Heaven and Hell/36

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XXXVI
The Heathen, or Peoples Outside of the Church, in Heaven[edit]

318. There is a general opinion that those born outside of the church, who are called the nations, or heathen, cannot be saved, because not having the Word they know nothing about the Lord, and apart from the Lord there is no salvation. But that these also are saved this alone makes certain, that the mercy of the Lord is universal, that is, extends to every individual; that these equally with those within the church, who are few in comparison, are born men, and that their ignorance of the Lord is not their fault. Any one who thinks from any enlightened reason can see that no man is born for hell, for the Lord is love itself and His love is to will the salvation of all. Therefore He has provided a religion for everyone, and by it acknowledgment of the Divine and interior life; for to live in accordance with one's religion is to live interiorly, since one then looks to the Divine, and so far as he looks to the Divine he does not look to the world but separates himself from the world, that is, from the life of the world, which is exterior life.[1]


319. That the heathen equally with Christians are saved any one can see who knows what it is that makes heaven in man; for heaven is within man, and those that have heaven within them come into heaven. Heaven with man is acknowledging the Divine and being led by the Divine. The first and chief thing of every religion is to acknowledge the Divine. A religion that does not acknowledge the Divine is no religion. The precepts of every religion look to worship; thus to the way in which the Divine is to be worshiped that the worship may be acceptable to Him; and when this has been settled in one's mind, that is, so far as one wills this or so far as he loves it, he is led by the Lord. Everyone knows that the heathen as well as Christians live a moral life, and many of them a better life than Christians. Moral life may be lived either out of regard to the Divine or out of regard to men in the world; and a moral life that is lived out of regard to the Divine is a spiritual life. In outward form the two appear alike, but in inward form they are wholly different; the one saves man, the other does not. For he who lives a moral life out of regard to the Divine is led by the Divine; while he who leads a moral life out of regard to men in the world is led by himself.

[2] But this may be illustrated by an example. He that refrains from doing evil to his neighbor because it is antagonistic to religion, that is, antagonistic to the Divine, refrains from doing evil from a spiritual motive; but he that refrains from doing evil to another merely from fear of the law, or the loss of reputation, of honor, or gain, that is, from regard to self and the world, refrains from doing evil from a natural motive, and is led by himself. The life of the latter is natural, that of the former is spiritual. A man whose moral life is spiritual has heaven within him; but he whose moral life is merely natural does not have heaven within him; and for the reason that heaven flows in from above and opens man's interiors, and through his interiors flows into his exteriors; while the world flows in from beneath and opens the exteriors but not the interiors. For there can be no flowing in from the natural world into the spiritual, but only from the spiritual world into the natural; therefore if heaven is not also received, the interiors remain closed. All this makes clear who those are that receive heaven within them, and who do not.

[3] And yet heaven is not the same in one as in another. It differs in each one in accordance with his affection for good and its truth. Those that are in an affection for good out of regard to the Divine, love Divine truth, since good and truth love each other and desire to be conjoined.[2] This explains why the heathen, although they are not in genuine truths in the world, yet because of their love receive truths in the other life.


320. A certain spirit from among the heathen who had lived in the world in good of charity in accordance with his religion, hearing Christian spirits reasoning about what must be believed, (for spirits reason with each other far more thoroughly and acutely than men, especially about what is good and true,) wondered at such contentions, and said that he did not care to listen to them, for they reasoned from appearances and fallacies; and he gave them this instruction: "If I am good I can know from the good itself what is true; and what I do not know I can receive."


321. I have been taught in many ways that the heathen who have led a moral life and have lived in obedience and subordination and mutual charity in accordance with their religion, and have thus received something of conscience, are accepted in the other life, and are there instructed with solicitous care by the angels in the goods and truths of faith; and that when they are being taught they behave themselves modestly, intelligently, and wisely, and readily accept truths and adopt them. They have not worked out for themselves any principles of falsity antagonistic to the truths of faith that will need to be shaken off, still less cavils against the Lord, as many Christians have who cherish no other idea of Him than that He is an ordinary man. The heathen on the contrary when they hear that God has become a Man, and has thus manifested Himself in the world, immediately acknowledge it and worship the Lord, saying that because God is the God of heaven and of earth, and because the human race is His, He has fully disclosed Himself to men.[3] It is a Divine truth that apart from the Lord there is no salvation; but this is to be understood to mean that there is no salvation except from the Lord. There are many earths in the universe, and all of them full of inhabitants, scarcely any of whom know that the Lord took on the Human on our earth. Yet because they worship the Divine under a human form they are accepted and led by the Lord. On this subject more may be seen in the little work on The Earths in the Universe.


322. Among the heathen, as among Christians, there are both wise and simple. That I might learn about them I have been permitted to speak with both, sometimes for hours and days. But there are no such wise men now as in ancient times, especially in the Ancient Church, which extended over a large part of the Asiatic world, and from which religion spread to many nations. That I might wholly know about them I have been permitted to have familiar conversation with some of these wise men. There was with me one who was among the wiser of his time, and consequently well known in the learned world, with whom I talked on various subjects, and had reason to believe that it was Cicero. Knowing that he was a wise man I talked with him about wisdom, intelligence, order, and the Word, and lastly about the Lord.

[2] Of wisdom he said that there is no other wisdom than the wisdom of life, and that wisdom can be predicated of nothing else; of intelligence that it is from wisdom; of order, that it is from the Supreme God, and that to live in that order is to be wise and intelligent. As to the Word, when I read to him something from the prophets he was greatly delighted, especially with this, that every name and every word signified interior things; and he wondered greatly that learned men at this day are not delighted with such study. I saw plainly that the interiors of his thought or mind had been opened. He said that he was unable to hear more, as he perceived something more holy than he could bear, being affected so interiorly.

[3] At length I spoke with him about the Lord, saying that while He was born a man He was conceived of God, and that He put off the maternal human and put on the Divine Human, and that it is He that governs the universe. To this he replied that he knew some things concerning the Lord, and perceived in his way that if mankind were to be saved it could not have been done otherwise. In the meantime some bad Christians infused various cavils; but to these he gave no attention, remarking that this was not strange, since in the life of the body they had imbibed unbecoming ideas on the subject, and until they got rid of these they could not admit ideas that confirmed the truth, as the ignorant can.


323. It has also been granted me to talk with others who lived in ancient times, and who were then among the more wise. At first they appeared in front at a distance, and were able then to perceive the interiors of my thoughts, thus many things fully. From one idea of thought they were able to discern the entire series and fill it with delightful things of wisdom combined with charming representations. From this they were perceived to be among the more wise, and I was told that they were some of the ancient people; and when they came nearer I read to them something from the Word, and they were delighted beyond measure. I perceived the essence of their delight and gratification, which arose chiefly from this, that all things and each thing they heard from the Word were representative and significative of heavenly and spiritual things. They said that in their time, when they lived in the world, their mode of thinking and speaking and also of writing was of this nature, and that this was their pursuit of wisdom.


324. But as regards the heathen of the present day, they are not so wise, but most of them are simple in heart. Nevertheless, those of them that have lived in mutual charity receive wisdom in the other life, and of these one or two examples may be cited. When I read the seventeenth and eighteenth chapters of Judges (about Micah, and how the sons of Dan carried away his graven image and teraphim and Levite) a heathen spirit was present who in the life of the body had worshiped a graven image. He listened attentively to the account of what was done to Micah, and his grief on account of his graven image which the Danites took away, and such grief came upon him and moved him that he scarcely knew, by reason of inward distress, what to think. Not only was this grief perceived, but also the innocence that was in all his affections. The Christian spirits that were present watched him and wondered that a worshiper of a graven image should have so great a feeling of sympathy and innocence stirred in him. Afterwards some good spirits talked with him, saying that graven images should not be worshiped, and that being a man he was capable of understanding this; that he ought, apart from a graven image, to think of God the Creator and Ruler of the whole heaven and the whole earth, and that God is the Lord. When this was said I was permitted to perceive the interior nature of his adoration, which was communicated to me; and it was much more holy than is the case of Christians, This makes clear that at the present day the heathen come into heaven with less difficulty than Christians, according to the Lord's words in Luke:

Then shall they come from the east and the west, and from the north and the south, and shall recline in the kingdom of God. And behold, there are last who shall be first, and there are first who shall be last (13:29, 30).

For in the state in which that spirit was he could be imbued with all things of faith and receive them with interior affection; there was in him the mercy of love, and in his ignorance there was innocence; and when these are present all things of faith are received as it were spontaneously and with joy. He was afterwards received among angels.


325. A choir at a distance was heard one morning, and from the choir's representations I was permitted to know that they were Chinese, for they exhibited a kind of woolly goat, then a cake of millet, and an ebony spoon, also the idea of a floating city. They desired to come nearer to me, and when they had joined me they said that they wished to be alone with me, that they might disclose their thoughts. But they were told that they were not alone, and that some were displeased at their wishing to be alone, although they were guests. When they perceived this displeasure they began to think whether they had transgressed against the neighbor, and whether they had claimed any thing to themselves that belonged to others. All thought in the other life being communicated I was permitted to perceive the agitation of their minds. It consisted of a recognition that possibly they had injured those who were displeased, of shame on that account, together with other worthy affections; and it was thus known that they were endowed with charity. Soon after I spoke with them, and at last about the Lord. When I called Him "Christ" I perceived a certain repugnance in them; but the reason was disclosed, namely, that they had brought this from the world, from their having learned that Christians lived worse lives than they did, and were destitute of charity. But when I called Him simply "Lord" they were interiorly moved. Afterwards, they were taught by the angels that the Christian doctrine beyond every other in the world prescribes love and charity, but that there are few who live in accordance with it. There are heathen who have come to know while they lived in the world, both from interaction and report, that Christians lead bad lives, are addicted to adultery, hatred, quarreling, drunkenness, and the like, which they themselves abhor because such things are contrary to their religion. These in the other life are more timid than others about accepting the truths of faith; but they are taught by the angels that the Christian doctrine, as well as the faith itself, teaches a very different life, but that the lives of Christians are less in accord with their doctrine than the lives of heathen. When they recognize this they receive the truths of faith, and adore the Lord, but less readily than others.


326. It is a common thing for heathen that have worshiped any god under an image or statue, or any graven thing to be introduced, when they come into the other life, to certain spirits in place of their gods or idols, in order that they may rid themselves of their fantasies. When they have been with these for some days, the fantasies are put away. Also those that have worshiped men are sometimes introduced to the men they have worshiped, or to others in their place--as many of the Jews to Abraham, Jacob, Moses, and David-but when they come to see that they are human the same as others, and that they can give them no help, they become ashamed, and are carried to their own places in accordance with their lives. Among the heathen in heaven the Africans are most beloved, for they receive the goods and truths of heaven more readily than others. They especially wish to be called obedient, but not faithful. They say that as Christians possess the doctrine of faith they may be called faithful; but not they unless they accept that doctrine, or as they say, have the ability to accept it.


327. I have talked with some who were in the Ancient Church. That is called the Ancient Church that was established after the deluge, and extended through many kingdoms, namely, Assyria, Mesopotamia, Syria, Ethiopia, Arabia, Libya, Egypt, Philistia as far as Tyre and Zidon, and through the land of Canaan on both sides of the Jordan.[4] The men of this church knew about the Lord that He was to come, and were imbued with the goods of faith, and yet they fell away and became idolaters. These spirits were in front towards the left, in a dark place and in a miserable state. Their speech was like the sound of a pipe of one tone, almost without rational thought. They said they had been there for many centuries, and that they are sometimes taken out that they may serve others for certain uses of a low order. From this I was led to think about many Christians--who are inwardly though not outwardly idolaters, since they are worshipers of self and of the world, and in heart deny the Lord-what lot awaits such in the other life.


328. That the church of the Lord is spread over all the globe, and is thus universal; and that all those are in it who have lived in the good of charity in accordance with their religion; and that the church, where the Word is and by means of it the Lord is known, is in relation to those who are out of the church like the heart and lungs in man, from which all the viscera and members of the body have their life, variously according to their forms, positions, and conjunctions, may be seen above (n. 308).


  1. The heathen equally with the Christians are saved (n. 932, 1032, 1059, 2284, 2589, 2590, 3778, 4190, 4197). The lot of the nations and peoples outside of the church in the other life (n. 2589-2604). The church is specifically where the Word is, and by it the Lord is known (n. 3857, 10761). Nevertheless, those born where the Word is and where the Lord is known are not on that account of the church, but only those who live a life of charity and of faith (n. 6637, 10143, 10153, 10578, 10645, 10829). The Lord's church is with all in the whole world who live in good in accordance with their religion and acknowledge a Divine, and such are accepted of the Lord and come into heaven (n. 2589-2604, 2861, 2863, 3263, 4190, 4197, 6700, 9256).
  2. Between good and truth there is a kind of marriage (n. 1904, 2173, 2508). Good and truth are in a perpetual endeavor to be conjoined, and good longs for truth and for conjunction with it (n. 9206, 9207, 9495). How the conjunction of good and truth takes place, and in whom (n. 3834, 3843, 4096, 4097, 4301, 4345, 4353, 4364, 4368, 5365, 7623-7627, 9258).
  3. Difference between the good in which the heathen are and that in which Christians are (n. 4189, 4197). Truths with the heathen (n. 3263, 3778, 4190). The interiors cannot be so closed up with the heathen as with Christians (n. 9256). Neither can so thick a cloud exist with the heathen who live in mutual charity in accordance with their religion as with Christians who live in no charity; the reasons (n. 1059, 9256). The heathen cannot profane the holy things of the church as the Christians do, because they are ignorant of them (n. 1327, 1328, 2051). They have a fear of Christians on account of their lives (n. 2596, 2597). Those that have lived well in accordance with their religion are taught by angels and readily accept the truths of faith and acknowledge the Lord (n. 2049, 2595, 2598, 2600, 2601, 2603, 2861, 2863, 3263).
  4. The first and Most Ancient Church on this earth was that which is described in the first chapters of Genesis, and that church above all others was celestial (n. 607, 895, 920, 1121-1124, 2896, 4493, 8891, 9942, 10545). What the celestial are in heaven (n. 1114-1125). There were various churches after the flood which are called ancient churches (n. 1125-1127, 1327, 10355). What the men of the Ancient Church were (n. 609, 895). The ancient churches were representative churches (n. 519, 521, 2896). In the Ancient Church there was a Word, but it has been lost (n. 2897). The character of the Ancient Church when it began to decline (n. 1128). The difference between the Most Ancient Church and the Ancient Church (n. 597, 607, 640, 641, 765, 784, 895, 4493). The statutes, the judgments, and the laws, which were commanded in the Jewish Church, were in part like those in the Ancient Church (n. 4288, 4449, 10149). The God of the Most Ancient Church and of the Ancient Church was the Lord, and He was called Jehovah (n. 1343, 6846).