Emanuel Swedenborg’s Heaven and Hell Chapter 7

The following is Chapter 7 of Emanuel Swedenborg’s book Heaven and Hell, taken from Sacred-Texts.com because their website is not mobile friendly. So I copied it here which will be read and discussed during our family study time this coming Saturday. Information about the Chinese translation of this book can be seen here.

EACH SOCIETY IS A HEAVEN IN A SMALLER FORM, AND EACH ANGEL IN THE SMALLEST FORM. Each society is a heaven in a smaller form, and each angel in the smallest form, because it is the good of love and of faith that makes heaven, and this good is in each society of heaven and in each angel of a society. It does not matter that this good everywhere differs and varies, it is still the good of heaven; and there is no difference except that heaven has one quality here and another there. So when any one is raised up into any society of heaven he is said to come into heaven; and those who are there are said to be in heaven, and each one in his own. This is known to all in the other life; consequently those standing outside of or beneath heaven, when they see at a distance companies of angels, say that heaven is in this or that place. It is comparatively like civil and military officers and attendants in a royal palace or castle, who, although dwelling apart in their own quarters or chambers above and below, are yet in the same palace or castle, each in his own position in the royal service. This makes evident the meaning of the Lord’s words, that In His Father’s house are many abiding places (John 14:2); also what is meant by The dwelling-places of heaven, and the heavens of heavens, in the prophets.

That each society is a heaven in a smaller form can be seen from this also, that each society there has a heavenly form like that of heaven as a whole. In the whole heavens those who are superior to the rest are in the middle, with the less excellent round about in a decreasing order even to the borders (as stated in a preceding chapter, n. 43). It can be seen also from this, that the Lord directs all in the whole heaven as if they were a single angel; and the same is true of all in each society; and as a consequence an entire angelic society sometimes appears in angelic form like a single angel, as I have been permitted by the Lord to see. Moreover, when the Lord appears in the midst of the angels He does not appear as one surrounded by many, but the appearance is as a one, in an angelic form. This is why the Lord is called “an angel” in the Word, and why an entire society is so called. “Michael,” “Gabriel,” and “Raphael” are no other than angelic societies so named from their function. 52-1

As an entire society is a heaven in a smaller form, so an angel is a heaven in the smallest form. For heaven is not outside of the angel, but is within him, since the interior things which belong to his mind are arranged into the form of heaven, thus for the reception of all things of heaven that are outside of him. These also he receives according to the quality of the good that is in him from the Lord. It is from this that an angel is a heaven.

It can in no sense be said that heaven is outside of any one; it is within him. For it is in accordance with the heaven that is within him that each angel receives the heaven that is outside of him. This makes clear how greatly misled is he who believes that to come into heaven is simply to be taken up among angels, without regard to what one’s interior life may be, thus that heaven is granted to each one by mercy apart from means; 54-1 when, in fact, unless heaven is within one, nothing of the heaven that is outside can flow in and be received There are many spirits who have this idea. Because of this belief they have been taken up into heaven; but when they came there, because their interior life was contrary to the angelic life, their intellectual faculties began to be blinded until they became like fools; and they began to be tortured in their voluntary faculties until they became like madmen. In a word, if those that have lived wickedly come into heaven they gasp for breath and writhe about, like fishes out of water in the air, or like animals in ether in an airpump when the air has been exhausted. From this it can be seen that heaven is not outside of a man, but within him. 54-2

As everyone receives the heaven that is outside of him in accordance with the quality of the heaven that is within him, so in like manner does everyone receive the Lord, since it is the Divine of the Lord that makes heaven. And for this reason when the Lord becomes manifestly present in any society His appearance there is in accord with the quality of the good in which the society is, thus not the same in one society as in another. This diversity is not in the Lord; it is in the angels who behold Him from their own good, and thus in accordance with their good. And they are affected by His appearance in accordance with the quality of their love, those who love Him inmostly being inmostly affected, and those who love Him less being less affected; while the evil who are outside of heaven are tortured by His presence. When the Lord is seen in any society He is seen as an angel, but is distinguished from others by the Divine that shines through.

Again, heaven is where the Lord is acknowledged, believed in, and loved. Variety in worship of the Lord from the variety of good in different societies is not harmful, but beneficial, for the perfection of heaven is therefrom. This can scarcely be made clear to the comprehension without employing terms that are in common use in the learned world, and showing by means of these how unity, that it may be perfect, must be formed from variety. Every whole exists from various parts, since a whole without constituents is not anything; it has no form, and therefore no quality. But when a whole exists from various parts, and the various parts are in a perfect form, in which each attaches itself like a congenial friend to another in series, then the quality is perfect. So heaven is a whole from various parts arranged in a most perfect form, for the heavenly form is the most perfect of all forms. That this is the ground of all perfection is evident from the nature of all beauty, agreeableness and delight, by which the senses and the mind are affected; for these qualities spring and flow from no other source than the concert and harmony of many concordant and congenial parts, either coexisting in order or following in order, and never from a whole without many parts. From this is the saying that variety gives delight; and the nature of variety, as is known, is what determines the delight. From all this it can be seen as in a mirror how perfection comes from variety even in heaven. For from the things that exist in the natural world the things of the spiritual world can be seen as in a mirror. 56-1

What has been said of heaven may be said also of the church, for the church is the Lord’s heaven on earth. There are also many churches, each one of which is called a church, and so far as the good of love and faith reigns therein is a church. Here, too, the Lord out of various parts forms a unity, that is, one church out of many churches. 57-1 And the like may be said of the man of the church in particular that is said of the church in general, namely, that the church is within man and not outside of him; and that every man is a church in whom the Lord is present in the good of love and of faith. 57-2 Again, the same may be said of a man that has the church in him as of an angel that has heaven in him, namely, that he is a church in the smallest form, as an angel is a heaven in the smallest form; and furthermore that a man that has the church in him, equally with an angel, is a heaven. For man was created that he might come into heaven and become an angel; consequently he that has good from the Lord is a man-angel. 57-3 What man has in common with an angel and what he has in contrast with angels may be mentioned. It is granted to man, equally with the angel, to have his interiors conformed to the image of heaven, and to become, so far as he is in the good of love and faith, an image of heaven. But it is granted to man and not to angels to have his exteriors conform to the image of the world; and so far as he is in good to have the world in him subordinated to heaven and made to serve heaven. 57-4 And then the Lord is present in him both in the world and in heaven just as if he were in his heaven. For the Lord is in His Divine order in both worlds, since God is order. 57-5

Finally it should be said that he who has heaven in himself has it not only in the largest or most general things pertaining to him but also in every least or particular thing, and that these least things repeat in an image the greatest. This comes from the fact that everyone is his own love, and is such as his ruling love is. That which reigns flows into the particulars and arranges them, and every where induces a likeness of itself. 58-1 In the heavens love to the Lord is the ruling love, for there the Lord is loved above all things. Hence the Lord there is the All-in-all, flowing into all and each, arranging them, clothing them with a likeness of Himself, and making it to be heaven wherever He is. This is what makes an angel to be a heaven in the smallest form, a society to be a heaven in a larger form, and all the societies taken together a heaven in the largest form. That the Divine of the Lord is what makes heaven, and that He is the All-in-all, may be seen above (n. 7-12).