Swedenborg Study.com

Online works based on the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg


Excerpt from Conjugial Love

Truly Conjugial Love

by Emanuel Swedenborg

57. Conjugial love is unlimited in its variety. It is not the same in one person as it is in another. It appears, indeed, as if it were the same in many cases, but that is how it appears to a judgment of the body, and a person scarcely sees the diversities in such things on the basis of a judgment like that, because it is dense and obtuse. By a judgment of the body we mean a judgment of the mind on the basis of its external senses.

People who see as a result of a judgment of the spirit, however, to them the differences appear, and they appear even more clearly to those who can raise the sight of this judgment still higher, by withdrawing this sight from the senses and elevating it into a higher light. These people are finally able to convince themselves with the understanding and thus see that conjugial love is not the same in one person as it is in another.

But even so, no one can see the endless varieties of this love in any light of the understanding, even if elevated, unless he first knows what that love is like in its true essence and perfect state, thus what it was like when, together with life, it was bestowed on mankind by God. Unless this state of it is known, which was most perfect, its diversities can by no means be discovered by any method of inquiry. For there is in that case no fixed point from which, as a point of origin, the diversities may be traced and to which, as a point of reference, they may be related so as to appear accurately and not deceptively.

For this reason, we proceed in this chapter to describe that love in its true essence. And since that love existed in its true essence when, together with life, it was infused into mankind by God, we proceed to describe it as it was in its original state. Moreover, because in that state conjugial love was truly conjugial, we title this chapter, "Truly Conjugial Love."

Description of this love, however, will be developed according to the following outline:

(1) There is a truly conjugial love, which today is so rare that people do not know what it is like, and scarcely that it exists.

(2) This love originates from the marriage between good and truth.

(3) There is a correspondence between this love and the marriage of the Lord and the church.

(4) Regarded from its origin and correspondence, this love is celestial, spiritual, holy, pure and clean, more so than any other love which exists from the Lord in angels of heaven or people of the church.

(5) It is also the fundamental love of all celestial and spiritual loves, and consequently of natural loves.

(6) Moreover, into this love have been gathered all joys and all delights, from the first to the last of them.

(7) But no others come into this love and no others can be in it but those who go to the Lord and love the truths of the church and do the good things it teaches.

(8) This love was the greatest of loves among the ancients who lived in the golden, silver and copper ages, but after that it gradually disappeared.

Development of these points now follows.

58. (1) There is a truly conjugial love, which today is so rare that people do not know what it is like, and scarcely that it exists. The possibility of the kind of conjugial love described in the following pages may indeed be recognized from the first state of that love, when it is first stealing into and entering the heart of a young man and woman, as it does in the case of those who are beginning to love only one of the opposite sex and to want him or her as their betrothed. And still more during the time of engagement, as this stretches on and draws nearer the wedding. And finally at the time of the wedding, and in the first days after it.

Who does not then acknowledge and give assent to the following thoughts, that this love is the fundamental love of all loves? Moreover, that all joys and all delights have been gathered into it, from the first to the last of them?

But who does not also know that after this happy time, these glad feelings gradually wane and disappear, until at last they are hardly felt. If at that time one says to these same people the same thing as before, that this love is the fundamental love of all loves, and that all joys and delights have been gathered into it, they neither assent nor acknowledge this. Perhaps they will even say these are foolish notions, or that they are mysteries beyond comprehension.

It is clear from this that the early love in marriage emulates truly conjugial love and presents a kind of visible image of it. This is the case because a love for the opposite sex in general, which is unchaste, is then renounced, and in its place love for one of the sex sits implanted, which is a truly conjugial love and chaste. What man at that time does not look upon other women with a loveless nod, and on his one and only with a loving one?

59. Nevertheless, truly conjugial love is so rare that people do not know what it is like, and scarcely that it exists. This is because the state of happy feelings before the wedding afterwards turns into a state of indifference as these feelings become no longer felt. The reasons for this change in state are too many to be presented here, but they will be presented in a later chapter, where the reasons for states of coldness, separations and divorces are disclosed in turn.[1] It will be seen from these that in most people today, the image of conjugial love referred to above is so extinguished - and with it, knowledge of this love - that people do not even know what it is like, and scarcely that it exists.

People know that every person is merely physical at birth, and that from being physical he becomes more and more deeply natural, and thus rational, and finally spiritual. The reason for such a progressive development is that the physical element is the soil, so to speak, in which natural, rational and spiritual qualities are planted in turn. A person thus becomes more and more human.

[2] Almost the same sort of thing happens when one enters marriage. A person then becomes a more complete human being, because he is united with a partner with whom he may act as one person. In the first state, however, this is reflected in a kind of image, as mentioned before. In similar fashion he then starts from the physical element and progresses into the natural, only this time in respect to married life and so union into one.

People who in this state love the physical, natural aspects, and the rational aspects only on account of these, cannot be united with their partner as though into one, except in respect to these external aspects. When the external aspects then fade, the inward ones are invaded by coldness, which takes away the delights of this love, driving them first from the mind and so from the body, and afterwards from the body and so from the mind. And this finally reaches the point that nothing remains of their memory of the early state of their marriage, nor do they consequently retain any concept of it.

Now because this is what happens in the case of most people today, it is plain that people do not know what truly conjugial love is like, and scarcely that it exists.

It is different in the case of people who are spiritual. In their case, the first state of marriage is an introduction to continuing states of happiness, which advance as the spiritual rationality of the mind and consequently the natural sensuality of the body in one partner join and unite with these same qualities in the other. But people like this are rare.

60. (2) This love originates from the marriage between good and truth. Everything in the universe has some relation to good and truth, as every intelligent person recognizes because it is a universal truth. One cannot help but recognize also that in each and every thing in the universe, good is united with truth and truth with good, because this, too, is a universal truth, which goes along with the other.

The reason everything in the universe has some relation to good and truth, with good being united with truth and vice versa, is that both emanate from the Lord, and they emanate from Him as a unity.

The two things that emanate from the Lord are love and wisdom, because these are what He is and so are what come from Him. And everything that has to do with love is called good, and everything that has to do with wisdom is called truth. Now because these two emanate from the Lord as the Creator, it follows that these two are present in the things He created.

This can be illustrated by the example of heat and light which emanate from the sun. Everything produced by the earth depends on these two, for things germinate according to their presence and according to their presence together. Natural warmth corresponds to spiritual warmth, which is love; and natural light corresponds to spiritual light, which is wisdom.

61. In the next chapter we will demonstrate that conjugial love comes from the marriage between good and truth. We only introduce the concept here to show that this love is celestial, spiritual and holy, because it comes from a celestial, spiritual and holy origin.

In order to show that conjugial love originates from the marriage between good and truth, it is useful that something be said about it in brief summary here.

We said just above that there is a union of good and truth in each and every created thing. And union does not come about without reciprocation, for union on one side and not on the other in return, of itself comes undone.

Now because there is a union of good and truth, and this a reciprocal one, it follows that there is a truth of good, or truth from good, and also a good of truth, or good from truth. In the next chapter we will show that the truth of good or truth from good exists in the male and is the essence of masculinity, and that the good of truth or good from truth exists in the female and is the essence of femininity. We will also show that there is a conjugial union between the two.

This much is mentioned here to give a preliminary idea of the concept.

62. (3) There is a correspondence between this love and the marriage of the Lord and the church. In other words, as the Lord loves the church and wants the church to love Him, so a husband and wife love each other.

In the Christian world, people know there is a correspondence between these two relationships, but they do not yet know the nature of it. Therefore this correspondence will be explained in a separate chapter as well, in the chapter after next.[2] It is mentioned here in order to show that conjugial love is celestial, spiritual and holy, because it corresponds to the celestial, spiritual and holy marriage of the Lord and the church.

This correspondence also follows from the origin of conjugial love from the marriage between good and truth, referred to under the preceding heading, because the church in a person is a marriage of good and truth. For a marriage of good and truth is the same thing as a marriage of charity and faith, since good is a matter of charity and truth is a matter of faith. One cannot help but recognize that this marriage forms the church, because it is a universal truth, and every universal truth is acknowledged as soon as it is heard, which occurs as a result of the Lord's influx and, at the same time, the affirmation of heaven.

Now, since the church is the Lord's, being from the Lord, and since conjugial love corresponds to the marriage of the Lord and the church, it follows that this love comes from the Lord.

63. However, the way in which the church is formed by the Lord in two married partners, and through it conjugial love - this will be clarified in the chapter indicated above. Here we will say only that the church is formed by the Lord in the man, and through the man in his wife. And after it has been formed in the two together, the church is complete, for then a full conjunction of good and truth takes place, and the conjunction of good and truth is the church. It will be progressively established with demonstrative proofs in the following chapters that the inclination to conjunction, which conjugial love is, exists in the same degree as the conjunction of good and truth, which is the church.

64. (4) Regarded from its origin and correspondence, this love is celestial, spiritual, holy, pure and clean, more so than any other love which exists from the Lord in angels of heaven or people of the church. With respect to conjugial love's being of such a character from its origin, which is the marriage between good and truth, this was briefly established just above, though it was only touched on there. So also with respect to that love's being of such a character from its correspondence with the marriage of the Lord and the church.

These two marriages, from which conjugial love descends as an offshoot, are the essence of holiness. Consequently, if conjugial love is received from its Author, who is the Lord, it is accompanied by holiness from Him, which continually purges and purifies the love. If, then, a person has a desire and striving for it in his will, that love daily becomes more clean and pure to eternity.

[2] Conjugial love is called celestial and spiritual because it exists among angels in heaven. It is celestial in the case of angels in the highest heaven, because these angels are called celestial. And it is spiritual in the case of angels below that heaven, because these angels are called spiritual. The angels are called by these names, because forms of love resulting in wisdom are celestial, while forms of wisdom resulting in love are spiritual. It is the same in their approach to marriage.

[3] Now, because conjugial love exists among angels in heaven, in both the higher and lower heavens, as we also showed in the earlier chapter on marriages in heaven,[3] it follows that this love is holy and pure.

As for the statement that regarded from its derivation, in its essence this love is holy and pure, more so than any other love in angels and men, this is because that love is, so to speak, the head of all the other loves. Something about its exalted character will now be said under the following heading.

65. (5) It is also the fundamental love of all celestial, spiritual, and consequently natural loves. Regarded in its essence, conjugial love is the fundamental love of all loves in heaven and the church, because it originates from the marriage between good and truth, and from this marriage spring all the loves which form heaven and the church in a person. The good in this marriage produces love, and the truth in it produces wisdom. And when love is added to wisdom or united with it, then love becomes loving. And when wisdom conversely is added to love and united with it, then wisdom becomes wise.

Truly conjugial love is nothing but a union of love and wisdom. Two married partners who have this love between them and in them at the same time are a reflection and image of it. In the heavens, too, where the looks of their faces are genuine representations of the affections of their love, they are all likenesses of it, for it is in them in general and in every part, as we showed previously.

Now because two partners are a form of this love in image and effigy, it follows that every other love that springs from the form this love takes is a reflection of it. Consequently, if conjugial love is celestial and spiritual, the loves springing from it are also celestial and spiritual.

Conjugial love, therefore, is like a parent, and the rest of the loves are like offspring. That is why the offspring born of the marriages of angels in heaven are spiritual offspring, which are procreations of love and wisdom, or of goodness and truth. (Regarding this procreation, see above, no. 51.)

66. The same idea clearly follows from the creation of human beings into this love, and from their formation as a result of it afterwards. The male was created to become a form of wisdom from a love of growing wise, and the female was created to become a form of love for the male on account of his wisdom, thus in accordance with that wisdom. It is evident from this that two partners are real forms and reflections of the marriage between love and wisdom or between good and truth.

It should properly be known that no good or truth exists which is not the attribute of some concrete thing in which it inheres as a quality in its subject. Abstract goods and truths have no real existence, because they are not grounded in anything, having no underlying foundation. Indeed, neither can they be seen as flitting about in the air. Consequently, as abstractions they are merely figments, which reason supposes it can think about abstractly, but which it really cannot except as attributes of concrete subjects. For every idea a person has, however extrapolated, is concrete, that is to say, it is attached to concrete things.

It should further be known that no concrete thing exists without having form. A thing unformed is not anything, because nothing can be predicated of it, and a subject without predicates is also the figment of a fanciful imagination.

I have added these philosophical considerations in order to be able to show in this way as well that two married partners who are in a state of truly conjugial love actually are forms of the marriage between goodness and truth, or between love and wisdom.

67. Since natural loves spring from spiritual loves, and spiritual loves from celestial ones, therefore we say that conjugial love is the fundamental love of all celestial and spiritual loves, and so then of natural loves.

Natural loves are connected with loves of self and the world. Spiritual loves, on the other hand, are connected with love for the neighbor, and celestial loves are connected with love toward the Lord. And because loves have these connections, it is apparent what sequence they follow and in what order they are present in a person. When they are present in this order, then natural loves draw their life from spiritual loves, and spiritual loves from celestial ones, and all of them, in this order, from the Lord, from whom they come.

68. (6) Moreover, into this love have been gathered all joys and all delights, from the first to the last of them. All the delights a person feels, of whatever kind, have to do with his love. Love reveals itself through delights; indeed, it exists and lives through them.

People know that delights rise and deepen in the degree that love rises and deepens, and also as incidental affections touch more closely the dominant love.

Now because conjugial love is the fundamental love of all good loves, and because, as we showed above, it is engraved on even the smallest aspects of a person, it follows that its delights surpass the delights of all other loves, and also that it gives delight to these other loves according as it is present and at the same time united with them. For it swells the inmost feelings of the mind and at the same time the inmost feelings of the body, as the pleasurable stream of its fountain flows through and opens them.

[2] All delights have been gathered into this love, from the first to the last of them, because of the excellence of the use it serves, surpassing that of all other loves. The use it serves is the propagation of the human race and so of the angelic heaven. And because this use or purpose was the ultimate goal in creation, it follows that all blessings, felicities, delights, gratifications and pleasures, which could ever have been conferred on mankind by the Lord the Creator, have been gathered into this, its accompanying love.

It is apparent from the delights of the five senses - sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch - that delights accompany the use they serve and are delightful to a person in accordance with the love he has for it. Each of these senses experiences delights, with variations, according to the particular uses these senses serve. Why not the sensation of conjugial love, whose use or purpose embraces those of all the other senses?

69. I know that few will accept that all joys and all delights, from the first to the last of them, have been gathered into conjugial love, and this for the reason that truly conjugial love - the love into which these joys and delights have been gathered - today is so rare that people do not know what it is like, and scarcely that it exists (to repeat what was explained and established above, nos. 58, 59). For these joys and delights do not occur in any other conjugial love than genuine conjugial love. And because genuine conjugial love on earth is so rare, it is impossible to describe its supreme states of bliss on the basis of anything other than the testimony of angels, because angels experience it.

Regarding its inmost delights - which are delights of the soul, where the conjugial union between love and wisdom, or goodness and truth, first flows in from the Lord - angels have said these delights are imperceptible and therefore indescribable, because they are at the same time delights of peace and innocence. But they said, too, that these same delights, in 2their descent, become more and more perceptible - as states of bliss in the higher regions of their mind, as states of happiness in the lower regions of their mind, and as consequent states of delight in their heart, at which point they spread from the heart into each and every part of the body, finally coming together in the last of these as the delight of delights.

In addition, angels have reported wonderful things about these delights, saying also in regard to the varieties of these delights in the souls of married partners and as they descend from their souls into their minds and from their minds into their hearts, that these varieties are infinite, and also eternal. They have said, too, that these delights rise and deepen according to the wisdom in the husbands, and this because angels live to eternity in the flower of their life, and nothing is more blessed to them than to grow ever more wise.

But more about these delights as reported from the testimony of angels may be found in the narrative accounts, especially in some of those which come at the end of some chapters later on.[4]

70. (7) But no others come into that love and no others can be in it but those who go to the Lord and love the truths of the church and do the good things it teaches. No others come into this love but those who go to the Lord, because monogamous marriages, which are marriages of one man with one wife, correspond to the marriage of the Lord and the church, and they have their origin from the marriage between goodness and truth (as discussed above, nos. 60-63).

It follows from this origin and this correspondence that truly conjugial love comes from the Lord and is found in people who go to Him directly, but this cannot be established fully without discussing these two secrets in some detail. This will be done in the chapters that come next after this one, one of which will be on the origin of conjugial love from the marriage of good and truth,[5] and the other on the marriage of the Lord and the church and correspondence to it.[6] In those chapters we shall also see that it follows from these considerations that the conjugial love in a person depends on the state of the church in him.

71. No others can be in a state of truly conjugial love but those who receive it from the Lord - namely, those who go to Him directly and live the life of the church from Him - for the reason that this love, viewed in terms of its origin and correspondence, is celestial, spiritual, holy, pure and clean, more than any other love that is found in angels of heaven or people of the church (as said above, no. 64). And these attributes of it cannot exist except in people who are joined to the Lord and brought by Him into association with angels of heaven.

That is because people like this abstain from love affairs outside of marriage, which are liaisons with others than their rightful wife or husband, and they abstain from them as injuries to the soul and as cesspools of hell. And in the degree that a married person abstains from such liaisons, even as regards the lusts of his will and his consequent intentions, in the same degree conjugial love is purified in him and becomes progressively spiritual, first during his life on earth, and afterwards in heaven.

[2] No love can ever become pure in human beings, nor in angels. So neither can this love. But because the Lord primarily regards the intention that is in the will, therefore to the extent that a person has the intention and perseveres in it, to that extent he is introduced into the purity and holiness of this love, and gradually makes progress in it.

No others can be in a state of spiritual conjugial love but those who are in it from the Lord, because heaven is in that love. And the natural man - for whom conjugial love takes its pleasure solely from the flesh - cannot draw near to heaven, nor to any angel. Indeed, neither can he draw near to any person who possesses that love, for that love is the fundamental love of all celestial and spiritual loves (see above, nos. 65-67). [3] The fact of this was attested for me by an experience I had. I saw some evil spirits in the spiritual world who were being prepared for hell, going towards an angel who was enjoying the company of his wife. As they were approaching, while still at a distance, they began to act like frenzied madmen, and they sought caverns and pits as places of refuge and threw themselves into them.

(One may conclude from the incidents related in the Introduction, no. 10, that evil spirits like whatever is of the same character as their affection, however unclean it is, and that they dislike spirits of heaven, because heaven is pure, which they avoid as something alien to them.)

72. Only those people come into truly conjugial love and only those can be in it who love the truths of the church and do the good things it teaches, for the reason that no others are accepted by the Lord. That is because people who love the truths of the church and do the good things it teaches are in a state of conjunction with the Lord, and consequently they can be kept in that love by Him.

There are two things which form the church and so heaven in a person: truth of faith and goodness of life. Truth of faith brings the Lord's presence, and goodness of life in accordance with truths of faith brings conjunction with Him and thus forms the church and heaven. Truth of faith brings presence because it has to do with light, that being what spiritual light is. Goodness of life brings conjunction because it has to do with warmth, that being what spiritual warmth is; for spiritual warmth is love, and goodness of life has to do with love. We also know that all light - even wintry light - brings presence, and that warmth united with light brings conjunction; for gardens and flower-beds become visible in every kind of light, but they do not produce flowers and fruit until warmth is combined with the light.

The evident conclusion from this is that people are blessed with truly conjugial love not if they only know the truths of the church, but if they know them and do the good things it teaches.

73. (8) This love was the greatest of loves among the ancients who lived in the golden, silver and copper ages. It cannot be known from historical sources that conjugial love was the greatest of loves among the ancient and most ancient peoples who lived in those first ages referred to by these names. It cannot be known from historical sources because their written records do not remain, and the records that do exist come from writers who lived after those times. It is, in fact, the later writers who give the ages their names, and who also describe the purity and integrity of the life of those earlier peoples, likewise its gradual deterioration afterwards as being like the descent of gold to iron.

The last or iron age, however, which began at the time of those writers, can be deduced to some extent from the records of the lives of some of the kings, judges and wise men, who were called sages, in Greece and elsewhere. But as it is foretold in Daniel, that age would not hold together, as iron holds together by itself, but it would become like iron mixed with clay, which does not stick together (Daniel 2:43).

[2] Now because the ages that were named after gold, silver, and copper passed away before the dates of our written records, and because knowledge of their marriages cannot, therefore, be gained on earth, it pleased the Lord to show them to me by a spiritual way, by conducting me to the heavens where they have their dwellings, so that I might learn from them personally there what marriages had been like among them when they lived in their ages. For all people whatever, who, since creation, have departed out of the natural world, are now in the spiritual world, and in respect to their loves they are all the same as they were and so remain to eternity.

Since the things I learned are worth knowing and telling, and because they confirm the holiness of marriages, I would like to make them public as they were shown me in an awake state of the spirit and afterwards recalled to remembrance by an angel and so written down. Moreover, because they are from the spiritual world, like the rest of the narratives at the ends of the expositional chapters, I have chosen to divide them into six accounts, presented according to the progressions of the ages.

74. These six accounts come from the spiritual world, on the subject of conjugial love, and they reveal what that love was like in the first ages, and what it was like afterwards, and what it is like today. It is apparent from them that that love gradually moved away from its holiness and purity, until it became licentious; but that there is still hope of its returning to its pristine or ancient holiness.

75. The first account:

When I was once meditating on conjugial love, my mind was seized with a desire to know what that love was like among the people who lived in the golden age, and afterwards what it was like among those who lived in the following ages which are named after silver, copper, and iron. And because I knew that all those people who lived well in those ages are now in heaven, I prayed to the Lord to be allowed to speak with them and be instructed.

Then suddenly an angel stood beside me, and he said, "I have been sent by the Lord to be your guide and companion. First I will guide and accompany you to the people who lived in the first age or period, which is called golden." He also added, "The way to them is difficult. It lies through a dark forest which no one can pass through without being given a guide by the Lord."

[2] I was in the spirit, and so I readied myself for the journey, and we turned our faces to the east. And as we went I saw a mountain, whose height extended beyond the level of the clouds.

We crossed a great desert, and we came to a forest thick with trees of various kinds and dark on account of their density, as the angel had predicted. However, the forest was intersected by many narrow paths, but the angel said they were all winding ways leading astray, and that, unless a traveler's eyes were opened by the Lord to see the olive trees covered with leafy vines and to make his way from olive tree to olive tree, he would wander off into infernal regions which surrounded the forest on each side. "This is what this forest is like," the angel said, "in order to guard the approach, for none but the earliest people dwell on that mountain."

[3] After we entered the forest, our eyes were opened, and here and there we saw olive trees entwined with vines, which had bunches of purplish-blue grapes hanging from them. Moreover, the olive trees were arranged in a continuous series of circles. Consequently we went around and around as each one came to view, until finally we saw a grove of tall cedars, with some eagles on their branches.

Seeing them the angel said, "We are now on the mountain, not far from its summit."

We went on, and lo, beyond the grove, there was a circular field, where male and female lambs were grazing, which were forms representative of the state of innocence and peace of the people who dwelt on the mountain. We crossed this field, and suddenly tents appeared - tent after tent - reaching many thousands in number, in front and on each side, as far as the eye could see.

And the angel said, "We are now in an encampment. Behold the army of the Lord Jehovih! That is what they call themselves and their dwellings. When these most ancient people lived in the world, they dwelled in tents. Therefore they also live in tents now. But let us turn our way southward - where the wiser ones among them are - to find someone to talk with."

[4] As we went, I saw in the distance three boys and three girls sitting at the entrance of one of the tents. But when we drew near, they looked like men and women of average height.

And the angel said, "All the inhabitants of this mountain appear at a distance like little children, because they are in a state of innocence, and early childhood is the way innocence appears."

Seeing us, the men hurried over to us and said, "Where are you from, and how did you get here? Your faces are different from the faces of our mountain."

But the angel answered and told them how we were able to pass through the forest and the reason for our coming.

Hearing this, one of the three men invited us into his tent and led us inside. The man was dressed in a blue-colored robe and a tunic of very white wool. And his wife was dressed in a purple dress, with a blouse underneath of embroidered fine linen. [5] Then because I had in my thought the desire to learn about the marriages of the most ancient peoples, I looked by turns at the husband and wife, and I observed a seeming unity of their souls in their faces.

So I said, "You two are one."

The man replied, "We are. Her life is in me, and my life is in her. We have two bodies, but one soul. The union between us is like the union of the two tabernacles in the breast which are called the heart and the lungs. She is my heart and I am her lungs. But since when we say heart here we mean love, and when we say lungs we mean wisdom, therefore she is the love of my wisdom, and I am the wisdom of her love. Therefore her love outwardly clothes my wisdom, and my wisdom is inwardly within her love. Consequently, as you have said, the unity of our souls appears in our faces."

[6] Then I asked, "If such is the union between you, are you able to look upon any other woman than your own?"

He replied, "I can, but because my wife is united to my soul, the two of us look together, and then not a trace of lust can enter. For when I look at other men's wives, I look at them through the eyes of my wife, who is the only one I am in love with. And because she, as my wife, can perceive all my inclinations, she acts as an intermediary and directs my thoughts, taking away anything discordant and at the same time inspiring a coldness and horror towards anything unchaste. As a result it is impossible for us here to regard any of our companions' wives with lust - as impossible as it would be to look at the light of our heaven from a state of infernal darkness. We have no mental concept among us, therefore, and not even any word in our speech for the temptations of libidinous love." He could not say free love, because the chastity of their heaven resisted it.

My angel guide then said to me, "You hear, now, the speech of the angels of this heaven, that it is a speech of wisdom, because they speak in terms of causes."

[7] After this I looked around, and seeing that their tent appeared covered with gold, I asked why this was.

The man replied that it was due to the flaming light, which glittered like gold. "It shines and strikes the curtains of our tent," he said, "whenever we are engaged in conversation on the subject of conjugial love. For the heat from our sun, which in its essence is love, then bares itself and tints the light, which in its essence is wisdom. It tints it with its own color, which is golden. This occurs because conjugial love in its origin is the interplay of wisdom and love, for man was born to be a form of wisdom, and woman to be a form of love for the wisdom in a man. From this come the delights of that interplay in conjugial love, and therefore between us and our wives.

"We here have seen, for thousands of years, that those delights become more excellent and exalted in abundance, degree and strength, according to the worship of the Lord Jehovih among us. That heavenly union or that heavenly marriage which exists between love and wisdom infuses itself as a result of that worship."

[8] When he said this, I saw a great light on a hill at the center amid the tents, and I asked where that light was coming from.

The man said, "It is coming from the sanctuary of our tabernacle of worship."

I then inquired whether we might go there, and he said we could. So I went, and I saw a tabernacle which, outside and in, exactly fit the description of the tabernacle which was built for the children of Israel in the wilderness, whose form was shown to Moses on top of Mount Sinai (Exodus 25:40, 26:30). And I asked what there was inside the sanctuary that was giving off so much light.

He answered, "There is a tablet, which bears the inscription, 'The Covenant Between Jehovah and Heaven.'" That was all he said.

[9] Then, because by that time we were getting ready to leave, I asked, "When you lived in the natural world, did any of you live with more than one wife?"

He replied that he did not know one person who did. "For we could not think of having more," he said. "Those who had had such thoughts told us that their states of heavenly bliss instantly receded from the inmost depths of their souls to the outmost parts of their bodies, even into their fingernails, and along with them the virtues of manhood. When others perceived this, they were exiled from our lands."

Having said this, the man hurried to his tent and returned with a pomegranate containing a number of seeds made of gold. He gave it to me and I took it away with me, as a memento to me that we had been with people who had lived in the golden age.

So then, after saying farewell, we departed and returned home.

76. The second account:

The next day the same angel came to me and said, "Would you like me to take and accompany you to the peoples who lived in the silver age or period, so that we may hear from them about the marriages of their time?" He also said that these people, too, could not be approached except under the Lord's guidance.

I was in the spirit as before, and I went with my guide. And we came first to a hill in the border region between the east and the south. Then, as we stood upon its slope, he showed me a far extended stretch of land, and we saw in the distance an elevation like that of a mountain. Between it and the hill on which we stood was a valley, and beyond that a level area, and after that a gently rising incline.

We descended from the hill to cross the valley, and here and there on each side we saw blocks of wood and stone carved into the shapes of people and various kinds of animals, birds and fish. So I asked the angel, "What are these? Are they idols?"

And he answered, "Not at all. They are figures representative of various moral virtues and spiritual truths. Among the peoples of this age there was a knowledge of correspondences. Since every person, animal, bird and fish corresponds to some quality, therefore each carving represents some aspect of a virtue or truth, and a group of them taken together represents the whole virtue or truth in a general, extended form. They are what in Egypt were called hieroglyphics."

[2] We continued through the valley, and as we entered the level area, suddenly we saw horses and chariots - horses with variously decorated harnesses and halters, and chariots variously shaped, some carved out like eagles, some like whales, and some like stags with horns, or like unicorns. At the end we also saw some wagons, and stables around at the sides. But when we drew near, both the horses and the chariots disappeared, and instead of them we saw people in couples and pairs, walking, talking and reasoning together.

The angel then said to me, "The various horses, chariots and stables - as they seem at a distance - are appearances expressive of the rational intelligence of the people of this age. For by correspondence a horse symbolizes an understanding of truth; a chariot, its accompanying doctrine; and stables, sources of instruction. You know that in this world, all things take on appearances according to correspondences."

[3] We went on by these things, however, and we ascended by a long incline, until at last we saw a city, which we entered. As we wandered through it, from the streets and public squares we observed its houses. They were all palaces, built out of marble. In front they had steps of alabaster, with columns of jasper on each side of the steps. We also saw temples made of precious stone the color of sapphire and lapis lazuli.

The angel said to me, "They have houses made of different kinds of stone because stones symbolize natural truths, and precious stones symbolize spiritual truths. The people who lived in the silver age all had their intelligence from spiritual truths and so from natural truths. Silver also has a similar symbolism."

[4] As we surveyed the city, we saw married couples here and there in pairs; and since they were husbands and wives, we waited to see if we would be invited in somewhere. Even as we had this in mind, moreover, as we were passing by, two of them called us back into their house. So we went up the steps and went in. Then, speaking with them on my behalf, the angel explained the reason for our coming to that heaven, saying that we had come to be instructed concerning marriages among ancient peoples - "you here being some of them," he said.

They then replied, "We come from peoples in Asia, and the focus of our age was the pursuit of truths, by which we acquired intelligence. This pursuit was the focus of our soul and mind. But the focus of our physical senses was on representations of truths in forms, and a study of correspondences combined the sensory interests of our bodies with the perceptions of our minds, gaining for us intelligence."

[5] Hearing this, the angel asked them to tell us something about marriages among them.

So the husband said, "There is a correspondence between the spiritual marriage, which is a marriage of truth with good, and natural marriage, which is the marriage of a man with one wife. And because we have studied correspondences, we see that the church with its truths and goods can by no means exist except in people who live with one wife in a state of truly conjugial love. For a marriage of good and truth in a person is the church in him.

"Consequently, we who are here all say that a husband is a form of truth, and his wife a form of good, and that good cannot love any other truth than its own truth, nor can truth love any other good in return than its own good. If it were to love another, the inner marriage that forms the church would die, and the marriage would become merely external - the kind of marriage that idolatry corresponds to, not the church. Therefore we call marriage with one wife a sacred union, but if it were contracted with more than one among us, we would call it a sacrilege."

[6] Saying this, he showed us into an anteroom outside the bedroom, which had a number of works of art on the walls and little images apparently cast out of silver. I then asked what they were.

They said, "They are pictures and forms representing the many qualities, attributes and delights which have to do with conjugial love. These ones here represent the unity of souls; these other ones, the conjunction of minds; the ones there, the harmony of hearts; those over there, the delights arising as a result."

While we were looking, we saw on the wall a kind of rainbow, consisting of three colors, purple, blue, and bright white. And we saw how the purple color passed through the blue and tinted the white with a purplish blue hue, and that the latter color flowed back through the blue into the purple and raised it into a kind of flaming radiance.

[7] Then the husband said to me, "Do you understand it?"

And I said, "Instruct me."

So he said, "The purple by its correspondence symbolizes the conjugial love of the wife; the bright white, the intelligence of the husband; the blue, the beginning of conjugial love in the husband's perception from the wife; and the purplish blue, which tinted the white, conjugial love then in the husband. This latter color's flowing back through the blue into the purple and raising it into a kind of flaming radiance symbolizes the conjugial love of the husband flowing back to the wife. Things like these are represented on these walls whenever we reflect on conjugial love, its mutual, progressive and simultaneous union, and then look closely at the rainbows exhibited there."

At this I said, "Things like this today are more than mysteries, for they are of a representational type, representing the secrets of the conjugial love of one man with one wife."

He replied, "So they are, but to us here they are not secrets, and therefore not mysteries."

[8] When he said this, a chariot appeared in the distance drawn by white ponies, and seeing it, the angel said, "That chariot is a signal for us to depart."

Then as we were going down the steps, our host gave us a cluster of white grapes with leaves from the vine still attached, and suddenly the leaves turned silver. And we took them away with us as a memento that we had spoken with people of the silver age.

77. The third account:

The next day my angel guide and companion came again and said, "Prepare yourself, and let us go to the inhabitants of heaven in the west, who are some of the people who lived in the third period or copper age. The places where they live stretch from the south across the west towards the north, but not extending into the north."

So, having prepared myself, I accompanied him, and entering their heaven from the south side, we found there a magnificent grove of palm trees and laurels. We passed through it, and then on its western border we saw giants twice the height of ordinary people.

They interrogated us. "Who let you in through the grove?"

The angel said, "The God of heaven."

And they replied, "We are guards to the ancient western heaven. But go ahead and pass."

[2] So we passed, and from a watch-tower we saw a mountain rising to the clouds, and between us in the tower and that mountain we saw villages after villages, with gardens, groves and fields in between. We then passed through the villages to the mountain and ascended. And lo, at its summit was not a peak but a plateau, and on it a city widely extended and spread out. All of its houses, moreover, were made out of wood from resinous trees, and their roofs out of wooden planks.

I asked, "Why are the houses here made of wood?"

The angel answered, "Because wood symbolizes natural goodness, and the people of the third age on the earth were in this state of goodness. And because copper also symbolizes natural goodness, therefore the age in which they lived was named after copper by people of earlier times.

"There are also sacred halls here, built out of boards of olive wood, and in the middle of them is a sanctuary, containing in an ark the Word given to the inhabitants of Asia before the Word which the Israelites had. Its narrative books are called the Wars of Jehovah, and the prophetical books, Oracles, both referred to by Moses (Numbers 21:14,15,27-30).

"In the kingdoms of Asia it has now been lost, and it is preserved only in Great Tartary."

The angel then led me to one of the buildings, and looking in, we saw in the middle of it the sanctuary, all bathed in a brilliant white light. And the angel said: "The light comes from that ancient Asiatic Word, for all Divine truth shines with light in heaven."

[3] As we were going out of the building, we heard it had been reported in the city that two strangers were about, and that they were to be investigated to find out where they came from and what their business was here. Moreover, an attendant came running from the court and ordered us to appear for a hearing.

When we were then asked where we came from and what our business was here, we replied, "We passed through a grove of palm trees and then through the abodes of giants, the ones who guard your heaven, and afterwards through a stretch of villages. You may conclude from this that we have come here, not of ourselves, but thanks to the God of heaven. As for our business, the reason for our coming, it is to be instructed regarding your marriages, to find out whether they are monogamous or perhaps polygamous."

They replied, "What are polygamous marriages? Are they not forms of licentiousness?"

[4] Then the panel of magistrates there selected someone intelligent to instruct us in his own home about this matter. And when we arrived at his house, he called his wife to his side and said the following:

"The earliest or most ancient people were in a state of truly conjugial love, and they therefore experienced the strength and power of that love, more than any other peoples in the world. They are now in a most blissful state in their heaven, which is in the east. We have precepts from them regarding marriage which we have preserved among us. We are their descendants, and they have handed down rules of life to us, like fathers to sons, and the rules which have to do with marriage include this maxim:

Children, if you wish to love God and the neighbor, and if you wish to be wise and be happy to eternity, we advise you to live monogamously. If you depart from this precept, all heavenly love will escape you, and with it inward wisdom, and you will become outcasts.

"We have obeyed, like children, this precept of our fathers, and we have perceived the truth in it. The truth we perceived is that a person becomes heavenly and internal to the extent that he loves his married partner only, and that a person becomes natural and external to the extent that he does not love his married partner only. In the latter case, he loves no one but himself and the imaginations of his own mind, and he is foolish and stupid.

[5] "This is why all of us in our heaven are monogamous. And because we are, therefore all the boundaries of our heaven are guarded to keep out polygamists, adulterers and licentious people. If polygamists get in, they are cast out into the darkness of the north. If adulterers get in, they are cast out into the fires of the west. And if licentious people get in, they are cast out into the illusory lights of the south."

Hearing this I asked what he meant by the darkness of the north, the fires of the west, and the illusory lights of the south.

He answered that the darkness of the north was dullness of mind and ignorance of truths; that the fires of the west were loves of evil; and that the illusory lights of the south were falsifications of truth. "These last," he said, "are forms of spiritual licentiousness."

[6] After this he said, "Follow me to our treasure house."

So we followed, and he showed us some written documents of very ancient peoples, telling us that they wrote on wooden and stone tablets and afterwards on polished sheets of wood assembled into books, and that people of the second age wrote their records on parchments of animal skin. Then he brought out a parchment containing maxims of the earliest peoples transcribed from their stone tablets, including also the precept regarding marriage.

[7] When we had seen these records and others from very early antiquity, the angel said, "It is now time for us to go."

Then our host went out into the garden and took some sprigs from a tree, and, tying them into a bundle, he presented them, saying, "These sprigs come from a tree native or peculiar to our heaven, whose sap has the fragrance of balsam."

We took away this bundle of sprigs with us and descended by a way, over to the east, which was not guarded. And behold, the sprigs turned into shiny bronze and their very tips into gold, as a memento that we had been among a people of the third age, which is named after copper or bronze.

78. The fourth account:

Two days later the angel spoke with me again, saying, "Let us complete the course of the ages. The last age remains, which is named after iron. The people of this age live in the north, on the western side, extending inward or in a latitudinal direction towards the interior. They all come from early inhabitants of Asia who had the Ancient Word and who worshiped according to it. Consequently they lived before the advent of our Lord into the world. This is apparent from the writings of ancient authors in which those times are given these names. The same ages are meant by the statue seen by Nebuchadnezzar, whose head was of gold, its breast and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, and its feet of iron and also clay (Daniel 2:32,33)."

[2] The angel told me this on the way, which was shortened and speeded along by the changes of state produced in our minds according to the character of the inhabitants through whom we passed. For intervals of space, and therefore distances, in the spiritual world are appearances in accordance with states of mind.

When we lifted our eyes, behold, we were in a forest consisting of beech trees, horse chestnuts and oaks. And when we looked around, we caught sight of bears there to the left and leopards to the right.

When I wondered at this, the angel said, "They are not really bears or leopards, but people who guard these inhabitants of the north. With their noses they sniff the atmospheres of life emanating from passers-by, and rush upon all who are spiritual, because the inhabitants are natural. People who only read the Word and take nothing of doctrine from it, at a distance look like bears. And people who confirm falsities from it look like leopards."

But having seen us, they turned away and we passed on.

[3] After the forest we saw scrubland, and then grassy plains divided into fields and surrounded by boxwood. After this the ground sloped downward to a valley, in which there were cities, one after another. We passed by several of them and entered into one great one. Its streets were irregular. So, too, were its houses. These were built out of bricks, with timbers in between, and plastered.

In the squares we found chapels made of cut limestone, with the lower part of the buildings below ground level, and the upper part above. We went down three steps into one of these, and around on the walls we saw idols in various forms, and a lot of people on their knees worshiping them. In the middle of them was a choir, out of which the tutelary god of the city projected so that his head could be seen.

As we were leaving, the angel said to me that among the ancient peoples who lived in the silver age (spoken of above), these idols were images representative of spiritual truths and moral virtues. And that when a knowledge of correspondences faded from memory and became extinct, these images became first objects of worship and afterwards were adored as deities. This was the origin of idolatries.

[4] When we were outside the chapel, we observed the people and their dress. They had steel-like faces, gray-colored, and they were dressed like clowns, with skirts around their hips and thighs hanging down from a shirt tied at the chest. And on their heads they had the cocked hats of sailors.

"But enough of this," the angel said. "We are here to be instructed about the marriages of the people of this age."

So we entered into the house of an important person, who had on his head a turreted headdress. He received us kindly and said, "Come in, and let us have a conversation together."

We went into the entrance hall and sat down there. Then I asked him about the marriages in this city and general area.

He said, "We do not live with one wife, but some people have two or three wives, and some more. That is because the variety, submissiveness, and honor entertain us, as though we were kings. These are the things we have from our wives when there is more than one. With only one wife we would not have the pleasure of variety but boredom resulting from sameness. We would not have the deference of submission but the irritation of equality. Nor would we have the bliss of ruling with its accompanying honor, but the annoyance of struggling for superiority.

"After all, what is a woman? Is she not born subject to a man's will, and born to serve and not to rule? For this reason every man here in his own house is like a royal majesty. Because this is what we like, it is also the blessing of our life."

[5] But I asked, "Where, then, is conjugial love, which forms two souls into one? And joins minds together and blesses a person? This love cannot be a divided love. If it is, it becomes a passion which evaporates and passes away."

To this he replied, "I do not understand what you are saying. What else blesses a person but the rivalry of wives for the honor of being first with her husband?"

Saying this, the man went into his harem and opened its double doors. But a libidinous odor came out of it which stank like a cesspool. This was the result of polygamous love, which is matrimonial and at the same time licentious. I got up, therefore, and closed the doors.

[6] Afterwards I said, "How can you remain in this land, when none of you have truly conjugial love, and when you also worship idols?"

He replied, "With respect to marital love, we are so violently jealous of our wives that we do not allow anyone to enter our houses past the entrance halls. And where there is jealousy there is also love.

"As for the idols, we do not worship them, but we cannot think about the God of the universe except through images presented to our eyes. For we cannot raise our thoughts above the sense impressions of the body, nor can we raise our thoughts about God above the visible things we can see."

Then again I asked, "Do your idols not have various forms? How can they present a vision of one God?"

To this he replied, "It is a mystery to us. Something having to do with the worship of God lies hidden in every form."

So I said, "You are merely sensual, carnal people. You do not have any love for God, nor any love for a married partner that derives anything from spiritual love. And it is these loves that together shape a human being, and from being sensual make him heavenly."

[7] When I said this, I saw through the doorway what seemed to be a flash of lightning. And I asked, "What is this?"

He said, "Lightning like this is a signal to us that the ancient one of the east is coming, who teaches us about God - that He is one, alone the Almighty, who is the First and the Last. He also warns us not to worship the idols, but only to look on them as images representing virtues that emanate from the one God, which together form a worship of Him. This ancient one is our angel, whom we respect and listen to. He comes to us and raises us up whenever we fall into a hazy worship of God owing to some delusion regarding the images."

[8] Having heard this, we departed from the house and from the city, and on the way, from the things we had seen in heaven, we formed conclusions regarding the course and progress of conjugial love. With respect to its course, we observed that it had moved in a circle from the east to the south, from there to the west, and from there into the north. With respect to its progress, we saw that it had declined as it went - in other words, that it had been celestial in the east, spiritual in the south, natural in the west, and sensual in the north. We also noted as well that it had declined in the same measure that the love and worship of God declined.

Consequently we formed this conclusion, that conjugial love in the first age was like gold, in the second age like silver, in the third age like bronze, and in the fourth age like iron, and that at last it ceased to exist.

But afterwards my angel guide and companion said, "Nevertheless, I am sustained by the hope that the God of heaven, who is the Lord, will revive this love, because it is possible for it to be revived."

79. The fifth account:

The same angel as before, who had been my guide and companion to the ancient peoples who had lived in the four ages called golden, silver, copper and iron - the same angel appeared again and said to me, "You would like to see the age that followed those ancient ages, to find out what it was like, and what it is still like today. Follow me, then, and you will see. These are the people of whom Daniel prophesied when he said:

(A kingdom will arise after those other four, in which iron will be mixed with miry clay.) They will mingle together through the seed of man, but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay. (Daniel 2:41-43)"

The angel added, "The seed of man, through which iron will be mingled with clay, and yet without their adhering together - this seed means the truth of the Word falsified."

[2] After these words I followed him, and on the way he told me this. "They live," he said, "in the border region between the south and the west, but at a great distance beyond those who lived in the previous four ages, and also deeper down."

So we continued through the south to a region bordering on the west, and we passed through a dreadful forest. For we found pools of water there from which crocodiles raised their heads, gaping at us with jaws open wide and showing their teeth. And between the pools we saw horrible dogs, some of them with three heads like Cerberus, some of them with two heads, all of them with hideous mouths and watching us with savage eyes as we passed by. Entering the western part of this area, we also saw dragons and leopards, like the ones described in the book of Revelation, chapters 12:3 and 13:2.

[3] Then the angel said to me, "All these wild beasts you have seen are not beasts but correspondent and thus representative forms of the lusts that motivate the inhabitants we are going to visit. Those hideous dogs represent the lusts themselves; the crocodiles, their deceits and deceptions; the dragons and leopards, their falsities and corrupt feelings towards things that have to do with worship.

"The inhabitants thus represented, however, do not live just the other side of the forest, but beyond a great desert that lies between, to keep them completely away and separate from the inhabitants of the preceding ages. Moreover, they are altogether alien - totally different from those other people. Indeed, they have heads above their breasts, breasts above their loins, and loins above their feet, like the earliest people. But there is not a bit of gold in their heads, or of silver in their breasts, or of bronze in their loins. In fact, there is not a bit of just plain iron in their feet. Instead, they have iron mixed with clay in their heads, both of these mixed with bronze in their breasts, both of these also mixed with silver in their loins, and these mixed with gold in their feet.

"By this inversion they have been transformed from human beings into caricatures of human beings, in which nothing inwardly holds together. For what had been uppermost has become lowermost, so that what was the head has become the heel, and vice versa. Viewed from heaven, they look to us like play-actors who turn their bodies upside down, support themselves on their elbows and thus move about. Or they look like animals that lie upside down on their backs, raise their feet in the air, and, digging their heads into the ground, from that position look up at the sky."

[4] We passed through the forest and proceeded into the desert, which was no less horrible. It consisted of piles of rocks, with pits in between, out of which crept poisonous snakes and vipers and from which flew fiery serpents.

This whole desert kept sloping downward, and we descended by a long decline, until at last we came to a valley inhabited by the people of that region and age. We saw huts here and there, which finally appeared to come together and be joined into the form of a city.

We went into the city, and behold, the houses were constructed out of charred tree branches mortared together with clay. The roofs were made of black tiles. The streets were irregular, all narrow at first, but widening as they went, becoming finally quite broad and terminating in squares. Consequently there were as many squares as there were streets.

Darkness fell as we entered the city, because the sky was not visible. We looked up, therefore, and we were given light by which to see.

I then asked the people I encountered, "Can you see, since the sky does not appear above you?"

And they replied, "What sort of question is this? We see clearly. We walk in full light."

Hearing this the angel said to me, "Darkness to them is light, and light to them is darkness, as it is for nocturnal birds. For they look downwards instead of upwards."

[5] We went into some of the shacks here and there, and in each we saw a man with his woman. And we asked whether all of them here lived each in his own house with only one wife.

But they replied to this with a hiss, "What do you mean, with only one wife? Why not ask whether we live with only one harlot? What is a wife but a harlot?

"According to our laws we are not allowed to commit whoredom with more than just one woman, but still it is not dishonorable or shameful for us to do so with more than one, provided we do it away from the house. We boast about it with each other! In this way we enjoy license and its pleasure more than polygamists do.

"Why is having more than one wife denied to us, when it has been permitted in the past and is permitted today in the whole world around us? What is life with just one woman but captivity and imprisonment?

"But here we break open the bar of this prison and so rescue ourselves from slavery and set ourselves free. Who is angry with a prisoner if he liberates himself when he can?"

[6] To this we replied, "You speak, my friend, like one devoid of religion. What person endowed with any power of reason does not know that adulterous affairs are profane and hellish, and that marriages are sacred and heavenly? Are not adulterous relationships found among devils in hell, and marriages among angels in heaven? Have you not read the sixth commandment in the Decalogue? And in Paul, that adulterers can by no means come into heaven?"[7]

At this our host laughed heartily, and he looked on me as a simpleton - almost, even, as insane.

But at that very moment a messenger came running from the headman of the city and said, "Bring the two strangers to the city square, and if they will not come voluntarily, drag them there! We saw them under the dark cover of daylight. They have come here in secret. They are spies!"

The angel then said to me, "The reason we seemed to be under dark cover is that we were in the light of heaven, and the light of heaven to them is darkness, while the darkness of hell to them is light. This is because they regard nothing as sinful, not even adultery, and consequently they see falsity altogether as truth. Falsity shines with light in hell, in the eyes of satanic spirits, while truth darkens their eyes like the gloom of night."

[7] Then we said to the messenger, "We will not be forced, still less dragged to the city square, but we will go with you voluntarily."

So we went, and behold, we found a great crowd there. From it came some lawyers who whispered in our ear, "Take care that you do not say anything against religion, against our form of government, or contrary to good manners."

But we kept answering, "We will only speak in favor of them and in accordance with them."

Then we asked, "What is your religion in regard to marriage?"

At this the crowd began to murmur, and they said, "What concern do you have here with marriage? Marriages are marriages."

So we asked a second time, "What is your religion in regard to licentious relationships?"

At this the crowd began to murmur again, saying, "What concern do you have here with licentious relationships? Illicit affairs are illicit affairs. He who is without guilt, let him throw the first stone."[8]

So we asked a third time, "Does your religion teach regarding marriages that they are sacred and heavenly, and regarding adulterous affairs that they are profane and hellish?"

In response to this many in the crowd guffawed, mocked, and jeered, saying, "Ask our priests about matters of religion, not us. We accept without comment whatever they say, since nothing of religion falls within the ability of the understanding to judge. Have you not heard that the understanding is devoid of reason in the mysteries on which the whole of religion is based?

"Besides, what do our actions have to do with religion? Is it not the pious murmurings of the heart that makes souls blessed - murmurings about expiation, satisfaction and imputation - and not works?"

[8] But then some of the so-called wise men of the city came over and said, "Get away from here. The crowd is becoming inflamed. There will be a riot in a minute. Let us talk about this by ourselves. There is an alley behind the courthouse. Let us go back there. Come with us."

So we followed. And then they asked us where we came from and what our business was there.

We said, "We have come to be instructed about marriage, to find out whether or not marriages among you are sacred unions as they were among the ancient peoples who lived in the golden, silver and copper ages."

But they replied, "What do you mean, sacred unions? Are they not deeds of the flesh and the night?"

Then we began to answer, "Are they not also deeds of the spirit? And what the flesh does impelled by the spirit, is that not spiritual? Moreover, everything that the spirit does, it does from a marriage of goodness and truth. Is it not this spiritual marriage which enters into the natural marriage that exists between husband and wife?"

To this the so-called wise men replied, "You probe and refine the matter too much. You leap over rational considerations to spiritual ones. Who can begin there, then descend and thus form a judgment about anything?" To which they added sarcastically, "Perhaps you have the wings of an eagle and can soar to the uppermost regions of the sky and look down on such matters. But we cannot."

[9] So we then asked them to tell us, from the height or region to which the ideas of their minds flew aloft, whether they knew or were able to know that such a thing exists as the conjugial love of one man with one wife, into which have been gathered all the blessings, felicities, delights, gratifications and pleasures of heaven. Moreover, that this love comes from the Lord according to people's reception of goodness and truth from Him, thus according to the state of the church.

[10] Hearing this they turned away and said, "These men are crazy. They go into outer space with their rational faculties, form empty conjectures and shower us with nutty speculations."

Afterwards they turned around to us and said, "We will give a straight answer to your airy conjectures and dreams."

Then they said, "What does conjugial love have in common with religion and with being inspired by God?

"Does that love not exist in everyone according to the condition of his sexual powers? Is it not found among people who are outside the church as well as among people who are in the church? Among gentiles as well as among Christians? In fact, among impious people as well as among pious ones?

"Does the vigor of that love in everyone not come either from heredity, or from good health, or from temperance of life, or from the warmth of the climate? And can it not also be strengthened and stimulated by drugs?

"Is the same love not found in animals, especially in birds which mate in pairs? Is that love not a matter of the flesh? What does a matter of the flesh have to do with the spiritual state of the church?

"Does that love with a wife in its ultimate expression differ one bit from love with a harlot in its ultimate expression? Is the lust not the same, and the delight the same?

"It is harmful, therefore, to trace the origin of conjugial love from the sacred things of the church."

[11] When we heard this we said to them, "You are reasoning from the heat of lasciviousness and not from conjugial love. You do not know at all what conjugial love is because among you that love is cold. We are convinced by what you have said that you come from the age that is named after and consists of iron and clay, which do not cohere, according to the prophecy in Daniel 2:43. For you make conjugial love and licentious love the same thing. Can these two cohere any more than iron and clay? People believe you are wise and call you wise, yet you are anything but wise!"

Inflamed with anger at these words, they began to cry out and call the crowd to throw us out. But then, by a power given us by the Lord, we stretched out our hands, and suddenly fiery serpents, vipers and poisonous snakes came from the desert, and dragons, too, and they invaded and filled the city, so that the inhabitants became frightened and fled away.

And the angel said to me, "New people keep coming from earth to this region every day, and the previous inhabitants are by turns removed and cast down into chasms in the west, which at a distance look like lakes of fire and brimstone. The people there are all adulterers, both spiritually and naturally."

80. The sixth account:

When the angel said this, I looked over at the western horizon, and behold, I saw what appeared to be lakes of fire and brimstone. So I asked the angel why the hells there had this appearance.

He replied, "They appear as lakes on account of the falsifications of truth there, because water spiritually interpreted is truth. What looks like fire appears around them and in them as a result of their love of evil; and what looks like brimstone, because of their love of falsity. These three appearances - lake, fire and brimstone - so appear because they correspond to the evil loves which motivate the people.

"The people there are all shut up in eternal workhouses, and they labor in exchange for food, clothing and a bed. And whenever they do evil, they are severely and miserably punished."

[2] Again I asked the angel, "Why did you say that the people there are adulterers both spiritually and naturally? Why not say that they are evildoers and irreligious?"

"Because," he replied, "all people who regard adulterous affairs as nothing, that is, who believe they are not sins and who commit them deliberately and so purposefully, at heart are evildoers and irreligious. For the human inclination towards marriage goes hand in hand with religion at every step. Every little step and every stride away from religion or towards religion is also a step or stride away from or towards the conjugial inclination that is peculiar and proper to a Christian person."

At my asking what that conjugial inclination was, he said, "It is a wish to live with only one wife, and a Christian person has this wish to the extent that he has religion."

[3] I afterwards grieved in spirit that marriage - which in ancient times was so sacred - had so wantonly been transformed into adulterous relationships.

And the angel said, "It is the same with religion today. For the Lord says that at the end of the age there will be the abomination of desolation foretold by Daniel,[9] and that 'there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world' (Matthew 24:15,21).

"The abomination of desolation symbolizes the falsification and loss of all truth. Tribulation symbolizes the state of the church infested by evils and falsities. And the end of the age, of which these things are said, symbolizes the final period or end of the church.

"The end has now come, because no truth remains that has not been falsified, and falsification of truth is spiritual licentiousness, which allies itself with natural licentiousness, because they go together."

81. While we were talking in sorrow about these things, suddenly a burst of light shone about us, dazzling my eyes. I looked up, therefore, and behold, the whole sky above us appeared lit up, and we heard a glorification echoing across it in long succession from the east to the west.

Then the angel said to me, "The glorification you hear is a glorification of the Lord on account of His Advent, and it is coming from angels of the eastern and western heavens." (From the southern and northern heavens we heard only a polite murmur.)

Moreover, since he understood it all, the angel told me, first, that glorifications and celebrations of the Lord are taken from the Word, because then they come from the Lord, inasmuch as the Lord is the Word, in the sense that He is the essential Divine truth in the Word.

Then the angel said, "Specifically now, they are glorifying and celebrating the Lord with these words which were spoken by the prophet Daniel:

You saw iron mixed with miry clay; they will mingle together through the seed of man, but they will not cohere.... But (in those days) the God of heaven will make to rise a kingdom which for ages shall not perish...; it shall crush and consume all these kingdoms, while it shall stand for ages. (Daniel 2:43,44)"

[2] After this I heard what seemed to be the sound of singing, and deeper in the east I saw a burst of light more brilliant than the first. And I asked the angel what they were glorifying there.

The angel said that they were glorifying the Lord with these words in Daniel:

I was seeing in the visions of night, and behold, with the clouds of heaven, was One like the Son of man.... And to Him was given dominion...and a kingdom, and all peoples and nations...shall worship Him. His dominion is the dominion of an age, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom one which shall not perish. (Daniel 7:13,14)

In addition, the angel said, they are celebrating the Lord with these phrases taken from the book of Revelation:

To (Jesus Christ) be glory and might.... Behold, He is coming with clouds.... (He is) the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last..., who is, who was, and who is to come, the Almighty. I, John...heard...(this from the Son of Man from out of) the midst of the seven lampstands.... (Revelation 1:5-7; 22:13; 1:8-13; taken also from Matthew 24:30,31)

[3] I looked again into the eastern sky, and a light shone over to the right, whose glow extended into the southern hemisphere. Hearing as well a sweet sound, I asked the angel what aspect of the Lord they were glorifying there.

The angel said they were quoting these words in the book of Revelation:

I saw a new heaven and a new earth.... And I...saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride...for her husband.... And (an angel) talked with me and said, "Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb's wife." And he carried me away in the spirit on to a great and high mountain, and showed me the...city, the holy Jerusalem.... (Revelation 21:1,2,9,10)

Also these words:

I, Jesus...am...the Bright and Morning Star. And the Spirit and the bride shall say, "Come!".... (And He said,) "I also am coming quickly." Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! (Revelation 22:16,17,20)

[4] After these and other things, we heard a general glorification echoing across the sky from the east to the west and also from the south to the north, and I asked the angel, "What is happening now?"

He said they were quoting these verses from the Prophets:

Let all flesh know that I, Jehovah, am your Savior and your Redeemer.... (Isaiah 49:26)

Thus said Jehovah, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, Jehovah of Hosts: "I am the First and the Last, and beside Me there is no God." (Isaiah 44:6)

It will be said in that day: "Behold, this is our God, whom we have waited for to free us. This is Jehovah, whom we have waited for." (Isaiah 25:9)

The voice of one crying in the wilderness, "Prepare the way of Jehovah...." ...Behold, the Lord Jehovih comes in strength.... He will feed His flock like a shepherd. (Isaiah 40:3,10,11)

Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given..., whose name shall be...Wonderful, Counselor, God, Hero, Father of Eternity, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

Behold, the days will come..., and I will raise to David a righteous Branch, who shall reign, a King.... And this is His name...: JEHOVAH OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. (Jeremiah 23:5,6; 33:15,16)

Jehovah of Hosts is His name, and your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. He shall be called God of the whole earth. (Isaiah 54:5)

In that day...Jehovah shall become King over all the earth. In that day there will be one Jehovah and His name will be one. (Zechariah 14:8,9)

[5] When I heard these things and understood their meaning, as a result my heart leapt, and I went home filled with joy. And there, returning from the state of my spirit into a bodily state, I wrote down what I had seen and heard. To which I now add this, that following His Advent the Lord will revive conjugial love, such as it was among ancient peoples. For conjugial love comes only from the Lord, and it is found in people who are made spiritual by Him through His Word.

82. After this a man came rushing from the northern zone in a rage, and looking at me with a threatening expression and speaking in a heated tone, he said, "You are the one who is trying to lead the world astray by establishing a New Church, which you take to be meant by the New Jerusalem that will come down out of heaven from God, and by teaching that people who embrace the doctrines of this church will be blessed by the Lord with truly conjugial love, whose delights and happiness you exalt to the sky! Is that not something you just made up? Are you not just saying it as a snare and inducement to get people to go along with your new ideas?

"Tell me in short, however, what these New Church doctrines are, and I will see whether they hang together or not."

So I replied, "The doctrines of the church that is meant by the New Jerusalem are as follows:

"1. There is one God, in whom is the Divine Trinity, and that God is the Lord Jesus Christ.

"2. Saving faith is to believe in Him.

"3. Evils must be abstained from because they are of the devil and from the devil.

"4. Good deeds must be done because they are of God and from God.

"5. These good deeds must be done by a person as though he were doing them from himself, but he must believe that they are from the Lord in him and by means of him."

[2] When he heard this, the man's rage subsided for several minutes. But after some consideration, he again looked at me with a fierce expression, saying, "These five precepts - are they doctrines of the faith and charity of the New Church?"

And I answered, "Yes."

Then he asked me gruffly, "How are you able to demonstrate the first one, that there is one God, in whom is the Divine Trinity, and that He is the Lord Jesus Christ?"

"I demonstrate it," I said, "in this way. Is God not one and indivisible? Is there not a Trinity? If God is one and indivisible, is He not one person? If He is one person, is the Trinity not in that person?

"That He is the Lord Jesus Christ I demonstrate by the following points: Jesus Christ was conceived by God the Father (Luke 1:34,35), so that in regard to His soul He was God. And therefore, as He Himself says, the Father and He are one (John 10:30). He is in the Father and the Father in Him (John 14:10,11). He who sees Him and knows Him, sees and knows the Father (John 14:7,9). No one sees and knows the Father but He who is in the bosom of the Father (John 1:18). All things belonging to the Father are His (John 3:35, 16:15). He is the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6), thus by Him, because the Father is in Him. And, according to Paul, all the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Him bodily (Colossians 2:9). And furthermore, He has authority over all flesh (John 17:2), and He has all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18).

"From all this it follows that He is God of heaven and earth."

[3] The man then asked how I demonstrate the second precept, that saving faith is to believe in Him.

"I demonstrate it," I said, "by these words of the Lord:

This is the will of the Father..., that everyone who...believes in (the Son) may have everlasting life. (John 6:39,40)

God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that everyone who believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16,15)

He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; but he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. (John 3:36)"

[4] After that he said, "Demonstrate as well the third precept, and the ones that follow."

Then I replied, "What need is there to establish that evils must be abstained from because they are of the devil and from the devil, that good deeds must be done because they are of God and from God, and that these good deeds must be done by a person as though he were doing them from himself, but that he must believe they are from the Lord in him and by means of him? The Holy Scripture from beginning to end attests throughout that these three precepts are true. What else does it teach in sum but to abstain from evils and do good deeds, and to believe in the Lord God?

"And besides, there is not any religion without these three precepts. Religion has to do with a way of life, does it not? And what is that life but to abstain from evils and do good deeds. How can a person do these things and believe in them unless he does so as though he were doing them from himself?

"If you dismiss these precepts from the church, therefore, you dismiss the Holy Scripture from the church, and you also dismiss religion. And if you dismiss these, the church is not a church."

On hearing these things, the man withdrew and considered them. But still he went away in annoyance.


1 See nos. 234ff.

2 See "The Marriage of the Lord and the Church and Correspondence to It," nos. 116ff.

3 See nos. 27ff.

4 See, for example, nos. 155[r], 183, 208, 293, 294.

5 See nos. 83ff.

6 See nos. 116ff.

7 See 1 Corinthians 6:9.

8 Cf. John 8:7.

9 See Daniel 9:27, 11:31, 12:11.

Back to Marriages in Heaven page


Swedenborg Biography
Heavenly Doctrines
The revelation process
Who is God?
The Word of God
Bible & the Writings
Time and Eternity
History of Religion
On Being Useful
Providence and  Evil
Getting Rid of Evil
The Death Process
Life after Death
Life on Other Planets
The Second Coming
Spiritual Marriage
Art & Literature


• Back • Home • Up • Next •

Truly Conjugial Love

Webmaster: IJT@swedenborgstudy.com