Heaven and Hell/31

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Heaven and Hell by Emanuel Swedenborg
Chapter XXXI, The State of Innocence of Angels in Heaven

XXXI
The State of Innocence of Angels in Heaven[edit]

276. What innocence is and its nature few in the world know, and those who are in evil know nothing about it. It is, indeed, visible to the eyes, as seen in the face, speech and movements, particularly of children; and yet what innocence is, and especially that it is that in which heaven is stored up in man is unknown. In making this known let us proceed in order, and consider first the innocence of childhood, then the innocence of wisdom, and lastly the state of heaven in regard to innocence.


277. The innocence of childhood or of children is not genuine innocence, for it is innocence not in internal form but only in external form. Nevertheless one may learn from it what innocence is, since it shines forth from the face of children and from some of their movements and from their first speech, and affects those about them. It can be seen that children have no internal thought, for they do not yet know what is good and what is evil, or what is true and what is false, of which such thought consists.

[2] Consequently they have no prudence from what is their own, no purpose or deliberation, thus no end that looks to evil; neither have they anything of their own acquired from love of self and the world; they do not attribute anything to themselves, regarding all that they have as received from their parents; they are content with the few and paltry things presented to them, and find delight in them; they have no solicitude about food and clothing, and none about the future; they do not look to the world and covet many things from it; they love their parents and nurses and their child companions with whom they play in innocence; they suffer themselves to be led; they give heed and obey.

[3] And being in this state they receive everything as a matter of life; and therefore, without knowing why, they have becoming manners, and also learn to talk, and have the beginning of memory and thought, their state of innocence serving as a medium whereby these things are received and implanted. But this innocence, as has been said above, is external because it belongs to the body alone, and not to the mind;[1] for their minds are not yet formed, the mind being understanding and will and thought and affection therefrom.

[4] I have been told from heaven that children are specially under the Lord's auspices, and that they receive influx from the inmost heaven, where there is a state of innocence that this influx passes through their interiors, and that in its passing through, their interiors are affected solely by the innocence; and for this reason innocence is shown in their faces and in some of their movements and becomes evident; and that it is this innocence by which parents are inmostly affected, and that gives rise to the love that is called storge.


278. The innocence of wisdom is genuine innocence, because it is internal, for it belongs to the mind itself, that is, to the will itself and from that to the understanding. And when there is innocence in these there is also wisdom, for wisdom belongs to the will and understanding. This is why it is said in heaven that innocence has its abode in wisdom, and that an angel has just so much of innocence as he has of wisdom. This is confirmed by the fact that those who are in a state of innocence attribute nothing of good to themselves, but regard all things as received and ascribe them to the Lord; that they wish to be led by Him and not by themselves; that they love everything that is good and find delight in everything that is true, because they know and perceive that loving what is good, that is, willing and doing it, is loving the Lord, and loving truth is loving the neighbor; that they live contented with their own, whether it be little or much, because they know that they receive just as much as is good for them-those receiving little for whom a little is useful, and those receiving much for whom much is useful; also that they do not themselves know what is good for them, the Lord alone knowing this, who looks in all things that He provides to what is eternal.

[2] Neither are they anxious about the future; anxiety about the future they call care for the morrow, which they define as grief on account of losing or not receiving things that are not necessary for the uses of life. With companions they never act from an evil end but from what is good, just, and sincere. Acting from an evil end they call cunning, which they shun as the poison of a serpent, since it is wholly antagonistic to innocence. As they love nothing so much as to be led of the Lord, attributing all things they receive to Him, they are kept apart from what is their own [proprium]; and to the extent that they are kept apart from what is their own the Lord flows into them; and in consequence of this whatever they hear from the Lord, whether through the Word or by means of preaching, they do not store up in the memory, but instantly obey it, that is, will it and do it, their will being itself their memory. These for the most part outwardly appear simple, but inwardly they are wise and prudent. These are meant by the Lord in the words,

Be ye prudent as serpents and simple as doves (Matt. 10:16).

Such is the innocence that is called the innocence of wisdom.

[3] Because innocence attributes nothing of good to itself, but ascribes all good to the Lord, and because it thus loves to be led by the Lord, and is the source of the reception of all good and truth, from which wisdom comes,--because of this man is so created as to be during his childhood in external innocence, and when he becomes old in internal innocence, to the end that he may come by means of the former into the latter, and from the latter return into the former. For the same reason when a man becomes old he dwindles in body and becomes again like a child, but like a wise child, that is, an angel, for a wise child is in an eminent sense an angel. This is why in the Word, "a little child" signifies one who is innocent, and "an old man" signifies one who is wise in whom is innocence.[2]


279. The same is true of everyone who is being regenerated. Regeneration, as regards the spiritual man, is re-birth. Man is first introduced into the innocence of childhood, which is that one knows no truth and can do no good from himself, but only from the Lord, and desires and seeks truth only because it is truth, and good only because it is good. As man afterwards advances in age good and truth are given him by the Lord. At first he is led into a knowledge of them, then from knowledge into intelligence, and finally from intelligence into wisdom, innocence always accompanying, which consists, as has been said, in his knowing nothing of truth, and being unable to do anything good from himself but only from the Lord. Without such a belief and such a perception of it no one can receive any thing of heaven. Therein does the innocence of wisdom chiefly consist.


280. As innocence consists in being led by the Lord and not by self, so all who are in heaven are in innocence; for all who are there love to be led by the Lord, knowing that to lead themselves is to be led by what is their own, and what is one's own is loving oneself, he that loves himself not permitting himself to be led by any one else. Therefore, so far as an angel is in innocence he is in heaven, in other words, is in Divine good and Divine truth, for to be in these is to be in heaven. Consequently the heavens are distinguished by degrees of innocence-those who are in the outmost or first heaven are in innocence of the first or outmost degree; those who are in the middle or second heaven are in innocence of the second or middle degree; while those who are in the inmost or third heaven are in innocence of the third or inmost degree, and are therefore the veriest innocences of heaven, for more than all others they love to be led by the Lord as little children by their father; and for the same reason the Divine truth that they hear immediately from the Lord or mediately through the Word and preaching they take directly into their will and do it, thus committing it to life. And this is why their wisdom is so superior to that of the angels of the lower heavens (see n. 270, 271). These angels of the inmost heaven, being such are nearest to the Lord from whom they receive innocence, and are so separated from what is their own that they live as it were in the Lord. Externally they appear simple, and before the eyes of the angels of the lower heavens they appear like children, that is, as very small, and not very wise, although they are the wisest of the angels of heaven; since they know that they have nothing of wisdom from themselves, and that acknowledging this is being wise. They know also that what they know is as nothing compared to what they do not know; and they say that knowing, acknowledging, and perceiving this is the first step towards wisdom. These angels have no clothing, because nakedness corresponds to innocence.[3]


281. I have talked much with angels about innocence, and have been told that innocence is the being [esse] of all good, and that good is therefore so far good as it has innocence in it, consequently that wisdom is so far wisdom as it partakes of innocence; and the same is true of love, charity, and faith;[4] and therefore no one can enter heaven unless he possesses innocence; and this the Lord teaches when He says:

Suffer little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of the heavens. Verily I say unto you, Whoever shall not receive the kingdom of the heavens as a little child, he shall not enter into it (Mark 10:14, 16; Luke 18:16, 17),

Here as elsewhere In the Word "little children" mean those who are innocent. A state of innocence is also described by the Lord in Matthew (6:25-34), but by correspondences only. Good is good so far as it has innocence in it, for the reason that all good is from the Lord, and innocence is a willingness to be led by the Lord. I have also been told that truth can be conjoined to good and good to truth only by means of innocence, and therefore an angel is not an angel of heaven unless he has innocence in him; for heaven is not in any one until good is conjoined to truth in him; and this is why the conjunction of truth and good is called the heavenly marriage, and the heavenly marriage is heaven. Again, I have been told that true marriage love derives its existence from innocence, because it derives its existence from the conjunction of good and truth, and the two minds of husband and wife are in that conjunction, and when that conjunction descends it presents the appearance of marriage love; for consorts are in mutual love, as their minds are. This is why in marriage love there is a playfulness like that of childhood and like that of innocence.[5]


282. Because innocence With the angels of heaven is the very being [esse] of good, it is evident that the Divine good that goes forth from the Lord is innocence itself, for it is that good that flows into angels, and affects their inmosts, and arranges and fits them for receiving all the good of heaven. It is the same with children, whose interiors are not only formed by means of innocence flowing through them from the Lord, but also are continually being fitted and arranged for receiving the good of heavenly love, since the good of innocence acts from the inmost; for that good, as has been said, is the being [esse] of all good. From all this it can be seen that all innocence is from the Lord. For this reason the Lord is called in the Word a "lamb," a lamb signifying innocence.[6] Because innocence is the inmost in all the good of heaven, it so affects minds that when it is felt by any one-as when an angel of the inmost heaven approaches-he seems to himself to be no longer his own master and is moved and as it were carried away by such a delight that no delight of the world seems to be anything in comparison with it. This I say from having perceived it.


283. Everyone who is in the good of innocence is affected by innocence, and is affected to the extent that he is in that good; but those who are not in the good of innocence are not affected by innocence. For this reason all who are in hell are wholly antagonistic to innocence; they do not know what it is; their antagonism is such that so far as any one is innocent they burn to do him mischief; therefore they cannot bear to see little children; and as soon as they see them they are inflamed with a cruel desire to do them harm. From this it is clear that what is man's own, and therefore the love of self, is antagonistic to innocence; for all who are in hell are in what is their own, and therefore in the love of self.[7]


  1. The innocence of children is not true innocence, but true innocence has its abode in wisdom (n. 1616, 2305, 2306, 3494, 4563, 4797, 5608, 9301, 10021). The good of childhood is not spiritual good, but it becomes such by the implantation of truth (n. 3504). Nevertheless the good of childhood is a medium whereby intelligence is implanted (n. 1616, 3183, 9301, 10110). Without the good of innocence in childhood man would be a wild man (n. 3494). Whatever the mind is imbued with in childhood appears natural (n. 3494).
  2. In the Word "little children" signify innocence (n. 5608); likewise "sucklings" (n. 3183). An "old man" signifies one who is wise, and in an abstract sense wisdom (n. 3183, 6524). Man is so created that in proportion as he verges towards old age he may become like a little child, and that innocence may then be in his wisdom, and in that state he may pass into heaven and become an angel (n. 3183, 5608).
  3. All in the inmost heaven are innocences (n. 154, 2736, 3887). Therefore they appear to others like children (n. 154). They are also naked (n. 165, 8375, 9960). Nakedness belongs to innocence (n. 165, 8375). Spirits have a custom of exhibiting innocence by laying aside their garments and presenting themselves naked (n. 165, 8375, 9960).
  4. Every good of love and truth of faith, to be good and true must have innocence in it (n. 2526, 2780, 3111, 3994, 6013, 7840, 9262, 10134). Innocence is the essential of good and truth (n. 2780, 7840). No one is admitted into heaven unless he possesses something of innocence (4797).
  5. True marriage love is innocence (n. 2736). Marriage love consists in willing what the other wills, thus mutually and reciprocally (n. 2731). They who are in marriage love dwell together in the inmosts of life (n. 2732). There is a union of the two minds, and thus from love they are a one (n. 10168, 10169). True marriage love derives its origin and essence from the marriage of good and truth (n. 2728, 2729). About angelic spirits who have a perception from the idea of the conjunction of good and truth whether anything of marriage exists (n. 10756). Marriage love is wholly like the conjunction of good and truth (n. 1904, 2173, 2508, 2729, 3103, 3132, 3155, 3179, 3180, 4358, 5807, 5835, 9206, 9207, 9495, 9637). Therefore in the Word "marriage" means the marriage of good and truth, such as there is in heaven and such as there will be in the church (n. 3132, 4434, 4835).
  6. In the Word a "lamb" signifies innocence and its good. (n. 3994, 10132).
  7. What is man's own is loving self more than God, and the world more than heaven, and making one's neighbor of no account as compared with oneself; thus it is the love of self and of the world (n. 694, 731, 4317, 5660). The evil are wholly antagonistic to innocence, even to the extent that they cannot endure its presence (n. 2126).