Spiritual Diary, by Emanuel Swedenborg, , tr. by Bush, Smithson and Buss [1883-9] at sacred-texts.com
After theme were thus raised, those who ascended through the province of the right foot were heard speaking, but from their speech I could scarcely perceive anything vital; indeed so extremely feeble was it that I should have supposed they were at the point of death. They spoke almost as if life-less statues had been compelled to speak, wherefore I began to despair of any life remaining in them. Those that ascended through the left foot spoke very similarly, yet with the difference that pertains to what is spiritual, viz. that there seemed to be scarcely any spiritual life in them, which difference could be perceived from the sound. Concerning these I began also to despair of their being able to live, for they were like sculptured statues compelled to speak, in which there is nothing vital. Both companies spoke from behind above.3552.
But I presently heard that they were forced into a certain species of activity, to wit, of a choral kind [gyrationis], thus into a society of good and angelic spirits, who made them the objects of their peculiar care, and who were almost persuaded that they would be incapable of motion, unless they infused life into them; and this they attempted with an earnestness and solicitude which cannot be described; nor did they suffer themselves to weary in this work, but continually labored to agitate them by a sort of rough gyration, attended with the usual sound.3553.
When the good and angelic spirits had thus for several hours exercised their patient care for them, they began to be somewhat vivified, and to appear no longer as such lifeless beings. When this was perceived, as also that life might be so far insinuated into them as to render them capable of being in society, they said that they were in heaven, for this insinuated life was their heaven. This careful labor was continued by the good spirits through the whole night, when I understood that they had become more and more habituated to the societies, and that they might be so united with them as to be thereby perfected in the things pertaining to spiritual and celestial life, for there was nothing repugnant in them on the score of knowledges, only that there was somewhat of a resistance arising from the strong disposition to fall back into their own [dead] life. But yet by one method and another they are initiated, and become above others obedient.3554.
In what manner life was successively infused into them was represented by colors, first by a whitish marble color, then by a bluish color mingled with white, thirdly, by rising spots of white-hued clouds. In a word, life is insinuated into them thus successively that they may be enabled to enter into the fellowships of good spirits.3555.
It was afterwards shown me what was the quality of such by an afflatus from them, first into the face, then into the anterior region of the breast, which was somewhat, though slightly, cold. I perceived it also as not cold, but verging to heat; but whether from others or themselves, I know not.3556.
I could not sufficiently wonder [to see] how solicitously the good and angelic spirits, as also the angels, strove to infuse life into them. Far from being wearied, they labored [in the task] with the most strenuous endeavor, which was perceived to be from the Lord alone, who not only insinuated into the angels such a studious effort, coupled with an affectionate delight, but who also insinuated life into these [semi-animate spirits]; for they were [in a condition] similar to death, so that they could be said to be resuscitated from no life into life, and thus into that which is spiritual and celestial. - 1748, October 13.3557.
THAT DISTANCE IN THE OTHER LIFE IS A FALLACY OF SENSE. It was sometimes observed that a spirit, when he believed himself to be absent, nay, when [he seemed] to speak with others at a distance, was at once close by me, so that he could not understand how the matter was, that while speaking with another at a distance, he should be immediately present, and his thought, which was intermitted, be continued. - 1748, October 13.3558.
THAT THE SPEECH OF OTHERS IS CONVEYED IN A COMMON [GENERAL] MANNER. It was sometimes perceived that others spoke, and what they said was conveyed to me, not by speech nor by distinct ideas, but in a certain general manner, so that I knew what they said, but the mode of it cannot easily be described, except that it was as when others speak together, and it is known, as it were, from the countenance what they say. But this barely [and remotely] represents such a perception. In this general mode [of communication] there is a certain indication of what they say; and yet so definite that it does not deceive. - 1748, October 13.3559.
CONCERNING A HOMICIDAL POISONER, THAT HE WAS CAST INTO A LAKE. Those that were with him complained that he continually fought against the things which are of faith. He was in front, and slightly or about half enveloped as to his face; and being rolled onwards for a long distance towards the filthy Jerusalem, he appeared to me over the roof of the city, but was cast down into a airy lake, from whence he said that it was excrementitious and foul.3560.
Being explored as to whether he was constant in his opposition, which was not a bad sign, because he was then less lukewarm, it was said, that after a delay of some time, when he should perceive that his help was in the Lord alone, he would come into better thoughts, and so would be firm in that part of faith [viz. dependence upon the Lord]. The quality of which he would then become was shown by a certain plane, whereupon was a slight sprinkling of gold dust, which signifies something of the affection of good; besides which [there appeared] green walks, abundantly covered with grass. [The same thing was] afterwards [indicated] by a certain luminous something intermediate between fiery and flamy. This was shown because there were some who doubted whether he could ever live, because so contrary [to faith]. - 1748, October 13.3561.
CONCERNING INFANTS. It was shown, when infants were sometimes sent to me, and they appeared as if dispersed about the head, that they had no fear of diabolical infestations, nor were at all concerned, because they had no perception of such things; wherefore, while anyone is in faith, he is rendered safe from such infestations, and infants also are sent to guard him. This was often said to me, and it was given to perceive it.3562.
THAT SPIRITS DEEPLY RESENT BEING RULED BY MEN. I sometimes perceived, as also today, that spirits bear it very ill that they should be ruled by man, and thus are extremely indignant, inasmuch as they desire [on the other hand] to rule man themselves. If also the idea of a man is presented, as that he was a man in the world, they bear it ill that they should be ruled by him; but not so, if that of a spirit. - 1748, October 14.3564.
THAT THE KNOWLEDGES OF FAITH ARE THE FOOD OF SPIRITS. That the knowledges of truth are the food of spirits may appear from [the case of] those spoken of above, of the lowest of the common people, who were as dead, and as sticks or statues, in whom, because there was scarcely any life, life was given by means of their consorting with good spirits; for before this they knew nothing what heaven was, or what faith was. As much as they come into the knowledges of faith, so much do they live, for so much do they receive from the life of the Lord, and so much have they of ability to be in angelic societies. So also of him that was sent into the miry lake, they said he could not live, because he was unwilling to receive anything of faith; wherefore they despaired of his life. Hence it appears that they live in the other life by the knowledges of faith; hence also that the knowledges of faith and the affections of good are the true food of spirits.3565.
It appears, moreover, hence what is the nature of correspondences, that it is not known, in the interior degree, that there are things which correspond. That spiritual food corresponds with the food of the body, for the life of the body is sustained by good and wholesome food; so in other things. Nor is it known that the cogitative and voluntary principles correspond to the muscles. Hence also it appears that it is not known, by inferior spirits, that the things which exist with angelic spirits correspond; so also the things with the angels. Since these correspondences are not known, therefore they are scarcely acknowledged; wherefore it is absurd to wish to penetrate into the inmost and highest mysteries, which can never fall into the perception of men; even angelic things, gross as they are, do not fall into it, how then shall divine? - 1748, October 14.3566.
Speaking with spirits [it was remarked] that when a man is sitting in conversation at the table, he ought to eat slowly and long, that the salivary ducts may be opened, and that his food may serve better for the purpose of nutrition; because such is the correspondence of spiritual food, which is thus according to the genius and nature of everyone, as in the world of spirits, which food is that of instruction, by means of discourse. Thus also those who are spiritual, whose minds are at the same time delighted, and they are spiritually nourished; and those who are natural, naturally; for in such things consists the life of minds. Moreover, because there are spirits with every man, and they know not that spirits are ever separated from man, they enjoy their food with the spirit of man, when the body of man [enjoys] his. Wherefore because angels are present, it is preferable that they should delight in those things, which are spiritual and celestial.3567.
It has been previously remarked that spirits have every sense except taste; but taste they have not. It is now manifest to me that they are delighted with man's spiritual food, thus with the knowledges of truth and good. But they do not insinuate themselves into taste, which is a sense properly dedicated to corporeal food, or to the nourishment of the body, in which they have no delight. - 1748, October 14.3568.
THAT THOSE WHO ARE NOT IN FAITH CANNOT EVEN NAME THE LORD. It was given to hear and perceive that those who are not in faith cannot even name the Lord, but that it is granted to those only who are in faith to do it, and that only where reflection is given. They tried, but were unable, at which they wondered; for they desired it from their proprium. But when such reflection is not given, then it is lawful for them, as for every man. To name the Lord from the proprium, is to take his name in vain, as is read in the first precept of the Decalogue. Wherefore the Lord says they ought not to swear by heaven. - 1748, October 14. Nor can a spirit [who is not in faith] name faith, however he may attempt it.3569.
THAT IN THE OTHER LIFE SPIRITS ARE PREPARED, THAT THEY MAY BE KEPT IN A STATE OF PERSUASION. I perceived that certain spirits thought - which is a remarkable thing - why, in the other life, they should not immediately come into a state of faith in the Lord, inasmuch as they there knew and believed that the Lord governs the universe; as also some in the world may possibly believe. But they were informed that the reason why they could not believe in the Lord, although they knew all this, was because their nature was repugnant to such belief, and although they should hear, see, and know a thousand times that it is so, they would, nevertheless, return to their own nature. Wherefore, their nature, because it is repugnant, must first be castigated or corrected; and thus by degrees be led into faith, so that they can be kept by the Lord in a state of persuasion, 3569-1 which can only be done by slow degrees. It was, moreover, said that if they, who do not believe that there is a heaven, because they did not believe it [in the world], were carried up into heaven, and were compelled to acknowledge and confess that there is a heaven; nevertheless, when remitted into their own state and nature, they would immediately deny, as before, that there is a heaven. Which fact has been proved by experience, from which it was seen, that such persuasions and phantasies cling to such persons as have confirmed themselves in unbelief; wherefore it is necessary that faith be implanted in some other way than by mere science, or knowledge, and experience.3570.
It is also the same upon earth, as I was told; for when the Jews saw miracles, and even the presence of the Lord Himself upon mount Sinai, because their nature was repugnant, they, nevertheless, returned to their own unbelief.3571.
Certain persons, who believed that they live from themselves, were let into the state of persuasion in which those are, who believe that they do not live from themselves, but that life flows into them from other spirits, thus, from the community [communi]. When they had come into this state, they said they could not thus live; and I perceived they were tormented with a certain anxiety. From which fact it may be concluded, that if a man, who believes that he lives from himself, and that his life does not flow into him, were to come into such a state, as to be persuaded that he does not live from himself, but from the Lord's life; and that the Lord's life flows into him through angels, and, at the same time, believed that he is governed by spirits, he could scarcely live, although he was scientifically or experimentally persuaded that it is so, as was the case with certain spirits; -in a word, his life would, in the highest degree, be anxious; wherefore, it is permitted that a man should think that his life is his own [inherent in himself] although it is a mere fallacy of the senses. - 1748, October 14.3572.
CONCERNING EVIL SPIRITS WHO WISH TO ENTER INTO THE MYSTERIES OF FAITH. I was several times infested by evil spirits, who would fain suggest doubts against the more hidden and most hidden things of faith, and thus refute them, as also by those who would, by their defiled phantasies, penetrate the inmost and highest things of faith. I then proposed to them, having recourse to representations, to look into the intestines, the seat of the vilest excretions, [and see] whether by their ratiocinations and intellect they were able to know and comprehend what the truth is as to their forms, how the separating processes go on, and whether they could understand how the different discharges [are formed], of which [process] there are so many diversities. If they could not understand these viler things, how could they grasp things spiritual and inmost? - 1748, October 14.3573.
THAT EVIL SPIRITS SEIZE UPON TRUTH AND GOOD, ALTHOUGH THEY DO NOT KNOW WHAT THEY ARE. There was something which I had forgotten, and which I seemed to myself anxious to recall to mind, but [certain] spirits were unwilling; wherefore when it was recalled, or was on the point of being recalled, they snatched it away, so that I could not recollect it. I know not what it was, nor did the spirits know, supposing it, however, to be something which might infest them, or which proceeded from malice. It was hence given to know that spirits can seize and secrete even things of which they know not what they are; as also that they can perceive how near a thing is to being recalled to my mind which I have once seen. It appears also from this, in a twofold manner, that evil spirits, at the first presence and approximation of truth and good, seize upon it and pervert them, -one reason of which is that they are so directly opposed to their nature; another, that their malignity is such that they are prompted to seize and conceal. - 1748, October 15.3574.
THAT ALL THINGS ARE CREATED FROM USE AND FOR USE. I spoke by ideas of thought with angelic spirits, that nothing was ever created in the world but from an end, whence is use, and from use effect; and thus everything is created from use for use. I spoke first of the lungs, that they were formed for use, being designed to be subservient to particular functions, as first to give life both to the muscles and to the organs of sense, and then to apply themselves to each, yea, the most singular, of the [various] functions. Thus the use of everything is pre-existent, and ought to be foreseen and provided for. The end is that the whole body, as to functions and senses, may live; thus it is a kind of commune, to which every single use has respect, so that uses are mediate ends to a universal use, which is the life of the body. The muscles and organs of sense, as the sight [for instance], have respect to a common use, namely, the internal sight; wherefore they also are for use and from use. Internal sight, or thought, has respect to a common end, which is the good of society in general and in universal over the earth wherefore all things of thought will be uses, and tending to that end, thus [they will be] intermediate ends.3575.
Interior thought has respect to the common good of society and societies, thence of the whole world of spirits and of heaven in the other life, wherefore each and all the things of interior thought have respect to mediate use. In the inanimate and animate world also everything in like manner has regard to use, that they may, in various ways, subserve the interests of man. They are therefore uses, to which each and everything is formed, and from the interior have respect to the exterior. Hence it may sufficiently appear that the most universal End of all is that which disposes all and each and that He who disposes is the end from which and to which everything tends in order, and that the [grand] End, which is the Lord, causes that all inferior ends and uses should have respect to Himself and that nothing can have this respect except what is from Him; and that that End is Life may appear from the ends of each individual man.3576.
Unless the Lord were the end, no one could perceive how uses and ends should form the viscera and other natural organs, which no mortal understands, for no idea is to be had of use except from effects. And as uses and ends can never exist but from organic substances, and because uses and ends are the vital principles of organic substances, it thence appears that the Universe, as to its contents, from the inmost to the outmost, is organic, and that the Lord alone is Life, and thus the Universe is filled by the Lord. - 1748, October 15.3577.
As it appears therefore that throughout the universe use can never be separated from organic substances, there results hence a reason for the use of ultimates in nature; they flow from the uses of external organic substances. Use separate from organic substances is not given in the created universe, thus [it flows] necessarily from the Lord. But that all use might be seen from ultimates, is a consequence of man's being born such a being as he is - one who is to be instructed by sensual things; but his sight extends from external to internal things by a removal of the external, or, as it were, by their death, for when the external are removed, the internal appear, and upon their removal, things still more interior, so that finally there are no externals. Thus by removals and rejections [from before to] behind the internal, a way from the posterior to the prior is given - a process with which man is familiar. - 1748, October 15.3578.
But yet the externals are not wholly rejected and consigned to death, so as to become nothing, but they are disposed by the Lord that they may be subservient to interior things, and thus to Himself, which subserviences are of such vast variety, in order that at indefinite variety of genera and species may be given. Such subserviences are represented in the other life by colors, as of the rainbow, by odors, as of flowers, by spheres, from which their qualities are immediately perceived, by resembling images of visual things, as well as by other kinds of perceptions, which truths flow in only through the interiors, from the remains [obsequiis] of external things. - 1748, October 15. I was instructed concerning the things here treated of as much by ideas of interior thought, as by speech communicated to me.3579.
CONCERNING SPIRITS WHO SAY THAT THEY ARE NOTHING, AND YET WISH TO BE EVERYTHING; OR CONCERNING THE ANTEDILUVIANS. There are spirits who appear at a great depth behind, whose life is like that of a wintry light, and who strenuously affirmed that they were nothing, but it was perceived from their speech that this was not their real sentiment. It was also said to me by others that they declare this of themselves, when yet they would fain be everything; wherefore, in order that they may emerge and mingle with others, and thus destroy them, they say they are nothing. When I mentioned "love," they could not admit the word, because [it conveyed to them the idea of something] so gross that it did not appear to be anything. Thus they are devoid of love and are of a wintry quality. They were the antediluvians, of whom I have spoken before. - 1748, October 15.3580.
I spoke with them when they were below, and indeed very deep beneath the posteriors, conversing with them thus remotely and profoundly distant altogether as if present, for distance [in the other life] is of no account. I supposed that they had thus confirmed themselves by arguments and reasonings against the truths of faith, and, some, of them, so fully as, by the force of reasonings, to go entirely contrary of faith. But it was given to observe, that this was not so much from their abundance of arguments, as from their persuasion, or the things which they thought, for whatever they thought was persuasive [with them], of which more below.3581.
I spoke with them concerning objections and reasonings against the truth of faith, that they were mere shadow, and could turn the light of truth into shade, and could place the clear knowledges of faith, by a multitude of objections, in such doubt, that it was afterwards very difficult to believe, when yet truth is truth, and the knowledge of faith is the knowledge of faith, and that there [only] is light. I represented this at the same time by means of imagination and thought, thus inwardly according to their mode of speaking and understanding, and it seemed to me as if others about my head uttered such a speech as was within myself. There was represented a sparrow, as to which I know that such a bird actually lives, and is of such and such a quality. Now if I should contemplate its viscera and its brain, and thence reason whether the sparrow be alive, and whether it be such as it is, the fact will be denied; namely, if upon seeing its brain, and perceiving that it is like a jelly, I should reason [with myself] how this [brain] could live, and cause [the bird] to live with senses and a body, -then [again] if I should inspect the viscera, as the liver, the pancreas, the intestines, and also the vessels, with the fibers and their connections, and should thence reason whether [the bird] could live, when such and such things could never cohere, conspire, and operate to cause it to live, and so of all the contents of the body;-3582.
Since [I say] I know not in regard to these things how they contribute to life, and deem it impossible that life should be the result - if on this account I should deny that the sparrow really lived and was what it is, [should I not act unreasonably?] Would it not be sufficient that it was plain that it did live and was of such a quality? And to reason in such a way, would it not be to cast the mind into such shades and darkness - which were at the same time thence represented - that I should deny what was [obviously] true? It was also given to represent a certain flower which I see to be a flower of beautiful colors. If now I should reason from the stalk, from its fibers, which simply rise on high, from the juice oozing forth, then from the root, how it could produce and form such things, so that the particles should beautifully arrange themselves as if they knew what they were about, causing such elegant colors and also the flower itself to exist - if from these things I should reason concerning the existence and quality of the flower, should I not fall into shade, and deny that the flower existed, and so on? Wherefore a thousand objections may be started; as many, in fact, as the objects themselves, and all of such a nature as to destroy truth and cover its light with darkness.3583.
As they were unable to reply to this, though they appeared as persons convicted, it was given to know, that their persuasive principle arose not so much from the store of reasonings as from other causes, and that they had confirmed and darkened their minds, so as to deny the truths of faith. But as they were smitten, as it were, with such a love of self as to suppose that whatever they thought was actually so, and thus to deem themselves infallible and as gods upon earth, this was perhaps the source of their persuasive principle, concerning which I have spoken before in relation to the antediluvians, which is also confirmed by this that when they lived in the body, they would have strangled those who did not admit that everything was just as they would have it. They would not allow its being said that they wished to kill them, but rather, to strangle, and thus to suffocate them, for their persuasive principle is such as to suffocate, whence some would have it that the flood is to be understood in this way, as something by which men were suffocated one after another. For this persuasive principle is such as to suffocate others by taking away their respiration, wherefore they now say that they are thus suffocated by their own persuasive principle, when it penetrates interiorly, where the spiritual resists, so as not to suffer them to die eternally.3584.
As there were many of the evil genii who wished that these spirits might come forth from that hell, that thus they might in conjunction destroy me - for there is a continual plotting and purpose with spirits and evil genii to compass my destruction, and with a view to this they especially aim to make me [think and] say that they are nothing - wherefore they impressed upon them the idea of their issuing forth, and [in order to this] poured upon them, as it were, the prompting to say that they were nothing, that thus they might emerge. There was therefore heard a deep tumultuous uproar beneath the posteriors, like that of a huge tumultuous and turbulent rolling, which continued for some time, as it arose from their movement, because they wished to emerge, and to struggle forth into the world of spirits. Their sphere of tumultuous and turbulent activity extended itself upwards to the left side, in a direction to the left of the anus; wherefore it was permitted that some of them should emerge, who then appeared above the head a little in front, to the opposite of where the profound depth was, or to the opposite of the posteriors.3585.
They attempted there, through their strong persuasive principle, and assisted by the evil genii, to infuse their deadly influence into me, but in vain; I even spoke with them there, though the tenor of the conversation has escaped me. But in the night while asleep, I suddenly seemed to myself to be suffocated; but from being asleep I knew not whence it was, though the angels that were with me knew. Wherefore I besought help of the Lord, and there appeared a man with me in the bed, upon which I was immediately delivered, and delivered too by the Lord. It was thence given to know what is the quality of their persuasive principle, that by means of it alone they can strangle or suffocate others, yea whomsoever - that even - as if awake, when in the state - there was exhibited a kind of representative breastplate, which cannot be described, as such an idea is not expressible by words. 3585-1 The breast-plate however signified that it [the thing in question] was of no value, that it was scarcely an argument, and yet that such a thing had been so strong a persuasive, that if anyone would not have believed it they would have sought to kill him. They induced a persuasion also that a small man was lying with me, nor could I, in that state of sleep, as if awake, think otherwise than that such was the fact; I also heard him speaking. Hence it may appear how strong had been their persuasive principle.3586.
At length some of them who supposed that they were able to do anything, even to take away the life from anyone, or suffocate anyone, began to tremble greatly, and to be gradually submerged. It was perceived by interior vision that a certain small child was pushing them down, from whose presence they so tottered and trembled, that they cried out that they were in anguish, and indeed to that degree that they often betook themselves to supplications that they might be delivered. But still they were thrust down with such trembling and anxiety that they related to their companions under the mountain that they were overpowered, so that they could scarcely breathe, and thus that they no more desired to come into the world of spirits, and lead men, as they said this desire was infused into them by evil genii.3587.
The spirits who were before around me fled, and some who returned remarked that if they had remained the life of their respiration would have been taken away from them. Some who were on the left of the head, and who were their subjects, afterwards complained that they more than others were rendered almost lifeless, for [the spirits spoken of] inwardly held that all others compared to them were nothing. Such in fact is their persuasion, that in comparison with themselves others are nothing, and this persuasion penetrates others, so that they are affected with great anxiety in finding themselves, in their own esteem, to be reduced to nothing. There were those who desired that they might emerge in order to my destruction; but their presence made them feel, with much anxiety, that they were as nothing. Some of them were seen by me to be seized with vomiting, for when they seemed to themselves to be recovered from that [apparent] death, the effect of the recovery was to produce the vomiting which was seen. Certain of the evil genii who were above the head associated with themselves several others, for they are intent upon craftily taking my life. They said those did not suffer in this manner from them who think themselves to be so subtle that they cannot be affected by their persuasive principle, though they were still liable, as was in some measure perceived by me, to be seized with various anxieties growing out of such strict conjunctions. I knew, however, by positive assurance, that if they did not desist they would be inwardly affected and punished worse than others. Such are the genii who eagerly watch for an occasion of acting in this clandestinely deceitful manner.3589.
It was afterwards shown me how their women were clothed as to the head, viz, that they wore a round black cap considerably large, with a kind of turret between the small snow-white [projections], and because they loved infants, they delighted to have them go before them, which also was represented to me, and how they went before in an inflected line, the mothers glorying [in the meantime]. Speaking of the love of infants, [I said] that the same principle existed among all the brute beasts, and thus among the worst of the human race; but if they loved infants, not for the sake of self-love and self-glory, but with a view to the common good by the increase of human society, and more especially by the multiplication of the numbers in heaven, thus on account of the celestial societies, and thus on account of the Lord, they would then have had the genuine love of infants; but this was not theirs. It was said concerning the men, that as they grew up they became deformed, especially from the quantity of hair about their faces, which it was perceived was connected with their persuasive principle. It was said that their women were small. 1748, October 16.3590.
HOW MAN OUGHT TO THINK I have heard spirits reasoning together saying that things, they could not reason otherwise than from sensual and corporeal concerning spiritual and celestial things, because they were corporeal. But it was replied, that they should think from heaven, that is, from the knowledges of faith, which are heavenly, and which are revealed [in the Word], and thus, if necessary, these knowledges might be confirmed by sensual things. For the angels are in the sphere of faith, thus in the knowledges of faith; thus they might think concerning heaven, and in this manner, innumerable truths would be revealed to them, as to those in heaven. - 1748, October 16.3591.
THAT WE CAN KNOW NOTHING EXCEPT WHAT IS GRANTED BY THE LORD. There were spirits who confused themselves from the fact that they did not know how everyone enjoyed the liberty of thinking, and that ideas did not flow according to the order which they supposed, and they wished to inquire into the causes, but were not able to discover them. It was told them that the reason of this was, that they might know that they knew nothing, for if they wished to inquire into the details of everything, there would be indefinite things which would confound, yea, indefinites of indefinites; and if they should know some of these, still there would immediately be others that were opposed to them, and so on; thus the inquiry would be protracted to eternity, and contrary things would continually confound them. Wherefore it is of the Lord's providence that one finds so many contraries in every particular about which men reason and conclude, viz, that in consequence of the confusion arising from these contraries they may abide in universal truths, or in the knowledges of faith, that these may govern their thoughts, and that while they prevail they may abstain from such [fruitless inquiries].3592.
There are moreover contrary objects, indefinitely numerous, which induce falsities; for almost everything that the eye sees is a contradictory object, by which, if the mind dwells upon it, it is confounded and blinded, while on the other hand there are but few truths known to man, by which, if he does not firmly hold his mind, it will rush into such falsities that it will come to be wholly made up of mere scandals against the truths of faith.3593.
CONCERNING A MERCILESS MERCY, AND [CONCERNING] CHARITY. Certain spirits, when I was writing respecting the antediluvians, [and saying] that they had scarcely anything [vital] left, were touched with such compassion, that they persuasively induced the idea of the Lord's becoming placable towards them; and because they induced a degree of this persuasion upon me, it was not given then to instruct them that such, if they should come into the spiritual world, would destroy whomsoever they should find by an unseasonable compassion. Others were greatly moved, they knew not whence, to exercise a like pity, and because they penetrate even to good spirits, or to the proximate or intermediate societies, evil and good, it was permitted that some of those who were under the mountain where were the antediluvians before spoken of should come forth; but, as was then perceived there were others also who descended to them, whose life was similar. But concerning the antediluvians, and the manner of their coming forth, see just below.3594.
I perceived that some of these were received among the crafty spirits above the head, which I think was mentioned before, who were perhaps from among the moderns similar to the antediluvians, and who continually desired to be saved, and thus were able to excite deep compassion, which because it penetrated to the intermediate [spirits], it was shown of what quality they were whom they wished to save, and for whom they prayed. There came those who think so little of adulteries that when they see a house where there is a wife they enter it without conscience, and endeavor by every effort, by force and rapine, to ravish her. By the presence of such spirits I was for a long time infested, and those who were so unseasonably compassionate perceived of what quality they were, viz. that they were prone to every species of wickedness, nay, that by a persuasion similar to that of the antediluvians they would excite nearly all that came in their way to the perpetration of the same enormities, for they pressed on with the utmost contumacy [in their instigations]; they were invisible, and wished their agency to be concealed; though long sought for, they were not to be found; thus neither could others know whence such a wicked insanity poured itself forth, acting as they did in disguise, and at the same time inspiring compassion. Thus in order to excite an once both the evil and the upright, they craftily insinuate themselves into good affections, having deceit [continually] in view, and consulting their own interests solely, nor caring if the whole universe [beside] should perish.3595.
That these abandoned adulterers exist in immense numbers, was shown by their being brought into a gyre [or choral train], and following continually in a gyre, indefinitely drawn. They continued thus for a long time, from which it was evident that the number is immense of those who make nothing of adulteries, and it was said that Christendom, above all other lands, is filled with such; for in other lands these abominations are not heard of, but in Christendom every bond of shame is broken.3596.
I spoke, moreover, with those who were prompted to this unseasonable compassion, and it was given to say, that this was outrageous, not that they should be touched with pity, but that when informed [of their character] they should be disposed to exercise compassion towards such as were aiming to deceive and pervert the whole world, intent only upon their [vile] ends - that when instructed in their quality they should still persist [in their misplaced pity], which was in fact worse than the desire to punish everyone [of them], for those who are thus compassionate refuse to be affected by compassion from the Lord, that is, in behalf of those who perish [by their means]; even if it were the whole world that should perish [in this manner], still they would not desist from their compassion towards those who destroy them. I observed that those were of this character who reason much concerning the Divine government, and thus cast themselves into absurdities, not knowing what compassion is, and remaining obstinate, though instructed. They suffer themselves to be easily persuaded by such deceitful, merciless spirits, who inspire compassion for the sake of themselves and their own preeminence; and so long as this deceitful persuasion is infused into them, they persist [in their mistaken pity].3597.
It was shown that among those who inspire this unseasonable compassion, the priestly order was conspicuous. They would fain have others feel that they must live, though the whole world should perish. Thus of the monks and Jesuites the greater part are of this character, who, from the habit contracted in life by such a persuasion, are able to possess others with the idea that they must be saved at all hazards; for they have, by persuasion, drawn over to their interest the priests who were not [originally] such [as themselves]. It was shown that those of this quality, are represented by a priest clothed in a black garment, who had a white cloud around him; and after yards by a white [robed] virgin, whom he took for himself with whom he was let downwards; but that whiteness of hers or his was taken away from him.3598.
It hence appears that what is called the Christian world is almost of the character of the antediluvian, deceitful, acting invisibly and, covertly, and indeed from a similar persuasion wherefore their life is similar, viz., the life of winter. Indeed the world called Christian is in this respect worse than the antediluvian, that it accounts adulteries as nothing; and when adulteries are accounted as nothing, it follows that they have nothing which savors of love, and they wish to destroy societies because they are contrary to them; hence too they become cruel, which is inseparable from adulteries; for the result of a single adulterous act is a proneness to cruelty. Thus in Italy, where the monks [licentiously] insinuate themselves among married women, nothing is more obvious than that they become vindictively cruel.3599.
In a word, to be compassionate towards such is the opposite of compassion, for it is a pity towards the pitiless; wherefore if they do not suffer themselves to be instructed, their tender mercies are cruel. It hence also appears that they entice wives and virgins to adultery and lewdness, by exciting compassion, namely, that they may be led to pity them; whereas such compassion is an outrage, supposing that they may pity because they themselves lose nothing, when yet conjugial love is thereby destroyed, and thus all other loves, and thus the blessedness of eternal life.3600.
It appears also from this, that love, charity, and compassion do not exist, if they be a mere affection [or sentiment], unless there be [also] the knowledges of faith, thus an understanding instructed in the knowledges of faith without these there is no [true] conscience.
3562-1 When the same person said in the lake that he would not forgive [the offence], though it was light, because he was such during life that he would not forgive anyone against whom he entertained hatred, then from another part of Gehenna there appeared a large sack, from which, when opened, there issued a dense and black smoke, and rolled itself upwards, which indicates such hatred.
3569-1 Here the term "persuasion" would appear to be employed in a good sense, namely, that of faith, or belief, in which sense it is also used in the title of this article. -Tr.
3585-1 From the broken manner in which the paragraph is given, the reader would naturally infer, what Dr. Tafel, the editor, says is the fact, that the MS. is here somewhat defective, the paper having been torn. I have concluded to let it stand as it appears in the original. -Tr.