Heaven and Hell
Emanuel Swedenborg
Christian
17:45 h
Heaven and Hell is the common English title of a book written by Emanuel Swedenborg in Latin, published in 1758. The full title is Heaven and its Wonders and Hell From Things Heard and Seen, or, in Latin: De Caelo et Eius Mirabilibus et de inferno, ex Auditis et Visis. It gives a detailed description of the afterlife; how people live after the death of the physical body. The book owes its popular appeal to that subject matter.

Heaven and Hell

by
Emanuel Swedenborg

Translated by John C. Ager


1. The Lord, speaking in the presence of His disciples of the consummation of the age, which is the final period of the church, says, near the end of what He foretells about its successive states in respect to love and faith: Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken. And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven; and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn; and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He shall send forth His angels with a trumpet and a great sound; and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from the end to end of the heavens (Matt. 24: 29-31). Those who understood these words according to the sense of the letter have no other belief than that during that latest period, which is called the final judgment, all these things are to come to pass just as they are described in the literal sense, that is, that the sun and moon will be darkened and the stars will fall from the sky, that the sign of the Lord will appear in the sky, and He Himself will be seen in the clouds, attended by angels with trumpets; and furthermore, as is foretold else where, that the whole visible universe will be destroyed, and afterwards a new heaven with a new earth will come into being. Such is the opinion of most men in the church at the present day. But those who so believe are ignorant of the arcana that lie hid in every particular of the Word. For in every particular of the Word there is an internal sense which treats of things spiritual and heavenly, not of things natural and worldly, such as are treated of in the sense of the letter. And this is true not only of the meaning of groups of words, it is true of each particular word. For the Word is written solely by correspondences, to the end that there may be an internal sense in every least particular of it. What that sense is can be seen from all that has been said and shown about it in the Arcana Coelestia; also from quotations gathered from that work in the explanation of The White Horse spoken of in the Apocalypse. It is according to that sense that what the Lord says in the passage quoted above respecting His coming in the clouds of heaven is to be understood. The “sun” there that is to be darkened signifies the Lord in respect to love; the “moon” the Lord in respect to faith; “stars” knowledges of good and truth, or of love and faith; “the sign of the Son of man in heaven” the manifestation of Divine truth; “the tribes of the earth” that shall mourn, all things relating to truth and good or to faith and love; “the coming of the Lord in the clouds of heaven with power and glory” His presence in the Word, and revelation, “clouds” signifying the sense of the letter of the Word, and “glory” the internal sense of the Word; “the angels with a trumpet and great voice” signify heaven as a source of Divine truth. All this makes clear that these words of the Lord mean that at the end of the church, when there is no longer any love, and consequently no faith, the Lord will open the internal meaning of the Word and reveal arcana of heaven. The arcana revealed in the following pages relate to heaven and hell, and also to the life of man after death. The man of the church at this date knows scarcely anything about heaven and hell or about his life after death, although all these matters are set forth and described in the Word; and yet many of those born within the church refuse to believe in them, saying in their hearts, “Who has come from that world and told us?” Lest, therefore, such a spirit of denial, which especially prevails with those who have much worldly wisdom, should also infect and corrupt the simple in heart and the simple in faith, it has been granted me to associate with angels and to talk with them as man with man, also to see what is in the heavens and what is in the hells, and this for thirteen years; so now from what I have seen and heard it has been granted me to describe these, in the hope that ignorance may thus be enlightened and unbelief dissipated. Such immediate revelation is granted at this day because this is what is meant by the Coming of the Lord.[ REFERENCES TO THE AUTHOR’S ARCANA COELESTIA.]


I. The God of Heaven Is the Lord

2. First of all it must be known who the God of heaven is, since upon that all the other things depend. Throughout all heaven no other than the Lord alone is acknowledged as the God of heaven. There it is said, as He Himself taught, That He is one with the Father; that the Father is in Him, and He in the Father; that he who sees Him sees the Father; and that everything that is holy goes forth from Him (John 10: 30, 35; 14: 9-11; 16: 13-15). I have often talked with angels on this subject, and they have invariably declared that in heaven they are unable to divide the Divine into three, because they know and perceive that the Divine is One and this One is in the Lord. They also said that those of the church who come from this world having an idea of three Divine beings cannot be admitted into heaven, since their thought wanders from one Divine being to another; and it is not allowable there to think three and say one .Because in heaven everyone speaks from his thought, since speech there is the immediate product of the thought, or the thought speaking. Consequently, those in this world who have divided the Divine into three, and have adopted a different idea of each, and have not made that idea one and centered it in the Lord, cannot be received into heaven, because in heaven there is a sharing of all thoughts, and therefore if any one came thinking three and saying one, he would be at once found out and rejected. But let it be known that all those who have not separated what is true from what is good, or faith from love, accept in the other life, when they have been taught, the heavenly idea of the Lord, that He is the God of the universe. It is otherwise with those who have separated faith from life, that is, who have not lived according to the precepts of true faith.

3. Those within the church who have denied the Lord and have acknowledged the Father only, and have confirmed themselves in that belief, are not in heaven; and as they are unable to receive any influx from heaven, where the Lord alone is worshiped, they gradually lose the ability to think what is true about any subject whatever; and finally they become as if dumb, or they talk stupidly, and ramble about with their arms dangling and swinging as if weak in the joints. Again, those who, like the Socinians, have denied the Divinity of the Lord and have acknowledged His Humanity only, are likewise outside of heaven; they are brought forward a little towards the right and are let down into the deep, and are thus wholly separated from the rest that come from the Christian world. Finally, those who profess to believe in an invisible Divine, which they call the soul of the universe [Ens universi], from which all things originated, and who reject all belief in the Lord, find out that they believe in no God; since this invisible Divine is to them a property of nature in her first principles, which cannot be an object of faith and love, because it is not an object of thought. Such have their lot among those called Naturalists. It is otherwise with those born outside the church, who are called the heathen; these will be treated of hereafter.

4. Infants, who form a third part of heaven, are all initiated into the acknowledgment and belief that the Lord is their Father, and afterwards that He is the Lord of all, thus the God of heaven and earth. That children grow up in heaven and are perfected by means of knowledges, even to angelic intelligence and wisdom, will be seen in the following pages.

5. Those who are of the church cannot doubt that the Lord is the God of heaven, for He Himself taught, That all things of the Father are His (Matt. 11: 27; John 16: 15; 17: 2). And that He hath all power in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28: 18). He says “in heaven and on earth,” because He that rules heaven rules the earth also, for the one depends upon the other. “Ruling heaven and earth” means to receive from the Lord every good pertaining to love and every truth pertaining to faith, thus all intelligence and wisdom, and in consequence all happiness, in a word, eternal life. This also the Lord taught when He said: He that believeth on the Son hath eternal life; but he that believeth not the Son shall not see life (John 3: 36). Again: I am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth on Me, though he die yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth on Me shall never die (John 11: 26, 26). And again: I am the way, the truth, and the life (John 14: 6).

6. There were certain spirits who while living in the world had professed to believe in the Father; but of the Lord they had the same idea as of any other man, and therefore did not believe Him to be the God of heaven. For this reason they were permitted to wander about and inquire wherever they wished whether there were any other heaven than the heaven of the Lord. They searched for several days, but nowhere found any. These were such as place the happiness of heaven in glory and dominion; and as they were unable to get what they desired, and were told that heaven does not consist in such things, they became indignant, and wished for a heaven where they could lord it over others and be eminent in glory like that in the world.


II. It Is Divine of the Lord that Makes Heaven

7. The angels taken collectively are called heaven, for they constitute heaven; and yet that which makes heaven in general and in particular is the Divine that goes forth from the Lord and flows into the angels and is received by them. And as the Divine that goes forth from the Lord is the good of love and the truth of faith, the angels are angels and are heaven in the measure in which they receive good and truth from the Lord.

8. Everyone in the heavens knows and believes and even perceives that he wills and does nothing of good from himself, and that he thinks and believes nothing of truth from himself, but only from the Divine, thus from the Lord; also that good from himself is not good, and truth from himself is not truth, because these have in them no life from the Divine. Moreover, the angels of the inmost heaven clearly perceive and feel the influx, and the more of it they receive the more they seem to themselves to be in heaven, because the more are they in love and faith and in the light of intelligence and wisdom, and in heavenly joy therefrom; and since all these go forth from the Divine of the Lord, and in these the angels have their heaven, it is clear that it is the Divine of the Lord, and not the angels from anything properly their own that makes heaven. This is why heaven is called in the Word the “dwelling-place” of the Lord and “His throne,” and those who are there are said to be in the Lord. But in what manner the Divine goes forth from the Lord and fills heaven will be told in what follows.

9. Angels from their wisdom go still further. They say that not only everything good and true is from the Lord, but everything of life as well. They confirm it by this, that nothing can spring from itself, but only from something prior to itself; therefore all things spring from a First, which they call the very Being [Esse] of the life of all things. And in like manner all things continue to exist, for continuous existence is a ceaseless springing forth, and whatever is not continually held by means of intermediates in connection with the First instantly disperses and is wholly dissipated. They say also that there is but One Fountain of life, and that man’s life is a rivulet therefrom, which if it did not unceasingly continue from its fountain would immediately flow away. [2] Again, they say that from this One Fountain of life, which is the Lord, nothing goes forth except Divine good and Divine truth, and that each one is affected by these in accordance with his reception of them, those who receive them in faith and life find heaven in them while those who reject them or stifle them change them into hell; for they change good into evil and truth into falsity, thus life into death. Again, that everything of life is from the Lord they confirm by this: that all things in the universe have relation to good and truth,— the life of man’s will, which is the life of his love, to good; and the life of his understanding, which is the life of his faith, to truth; and since everything good and true comes from above it follows that everything of life must come from above.[ 3] This being the belief of the angels they refuse all thanks for the good they do, and are displeased and withdraw if any one attributes good to them. They wonder how any one can believe that he is wise from himself or does anything good from himself. Doing good for one’s own sake they do not call good, because it is done from self. But doing good for the sake of good they call good from the Divine; and this they say is the good that makes heaven, because this good is the Lord.

10. Such spirits as have confirmed themselves during their life in the world in the belief that the good they do and the truth they believe is from themselves, or is appropriated to them as their own (which is the belief of all who place merit in good actions and claim righteousness to themselves) are not received into heaven. Angels avoid them. They look upon them as stupid and as thieves; as stupid because they continually have themselves in view and not the Divine; and as thieves because they steal from the Lord what is His. These are averse to the belief of heaven, that it is the Divine of the Lord in the angels that makes heaven.

11. The Lord teaches that those that are in heaven and in the church are in the Lord and the Lord is in them, when He says: Abide in Me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself except it abide in the vine, so neither can ye, except ye abide in Me. I am the Vine, ye are the branches. He that abideth in Me and I in him, the same beareth much fruit; for apart from Me ye can do nothing (John 15: 4, 5).

12. From all this it can now be seen that the Lord dwells in the angels of heaven in what is His own, and thus that the Lord is the all in all things of heaven; and this for the reason that good from the Lord is the Lord in angels, for what is from the Lord is the Lord; consequently heaven to the angels is good from the Lord, and not anything of their own.