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The Employments of the Angels of Heaven

by Emanuel Swedenborg

387. It is impossible to enumerate the employments in the heavens, still less to describe them in detail, but something may be said about them in a general way; for they are numberless, and vary in accordance with the functions of the societies. Each society has its peculiar function, for as societies are distinct in accordance with goods (see above, n. 41), so they are distinct in accordance with uses, because with all in the heavens goods are goods in act, which are uses. Everyone there performs a use, for the Lord's kingdom is a kingdom of uses.[1]

388. In the heavens as on the earth there are many forms of service, for there are ecclesiastical affairs, there are civil affairs, and there are domestic affairs. That there are ecclesiastical affairs is evident from what has been said and shown above, where Divine worship is treated of (n. 221-227); civil affairs, where governments in heaven are treated of (n. 213-220); and domestic affairs, where the dwellings and homes of angels are treated of (n. 183-190); and marriages in heaven (n. 366-368); all of which show that in every heavenly society there are many employments and services.

389. All things in the heavens are organized in accordance with Divine order, which is everywhere guarded by the services performed by angels, those things that pertain to the general good or use by the wiser angels, those that pertain to particular uses by the less wise, and so on. They are subordinated just as uses are subordinated in the Divine order; and for this reason a dignity is connected with every function according to the dignity of the use. Nevertheless, an angel does not claim dignity to himself, but ascribes all dignity to the use; and as the use is the good that he accomplishes, and all good is from the Lord, so he ascribes all dignity to the Lord. Therefore he that thinks of honor for himself and subsequently for the use, and not for the use and subsequently for himself, can perform no function in heaven, because this is looking away backwards from the Lord, and putting self in the first place and use in the second. When use is spoken of the Lord also is meant, because, as has just been said, use is good, and good is from the Lord.

390. From this it may be inferred what subordinations in the heavens are, namely, that as any one loves, esteems, and honors the use he also loves, esteems, and honors the person with whom the use is connected; also that the person is loved, esteemed and honored in the measure in which he ascribes the use to the Lord and not to himself; for to that extent he is wise, and the uses he performs he performs from good. Spiritual love, esteem, and honor are nothing else than the love, esteem, and honor of the use in the person, together with the honor to the person because of the use, and not honor to the use because of the person. This is the way, moreover, in which men are regarded when they are regarded from spiritual truth, for one man is then seen to be like another, whether he be in great or in little dignity, the only perceptible difference being a difference in wisdom; and wisdom is loving use, that is, loving the good of a fellow citizen, of society, of one's country, and of the church. It is this that constitutes love to the Lord, because every good that is a good of use is from the Lord; and it constitutes also love towards the neighbor, because the neighbor means the good that is to be loved in a fellow citizen, in society, in one's country, and in the church, and that is to be done in their behalf.[2]

391. As all the societies in the heavens are distinct in accordance with their goods (as said above, n. 41, seq.) so they are distinct in accordance with their uses, goods being goods in act, that is, goods of charity which are uses. Some societies are employed in taking care of little children; others in teaching and training them as they grow up; others in teaching and training in like manner the boys and girls that have acquired a good disposition from their education in the world, and in consequence have come into heaven. There are other societies that teach the simple good from the Christian world, and lead them into the way to heaven; there are others that in like manner teach and lead the various heathen nations. There are some societies that defend from infestations by evil spirits the newly arrived spirits that have just come from the world; there are some that attend upon the spirits that are in the lower earth; also some that attend upon spirits that are in the hells, and restrain them from tormenting each other beyond prescribed limits; and there are some that attend upon those who are being raised from the dead. In general, angels from each society are sent to men to watch over them and to lead them away from evil affections and consequent thoughts, and to inspire them with good affections so far as they will receive them in freedom; and by means of these they also direct the deeds or works of men by removing as far as possible evil intentions. When angels are with men they dwell as it were in their affections; and they are near to man just in the degree in which he is in good from truths, and are distant from him just in the degree in which his life is distant from good.[3] But all these employments of angels are employments of the Lord through the angels, for the angels perform them from the Lord and not from themselves. For this reason, in the Word in its internal sense "angels" mean, not angels, but something belonging to the Lord; and for the same reason angels are called "gods" in the Word.[4]

392. These employments of the angels are their general employments; but each one has his particular charge; for every general use is composed of innumerable uses which are called mediate, ministering, and subservient uses, all and each coordinated and subordinated in accordance with Divine order, and taken together constituting and perfecting the general use, which is the general good.

393. Those are concerned with ecclesiastical affairs in heaven who in the world loved the Word and eagerly sought in it for truths, not with honor or gain as an end, but uses of life both for themselves and for others. These in heaven are in enlightenment and in the light of wisdom in the measure of their love and desire for use; and this light of wisdom they receive from the Word in heaven, which is not a natural Word, as it is in the world, but a spiritual Word (see above, n. 259.) These minister in the preaching office; and in accordance with Divine order those are in higher positions who from enlightenment excel others in wisdom. [2] Those are concerned with civil affairs who in the world loved their country, and loved its general good more than their own, and did what is just and right from a love for what is just and right. So far as these from the eagerness of love have investigated the laws of justice and have thereby become intelligent, they have the ability to perform such functions in heaven, and they perform these in that position or degree that accords with their intelligence, their intelligence being in equal degree with their love of use for the general good. [3] Furthermore, there are in heaven more functions and services and occupations than can be enumerated; while in the world there are few in comparison. But however many there may be that are so employed, they are all in the delight of their work and labor from a love of use, and no one from a love of self or of gain; and as all the necessaries of life are furnished them gratuitously they have no love of gain for the sake of a living. They are housed gratuitously, clothed gratuitously, and fed gratuitously. Evidently, then, those that have loved themselves and the world more than use have no lot in heaven; for his love or affection remains with everyone after his life in the world, and is not extirpated to eternity (see above, n. 563).

394. In heaven everyone comes into his own occupation in accordance with correspondence, and the correspondence is not with the occupation but with the use of each occupation (see above, n. 112); for there is a correspondence of all things (see n. 106). He that in heaven comes into the employment or occupation corresponding to his use is in much the same condition of life as when he was in the world; since what is spiritual and what is natural make one by correspondences; yet there is this difference, that he then comes into an interior delight, because into spiritual life, which is an interior life, and therefore more receptive of heavenly blessedness.

Footnotes

1. The Lord's kingdom is a kingdom of uses (n. 454, 696, 1103, 3645, 4054, 7038).

Performing uses is serving the Lord (n. 7038).

In the other life all must perform uses (n. 1103); even the wicked and infernal, but in what manner (n. 696).

All are such as are the uses they perform (n. 4054, 6815); illustrated (n. 7038).

Angelic blessedness consists in the goods of charity, that is, in performing uses (n. 454).

2. Loving the neighbor is not loving the person, but loving that which is in him and which constitutes him (n. 5025, 10336).
Those who love the person, and not that which is in him, and which constitutes him, love equally an evil man and a good man (n. 3820); and do good alike to the evil and to the good; and yet to do good to the evil is to do evil to the good and that is not loving the neighbor (n. 3820, 6703, 8120).
The judge who punishes the evil that they may be reformed, and may not contaminate or injure the good, loves his neighbor (n. 3820, 8120, 8121).
Every individual and every community also one's country and the church, and in the most general sense the kingdom of the Lord, are the neighbor, and to do good to these from a love of good in accord with the quality of their state, is loving the neighbor; that is, the neighbor is their good, which is to be consulted (n. 6818-6824, 8123).

3. Of the angels that are with little children and afterwards with boys, and thus in succession (n. 2303).
Man is raised from the dead by means of angels; from experiences (n. 168-189).
Angels are sent to those who are in hell to prevent their tormenting each other beyond measure (n. 967).
Of the services rendered by the angels to men on their coming into the other life (n. 2131).
There are spirits and angels with all men and man is led by the Lord by means of spirits and angels (n. 50, 697, 2796, 2887, 2888, 5846-5866, 5976-5993, 6209).
Angels have dominion over evil spirits (n. 1755).

4.  In the Word by angels something Divine from the Lord is signified (n. 1925, 2821, 3039, 4085, 6280, 8192).
In the Word angels are called "gods," because of their reception of Divine truth and good from the Lord (n. 4295, 4402, 8192, 8301).

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Angels' Employments

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