Journey To The Starry Heaven
Rev. George De Charms
An Address To Children
The sky on a clear night is filled with stars,-so many that you cannot possibly count them. These stars, however, are not earths. They are great fiery suns; and around each of these suns there are planets or earths, just like those about which we have been learning. This means that, although there are in the sky millions of suns which you can see, there are several times as many earths which you cannot see, even with the largest telescope.
These plants are invisible to us because they are so far away. Just think! Some of the suns are a hundred times as big as our sun, and yet they are so far away that they look to us like little points of light in the sky. The distance to these suns is so great that it cannot be measured in miles, but must be counted in what are called "light years."
A "light year" is the distance which a ray of light covers in traveling for a whole year at the tremendous speed of 186,000 miles a second. When we remember that there are 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours in a day, and 365 days in a year, we see that all these must be multiplied together, and the answer then multiplied by 186,000, in order to find how many miles there are in a single "light year."
Some of the stars are hundreds of "light years" away, and so we can begin to imagine how great is the universe which the Lord has made. We can see the suns, even at this enormous distance, because they are great balls of fire, but we cannot see the earths that are around them, because they are not only much smaller, but have no light of their own. For this reason we cannot see them, and yet there must be thousands upon thousands of them in the sky.
And on each of these many earths there are people now living, and people who have lived on them in past centuries who are now in the other world, and who are still dwelling there, either in heaven or in hell. So you see how big heaven must be as the Lord sees it. Yet He is able to watch over all these people at once, and to know each one, and to take care of each one, from His own Divine Love and Wisdom.
Now you would suppose that no man could possibly visit these far distant earths. Even if one were to go as fast as the light, it would take him more than a lifetime of continual travel to reach the nearest of these planets. Yet Swedenborg, with the Lord's help and permission, made this wonderful journey, not in the natural world, but in the spiritual world. There it is possible, and does not take very long, to go from one end of the universe to the other, because there is no fixed space in that world. For this reason, Swedenborg was able to visit the spirits of the earths in the starry heaven, to speak with them, and to learn how they live and what their planet is like. And he was able to come back and tell us about the things he had heard and seen.
He describes how he made this wonderful journey. He did not go alone, but was conducted by angel guides who had been appointed by the Lord. And there were several other spirits with them, some of whom had not received the Lord's permission to go. They all started in a company, and it was as if they flew through the air, going toward the south. They journeyed in this way for about two hours, when they saw in the distance a bright cloud, behind which there was a great sea of fiery smoke. This, the angels said, marked the boundary of our solar system, and it was placed there to prevent anyone from going beyond that boundary unless the Lord permitted it. Swedenborg, with his angel guides and several others who were allowed to go, were carried across the very middle of this great sea of fire without being harmed in the least. But those who had come without the Lord's permission, as they drew near to it, began to cry out in great pain, and were forced to turn back, because the fiery smoke burned them and choked them until they turned and fled.
No one before the time of Swedenborg had ever been able to make this journey in such a way that he might return to our earth and tell us of the things that he had seen. Yet, strangely enough, many others had gone to the earths in the starry heaven before. In fact, wherever Swedenborg went he found that spirits from this earth had already come. This is very interesting, because it shows that the people of our earth can be of use to those who live on distant planets belonging to other suns. It is a notable fact that we love to travel more than do those on most other planets. Because we love to travel in this world, we take this love with us when we die, and wish to go on traveling in the other world. And wherever a use can be performed by their doing so, the Lord allows the spirits from our earth to visit distant planets. You yourselves may be permitted to make such a journey when you come into the other life.
There is a special reason why the spirits of our earth should be given this use of traveling. It is because the Lord has been born here. He came into the world, not only to save the people who dwell on our planet, but also to save others throughout the universe; and in order that He may do this, it is necessary that the knowledge of His birth should be carried to the spirits of other planets. You remember how, when the Lord was born, the angels of our heaven rejoiced exceedingly, and sang that song which we repeat at Christmas time, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." They were delighted because they knew that now the Lord would be able to conquer the hells, and to raise into heaven all those who were willing to love Him and keep His Word. So also, when spirits from our earth who know about the Lord's birth go to other planets, the angels there are delighted to learn of His Coming, of how He overcame the hells, and took to Himself all power in heaven and on earth. At some later time we shall speak further about the reason why the Lord chose our earth as the one on which He was to be born.
But why did the Lord want Swedenborg to visit these distant planets? It was, of course, in order that we might know something about the people who live on them; but, more than this, it was in order that he might tell the people of those earths the wonderful truths of the New Church. This was the more necessary because many of the spirits who had gone there before him had given them a false idea about the Lord. They had spoken of God as three persons, and had told other things about Him that were not true. The spirits of the other earths did not believe these falsities, because they knew the Lord. They saw Him as the Angel of Jehovah, and they loved and worshiped Him; and for this reason they were horrified to think that anyone should have such a false belief. They were greatly disturbed, and they fled away from these spirits, not wishing to listen to them. And so, when Swedenborg came to them, they fled away from him also, thinking that he was like the others. But Swedenborg told them that he had been sent by the Lord to teach them the truth, and so they listened to what he had to say, and having heard, they were greatly delighted with it, and saw at once that it was true. Because of the journeys which Swedenborg made to the inhabitants of these other planets, the New Church is being established among them, as well as on our own earth.
It is interesting to note that, while the spirits who had gone before Swedenborg told many things that were not true, yet they also imparted the knowledge that the Lord had been born on our earth, and told many things from the Word that were true,-things that it was necessary for them to know before they could understand what Swedenborg had to teach them. This is the reason why the Lord gave these spirits permission to pass beyond the fiery sea, and to converse with the inhabitants of the earths in the starry heaven.
LESSON: Psalm 48.
New Church Life, 1932.