Heaven and Hell/24

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Heaven and Hell by Emanuel Swedenborg
Chapter XXIV, Governments in Heaven

XXIV
Governments in Heaven[edit]

213. As heaven is divided into societies, and the larger societies consist of some hundreds of thousands of angels (n. 50), and all within a society, although in like good, are not in like wisdom (n. 43), it must needs follow that governments exist there, since order must be observed, and all things of order must be guarded. But the governments in the heavens differ; they are of one sort in societies that constitute the Lord's celestial kingdom, and of another sort in the societies that constitute His spiritual kingdom; they differ also in accordance with the functions of the several societies. Nevertheless, no other government than the government of mutual love is possible in the heavens, and the government of mutual love is heavenly government.


214. Government in the Lord's celestial kingdom is called righteousness because all in that kingdom are in the good of love to the Lord from the Lord, and whatever is from that good is called righteous. Government there belongs to the Lord alone. He leads them and teaches them in the affairs of life. The truths that are called truths of judgment are written on their hearts; everyone knows them, perceives them, and sees them;[1] and in consequence matters of judgment there never come into question, but only matters of righteousness, which belong to the life. About these matters the less wise consult the more wise, and these consult the Lord and receive answers. Their heaven, that is, their inmost joy, is to live rightly from the Lord.


215. In the Lord's spiritual kingdom the government is called judgment; because those in that kingdom are in spiritual good, which is the good of charity towards the neighbor, and that good in its essence is truth;[2] and truth pertains to judgment, as good pertains to righteousness.[3] These, too, are led by the Lord, but mediately (n. 208); and in consequence they have governors, few or many according to the need of the society in which they are. They also have laws according to which they live together. The governors administer all things in accordance with the laws, which they understand because they are wise, and in doubtful matters they are enlightened by the Lord.


216. As government from good, which is the kind of government that exists in the Lord's celestial kingdom, is called righteousness; and government from truth, which is the kind of government that exists in the Lord's spiritual kingdom, is called judgment, so the terms "righteousness and judgment" are used in the Word when heaven and the church are treated of, "righteousness" signifying celestial good, and "judgment" spiritual good, which good, as has been said above, is in its essence truth, as in the following passages:

Of peace there shall be no end upon the throne of David and upon His kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it in judgment and in righteousness from henceforth and even to eternity (Isaiah 9:7).

By "David" here the Lord is meant;[4] and by "His kingdom" heaven, as is evident from the following passage:

I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and He shall reign as King, and shall deal intelligently and shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land (Jer. 23:5).

Jehovah is exalted, for He dwelleth on high; He hath filled Zion with judgment and righteousness (Isaiah 33:5).

"Zion" also means heaven and the church.[5]

I, Jehovah, doing judgment and righteousness on the earth, for in these things I delight (Jer. 9:24).

I will betroth thee unto Me forever, and I will betroth thee unto Me in righteousness and judgment (Hosea 2:19).

O Jehovah, in the heavens Thy righteousness is like the mountains of God, and Thy judgments are like the great deep (Psalm 36:5, 6).

They ask of Me the judgments of righteousness, they long for an approach unto God (Isaiah 58:2). So in other places.


217. In the Lord's spiritual kingdom there are various forms of government, differing in different societies, the variety being in accord with the functions performed by the societies; and the functions of these are in accord with the functions of all things in man to which they correspond. That these are various is well known, the heart having one function, the lungs another, the liver another, the pancreas and spleen another, and each sensory organ another. As in the body these organs perform various services, so there are various services pertaining to the societies in the Greatest Man, which is heaven for the societies there correspond to these organs. That there is a correspondence of all things of heaven with all things of man may be seen in its own chapter above (n. 87-102). But all these forms of government agree in this, that they look to the public good as their end, and in that good to the good of the individual.[6] And this is so because everyone in the whole heaven is under the auspices of the Lord, who loves all, and from Divine love ordains that there shall be a common good, from which each individual shall receive his own good. Each one, moreover, receives good according as he loves the common good; for so far as he loves the common good he loves all and everyone; and as that love is love of the Lord he is to that extent loved by the Lord, and good comes to him.


218. From all this it can be seen what the governors there are, namely, that they are such as are preeminent in love and wisdom, and therefore desire the good of all, and from wisdom know how to provide for the realization of that good. Such governors do not domineer or dictate, but they minister and serve (to serve meaning to do good to others from a love of the good, and to minister meaning to see to it that the good is done); nor do they make themselves greater than others, but less, for they put the good of society and of the neighbor in the first place, and put their own good last; and whatever is in the first place is greater and what is last is less. Nevertheless, the rulers have honor and glory; they dwell in the midst of the society, in higher position than the rest, and also in magnificent palaces; and this glory and honor they accept not for the sake of themselves but for the sake of obedience; for all there know that they have this honor and glory from the Lord, and on that account should be obeyed. This is what is meant by the Lord's words to His disciples:

Whosoever would become great among you let him be your minister; and whosoever would be first among you let him be your servant; as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto but to minister (Matt. 20:27, 28).

He that is greatest among you let him be as the least, and he that is chief as he that doth minister (Luke 22:26).


219. Also in each house there is a like government in a lesser form. In every house there is a master and there are servants; the master loves the servants and the servants love the master, consequently they serve each other from love. The master teaches how they ought to live, and tells what is to be done; the servants obey and perform their duties. To perform use is the delight of everyone's life. This shows that the Lord's kingdom is a kingdom of uses.


220. Also in the hells there are governments, for without governments they could not be kept in restraint; but the governments there are opposite to the governments in the heavens; they are governments of the love of self. Everyone there wishes to dictate to others and to be over others. They hate those that do not favor them, and make them objects of their vengeance and fury, for such is the nature of the love of self. Therefore the more malignant are set over them as governors, and these they obey from fear.[7] But of this below, where the hells are treated of.


  1. The celestial angels do not think and speak from truths, as the spiritual angels do, because they have from the Lord a perception of all things of truth (n. 202, 597, 607, 784, 1121, 1384, 1398, 1442, 1919, 7680, 7877, 8780, 9277, 10336). In respect to truths the celestial angels say, Yea, yea, or Nay, nay; but the spiritual angels reason about them whether they are true or not (n. 2715, 3246, 4448, 9166, 10786, where the Lord's words, Let your speech be Yea, yea, Nay, nay; what is beyond these is from evil (Matt. 5:37). are explained).
  2. Those in the spiritual kingdom are in truths, and those in the celestial kingdom are in good (n. 863, 875, 927, 1023, 1043, 1044, 1555, 2256, 4328, 4493, 5113, 9596). The good of the spiritual kingdom is the good of charity towards the neighbor and this good in its essence is truth (n. 8042, 10296).
  3. In the Word "righteousness" is predicated of good, and "Judgment" of truth therefore "to do righteousness and judgment" means good and truth (n. 2235, 9857). "Great judgments" means the law of Divine order, thus Divine truths (n. 7206).
  4. By "David" in the prophetic parts of the Word, the Lord is meant (n. 1888, 9954).
  5. In the Word "Zion" means the church, and specifically the celestial church (n. 2362, 9055).
  6. Every man and every community, also one's country and the church and in the universal sense the kingdom of the Lord, is a neighbor, and to do good to these from love of good in accordance with their state is to love the neighbor; that is, the neighbor is the good of these, which is the common good that must be consulted (n. 6818-6824, 8123). Civil good also, which is justice, is a neighbor (n. 2915, 4730, 8120-8123). Therefore charity towards the neighbor extends itself to all things and each thing of the life of man; and loving good and doing good from love of good and truth, and also doing what is just from a love of what is just in every function and in every work, is loving the neighbor (n. 2417, 8121-8124).
  7. There are two kinds of rule, one from love towards the neighbor the other from love of self (n. 10814). From the rule that is from love towards the neighbor flow all goods and all happinesses (n. 10160, 10814). In heaven no one desires to rule from the love of self, but all desire to minister, which means to rule from love to the neighbor; this is the source of their great power (n. 5732). From rule from the love of self all evils flow in (n. 10038). When the loves of self and the world had begun to prevail men were compelled to subject themselves to governments as a means of security (n. 7364, 10160, 10814).