Apocalypse Revealed #875

By Emanuel Swedenborg

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875. To this I will append the following accounts:

On awakening from sleep one morning I saw two angels descending from heaven - one from the south of heaven and the other from the east of heaven - both in carriages to which white horses were harnessed. The carriage in which the angel from the south of heaven rode shone as though made of silver. And the carriage in which the angel from the east of heaven rode shone as though made of gold. The reins which they held in their hands glistened too, as though with the blazing light of dawn.

Thus did the two angels appear to me at a distance, but when they drew nearer, I saw them not in a carriage, but in their angelic form, which is a human one. The one who came from the east of heaven was dressed in a shiny crimson garment, and the one who came from the south of heaven in a shiny blue garment.

When these angels arrived beneath heaven in the region below, each ran to the other, as though endeavoring to see which would be first to reach the other, and they embraced and kissed each other. I was told that when these two angels lived in the world, they were bound together by an interior friendship, but one was now in the eastern heaven, the other in the southern heaven. The angels in the eastern heaven are ones impelled by love from the Lord, while those in the southern heaven are ones impelled by wisdom from the Lord.

[2] After talking a while about the magnificent sights in their heavens, they began to consider whether heaven in its essence is one of love or one of wisdom. They agreed right away that the two are inseparable, but discussed which one is the origin of the other.

The angel from the heaven of wisdom asked what love is, and the other replied that love originating from the Lord as a sun constitutes the vital warmth of angels and men so as to be their life; that offshoots of that love are called affections; and that these produce perceptions and thus thoughts.

"It follows from this," he said, "that wisdom in its origin is love, consequently that thought in its origin is an affection of that love, and one can see from its derivations examined in turn that thought is nothing else than a form of affection. This is not known, because thoughts are seen, whereas affections are matters of warmth, and people reflect on their thoughts, therefore, but not on their affections.

"The case is the same as with sound and speech. That thought is nothing else than a form of affection can be illustrated by speech, as being nothing else than a form of sound. The case is the same, too, because the sound or tone corresponds to affection, and speech to thought. Consequently it is affection that utters sounds, and thought that speaks.

"This can also be clearly seen when the proposition is put, "Take away sound from speech. Is there any speech left? Similarly, take away affection from thought. Is there any thought left?

"It is now apparent, therefore, that love is everything in wisdom, consequently that the essence of the heavens is love, which expresses itself as wisdom. Or what is the same, that the heavens exist from Divine love, and take manifest form from Divine love by means of Divine wisdom. Accordingly the two are, as we said before, inseparable."

[3] I had with me at the time a newly arrived spirit, who on hearing this asked whether the case is the same with charity and faith, inasmuch as charity has to do with affection and faith with thought.

The angel replied, "It is altogether the same. Faith is nothing else than a form of charity, just as speech is a form of sound. Faith is also formed from charity, as speech is formed from the utterance of sound. In heaven we also know the way it is formed, but we don't have time to explain it here."

The angel added, "By faith I mean spiritual faith, which has its spirit and life solely from charity; for charity is spiritual, and it causes faith to be spiritual, too. Consequently faith divorced from charity is a merely natural faith, and such a faith is a lifeless one. It also combines itself with a merely natural affection, which is nothing else than a lust."

The angels spoke about this spiritually, and spiritual speech embraces thousands of things that natural speech is incapable of expressing. And what is surprising, they cannot even fall within the scope of the ideas of natural thought.

Please remember what has been said here, and when you go from natural light into spiritual light, which happens after death, inquire then what faith and charity are, and you will clearly see that faith is charity in form, and thus that charity is everything in faith, consequently that it is the soul, life and essence of faith, altogether as affection is of thought, and as sound is of speech. Moreover, if you wish, you will see that the formation of faith from charity is like the formation of speech from sound, because the two correspond.

After these angels said all of this, they left, and as they departed, each for his own heaven, stars appeared about their heads. And when they were at some distance from me, I saw them again in carriages as I had before.

[4] After those two angels were out of my sight, I saw to my right a garden in which there were olive trees, vines, fig trees, laurel trees, and palms, placed in order in keeping with their correspondence. I looked over there and saw among the trees angels and spirits walking and talking. One of the angelic spirits then looked back at me. (Those spirits are called angelic spirits who are being prepared in the world of spirits for heaven, and after that become angels.)

The angelic spirit came to me from the garden and said, "Please come with me into our paradise, and you will hear and see marvelous things."

So I went with him, and he said to me then, "The people you see" - for there were many - "all possess an affection for truth and so enjoy the light of wisdom. We have also here a building that we call The Temple of Wisdom. But no one can see it who believes himself to be very wise, even less one who believes himself to be wise enough, and still less one who believes that he is wise on his own. That is because they do not experience a reception of the light of heaven from an affection for genuine wisdom. It is the mark of genuine wisdom for a person to see from the light of heaven that what he knows, understands and perceives is so little in comparison to what he does not know, understand, or perceive, as to be like a drop in the ocean, and so scarcely anything.

"Everyone in this garden paradise who acknowledges from an inner perception and sight that his wisdom is comparatively so little, sees that Temple of Wisdom. For an inner light enables him to see it, but not the light about him without that inner light."

[5] Now because I had often had this thought, and from observation and then from perception, and finally from seeing it from an inner light, had acknowledged that a person's wisdom is so little, it was suddenly granted me to see that temple.

The temple was marvelous in form. It was raised above ground level, foursquare, with walls of crystal, whose roof was of translucent jasper elegantly arched, and having a foundation of various kinds of precious stones. It had steps of polished alabaster leading up into it. On either side of the steps I saw figures of lions with their cubs.

I then asked if it was permissible for me to enter, and I was told that I could. Therefore I ascended, and when I entered, I saw what looked like cherubim flying about the ceiling, but which soon vanished. The floor on which I walked was of cedar, and because of the translucence of the roof and walls the whole temple seemed to be made of light.

[6] The angelic spirit went in with me, and I related to him what I had heard from the two angels regarding love and wisdom and at the same time charity and faith.

And at that the angelic spirit said, "Did they not also speak of a third thing?"

"What third thing?" I said.

"The third thing is useful endeavor," he said. "Love and wisdom without useful endeavor are nothing real. They are only theoretical entities, and do not become real until they find expression in useful endeavor. For love, wisdom and useful endeavor are a trio that cannot be separated. If separated, none of them is real. Love is not real without wisdom; but in wisdom it takes form for some end. This end for which it takes form is useful endeavor. Consequently, when love is engaged through wisdom in some useful endeavor, then it is real. Indeed, then for the first time it exists. The three are altogether like end, cause and effect. An end is not real unless it exists through a cause in an effect. If one of the three fades, the whole fades and becomes as nothing.

[7] "It is the same with charity, faith and works. Charity without faith is not real, nor is faith without charity real, and neither charity nor faith is real without works. But in works they become real, and a reality such as the usefulness of the works.

"It is the same with affection, thought and application. And it is the same with will, intellect and action.

"The fact of this can be clearly seen in the context of this temple, because the light with which we are surrounded is a light that enlightens the interiors of the mind.

"That nothing exists that is complete and perfect without a trine is something that we learn also from geometry. For a line has no real existence unless it defines an area, nor does an area have any real existence unless it defines a volume. Thus for them to exist, one element must extend into another, and they exist together in the third.

"As the case is in this, so it is also with each and all created things, which take fixed form in their third element.

"It is for this reason, now, that the number three in the Word, spiritually understood, symbolizes something complete and entire."

This being the case, I could not but wonder that some people profess faith alone, some charity alone, and some works alone, when in fact the first without the second, and the first and the second together without the third, have no reality.

[8] However, I asked then, "Can't a person have charity and faith and yet no works? Can't a person have an affection and thought regarding some matter, and yet no application of himself to it?"

The angelic spirit said to me, "He can, but only theoretically and not really. He must still have an impulse or will to put them into practice, and the will or impulse is in itself an act, because it is a continual endeavor to act, one that becomes the outward act when a conscious determination permits. Every wise person consequently accepts the impulse or will as the inward act, entirely as though it were the outward act, because it is so accepted by God, provided it does not fail when opportunity presents itself."

[9] After that I went down the steps from The Temple of Wisdom and went walking in the garden, and I saw some people sitting under a laurel tree, eating figs. I turned aside to them and asked them for some figs, which they gave me. And lo, the figs in my hand changed into grapes.

Seeing my astonishment at this, the angelic spirit said to me, "The figs in your hand changed into grapes because figs, owing to their correspondence, symbolize goods of charity and so of faith in the natural or external self, whereas grapes symbolize the goods of charity and faith in the spiritual or internal self. So, because you love spiritual matters, this therefore has happened in your case. For in our world everything happens and comes into being, including also transformations, in accordance with correspondences."

There came over me then a desire to know how a person can do good from God, and yet do so as though of himself. Therefore I asked the people eating figs how they understood the matter.

They said that they could understand it only in this way, that God brings it about inwardly in a person and by means of the person without the person's knowledge. For if a person were to be aware of this and then do it as though of himself, which would be the same as doing it of himself, the person would do not good but evil. That is because everything that emanates from a person as coming from himself, emanates from his native character, and a person's native character is from birth evil.

"How then can good from God and evil from man be combined so as to proceed jointly into act?" they said. "Moreover in matters of salvation a person's native character continually pants after reward, and to the extent it does, it usurps from the Lord the Lord's merit, which constitutes the highest injustice and impiety.

"In a word, if the good that God accomplishes in a person through the Holy Spirit were to flow into a person's willing and so doing, the good would be thoroughly defiled and also profaned, something that God nevertheless never permits.

"A person can indeed think that the good he does comes from God, and call it good done by God through him, and done as though of himself, but still we do not understand this."

[10] However, I opened my mind then and said, "You do not understand it because you think in terms of the appearance, and when affirmed, thought in terms of the appearance is fallacious. You labor under the appearance and consequent fallacious thinking because you believe that everything a person wills and thinks and so does and speaks originates in him and consequently from him, when in fact nothing of this originates in him except a state capable of receiving what flows in. The human being is not a form of life in himself, but an organ receptive of life. The Lord alone is life in Himself, as He also says in John:

...as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself... (John 5:26)

"And so on also elsewhere, as in John 11:25; 14:6, 19.

[11] "Life is formed of two elements: love and wisdom, or what is the same, the goodness of love and the truth of wisdom. These flow in from God and are received by mankind, and a person senses them as though originating in him. And because he senses them so, as though originating in him, they also emanate from him as though they originated from him.

"That a person senses them so is something granted by the Lord, in order that what flows in may affect him and so be received and remain.

"But because every evil also flows in, not from God but from hell, and is received with delight, because the human being is born an organ of that character, therefore a person can receive good from the Lord only to the extent of his banishment of evil from himself as though of himself. This he does by repentance together with faith in the Lord.

[12] "I say that love and wisdom, and charity and faith, or in common speech, the goodness of love and charity and the truth of wisdom and faith, flow in, and that what flows in appears to be present in a person as though originating in him, and so as though originating from him; and this can be clearly seen from the illustrations of sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. Everything sensed in the organs of these senses flows in from without, and yet is sensed in them. So, too, in the organs of the inner senses, with the one difference, that flowing into these are spiritual stimuli that are not apparent, whereas into the physical organs flow natural stimuli that are apparent.

"In short, a person is an organ receptive of life from God. He is accordingly receptive of good to the extent that he desists from evil. The ability to desist from evil is something the Lord grants to everyone, because He grants to everyone the ability to will and understand as though of himself, and whatever a person willingly does as though of his own will in accordance with his thinking as though of his own intellect, remains. Or what is the same, whatever a person does of his own free will, in accordance with the reason of his intellect, remains. By this means the Lord induces in a person a state of conjunction with Himself, and in that state the Lord reforms, regenerates and saves him.

[13] "The life that flows in is life emanating from the Lord, which is also called the Spirit of God - in the Word the Holy Spirit - of which it is said as well that it enlightens and vivifies, indeed that it operates in a person. But this life varies and is modified according to the organic form induced on the person by his love and sight.

"You may also know that every good of love and charity, and every truth of wisdom and faith, flow in and do not originate in a person, from the consideration that someone who thinks that such a capacity is present in a person from creation must also think that God infused Himself into mankind, and that people are therefore partly gods. And yet people who are led by their faith to this thought become devils and stink like decayed corpses.

[14] "Besides, what is a person's action if it is not the mind acting? For whatever the mind wills and thinks, it does by means of its physical body. Therefore, when the mind is led by the Lord, the action is also led by Him; and the mind and its consequent action is led by the Lord when the person believes in the Lord.

"If it were not so, tell me if you can why the Lord has commanded in thousands of places in the Word that a person should love his neighbor, that he should practice goods of charity and produce fruits like a tree, and that he should keep His commandments, and all this in order to be saved. Why did He also say that people would be judged in accordance with their deeds or works, those who do goods to heaven and life, and those who do evils to hell and death? How could the Lord have said such things if everything emanating from a person were merit-seeking and thus evil?

"Know therefore that if the mind is charitable, the action also is charitable. But if the mind embraces faith alone, which is a faith divorced as well from any spiritual charity, the action also is one of the same faith, and that faith is merit-seeking, because its charity is natural and not spiritual. Not so the faith accompanying charity, because charity does not seek merit, and so neither does its accompanying faith."

[15] Hearing this, the people sitting under the laurel tree said, "We discern that you have spoken correctly. But we still do not understand."

To that I replied, "Your discerning that I have spoken correctly is due to the common perception that a person has by virtue of an influx of light from heaven when he hears some truth. But you do not understand it from a perception of your own, which a person has by virtue of an influx of light from the world. These two kinds of perception, namely an internal one and an external one, or a spiritual one and a natural one, merge in people who are wise. You too can combine them if you look to the Lord and put away evils."

Because they comprehended this as well, I took some twigs from the laurel tree under which they were sitting and handed these to them, saying, "Do you believe that these come from me or from the Lord?"

And they said that they believed they came through me, as though from me. And suddenly the twigs in their hands blossomed.

As I was leaving then, I saw a cedar-wood table and on it a book, beneath a green olive tree whose trunk was entwined with a vine. I looked at the book, and behold, it was one I had written, titled Angelic Wisdom Regarding Divine Love and Wisdom, and also Divine Providence. And I said that the book fully demonstrated that a person is an organ receptive of life, and is not life itself.

[16] After that I went home in a cheerful frame of mind because of that garden, accompanied by the angelic spirit, who said to me on the way, "You would like to see clearly the nature of faith and charity, thus the nature of faith divorced from charity, and the nature of faith combined with charity, and I will demonstrate it so that you see it."

"Go ahead and demonstrate it," I replied.

And he said, "Instead of faith and charity, think of light and heat and you will see clearly. For faith in its essence is the truth that is a property of wisdom, and charity in its essence is an affection that is a property of love; and the truth of wisdom in heaven is light, and an affection of love in heaven is warmth. The light and warmth that surround angels are nothing else. You can clearly see from that the nature of faith divorced from charity, and the nature of faith combined with charity.

"Faith divorced from charity is like the light of winter, and faith combined with charity is like the light of spring. The light of winter, a light lacking in warmth, being combined with coldness, strips trees utterly of their leaves, hardens the ground, kills the grass, and freezes bodies of water. On the other hand, the light in spring, a light combined with warmth, causes trees to grow and to produce first leaves, then flowers, and finally fruit, and it expands and softens the ground so that it produces grasses, herbs, flowers and bushes. It also melts ice so that streams flow from their springs.

[17] "The case with faith and charity is entirely the same. A faith divorced from charity kills everything, whereas a faith combined with charity vivifies everything. This killing and vivifying can be empirically seen in our spiritual world, because faith here is light, and charity warmth. For wherever faith is combined with charity, we find paradisal gardens, flower beds, and fields of grass, whose pleasantness accords with the degree of the combination. But wherever faith is divorced from charity, we find not even grass, and where one encounters something green, it is the green of thorn bushes, brambles and nettles. This is the effect in angels and spirits of the warmth and light emanating from the Lord as a sun, and so around them."

Not far from us then were some clergymen, whom the angelic spirit called justifiers and sanctifiers of people by faith alone, and also masters of mystery. We said the same things to them and demonstrated them until the clergymen saw the reality of them. But when we asked whether it was not so, they turned away and said, "We couldn't hear."

At that we shouted at them, saying, "We'll tell you again then!"

They then put their hands over their ears and cried, "We don't want to listen!"

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Many thanks to the General Church of the New Jerusalem, and to Rev. N.B. Rogers, translator, for the permission to use this translation.