Heaven and Hell #527

By Emanuel Swedenborg

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527. I can testify on the grounds of abundant experience that it is impossible to grant the life of heaven to people who have led lives opposed to it in the world. There have actually been people who believed that they would readily accept divine truths after death when they heard them from angels, that they would become believers and lead different lives, so that they could be accepted into heaven. However, this has been tried with any number of individuals (though only with people who shared this same kind of belief), granted them so that they could learn that there is no repentance after death. Some of them did understand truths and seemed to accept them; but the moment they turned back to the life of their own love they rejected them and even argued against them. Some rejected them on the spot, unwilling even to listen to them. Some wanted the life of the love they had acquired in the world to be taken away from them and an angelic life or the life of heaven poured in to replace it. Permission was given for even this to be done for them; but once the life of their own love was taken away, they lay there like corpses, with no control over themselves.

These and other similar kinds of experience teach simple good people that there is no way to change anyone's life after death, no way to rewrite an evil life into a good one or a hellish life into an angelic one. This is because the nature of every spirit from head to toe is determined by his or her love and consequently by his or her life. To change this into its opposite would mean the total destruction of the spirit. Angels insist that it is easier to change one owl into a dove or another into a bird of paradise than to change a hellish spirit into an angel of heaven.

The reader may see in the appropriate chapter above (470-484) that our nature after death is determined by the quality of our life in the world. We can gather from this that no one can be accepted into heaven on the basis of pure mercy.

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Thanks to the Swedenborg Foundation for the permission to use this translation.