Secrets of Heaven #784

By Emanuel Swedenborg

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784. As for the fact that Jehovah closed it behind him means that people were no longer able to communicate with heaven the way the people of the heavenly church had, the case is this:

Circumstances in the earliest church allowed its people to communicate internally with heaven and through heaven with the Lord. They loved the Lord, and people who love the Lord are like angels, the only difference being that they are clothed in a body. Their deeper levels were open, offering unhindered access all the way to the Lord.

This new church, however, was different. Its people believed in rather than loved the Lord, and faith led them into charity toward their fellow humans. They could engage in external communication, but not in internal communication, as the earliest people had. Describing the two kinds of communication, though, would take too long.

We all communicate with heaven — even the sacrilegious — through the angels present with us. Without this, we would not be human. But the degree of intimacy varies from very close to very distant, with an unlimited number of steps in between. Spiritual people are wholly incapable of the kind of contact heavenly people have, because the Lord dwells in love and not so much in faith.

This, then, is the meaning of Jehovah closed it behind him.

[2] Moreover, heaven was never open after that era in the way that it had been for the people of the earliest church. It is true that many people — Moses, Aaron, and others — later talked to spirits and angels, but the method was entirely different. By the Lord's divine mercy, it will be described below [§5121].

The reason heaven was closed off and remains closed today is a deep secret. Heaven is so tightly shut that people are unaware even that spirits exist, let alone that angels are present with them. They suppose they are completely alone when they are away from companions in this world and thinking privately. The truth is that we are constantly in the company of spirits, who notice and perceive what we are thinking, and what we are intending and scheming. They observe these things as thoroughly and openly as if they stood out for all the world to see. We have no knowledge whatever that this is so, since heaven is so utterly closed to us, but it is positively true.

The reason is that were heaven not sealed off this way in humankind, it would be extremely dangerous for people, since they do not possess faith, much less religious truth, least of all charity. This is also the meaning of the words above at Genesis 3:24 [§§306-310], "Jehovah God threw the humans out and caused guardian beings 1 to live on the east of the Garden of Eden, and the flame of a sword turning itself, to guard the way to the tree of life." See also what was said in §§301, 302, 303.

Footnotes:

1. On these guardian beings, see note 2 in §279. [RS]

  
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Many thanks to the Swedenborg Foundation and its New Century Edition team.