III. Shunning Evils (Continued)

Man is placed in the middle between heaven and hell. Out of heaven goods unceasingly flow in, and out of hell evils unceasingly flow in; and as man is between he has freedom to think what is good or to think what is evil. This freedom the Lord never takes away from anyone, for it belongs to his life, and is the means of his reformation. So far, therefore, as man from this freedom has the thought and desire to shun evils because they are sins, and prays to the Lord for help, so far does the Lord take them away and give man the ability to refrain from them as if of himself, and then to shun them.

Everyone is able from natural freedom to shun these same evils because of their being contrary to human laws. This every citizen of a kingdom does who fears the penalties of the civil law, or the loss of life, reputation, honor, wealth, and thus of office, gain, and pleasures; even an evil man does this. And the life of such a man appears exactly the same in external form as the life of one who shuns these evils because they are contrary to the Divine laws; but in internal form it is wholly unlike it. The one acts from natural freedom only, which is from man; the other acts from spiritual freedom, which is from the Lord; both acting from freedom. When a man is able to shun these same evils from natural freedom, why is he not able to shun them from spiritual freedom, in which he is constantly held by the Lord, provided he thinks to will this because there is a heaven, a hell, a life after death, punishment and reward, and prays to the Lord for help?

Let it be noted, that every man when he is beginning the spiritual life because he wishes to be saved, fears sins on account of the punishments of hell, but afterward on account of the sin itself, because it is in itself abominable, and finally on account of the truth and good that he loves, thus for the Lord’s sake. For so far as anyone loves truth and good, thus the Lord, he so far turns away from what is contrary to these, which is evil. All this makes clear that he that believes in the Lord shuns evils as sins; and conversely, he that shuns evils as sins believes; consequently to shun evils as sins is the sign of faith.

But as all the evils into which man is born derive their roots from a love of ruling over others and from a love of possessing the goods of others, and all the delights of man’s own life flow forth from these two loves, and all evils are from them, so the loves and delights of these evils belong to man’s own life. And since evils belong to the life of man, it follows that man from himself can be no means refrain from them, for this would be from his own life to refrain from his own life. An ability to refrain from them of the Lord is therefore provided, and that he may have this ability the freedom to think that which he wills and to pray to the Lord for help is granted him.

He has this freedom because he is in the middle between heaven and hell, consequently between good and evil. And being in the middle he is in equilibrium; and he who is in equilibrium is able easily and as of his own accord to turn himself the one way or the other; and the more so because the Lord continually resists evils and repels them, and raises man up and draws him to Himself. And yet there is combat, because the evils which belong to man’s life are stirred up by the evils that unceasingly rise up from hell; and then man must fight against them, and, indeed, as if of himself. If he does not fight as if of himself the evils are not set aside.

from Spiritual Life and the Word of God, Part First

III. Shunning Evils

In the previous chapter two things are said to be necessary that works may be good, namely, that the Divine of the Lord be acknowledged, and that the evils forbidden in the Decalogue be shunned as sins. The evils enumerated in the Decalogue include all the evils that can ever exist; therefore the Decalogue is called the ten commandments, because “ten” signifies all.

The first commandment, “Thou shalt not worship other gods,” includes not loving self and the world; for he that loves self and the world above all things worships other gods; for everyone’s god is that which he loves above all things.

The second commandment, “Thou shalt not profane the name of God,” includes not to despise the Word and doctrine from the Word, and thus the church, and not to reject these from the heart, for these are God’s “name.”

The fifth commandment, “Thou shalt not steal,” included the shunning of frauds and unlawful gains, for these also are thefts.

The sixth commandment, “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” includes having delight in adulteries and having no delight in marriages, and in particular cherishing filthy thoughts respecting such things as pertain to marriage, for these are adulteries.

The seventh commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” includes not hating the neighbor nor loving revenge; for hatred and revenge breathe murder.

The eighth commandment, “Thou shalt not bear false witness,” includes not to lie and blaspheme; for lies and blasphemies are false testimonies.

The ninth commandment, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house,” includes not wishing to possess or to divert to oneself the goods of others against their will.

The tenth commandment, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, his man-servants,” and so on, includes not wishing to rule over others and to subject them to oneself, for the things here enumerated mean the things that are man’s own. Anyone can see that these eight commandments relate to evils that must be shunned, and not to goods that must be done. But many, I know, think in their heart that no one can of himself shun these evils enumerated in the Decalogue, because man is born in sins and has therefore no power of himself to shun them.

But let such know that anyone who thinks in his heart that there is a God, that the Lord is the God of heaven and earth, that the Word is from Him, and is therefore holy, that there is a heaven and a hell, and that there is a life after death, has the ability to shun these evils. But he who despises these truths and casts them out of his mind, and still more he who denies them, is not able. For how can one who never thinks about God think that anything is a sin against God? And how can one who never thinks about heaven, hell, and the life after death, shun evils as sins? Such a man does not know what sin is.

from Spiritual Life and the Word of God, Part First

II. Goods of Charity

What is meant by goods of charity or good works is at this day unknown to most in the Christian world, because of the prevalence of the religion of faith alone, which is a faith separated from goods of charity. For if only faith contributes to salvation, and goods of charity contribute nothing, the idea that these goods may be left undone has place in the mind. But some who believe that good works should be done do not know what is meant by good works, thinking that good works are merely giving to the poor and doing good to the needy and to widows and orphans, since such things are mentioned and seemingly commanded in the Word. Some think that if good works must be done for the sake of eternal life they must give to the poor all they possess, as was done in the primitive church, and as the Lord commanded the rich man to sell all that he had and give to the poor, and take up the cross and follow Him (Matthew 19:21).

It has just been said that at this day it is scarcely known what is meant by charity, and thus by good works, unless it be giving to the poor, enriching the needy, doing good to widows and orphans, and contributing to the building of churches and hospitals and lodging houses; and yet whether such works are done by man and for the sake of reward is not known; for if they are done by man they are not good, and if for the sake of reward they are not meritorious; and such works do not open heaven, and thus are not acknowledged as goods in heaven. In heaven no works are regarded as good except such as are done by the Lord in man, and yet the works that are done by the Lord in man appear in outward form like those done by the man himself and cannot be distinguished even by the man who does them. For the works done by the Lord in man are done by man as if by himself; and unless they are done as if by himself they do not conjoin man to the Lord, thus they do not reform him.

But for works to be done by the Lord, and not by man, two things are necessary: first, there must be an acknowledgment of the Lord’s Divine, also that He is the God of heaven and earth even in respect to the Human, also that every good that is good is from Him; and secondly, it is necessary that man live according to the commandments of the Decalogue, by abstaining from those evils that are there forbidden, that is, from worshipping other gods, from profaning the name of God, from thefts, from adulteries, from murders, from false witness, from coveting the possessions and property of others. These two things are requisite that the works done by man may be good. The reason is that every good comes from the Lord alone, and the Lord cannot enter into man and lead him so long as these evils are not set aside as sins; for they are infernal, and in fact are hell with man, and unless hell is set aside the Lord cannot enter and open heaven. This is what is meant by the Lord’s words to the rich man:

Who asked Him about eternal life, and said that he had kept the commandments of the Decalogue from his youth; whom the Lord is said to have loved, and to have taught that one thing was lacking to him, that he should sell all that he had and take up the cross (Matthew 19:16-22; Mark 10:17-22; Luke 18:18-23). “To sell all that he had” signifies that he should relinquish the things of his religion, which were traditions, for he was a Jew, and also should relinquish the things that were his own, which were loving self and the world more than God, and thus leading himself; and “to follow the Lord” signifies to acknowledge Him only and to be led by Him; therefore the Lord also said, “Why callest thou Me good? There is none good but God only.” “To take up his cross” signifies to fight against evils and falsities, which are from what is one’s own (proprium).

from Spiritual Life and the Word of God, Part First

I. How Spiritual Life is Acquired (Continued)

Consider further, why the ten commandments of the Decalogue were promulgated from Mount Sinai in so miraculous a way; why they were engraved on two tables of stone, and why these were placed in the ark, over which was placed the mercy-seat with cherubs, and the place where those commandments were was called the Holy of holies, within which Aaron was permitted to enter only once a year, and his with sacrifices and incense; and if he had entered without these, he would have fallen dead; also why so many miracles were afterward performed by means of that ark.

Have not all through out the whole globe a knowledge of like commandments? Do not their civil laws prescribe the same? Who does not know from merely natural lumen, that for the sake of order in every kingdom, adultery, theft, murder, false witness, and other things in the Decalogue are forbidden? Why then must those same precepts have been promulgated by so many miracles, and regarded as so holy? Can there be any other reason than that everyone might do them from religion, and thus from God, and not merely from civil and moral law, and thus from self and for the sake of the world? Such was the reason for their promulgation from Mount Sinai and their holiness;for to do these commandments from religion purifies the internal man, opens heaven, admits the Lord, and makes man as to his spirit an angel of heaven. And this is why the nations outside the church who do these commandments from religion are all saved, but not anyone who does them merely from civil and moral law.

Inquire now whether the faith of this day, which is, that the Lord suffered for our sins, that he took away the curse of the law by fulfilling it, and that man is justified and saved by this faith apart from good works, does not cancel all these commandments. Look about and discover how many there are at this day in the Christian world who do not live according to this faith. I know that they will answer that they are weak and imperfect men, born in sins, and the like. But who is not able to think from religion? This the Lord gives to everyone; and in him who thinks these things from religion the Lord works all things so far as he thinks. And be it known that he who thinks of these things from religion believes that there is a God, a heaven, a hell, and a life after death; but he who does not think of these things from religion does not, I affirm, believe them.

from Spiritual Life and the Word of God, Part First

I. How Spiritual Life is Acquired (Continued)

It shall now be told how that life is destroyed by the faith of the present day. The faith of this day is that it must be believed that God the Father sent His Son, who suffered the cross for our sins, and took away the curse of the law by fulfilling it; and that this faith apart from good works will save everyone, even in the last hour of death. By this faith instilled from childhood and afterward confirmed by preachings, it has come to pass that no one shuns evils from religion, but only from civil and moral law; thus not because they are sins but because they are damaging.

Consider, when a man thinks that the Lord suffered for our sins, that He took away the curse of the law, and that merely to believe these things, or to have faith in them without good works saves, whether this is not to regard as of little worth the commandments of the Decalogue, all the life of religion as prescribed in the Word, and furthermore all the truths that inculcate charity. Separate these, therefore, and take them away from man, and is there any religion left in him? For religion does not consist in merely thinking this or that, but in willing and doing that which is thought; and there is no religion when willing and doing are separated from thinking. From this it follows that the faith of this day destroys spiritual life, which is the life of the angels of heaven, and is the Christian life itself.

from Spiritual Life and the Word of God, Part First

Spiritual Life: I. How Spiritual Life is Acquired

Spiritual life is acquired solely by a life according to the commandments in the Word. These commandments are given in summary in the Decalogue, namely, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet the goods of others. These commandments are the commandments that are to be done, for when a man does these his works are good and his life is spiritual, and for the reason that so far as a man shuns evils and hates them so far he wills and loves goods.

For there are two opposite spheres that surround man, one from hell, the other from heaven; from hell a sphere of evil and falsity therefrom, from heaven a sphere of good and of truth therefrom; and these spheres do [not immediately] affect the body, but they affect the minds of men, for they are spiritual spheres, and thus are affections that belong to the love. In the midst of these man is set; therefore so far as he approaches the one, so far he withdraws from the other. This is why so far as a man shuns evils and hates them, so far he wills and loves goods and the truths therefrom; for no one can at the same time serve two masters, for he will hate the one and will love the other. (Matthew 6:24).

But let it be noted, that man must do these commandments from religion, because they are commanded by the Lord; and if he does this from any other consideration whatever, for instance, from regard merely to the civil law or the moral law, he remains natural, and does not become spiritual. For when a man acts from religion, he acknowledges in heart that there is a God, a heaven and a hell, and a life after death. But when he acts from regard merely to the civil and moral law, he may act in the same way, and yet in heart may deny that there is a God, a heaven and a hell, and a life after death. And if he shuns evils and does goods, it is merely in the external form, and not in the internal; thus while he is outwardly in respect to the life of the body like a Christian, inwardly in respect to the life of his spirit he is like a devil. All this makes clear that a man can become spiritual, or receive spiritual life, in no other way than by a life according to religion from the Lord.

I have had proof that this is true from angels of the third or inmost heaven, who are in the greatest wisdom and happiness. When asked how they had become such angels, they said it was because during their life in the world they had regarded filthy thoughts as abominable, and these had been to them adulteries; and had regarded in like manner frauds and unlawful gains, which had been to them thefts; also hatreds and revenges, which had been to them murder; also lies and blasphemies, which had been to them false testimonies; and so with other things. When asked again whether they had done good works, they said they loved chastity, in which they were because they had regarded adulteries as abominable; that they loved sincerity and justice, in which they were because they had regarded frauds and unlawful gains as abominable; that they loved the neighbor because they had regarded hatreds and revenges as abominable; that they loved truth because they had regarded lies and blasphemies as abominable, and so on; and that they perceived that when these evils have been put away, and they acted from chastity, sincerity, justice, charity and truth, it was not done from themselves, but from the Lord, and thus that all things whatsoever that they had done from these were good works, although they had done them as if from themselves; and that it was on this account that they had been raised up by the Lord after death into the third heaven. Thus it was made clear how spiritual life, which is the life of the angels of heaven, is acquired.

from Spiritual Life and the Word of God, Part First

Our Second State after Death (Continued)

Every individual comes to the community where her or his spirit was in the world. Each of us, as to spirit, is actually united to some community, either heavenly or hellish, evil people to hellish communities and good people to heavenly ones. (See Section 438 on the fact that we are brought to our own communities after death.) Spirits are brought there gradually, and ultimately get in. When evil spirits are in the state of their deeper concerns, they gradually turn toward their own communities and eventually face them directly, before this state is completed. When the state is completed, then the evil spirits themselves plunge into a hell where there are people of like mind. To the eye, this plunge looks like someone falling backward headfirst. The reason it looks like this is that such people are in an inverted order. They have loved hellish things and spurned heavenly ones. During this second state, some evil people go in and out of various hells; but they do not seem then to go headlong the way people do when they have been completely undone.

The actual community where their spirits were in the world is shown to them, too, while they are in the state of their outer concerns, so that they know from this that they were in hell during their physical life; but still they are not in the same state as the people who are in hell itself. Rather, they are in a state like that of people in the world of spirits. I will explain later what this state is like compared to that of people in hell.

The separation of evil spirits from good spirits takes place in this second state, since in the first state they were all together. The reason is that as long as spirits are focused on their outward concerns it is like the situation in the world—evil people together with good ones and good ones with evil ones. It is different when people have been brought into their inner natures and are left to their own nature or intentions.

There are various means used for this separation of good people from evil ones. Often it is by having them led around to the communities they had been in touch with through their good thoughts and affections during the first state. This brings them to communities they had misled by outward appearance into believing that they were not evil. Often they are led around through a great arc, and their intrinsic quality is displayed to good spirits everywhere. The good spirits turn away as soon as they see them; and as they turn away, so the evil spirits who are being led around turn away as well, facing the hellish community that is their destination. I forbear to mention other modes of separation; there are many of them.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 510, 511

Our Second State after Death (Continued)

Since evil spirits plunge into all kinds of evils when they are in this second state, it is normal for them to be punished often and severely. There are many kinds of punishments in the world of spirits, and there is no respect for rank, for whether someone was a king or a servant in the world. Every evil brings its own punishment with it. They are united; so whoever is involved in something evil is involved in the punishment of the evil as well. Still, no one suffers any punishment for evil things done in the world, only for current evil deeds. It boils down to the same thing, though, and makes no difference whether you say that we suffer punishments because of our evil deeds in the world or that we suffer punishments because of our evil deeds in the other life, because after death we all return to our life, which means that we are involved in the same kinds of evil. This is because our nature is determined by the kind of physical life we led (Sections 470–484).

The reason they are punished is that fear of punishment is the only means of taming their evils in that state. Encouragement does not work any more, or teaching or fear of the law or fear for their reputation, because they are acting from their nature, which cannot be compelled or broken by anything but punishments.

Good spirits are never punished, though, even though they have done bad things in the world. This is because their evils do not come back. I have also been granted a knowledge that their evils are of a different kind or nature. They do not stem from any deliberate resistance to what is true, and they are not from any evil heart except the one they acquired by heredity from their parents, which blind pleasure drove them into when they were involved in outward concerns separated from inner ones.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 509

Our Second State after Death (Continued)

There is no way to describe briefly what evil people are like in this state because their insanity depends on their urges, and these vary. So I should like to mention just a few particular cases that will enable you to draw conclusions about the rest.

Some people have loved themselves above all else. They have focused on their own prestige in their duties and positions, they have done constructive things not for the sake of doing them or from finding pleasure in them but for the sake of their reputation, to be ranked above other people on that account, therefore finding pleasure in their reputation for eminence. When they arrive in the second state, they are supremely stupid because the more they love themselves the farther they move from heaven, and the farther they move from heaven, the farther they move from wisdom.

There are people caught up in self-love and in guile at the same time, people who have used devious means to raise themselves to positions of esteem. They take up company with the worst people of all and study magical arts that are abuses of the divine design, using them to harass everyone who does not defer to them. They hatch plots, cherish hatred, breathe out vengeance, and long to savage everyone who does not submit to them. They plunge into all these behaviors to the extent that the malevolent horde supports them. Eventually, they start mulling over how they can climb up to heaven and destroy it, or how they can be worshiped there as gods. Their madness carries them all the way to this.

Catholics like this are more insane than others.283 They cherish the thought that heaven and hell are in their power and that they can forgive sins at will. They claim everything divine for themselves and call themselves Christ. Their belief that this is true is so strong that wherever it flows in it disturbs minds and brings on a darkness to the point of pain. They are much the same in both states, though in the second they lack rationality. There will be particular information about their forms of insanity and their lot after this state in the booklet The Last Judgment and Babylon Destroyed.284

There are people who have attributed creation to nature and have therefore denied the Divine Being at heart, though not out loud, thus denying everything about the church and heaven. They gather with people like themselves in this state and call everyone God who is particularly guileful, even honoring such individuals with divine worship. I have seen people like this in a meeting worshiping a magician, discussing nature, and behaving like idiots—as though they were animals in human form. Some of them had been appointed to high office in the world and some had been considered learned and wise. The details may vary.

You may gather from these few cases what people are like whose deeper levels of mind are closed toward heaven. This is what happens for everyone who does not accept any inflow from heaven by acknowledging the Divine Being and by a living life of faith. People may judge for themselves what they would be like if this were their nature, if they were allowed to behave with no fear of the law or fear for their lives, without any outward restraints—threats to their reputation or to their rank, their profit, and the pleasures that attend them.

However, the Lord controls their madness so that it does not transgress the bounds of usefulness, for there is some use for every such individual. Good spirits see in them what evil is and what its nature is, and what people are like if they are not led by the Lord. Openly evil individuals also serve to gather people of similar evil and separate them from good people, to remove from evil people the true and good elements that they presented and feigned outwardly, and to lead them into the evils of their life and the falsities of their malice and thus prepare them for hell.

This is because people do not get into hell until they are immersed in their malice and in the falsities that stem from it, because no one is allowed to have a divided mind, to think and say one thing and intend something else. Every evil person there must think what is false out of malice and talk out of that malicious falsity there, both from intent and therefore from his or her own love and pleasure and gratification. This is how they behaved in the world when they were thinking in their spirit—that is, when they were thinking within themselves, from their deeper affection. This is because intent is the essential person, not thought except as it is derived from intent; and volition is the essential nature or character of the human being. So being remanded to our own intentions is being remanded to our own nature or character and to our own life as well, since it is through life that we acquire our nature. After death, we retain the nature we had gained by our life in the world, which for evil people can no longer be changed for the better by the path of thought or of understanding what is true.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 508

Our Second State after Death (Continued)

When spirits are in this second state, they actually look exactly the way they were inwardly in the world. The things they had done and said in secret are made public, too, because now, since outward factors are not restraining them, they say the same things openly; and they keep trying to do the same things without any of the fear for the reputations that they had in the world. Further, they are then led into many states of their evils, so that they look to angels and good spirits like the people they really are.

This is how hidden things are opened and covert things are uncovered according to the Lord’s words, “Nothing is hidden that will not be disclosed or concealed that will not be recognized. What you have said in darkness will be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear in closets will be proclaimed on the rooftops” (Luke 12:2–3); and again, “I tell you, every idle word people have spoken, they will give an account of it on the day of judgment” (Matthew 12:36).

from Heaven and Hell, Section 507