Heaven and Hell/60

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Heaven and Hell by Emanuel Swedenborg
Chapter LX, The Malice and Heinous Artifices of Infernal Spirits

LX
The Malice and Heinous Artifices of Infernal Spirits[edit]

576. In what way spirits are superior to men everyone can see and comprehend who thinks interiorly and knows any thing of the operation of his own mind; for in his mind he can consider, evolve, and form conclusions upon more subjects in a single moment than he can utter or express in writing in half an hour. This shows the superiority of man when he is in his spirit, and therefore when he becomes a spirit. For it is the spirit that thinks, and it is the body by which the spirit expresses its thoughts in speech or writing. In consequence of this, when man after death becomes an angel he is in intelligence and wisdom ineffable in comparison with his intelligence and wisdom while he lived in the world; for while he lived in the world his spirit was bound to his body, and was thereby in the natural world; and therefore whatever he thought spiritually flowed into natural ideas, which are comparatively general, gross, and obscure, and which are incapable of receiving innumerable things that pertain to spiritual thought; and which infold spiritual thought in the obscurities that arise from worldly cares. It is otherwise when the spirit is released from the body and comes into its spiritual state, which takes place when it passes out of the natural world into the spiritual world to which it belongs. From what has already been said it is evident that the state of its thoughts and affections is then immeasurably superior to its former state. Because of this the thoughts of angels are ineffable and inexpressible, and are therefore incapable of entering into the natural thoughts of man; and yet every angel was born a man, and has lived as a man, and he then seemed to himself to be no wiser than any other like man.


577. In the same degree in which angels have wisdom and intelligence infernal spirits have malice and cunning; for the case is the same, since the spirit of man when released from the body is in his good or in his evil--if an angelic spirit in his good, and if an infernal spirit in his evil. Every spirit is his own good or his own evil because he is his own love, as has been often said and shown above. Therefore as an angelic spirit thinks, wills, speaks, and acts, from his good, an infernal spirit does this from his evil; and to think, will, speak, and act from evil itself, is to think, will, speak, and act from all things included in the evil.

[2] So long as man lived in the body it was different, since the evil of the spirit was then under the restraints that every man feels from the law, from hope of gain, from honor, from reputation, and from the fear of losing these; and therefore the evil of his spirit could not then burst forth and show what it was in itself. Moreover, the evil of the spirit of man then lay wrapped up and veiled in outward probity, honesty, justice, and affection for truth and good, which such a man professes and counterfeits for the sake of the world; and under these semblances the evil has lain so concealed and obscured that he himself scarcely knew that his spirit contained so much malice and craftiness, that is, that in himself he was such a devil as he becomes after death, when his spirit comes into itself and into its own nature.

[3] Such malice then manifests itself as exceeds all belief. There are thousands of evils that then burst forth from evil itself, among which are such as cannot be described in the words of any language. What they are has been granted me to know and also to perceive by much experience, since it has been granted me by the Lord to be in the spiritual world in respect to my spirit and at the same time in the natural world in respect to my body. This I can testify, that their malice is so great that it is hardly possible to describe even a thousandth part of it; and so great that if man were not protected by the Lord he could never be rescued from hell; for with every man there are spirits from hell as well as angels from heaven (see above, n. 292, 293); and yet the Lord cannot protect man unless he acknowledges the Divine and lives a life of faith and charity; for otherwise man turns himself away from the Lord and turns himself to infernal spirits, and thus his spirit becomes imbued with a malice like theirs.

[4] Nevertheless, man is continually withdrawn by the Lord from the evils that he attaches and as it were attracts to himself by his affiliation with infernal spirits. If he is not withdrawn by the internal bonds of conscience, which he fails to receive if he denies a Divine, he is nevertheless withdrawn by external bonds, which are, as said above, fears in respect to the law and its penalties, and fears of the loss of gain and the deprivation of honor and reputation. In fact, such a man may be withdrawn from evils by means of the delights of his love and through fear of the loss or deprivation of those delights; but he cannot be led thereby into spiritual goods. For as soon as such a man is led into these he begins to give his thought to pretenses and devices by simulating or counterfeiting what is good, honest, and just, for the purpose of persuading and thus deceiving. Such cunning adjoins itself to the evil of his spirit and gives form to it, causing his evil to be of the same nature as itself.


578. Those are the worst of all who have been in evils from love of self and at the same time inwardly in themselves have acted from deceit; for deceit penetrates more deeply into the thoughts and intentions than other evils, and infects them with poison and thus wholly destroys the spiritual life of man. Most of these spirits are in the hells behind the back, and are called genii; and there they delight to make themselves invisible, and to flutter about others like phantoms secretly infusing evil into them, which they spread around like the poison of a viper. These are more direfully tormented than others. But those who are not deceitful, and who have not been so filled with malignant craftiness, and yet are in the evils derived from the love of self, are also in the hells behind, but in those less deep. On the other hand, those that have been in evils from the love of the world are in the hells in front, and are called spirits. These spirits are not such forms of evil, that is, of hatred and revenge, as those are who are in evils from the love of self; and therefore do not have such malice and cunning; and in consequence their hells are milder.


579. I have been permitted to learn by experience what kind of malice those possess who are called genii. Genii act upon and flow into the affections, and not the thoughts. They perceive and smell out the affections as dogs do wild beasts in the forest. Good affections, when they perceive them in another, they turn instantly into evil affections, leading and bending them in a wonderful manner by means of the other's delights; and this so secretly and with such malignant skill that the other knows nothing of it, for they most carefully guard against anything entering into the thought, as thereby they would be manifested. The seat of these in man is beneath the back part of the head. In the world they were such as deceitfully captivated the minds of others, leading and persuading them by the delights of their affections or lusts. But such spirits are not permitted by the Lord to come near to any man of whose reformation there is any hope; for they have the ability not only to destroy the conscience, but also to stir up in man his inherited evils, which otherwise lie hidden. Therefore to prevent man's being led into these evils, these hells, by the Lord's provision, are entirely closed up; and when any man of such a character comes after death into the other life, he is at once cast into their hell. When the deceit and craftiness of these spirits are clearly seen they appear as vipers.


580. The kind of malice infernal spirits possess is evident from their nefarious arts, which are so many that to enumerate them would fill a volume, and to describe them would fill many volumes. These arts are mostly unknown in the world. One kind relates to abuses of correspondences; a second to abuses of the outmosts of Divine order; a third to the communication and influx of thoughts and affections by means of turning towards another, fixing the sight upon another, and by the instrumentality of other spirits apart from themselves, and spirits sent out by themselves; a fourth to operations by phantasies; a fifth to a kind of casting themselves out beyond themselves and consequent presence elsewhere than where they are in the body; a sixth to pretenses, persuasion, and lies. The spirit of an evil man enters of itself into these arts when he is released from his body, for they are inherent in the nature of the evil in which he then is. By these arts they torment each other in the hells. But as all of these arts, except those that are effected by pretenses, persuasions, and lies, are unknown in the world, I will not here describe them in detail, both because they would not be comprehended, and because they are too abominable to be told.


581. The Lord permits torments in the hells because in no other way can evils be restrained and subdued. The only means of restraining and subduing evils and of keeping the infernal crew in bonds is the fear of punishment. It can be done in no other way; for without the fear of punishment and torment evil would burst forth into madness, and everything would go to pieces, like a kingdom on earth where there is no law and there are no penalties.