Heaven and Hell/17

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Heaven and Hell by Emanuel Swedenborg
Chapter XVII, Changes of State of the Angels in Heaven

XVII
Changes of State of the Angels in Heaven[edit]

154. By changes of state of angels their changes in respect to love and faith, and wisdom and intelligence therefrom, are meant, thus their changes in respect to states of life. States are predicated of life and of what belongs to life; and as angelic life is a life of love and faith, and of wisdom and intelligence therefrom, states are predicated of these and are called states of love and faith, and states of wisdom and intelligence. How with angels these states are changed shall now be told.


155. Angels are not constantly in the same state in respect to love, and in consequence in the same state in respect to wisdom; for all their wisdom is from their love and in accordance with their love. Sometimes they are in a state of intense love, sometimes in a state of love not so intense. The state decreases by degrees from its greatest degree to its least. When in their greatest degree of love they are in the light and warmth of their life, or in a clear and delightful state; but in their least degree they are in shade and cold, or in an obscure and undelightful state. From this last state they return again to the first, and so on, these alternations following one after another with variety. There is a sequence of these states like the varied states of light and shade, or of heat and cold, or like morning, noon, evening, and night, day after day in the world, with unceasing variety throughout the year. There is also a correspondence, morning corresponding to the state of their love in its clearness, noon to the state of their wisdom in its clearness, evening to the state of their wisdom in its obscurity, and night to a state of no love or wisdom. But it must be understood that there is no correspondence of night with the states of life of those in heaven, although there is what corresponds to the dawn that precedes morning; what corresponds to night is with those in hell.[1] From this correspondence "day" and "year" signify in the Word states of life in general; "heat" and "light" signify love and wisdom; "morning" the first and highest degree of love "noon" wisdom in its light; "evening" wisdom in its shade; "dawn" the obscurity that precedes the morning; and "night" the absence of love and wisdom.[2]


156. Together with the state of the angels' interiors which pertain to their love and wisdom, the states of various things that are outside of them and that they see with their eyes are changed; for the things outside of them take on an appearance that is in accord with the things within them. But what things these are, and what kind of things they are, shall be told presently in the chapter on Representatives and Appearances in Heaven.


157. Every angel undergoes and passes through such changes of state, and also every society in general, and yet each one differently, for the reason that they differ in love and wisdom, those in the middle being in a more perfect state than those round about even to the circumference (see above, n. 43, 128). But it would be tedious to specify the differences, since the changes each one undergoes are in accord with the quality of his love and faith. From this it happens that while one may be in clearness and delight another may be in obscurity and lack of delight, and this at the same time within the same society. So, too, the state differs in different societies; it is different in the societies of the celestial kingdom from what it is in those of the spiritual kingdom. These differences in the changes of state are in general like the variations of the states of days in different climates on the earth, for with some it is morning when with others it is evening, and with some it is hot when with others it is cold.


158. I have been taught from heaven why there are such changes of state there. The angels said that there are many reasons-first, the delight of life and of heaven, which they have from love and wisdom from the Lord, would gradually lose its value if they were in it continually, as happens with those that are in allurements and pleasures without variety. A second reason is that angels, as well as men, have what is their own [proprium], which is loving self; and all that are in heaven are withheld from what is their own, and so far as they are withheld from it by the Lord are in love and wisdom; but so far as they are not withheld they are in the love of self; and because everyone loves what is his own and is drawn by it[3] they have changes of state or successive alternations. A third reason is that they are in this way perfected, for they thus become accustomed to being held in love to the Lord and withheld from love of self; also that by alternations between delight and lack of delight the perception and sense of good becomes more exquisite.[4] The angels added that their changes of state are not caused by the Lord, since the Lord as a sun is unceasingly flowing in with heat and light, that is, with love and wisdom; but the cause is in themselves, in that they love what is their own, and this continually leads them away. This was illustrated by comparison with the sun of the world, that the cause of the changes of state of heat and cold and of light and shade, year by year and day by day, is not in that sun, since it stands unchanged, but the cause is in the earth.


159. I have been shown how the Lord as a sun appears to the angels of the celestial kingdom in their first state, in their second state, and in their third state. I saw the Lord as a sun, at first glowing and brilliant with a splendor that cannot be described; and I was told that such is the appearance of the Lord as a sun to the angels in their first state. Afterwards there appeared a great obscure belt about the sun, and by this its first glow and brilliancy, which gave it such splendor, began to be dulled, and I was told that such is the appearance of the sun to them in their second state. Then the belt seemed by degrees to grow darker, and the sun to appear less glowing, and this by degrees until at length it took on a shining whiteness; and I was told that such is the appearance of the sun to them in their third state. After this, that shining whiteness was seen to move to the left towards the moon of heaven, and to add itself to her light; and in consequence the moon shone forth with unwonted splendor; and I was told that such is the fourth state of those in the celestial kingdom and the first state of those in the spiritual kingdom, and that in both kingdoms changes of state have such alternations; yet not in the whole kingdom at once, but in one society after another. Furthermore, I was told that these alternations are not fixed, but come upon them sooner or later without their knowledge. And it was added that the sun in itself is not thus changed or moved; but it takes on this appearance in accord with their successive progressions of state, since the Lord appears to everyone in accord with what his state is, thus glowing when one is in intense love and less glowing and finally shining white as his love subsides; and the quality of each one's state was represented by the obscure belt that induced upon the sun these apparent variations in its glow and light.


160. When angels are in the last of these states, which is when they are in what is their own, they begin to be sad. I have talked with them when they were in that state and have seen their sadness; but they said that they hoped to return soon to their former state, and thus into heaven again, as it were; for to them it is heaven to be withheld from what is their own.


161. There are also changes of state in the hells, but these will be described later when hell is treated of.


  1. In heaven there is a state corresponding to the dawn that precedes morning, but no state corresponding to night (n. 6110). The "dawn" signifies a middle state between the last and the first (n. 10134).
  2. Alternations of state in respect to enlightenment and perception occur in heaven, like the times of day in the world (n. 5672, 5962, 6110, 8426, 9213, 10605). In the Word "day" and "year" signify all states in general (n. 23, 487, 488, 493, 893, 2788, 3462, 4850, 10656). "Morning" signifies the beginning of a new state, and a state of love (n. 7218, 8426, 8427, 10114, 10134). "Evening" signifies a state of declining light and love (n. 10134, 10135). "Night" signifies a state of no love or faith (n. 221, 709, 2353, 6000, 6110, 7870, 7947).
  3. Man's own [proprium] is loving self (n. 694, 731, 4317, 5660). The Lord cannot be present unless what is man's own is set aside (n. 1023, 1044). It is actually set aside when one is held in good by the Lord (n. 9334-9336, 9447, 9452-9454, 9938).
  4. The angels are being perfected to eternity (n. 4803, 6648). In the heavens one state is never just like another, and from this there is an unceasing process of perfection (n. 10200).