Heaven and Hell/43

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Heaven and Hell by Emanuel Swedenborg
Chapter XLIII, The Immensity of Heaven

XLIII
The Immensity of Heaven[edit]

415. The immensity of the heaven of the Lord is evident from many things that have been said and shown in the foregoing chapters, especially from this, that heaven is from the human race (n. 311-317), both from those born within the church and from those born out of it (n. 318-328); thus it consists of all from the beginning of this earth that have lived a good life. How great a multitude of men there is in this entire world any one who knows anything about the divisions, the regions, and kingdoms of the earth may conclude. Whoever goes into a calculation will find that several thousands of men die every day, that is, some myriads of millions every year; and this from the earliest times, since which several thousands of years have elapsed. All of these after death have gone into the other world, which is called the spiritual world, and they are constantly going into it. But how many of these have become or are becoming angels of heaven cannot be told. This I have been told, that in ancient times the number was very great, because men then thought more interiorly and spiritually, and from such thought were in heavenly affection; but in the following ages not so many, because in the process of time man became more external and began to think more naturally, and from such thought to be in earthly affection. All of this shows how great heaven is even from the inhabitants of this earth alone.


416. The immensity of the heaven of the Lord is shown also by this, that all children, whether born within the church or out of it, are adopted by the Lord and become angels; and the number of these amounts to a fourth or fifth part of the whole human race on the earth. That every child, wherever born, whether within the church or out of it, whether of pious or impious parents, is received by the Lord when it dies, and is brought up in heaven, and is taught and imbued with affections for good, and through these with knowledges of truth, in accordance with Divine order, and as he becomes perfected in intelligence and wisdom is brought into heaven and becomes an angel, can be seen above (n. 329-345). From all this a conclusion may be formed of the multitude of angels of heaven, derived from this source alone, from the first creation to the present time.


417. Again, how immense the heaven of the Lord is can be seen from this, that all the planets visible to the eye in our solar system are earths, and moreover, that in the whole universe there are innumerable earths, all of them full of inhabitants. These have been treated of particularly in a small work on those earths from which I will quote the following passage:

It is fully known in the other life that there are many earths inhabited by men from which spirits and angels come; for everyone there who desires from a love of truth and of use to do so is permitted to talk with spirits of other earths, and thus be assured that there is a plurality of worlds, and learn that the human race is not from one earth alone, but from innumerable earths. I have frequently talked about this with spirits of our earth, and was told that any intelligent person ought to know from many things that he does know that there are many earths inhabited by men; for it may be reasonably inferred that immense bodies like the planets, some of which exceed this earth in magnitude, are not empty masses created merely to be borne through space and to be carried around the sun, and to shine with their scanty light for the benefit of a single earth, but must have a more important use. He that believes, as everyone must believe, that the Divine created the universe for no other end than that the human race might exist, and heaven therefrom, for the human race is a seminary of heaven, must needs believe that wherever there is an earth there are men. That the planets visible to us because they are within the limits of our solar system are earths is evident from their being bodies of earthy matters, which is known from their reflecting the sun's light, and from their not appearing, when viewed through telescopes, like stars, sparkling with flame, but like earths varied with darker portions; also from their passing like our earth around the sun and following in the path of the zodiac, thus making years and seasons of the year, spring, summer, autumn, and winter, also revolving on their axes like our earth, making days and times of the day, morning, mid-day, evening, and night; also from some of them having moons, called satellites, that revolve around their earth at stated times, as the moon does around ours; while the planet Saturn, being at a greater distance from the sun, has also a large luminous belt which gives much light, though reflected, to that earth. Who that knows all this and thinks rationally can ever say that the planets are empty bodies? Moreover, I have said to spirits that man might believe that there are more earths in the universe than one, from the fact that the starry heaven is so immense, and the stars there so innumerable, and each of them in its place or in its system a sun, resembling our sun, although of a varying magnitude. Any one who duly weighs the subject must conclude that such an immense whole must needs be a means to an end that is the final end of creation; and this end is a heavenly kingdom in which the Divine may dwell with angels and men. For the visible universe or the heaven illumined by stars so numberless, which are so many suns, is simply a means for the existence of earths with men upon them from whom the heavenly kingdom is derived. From all this a rational man must needs conclude that so immense a means to so great an end could not have been provided merely for the human race on a single earth. What would this be for a Divine that is infinite, to which thousands and even myriads of earths, all of them full of inhabitants, would be little and scarcely anything? There are spirits whose sole pursuit is the acquisition of knowledges, because their delight is in this alone; and for this reason they are permitted to wander about, and even to pass out of our solar system into others, in acquiring knowledge. These spirits, who are from the planet Mercury, have told me that there are earths with men upon them not only in this solar system but also beyond it in the starry heaven in immense numbers. It was calculated that with a million earths in the universe, and on each earth three hundred millions of men, and two hundred generations in six thousand years, and a space of three cubic ells allowed to each man or spirit, the total number of so many men or spirits would not fill the space of this earth, and scarcely more than the space of one of the satellites about one of the planets--a space in the universe so small as to be almost invisible, since a satellite can scarcely be seen by the naked eye. What is this for the Creator of the universe, to whom it would not be sufficient if the whole universe were filled, since He is infinite? I have talked with angels about this, and they said that they had a similar idea of the fewness of the human race compared with the infinity of the Creator, although their thought is from states, not from spaces, and that in their thought earths amounting to as many myriads as could possibly be conceived of would still be nothing at all to the Lord.

The earths in the universe, with their inhabitants, and the spirits and angels from them, are treated of in the above mentioned work. What is there related has been revealed and shown to me to the intent that it may be known that the heaven of the Lord is immense, and that it is all from the human race; also that our Lord is every where acknowledged as the God of heaven and earth.


418. Again, the immensity of the heaven of the Lord is shown in this, that heaven in its entire complex reflects a single Man, and corresponds to all things and each thing in man, and that this correspondence can never be filled out, since it is a correspondence not only with each of the members, organs, and viscera of the body in general, but also with all and each of the little viscera and little organs contained in these in every minutest particular, and even with each vessel and fiber; and not only with these but also with the organic substances that receive interiorly the influx of heaven, from which come man's interior activities that are serviceable to the operations of his mind; since everything that exists interiorly in man exists in forms which are substances, for anything that does not exist in a substance as its subject is nothing. There is a correspondence of all these things with heaven, as can be seen from the chapter treating of the correspondence of all things of heaven with all things of man (n. 87-102). This correspondence can never be filled out because the more numerous the angelic affiliations are that correspond to each member the more perfect heaven becomes; for every perfection in the heavens increases with increase of number; and this for the reason that all there have the same end, and look with one accord to that end. That end is the common good; and when that reigns there is, from the common good, good to each individual, and from the good of each individual there is good to the whole community. This is so for the reason that the Lord turns all in heaven to Himself (see above, n. 123), and thereby makes them to be one in Himself. That the unanimity and concord of many, especially from such an origin and held together by such a bond, produces perfection, everyone with a reason at all enlightened can see clearly.


419. I have also been permitted to see the extent of the inhabited and also of the uninhabited heaven; and the extent of the uninhabited heaven was seen to be so great that it could not be filled to eternity even if there were many myriads of earths, and as great a multitude of men on each earth as on ours. (On this also see the treatise on The Earths in the Universe, n. 168.)


420. That heaven is not immense, but it is of limited extent, is a conclusion that some have derived from certain passages in the Word understood according to the sense of its letter; for example, where it is said that only the poor are received into heaven, or only the elect, or only those within the church, and not those outside of it, or only those for whom the Lord intercedes; that heaven is closed when it is filled, and that this time is predetermined. But such are unaware that heaven is never closed, and that there is no time predetermined, or any limit of number; and that those are called the "elect" who are in a life of good and truth;[1] and those are called "poor" who are lacking in knowledges of good and truth and yet desire them; and such from that desire are also called hungry.[2] Those that have conceived an idea of the small extent of heaven from the Word not understood believe it to be in one place, where all are gathered together; when, in fact, heaven consists of innumerable societies (see above, n. 41-50). Such also have no other idea than that heaven is granted to everyone from mercy apart from means, and thus that there is admission and reception from mere favor; and they fail to understand that the Lord from mercy leads everyone who accepts Him, and that he accepts Him who lives in accordance with the laws of divine order, which are the precepts of love and of faith, and that the mercy that is meant is to be thus led by the Lord from infancy to the last period of life in the world and afterwards to eternity. Let them know, therefore, that every man is born for heaven, and that he is received that receives heaven in himself in the world, and he that does not receive it is shut out.


  1. Those are the elect who are in a life of good and truth (n. 3755, 3900). Election and reception into heaven are not from mercy, as that term is understood, but are in accordance with the life (n. 5057, 5058). There is no mercy of the Lord apart from means, but only through means, that is, to those that live in accordance with His precepts; such the Lord from His mercy leads continually in the world, and afterwards to eternity (n. 8700, 10659).
  2. By the "poor," in the Word, those are meant who are spiritually poor, that is, who are ignorant of truth and yet wish to be taught (n. 9209, 9253, 10227). Such are said to hunger and thirst, which is to desire knowledges of good and of truth, by which there is introduction into the church and into heaven (n. 4958, 10227).