Noble's 'Appeal': VI. Heaven And Hell; And The Appearances In Them, And In The Intermediate Region, Or World Of Spirits.:
D. The Existence of the Marriage-Union in Heaven, and of an Opposite Connexion in Hell
theologians having assumed that the eternal world is peopled by a class of beings, as its principal and primitive inhabitants, created originally as angels; and so created, too, independently of each other,—all, at once, immediately produced from the hand of the Creator, and none through the instrumentality of others as their parents, according to the order of the production of all the races of living beings, without exception, with which we possess any actual acquaintance;—having thus excluded the distinction of sex, or anything analogous to it, from the original order of angelic beings; they have deemed it necessary, however awkwardly, to deprive of that distinction, when drafted into the angelic ranks, the recruits drawn from the race of rational creatures on earth, though they came into existence here as both men and women. But when it is seen that this order of original angels, neither male nor female, is the pure creation of man, not of God; that, in reality, there is not a single angel in heaven, nor a single devil in hell, nor a single created inhabitant of the spiritual world, of whatsoever character, but what first came into being as a man or a woman in the natural region of creation; it becomes a matter of extreme difficulty to imagine, that, on being transplanted into the spiritual world, they cease to be men and women, and to be connected with each other in that relation, altogether. And when, in addition to the fact, that all the inhabitants of the spiritual world are from the human race, it is seen, as we have just proved, that man after death is no less a real and substantial man than before; and when it is further seen, as also just proved, that all things which exist before the sight, in the other world, are appearances, outwardly exhibiting the state, ideas, and inclinations, of those who dwell there; it seems scarcely possible to doubt, that they who have been men and women in this world will still be, respectively, men and women in that; and, consequently, that there must exist pure marriage-unions in heaven, and connexions of an opposite nature in hell.
This idea, however, as presented in the writings of the illustrious Swedenborg, is amongst those, against which the most violent effusions of ridicule and scorn have been directed. We will therefore here invite the Candid and Reflecting to consider, whether these outpourings of revilement are made with reason, or without.
"It is an evil and adulterous generation," the greatest of authorities has said, "which seeketh a sign:" and, assuredly it is only such a generation that could rail against the idea, of the existence of a pure Marriage-Union in heaven, and of an Opposite Connexion in hell.
I. Certainly, among the symptoms of corruption of manners and grossness of sentiment which are so general in the present day, there is none more conspicuous and glaring, than the low ideas, which we almost everywhere meet with, of the nature and obligation of the conjugal covenant. Everything that is found in the Scriptures on this important subject, constantly adverts to the Marriage-Union as a thing most pure, most holy, most heavenly; insomuch that, under the image of it, heaven itself is represented to us in the Word of God; yea, by this, as the only symbol worthy of the subject, is in the Sacred Records depicted the conjunction of God with the human race. On the other hand, a state of adultery is in the same Divine Word constantly spoken of, as justly representing, and accurately exhibiting to our apprehension, man's infidelity to his Maker,—the state and nature of hell itself. Evidently then, in the Divine Mind, two more direct opposites do not exist, than the lawful and unlawful connexion of the sexes: Yet who is to be found, among the general bulk of society, who in his own mind views the difference as so fundamental and irreconcilable ? Who considers the true love of marriage to be essentially holy, and the love of all connexions alien therefrom essentially profane ? Who regards the difference between them as intrinsically inherent in the things themselves, independently of all merely arbitrary appointment ? It is true that few persons conceive that there is no difference whatever between the one and the other: the utility of marriage in society is too obvious to allow any but the most desperately profligate to maintain, that the violation of its bonds is altogether a matter of indifference, or that libertine practices are free from criminality: but who supposes that the love of the one species of connexion and that of the other are two perfect opposites, and that the pleasures they afford to their respective votaries are essentially different, having in reality nothing whatever in common ? How many are there, in fact, who look upon marriage as but a sort of legalised adultery, and upon adultery as differing in nothing but the want of the legal sanction from marriage! Hence it is that, among the topics of revilement brought forward against the doctrines of the New Jerusalem, none is more frequently insisted on, none is more confided in, as capable of exposing them to utter derision and contempt, than this: that those doctrines affirm true marriage to be a permanent institution, true marriages to be indissoluble, even by the power of the grave; and that, in regard to all who enter the heavenly kingdom, should circumstances have prevented them from finding proper partners here, they will find such there, with whom their union continually becomes more perfect, and more fraught with pure delight, through eternity. What is the law of Divine Order: upon this subject, proclaimed at the beginning of creation, and confirmed most solemnly by the Lord Jesus Christ ? "Have ye not read, that he which made them in the beginning made them a * male and a* female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they twain shall be one flesh ? (* Scholars allow that this is the proper translation.)Wherefore," says the Divine Confirmer of this original divine law, "they are no more twain, but one flesh." (Matt. xix. 4, 5, 6.) Yet because we believe this doubly authenticated statement of the Word of God; and because we believe that Jesus Christ uttered a law of eternal obligation, and spoke the plain truth, when he sealed the whole with the irreversible decree, "What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder;" we are ridiculed and reviled as giving gross ideas of heaven: Whereas all the grossness is in the minds of our accusers, many of whom, it is plain, cannot form a pure thought of so sacred an institution as that of marriage; who clearly betray, by their sneers respecting it, that in the thoughts of their hearts they think it essentially the same as any impure connexion; and who thence conclude, that to regard its chaste endearments to be perpetual, is to carnalise heaven. The same parties think, it appears, that though adultery is sinful, it nevertheless is very delightful, and that to represent it as taking place in hell, is to render hell irresistibly inviting. Thus one of them actually has affirmed, that our doctrines make heaven not much better than this world, and hell not much worse. He would have us believe, that marriage is not only not a holy, but not a happy state, insomuch that to be eternally tied to a wife is enough to render heaven not over delightful; whilst to have the privilege of keeping a harlot (such is his phraseology, which includes, as we shall see in the sequel, a gross misrepresentation), is, as he represents it, so great a happiness, as to make hell itself a place of comfort; whence (such is his decent language), "our paupers might go to hell on speculation, with some prospect of advantage!"* So possessed is this writer with the notion, that to live with a harlot must be so delightful as amply to outweigh all other miseries, that he turns to it over and over again: and others have treated the subject in the same style. The Candid and Reflecting, I am sure will not envy our accusers their taste; they will not think that heaven, as described by Swedenborg, should be turned from with disgust, because its inhabitants live in the pure love of the conjugal covenant; and that hell must be turned to with eagerness, because all who inhabit it are adulterers. I trust we shall all, presently, see reason to conclude, that heaven is really a place and state of holiness, as well as of happiness, though all chaste conjugal partners are there; and that hell is a place and state of misery, as well as of wickedness, notwithstanding it is full of harlots and adulterers.
In the first place, then; How is it possible to represent the holiness of the pure and chaste conjugal connexion in a stronger light, than by describing, as the Scriptures do, the Lord Himself as one of the parties in such a union, and the Church as the other ? Thus we find the Lord saying to the Church, "Fear not, for thou shalt not be ashamed; neither be thou confounded, for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more. For thy Maker is thy Husband; the Lord of hosts is his name: and thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: the God of the whole earth shall He be called."+ So we find the penitent Church saying in Hosea, "I will go and return to my first Husband; for then it was better with me than now:"# upon which the Lord says a little below, "And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord, that thou shalt call me Ishi, and shall no more call me Baali:" $ Baali means
* Anti-Swedenborg, p. 68. + Isa. liv. 4, 5. + Ch. ii. 7. $ Ver. 16.
"My Lord, or Master," and Ishi means, "My Husband." The Lord says in Jeremiah respecting the church of the Israelites, "I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was a husband to them, saith the Lord."* Many such passages might be added. And as Jehovah, in the Old Testament, thus constantly speaks of himself as the husband of his Church, so is the Lord Jesus Christ, as being the manifested Jehovah, always mentioned in the New Testament in the same character, and he there claims the church as his bride and wife. "Can the children of the bridechamber mourn," says he,+ "while the bridegroom is with them?" in answer to the question why his disciples did not fast. So in the parable of the wise and foolish virgins, it is said,# that "while the Bridegroom tarried they all slumbered and slept; and at midnight there was a cry made, Behold the Bridegroom cometh, go ye forth to meet him:" where the Bridegroom is evidently the Lord Jesus Christ. But in how beautiful a manner is the marriage of the Lord with his Church, in that glorious state of it called the New Jerusalem, described in the Revelation! "I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.—And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife." $ And how truly sublime is the previous announcement of these nuptials! "A voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great. And I heard as it were, the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Allelujah, for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad, and rejoice, and give honour to him, for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.—And he saith unto me, Write: Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage-supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God." || Are not these most magnificent, most beautiful, and most affecting representations, of the union of the Lord with his Church, and of the divine love from which he desires such a union ? Is it not also certain, that the union of the Lord with his Church, is, next to the union of the Essential Divinity or Father with the Divine Humanity or Son, the most holy subject which is offered to the contemplation of man? Must not, then, that which is constantly taken to present it to our apprehension,—the marriage covenant,—be holy likewise? And, indeed, what could so properly represent this holy union of the Lord with his Church, as a union, of an inferior nature indeed, but which originates in, and flows down, from, the higher union, and thus, as an effect from its cause, is the proper image for exhibiting it to view ?
* Ch. xxxi. 32. + Mark ii. 19. # Matt. xxv. 5, 6. $ Ch. xxi. 2, 9. || Ch. xix. 5, 6, 7, 9.
But not only does the Lord, both before the incarnation and since, deign to describe himself as the Bridegroom and Husband of his Church, and his Church as his bride and wife, but he presents heaven, itself to us under the idea of a marriage, and describes admission into heaven as admission to a marriage. This is done in the last extract from the Revelation, and in several of the Lord's discourses. "The kingdom of heaven (saith he) is like unto a certain king which made a marriage for his son, and sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding; and they would not come." (Matt. xxii. 2. 3. ) So likewise the wise virgins, being ready when the bridegroom came, "went in with him to the marriage;" which evidently means, were admitted into heaven. Here again we see the high honour done on every occasion by the Lord to the conjugal covenant. His first miracle (John ii. 2. &c.) was wrought when he was present at a marriage as a guest; and he borrows the image of a marriage as the only one worthy to exhibit to his disciples the nature of his kingdom,—of heaven itself. Do I say, he borrows the image of a marriage to describe his kingdom ? What if it be true that his kingdom is not only figuratively, but positively and essentially, a marriage, and that what is called marriage among us is only a copy, a derivation, from that marriage which is heaven itself ?
This will be seen to be the fact, by all who, rising above merely carnal ideas of the subject, duly consider the passages we have recited from the Word of God, and the numerous other testimonies pointing to the same truth with which the Word of God abounds, and look at the cause in which such statements are grounded.
For what can we imagine is the reason why the Lord Himself, even the eternal Jehovah, before his incarnation as well as after it, thus delights to describe himself as the Husband and the Church as his wife ? What can be the reason that he constantly exhibits his kingdom to us under the idea of a marriage ? What can it be, but because the first and original marriage exists in his own essence; therefore images of that marriage are thence derived through all the lower links of the great chain of existence, down to the last boundaries of created nature ? Take an image of it as presented by the sun of this world, which is often referred to in Scripture as an image of the Lord, the sun of righteousness. Do we not well know that there must be two distinct principles which constitute the nature of that sun, because we evidently see and feel that two distinct things proceed from it, and testify their existence by their effects? Do there not proceed from the sun both heat and light ? And do we not find that these may exist either separately (or, at least in very unequal proportions) or together ? In the season of winter the light is as bright, or nearly so, as in the middle of summer; yet because it is not united with heat, the earth is hound up with frost, and all the objects of the vegetable kingdom are in a state of torpidity and comparative death: but when spring comes on, and the light is united with heat, all things bud and bloom, and nature celebrates the symbolic marriage by rejoicing through all her domains. Now light and heat existing in their first principles in, and thence proceeding from, the sun of nature, are evident symbols of love or goodness and wisdom or truth existing in their first principles in, and thence proceeding from, the Lord Himself, the eternal source of all things. Fire or heat is the plain symbol of love; and every one sees that light is the obvious symbol of truth; whence nothing is more common than to speak of warmth of affection, and of the light of truth. The apostle assures us in plain terms * that "God is love;" and Jesus Christ declares + that He is "the Light." Doubtless, then, these two principles exist in their source in God in the most perfect union: they unitedly constitute his essential nature: and both in him being infinite, their union must be infinitely perfect; there can be no disproportion between them; no preponderance of the one over the other. All that Infinite Love desires, Infinite Wisdom can direct and bring into effect; and all that Infinite "Wisdom points to as desirable, Infinite Love can inspire and energise. Here then is marriage, in its first source. The union of love and wisdom in God is the truly divine marriage, and is essential to the very nature of Deity. From this divine, this thrice holy source, proceeds all that can justly be esteemed marriage in lower spheres; and in proportion as this is in them, all inferior unions, each in its degree, also are holy. Hence, likewise, there is something analogous to the male and female character even in inanimate things. Thus common perception teaches men to consider, with the poet, even the sun and moon as
"Communicating male and female light,"
and to deduce thence his general, sublime, and true assertion
"Which two great sexes animate the World."
* 1 John iv. 8. + John viii. 12.
From this marriage, then, of goodness or love and truth or wisdom in the Deity himself, next flows the heavenly marriage between the Lord and his Church; which is effected when the church also receives, from the Lord, love and wisdom in union. The church has nothing belonging to her as a church, but what she receives from the Lord; nevertheless, she first exists as an unbetrothed virgin, next as a bride and finally as a wife. For although love and wisdom, as they exist in union in the Lord, proceed also in union from him, they are not at once received in union by man. Man, being in evil, must first be instructed in divine truths, and thus be led in the path of repentance and reformation, before he can possibly be principled in that pure goodness to which all genuine truth points, and with which it desires to be conjoined. While then the church is in the affection of truth, but has not yet advanced to maturity in the appropriation of its practical tendency, she is what the Scripture calls a virgin: when she is matured by the application of her truths to life, and is in the ardent desire to be all that truth has opened to her conceptions, and thus to be united with the Lord, the Author both of her truth and her love, she is what the Scripture calls a bride: and when, accordingly, she receives the Lord as to the love or goodness of which he is the author, in the same degree that she receives the knowledge of his truth; when, in the language of the divine epithalamium in Ps. xlv., she has completely forsaken her own people and her father's house, or rejected all the false and evil principles which adhere to her by nature; then it is that her marriage is come, and that the Lord calls himself her husband, and owns her as his wife.
It is in this marriage, then, of goodness and truth, which is the same thing as the marriage of the Lord with the Church, that heaven essentially consists. None can be in heaven, but those with whom goodness and truth, thus perfectly united, form the life of their minds. With all the inhabitants of the blissful seats, love or goodness is the vital heat, truth or wisdom is the light that emanates from it, and forms as it were a clothing around it. Hence it is said of Jehovah himself, (Ps. civ. 2.) that he covereth himself with light as with a garment. To wear a wedding-garment then, according to the Scripture-phrase, is to be principled in genuine truth originating in genuine goodness; or, what is the same thing, to be principled in true faith grounded in real charity: but not to have on a wedding-garment, is to hold the mere profession of faith without any charity; in which case the faith also is not genuine, and cannot be endured in heaven, even should a hypocrite, now and then, as appears, from the ease of the man without a wedding-garment in the parable, to be not impossible, insinuate himself into that kingdom.
This view of the nature of the heavenly marriage must, it may be presumed, recommend itself to every one. No one can suppose that any man can be entertained in heaven, who is not principled in both the great heavenly graces of faith and charity; and faith is truth really seen and believed, and charity is goodness really felt and loved. Each is essential to the perfection, of the other, and without both, neither is genuine. How justly then is their union called a marriage! And how evident it is that, in such a marriage, heaven must essentially consist, —that this lies at the source of all its perfections and beatitudes!
But it is certain that man could not be receptive either of goodness or truth, either of charity or faith, from the Lord, were he not created with faculties adapted for their entertainment. Accordingly, he has two great faculties in his mental constitution, of which all his mental powers are specific modifications; which faculties are commonly denominated the will and the understanding; the will being the seat of all man's desires and affections, and the understanding the seat of all his thoughts and ideas. The understanding can comprehend the truths of religion even while man is in an unregenerate state,—otherwise he never could become regenerate at all; yet such, truths are never agreeable to it while the will is in evil. But the will cannot love genuine goodness, except by regeneration; although there may be amiable natural affections, such as those of good nature, in the will, by birth. The heavenly marriage, then, consists in the reception of goodness in the will as well as of truth in the understanding, and in the uniting into one of the will and understanding, in the acknowledgment, love, and service of the Lord: and it is by virtue of such marriage that the mind becomes replenished with heavenly graces through all its powers. New affections of goodness, and new perceptions of truth, then spring up in it every day; which are a spiritual offspring, flowing from the union of goodness and truth in the inmost of the mind. And the whole is the result of the divine operation of the Lord, continually flowing into, and rendering fruitful, the goodness and truth in union which man has received from him: thus the whole of the spiritual births produced in the human mind are derived from the marriage of the Lord and the Church; for which reason, also, the church is sometimes described in the Word as a mother; and all know that the Lord is the universal Father.
This then is the case with every one who becomes regenerate, whether man or woman. In all, the heavenly marriage takes place; and each, by virtue of it, becomes a member of the bride, the Lamb's wife. I say, a member of the heavenly bride and wife, not a bride and wife, to guard against enthusiastic fancies; into which some, in various denominations, more particularly of the female sex, have fallen, in consequence of knowing from the Word that the Lord is called the Husband of the church, without having that correct apprehension of the subject which the doctrines of our church impart: for it is only to the church universal, considered as one body that, in a strict sense, the Lord stands in the character of a Husband.
But in order that this heavenly marriage might exist in greater fulness, and thus that his divine love and wisdom, with their accompanying beatitudes, might be more fully received in heaven and in the church, the Lord has also been pleased so to form the human species, by creation, that two minds might likewise be capable of a similar intimate union, and thus become a real one, notwithstanding their abiding in two persons. The only means of effecting this, was, so to form the human race, as that in some minds affection might most decidedly predominate, and in others intellect: and who can deny that this constitutes the first distinction of the male and female character ? The difference between the male and female exists quite as decidedly in their minds as in their outward forms: so that if it were possible to abolish all difference in the shape of their persons, this would by no means be sufficient to abolish all real distinction of sex. The sex is in the mind also, and can never be extirpated thence. On every subject whatsoever, one part of the species will ever think and feel as men, and the other as women. The minds, it is true, both of men and women, are constituted both of will and intellect, affection and intelligence: but who does not see that the man takes his distinguishing character from the predominating strength of his intellect, and woman hers from the predominating strength of her affections? Great disputes have been agitated on the question, "Whether there is an inferiority on the part of females compared with men: but as, unfortunately, both parties have looked on intellect as the distinguishing faculty of the human race, and have overlooked, as of minor importance, the no less essential and valuable attributes of will and affection, men, in asserting their pre-eminence, have relied on the former alone, and female writers, with some auxiliary males, in denying the superiority, have allowed the principle for which it is claimed to be the right criterion of it: hence, instead of making good their claim, as they might have done, had they only asserted a general equality, they have failed, through claiming an equality in the same principle of intellect. Intellect is not a more excellent attribute than affection; and in affection, undoubtedly, the superiority is all on the side of the female sex. The sexes were thus endowed with equal but distinct excellences, that they might not engage in rivalry, but combine in union; that female affection might both soften and exalt the intellect of the male, and that masculine intellect might guide and protect female affection. Affection without intellect is blind; intellect without affection is dead: when united, intellect is quickened with life, affection rejoices in light. The female mind, however, is by no means destitute of intellect, nor the male destitute of affection: but who can look at both, and not allow that the two principles exist in the two in unequal proportions, so that one, only, forms the predominating characteristic of each ? Hence it is that when a male and female mind really enter into interior union, which never can take place but where both are grounded in the heavenly marriage of goodness and truth, the perfection of each is immensely exalted, and with it the happiness; each is a more perfect angel than either could be separately; and the union of minds becomes so perfect, that before the Lord, by whom minds only are looked at, they become as one.
This then is that marriage which we affirm to be perpetual, and to exist in heaven: and is it not evidently founded in the very first principles of things, in the very first laws of nature ?—understanding, by the laws of nature, those which determine the conditions of things, in the spiritual as well as in the material worlds, throughout the universe of creation. The marriage of goodness and truth which constitutes heaven is the immediate source of it: itself is a union of minds in which that prior marriage exists; and the outward union is only a true marriage whore there is the inner union also: without which, notwithstanding its having the sanction of the laws of men, it is an impure connexion, tending more or less to the nature of adultery.
It is first of all, then, of the marriage of goodness and truth that the Lord speaks in the passage cited above, when he says that he which made them in the beginning made them a male and a female. By a male and a female, in a purely spiritual sense, are meant the principles of intellect and will, as formed for the reception of truth and goodness respectively; the eternal law of order and of God respecting which is, that they should be united, and never be separated by the self-derived intelligence of man; which is what He means when He says, "What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." Secondly, these words declare the perpetuity of such a union of male and female minds as originates in the marriage of goodness and truth. This is, in fact, the plain literal sense of the words; and of this marriage also the Divine Speaker authoritatively pronounces, "What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder:"—as is done by those who deny the intrinsically holy nature of such marriage, and affirm that it must be put asunder for ever by death. If it was not unworthy of the Paradise in which man was placed at creation, how should it be unworthy, when exalted to the same degree of purity as creation appointed for it, of the Paradise to which man is to be restored by redemption ? To accuse then a writer of impurity, because he restores the chaste love of marriage to the dignified station assigned it by the Creator, and confirmed by the Redeemer; vindicating its heavenly origin, and showing it to possess that perpetuity which every thing heavenly must inherently carry with it; is a work only worthy of those whom the celebrated Milton denounces as hypocrites;
Whatever hypocrites austerely talk
So, in his beautiful apostrophe to wedded love, he says,
" Far be it I should write thee sin, or blame, Or think thee unbefitting holiest place."*
It may with certainty be affirmed, that the more pure and heavenly any mind has been, the more has it been inclined to ascribe purity and perpetuity to this heavenly union. Thus the heavenly-minded Mrs. Fletcher, in pursuing her remarks on the continuance of her union with her deceased husband, from which an extract is made above,+ expresses herself thus: "As spiritual union arises from a communication of the love which flows from the heart of Christ, I cannot but believe a nearer approach to its centre, and a fuller measure of that divine principle, must increase, and not diminish, the union between kindred souls; and that their change will consist, not in the loss, but in the improvement, of all good."—"Will not [it is asked] all particular unions cease ? and is it not the design of God that death should divide ? To answer this objection I must premise, that what is of God shall stand. I plead only for that union which has God for its source; and I think it will not be hard to prove, that what GOD hath joined together, death cannot put asunder. Division comes not from God, but from the devil. God, both in his nature and works, is perfect unity; and his original design for our first parents was not sorrow, consequently, not separation.—If we suppose their friendship was not to have been immortal, we must suppose pain to be in paradise: for Adam could not without pain inform Eve of such an awful secret, that, when they had praised God together for a certain time, they must eternally forget each other.—Or suppose he had said, Though we shall have a bare remembrance of each transaction, nevertheless that close union, that endearing oneness of soul, of which the love of God was the foundation,—that very union hereafter the love of God is to dissolve! This would indeed have been in itself exceeding bitter, and therefore never was the original design of love. It was sin that brought in separation. It was owing to the hardness of our hearts: for in the beginning it was not so; for God created one man and one woman"—She continues in the same strain for two or three pages further, in which she introduces this sentence of Swedenborg's, "Similitude joins, but dissimilitude separates."! This was written soon after her husband's death. Two years afterwards she writes, "I was led to reflect on my union with my dear husband.—The question arose, What part of our union can heaven dissolve ? It will take away all that was painful; such as our fears for each other's safety, our separations, &c. But what of the pleasant part can heaven dissolve? I answered from the bottom of my heart, Nothing, Lord, nothing! Clear as light it appeared to me, that heaven could not dissolve any thing that agreed with its own nature. Let two drops of water, two flames of fire, or any two quantities of the same element be put together; they would not destroy each other, but would be increased. So, what came down from God, would, when returned to its source, live for ever, and be corroborated, but not lessened. I am quite at a loss," she adds, "for words to describe the feelings of that hour; but it fixed in my soul an assurance of our eternal union." And though she outlived her husband thirty years, her journal, till near the end, contains frequent repetitions of her conviction of the continuance of their union, and of her sense of it.
* P. L. iv. 758, &c. + P. 300. # Pp. 203, 204.
Similar to the feelings of Mrs. Fletcher, in regard to the perpetuity of her union with her departed husband, were those of the pious Newton, rector of St. Mary, Woolnoth, in regard to his with his departed wife. In a poem on the subject, beautiful more for sentiment than expression, he says,
Shall one so favoured e'er repine,
And the inspirations of the Muse have dictated the same truths, even where the ordinary habits of the mind might be supposed to have closed it to a perception so heavenly: witness the following stanza of Byron's:
There are two souls whose equal flow
What Scripture and reason thus dictate as to the perpetuity of the truly conjugal union, follows, also, from the first of the two general truths we have established in the preceding part of this section. If man is a real man after death; and if, as we have now seen, the origin of the distinction of sex is in the spirit; it necessarily follows, that human beings, in the eternal world, are male and female still; and if so, that there are unions between them. It equally results from our second general truth, there also established. For if all the circumstances in which the angels are placed are representative of the state of their minds; and if their minds are in the heavenly marriage of goodness and truth; it follows, that they must be united by pairs in a marriage expressive of that within. Besides, what gloom and discomfort does the other supposition, when accurately looked at, introduce into our idea of heaven! Who that has been tenderly and virtuously attached to a female, and has walked with her in the path to heaven, would not feel it a grievous blow to his happiness, should he find her, there, totally unlike the being he knew here ? Could there even be any perfect social happiness in a society consisting of all males, or all neuters ? Independently of its use in the continuance of the species, is not the division into sexes a most beneficent arrangement, immensely adding to the comforts, and harmonising the intercourses, of the human race ? Is it not then reasonable to conclude, that this use of it will be perpetuated, where the former ceases ? And is it not the essence of reason to conclude, that a union in which, in its genuine state, is concentered all that is heavenly on earth,—including a love which prefers another's welfare to its own, and a joy which nothing but such a love can inspire,—must, when exalted to its highest perfection, be among the highest beatitudes of heaven itself.
Now to these purely heavenly ideas of the perpetuity of the truly conjugal union, what plausible consideration can be opposed ? Our accusers, because they have purely Sadducean notions of marriage to accompany their half Sadducean notions of the resurrection,— whence, like the Sadducees in the gospel, they "do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God,"—think they find a contradiction to these sentiments in the Lord's answer to the Sadducees, denying the existence of their sort of marriages in heaven. The Sadducees asked whose wife a woman that had seven husbands should be in the resurrection. To whom Jesus answered, "Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God. For, in the resurrection, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven." (Matt. xii. 29, 30.) In the term "resurrection," it is to be observed, is not usually included, "the resurrection of damnation," but simply, "the resurrection of life," that is, the heavenly state; hence it is said that they are "as the angels of God in heaven:" and to the truth of the answer, thus limited, most unquestionably, no exception can be made. It is true that there are no such merely carnal connexions as the Sadducees spoke of, which it is a degradation of the name to call marriages, in heaven at all: there can be no such thing there as the transferring of a woman from one man to another, nor any such connexion as such transfer implies: but it does not hence follow that there are in heaven no marriages which have for their essence that marriage of goodness and truth, which is the essence of heaven itself. It is also true, that the marriage of goodness and truth, if not commenced on earth, cannot be originated after death. It is in this world that charity must be joined with faith, and both with the Lord: otherwise this never can be done hereafter.
But though this truth might yield a sufficient solution of the difficulty, it does not appear to be to the marriage of goodness and truth, nor to any unions originating therein, that the passage specifically relates. It appears evident from the phraseology used in this answer to the Sadducees, compared with that of the answer, already considered, to the Pharisees, that the marriage here spoken of is the opposite ol the other,—the marriage of evil and falsehood, and such outward marriages as have this for their essence; and not the marriage of goodness and truth, and such outward marriages as draw their essence thence. For in the answer to the Pharisees, the Lord is mentioned as the author of the union,—"What god hath joined together;" but in this to the Sadducees, the marriages spoken of are those which proceed from the mere self-will of man, without being in any way referred to God at all,—"they neither marry,"—as men of their own motion,—"nor are given in marriage,"—as women by their relatives: which form of expression is admirably expressive of what originates from man and not from God, as do all unions of evil and error, and all marriages in which evil and error are inwardly regarded. Accordingly, in the only other passage in which the same phrase occurs, this is obviously its meaning: "As in the days that were before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered the ark, and knew not till the flood came and took them all away." (Matt. xxiv. 38, 39.) Evidently, in the wicked persons who perished by the flood, no spiritual marriage but that of evil and falsehood could be formed; and by them no natural marriages but such as are outward forms of the same could be contracted; and if it is reasonable to suppose that the same phrase bears the same sense when it occurs elsewhere under similar circumstances, there can be no doubt that this is the sense which marrying and giving in marriage bears in the case before us. Thus understood, the answer to the Sadducees and that to the Pharisees are in strict agreement: otherwise they are in direct opposition. If we suppose the true meaning of the answer to the Sadducees to be, that in heaven there are no marriages whatsoever, the answer to the Pharisees is flatly contradicted. That answer admits of no explanation which will reconcile it with this notion. The statement there made is of the most uncompromising kind. The union of the sexes is declared to be a provision of the Divine Economy from the beginning, to be effected under the Divine Auspices, and, when so effected, to partake of the Divine Perpetuity; whilst all separation is declared to originate from man himself; he is forbidden to cause it; and its permission, in any case, is ascribed to the hardness of his heart. "He which made them at the beginning made them a male and a female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh. wherefore, they are No More Twain But One Flesh. "What Therefore God Hath Joined Together, Let Not Man Put Asunder.—Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, suffered you to put away your wives; but from the beginning it was not so." When it is here said: "Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh" have we not the most explicit assurance, that a pair so united can never be sundered any more ? What else can be the purport of the emphatic words "no more?" And when it is added, "What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder," are we not assured, as Mrs. Fletcher truly explains it, that "what is of God shall stand?" To suppose that death can divide what God has united, is, also, not only to make death stronger than Omnipotence, but it is to contradict the text, "O death, where is thy sting ?" for, as Mrs. Fletcher again observes, in a passage not before quoted, "If death can eternally separate kindred spirits, he hath eternally a sting." It is impossible, then, to suppose, that the divine declaration as to the indissoluble nature of unions made by God, is confined to unions in this life: for this would not only be to exalt the power of death above that of God, but to make empty words of the statement, "They are no more twain." And doubtless, if the order of creation, and the design of the Creator, are, that the human race should be united indissolubly in pairs, the circumstance of such a union not having commenced in this life cannot prevent its accomplishment in the other.
Thus, the meaning of this answer to the Pharisees is most explicit, and it admits of no interpretation which will reconcile it to the answer to the Sadducees, if that be supposed to affirm, that in the other life there are no marriages whatever; whereas if we understand the answer to the Sadducees to mean, what, we have seen, the same phraseology certainly does mean elsewhere,—that in heaven there are no marriages originating in the union of evil and falsehood,—all appearance of contradiction, disappears; and the declaration, that "in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven;" harmonises most beautifully with the other declaration, that they who are in the marriage which originates in the union of goodness and truth, as are all "the angels in heaven," "are no more twain, but one flesh," and that "what God hath joined together," it is not for man to "put asunder."
It is probable indeed that the Sadducees, like many who have come after them, understood the Lord to affirm, that in heaven there are no marriages whatsoever: but it was quite customary with the Lord to give such answers to those who conversed with him, as were understood by them in a contrary sense to the true one, without his correcting their misapprehensions; according to his own statement, that he spoke "to those who were without in parables" or dark sayings, "that hearing they might hear and not understand." Thus we read, (John ii. 18—21.) "The Jews said unto him, What sign showest thou unto us, seeing thou doest these things ? Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building; and wilt thou rear it up in three days ? But," adds the Evangelist, "he spake of the temple of his body." He did not however tell them so, but left them to their own notions. Just so in his answer to the Saddueees. He answered their question in a sense strictly true. He told them that there were no marriages, such as alone they thought of, in heaven,—such as are of the natural man alone, and not of the spiritual man, and which thus have their true origin in the union of evil and error: and he left them to understand his words in a sense not true, and to suppose that in heaven there are no marriages whatever. The reason of this conduct, in this instance, is obvious. It is impossible to impart to such characters as the Sadducees, pure and elevated ideas on the subject of marriage. Explain it as you will, they will still attach to it their gross and merely carnal conceptions. It is better, then, for such persons to think, that in heaven there are no marriages at all, than to think there are any such connexions there as they call by the name; for this would indeed be to carnalise heaven. Hence Divine Truth, in mercy, speaks to such characters in proverbs: hence the Sadducees wore left to believe, as better for them, that in heaven there are no marriages at all: and hence Divine Providence so overrules men's apprehensions of heavenly things, as is best for their own states, that they who are still incapable of forming any but carnal conceptions of the divine institution of marriage, will never be persuaded, even by the clear light in which the subject is placed in the writings of Swedenborg, that it exists in heaven. II. We are now to pass to a less pleasing subject.
If it be certain that such marriages as originate in the heavenly marriage of goodness and truth exist in heaven; and this by reason that man after death is still a man, and the distinction of sex exists in the spirit; and that the circumstances in which spirits and angels are placed are all such as correspond to, and are expressive of, their internal state; it will follow, also, that such marriages as the Sadducees thought of, which are connexions of the sexes originating in the infernal marriage of evil and falsity, and which the Lord declares have no place in heaven, exist in hell According to Swedenborg, the state of every one's mind, in regard to the connexion of the sexes, always agrees exactly with the state of his mind in regard to his reception of the graces constituent of the church: hence, all in whom the church really is, think chastely of marriage, and regard adultery with aversion and even horror; whereas all who are opposed to the principles of the church, think unchastely of marriage, and regard adultery with pleasure, even though, by external considerations, they may be restrained from practising it. Thus such characters are truly adulterers, even when they remain within the forms of marriage. As then man's state in regard to the connexion of the sexes always keeps pace with his state in regard to the graces of the church, all in heaven are in the love of marriage, and all in hell are in the love of adultery. The former are chaste conjugal partners; the latter are foul adulterers and harlots. But it would he a great error hence to conclude, that in hell is permitted, as the writer above noticed, expresses it, and to which he repeatedly turns as a circumstance so inviting, "the indulgence of keeping a harlot," in the manner that the dissolute practise it on earth. The dissolute keep harlots on earth, because they are not bound by the same duties to them as to a wife: because they do not consider themselves under, to them, any obligation of fidelity, and can dismiss or change them at pleasure; thus, because, as is so often boasted, they retain their liberty, and are not under an irksome restraint, as such characters esteem the tie of marriage. But in hell such licence is not permitted. A wicked man, when he becomes a spirit, is indeed allowed to associate himself with one of the opposite sex; and all the females there are by Swedenborg called harlots, because they all are such in heart, and because it would be a prostitution of the title to apply to such the sacred name of wife; but, as is even stated in a passage cited by an accuser to support his calumnies, "he is forbid, on pain of punishment, to connect himself with more than one." Thus those whom Swedenborg calls harlots, the accuser would call "their lawful wives:"* and then, perhaps, the delightful fascination, which he represents as inseparably connected with the name of harlot, would be gone. As to the delightfulness of such cohabitation, it may be in some measure appreciated from what is experienced by those who are tied to an utterly abandoned companion here; and when this is the character of both, it is well known that such scenes of horror even here arise, as every one acknowledges to exhibit on earth an image of hell. What then must be the case in hell itself, where as Swedenborg affirms, they not only soon regard each other with the utmost coldness and disgust, "but interiorly burn with deadly hatred against each other, which is so great as to admit of no description!" +
* See Anti-Swedenborg, p. 68. + Treatise on Heaven and Hell, n. 377.
If then the distinction of sex is rooted in the spirit, it is certain that there must be connexions between the sexes in hell as well as in heaven: but those in hell, it is evident, must be of a diametrically opposite character to those in heaven. Where there is the infernal marriage of evil and falsehood in the mind, as is the case with all in hell, the connexions between the sexes must derive their essence from that origin; and as all evil is inseparably conjoined, in the other life, with punishment and misery, such infernal marriages, alias adulteries, can be productive of no sensations which have not misery in their centre. Whether these can yet be so delightful as to outweigh all the other miseries, with which, as we shall see in the sequel, the inhabitants of hell are pursued, and to make hell a place to which "our paupers may go on speculation," let the reader judge.
The foregoing statements include the essential doctrine of Swedenborg respecting marriage and adultery, and the continuance of the former, in an exalted state, in heaven, and of the latter, in a restricted state—so restricted as not to differ from what some would call "lawful marriage"—in hell. All that has been so extensively circulated against those doctrines, as sanctioning impurity, is gross, unfounded slander. Assuredly, the "whoremongers," that "have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone," * will not cease to be such when cast there. It is divinely declared, that "he that is filthy shall be filthy still."+ It is also declared, that "he that is holy shall be holy still."+ Consequently, the holy love of marriage shall exist in heaven. If the plain testimony of Scripture, the most obvious deductions of Reason, and the most decided convictions of the intelligent and pious, be sufficient to determine this question, no question, it appears, from what has been adduced above, can be more exclusively decided. The Lord himself is a Husband, and heaven is a marriage. Of such marriages as originate in the marriage of goodness and truth, the Truth itself—God Incarnate—declares, that they shall never be put asunder; and all who by living near to heaven, like Mrs. Fletcher, or by the occasional illapses of a heaven-descended intelligence, like some of the great poets, have been qualified to judge of the subject correctly, have here set-to their seal, that God is true.
* Rev. xxi. 8. + Ch. xxii. 11.