Heaven and Hell/34

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Heaven and Hell by Emanuel Swedenborg
Chapter XXXIV, Conjunction of Heaven with Man by Means of the Word

XXXIV
Conjunction of Heaven with Man by Means of the Word[edit]

303. Those who think from interior reason can see that there is a connection of all things through intermediates with the First, and that whatever is not in connection is dissipated. For they know, when they think about it, that nothing can have permanent existence from itself, but only from what is prior to itself, thus all things from a First; also that the connection with what is prior is like the connection of an effect with its effecting cause; for when the effecting cause is taken away from its effect the effect is dissolved and dispersed. Because the learned thought thus they saw and said that permanent existence is a perpetual springing forth; thus that all things have permanent existence from a First; and as they sprang from that First so they perpetually spring forth, that is, have permanent existence from it. But what the connection of everything is with that which is prior to itself, thus with the First which is the source of all things, cannot be told in a few words, because it is various and diverse. It can only be said in general that there is a connection of the natural world with the spiritual world, and that in consequence there is a correspondence of all things in the natural world with all things in the spiritual (see n. 103-115); also that there is a connection and consequently a correspondence of all things of man with all things of heaven (see n. 87-102).


304. Man is so created as to have a conjunction and connection with the Lord, but with the angels of heaven only an affiliation. Man has affiliation with the angels, but not conjunction, because in respect to the interiors of his mind man is by creation like an angel, having a like will and a like understanding. Consequently if a man has lived in accordance with the Divine order he becomes after death an angel, with the same wisdom as an angel. Therefore when the conjunction of man with heaven is spoken of his conjunction with the Lord and affiliation with the angels is meant; for heaven is heaven from the Lord's Divine, and not from what is strictly the angels' own [proprium]. That it is the Lord's Divine that makes heaven may be seen above (n. 7-12).

[2] But man has, beyond what the angels have, that he is not only in respect to his interiors in the spiritual world, but also at the same time in respect to his exteriors in the natural world. His exteriors which are in the natural world are all things of his natural or external memory and of his thought and imagination therefrom; in general, knowledges and sciences with their delights and pleasures so far as they savor of the world, also many pleasures belonging to the senses of the body, together with his senses themselves, his speech, and his actions. And all these are the outmosts in which the Lord's Divine influx terminates; for that influx does not stop midway, but goes on to its outmosts. All this shows that the outmost of Divine order is in man; and being the outmost it is also the base and foundation.

[3] As the Lord's Divine influx does not stop midway but goes on to its outmosts, as has been said, and as this middle part through which it passes is the angelic heaven, while the outmost is in man, and as nothing can exist unconnected, it follows that the connection and conjunction of heaven with the human race is such that one has its permanent existence from the other, and that the human race apart from heaven would be like a chain without a hook; and heaven without the human race would be like a house without a foundation.[1]


305. But man has severed this connection with heaven by turning his exteriors away from heaven, and turning them to the world and to self by means of his love of self and of the world, thereby so withdrawing himself that he no longer serves as a basis and foundation for heaven; therefore the Lord has provided a medium to serve in place of this base and foundation for heaven, and also for the conjunction of heaven with man. This medium is the Word. How the Word serves as such a medium has been shown in many places in the Arcana Coelestia, all of which may be seen gathered up in the little work on The White Horse mentioned in the Apocalypse; also in the Appendix to the New Jerusalem and Its Heavenly Doctrine, from which some notes are here appended.[2]


306. I have been told from heaven that the most ancient people, because their interiors were turned heavenwards, had direct revelation, and by this means there was at that time a conjunction of the Lord with the human race. After their times, however, there was no such direct revelation, but there was a mediate revelation by means of correspondences, inasmuch as all their Divine worship then consisted of correspondences, and for this reason the churches of that time were called representative churches. For it was then known what correspondence is and what representation is, and that all things on the earth correspond to spiritual things in heaven and in the church, or what is the same, represent them; and therefore the natural things that constituted the externals of their worship served them as mediums for thinking spiritually, that is, thinking with the angels. When the knowledge of correspondences and representations had been blotted out of remembrance a Word was written, in which all the words and their meanings are correspondences, and thus contain a spiritual or internal sense, in which are the angels; and in consequence, when a man reads the Word and perceives it according to the sense of the letter or the outer sense the angels perceive it according to the internal or spiritual sense; for all the thought of angels is spiritual while the thought of man is natural. These two kinds of thought appear diverse; nevertheless they are one because they correspond. Thus it was that when man had separated himself from heaven and had severed the bond the Lord provided a medium of conjunction of heaven with man by means of the Word.


307. How heaven is conjoined with man by means of the Word I will illustrate by some passages from it. "The New Jerusalem" is described in the Apocalypse in these words:

I saw a new heaven and a new earth, and the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. And I saw the holy city New Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven. The city was foursquare, its length as great as its breadth; and an angel measured the city with a reed, twelve thousand furlongs; the length, the breadth, and the height of it are equal. And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty-four cubits, the measure of a man, that is, of an angel. The building of the wall was of jasper; but the city itself was pure gold, and like unto pure glass; and the foundations of the wall were adorned with every precious stone. The twelve gates were twelve pearls; and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass (21:1, 2, 16-19, 21).

When man reads these words he understands them merely in accordance with the sense of the letter, namely, that the visible heaven with the earth is to perish, and a new heaven is to come into existence; and upon the new earth the holy city Jerusalem is to descend, with all its dimensions as here described. But the angels that are with man understand these things in a wholly different way, that is, everything that man understands naturally they understand spiritually.

[2] By "the new heaven and the new earth" they understand a new church; by "the city Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven" they understand its heavenly doctrine revealed by the Lord; by "its length, breadth, and height, which are equal," and "twelve thousand furlongs," they understand all the goods and truths of that doctrine in the complex; by its "wall" they understand the truths protecting it; by "the measure of the wall, a hundred and forty-four cubits, which is the measure of a man, that is, of an angel," they understand all those protecting truths in the complex and their character; by its "twelve gates, which were of pearls," they understand introductory truths, "pearls" signifying such truths; by "the foundations of the wall, which were of precious stones," they understand the knowledge on which that doctrine is founded; by "the gold like unto pure glass," of which the city and its street were made, they understand the good of love which makes the doctrine and its truths transparent. Thus do the angels perceive all these things; and therefore not as man perceives them. The natural ideas of man thus pass into the spiritual ideas with the angels without their knowing anything of the sense of the letter of the Word, that is, about "a new heaven and a new earth," "a new city Jerusalem," its "wall, the foundations of the wall, and its dimensions." And yet the thoughts of angels make one with the thoughts of man, because they correspond; they make one almost the same as the words of a speaker make one with the understanding of them by a hearer who attends solely to the meaning and not to the words. All this shows how heaven is conjoined with man by means of the Word:

[3] Let us take another example from the Word:

In that day there shall be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and Assyria shall come into Egypt and Egypt into Assyria; and the Egyptians shall serve Assyria. In that day shall Israel be a third to Egypt and to Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the land, Which Jehovah of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be My people the Egyptian, and the Assyrian the work of My hands, and Israel Mine inheritance (Isaiah 19:23-25).

What man thinks when these words are read, and what the angels think, can be seen from the sense of the letter of the Word and from its internal sense. Man from the sense of the letter thinks that the Egyptians and Assyrians are to be converted to God and accepted, and are then to become one with the Israelitish nation; but angels in accordance with the internal sense think of the man of the spiritual church who is here described in that sense, whose spiritual is "Israel," whose natural is the "Egyptian," and whose rational, which is the middle, is the "Assyrian."[3] Nevertheless, these two senses are one because they correspond; and therefore when the angels thus think spiritually and man naturally they are conjoined almost as body and soul are; in fact, the internal sense of the Word is its soul and the sense of the letter is its body. Such is the Word throughout. This shows that it is a medium of conjunction of heaven with man, and that its literal sense serves as a base and foundation.

308. There is also a conjunction of heaven by means of the Word with those who are outside of the church where there is no Word; for the Lord's church is universal, and is with all who acknowledge the Divine and live in charity. Moreover, such are taught after death by the angels and receive Divine truths;[4] on which subject more may be seen below, in the chapter on the heathen. The universal church on the earth in the sight of the Lord resembles a single man, just as heaven does (see n. 59-72); but the church where the Word is and where the Lord is known by means of it is like the heart and lungs in that man. It is known that all the viscera and members of the entire body draw their life from the heart and lungs through various derivations; and it is thus that those of the human race live who are outside of the church where the Word is, and who constitute the members of that man. Again, the conjunction of heaven with those who are at a distance by means of the Word may be compared to light radiating from a center all around. The Divine light is in the Word, and there the Lord with heaven is present, and from that presence those at a distance are in light; but it would be otherwise if there were no Word. This may be more clearly seen from what has been shown above respecting the form of heaven in accordance with which all who are in heaven have affiliation and communication. But while this arcanum may be comprehended by those who are in spiritual light, it cannot be comprehended by those who are only in natural light; for innumerable things are clearly seen by those who are in spiritual light that are not seen or are seen obscurely as a single thing by those who are only in natural light.


309. Unless such a Word had been given on this earth the man of this earth would have been separated from heaven; and if separated from heaven he would have ceased to be rational, for the human rational exists by an influx of the light of heaven. Again, the man of this earth is such that he is not capable of receiving direct revelation and of being taught about Divine truths by such revelation, as the inhabitants of other earths are, that have been especially described in another small work. For the man of this earth is more in worldly things, that is, in externals, than the men of other earths, and it is internal things that are receptive of revelation; if it were received in external things the truth would not be understood. That such is the man of this earth is clearly evident from the state of those who are within the church, which is such that while they know from the Word about heaven, about hell, about the life after death, still in heart they deny these things; although among them there are some who have acquired a pre-eminent reputation for learning, and who might for that reason be supposed to be wiser than others.


310. I have at times talked with angels about the Word, saying that it is despised by some on account of its simple style; and that nothing whatever is known about its internal sense, and for this reason it is not believed that so much wisdom lies hid in it. The angels said that although the style of the Word seems simple in the sense of the letter, it is such that nothing can ever be compared to it in excellence, since Divine wisdom lies concealed not only in the meaning as a whole but also in each word; and that in heaven this wisdom shines forth. They wished to declare that this wisdom is the light of heaven, because it is Divine truth, for that which shines in heaven is the Divine truth (see n. 132). Again, they said that without such a Word there would be no light of heaven with the men of our earth, nor would there be any conjunction of heaven with them; for there is conjunction only so far as the light of heaven is present with man, and that light is present only so far as Divine truth is revealed to man by means of the Word. This conjunction by means of the correspondence of the spiritual sense of the Word with its natural sense is unknown to man, because the man of this earth knows nothing about the spiritual thought and speech of angels, and how it differs from the natural thought and speech of men; and until this is known it cannot in the least be known what the internal sense is, and that such conjunction is therefore possible by means of that sense. They said, furthermore, that if this sense were known to man, and if man in reading the Word were to think in accordance with some knowledge of it, he would come into interior wisdom, and would be still more conjoined with heaven, since by this means he would enter into ideas like the ideas of the angels.


  1. Nothing springs from itself, but from what is prior to itself, thus all things from a First, and they also have permanent existence from Him from whom they spring forth, and permanent existence is a perpetual springing forth (n. 2886, 2888, 3627, 3628, 3648, 4523, 4524, 6040, 6056). Divine order does not stop midway, but terminates in an outmost, and that outmost is man, thus Divine order terminates in man (n. 634, 2853, 3632, 5897, 6239, 6451, 6465, 9215, 9216, 9824, 9828, 9836, 9905, 10044, 10329, 10335, 10548). Interior things flow into external things, even into the extreme or outmost in successive order, and there they spring forth and have permanent existence (n. 634, 6239, 6465, 9215, 9216). Interior things spring forth and have permanent existence in what is outmost in simultaneous order (n. 5897, 6451, 8603, 10099). Therefore all interior things are held together in connection from a First by means of a Last (n. 9828). Therefore "the First and the Last" signify all things and each thing, that is, the whole (n. 10044, 10329, 10335). Consequently in outmosts there is strength and power (n. 9836).
  2. The Word in the sense of the letter is natural (n. 8783). For the reason that the natural is the outmost in which spiritual and heavenly things, which are interior things, terminate and on which they rest, like a house upon its foundation (n. 9430, 9433, 9824, 10044, 10436). That the Word may be such it is composed wholly of correspondences (n. 1404, 1408, 1409, 1540, 1619, 1659, 1709, 1783, 8615, 10687). Because the Word is such in the sense of the letter it is the containant of the spiritual and heavenly sense (n. 9407). And it is adapted both to men and to angels (n. 1769-1772, 1887, 2143, 2157, 2275, 2333, 2395, 2540, 2541, 2547, 2553, 7381, 8862, 10322). And it is what makes heaven and earth one (n. 2310, 2495, 9212, 9216, 9357, 9396, 10375). The conjunction of the Lord with man is through the Word, by means of the internal sense (n. 10375). There is conjunction by means of all things and each particular thing of the Word, and in consequence the Word is wonderful above all other writing (n. 10632-10634). Since the Word was written the Lord speaks with men by means of it (n. 10290). The church, where the Word is and the Lord is known by means of it, in relation to those who are out of the church where there is no Word and the Lord is unknown is like the heart and lungs in man in comparison with the other parts of the body, which live from them as from the fountains of their life (n. 637, 931, 2054, 2853). Before the Lord the universal church on the earth is as a single man (n. 7396, 9276). Consequently unless there were on this earth a church where the Word is, and where the Lord is known by means of it, the human race here would perish (n. 468, 637, 931, 4545, 10452).
  3. In the Word "Egypt" and "Egyptian" signify the natural and its knowledge (n. 4967, 5079, 5080, 5095, 5160, 5460, 5799, 6015, 6147, 6252, 7355, 7648, 9340, 9391). "Assyria" signifies the rational (n. 119, 1186). "Israel" signifies the spiritual (n. 5414, 5801, 5803, 5806, 5812, 5817, 5819, 5826, 5833, 5879, 5951, 6426, 6637, 6862, 6868, 7035, 7062, 7198, 7201, 7215, 7223, 7957, 8234, 8805, 9340).
  4. The church specifically is where the Word is and where the Lord is known by means of it, thus where Divine truths from heaven are revealed (n. 3857, 10761). The Lord's church is with all in the whole globe who live in good in accordance with the principles of their religion (n. 3263, 6637, 10765). All wherever they are who live in good in accordance with the principles of their religion and who acknowledge the Divine are accepted of the Lord (n. 2589-2604, 2861, 2863, 3263, 4190, 4197, 6700, 9256). And besides these all children wheresoever they are born (n. 2289-2309, 4792).