Swedenborg Study.com

Online works based on the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg


Previous: A. The Human Instrument for opening the Truths to be revealed at the Lord's Second Advent, should be enabled to remove the prevailing Darkness on these subjects. Up: VI. Heaven And Hell; And The Appearances In Them, And In The Intermediate Region, Or World Of Spirits. Next: C. All Swedenborg's Statements respecting the Spiritual World are perfectly Reasonable and Scriptural, when certain Truths, relating to that World are known.

Noble's 'Appeal': VI. Heaven And Hell; And The Appearances In Them, And In The Intermediate Region, Or World Of Spirits.:

B. The Inhabitants of Heaven and of Hell are all from the Human Race.

nothing can be of greater importance, in order to our forming just conceptions respecting the eternal world, than to be acquainted with the nature and origin of its inhabitants. On this subject, very wild imaginations have existed; and persons of fertile invention, in all nations, have deemed themselves at liberty to people the invisible worlds ad libitum. Various families of spiritual beings have been dreamed of, from angels and genii only inferior to deities in not being self-existent, to fairies and brownies, the familiar visitants of the rustic's haunts; all of different race from the human. Christian theology, indeed, has rejected many of these tribes, as the mere offspring of heathen superstition; but Christian theology, as generally received, has exempted one class of such beings from the general proscription, and has authorised the belief of a race of celestials, originally created such; including a race of infernals, originally created angels of light, but changed, by rebellion and forfeiture, into angels of darkness.

Swedenborg, having been admitted to the privilege of intimate communication with the inhabitants of the spiritual world, has done more towards rationalising our notions respecting them than any other writer that ever existed. Being commissioned to make known the truths respecting the eternal world necessary to remove the darkness at present existing on that subject, and to impart such knowledge respecting it as the present state of the human mind requires, and which, therefore, it was fitting should be revealed at the Lord's second advent; he has been enabled conclusively to show, that the prejudice in favour of the existence of angels, originally created such, has no more title to indulgence, than the superstitions about genii and fairies; and that there does not exist in all the heavens a single angel, nor in all hell a single infernal, nor in any region of creation a single spiritual being (the Divine Being alone excepted) who did not first come into existence as a man, upon this or some other of the earths in the universe.

This discovery is one, which ought equally to recommend itself to acceptance by its sublimity and its simplicity. But the common systems of doctrine, if they might be supported without the belief of good angels originally created such, cannot stand a moment without the notion of a mighty personal Devil, of power to act as the antagonist of the Almighty. Accordingly, the assailants of the heavenly doctrines of the New Church, have zealously laboured to overturn our views on the origin of angels and devils. This being a general subject, a just conception of which will tend to throw light upon many more particulars relating to Heaven and Hell, shall be considered, therefore, before we proceed further.

The opponent whom, in this work, I have taken as my chief guide as to the subjects to be considered and the objections to be answered, here evidently expects to have the prejudices of his readers on his side; as will doubtless be the case with those who adopt as their Bible, on this subject, Milton's Paradise Lost: in which work is supplied that information respecting the pre-existence and fall of angels, which the Scriptures have withheld. Eager to anticipate a triumph, he indulges in a modest and elegant philippic against the enlightened Author who has exposed the error. "This extraordinary man (says he) is not content with changing times and seasons in this world, but he will needs revolutionise (at least reform) the two invisible worlds: He first rectifies the person of the Divine Being—then he new models the atonement—then again he makes a new thing of the mediatorship —after which he proceeds to abolish the resurrection—onward he goes to the day of judgment, and having snugly set that aside, he proceeds, Jehu like, to shove all the angels in heaven, as well as all the devils in hell, out of existence!"*

* Anti-Swedenborg, p. 63.

They who have recourse to ridicule ought first to consider whether it can be retorted. Now, what ampler field could be found for its exercise, than in the common notions of pre-existing (I use that term in reference to the creation of man), warring, and falling angels ? I will not however resort to it. I will merely state the circumstance? as commonly described, and leave the reader to judge whether the holders of such sentiments are entitled to ridicule those who reject them.

The Creator, it is conceived, having produced an immense but definite number of angels, remained satisfied in the midst of his work, till the most exalted of them became his rival:

"And durst defy the Omnipotent to arms;"

whereupon (astonishing to relate!) a third part of the angelic host,— beings of the highest communicable goodness and intelligence,— ranged themselves under the banners of the apostate, and waged battle with their Maker. This was the occasion of the creation of the world: for after the ejection of the rebel angels, the Victor determined to produce another race of beings to supply their place in his affections. The case is thus stated, according to Milton, by the vanquished chief; who merely delivers the popular belief, adding nothing of his own but a very natural reflection:

"HE, to be avenged, And to repair his numbers thus impaired, Whether such virtue spent of old now failed More angels to create (if they at least Are his created), or to spite us more, Determined to advance into our room A creature formed of earth, and him endow With heavenly spoils (our spoils):—*

Now, can anything be more puerile than the whole of this story? Does the mythology of the heathens contain a tale more extravagant? Are common theologians to be at liberty to people a third part of heaven, and a much greater proportion of hell, with men, and is Swedenborg to be described as, "shoving all the angels in heaven and all the devils in hell out of existence," because he affirms they all, originally, were either good or wicked men ? If to deprive of existence a multitude of imaginary beings to supply their places with real ones, be a sin against orthodoxy; is not to thrust into hell a third part of those who were once safe in heaven, and to supply their place with beings of a totally different nature and origin, a sin against consistency, reason, and credibility ?

* Take the following as an appropriate comment upon the above text. I am assured that the opponent with whom I here have to deal, has sometimes, in his sermons, undertaken to inform his hearers, how the saints are endowed with the "spoils" of the fallen angels. When the latter, he avers, were cast out of heaven, they left their thrones vacant behind them, with their crowns hung above them on pegs: every saint who dies enters on possession of one of the vacant thrones, and, taking the crown over it from its peg, places it on his head: and the occupying of the last throne and unloading of the last peg, will be the signal for the sounding of the last trumpet and the end of the world.

The common notions respecting angels and devils are then, we find, sufficiently open to ridicule: Is it equally ridiculous to affirm, that angels and men are of the same family, and that heaven and hell are from the human race ?

What is man ? The Scriptures assure us, that he is a being created in the image and likeness of God. This is the proper and intrinsic nature of man, however he may have departed from it: and is it possible to employ any other language that will accurately define the intrinsic nature of an angel? Is an angel more than an image and likeness of God ? This would be saying that angels absolutely are Gods. An image and likeness of God is a being who receives life, love, and wisdom, of a genuine and heavenly nature, from God: and is not this the definition both of a man and of an angel ? To possess life, love, and wisdom, in himself, is the prerogative of God alone: to possess life derivatively, accompanied with a species of love of a merely natural kind, and with instincts supplying the place of wisdom, without a capacity to recede from or alter them, belongs to the brut creation alone: and to possess life derivatively, accompanied with a power of rising from natural love to spiritual, and attaining to the enjoyment of a love and wisdom truly human, imaging the divine love and wisdom from which they are derived, belongs to the only other conceivable order of animated creatures,—the only species of being that can exist between the all-perfect, the infinitely wise and good God, and the irrational animal. Such a being is man: and such a man, when he has passed from this natural into the spiritual sphere of existence, is an angel. Did the order which the Divine Being has laid down for the conduct of his own operations admit of the production of angels in a more immediate manner, who can suppose that men would ever have been created ? Why were we not all created as angels at once, without being exposed to the dangers attendant on our coming into existence in this world of nature, could the same end have been attained without it ? If some were called into being at the end of the goal, and created angels immediately, why are we, who, all allow, are eventually to be not at all inferior to angels, placed at such a distance from it here ? Why, but because there is no other entrance to the angelic state, and in order that we may be angels, it is necessary that we should be men ? Infinite Wisdom and Divine Omnipotence never act, we may be assured, but in conformity to the most perfect order: and how satisfactory is the view which teaches, what indeed experience demonstrates, that order requires that there should be distinct degrees of life and existence, intimately connected together and all dependent on each other; that the interior degrees, in order to their permanence, should have an exterior and ultimate one as a basis on which, as it were, they might rest; that in the masterpiece pf creation, all the degrees of life, from first to last, should exist together, with a capacity of being successively opened; that the human mind should be formed while it dwells in a natural frame, in order that it may have a termination to give its acquirements a fixed existence; that all multiplication, and, in fact, all actual creation, should take place in the exterior and ultimate sphere of being; and that hence man is produced an inhabitant of the world of nature, in order that he might afterwards lay aside his clay and appear an angel before the throne of God,—thus, that man is produced that angels might exist, and that God might gratify his love by surrounding himself with, a continually increasing multitude of beings, capable, in the highest communicable degree, of consciously receiving, and of acknowledging, his benefits! Thus also we obtain a view of creation as one coherent whole,—yea, we view as one coherent whole the entire chain of being, from the crude globe of earth to the source of all in God: and thus we are enabled to see that man, the only being created in the image and likeness of God, is not, what the contrary view supposes,—a superfluity among the works of his Creator.*

But from reason let us go to Scripture, where we shall find the most explicit testimony to the doctrine that angels are men.

An opponent would fain reduce our proofs from this source to a single (or rather double) text. "The Baron," says one, "supports this doctrine chiefly, as I understand him, by the following text, 'And I John saw these things, and heard them; and when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel which showed me these things. Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.' (Rev. xxii. 8, 9; see also Rev. xix. 10.)" These words, it is contended, only mean, that angels, as well as men, are servants of the Most High. "This," says the objector, "I am certain is the opinion of the best divines. Whereas the Baron will understand the words, 'I am thy fellow-servant and of thy brethren the prophets,' to signify, 'I am a departed spirit of one of thy brethren, or one of the prophets.' But the premises will not warrant the conclusion: and, as far as I can find, the Baron stands alone in his opinion;" &c.+ This is curious indeed. This text, on which it is wished to have it supposed "the Baron chiefly supports his doctrine," and "in his opinion" of the meaning of which he "stands alone,"—is never once applied by him to the subject! Had he done so, however, he would not have stood alone, as may be learned from so well known a book as Doddridge's Family Expositor; in a note of which we read, that "Mr. Fleming understands it [Rev. xix. 10, to mean], I am one of thy brethren, which he thinks intimates that this was the departed spirit of an apostle, perhaps St. Peter or St. Paul, or his own brother James, though not in a form to be known. And he thinks the person speaking, ch. xxii. 9, might be the spirit of one of the prophets, perhaps Isaiah, Ezekiel, or Daniel." And was not Watts one of "the best divines?" But he says on the text, "These words naturally lead one to think, that though he appeared as a messenger from Christ, and in the form of an angel, yet he was really a departed spirit, a brother, a fellow-prophet: perhaps the soul of David, of Isaiah, or Moses."# Assuredly, the words do most naturally lead one to think so; whatever they who desire to make angels a different species from men may pretend to the contrary.

* See the quotation from Swedenborg above, pp. 131, 132. + Anti-Swedenborg, p. 62. # Works, vol. ii. p. 401.

But there is abundance of texts which are not at all equivocal. If angels are a different race from men, how is it that they are called, almost wherever their appearance is mentioned, throughout the Scriptures, by the name of men ? Thus of the three angels that appeared to Abraham, it is said that "he looked, and lo, three men stood by him:"* and of the two of them that went on to Sodom, the people said, "Where are the men which came in to thee this night ?" + Lot said of them, "Only to these men do nothing:" # and the inspired historian himself repeatedly gives them the same title. $ When Jacob wrestled with an angel, it is said, that "there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day."|| When Joshua was by Jericho, "he lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold there stood a man over against him with a drawn sword in his hand," who declared himself to be "the captain of the host of the Lord."@ Of the angel who appeared to the wife of Manoah, she said, "A man of God came to me, and his countenance was like the countenance of an angel of God:" ** and afterwards she said to her husband, "Behold, the man hath appeared unto me that came unto me the other day. And," it is added, "Manoah arose, and went after his wife, and came to the man, and said unto him, Art thou the man that spakest unto the woman? And he said, I am."++ The "man clothed with linen, with a writer's inkhorn by his side," seen by Ezekiel,## was doubtless an angel; as was the "man whose appearance was like the appearance of brass, with a line of flax in his hand, and a measuring reed," who showed him the vision of the temple, &c. $$ The angel Gabriel, sent to Daniel, is called, "the man Gabriel." || || That prophet afterwards, beheld "a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz."@ @ Zechariah saw "a man riding upon a red; horse," who is presently called "the angel of the Lord."*** The women who went to the Lord's sepulchre, on entering in, "saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment:"+++ according to Luke, "two men stood by them in shining garments;"### who, according to John, were "two angels in white." $$$ finally, John the Revelator identifies angels with men, by informing us, that the angel "measured the wall" of the New Jerusalem, "a hundred and forty-four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel." || || ||

* Gen. xviii. 2. + Chap. xix. 5. # Ver. 8. $ Ver. 10, 12, 16. || Ch. xxxii. 24. @ Josh. v. 13, 14. ** Jud. xiii. 6. ++ Ver. 10, 11. ## Ch. ix. 2, 3, 11; x. 2, 3, 6. $$ Ch. xl. 3, 4, & . || || Ch. ix. 21. @ @ Ch. x. 5; xii. 6, 7. *** Ch. i. 8, 11. +++ Mark xvi. 5. ### Ch. xxiv. 4. $$$ Ch. xx. 12. || || || Ch. xxi. 17.

Here angels are explicitly affirmed to be men; and many other passages might be adduced, in which to angels are ascribed the attributes of men, and in which they evidently were seen as men by those to whom they appeared; indeed, it is palpably certain, that they never were seen otherwise than as men. How is this to be accounted for, if they are in reality a totally different race, of other origin and dissimilar nature ? I know the fiction to which expositors have recourse: they tell us that they assumed the human shape, by clothing themselves with a material vehicle for the occasion, and are then called men from their assumed appearance: but what a clumsy mode of explaining the fact is this, and how totally destitute of a shadow of ground in Scripture! Where do we read of an angel's thus creating a human body in which to represent himself before the corporeal eye of men, and dissipating it again at his disappearance ? How much less operosely is the case accounted for by supposing, that, man being himself similar in nature to angels as to his interior constitution, on closing his bodily senses and opening the sight of his spirit, he immediately sees an angel, if present, in his own proper form; who again must necessarily vanish in a moment on the closing of the spiritual sight of the beholder, and the seat of his perception returning again into the body ? If, then, as would hence appear, the human form is the proper form of an angel, how can it be doubted that angels and men are the same beings in different stages of their existence ? What would a naturalist say, were we to present him with an animal possessing the exact form of an ox, but were to tell him that he must not argue from its form to its nature, for this, he might be assured, was that of a very superior animal ? When it shall be right not to believe the animal which wears the form of an ox to be one, we may also venture to conclude that the angels of Scripture, who always wear the form of men, and often are called siich, are not what they are called and seem. When we can no longer trust our eyes, and believe, on their testimony, that oxen are oxen, we may refuse to trust the Scriptures, and to believe, on their testimony, that angels are men.

As this is the clear deposition, upon this subject, of reason and Scripture, it was seen to be so by many in the early times of Christianity, and by some since; though the Jewish fables about angels of different race, and their falling from heaven, began too soon to infect the Christian church. Thus upon the identity as to nature of angels and men, the celebrated "father," Origen, quotes from another writer, whom he does not name, these striking and well-discriminated remarks. "Moreover, a certain other writer, using that testimony, 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness,' affirms, that whatever is made after the image of God, is man: and he brings myriads of examples to prove, that the Scripture uses the terms man and angel indifferently, applying both terms to the same subject; as in the case of the three who were entertained by Abraham, and the two who visited Sodom; and so through the whole series of the Scriptures, which sometimes call the same beings angels, and sometimes men. So, likewise, he who is of this opinion will say, that as some who are acknowledged to be men are angels too,—as John the Baptist, of whom it is written, 'Behold, I send my angel before thy face;'— so the angels of God are called by that name because it belongs to their employment, instead of being called by the name of men which belongs to their nature."* In another place, the same father, delivering his own sentiments, thus represents all angels as having once been men: "I conclude it to be evident from hence [the Lord's answer to the Sadducees] that it is not merely by not marrying and being given in marriage that they who are esteemed worthy of the resurrection from the dead become as the angels in heaven, but also because their vile bodies, being transfigured, become such as are the bodies of angels, ethereal, and having the appearance of light. If this doctrine should appear strange to many believers, let any one inquire, as he may do, probably, from many other passages, but certainly from that before us, whether, since they who rise from the dead are as the angels in heaven, and pass from the rank of men into that of angels, so also other angels in heaven, having once been men, and having, when in the bodies of men, fought the good fight, are become angels of heaven; as certain others, again, had done before them."+ It is true that Origen does not always write so consistently, but mixes with these intelligent views Ème fancies of Jewish and heathen origin: but for all his opinions on this subject, true and erroneous, his editor, the learned Huet, a Roman Catholic bishop, makes this apology;—that the church had not in his time defined with sufficient clearness what ought to be believed in regard to angels;# thus acknowledging, that the general prevalence of the notions now received was owing to the decrees of the prevailing party, that is, of the Romish church; in later times.

* Com. in Joh. t. iii. + In Mat. t. xvii. # Origeniana, 1. ii. $ 1.

But that the common perceptions of mankind, and the genuine light of Scripture, have never, on this subject, been entirely extinguished, is evident from the following beautiful lines of Young; a writer who, when submitting his own understanding to an erroneous doctrine, sometimes, as we have seen above, suffers his pen to run into the grossest absurdities; but who, when, without regard to human creeds, he writes from his own feelings and perceptions, and from the light of the Word itself, often delivers the most affecting, uncommon, and elevated truths: he says:—

" Why doubt we, then, the glorious truth to sing ?—
Angels are men of a superior kind;
Angels are men in lighter habit clad,
High o'er celestial mountains winged in flight;
And men are angels, loaded for an hour,
Who wade this miry vale, and climb, with pain
And slippery step, the bottom of the steep.
Angels their failings, mortals have their praise:
While here, of corps ethereal; such enrolled,
And summoned to the glorious standard soon,
Which flames eternal crimson through the skies."

The New-Jerusalem doctrine on this subject being so conclusively established by reason, Scripture, and the best human authority, proceed we to examine what is urged against it. To authenticate, against such evidence, the irrational, and, to all appearance, palpably fabulous notions, about angels created such, wars in heaven, and a fallen angel who is a sort of Anti-God, very strong testimony ought surely to be required.

The two first texts that are put forth are the following; which have indeed always been regarded as the main bulwarks of the doctrine: "And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness, unto the judgment of the great day."* "For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains and darkness to be reserved unto judgment:" &c.+

Formerly, I confess, I much wondered what these texts could really mean, and had consulted numerous writers on them without finding anything satisfactory. At last I was providentially conducted into a channel of inquiry, which led to a solution of the question so perfectly clear and conclusive, as cannot be denied or evaded.

It is to be noted, that neither of the Apostles delivers the circumstances he relates as original information, but both bring them in incidentally, as things well known to their readers, to draw from them an argument on another subject. Peter affirms # that false teachers would come, and Jude $ that they had come; and both argue to the judgments which would overtake them, from the judgments which had overtaken the wicked in ancient times, and with which their readers were acquainted.

Whence then was this history of the angels that sinned, and their punishment, known to those to whom these Epistles were written ? The other occurrences referred to are contained in the Scriptures (except that we read nothing in the Scriptures of Noah's being "a preacher of righteousness," as he is called by Peter):|| but our Scriptures make no mention of any transgressing angels. In the Septuagint Greek version, however, they who, in the Hebrew original and in our translation, are called "the sons of God,"@ who formed connections with "the daughters of men," are called "the angels of God." Here, then, we have some clue to the circumstance intended; but still it evidently is not to the book of Genesis that the two Apostles refer; for this contains no notice, even as given in the Septuagint version, of the punishment that befell the transgressing angels. Some fuller record, necessarily an apocryphal one, must therefore have then been extant, containing the particulars which the two Apostles mention.

* Jude 6. + 2 Pet. ii. 4. # Ver. 1. $ Ver. 4. || Ver. 5. @ Gen. vi. 2, 4.

Now Jude, a little below, quotes an apocryphal book by name "Enoch," says he, "the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints," &c. * This book of Enoch was well known to the early Christian writers, who often mention it: but it at length disappeared and was supposed to be entirely lost. A fragment of it was discovered, three hundred years ago, by Jos. Scaliger; but as it did not contain the words quoted by Jude, doubts were entertained whether it was the genuine work. At length an Ethiopia version of the whole book was brought from Abyssinia by the celebrated traveller, Mr. Bruce, which has since been translated into English by Dr. Lawrence; and in this are found the quotation of Jude, and the whole of the fragment discovered by Scaliger. Now as it thus is proved that Jude had the book of Enoch before him when he wrote his epistle, and formally quotes from it a passage which he conceived applicable to those of whom he is speaking, it is natural to suppose that he might be referring to the same book when he mentions the transgressing angels and their fate. Such is proved to be the fact. The book of Enoch contains at large a pretended history of the angels who transgressed with the daughters of men, and mentions the exact circumstances repeated by Jude and Peter.

The means of setting this question at rest were actually afforded by the fragment of the book of Enoch discovered by Scaliger; as was remarked by Scaliger himself, who assigning his reasons for publishing it, states "the chief of them to be, because the passage which is produced in the Epistle of Jude respecting the transgressing angels, is manifestly taken from this fragment."+ Yet, strange to say, the commentators in general have passed it by in silence! Most reluctant, they evidently have been, to have it known, that the only imagined Scripture authority for the belief in fallen angels, was an imaginary authority, and no more. I find but one who has deduced from the book of Enoch the origin of the story; and that is the famous German rationalist, Dr. Semler; a writer whose own sentiments, in many respects, I regard as most erroneous and pernicious; but whose great learning and thorough acquaintance with early ecclesiastical history, well qualified him for investigating what he calls the historical sense of the apostolical writings; in regard to which he certainly has made some valuable discoveries. We have no reason to regard him with favour; for he wrote, in German, a tract against our doctrines: but fas est et ab hoste doceri: wherefore I will here translate some extracts from the notes to Ms paraphrase of the Second Epistle of Peter.

* Ver. 14, 15. + Et quod caput est, &c. See Lawrence's Prel. Dis. p. xx.

On the words, For if God spared not the angels that sinned, he remarks, "Here almost all the Christian interpreters, being destitute of the light of history, and influenced by the authority of their system, have been so led into error as not to perceive, that the author is here speaking, as does Jude also, of the history related in Gen. vi. The received form of theology has led them to refer these words to occurrences supposed to have taken place before the fall of man, brought about by the prince of evil angels. Beza himself * severely reprehends the vain studies of divines, whom he represents as being made fools of by Satan, who withdraws them from the business of salvation, and engages them in speculating about such matters as what day of the world that fall of angels happened on, and whether it was before the foundation of this lower world; what was the sin by which Satan fell; and how many angels he drew with him.— But neither Beza nor even Grotius was aware, that the writer of the epistle is here referring to Gen. vi., with the commentary upon it contained in the book of Enoch. And although the advice which Beza gives on the occasion is useful and weighty, 'to learn soberly to take our knowledge from the Word of God, and to be content with what the Holy Spirit has revealed;' yet it is here out of place. For the Holy Spirit did not reveal what we read here, and in Jude 6. Beza, without any authority for it, assigns the knowledge of what is here related to an unwritten tradition, from which he supposes, the fall of angels was known to the fathers. But Christians ought to be aware, that unwritten traditions containing any useful truth, and derived from God, were by no means to be found among the Jews of that time, who, having adopted the fables of the gentiles about the operations of demons, propagated nothing but mere superstition and darkness."—Again, on the words, "but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness," (where the phrase "cast them down to hell" is expressed in the original by one word— tartarosas—which occurs no where else in the New Testament, and means, "having committed them to tartarus,") Dr. S. has these observations: "The word tartarosas is taken from the Grecian mythology. Tartarus is represented as a kind of prison, in which darkness supplies the place of chains. In the book of Enoch (p. 191 of the Codex Pseudepigraphus of Fabricius), Azael [a leader of the sinning angels] is said to be bound hand and foot, and cast into darkness, to be brought forth to the burning in the day of judgment. In like manner, (p. 194), Semiazas [another of their leaders] is bound with his companions for seventy generations under the hills of the earth, until the accomplishment of the judgment of the age of ages. —Thus the transaction is taken from that book of Enoch."

* Calvin's disciple and successor.

The passages here cited by Dr. Semler, from the Greek fragment, are, as found at length in the Ethiopia, and translated by Dr. Lawrence, as follows: "Again the Lord said to Raphael, Bind Azazyel hand and foot; cast him into darkness; and opening the desert which is in Dudael, cast him in there. Throw upon him hurled and pointed stones; covering him with darkness; there shall he remain forever; cover his face that he may not see the light; and in the great day of judgment lot him be cast into the fire." * "To Michael likewise the Lord said, Go and announce (his crime) to Samyaza,. and to the others who are with him, who have been associated with women, that they might be polluted with all their impurity. And when all their sons shall be slain, when they shall see the perdition of their beloved, bind them for seventy generations underneath the earth, even to the day of judgment, and of consummation, until the judgment, (the effect of) which will last for ever, be completed."+

* Ch. x. 6—9. + Ver. 15,

Here then, evidently, we have the history referred to by the two Apostles;—of Peter's "angels that sinned, who were cast down to Tartarus [the desert in Dudael], and delivered into chains of darkness to be reserved unto judgment; "—of Jude's "angels which kept not their principality, but left their own habitation, and are reserved in everlasting chains under darkness, unto the judgment of the great day."

This passage of Jude is still further explained by the book of Enoch. Our translation calls them "the angels which kept not their first estate," the original word being arche, which does indeed signify beginning; but it also signifies government or principality, and is often so translated in the New Testament. The history in the book of Enoch proves that it bears this sense here. These angels are there called the watchers, and their duty was to oversee the affairs of men; this then was their arche, government or principality: and for this end they were stationed in the air at no great distance from the earth; this then was "their own habitation."

In the book of Enoch, also, we find the reason why Noah is called "a preacher of righteousness;" for it contains a prophecy pretended to have been delivered by Noah.

Thus, then, it is indisputable, that these texts of Peter and Jude, the only texts in the Bible which can be thought to speak explicitly of the pre-existence and fall of angels, afford no support to those notions whatever. They afford no support to the doctrine of the pre-existence of angels, because the sinning angels spoken of are not those who are imagined to have fallen before the foundation of the world, but those who were supposed to have transgressed with the daughters of men. They afford no countenance to the notion that angels are a different race from men, because the apocryphal story referred to is founded upon what is now acknowledged by all to be a misconception of the relation in Gen. vi.; for no one will now pretend that "the sons of God" there mentioned were angels of any kind. They afford no support to any doctrine whatever; because they are mere allusions to a forged and apocryphal book, addressed to the reader in the way of an argumentum ad hominem; as Paul sometimes quotes both from apocryphal and heathen writers. This is the way in which the learned account for Jude's express citation* from the book of Enoch; and unless it be admitted, the two Epistles must themselves be regarded as apocryphal; as was done by many in ancient times, and by some (especially as to that of Jude, which is rejected by Michaelis) at the present day. I am by no means inclined to consider them spurious; many parts of them exhibit, I am satisfied, the enlightened mind of an Apostle: but no one, surely, will assert, that an allusion to an apocryphal tale about angels who took wives of the daughters of men, affords any proof of the pre-existence of angels, and the fall from heaven of Satan.

* Ver. 14, 15.

The next text cited against us is John viii. 44: "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. "When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it." How this text can be supposed to prove that angels existed before men were created, and that some of them fell out of heaven, I cannot understand. Even upon the common theory, how can the devil have been a murderer from the beginning, supposing him to have begun his existence as an angel of light ? But it is supposed that his pre-existence as an angel of light is implied by its being said, that "he abode not in the truth." In the original it is, "he stood not in the truth:" which does not necessarily imply that, having first been in the truth, he did not remain in it, but rather, that he never was stationed in the truth; and that this is the true intention of the phrase is rendered certain by its being added, "because there is no truth in him;" or, more literally, "because the truth is not in him." If then we understand a personal being to be spoken of, who, having originally been in heaven, fell out of it, we must understand the cause of his fall to be, that he could not help it. He was a devil from the beginning, created an alien from the truth. Who will impute the production of such a being to the Creator ? Understand these words of a personal being, and they involve a blasphemy; you either impute the origin of your personal devil, as a devil, to the Creator; or you suppose the devil to be an Anti-god, uncreated and self-existing. But understand the devil here to be the principle of evil in the abstract, or rather, to be a personification of the root of all evil, which is the love of self; and all becomes consistent. It is the evil of self-love, or self-love when made the sole or governing spring of action, that prompts to all deeds of violence and deceit,—that makes murderers and liars. In divine language, all personal beings are named according to their qualities: hence, because this horrid principle reigns in hell, its inhabitants, singly, are also called devils; hence Judas is called by the Lord a devil;* and hence, likewise, all individual devils, considered as forming one aggregate evil power, are denominated the devil. But when, as here, the devil from the beginning is spoken of, it must mean the principle in its deepest ground,—in its merest abstract nature, when it first began to operate in the breast of man, and before they who became personal devils by cherishing it had passed from this world into the region of the spiritual world called hell.

"Whereupon are the foundations thereof (the earth) fastened ? or who laid the corner-stone thereof; when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?"+ Jehovah himself is the being here represented as speaking: but would He, who knows infinitely more of the truths of astronomy than ever man discovered, describe the earth, if his words were intended to be literally understood, as being founded on a corner-stone ? Here is demonstrative proof that the passage is not to be literally interpreted. The words, evidently, are highly figurative, and purely symbolic. As well might we quote these words in refutation of Newton, and argue from them that the earth is not a round ball suspended in ether, but is a plane or cube propped by a great stone, as quote, them in refutation of Swedenborg, and argue from them that angels were pre-existent to men. Their proper reference, no doubt, is, to the spiritual creation, or the regeneration of man: they may, however, be taken as a general figurative description even of the natural creation. Then, by the corner-stone on which are fastened the foundations of the earth, we evidently must understand, not any material basis and fulcrum, but the unknown power by which the terraqueous globe is suspended in space. In the same manner, by the sons of God cannot be meant any personal beings, but the heavenly worlds; that is, the interior or spiritual spheres of creation, constituting the kingdom prepared for the saints from the foundation of the world. As the production of the material universe was the middle end of creation, with a view to the existence of man and thence to the peopling of the heavenly worlds, which is the final end of creation; therefore, by a beautiful figure, the heavenly worlds, personified as the sons of God, may well be said to have shouted for joy when the earth came into existence.

* John vi. 70. + Job xxxviii. 6, 7.

But if any cannot relinquish the notion of angels shouting at the creation of the world; let them confine their idea, as they always, do, to the creation of this world; and it cannot be denied that the fact is possible enough. This world is reckoned to have existed about six thousand years; which, as to its human inhabitants, is probably its true age: but that other worlds existed, and angels from them, myriads and myriads of years before, cannot be doubted. Philosophers assure us, that some of the stars discovered by the telescope are so remote, that the light emitted from them, travelling with its known prodigious speed, would be hundreds of thousands of years in reaching our world: it has reached us, however, or we could not see them; hence, in the circumstance of their being visible to us, we have sensible demonstration, that they have been for hundreds of thousands of years in existence. Consequently, if it must be believed that angels were literally present, shouting for joy at the production of our earth, there were worlds in abundance to supply them, without our having recourse to the fiction of angels created such in the ethereal regions.

The above texts fail, it is plain, to support the notions for which they are quoted: but a stronger reason remains, which is thus stated by the writer under review. "Besides what is already advanced," he modestly says, "there is one special argument which might puzzle even a Swedenborgian; and which is comprehended in the temptation and fall of our first parents. Now Baron Swedenborg, himself allows that the serpent tempted Eve; and all reasonable people are decidedly of opinion that the devil was in the serpent, and actuated and influenced him during the whole of the temptation. The question then is, 'Where did this devil come from, seeing that no one had ever died up to this time ?' And if no one had died, then there must have been a devil who was not the spirit of a departed wicked man." *

To frame this "special argument," the writer assigns a notion to Swedenborg which he knows that enlightened character did not hold; and the premises being still too narrow, he ekes them out with a gratuitous assumption. He makes Swedenborg allow that the serpent tempted Eve: and yet he afterwards adduces, as specimen? of that writer's commentaries on Genesis, extracts from his explanation of the second and fifth" chapters, in which the whole history of Adam and Eve, and their immediate posterity, is shown to be a pure allegory! So, he affirms that all reasonable people believe that the devil, meaning a certain personal being, was in the serpent; though neither Moses nor any other inspired writer belonged to the class of such reasonable people, for none of them give any intimation of such belief. John the Revelator indeed informs us, not that the devil was in him, but that the old serpent was the devil: but how is this consistent with the idea of a personal devil, when Moses assures us that this serpent was one of the "beasts of the field ?" Indeed, the history is so palpably a pure allegory, that it is truly astonishing how any can continue to bind their notion to the literal relation. If the serpent either was the devil in person, or had the devil in him, how came the punishment of the temptation to fall upon the race of common serpents ? Why were they condemned to go upon their belly, and to eat dust, (which latter command, by-the-bye, they have not obeyed,) while no punishment whatever is denounced on the real culprit ? Well might Milton's Satan (to whom he often gives more rational ideas than belong to the theologians who frame their doctrines from the literal sense of an allegory) ridicule the whole transaction, and the application of the punishment to the wrong victim: "Man," he says,

" by our exile Made happy; him by fraud I have seduced From his Creator; and the more to increase Your wonder, with an apple! he thereat Offended (worth your laughter) hath given up Both his beloved man and all his world To sin and death a prey:— True is, me also he hath judged; or rather, Not me but the brute serpent, in whose shape Man I deceived."

Thus the belief that any personal devil was the agent in this transaction is beset with irreconcilable inconsistencies. But consider "all the beasts of the field" to be types of all the affections that have place in the natural part of man, and the serpent to denote that part of the human constitution which is the seat of the sensual conceptions and carnal appetites, and which, when separated from the higher faculties, is so truly depicted by the serpent under the curse,— going upon its belly and eating dust;—and we have a view of the subject which removes all difficulty, and reads a lesson of instruction most important and impressive.

The "special argument" has, however, another horn to it: let us see whether that is any more formidable than the former. "On the other hand," proceeds its author, "I find it plainly recorded, that there were good angels, before any one, good or bad, had died, as the following passage will show. 'Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man: and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden cherubims and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life!' (Gen. iii. 23, 24.) Now, if devils and angels are none other than the departed spirits of men, as Baron Swedenborg would teach us to believe, then I demand of those whom it behoves to answer, whence came the devil that tempted Eve, and those 'cherubims' who were placed at the gate of Eden with a flaming sword, seeing no one had ever died up to that time ?" In regard to "the devil that tempted Eve," the "demand" has already been complied with: but before we comply with, that part of it which relates to the cherubims, we would humbly request to have it proved, that "cherubims" are angels.

In the most holy place in the tabernacle and temple, upon the covering of the ark, were placed two cherubim: can we suppose that an image representing a mere created nature could have been allowed to such a station ? The only part of the cherubim made by Moses of which any description is given, is their wings, which reached quite across from one side of the most holy place to the other: but we never read that angels have wings; they owe that appendage to the pure benevolence of their painters. But the most particular description of cherubim is in the magnificent vision seen by Ezekiel, chs. i. and x. He beheld "the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance: They had every one the likeness of a man: and every one had four faces; and every one had four wings. And their feet were straight feet; the sole of their foot was like a calf's foot: and they sparkled like the colour of burnished brass. And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides.— And as for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on their right side; and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle.—As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, and like the appearance of lamps: it went up and down among the living creatures. And the fire was bright; and out of the fire went forth lightning. And the living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning." + Connected with these living creatures were four wonderful wheels, "full of eyes round about." "And when the living creatures went, the wheels went by them: and when the living creatures were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up:—for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels." "And when they went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of great waters, as the voice of the Almighty." # "This is the living creature that I saw under the God of Israel by the river of Chebar: and I knew that

+ Ch. i. 5—8, 10, 13, 14. # Ver. 18, 19, 20, 24.

they were the cherubims." * Now who can suppose that these wonderful creatures, which never are called angels, in fact are angels ? Angels, as the name implies, are sent on divine messages: but cherubim are not described as sent forth from the Almighty, but as accompanying the Almighty,—as being, in fact, his chariot. Hence they had wheels under them, and upon their head was a firmament or expanded plane, and over the firmament was a throne, on which the Divine Being sat:+ And hence it is explicitly said of Jehovah, that "he rode upon a cherub, and did fly."# Can a cherub, on which Jehovah, in any sense, can be said to ride and fly, be a created angel ? The idea is monstrous; it is absolutely profane. How plain is it then that cherubim cannot be independently existing beings of any kind! The appearances called such, are representative forms, imaging the sphere of Divine Truth which emanates from the Lord. This, on the one hand, forms a guard, preventing the too near approach of those who would be injured were they allowed to enter more interiorly into holy things than their proper state will permit; which is meant by their guarding the tree of life from being profaned by fallen Adam, and also by their forming a covering over the ark; and on the other hand, it is the medium by which the Lord communicates instruction, or imparts understanding, to men and angels; which is what is meant when riding and flying are predicated of him. The above appears to me to be a true and satisfactory explanation of the cherubim, whenever they are mentioned. But even if cherubim be ever named to signify created angels, there is no difficulty in conceiving how some of these might be posted at the gate of Eden, after Adam's ejection. For the whole history of Adam and Eve, we have already seen, is a pure allegory. By Adam is not meant an individual man, but the first church that existed on this globe, comprising many generations of individual men. All of these who were translated into the spiritual world while the church stood in its purity, of course became angels: and it is sufficiently probable that these, also, might act as guards, to prevent their degenerate successors from incurring the profanation, which would have been represented by fallen Adam's re-entering the garden, and again eating of the tree of life. That, at the period in question, there were angels in heaven who had come into existence as men on this earth, cannot be doubted.$ I trust that the futility, in every respect, of the arguments adduced against Swedenborg's statements on this subject, may now be apparent, and that every candid reader will see, that, while abundant considerations may be produced, both from reason and Scripture, evincing that angels are of the same species,—of the same origin, as men, nothing can justly be urged from either source in proof of their diversity.

* Ch. x. 20. + Ch. i. 22, 26, 27, 28. # Ps. xviii. 10.

$ Nor, indeed, can it easily be doubted, what many writers have seen, that there was a race of human beings whom they call Pre-Adamites; and it is abundantly probable, that the spirits of these may occupy a sphere so near to the Divine, as to be in a manner swallowed up in it, so as to retain no consciousness of existence separate from the Divinity, beyond what may be supposed of the "four beasts" or animals, which "rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come!" (Rev. iv. 8.)

Previous: A. The Human Instrument for opening the Truths to be revealed at the Lord's Second Advent, should be enabled to remove the prevailing Darkness on these subjects. Up: VI. Heaven And Hell; And The Appearances In Them, And In The Intermediate Region, Or World Of Spirits. Next: C. All Swedenborg's Statements respecting the Spiritual World are perfectly Reasonable and Scriptural, when certain Truths, relating to that World are known.


Webmaster: IJT@swedenborgstudy.com