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hung upon the walls of his church, by which he taught his hearers, that according to their humility, piety, fidelity, and their love of being useful to each other, would be their elevation in the Lord's kingdom, either to the first second, or third heaven. We think that no one, in whom reign the heavenly principles of "love" to the Lord and the neighbour; “joy” in duty under all circumstances ; “peace” in every change of state ; "longsuffering " under all provocations ; “gentle
of behaviour; goodness” of disposition, ever manifesting itself in good actions ; "faith or truth, believed, loved, and thence trusted in; “meekness” in doing and in suffering; “temperance both in external and internal delights, (Gal. 5. 22,) would be an unwilling inhabitant of such a heaven as Swedenborg describes. Is not this at least presumptive evidence that he has spoken truly ?
The three heavens are further subdivided into innumerable societies, some smaller and some larger ; some consisting of myriads of angels, and some of hundreds. Their association into societies, is a result of similarity of character, which similarity is imaged in their faces, and a general likeness of countenance is observed among the angels who form one society. All who are in similar love know each other, just as men in the world know their kindred, relations, and friends ; and thus, as it were, spontaneously associated, they feel at home and in freedom ; and thence in the full delight of their life. From this it also follows that angels who differ much are far apart, and few depart out of their own society into another, because to go out from their own society is like going out of themselves, or out of their own life, and passing into another which is not so agreeable. Nevertheless all the societies of heaven are bound together in one perfect form as we shall now show.
All angels are in the human form, and are just such men and women as they were on earth, except that they have rejected the material body. That we should shave to write and enforce such truisms—for such they must appear to a mind really rational,—is owing to the strange and ridiculous fancies that are commonly entertained on this subject. We often hear the departed talked of as shades, and thought of as minds without forms, or mere thinking principles composed of some sort of ethereal vapour ; and when artists draw them, we see perhaps an exquisitely beautiful human form, but disfigured with large feathery wings, which, having no adequate muscles, would have no power of motion. None of these vague, shadowy, and erroneous ideas do we find in the Bible. The angels seen by Abraham, Lot, Manoah, the prophets, and the Lord's disciples, were all seen as men, and talked with as men. Our author writes thus explicitly on this subject. "The angelic form is in every respect human ; angels have faces, eyes, ears, breasts, arms, hands, and feet; they see, hear, and converse with each other; and, in a word, no external attribute of man is wanting, except the natural body.”
And now comes a doctrine which on a first view may appear very mystical, and yet when pondered over, and understood, commends itself to our belief by a thousand irresistible evidences drawn from analogy, and confirmed by right reason. It is, that every society of heaven is in the human form; and that the universal heaven, viewed collectively, is also in the human form ; and is called by Swedenborg the Grand or Greatest [Maximus] Man. Wilkinson well expresses this sublime truth. “ Heaven,” he says, “is supremely human-nay more, it is one man. As the members of the body make one person, so before God, all good men make one humanity: every society of the angels is a heavenly man in a lesser form, and every angel in a least. The reason is, that God himself (the Lord Jesus Christ,) is a Divine Man, and he shapes his heaven into his own image and likeness, even as he made Adam. The oneness of heaven comes from God's unity ; its manhood from his humanity. Heaven has, therefore, all the members, organs, and viscera of a man; its angel inhabitants, everyone, are in some province of the Grand Man. Indefinite myriads of us go to a fibre of its humanity. Some are in the province of the brain ; some in that of the lungs; some in that of the heart; some in that of the belly; some are in the legs and arms ; and all, wherever humanized, that is to say, located in humanity, perform spiritually the offices of that part of the body whereto they correspond. They all work together, however spaced apparently, just as the parts of a single man. Their space is but their palpable liberty, and they touch the human atoms, more closely, by offices which unite them in God, than the contiguous fibres of our flesh.” Every society of heaven also increases in number daily, and as it increases, it becomes more perfect; and from its perfection the universal heaven becomes more perfect, because heaven is composed of societies. Since increasing numbers make heaven more perfect, it is evident how much they are deceived who believe that heaven will be closed when it becomes full. On the contrary, heaven will never be closed, for the greater its fulness, the greater its perfection; and therefore the angels desire nothing more earnestly than to receive new comers.
This part of our subject would require considerable expansion to make it intelligible to minds that have never meditated on these high themes, and whose theological education has perverted all perception of the truth on these matters. The subject is enticing, but our limits command restraint.
It was a remark of a profane wit and epicure that as to heaven, he had no great longing, as he could not see what great pleasure there could be in sitting on a cloud and singing psalms to eternity.” We have in this expression a thought which we know to be common to many minds, but respect for the externals of religion forbids its expression. The general beliefs on the nature of life in heaven, involve such vague
ness, and contain so much of clouds and psalm-singing, that it is not to be wondered at that some free and daring spirits should openly avow their preference for the more substantial realities of this life. And is it not a pity that the divine glories and delights of the heavenly life should ever become so veiled in mystery as to lose their attraction, and cease to be desirable ? With the exception of the church's ignorance of the humanity, unity, and divinity of its Saviour and Lord,
surer evidence could be adduced of its consummation, than its inability to answer the simplest child's questions as to the nature of life in heaven. Let us be thankful that man's utmost wants, in this respect, are satisfied in the writings of that New Church which the Lord is now raising up, and of which Swedenborg was the first scribe and announcer.
The sun of heaven is the Lord. The light of heaven is the divine truth, and its heat the divine love; both proceeding from the Lord as
The sun of this world is not seen in heaven. Nature commences from the sun of this world, and everything which is produced from it, and subsists by it, is called natural ; but the spiritual world in which heaven is, is above nature, and entirely distinct from it, although it is ever to be remembered that nature is a derivation from spirit, and communicates with spirit by correspondences. We shall have more to say on this conjunction, yet perfect separation, between nature and spirit, when we come to speak of the doctrine of degrees.
The sun of heaven, or the divine sphere of glory surrounding the Lord, the “light which no man can approach unto,” (1 Tim. 6. 6,) appears variously to the angels of heaven according to their states of love and intelligence. To the angels of the third heaven, the sun appears fiery and flaming; to the angels of the second heaven, white and brilliant; while to those of the first heaven its light is more subdued and veiled with clouds, yet at intervals bursting forth and pouring his glorious radiance upon them. Although the Lord is thus seen by the angels as a sun above them, he yet at times appears in their midst, in an angelic form, and with a resplendent countenance. What tongue can describe the rapt adoration and ineffable humility of joy which must thrill angelic bosoms on these divine occasions !
Heaven has its times and its seasons, but they are not like those of earth. In heaven there is no winter and no night. The times and seasons of heaven are consequences of the variations of the states of the angelic minds. While to all appearance they are objective as on earth, they are in reality strictly subjective. The external changes of light and heat correspond to the internal changes of love and wisdom in the angelic mind. Now as the angels are sometimes in a state of intense love, and sometimes in a state of love not so intense, morning, noon, evening, and twilight, exist in heaven as the external emblems of these changes. Without such changes life would lose it zest. Eternal uniformity would be eternal dullness.
Since angels are men, and live together in society like men on earth, therefore they have garments, houses, and other things similar to those which exist on earth, but of course infinitely more beautiful and perfect. The garments of the angels correspond to their intelligence. The garments of some glitter as with flame, and those of others are resplendent as with light; others are of various colours, and some white and opaque. The angels of the inmost heaven are naked because they are in innocence, and nakedness corresponds to innocence. It is because garments represent states of wisdom that they are so much spoken of in the Word, in relation to the church and good men. Thus in Isaiah 53. 1, “Awake, put on strength, 0 Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem ; and in Ezekiel 16. 10, the Lord says of his church, “ I girded thee about with fine linen, and covered thee with silk,” and in the Apocalypse 3. 4, 5, it is said, “They who have not defiled their garments, shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment.” What a depth of meaning appears in these passages when we remember the spiritual signification of garments !
“The garments of the angels,” writes Swedenborg, “do not merely appear to be garments, but they really are garments, for they not only see them, but feel them, and have different ones, which they take off and put on, laying aside those which are not in use, and resuming them when they come into use again. That they are clothed with a variety of garments, I have witnessed a thousand times; and when I inquired whence they obtained them, they told me from the Lord,' and that they receive them as gifts, and that they are sometimes clothed without knowing how. They also said that their garments are changed according to the changes of their state.”
Since there are societies in heaven, and the angels live as men, it follows that they have habitations, various, like all else in heaven, according to the degree of love and wisdom in which they are principled. No words are like Swedenborg's own on this subject. “Whenever I have conversed with the angels mouth to mouth, I have been present with them in their habitations, which are exactly like the habitations on earth called houses, but more beautiful. They contain chambers, parlors [conclavia], and bed chambers, in great numbers ; courts also, and around them gardens, shrubberies, and fields. Where the angels are consociated, their habitations are contiguous, or near to each other, and arranged in the form of a city, with streets, ways, and squares, exactly like the cities on our earth.
“I have seen palaces in heaven, magnificent beyond description. Their upper parts were refulgent as if they were pure gold, and their lower parts as if they were precious stones : some were more splendid than others, and the splendour without was equalled by the magnificence within. The apartments were ornamented with decorations
which neither language nor science can adequately describe. On the south were paradises, in which all things were similarly resplendent; for in some places the leaves of the trees were like silver, and the fruits like gold, while the colours of the flowers which were arranged in beds, appeared like rainbows ; at the boundaries appeared other palaces, which terminated the view. Such is the architecture of heaven that one might say it is the very art itself; nor is this to be wondered at, because the art itself is from heaven. The angels said that such things, and innumerable others still more perfect, are presented before their eyes by the Lord, but that nevertheless they delight their minds more than their eyes, because in everything they see correspondences of things divine.
“The angels who constitute the Lord's celestial kingdom, dwell for the most part in elevated places, or mountains; those who form the spiritual kingdom, on hills; but those who are in the lowest parts of heaven, in places which appear as rocks. There are also angels who do not live consociated, but separate. These dwell in the midst of heaven, and are the best of the angels.
"The houses in which the angels dwell, are not constructed by hand, like houses in the world, but are given them freely by the Lord, according to their reception of good and truth. All things whatsoever which the angels possess, they hold as gifts from the Lord, and they are supplied with everything they need.”
We thus learn that in heaven there are not external, physical, or mental occupations, to support bodily wants, as in this world.
It was said above that the angels have not wings, as is commonly supposed. Their power of progression far exceeds anything that wings could supply. The angels have no idea of space, such as we have in the world. It was before stated that all who are of like disposition spontaneously associate together in the spiritual world. It thus fol. lows that those are near to each other who are in a similar state, and distant who are in a dissimilar state; and that what appears to be space in heaven is merely an external appearance, representative of internal differences of mind. From this cause alone the heavens are distinct from each other, and each society of every heaven, and every individual in each society; and hence also the hells are altogether separated from the heavens.
From the same cause, anyone in the spiritual world appears to be present if another intensely desires his presence, for from that desire he sees him in thought, and puts himself in his state; and, vice versa, one person is removed from another in proportion as he holds him in aversion, for all aversion is from contrariety of the affections and disagreement of the thoughts; and therefore many who appear together in one place in the spiritual world, so long as they agree, separate as soon as they disagree.