The State of Innocence of Angels in Heaven (Continued)

It is much the same for everyone who is being regenerated. Regeneration is rebirth as a spiritual person. [When we are being regenerated,] we are brought first into the innocence of infancy, which is realizing that we know nothing of truth and are capable of nothing of good on our own, but only from the Lord, and that we long for and seek what is true and good simply because it is true and good. These gifts are granted by the Lord as we advance in age. We are led first into knowledge about them, then from knowledge into intelligence, and finally from intelligence into wisdom, always hand in hand with innocence, which is, as already noted, the recognition that we know nothing of truth and are capable of nothing of good on our own, but only from the Lord. No one can accept heaven without this belief and this perception. It is the prime component of the innocence of wisdom.

Since innocence is being led by the Lord and not by ourselves, all the people who are in heaven are in innocence, since all the people who are there love to be led by the Lord. They know that to be led by oneself is to be led by one’s self-centeredness, and self-centeredness is loving oneself. People who are in love with themselves are not willing to be led by anyone else. This is why angels are in heaven to the extent that they are in innocence; that is, to that extent they are absorbed in divine good and divine truth, for being absorbed in these is being in heaven. Consequently, the heavens are differentiated according to their innocence. People who are in the outmost or first heaven are in innocence of the first or outmost level. People who are in the intermediate or second heaven are in innocence of the second or intermediate level. People who are in the inmost or third heaven, though, are in innocence of the third or inmost level; so they are the very innocent of heaven, since they above all others want to be led by the Lord the way infants are led by their father. This is why they accept divine truth directly into their intent and do it, making it a matter of life, whether they receive it directly from the Lord or mediately through the Word and sermons. This is why they have so much more wisdom than angels of the lower heavens (see Sections 270–271).

Because this is the nature of these angels, they are closest to the Lord, who is the source of their innocence, and they are also distanced from their self-centeredness so much that they seem to live in the Lord. In outward form they look simple—even like infants or little children in the eyes of angels of the lower heavens. They look like people who do not know very much, even though they are the wisest of angels. They are in fact aware that they have no trace of wisdom on their own and that to be wise is to admit this and to admit that what they do know is nothing compared to what they do not know. Knowing, recognizing, and perceiving this is what they call the first step toward wisdom. These angels are also naked, because nakedness corresponds to innocence.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 279-280


Previously Cited:6/19/2018

Sections 270-271: Published 10/22/2017-10/23/2017

The State of Innocence of Angels in Heaven (Continued)

The innocence of wisdom is real innocence because it is internal, being a property of the mind itself and therefore of our volition itself and our consequent understanding. When there is innocence in these, then there is wisdom as well, because wisdom is a property of volition and understanding. That is why they say in heaven that innocence dwells in wisdom and why angels have as much wisdom as they do innocence. They support the truth of this by observing that people in a state of innocence do not take credit for anything good, but ascribe and attribute everything to the Lord. They want to be led by him and not by themselves, they love everything that is good and delight in everything that is true because they know and perceive that loving what is good—that is, intending and doing good—is loving the Lord, and loving what is true is loving their neighbor. They live content with what they have, whether it is little or much, because they know that they receive as much as is useful—little if little is good for them and much if much is good for them. They do not know what is best for themselves—only the Lord knows; and in his sight everything he supplies is eternal.

So they have no anxiety about the future, but refer to anxiety about the future as “care for the morrow,” which they say is pain at losing or not getting things that are not needed for their life’s useful activities. They never collaborate with friends from evil intent, but only from good, fair, and honest intent. To act from evil intent, they say, is guile, which they avoid like the poison of a snake because it is diametrically opposed to innocence. Since their greatest love is to be led by the Lord, and since they ascribe everything to him, they are kept away from their self-centeredness, and to the extent that they are kept away from their self-centeredness, the Lord flows in. This is why they do not store in their memory what they hear from him, whether through the Word or through preaching, but immediately heed it, that is, intend and do it. Their intention itself is their memory. They appear extraordinarily simple in outward form, but they are wise and provident inwardly. They are the ones the Lord was referring to when he said, “Be wise as serpents and simple as doves” (Matthew 10:16). This is the nature of the innocence called the innocence of wisdom.

Since innocence does not take credit for anything good but ascribes it all to the Lord, and since innocence loves to be led by the Lord, giving rise to that acceptance of everything good and true that leads to wisdom, we have been so created as to be in an outward innocence when we are little, but in an inward innocence in old age, to come to the latter through the former. So when we do get old, our bodies deteriorate and we become like little children again—but like wise little children or angels, for in the highest sense, a wise infant is an angel. This is why “infant” in the Word means one who is innocent, and “elderly one” means a wise person full of innocence.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 278


Previously Cited: 6/18/2018

The State of Innocence of Angels in Heaven

NOT many people in our world know what innocence is or what its quality is, and people involved in evil do not know at all. It is, of course, visible to our eyes—something about the face and the voice and the gestures, especially of infants—but still we do not know what it is, much less that it is where heaven lies concealed within us. To make it known, I should like to proceed in order and talk first about the innocence of infancy, and then about the innocence of wisdom, and finally about the state of heaven in respect to innocence.

The innocence of infancy, or of little ones, is not real innocence, since it is solely a matter of outward form and not internal. Still, we can learn from it what innocence is like, since it does radiate from their faces and from some of their gestures and from their first efforts at speech and affects [the people around them. The reason it is not real innocence is] that they do not have any internal thought—they do not yet know what good and evil are, or what true and false are, and this knowledge is the basis of our thinking.

As a result, they do not have any foresight of their own, no premeditation, and therefore no intent of evil. They have no self-image acquired through love for themselves and the world. They do not claim credit for anything, but attribute everything they receive to their parents. They are content with the few little things given them as gifts and enjoy them. They are not anxious about food and clothing or about the future. They do not focus on the world and covet much from it. They love their parents, their nurse, and their little friends and play innocently with them. They are willing to be led, they listen and obey; and since they are in this state, they accept everything as a matter of life. So they have suitable habits, language, and the beginnings of memory and thought without knowing where these gifts come from; and their state of innocence serves as a means of accepting and absorbing them. However, since this innocence is strictly a matter of the body and not of the mind, as already noted, it is external. Their mind is not yet formed, since the mind is our discernment and volition and the thought and affection that come from them.

I have been told from heaven that infants are especially in the Lord’s care, and that there is an inflow from the central heaven, where the state is one of innocence, that passes through infants’ deeper natures, affecting those natures in its passage only through innocence. This is the source of the innocence they present to our view in their faces and in some of their gestures. It is what deeply affects their parents and creates the love called storge.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 276-277


Previously Cited: 6/17/2018

Therefore Every Angel Is in Perfect Human Form (Continued)

On the grounds of all my experience, which has lasted for several years now, I can say with full confidence that in their form, angels are completely human. They have faces, eyes, ears, chests, arms, hands, and feet. They see each other, hear each other, and talk to each other. In short, they lack nothing that belongs to humans except that they are not clothed with a material body. I have seen them in their own light, which is far, far greater than noonday on our earth, and in that light I have seen all the details of their faces more crisply and clearly than I have seen the faces of people here in the world.

I have also been allowed to see an angel of the central heaven. His face was more glorious, more radiant, than that of angels of the lower heavens. I looked at him very closely, and he had a human form in full perfection.

It does need to be realized, though, that we cannot see angels with our bodily eyes, only with the eyes of our spirit, because they are in the spiritual world while everything bodily is in the natural world. Like sees like because it is of like substance. Further, the body’s visual organ, the eye, is so crude that as everyone knows it does not even see the smaller elements of nature without a lens, much less things that are above the sphere of nature, as are all the realities of the spiritual world. These can be seen by us, though, when we are released from bodily sight and the sight of our spirit is opened. This happens instantly when it pleases the Lord that we should see. It then seems to us exactly as though we were seeing with our bodily eyes. This is how angels were seen by Abraham, Lot, Manoah, and the prophets. This is how the Lord was seen by the disciples after the resurrection. This is the same way, too, in which I have seen angels.

Because this was how the prophets saw, they are called “seers” and “ones whose eyes are opened” (1 Samuel 9:9; Numbers 23:3 [24:3]); and the act of enabling them to see this way is called “opening the eyes.” This is what happened to Elisha’s servant, of whom we read, “Elisha prayed, ‘Jehovah, open his eyes, I pray, so that he may see,’ and as Jehovah opened the eyes of his servant, behold the mountain was full of horses and fiery chariots surrounding Elisha” (2 Kings 6:17).

Some honest spirits I talked with about this were distressed at heart that there was such ignorance in the church about the state of heaven and about spirits and angels. They kept insisting that I should take back the message that they were not formless minds or ethereal breath but human in form, and that they saw and heard and felt just as much as people in this world do.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 75-77


Previously Cited: 3/10/2018

Therefore Every Angel Is in Perfect Human Form

IT has been explained in the two preceding chapters that heaven as a whole reflects a single individual and that the same holds true for each community in heaven. From the chain of causes presented there, it follows that each single angel reflects the same as well. As heaven is a person in greatest form and a community of heaven is a person in lesser form, so an angel is a person in least form; for in the most perfect form, like the form of heaven, there is a likeness of the whole in the part and of the part in the whole. The reason for this is that heaven is a commonwealth. In fact, it shares everything it has with each individual, and individuals receive everything they have from the commonwealth. An angel is a recipient and therefore a heaven in least form, as has been explained in the relevant chapter above.

To the extent that they accept heaven, people here too are recipients and heavens, and are angels (see Section 57).

This is described in the Book of Revelation as follows: “The wall of the holy Jerusalem was measured, a hundred and forty-four cubits, the measure of an individual, that is, of the angel” (Revelation 21:17). “Jerusalem” in this passage is the Lord’s church, and in a more elevated sense, heaven. The wall is the truth that protects it from the assault of false and evil things.b “A hundred and forty-four” refers to all good and true things as a whole. “Measure” refers to its quality. The human being is where all these things are found, in general and in specific, and therefore where heaven is found; and since an angel is a person as well because of these characteristics, it says “the measure of an individual, that is, of the angel.” This is the spiritual meaning of these words. Apart from this meaning, who would understand that the measure of the wall of the holy Jerusalem would be the measure of an individual, which was the measure of the angel?

But let us turn to experience now. As for angels being human forms, or people, this I have seen thousands of times. I have talked with them face to face, sometimes with just one, sometimes with several in a group, and as far as their form is concerned, I have seen in them nothing different from that of a human being. At times I have felt surprised that they were like this; and to prevent it being said that this was some illusion or hallucination, I have been allowed to see them while I was fully awake, or while I was in full possession of my physical senses and in a state of clear perception.

I have often told them that people in the Christian world are in such blind ignorance about angels and spirits that they think of them as minds without form, as mere thoughts, and can conceive of them only as something airy with something alive within it. Further, since they attribute to them nothing human except a capacity for thought, they believe angels cannot see because they have no eyes, cannot hear because they have no ears, and cannot talk because they have no mouths or tongues.

Angels have replied that they know many people on earth have this kind of belief and that it is prevalent among the learned and—strangely!—among the clergy. They have told me that it is because some of the learned who were particularly eminent and who came up with this kind of concept of angels and spirits thought about them on the basis of the sensory faculties of the external person. If people think on this basis and not on the basis of a more inward light and the common idea native to everyone, they cannot help constructing images like this, because the sensory faculties of the external person grasp only matters that are within the bounds of nature and not things that are higher. So they do not grasp anything at all about the spiritual world. From these eminent people as leaders, false thoughts about angels spread to people who did not think independently but relied on others; and people who let their thinking rely primarily on others and then form their faith, and later look into these matters with their minds, have a hard time giving these ideas up. As a result, many of them cooperate in confirming these false notions.

Angels have also told me that people of simple faith and heart are not caught up in this concept of angels, but have an image of them as people in heaven. This is because they have not let erudition snuff out the image implanted in them from heaven and because they do not grasp anything unless it has some form. This is why the angels we see sculpted and painted in churches are invariably represented as human. As for this “image implanted in them from heaven,” angels tell me that it is something divine that flows into people who are intent on goodness of faith and life.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 74, 75


Previously Cited: 3/9/2018

Section 57: Published 2/15/2018

Non-Christians, or People outside the Church, in Heaven (Continued)

I have talked with some people who were in the early church. (By “the early church,” we mean the religious culture [that prevailed] after the flood over many kingdoms, throughout Assyria, Mesopotamia, Syria, Ethiopia, Arabia, Libya, Egypt, Philistia as far as Tyre and Sidon, and the land of Canaan on both sides of the Jordan.) People then knew about the Lord who was going to come, and they absorbed the good qualities of faith; but nevertheless they did fall away and become idolaters. They are in the front toward the left in a dark area, and are in a sorry state. They have piping, monotone voices, and practically no rational thought. They said they had been there for centuries and that sometimes they were let out in order to be of some menial service to others.

This led me to reflect on the many Christians who are not idolaters outwardly but are inwardly because they actually worship themselves and the world, and at heart deny the Lord. This is the kind of lot that awaits them in the other life.

It has been explained in Section 308 that the Lord’s church is spread throughout the whole world. It is universal, then, and consists of all individuals who have lived in the virtue of thoughtfulness according to the principles of their religions. In relation to the people outside it, the church where the Word is and the Lord is known through it is like the heart and lungs of the human body, which give life to all the organs and members of the body according to their forms, locations, and connections.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 327-328


Previously cited: 7/24/2017

Section 308: Published 11/22/2019

Non-Christians, or People outside the Church, in Heaven (Continued)

It often happens that when non-Christians come into the other life, if they have worshiped some god in the form of an image or statue or idol, they are introduced to people who take on the roles of those gods or idols in order to help rid them of their illusions. After they have been with these people for a few days, they are taken away. If they have worshiped particular individuals, then they are introduced either to those people themselves or to individuals who play their parts. Many Jews, for example, are introduced to Abraham, Jacob, Moses, or David; but when they realize that they are just as human as anyone else and that they have nothing special to offer them, they are embarrassed, and are taken off to whatever place is in keeping with their lives.

Of non-Christians, the Africans are especially valued in heaven. They accept the good and true things of heaven more readily than others do. They want especially to be called obedient, but not faithful. They say that Christians could be called “faithful,” since they have a doctrine of faith, but only if they accept the doctrine—or, as the Africans say, if they can accept it.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 326


Previously Cited: 7/23/2017

Non-Christians, or People Outside the Church, in Heaven (Continued)

One Morning I heard a far off chorus. I could tell from images of the chorus that they were Chinese, since they presented to view a kind of woolly goat and a cake of millet and an ebony spoon, as well as an image of a floating city. They were eager to come closer to me, and when we were together they said that they wanted to be alone with me in order to disclose their thoughts. They were told, however, that we were not alone, and that the others were offended that they wanted to be alone, since they were guests. When they perceived this feeling of offense in their thoughts, their mood changed, since they transgressed against a neighbor, and since they had claimed as their own something that belonged to others (in the other life, all our thoughts are shared). I was enabled to perceive their distress of mind. It involved a recognition that they might have injured them, and a sense of shame on that account, along with other emotions characteristic of honest people, so that you could tell they were endowed with thoughtfulness.

I talked with them shortly afterward, and eventually mentioned the Lord. When I called him “Christ,” I could sense a kind of resistance in them. The reason for this was uncovered, though. This derived from their experience in the world, from their having known that Christians lived worse lives than they did, lives devoid of thoughtfulness. When I simply mentioned “the Lord,” though, they were deeply moved. Later they were taught by angels that Christian doctrine more than any other in the whole world demands love and thoughtfulness, but that there are not many people who live up to it.

There are non-Christian individuals who during their early lives have learned by hearsay that Christians live evil lives–lives of adultery, hatred, bickering, drunkenness, and the like–which appalled them because things like this are contrary to their religion. In the other life they are particularly hesitant about accepting truths of faith. However, they are taught by angels that the Christian doctrine and the faith itself teach something very different, but that Christians do not live up to their doctrine as much as non-Christian people do. When they grasp this, they accept truths of faith and worship the Lord, but only after quite a while.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 325

Non-Christians, or People outside the Church, in Heaven (Continued)

As for today’s non-Christians, they are not that wise; but many of them are simple-hearted. However, in the other life they do accept wisdom from others who have lived lives of thoughtfulness together. I may offer a couple of examples.

When I read chapters 17 and 18 of Judges about Micah (whose idol, household gods, and Levite were stolen by the Danites), there was one non-Christian spirit who had revered an idol during his physical life. He listened intently to what happened to Micah and was deeply pained because of the idol that the Danites stole. His distress overcame him and moved him so deeply that he scarcely knew what he was thinking because of the depth of his pain. I sensed his pain and at the same time the innocence within his particular affections. There were some Christian spirits present who were surprised that this idolater was moved by such mercy and such an affection of innocence.

Later some good spirits talked with him and told him that he should not revere idols and that he could understand this because he himself was a human being. Rather, his thought should reach beyond the idol to the God who was creator and ruler of the whole heaven and the whole earth, and who was the Lord. When he was told this, I could sense his deep feeling of reverence. It was communicated to me as something much holier than what could be found among Christians. I could gather from this that non-Christians come into heaven more readily than Christians nowadays, in keeping with the Lord’s words in Luke:

Then they will come from the east and the west and the north and the south and will recline in the kingdom of God; and indeed there will be many of the last who will be first, and of the first who will be last. (Luke 13:29–30)

Because of the state he was in, that is, he could absorb all matters of faith and could accept them with a deep inner affection. There was a loving mercy about him and in his ignorance an innocence; and when these are present, all matters of faith are accepted spontaneously, so to speak, and with joy. After this, the non-Christian spirit was accepted among the angels.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 324


Previously Cited: 7/22/2017

Non-Christians, or People outside the Church, in Heaven (Continued)

I have also been allowed to talk with some others who lived in early days and were among the wiser ones of their times. They first appeared in front of me at some distance, and from there they could observe the deeper levels of my thinking. This meant they could observe me very completely, learning a whole series of thoughts from just one of my mental concepts and filling it with delightful elements of wisdom and charming images. I could tell from this that they were among the wiser ones; and I was told that they were from early times.

At this point they came nearer, and when I read them something from the Word, they were totally enchanted. I could sense their very delight and pleasure, which stemmed especially from the fact that every least detail of what they were hearing from the Word was an image and indicator of heavenly and spiritual things. They said that in their own day, when they were living in our world, their mode of thinking and speaking and even writing was like this, and that this was the focus of their wisdom.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 323


Previously Cited: 7/21/2017