Heaven and Hell/25

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Heaven and Hell by Emanuel Swedenborg
Chapter XXV, Divine Worship in Heaven

XXV
Divine Worship in Heaven[edit]

221. Divine worship in the heavens is not unlike in externals Divine worship on the earth, but in internals it is different. In the heavens, as on the earth, there are doctrines, preachings, and church edifices. In essentials the doctrines there are everywhere the same; but in the higher heavens they contain more interior wisdom than in the lower. The preachings are in harmony with the doctrines; and as they have houses and palaces (n. 183-190), so they have also church edifices, in which there is preaching. Such things exist in heaven, because the angels are being perfected continually in wisdom and love. For they possess, as men do, understanding and will; and both their understanding and their will are capable of being continually perfected, the understanding by means of truths of intelligence, and the will by means of the goods of love.[1]


222. But essential Divine worship in the heavens does not consist in going to church and hearing preaching, but in a life of love, charity, and faith, in accordance with doctrine; preachings in churches serve solely as means of instruction in matters of life. I have talked with angels on this subject, and have told them that it is believed in the world that Divine worship consists solely in attending church, listening to the preaching, observing the sacrament of the Supper three or four times a year, and performing other acts of worship according to the requirements of the church; also devoting special times to prayers, and at such times, behaving devoutly. The angels said that these are outward acts that ought to be done, but are of no avail unless there is an internal from which they proceed, which is a life in accordance with the precepts that doctrine teaches.


223. That I might learn about their meeting in places of worship, I have been permitted at times to attend and to hear the preaching. The preacher stands in a pulpit at the east. Those who are in the light of wisdom more than others sit in front of him; those who are in less light sit to the right and left of these. There is a circular arrangement of the seats, so that all are in the preacher's view, no one so sitting at either side as to be out of his view. At the entrance, which is at the east of the building and on the left of the pulpit, those stand who are being initiated. No one is permitted to stand behind the pulpit; when there is any one there the preacher becomes confused. It is the same if any one in the congregation dissents; and for this reason the dissenter must needs turn away his face. The wisdom of the preachings is such as to be above all comparison with the preachings of this world, for those in the heavens are in interior light. The church edifices in the spiritual kingdom are apparently built of stone, and those in the celestial kingdom of wood; because stone corresponds to truth, and those who are in the spiritual kingdom are in truth, while wood corresponds to good, and those in the celestial kingdom are in good.[2] In that kingdom the sacred edifices are not called churches but houses of God. In that kingdom they are without magnificence; but in the spiritual kingdom they are more or less magnificent.


224. I have also talked with one of the preachers about the holy state in which those are who listen to the preaching in the churches. He said that everyone is pious, devout, and holy in harmony with his interiors, which pertain to love and faith, for holiness itself is in love and faith, because the Divine of the Lord is in them. He also said that he did not know what outward holiness is apart from love and faith; and when he thought about it he said that perhaps it is something counterfeiting holiness in outward appearance, either conventional or hypocritical; and that such holiness is kindled and sustained by spurious fire from the love of self and the world.


225. All the preachers are from the Lord's spiritual kingdom; none are from the celestial kingdom. They are from the spiritual kingdom because the angels there are in truths from good, and all preaching must be from truths. There are no preachers from the celestial kingdom because those who are there are in the good of love, and they see and perceive truths from good, but do not talk about them. But although the angels in the celestial kingdom perceive and see truths there are preachings there, since by means of preachings they are enlightened in the truths that they already know, and are perfected by many truths that they did not know before. As soon as they hear truths they acknowledge them and thus perceive them; and the truths they perceive they love, and by living in accordance with them they make them to be of their life, declaring that living in accordance with truths is loving the Lord.[3]


226. All preachers are appointed by the Lord, and have therefrom a gift for preaching. No others are permitted to preach in the churches. They are not called priests, but preachers. They are not called priests because the celestial kingdom is the priesthood of heaven; for priesthood signifies the good of love to the Lord, and those in the celestial kingdom are in that good; while the spiritual kingdom is the kingship of heaven, for kingship signifies truth from good, and those in the spiritual kingdom are in that truth (see above, n. 24).[4]


227. The doctrines with which their preachings are in accord all look to life as their end, and none look to faith separate from the life. The doctrine of the inmost heaven is more full of wisdom than the doctrine of the middle heaven, and this more full of intelligence than the doctrine of the outmost heaven; for in each heaven the doctrines are adapted to the perceptions of the angels. The essential of all doctrines is acknowledging the Divine Human of the Lord.


  1. The understanding is receptive of truth, and the will of good (n. 3623, 6125, 7503, 9300, 9930). As all things have relation to truth and good, so everything of man's life has relation to understanding and will (n. 803, 10122). Angels are perfected to eternity (n. 4803, 6648).
  2. "Stone" signifies truth (n. 114, 643, 1298, 3720, 6426, 8609, 10376). "Wood" signifies good (n. 643, 3720, 8354). For this reason the most ancient people, who were in celestial good, had sacred buildings of wood (n. 3720).
  3. Loving the Lord and the neighbor is living in accordance with the Lord's commandments (n. 10143, 10153, 10310, 10578, 10645, 10683).
  4. Priests represented the Lord in respect to the Divine good, kings in respect to Divine truth (n. 2015, 6148). Therefore, in the Word a "priest" signifies those who are in the good of love to the Lord, and the priesthood signifies that good (n. 9806, 9809). A "king" in the Word signifies those who are in Divine truth, and therefrom kingship signifies truth from good (n. 1672, 2015, 2069, 4575, 4581, 4966, 5044).