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Excerpt from Conjugial Love

Marriages in Heaven

by Emanuel Swedenborg

27. People cannot accept as a matter of faith that marriages exist in heaven if they believe that a person is a soul or spirit after death, and hold to an idea of the soul or spirit as being like thin air or a puff of breath. Nor can they accept it if they believe that a person does not live again as a person until after the day of the Last Judgment.

In general, people cannot accept the existence of marriages in heaven if they know nothing about the spiritual world, the world in which angels and spirits live, consequently where the heavens and hells are. Moreover, because that world has till now remained unknown, and because it has not been known at all that the angels in heaven are people in perfect form, likewise that the spirits in hell are people in imperfect form, therefore nothing could be revealed respecting marriages in that world. Indeed, people would have said, "How can a soul be united with a soul, or a bit of breath with a bit of breath, as husbands and wives are united on earth?"

There would have been many other objections, too, which, the moment they were voiced, would have taken away and dispelled belief in the existence of marriages in the other world.

Now, however, many things have been revealed about that world, and what that world is like has been described. This I did in the book, Heaven and Hell, and also in The Apocalypse Revealed. Because of this, the existence of marriages there can be defended, even to the sight of reason, by the following arguments:

(1) A person lives as a person after death.

(2) A male is then still a male, and a female still a female.

(3) Everyone's own love remains in him after death.

(4) Especially does a love for the opposite sex remain, and in the case of people coming into heaven, namely, people who become spiritual on earth, conjugial love.

(5) All of this has been fully attested by personal observation.

(6) Consequently, marriages exist in heaven.

(7) Spiritual marriage is meant by the Lord's words, that after the resurrection they are not given in marriage.

Development of these arguments now follows, taking them one by one:

28. (1) A person lives as a person after death. It has not been known in the world till now that a person lives as a person after death, for the reasons just mentioned above. And what is remarkable, it has not been known even in the Christian world, where people have the Word and therefore enlightenment regarding eternal life on account of the Word, in which the Lord Himself teaches that the dead all rise again, and that God is not God of the dead, but of the living (Matthew 22:31,32, Luke 20:37,38).

Moreover, in respect to the affections and thoughts of his mind a person is in the midst of angels and spirits and is so associated with them that he could not be severed from them without dying. It is still more remarkable that this, too, is not known, even though every person who has died from the beginning of creation, after death has gone and continues to go to his own, or, as the Word says, has been gathered and is gathered to his people.[1]

In addition, people also have a general perception (which is the same thing as saying an influx of heaven into the inner faculties of their minds), which causes them to perceive truths inwardly in themselves and, in a way, to see them, and especially this truth, that one lives as a person after death, happily if he has lived well, and unhappily if he has lived ill. For who does not have this thought when he elevates his mind a little from the body and from the thinking nearest his senses, as happens when he is inwardly in a state of Divine worship, or when he lies dying in his bed and is awaiting the end. Likewise when he is told about the deceased and their lot.

I have reported thousands of things about the dead, as for example, what the lot of certain people's brothers, married partners, and friends was like. I have written as well about the lot of Englishmen, Dutchmen, Roman Catholics, Jews, and gentiles, and also about the lot of Luther, Calvin and Melanchthon. And I have never yet heard anyone say, "How can that be their lot when they have not yet risen from their graves, seeing that the Last Judgment has not yet taken place! Are they not in the meantime souls that are bits of breath, existing in some limbo or other?"

I have heard no one say anything like that yet. And from this I have been able to conclude that everyone has an inner perception that one lives as a person after death.

What man who has loved his married partner and his infants and children, does not say to himself when they are dying or dead, if he is in a state of thought raised above the sensory things of the body, that they are in the hand of God, and that following his own death he will see them again and join with them once more in a life of love and joy?

29. Who cannot see in accord with reason, if he is willing to see, that a person after death is not a bit of breath, of which he has no other idea than that it is like a puff of wind, or like air or ether, which is or in which is the person's soul, longing and waiting for union with its body so that it may enjoy sensations and the pleasures of the senses as it did before in the world? Who cannot see that if this were the case with a person after death, his condition would be worse than the condition of fishes, birds and animals of the earth, whose souls do not live on and so do not exist in a state of such anxious suspense from longing and waiting?

If a person after death were such a bit of breath and thus a puff of wind, either he would then be flitting around the universe, or, according to the traditions of some, he would be kept in some sort of nether world, or as the church fathers call it, in limbo, until the Last Judgment.

Who using his reason cannot conclude accordingly that people who have lived from the beginning of creation - a period reckoned at six thousand years - would still be in the same state of suspense, and in a progressively more anxious state of suspense, since all waiting with desire produces anxious suspense and with the passage of time increases it. And would not one conclude accordingly that they either must still be flitting around the universe or are being kept shut up in limbo, and so are in extreme misery? This would include Adam and his wife, likewise Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and likewise all the rest from that time.

According to this line of thinking, nothing would be more lamentable than to be born a human being.

But the opposite has been provided by the Lord, who is Jehovah from eternity and the Creator of the universe. He has provided that the condition of a person who conjoins himself with Him by living according to His commandments be more blessed and happy after death than his condition before it in the world, and that it be more blessed and happy for the reason that the person is then spiritual, and a spiritual person feels and experiences spiritual delight, which is superior to natural delight, because it exceeds it a thousand times.

30. Angels and spirits are people, and this can be seen from the ones who appeared to Abraham, Gideon, Daniel and the prophets, especially to John when he wrote the book of Revelation, and also to the women at the Lord's tomb. Indeed, the Lord Himself appeared to the disciples after His resurrection. These appearances occurred because the eyes of the spirit of the people who saw them were opened, and when the eyes of the spirit are opened, angels appear in their true form, which is human. But when the eyes of the spirit are closed, that is, when they are covered over by the sight of eyes which draw all their sensations from the material world, then angels and spirits do not appear.

31. It must be known, however, that after death a person is not a natural person, but a spiritual person, and yet he appears just the same to himself, and so much the same that he is not aware of being anywhere else than still in the natural world. For he is the same in body, in facial appearance, in speech and in the sensations he feels, because he is the same in affection and thought, having the same will and intellect.

He is, in fact, not actually the same, because he is spiritual and therefore an interior man. But the difference is not apparent to him, because he cannot compare his present state with his earlier, natural state, having put off the natural state and being in a spiritual state.

I have quite often heard such persons say, therefore, that they are not aware of being anywhere else than in the previous world, with the sole difference that they no longer see people whom they left behind in that earlier world, while they do see those who had departed or passed on from that world.

Nevertheless, the reason they now see people who had passed on and not those whom they left behind is because they are not natural people but spiritual or essential people, and a spiritual or essential person sees another spiritual or essential person in the same way as a natural or material person sees another natural or material person.

Natural people and spiritual people do not see each other, however, on account of the difference between the essential and the material, which is like the difference between something prior and something subsequent. And because the prior is in itself purer, it cannot be seen by the subsequent, which, in itself, is cruder; nor can the subsequent, owing to its being cruder, be seen by the prior, which in itself is purer. Consequently, an angel cannot be seen by a person of this world, neither can a person of this world be seen by an angel.

A person after death is a spiritual or essential person because the spiritual or essential person lay hidden within the natural or material person. The latter served him as clothing, or like a shell to be put off, and when it is laid aside, the spiritual or essential person emerges, being thus purer, more interior and more perfect.

A spiritual person is still a complete person, even though not visible to a natural person, and this was clearly shown by the Lord's appearances to the apostles after His resurrection, in that He appeared and then disappeared, and yet remained the same person He was whether He was seen or unseen. They also said that when they saw Him, their eyes were opened.[2]

32. (2) A male is then still a male, and a female still a female. Since a person lives as a person after death, and people are male and female, and since it is one thing to be masculine and another to be feminine, with the two qualities being so different that one cannot be converted into the other, it follows that after death a male still lives as a male and a female still lives as a female, each of them being a spiritual person.

We say that masculinity cannot be converted into femininity, nor femininity into masculinity, and that after death a male is consequently still a male, and a female still a female. But because people do not know what masculinity consists in essentially, and what femininity consists in essentially, therefore we must say a few words about it here.

The difference essentially consists in this, that the inmost quality in masculinity is love, and its veil wisdom, or in other words, it is love veiled over with wisdom, while the inmost quality in femininity is that same wisdom, the wisdom of masculinity, and its veil the love resulting from it. This second love, however, is a feminine love, and it is given by the Lord to a wife through the wisdom of her husband, whereas that first love is a masculine love, which is a love of becoming wise, and it is given by the Lord to a husband according to his reception of wisdom. Consequently, the male is a form of the wisdom of love, and the female is a form of the love of that wisdom. Therefore from creation there was implanted in both male and female a love of uniting into one. But more on this subject will be said later.

Testimony that femininity is derived from masculinity, or that woman was taken out of man, appears from these verses in Genesis:

Jehovah God...took one of the ribs of the man, and closed up the flesh in its place. And the rib which He had taken from man He fashioned into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And the man said: "She is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. Therefore she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man." (Genesis 2:21-23)

Elsewhere it will be said what a rib symbolizes, and what flesh symbolizes.[3]

33. It is owing to this original formation that a male is born intellect-oriented and that a female is born will-oriented, or in other words, that a male is born with an affection for knowing, understanding and becoming wise, while a female is born with a love for joining herself to that affection in the male.

Furthermore, because interior qualities form the exterior ones to their likeness, and the masculine form is a form of the intellect while the feminine form is a form of the love of the intellect, therefore the male has a different look, a different sound, and a different physique from the female. Namely, he has a tougher look, a rougher sound, and a stronger physique, and moreover his lower face is bearded. In general, he has a less beautiful form than the female. The two sexes also differ in behavior and manners. In short, nothing in the two sexes is the same, although there is nevertheless a capacity for conjunction in every detail.

Indeed, masculinity in the male is masculine in every part, even in the least part of his body, and also in every idea of his thought, and in every bit of his affection. So, too, with femininity in the female. And because one cannot as a consequence be converted into the other, it follows that after death a male is still male, and that a female is still female.

34. (3) Everyone's own love remains in him after death. People know that love exists, but they do not know what love is. They know that it exists from common conversation. For instance, people say that "he loves me," that a king loves his subjects and the subjects love their king, that a husband loves his wife, and a mother her children, and vice versa, also that this person or that loves his country, his fellow citizens, his neighbor. So, too, with matters abstracted from person, as in saying that one loves this or that thing.

But even though love is so frequently mentioned, nevertheless scarcely anyone knows what love is. Whenever someone meditates on it, he cannot then form for himself any idea in his thought about it, thus he cannot bring it into the light of his understanding, because it is not a matter of light but of warmth. Therefore he says either that love is not anything, or that it is merely some stimulus flowing in through his vision, hearing and social interaction, which thus affects him. He does not know that love is his very life, not only the general life in his whole body and the general life in all his thoughts, but also the life in every single particle of them.

The wise person can perceive this from considering the following proposition: If you take away the impulse of love, can you form any thought? Or can you perform any action? In the measure that the affection belonging to love cools, is it not true that in the same measure thought, speech and action cool? And the warmer the affection grows, the warmer they grow?

Love, therefore, is the warmth in a person's life or his vital heat. The warmth of the blood, and also its redness, have no other origin. The fire of the angelic sun, which is pure love, causes it.

35. Everyone has his own love, or a love different from anyone else's love. That is, no one person has the same love as another. This can be seen from the endless variety in facial features. Faces are the representative images of loves. Everyone knows that facial expressions change and vary according to the affections of love. Desires also, which have to do with love, as well as feelings of joy and pain, shine forth from the face.

From this it is evident that a person is what he loves, or rather, that he is the form of his love. But it should be known that it is the inner person - which is the same as his spirit that lives after death - that is the form of his love. Not so the outer person in the world, because the outer person has learned from early childhood to hide the desires of his love, indeed, to pretend and feign other desires than his true ones.

36. Everyone's own love remains in him after death for the reason that love is a person's life (as just said above, no. 34), and consequently it is the real person. A person is also what he thinks, thus what his intelligence and wisdom are, but these are united with his love. For a person thinks because of his love and according to it; in fact, if he is free to do so, he speaks and acts from it. From this it can be seen that love is the being or essence of a person's life, and that thought is the resulting expression or manifestation of his life. Speech and action that spring from thought, therefore, do not spring from thought, but from love acting through thought.

I have been granted to know from a good deal of experience that a person after death is not what he thinks but what his affection is and what he thinks from that, which is to say that he is what his love is and subsequently his intelligence. I have also been granted to know that after death a person puts away everything that is not in harmony with his love; indeed, that he progressively takes on the look, sound, speech, behavior and manners of his life's love. It is for this reason that the whole of heaven has been set in order according to all the varieties in the affections connected with the love of good, and that the whole of hell has been arranged according to all the affections connected with the love of evil.

37. (4) Especially does a love for the opposite sex remain, and in the case of people coming into heaven, namely, people who become spiritual on earth, conjugial love. A love for the opposite sex remains in a person after death for the reason that a male is then still a male, and a female still a female, and masculinity in the male is masculine in the whole and every part of him, likewise femininity in the female, and there is a capacity for conjunction in every detail - indeed, in every least detail - of the two sexes.

Now, because that capacity for conjunction was introduced from creation and is therefore permanently present in the two sexes, it follows that each yearns for and aspires to conjunction with the other.

Love regarded in itself is nothing but a desire for and consequent effort to conjunction, and conjugial love is a desire for and effort to conjunction into one. For the human male and the human female were so created that from being two they might become as though one person or one flesh.[4] And when they become one, then taken together they are man in his fullest sense.[5] But without that conjunction they are two, and each is like a person divided or half a person.

Now, because that innate capacity for conjunction lies inmostly within every single aspect of the male and in every single aspect of the female, and an ability and desire for conjunction into one is present in every part, it follows that a mutual and reciprocal love for the opposite sex remains in people after death.

38. We use the terms, love for the opposite sex and conjugial love, because a love for the opposite sex is not the same as conjugial love. A love for the opposite sex is found in a natural person, but conjugial love in a spiritual person.

A natural person loves and wants only external conjunctions, with the physical pleasures arising from them, while a spiritual person loves and wants an internal conjunction, with the states of spiritual happiness resulting from it. The spiritual person also perceives that these states of happiness are possible with only one wife, with whom he can be continually joined more and more into one. And the more he is so joined with her, in the same degree he feels his states of happiness ascending and remaining constant to eternity. The natural person, on the other hand, does not think in this way.

That, now, is why we say that conjugial love remains after death in the case of people coming into heaven, who are those who become spiritual on earth.

39. (5) All of this has been fully attested by personal observation. That a person lives as a person after death, that a male is then still a male, and a female a female, and that everyone's own love remains in him, especially love for the opposite sex and conjugial love - these points I have so far endeavored to establish by the sort of arguments that appeal to the intellect and are called rational.

But from early childhood people have acquired the belief from parents and teachers, and afterward from the learned and the clergy, that a person will not live as a person after death until after the day of the Last Judgment, which they have been waiting for, now, for six thousand years.

Because of this, and because many people have placed this question among matters to be accepted on faith and not with the understanding, it has become necessary that these same points be attested also by the affidavits of an eyewitness. Otherwise people who trust only in their senses will say, in accord with the faith instilled in them, "If people lived as people after death, I would see them and hear them. Besides, who has come down from heaven or ascended from hell and told us?"

It has not been possible, however, neither is it possible, for any angel of heaven to descend or any spirit of hell to ascend so as to speak with any person, except with those who have had the inner faculties of their mind, the faculties of their spirit, opened by the Lord. And this cannot take place fully except in the case of those who have been prepared by the Lord to receive such things as have to do with spiritual wisdom.

It has therefore pleased the Lord to do this with me, in order to keep the states of heaven and hell and the state of people's life after death from remaining unknown, and from being laid to sleep in ignorance, and from being finally buried in denial.

But my personal observations and testimony regarding the points outlined above are too extensive to be presented here. I have presented them, however, in the book, Heaven and Hell, and then in Continuation Concerning the Spiritual World,[6] and later in The Apocalypse Revealed. Meanwhile, respecting marriages specifically, see what is presented here in the narrative accounts that come at the end of the sections or chapters of this book.

40. (6) Consequently, marriages exist in heaven. Since this has now been established by reason and at the same time by my experience, it does not need further demonstration.

41. (7) Spiritual marriage is meant by the Lord's words, that after the resurrection they are not given in marriage. In the Gospels we read the following:

Some of the Sadducees, who deny that there is a resurrection..., asked Jesus, saying, "Teacher, Moses wrote...that if anyone's brother dies, having a wife, and he dies without children, his brother should take his wife and raise up offspring for his brother.... There were seven brothers, (and one after another they took her as wife, but they died childless).... Lastly...the woman died also. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife of them does she become...?"

But Jesus, answering, said to them, "The children of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who shall be held worthy to attain the second age, and the resurrection from the dead, shall neither marry nor be given in marriage; nor can they die any more, for they are like the angels, and are children of God, being children of the resurrection. Moreover, that the dead rise again, even Moses showed in reference to the bush, when he calls the Lord 'the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.' So, then, He is not God of the dead but of the living, for all live to Him." (Luke 20:27-38; cf. Matthew 22:23-32, Mark 12:18-27)

The Lord taught two things by these words. First, that a person rises again after death. And secondly, that people are not given in marriage in heaven.

He taught that a person rises again after death by saying that God is not God of the dead but of the living, and that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are still alive. So likewise in the parable about the rich man in hell and Lazarus in heaven (Luke 16:19-31).

[2] Secondly, He taught that people are not given in marriage in heaven by saying that those who are held worthy to attain the second age neither marry nor are given in marriage.

The only kind of marriage meant here is spiritual marriage, and this clearly appears from the words that immediately follow, that they cannot die any more because they are like the angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection.

By spiritual marriage, conjunction with the Lord is meant, and this is achieved on earth. And when it has been achieved on earth, it has also been achieved in heaven. Therefore in heaven the marriage does not take place again, nor are people given in marriage. This, too, is meant by the words, "The children of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are held worthy to attain the second age neither marry nor are given in marriage."

Such persons are also called by the Lord, "children of the wedding"[7] (Matthew 9:15, Mark 2:19), and here, "angels," "children of God," and "children of the resurrection."

[3] To marry means to be conjoined with the Lord, and to go to a wedding means to be received into heaven by the Lord. This appears from the following references:

The kingdom of heaven is like a man, a king, who arranged a wedding for his son, and sent out his servants (with invitations to a wedding). (Matthew 22:2,3, to verse 14)

The kingdom of heaven is like ten virgins, who...went out to meet the bridegroom (five of whom were prepared to go to the wedding). (Matthew 25:1ff.)

The Lord meant Himself in this passage, which is apparent from the thirteenth verse there, where it says,

Stay awake..., because you know not the day and the hour in which the Son of Man will come. (Matthew 25:13)

Also from the book of Revelation:

The time for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.... Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb. (Revelation 19:7,9)

There is a spiritual meaning in each and every thing the Lord said, and this we fully showed in The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem Regarding the Sacred Scripture (published in Amsterdam in 1763).

42. To this I will append two narrative accounts from the spiritual world. Here is the first:

One morning I looked up into the sky, and I saw above me expanse upon expanse. And as I looked, the first or nearest expanse was opened, and shortly the second, which was above it, and finally the third, which was the highest of all. By the light coming from them I perceived that on the first expanse were angels of the first or lowest heaven, on the second expanse were angels of the second or middle heaven, and on the third expanse were angels of the third or highest heaven.

I wondered at first what was happening and why. But shortly I heard a voice from heaven like the sound of a trumpet, saying, "We have perceived, and now see, that you are meditating on conjugial love. Moreover, we know that so far no one on earth knows what true conjugial love is in its origin or in its essence, and yet it is important for them to know. Therefore it has pleased the Lord to open the heavens to you, that the inner faculties of your mind may receive an influx of illuminating light and thus perception.

"Among us in heaven, especially in the third heaven, our heavenly delights come principally from conjugial love. Consequently, by permission granted us, we will send a married couple down to you, in order that you may see."

[2] And suddenly, then, a carriage appeared, coming down from the highest or third heaven, in which I saw a single angel. But as it drew near, I saw that it held two.

The carriage shone before my eyes in the distance like a diamond, and harnessed to it were young horses as white as snow. And the couple sitting in the carriage held in their hands a pair of turtledoves.

And the couple called out to me, "You want us to come closer. But beware, then, of the flashing light coming from our heaven, the heaven we descended from. It is a blazing light, and you must take care that it does not penetrate interiorly. By its influx, indeed, the higher ideas of your understanding are enlightened, ideas that, in themselves, are heavenly. But these same ideas are inexpressible in the world in which you live. Receive the things you are about to hear, therefore, in rational terms and so explain them to the understanding."

I replied, "I will take care. Come closer."

So they came, and behold, it was a husband and his wife. And they said, "We are married. We have lived a blessed life in heaven from the earliest time, which you call the golden age, remaining forever in the same flower of youth that you see us in today."

[3] I looked at the two of them closely, because I perceived that they represented conjugial love in their life and in their adornment - in their life as shown in their faces, and in their adornment as shown in the garments they wore. For all angels are affections of love in human form. The essential, dominant affection shines out from their faces, and they are given clothing on the basis of their affection and in accordance with it. Consequently, in heaven they say that everyone is clothed in his own affection.

The husband appeared to be between adolescence and early manhood in age. From his eyes flashed a light sparkling with the wisdom of love. His face seemed to be inmostly radiant with this light, and because of the radiance from within, outwardly his skin virtually shone. As a result, his whole facial appearance was singularly one of dazzling good looks.

He was dressed in a full-length robe, and under the robe he wore a blue-colored garment, which was tied about the waist with a golden girdle bearing three precious stones, two of them sapphires, one on each side, and a garnet in the middle. His stockings were of shining linen, into which had been woven threads of silver; and his shoes were made entirely of silk.

This was the representational form that conjugial love took in the case of the husband.

[4] In the case of the wife, however, it took the following form. I saw her face, and did not see it. I saw it as the very essence of beauty, and did not see it because the beauty was beyond expression. For there was in her face the bright glow of a blazing light, like the light possessed by angels in the third heaven, and this light dimmed my vision, so that I was simply stupefied by it.

Noticing this, the wife spoke to me, saying, "What do you see?"

I answered, "I see only conjugial love and a picture of it. But I see and do not see."

At this she turned at an angle away from her husband, and then I could look more intently. Her eyes flashed with the light of her heaven, which is blazing, as I said, and so takes its quality from the love of wisdom. For wives in the third heaven love their husbands on account of their husbands' wisdom and in response to it, and the husbands love their wives on account of and in response to that love directed towards them, and so they are united.

The wife had her beauty as a result of this, such beauty that no artist could reproduce it or portray it in its true form, for a flashing of light like that is not possible in the painter's colors, nor is such loveliness expressible in his art.

Her hair was attractively arranged in a style to match her beauty, with jewels in the form of flowers inserted into it. She had a necklace of garnets, from which hung a rosette of peridots. And she had bracelets of pearls. She was dressed in a scarlet gown, and under it a purple bodice fastened in front with rubies. But what surprised me, the colors kept changing depending on which way she was facing in relation to her husband, and their sparkle also kept changing accordingly, being now more, now less - more when they faced each other, and less when she faced away at an angle.

[5] When I had seen these things, they spoke with me again. And when the husband spoke, he spoke as though he spoke at the same time on behalf of his wife, and when the wife spoke, she spoke as though she spoke at the same time on behalf of her husband. For such was the union of their minds, from which comes their speech. It was then that I heard as well the way conjugial love sounds, how it was inwardly together with, and also the result of, the delights of a state of peace and innocence.

Finally they said, "They are calling us back. We have to go."

They then appeared to be again riding in a carriage, as before, and they were borne off along a road stretching out between flower gardens, from whose beds rose olive trees and trees full of oranges. And as they drew near their heaven, young women came to meet them and welcome them and take them in.

43. After this, an angel from that heaven appeared to me, holding in his hand a sheet of paper, which he unrolled, saying, "I saw that you were meditating on conjugial love. This sheet of paper contains secrets of wisdom hitherto undiscovered in the world. They are disclosed now, because it is important. In our heaven there are more of these secrets than in the rest of the heavens, because we live in a marriage of love and wisdom. But I predict that none will make that love their own except those who are received by the Lord into the New Church, which is the New Jerusalem."

Saying this, the angel sent the unrolled sheet of paper down, and one angelic spirit took it and placed it on a table in a particular room, which he immediately locked. And handing me the key he said, "Write."

44. The second account:

I once saw three spirits newly arrived from the world, who were wandering about, exploring and asking questions. They were in a state of astonishment that they were living as people just as before and that they were seeing the same things as before. For they knew they had departed from the former or natural world, and they had believed there that they would not live as people until after the day of the Last Judgment, when they would be clothed with the flesh and bones laid in their graves.

To remove all doubt that they were still truly people, therefore, they alternately inspected and touched themselves and others, and handled the things they found, and in a thousand ways kept convincing themselves that they were now people as they had been in the former world, except that they were seeing each other in a brighter light and the things they found in a greater splendor, thus seeing them more perfectly.

[2] Then by chance two angelic spirits met them and stopped them, saying, "Where are you from?"

And they answered, "We have departed from the world and are again living in a world, so we have traveled from one world to another. At this we are now marveling!"

Then the three newcomers began asking the two angelic spirits about heaven. And because two of the three newcomers were adolescents, and from their eyes darted what seemed to be a spark of lust for the opposite sex, the angelic spirits said, "You have, perhaps, seen some of the women."

And they replied, "We have."

So, because the newcomers had asked about heaven, the angelic spirits told them the following:

"In heaven all things are magnificent and splendid, and are such as eye has never seen. There are also young men and women there, young women of such beauty that they may be called the very pictures of beauty, and young men of such morality that they may be called the very pictures of morality. And the beauty of the young women and the morality of the young men correspond to each other, as reciprocal and mutually adaptable forms."

The two newcomers then asked whether human forms in heaven are entirely similar to human forms in the natural world. And the angelic spirits answered that they are completely alike, with nothing taken from either man or woman.

"In a word," the angelic spirits said, "a man is still a man, and a woman is still a woman, in all the perfection of the form in which they were created. Step aside, if you like, and investigate in your own case whether anything is missing to keep you from being the man you were before."

[3] Again the newcomers said, "We heard in the world from which we departed that in heaven they are not given in marriage, because they are angels.* Is love between the sexes possible, then?"

The angelic spirits replied, "The love you mean between the sexes is not possible there, but an angelic love for the opposite sex is, which is chaste, free of any temptation arising from lust."

To this the newcomers said, "If love for the opposite sex is without temptation, then what is love between the sexes?"

And when they began to think about that love, they groaned and said, "How dry the joy of heaven is! What young man can then wish for heaven? Is not a love like that sterile and devoid of life?"

To this the angelic spirits laughingly replied, "Angelic love for the opposite sex, or the kind of love that exists in heaven, is still full of the deepest delights. It is a most pleasant swelling of everything in the mind and consequently of everything in the breast, and within the breast it is as if the heart were sporting with the lungs. From this sport comes a breathing, tone and speech which cause the companionships between the sexes, or between young men and women, to be heavenly sweetness itself, which is at the same time pure.

[4] "All newcomers on ascending to heaven are examined in respect to what their chastity is like, for they are introduced into companionships with young women - the beauties of heaven - and these perceive what the newcomers are like in regard to their love for the opposite sex. They perceive it from their tone of voice, their speech, their facial expression, their eyes, their bearing, and the atmosphere emanating from them. If the love is unchaste, the young women then run away and report to their friends that they have seen satyrs or lechers. And what is more, the newcomers undergo a change, and to the eyes of the angels they appear hairy, with feet like those of calves or leopards. They are also soon cast down, to keep them from polluting the atmosphere there with their lust."

Listening to this, the two newcomers again said, "Then there is no love between the sexes in heaven. What is chaste love between the sexes but love emptied of the essence of its life? Are the companionships of young men and women there not then dry joys? We are not made of stone and wood, but of living perceptions and affections!"

[5] When the two angelic spirits heard this, they indignantly retorted, "You do not know at all what a chaste love between the sexes is, because you are not yet chaste! That love is a true delight of the mind and so of the heart, and not at the same time of the flesh below the heart. Angelic chastity, which is found equally in both sexes, prevents that love from passing beyond the confines of the heart. But within those confines, and above them, the morality of the young man and the beauty of the young woman find delight in the delights of a chaste love for the opposite sex - delights which are deeper and richer for their pleasantness than can be described in words.

"But this is the love that angels have for the opposite sex, because they have only conjugial love, and conjugial love is not possible at the same time as an unchaste love for the opposite sex. Truly conjugial love is a chaste love, and has nothing in common with unchaste love. It is with one and only one of the opposite sex, with all others set aside, for it is a love of the spirit and consequently of the body, and not a love of the body and consequently of the spirit, that is, it is not a love that infests the spirit."

[6] On hearing this, the two adolescent newcomers rejoiced and said, "Then there is still love between the sexes in heaven! What else is conjugial love?"

But to this the angelic spirits replied, "Think more deeply, weigh the matter, and you will see that the love you mean between the sexes is a love outside of marriage, and that conjugial love is altogether different, being as different from the love you mean as the wheat is from the chaff, or better, as different as human life is from animal life.

"If you were to ask women in heaven what love outside of marriage is, I assure you they would respond, ‘What is this? What are you saying? How can such a thing that so offends the ears come out of your mouth? How can a love not created in the first place be engendered in a person?'

"If you then asked them what truly conjugial love is, I know they would answer that it is not a love for the opposite sex, but love for one of the sex, which arises only when a young man sees a young woman provided by the Lord, and the young woman the young man, both feeling an inclination to marry kindled in their hearts, and perceiving, the young man that she is for him, and the young woman that he is for her. For love then presents itself to love and causes them to recognize each other, at once joining their souls, and afterwards their minds. From there it enters their hearts, and after the wedding goes on beyond. And so it becomes a full love, which daily grows into union, even to the point that they no longer are two, but virtually one person.

[7] "I know, too, that these same women would swear that they are not acquainted with any other love between the sexes. For they say, 'How can there be love between the sexes unless it is so honest and reciprocal that it aspires to eternal union, which is that the two may be one flesh?'"

To this the angelic spirits added, "In heaven they do not know at all what licentiousness is, not even that it exists or is possible. The angels grow cold with their whole body at unchaste love or love outside of marriage, and on the other hand, they grow warm with their whole body as a result of chaste or conjugial love. In the case of men there, all their sinews sink at the sight of a licentious woman, and grow taut at the sight of their wife."

[8] The three newcomers, hearing this, asked whether there is the same love-making between married partners in heaven as on earth.

The two angelic spirits answered that it is entirely the same. And because they perceived that the newcomers were wanting to know whether they had the same end delights in heaven, they also said that these are entirely the same, but much more blissful, since the perception and sensation of angels is much more exquisite than the perception and sensation of people.

"Moreover, what is the life accompanying that love," the angelic spirits asked, "if it does not stem from an underlying condition of ability? If this ability fails, does that love not fail and cool? Is this power not a real measure, a real progression and real foundation of that love? Is it not its beginning, support and fulfillment?

"It is a universal law that the primary elements in a series exist, subsist and persist on the basis of the final elements. So also with that love. Consequently, without the end delights, there would not be any delights in conjugial love."

[9] The newcomers then asked whether as a result of the end delights of that love, children are born in heaven. And if children were not born, of what use those delights were.

The angelic spirits replied that they do not have any natural offspring, but spiritual offspring.

"And what are spiritual offspring?" the newcomers asked.

The angelic spirits answered, "By the end delights the two partners become more united in a marriage of goodness and truth, and a marriage of goodness and truth is a marriage of love and wisdom, and love and wisdom are the offspring that are born of such a marriage. Because the husband in heaven is a form of wisdom, and his wife is a form of the love of it, and both moreover are spiritual, therefore no other than spiritual offspring can be conceived and begotten there.

"That is why, after experiencing these delights, angels do not become depressed as some do on earth, but joyful, and they have this characteristic as a result of a continual influx of fresh vigor to follow the first - fresh vigor that rejuvenates and at the same time enlightens them. For, all who come into heaven return into the springtime of their youth and into the powers of that age, and so they remain to eternity."

[10] When the three newcomers heard this, they said, "Does it not say in the Word that there are no marriages in heaven, because they are angels?"[8]

To this the angelic spirits replied, "Look up into heaven, and you will receive an answer."

They then asked why they should look up into heaven.

"Because," the angelic spirits said, "we have all our interpretations of the Word from heaven. The Word is inwardly spiritual, and the angels, being spiritual, must explain its spiritual meaning."

Then, after some time, heaven opened over their heads and they caught sight of two angels. And the two angels said, "There are marriages in heaven, as on earth, but only in the case of people there who already possess a marriage of goodness and truth. They are the only ones who become angels. Therefore spiritual marriages are meant in the Word, which are marriages of goodness and truth. These spiritual marriages take place on earth and not after death, thus not in heaven. So it is said of the five foolish virgins - even though they, too, were invited to the wedding - that they could not go in, because they did not have a marriage of goodness and truth, since they had no oil, but only lamps.[9]


"Goodness is meant by oil, and truth by lamps. And to be given in marriage is to enter into heaven where that marriage is."

The three newcomers were glad to hear this explanation, and were filled with a longing for heaven and the hope of being married there. And they said, "We will strive for morality and a decent and proper life, that we may obtain the object of our prayers."


1 See Genesis 25:8,17, 35:29, 49:29,33; Numbers 20:24,26, 27:13, 31:2; Deuteronomy 32:50; also Genesis 15:15; Judges 2:10; 2 Kings 22:20; 2 Chronicles 34:28; Acts 13:36.

2 See Luke 24:31.

3 See no. 193.

4 Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:4-6, Mark 10:6-9.

5 Cf. Genesis 1:27.

6 = Continuation Concerning the Last Judgment and the Spiritual World.

7 Actually, "children of the bridechamber."

8 See Matthew 22:30, Mark 12:25, Luke 20:35,36.

9 See Matthew 25:1-12.

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