Heaven and Hell/35

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Heaven and Hell by Emanuel Swedenborg
Chapter XXXV, Heaven and Hell are from the Human Race

XXXV
Heaven and Hell are from the Human Race[edit]

311. In the Christian world it is wholly unknown that heaven and hell are from the human race, for it is believed that in the beginning angels were created and heaven was thus formed; also that the devil or Satan was an angel of light, but having rebelled he was cast down with his crew, and thus hell was formed. The angels never cease to wonder at such a belief in the Christian world, and still more that nothing is really known about heaven, when in fact that is the primary principle of all doctrine in the church. But since such ignorance prevails they rejoice in heart that it has pleased the Lord to reveal to mankind at this time many things about heaven and about hell, thereby dispelling as far as possible the darkness that has been daily increasing because the church has come to its end.

[2] They wish for this reason that I should declare from their lips that in the entire heaven there is not a single angel who was created such from the beginning, nor in hell any devil who was created an angel of light and cast down; but that all, both in heaven and in hell, are from the human race; in heaven those who lived in the world in heavenly love and belief, in hell those who lived in infernal love and belief, also that it is hell taken as a whole that is called the Devil and Satan-the name Devil being given to the hell that is behind, where those are that are called evil genii, and the name Satan being given to the hell that is in front, where those are that are called evil spirits.[1] The character of these hells will be described in the following pages.

[3] The angels said that the Christian world had gathered such a belief about those in heaven and those in hell from some passages in the Word understood according to the mere sense of the letter not illustrated and explained by genuine doctrine from the Word; although the sense of the letter of the Word until illuminated by genuine doctrine, draws the mind in different directions, and this begets ignorance, heresies, and errors.[2]


312. The man of the church also derives this belief from his believing that no man comes into heaven or into hell until the time of the final judgment; and about that he has accepted the opinion that all visible things will perish at that time and new things will come into existence, and that the soul will then return into its body, and from that union man will again live as a man. This belief involves the other-that angels were created such from the beginning; for it is impossible to believe that heaven and hell are from the human race when it is believed that no man can go there until the end of the world.

[2] But that men might be convinced that this is not true it has been granted me to be in company with angels, and also to talk with those who are in hell, and this now for some years, sometimes continuously from morning until evening, and thus be informed about heaven and hell. This has been permitted that the man of the church may no longer continue in his erroneous belief about the resurrection at the time of judgment, and about the state of the soul in the meanwhile, also about angels and the devil. As this belief is a belief in what is false it involves the mind in darkness, and with those who think about these things from their own intelligence it induces doubt and at length denial, for they say in heart, "How can so vast a heaven, with so many constellations and with the sun and moon, be destroyed and dissipated; and how can the stars which are larger than the earth fall from heaven to the earth; and can bodies eaten up by worms, consumed by corruption, and scattered to all the winds, be gathered together again to their souls; and where in the meantime is the soul, and what is it when deprived of the senses it had in the body?"

[3] With many other like things, which being incomprehensible cannot be believed, and which destroy the belief of many in the life of the soul after death, and their belief in heaven and hell, and with these other matters pertaining to the faith of the church. That this belief has been destroyed is evident from its being said, "Who has ever come to us from heaven and told us that there is a heaven? What is hell? is there any? What is this about man's being tormented with fire to eternity? What is the day of judgment? has it not been expected in vain for ages?" with other things that involve a denial of everything.

[4] Therefore lest those who think in this way-as many do who from their worldly wisdom are regarded as erudite and learned-should any longer confound and mislead the simple in faith and heart, and induce infernal darkness respecting God and heaven and eternal life, and all else that depends on these, the interiors of my spirit have been opened by the Lord, and I have thus been permitted to talk with all after their decease with whom I was ever acquainted in the life of the body-with some for days, with some for months, and with some for a year, and also with so many others that I should not exaggerate if I should say a hundred thousand; many of whom were in heaven, and many in hell. I have also talked with some two days after their decease, and have told them that their funeral services and obsequies were then being held in preparation for their interment; to which they replied that it was well to cast aside that which had served them as a body and for bodily functions in the world; and they wished me to say that they were not dead, but were living as men the same as before, and had merely migrated from one world into the other, and were not aware of having lost anything, since they had a body and its senses just as before, also understanding and will just as before, with thoughts and affections, sensations and desires, like those they had in the world.

[5] Most of those who had recently died, when they saw themselves to be living men as before, and in a like state (for after death everyone's state of life is at first such as it was in the world, but there is a gradual change in it either into heaven or into hell), were moved by new joy at being alive, saying that they had not believed that it would be so. But they greatly wondered that they should have lived in such ignorance and blindness about the state of their life after death; and especially that the man of the church should be in such ignorance and blindness, when above all others in the whole world he might be clearly enlightened in regard to these things.[3] Then they began to see the cause of that blindness and ignorance, which is, that external things which are things, relating to the world and the body, had so occupied and filled their minds that they could not be raised into the light of heaven and look into the things of the church beyond its doctrinals; for when matters relating to the body and the world are loved, as they are at the present day, nothing but darkness flows into the mind when men go beyond those doctrines.


313. Very many of the learned from the Christian world are astonished when they find themselves after death in a body, in garments, and in houses, as in the world. And when they recall what they had thought about the life after death, the soul, spirits, and heaven and hell, they are ashamed and confess that they thought foolishly, and that the simple in faith thought much more wisely than they. When the minds of learned men who had confirmed themselves in such ideas and had ascribed all things to nature were examined, it was found that their interiors were wholly closed up and their exteriors were opened, that they looked towards the world and thus towards hell and not towards heaven. For to the extent that man's interiors are opened he looks towards heaven, but to the extent that his interiors are closed and his exteriors opened he looks towards hell, because the interiors of man are formed for the reception of all things of heaven, but the exteriors for the reception of all things of the world; and those who receive the world, and not heaven also, receive hell.[4]


314. That heaven is from the human race can be seen also from the fact that angelic minds and human minds are alike, both enjoying the ability to understand, perceive and will, and both formed to receive heaven; for the human mind is just as capable of becoming wise as the angelic mind; and if it does not attain to such wisdom in the world it is because it is in an earthly body, and in that body its spiritual mind thinks naturally. But it is otherwise when the mind is loosed from the bonds of that body; then it no longer thinks naturally, but spiritually, and when it thinks spiritually its thoughts are incomprehensible and ineffable to the natural man; thus it becomes wise like an angel, all of which shows that the internal part of man, called his spirit, is in its essence an angel (see above, n. 57);[5] and when loosed from the earthly body is, equally with the angel, in the human form. (That an angel is in a complete human form may be seen above, n. 73-77.) When, however, the internal of man is not open above but only beneath, it is still, after it has been loosed from the body, in a human form, but a horrible and diabolical form, for it is able only to look downwards towards hell, and not upwards towards heaven.


315. Moreover, any one who has been taught about Divine order can understand that man was created to become an angel, because the outmost of order is in him (n. 304), in which what pertains to heavenly and angelic wisdom can be brought into form and can be renewed and multiplied. Divine order never stops midway to form there a something apart from an outmost, for it is not in its fullness and completion there; but it goes on to the outmost; and when it is in its outmost it takes on its form, and by means there collected it renews itself and produces itself further, which is accomplished through procreations. Therefore the seed-ground of heaven is in the outmost.


316. The Lord rose again not as to His spirit alone but also as to His body, because when He was in the world He glorified His whole Human, that is, made it Divine; for His soul which He had from the Father was of Itself the very Divine, while His body became a likeness of the soul, that is, of the Father, thus also Divine. This is why He, differently from any man, rose again as to both;[6] and this He made manifest to the disciples (who when they saw Him believed that they saw a spirit), by saying:

See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; handle Me and see, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye behold Me having (Luke 24:36-39);

indicating thereby that He was a man both in respect to His spirit and in respect to His body.


317. That it might be made clear that man lives after death and enters in accordance with his life in the world either into heaven or into hell, many things have been disclosed to me about the state of man after death, which will be presented in due order in the following pages, where the world of spirits is treated of.


  1. The hells taken together, or the infernals taken together, are called the Devil and Satan (n. 694). Those that have been devils in the world become devils after death (n. 968).
  2. The doctrine of the church must be derived from the Word (n. 3464, 5402, 6822, 6832, 10763, 10765). Without doctrine the Word is not understood (n. 9025, 9409, 9424, 9430, 10324, 10431, 10582). True doctrine is a lamp to those who read the Word (n. 10400). Genuine doctrine must be from those who are enlightened by the Lord (n. 2510, 2516, 2519, 9424, 10105). Those who are in the sense of the letter without doctrine come into no understanding of Divine truths (n. 9409, 9410, 10582). And they are led away into many errors (n. 10431). The difference between those who teach and learn from the doctrine of the church derived from the Word and those who teach and learn from the sense of the letter alone (n. 9025).
  3. There are few in Christendom at this day who believe that man rises again immediately after death (preface to Genesis, chap. 16 and n. 4622, 10758); but it is believed that he will rise again at the time of the final judgment, when the visible world will perish (n. 10595). The reason of this belief (n. 10595, 10758). Nevertheless man does rise again immediately after death, and then he is a man in all respects, and in every least respect (n. 4527, 5006, 5078, 8939, 8991, 10594, 10758). The soul that lives after death is the spirit of man, which in man is the man himself, and in the other life is in a complete human form (n. 322, 1880, 1881, 3633, 4622, 4735, 5883, 6054, 6605, 6626, 7021, 10594); from experience (n. 4527, 5006, 8939); from the Word (n. 10597). What is meant by the dead seen in the holy city (Matt. 27:53) explained (n. 9229). In what manner man is raised from the dead, from experience (n. 168-189). His state after his resurrection (n. 317-319, 2119, 5079, 10596). False opinions about the soul and its resurrection (n. 444, 445, 4527, 4622, 4658).
  4. In man the spiritual world and the natural world are conjoined (n. 6057). The internal of man is formed after the image of heaven, but the external after the image of the world (n. 3628, 4523, 4524, 6013, 6057, 9706, 10156, 10472).
  5. There are as many degrees of life in man as there are heavens, and they are opened after death in accordance with his life (n. 3747, 9594). Heaven is in man (n. 3884). Men who are living a life of love and charity have in them angelic wisdom, although it is for the time hidden, but they come into that wisdom after death (n. 2494). The man who receives from the Lord the good of love and of faith is called in the Word an angel (n. 10528).
  6. Man rises again only as to his spirit (n. 10593, 10594). The Lord alone rose again in respect also to His body (n. 1729, 2083, 5078, 10825).