time a certain disorder about them, such as to prevent any apparent consociation, so vaguely erratic were they in their sphere. Indeed there was nothing in such a sphere but a loose general somewhat, without any fixed tendency to societies; in a word nothing but an indeterminate and unassociated commune - a sphere that affected me most unpleasantly, and induced an idea as if there were no society, and that one did not know another, but everyone wandered about, as though flowing forth into the universe at large. I was instructed that they were those who in the life of the body had cherished the idea respecting spirits, that they were somewhat of the nature of the atmosphere, invisible, without any quality definable by words, thus not perceptible, though wandering about in the universe. Those that entertain this idea are innumerable, on which account all that are of such a quality are remitted into it. While in that sphere I wondered whether, in the other life, one would ever know another, thinking that all perception would perish, and still more, consociation; and yet, notwithstanding, one would [somehow] find another, and from this arose that most disagreeable sphere which I have called general. I was informed that they actually were in society, though it did not appear so, for they yet had life, and [from their associated life] they spoke with me.3541.
CONCERNING THE PERSUASION OF CERTAIN SPIRITS. There was a certain spirit who entered into me with his persuasion, and attempted by means of it to do me injury. He was thrust down below, because such persuasion is not permitted. Exploration was made thence, and those who were above the head were found to be of this character, and they appeared to have rays shooting out of their eyes, which were bent backwards, but not extending so far as in the case of those who had been previously exhibited in [the strength of their] persuasion, or as in that of the antediluvians, who were distinguished by such pointed emanations, though longer. Such are those who in the life of the body had succeeded in all their undertakings, and hence had acquired the persuasion, that let them attempt what they would, they would succeed in it. When such persons are evil, they believe confidently, in the other life, that whatever they engage in, they will succeed in it, and are in the full persuasion [of this]; and certain great ones induce upon others the persuasion, as is done here also, when they are [themselves] in the persuasion. They then modify and vary the sphere of the one to whom they come, as may be seen in what has been previously said of the antediluvians. Those who were above the head said, as they believed, that they could pour forth their persuasions upon others, and effect anything by means of them. The sphere of their persuasion was widely extended, and it was perceived as being external, so that they had no power against interior things, still less that they were able to pervert those that were in faith. This faculty is among magical arts, but they are expelled from societies. - 1748, October 12.3542.
CONCERNING INFANTS. Infants were oftentimes sent to me in bands, which surrounded me, and from the sound they made I was enabled to know that they were infants. They were heard as something tender, yet inordinate, though their sound cannot well be described. They flowed, as it were, round about and just above the head. It is proper to state concerning them, that as often as they were heard, the spirits who were present could scarce refrain from leading them, or compelling them to speak, that they might speak through them. But this was resisted as often as attempted, and the infants were, as it were, indignant that others should think to rule them and compel them to speak. I observed their resistance as often as the attempt was made, and when allowed they said they wished to speak, and yet did not wish to do it in this way; yea, it was given them to speak freely. This, I was informed, was their temptation, that they might be kept in a constant repugnance towards those who might wish to lead and rule them, and might be initiated into the habit of regarding the Lord alone as he that is to lead and rule them, and from whom they are to think and speak; thus they grow up.3543.
They moreover, on three or four different occasions, recited the Lord's prayer, but so tenderly that they scarcely seemed to apprehend even the literal sense; but as they grow up they are endowed by the Lord with a fuller perception of the meaning, and are initiated into ideas, and finally into the understanding of the internal sense; for the Lord acts through them chiefly from an interior ground.3544.
Some of them are of a spiritual, and some of a celestial genius. The spiritual are known by a certain crackling tone of voice, as they are smarter, and break out more hastily into a kind of indignation when they perceive anything contrary to goodness and truth, which they wish to correct; but it is not granted them to do anything more than thus to break out and to will, for they do not yet understand. I have several times witnessed this peculiar ebullition, as if by a sort of winged darting forth, when they wished to utter their indignation because others did violence to the truth, and because it was not allowed them to declare the fact as they knew it to be; but as this is not yet permitted them, they are immediately restrained.3545.
That they are instructed by angels, or in heaven, was declared to me, as also that they grow; and that they become more celestial and spiritual than others, appeared from the case of one who had died in infancy some years before, and had now become adult as we are. He spoke with his brother from the promptings of mutual and fraternal love, and so moved his interiors that he could not refrain from tears, because, as he afterwards said, it was love itself that spoke. Such are infants while growing up, and they are those who are nearest to the Lord. - 1748, October 12.3546.
THAT THE WORLD OF SPIRITS CANNOT HELP FLYING BEFORE THE POWERFUL PRESENCE OF A SINGLE ANGEL. There were spirits around me not of an evil order, and when one angel, who deceased in infancy - the son of a prince - came to me, I remarked to him that the spirits would fly, as it was perceived that they could not stand against his sphere, which accordingly happened, for the spirits removed themselves to a distance, that they might get without his sphere, or place themselves within its outer border, as they were not evil. Hence it may appear that one infant, or one angel, can drive away myriads of spirits, nay the whole world of spirits, for they cannot sustain the sphere of mutual love, and yet it was perceived that his sphere was tempered by the consociation of others, so that it had comparatively little power - 1748, October 12.3547.
THAT INFANTS, ALTHOUGH THEY GROW UP IN HEAVEN: ARE STILL SINFUL AND IMPURE, AND IN THEMSELVES NOTHING BUT EVIL. It was the perverse opinion of certain spirits, that infants who grew up in heaven were pure, because there was in them no actual evil, as in adults on earth. But there was a certain one who had died an infant and grown up in heaven, who because he thought otherwise, and perhaps because he was ignorant of his own evil, was remitted, like others, among spirits, and then spoke with them on the subject of infants, saying that they were made up, as it were, of hereditary evil, so that they were nothing but evil, yet still with some diversity, according to the evil successively transmitted by descent from parents, which continually bursts forth, and, as being the evil of lusts, continually suggests falsities. Wherefore they can never be perfected to eternity, or an absolute correspondence be given, because the stock of evil incessantly buds, from whence are abundant actual evils in the life of the body, excited by hereditary evils, of which the diversities exist according to the actual evils of the parents successively transmitted. Hence it is that the evils of some families may be distinguished from those of others. Good therefore can never [from this source] be implanted in infants, because they cannot be good and evil at the same time; but all their good is from the Lord. - 1748, October 12.3548.
One who died an infant and became an adult in heaven, was remitted among spirits that he might know the quality which he had acquired from hereditary evil. He was born a prince, and I perceived that he retained a hereditary disposition to exercise dominion over others, and also that he made light of adulteries, as had also his ancestors; whence it appeared that hereditary evil adheres without receding, and that when opportunity offers it breaks out. He was otherwise [or ordinarily] such as to be capable of being imbued in heaven with mutual love in an eminent degree. - 1748, October 12.3549.
THAT EVIL SPIRITS MAY BE DISPERSED BY THOSE WHO ARE SIMPLY KEPT BY THE LORD IN THE KNOWLEDGES OF FAITH. It is now perceived by experience that evil spirits will recede and remain in an inability to speak or think or communicate ought of themselves to me, so long as I am kept simply in the faith of universal knowledges; for it is given to say to them that it is of no use to urge objections, but that if they are so ingenious they ought rather to discuss the objections and doubts, arising from the knowledges of faith in which I am now held and kept; but all the spirits are as dumb as if they had retired; indeed some of them have retired, as I am given to understand. Hence it appears, that they who believe in simplicity, as for instance, that the Lord rules the universe, that the Lord alone is life, that their proprium is nothing but evil, and who do not admit objections from whence come doubt - that with them evil spirits are dispersed, for with such an one they cannot be, as I perceived that they themselves also think. - 1748, October 12.3550.
CONCERNING THE LOWEST OF THE COMMON PEOPLE. I perceived for some time a cold considerably severe from the sole of the foot upwards through the foot itself to the knee, and even to the loins, first in the right foot, then in the left. It clearly appeared that they were spirits thus cold; or rather cool, and wondering who they were, I was informed that those which ascended through the right foot were such as had lived in absolute ignorance, and were contrary to my love as to externals, [indulging] in drinking, whipping each other, etc., characters such as are found in the lowest of the populace, who live in woods, differing little from the wild beasts, and who would be beasts but from possessing the faculty of thought, by which alone they are to be distinguished from them. Those that ascended so coldly through the left foot were in like manner from the dregs of the people, who utterly denied a life after death, and believed that they would die like the beasts. Those therefore who were in such principles were raised through the province of the left foot.
3513-1 Speaking in another place of the Hollanders in the other life, Swedenborg says, to the same effect, "These afterwards became more constant than others, so that they may be called CONSTANCIES: nor do they suffer themselves to be led away by any reasoning, fallacy, obscurity induced by sophistry, or by preposterous vision from confirmations alone; for they become more clear-sighted than before."- True Christian Religion 802.
3521-1 Compare AC 5573.