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of his eyes how much he has lost ! He must wander in
darkness through the earth, comparatively helpless, for
ten, twenty, fifty years, unconscious of its beauty of form
and color, of the significance of expressive faces and
gestures, of the changing glories of the seasons, of day
and night, and the ever-shifting play of things by which
the web of human life is woven. How great, how irrep-
arable, how sad the loss ! And yet what is that compared
with the loss of one's spiritual sight? Nothing, — abso-
lutely nothing ! One is the loss for a few years of the


sight of earthly things, the other the loss to eternity of
the inexpressible beauty and glory of heaven. This is
but one of the senses.

Suppose you had held in your hand the first grain of
wheat that was created. You planted it, and in time it
just pushed its head above the ground, and there its
progress is arrested. It remains a green blade, but be-
comes nothing more. What a loss to humanity ! Thou-
sands of millions of acres, waving with golden harvests,
the staff of life for thousands of generations, broken. It
surpasses the power of the finite mind to conceive the
loss to humanity, and yet that is nothing compared with
what every soul will lose whose progress is arrested in the
first beginning of life by spiritual death. ' ' What shall
it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose
his own soul ?' '

You observe that I say nothing so far about pain and
punishment, but speak merely of loss of attainment, of
what man does not gain, of the endless and only less than
infinite blessings the Lord intended for him which he fails
to receive. And if he were to stop there, like the grain
of wheat arrested in its growth, and suffer no pain, suffer
nothing but the loss, can you conceive anything more
terrible ? What a blasting of hopes ! What bankruptcy !
What eternal ruin ! Who would not fear a death which
closes the gates of such hopes against us and bars us from
the possession of such endless and ineffable joys ?

But this is not all. By that inversion of life which we
call spiritual death the soul comes into such a state of
disorder and discord with the Fountain of life and with
all outward things that it is filled with perpetual pain. It



is not my purpose to describe the woes and agonies of
the second death. We all know something of what they
are, for there is not a sorrow or pain that afflicts human
hearts that is not the effect of the second death. Count
up your own sorrows, the pain from blasted hopes, the
pangs of regret, the stings of remorse, the chafings from
conflicting interests, the smarts of jealousy and shame,
and the great shadow of fear that lies like a cloud upon
all hearts ; measure the sum of human suffering in the
hearts around you, and they will declare the awful conse-
quences of this death in a language more forcible and
eloquent than the painter's colors or the writer's words.
Add to these, if you can, the future consequences of this
death, the night that has no hope of a coming morning,
the cup of misery that can never be drained, the feverish
and tormenting desires that can never be appeased. Is
there not reason in the Divine words, '' And I say unto
you, my friends. Be not afraid of them that kill the body,
and after that have no more that they can do. But I will
forewarn you whom ye shall fear : Fear him, who after
he hath killed hath power to cast into hell. Yea, I say
unto you. Fear him" !

Is there not every reason to fear this death ? Human
language is totally inadequate to express its horrors.
Human imagination cannot adequately conceive its
awful terrors. You may fear it ; you ought to fear it ;
teach your children to fear it ; warn your friends and
neighbors to fear it. It is the most terrible thing in the

And yet men do not fear it. They play and dance
with it ; they crown it with roses, and sink willingly into


its embrace. Gentle and timid women, who would
scream at a harmless insect and fall into a swoon at the
sight of blood, will gayly and boldly toy with death ; will
greet it with gay laughter and song, and cherish it with
its hideous deformities and the sting of its endless pain
in the secret shrine of their hearts. And men who call
themselves ruined if they lose money, who are ashamed
of goodness and have not sufficient courage to say, I
have done wrong, are bold enough to do the wrong.

I know of no illusion of evil so cunning and destruc-
tive to human souls as that which conceals the horrors of
real death with deceptive and vain delights, and invests
a mere step in life with all the horrors of death. How
we mourn when a beloved one is translated ! We look
at the body which is cast off, and our eyes are blinded
with tears. But who weeps over the dead souls that fill
our houses and throng our streets ? The stir and bustle
and noisy activity that everywhere meet the eye and fall
upon the ear are not the sounds of life. The shout and
song that come from festive halls are not the sounds of
living souls, but too often the wild, mad revelry of death.
And the earth, this beautiful and glorious earth, created
to be the birthplace of immortal souls and the sweet
cradle of infancy, the nursery of heaven, has become a
vast sepulchre, a dwelling for the dead, a grave in which
human souls are buried.

We die spiritually before we do naturally. The death
of the body only lifts the veil and reveals to us in clear
light the death of the soul that already exists, and per-
mits us to pass on to its full consequences. When the
body has performed its use, it fades like the blossom, it


withers and falls like the husk, and reveals the life or
death that exists within. It does not cause it ; it does
not add to it or subtract from it, any more than the re-
moval of the chaff adds to or subtracts from the wheat.

Let us not, then, confound these two things so en-
tirely distinct and different, and live in constant dread of
that death which is but an orderly step in life and a pro-
vision of infinite mercy, while we forget the real danger
of our souls.


*' In my Father's house are many mansions : if it were not so,
I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

''^ And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again,
and receive you unto myself ; that where I am, there ye may be
also.'''' — John xiv. 2, 3.

T INVITE your attention to what the doctrines of the
-^ New Church, as contained in the writings of Emanuel
Swedenborg, teach us concerning heaven. Swedenborg
presents the subject in his work on " Heaven and Hell"
from two points of view : from the nature of the Lord and
from the nature of man, and we must take the same
position and view it in the same light if we desire to get
any clear idea of his disclosures concerning it.

The Lord is essentially a being of infinite love and
wisdom. His end or motive in creating the universe and
man must have been the formation of a heaven of intelli-
gent beings whom He could bless with the largest meas-
ures of the highest happiness it is possible for a finite
being to receive. Infinite love could do no less than this.
Infinite wisdom also could not fail to provide the best
possible means in every form, quality, and method for
attaining the ends of infinite love. If you assume that
the Lord could have had any other end in the creation
than the greatest good of the greatest number, your sup-
position denies His infinite love. It falls short of the
highest purpose which even a finite mind can conceive ;


how, then, can it be infinite? If you assume that the
Lord has not devised the best possible methods to carry
His purpose into effect, you do not accord to Him in-
finite wisdom and power. He could have done better
than He has, and that would be infinite folly and failure.
The Lord's nature demands that He shall provide a
state of endless and boundless blessedness.

We must come to the same conclusion if we view the
subject from the nature of man. There is not a prin-
ciple or power or form in man's soul, mind, or body,
when unperverted, which does not look to the same end.
If you examine the material body in its relations to the
material universe, you find that every bone, muscle,
tendon, nerve, — every organic form in its least and
largest parts, was designed directly or indirectly to be
an inlet of delight ; to contribute in some way to man's
happiness in this world. If you examine the material
universe you find that everything, from the rock to the
sun, was designed to contribute to human well-being ; to
sustain, to protect, to delight, and to bless man. If you
view the human body in its relations to the human soul,
you discover that it is designed with an exquisite skill to
clothe the soul and to serve as its instrument in gain-
ing ideas, in developing its affections, and in forming the
basis for an immortal career in another world. If you
look at the nature of man himself, his love for knowledge
and delight in obtaining it, his power of loving and the
blessedness which flows from the exercise of that power ;
when you consider that his capacities to know, love, and
enjoy are so great that nothing can satisfy him, so im-
measurable that it is impossible for a finite mind to con-
L a 21


ceive of any assignable limit beyond which he may not
pass, what other conclusion is possible than that the
Lord created man and specifically formed him in every
organ, quality, and principle to be a recipient of endless
and ever-increasing happiness ? To deny it is to attrib-
ute to Him the monstrous mistake and folly of creating
human beings with capacities and wants for which He
provided no means of supply, thus compelling His chil-
dren to go on their endless way with a burning thirst which
He has provided no living waters to assuage, and con-
suming hunger which there is no bread to satisfy. That
would be terrible beyond conception. Annihilation is
better than that. There is, therefore, no rational escape
from the conclusion that the Lord, man, and nature all
point in one direction, to a state of complete and perfect
human happiness.

Our next question, therefore, is, How is this happi-
ness obtained ? What makes heaven ? Observation,
experience, reason, and the Lord Himself in the Sacred
Scriptures, give one answer to this question. Heaven
essentially is a state or condition of the soul, of the
will and understanding, of the affections and thoughts.
''The kingdom of God is within you." There is where
heaven begins. It must be there or it cannot be any-
where else. Every faculty of man's nature, as we know,
was made to be an inlet of delight, and when all his
faculties of will and understanding preserve the perfec-
tion into which they were created, and act in the form
and order designed by infinite wisdom, the result must
be happiness and heaven according to the measure and
degree of their capacity.



The internal condition or state is the first essential.
Without that no external conditions or possessions would
be of any value. No one can be admitted into the
heaven of light, with its splendors and beauty of color
and form, until the eye, which is the kingdom of light in
the body, has been formed in him ; no one can be ad-
mitted into the kingdom of harmony with all its concord
of sweet sounds, until the organ of hearing has been
formed within him. The same principle holds in regard
to every sense and every delight. It is, so far as we
know or can conceive, a universal principle, a method of
attaining His ends which the Lord always adopts. We
see it also in all our works. When men seek to use the
power of steam or falling water to do their work, they
must construct engines and wheels adapted to the nature
of the element they use. When they desire to get har-
mony from the idle wind they make an organ. They
can get it in no other way. The sun cannot create har-
vests of corn and fruit for man until there is some germ
or Vegetable form for its heat and light to flow into and
awake to activity. So it is with the soul. It must be so
constituted, and must be in such a state, that it is capable
of exercising heavenly affection, or it can never attain
heavenly delights. A stone cannot see though the light
floods it ; it cannot feel though the heat penetrates it ; it
cannot hear though the winds play all their melodies
over it. It cannot enter the heaven of beauty, of har-
mony, of delight, because they cannot enter it. The
principles which constitute their kingdom are not em-
bodied in it. These are illustrations of the method which
the Lord in His infinite wisdom has provided for the at-


tainment of His ends. And the method is universal. It
is grounded in the very nature of things. We cannot
enter heaven merely by going to any place, or by admis-
sion to the society of the angels. That would be of no
use to us whatever if we could not receive the life and
exercise the affections of the angels. What is the use to
the blind man of increasing the light ? To enter heaven
we must be in a heavenly state.

What, then, is the heavenly state ? It consists essen-
tially in love to the Lord and man. Negatively, it is
freedom from sin, from impurity, and from falsity. Posi-
tively, it is the harmonious action of all the faculties of
the soul in the order established for them by infinite wis-
dom. It is for man as a spiritual being what the perfect
action of eye and ear are for him as a natural being.
By his senses, when they are sound, man is admitted
into all natural delight. When his spiritual faculties are
sound and in true order, he is admitted by them into all
heavenly and spiritual delights.

This state is called by various names. It is being
reconciled to God. It is making our peace with Him.
It is being one with Him, so that He can dwell in us,
and we in Him. It is believing on Him, loving Him, and
living according to His commandments. It is a life ac-
cording to the order embodied in the human soul by in-
finite wisdom to carry it on to the end designed for it by
infinite love, — that is, to a state of complete and ever-
increasing happiness.

We all, no doubt, agree that one of the essential ele-
ments of heaven is a heavenly state of the affections and
thoughts. But if we stop here we have told only half of


the truth. No perfection of internal spiritual state would
secure our happiness unless there were something with-
out us to call our affections and various spiritual faculties
into activity. Heavenly happiness is not possible with-
out a substantial world in which the heavenly inhabitants
dwell. If there were no light the most perfect eye would
be of no more use to man than a ball of glass or an
empty socket. This is true of all the senses. A ma-
terial body perfectly organized in every part, without an
external world adapted to it, capable of flowing into it
and exciting its forms to activity, would be entirely desti-
tute of sensation. Organization is only one of the fac-
tors of sensation. It is just as impossible to produce
harmony from an organ in a perfect vacuum as it is to
produce sensation by organization alone. I am certain
you will give your assent to this.

The same law applies to the spirit. You cannot think
without some object to think about. You cannot know
without something to know. You cannot love without
some being or thing objective or distinct from yourself
to love. The various faculties of the soul, like the germ
of a plant, remain inactive until called into play by some
power or object without or distinct from themselves.

So, we hold, it must be with the soul in the spiritual
world. The spirit itself must be an organic human form
or it could not preserve its identity ; it could not be in
any state of goodness and truth, or in any other state.
State or condition is not an abstraction. It is the form
and quality of something. The state of your health is
not some abstract condition apart from your body. If
you had no body you would have no health, and you



would be nobody. If the spirit had no form and no or-
ganization, it could not be happy or miserable. To talk
of its being admitted into heaven would be absurd, for
there would be nothing to admit. To say that it hears,
sees, feels, can talk and sing, would be contrary to the
nature of things.

No one can see without eyes ; and no one can see with
eyes unless there is light and some form from which the
light is reflected. The spiritual world, therefore, must
be a real and substantial world. It must comprise those
forms and objects which compose a world. Its inhabi-
tants must be distinct from one another. That world
must have a sun, or there can be no light. It must have
an atmosphere, or there can be no speech, no song, no
sound, no action of any kind. There must be the two
factors, a heavenly state and a heavenly world, to pro-
duce happiness. Happiness is inconceivable without
both. If we deny substance and form to man as a
spirit and to the spiritual world, instead of securing con-
ditions more favorable to human happiness, we have no
conditions at all. The true way and the only way,
therefore, of obtaining a correct idea of heavenly hap-
piness and the means essential to securing it, is not to
deny to man as a spirit and to the spiritual world all the
properties, forms, and relations of this world and this
life, but to carry out his state and relations in this world
to more perfect conditions in the other.

As a man is a spirit in the human form, he has, after
laying aside the material body, all the organs, external
and internal, proper to a human being. He has eyes
organized of spiritual substances, and he can see spiritual



objects. He has ears, and he can hear spiritual sounds
and be affected by spiritual harmonies. He can taste and
feel, and enjoy the fragrance of pleasant odors. When
the spiritual body is raised up or withdrawn from the
material body, a man retains every sense he ever had.
Indeed, his power of sensation always belonged to the
spiritual body, even before it was withdrawn from the
material body. The material body was only the instru-
ment the spiritual senses used to gain a knowledge of
material things, as we use optical instruments to assist
the vision of the naked eye. There was no more change
wrought in the spiritual senses by discarding the material
organs than there is wrought in the eye by removing the
glasses we use to assist our imperfect vision. The spir-
itual faculties remain the same in themselves, but they
come into more favorable conditions for delightful exer-
cise. Freed from their material covering, they are more
delicate and sensitive to every contact and relation.
Their power of sensation is indefinitely increased.

At the same time the whole human form becomes a
more perfect expression of the beautiful heavenly charac-
ter. Consider the law by wliich this is attained. Any
affection by continued exercise fixes itself in the feat-
ures and becomes embodied in the whole form. Care
ploughs its furrows in the face, sorrow casts its shadows
over it, joy irradiates it, lust brutalizes it, cunning and
fear leave their impress upon it, contentment and peace
give to it a sweet and serene repose. This relation be-
tween outward form and inward state is more fully realized
when man is freed from the incumbrance of the inert ma-
terial body. He becomes the form of his ruling affection.


His love to the Lord and man becomes effigied in his face
and in his whole form. He becomes an embodied affec-
tion. His face is moulded into its image. His wisdom
glows in his eyes, irradiates his face, is moulded in his
limbs, sways all his motions into graceful action, gives
symmetry to his whole form, flows in harmony from his
lips, gives sweetness to his voice, and speaks in every
action. Instead of losing his human form and lapsing
into a vital principle or a formless vapor, and thus losing
his identity as a man, he comes into a more excellent
human form ; he becomes more distinctly himself

The human form contains all the elements of beauty
and grandeur. This human beauty is not lost in heaven.
On the contrary, it is indefinitely enhanced in every
essential quality. Infants and children grow up in heaven
to the stature and the perfection of adult life. The aged
find a fountain of youth in heavenly affections. The ma-
terial body only grows old, and men and women in the
spiritual world soon return to the full vigor of their best
days, and continue to grow towards the perfections of
immortal youth.

While those who enter heaven continue to advance by
lovely paths towards immortal youth, they do not become
merged into an indiscriminate mass. On the contrary,
every one becomes more distinctly himself A man be-
comes more distinctly masculine. A woman becomes
more distinctly a woman, and the embodiment of every
feminine grace and loveliness, — of a grace and loveliness
peculiar to herself The varieties of heavenly beauty in-
crease with the number of heavenly inhabitants. Every
man and every woman is the embodiment and form of



some variety of goodness. In man the masculine quali-
ties predominate, in woman the feminine. The lines
between them become more distinct in heaven than they
can be on earth, and they grow more distinct to eternity.
Every one becomes more distinctly individualized. Thus
the unity of heaven is not the harmony of sameness, but
of distinct and infinite variety.

All qualities of human beauty are combined in the
forms and natures of the heavenly inhabitants, — dignity,
grace, sweetness, purity, harmony of proportion, elegance
of form, and loveliness of expression. Swedenborg has
given us some pictures of those who have passed from
earth to heaven. He had a rich vocabulary and he was
a master of expression, but he generally ends by saying
that their beauty is such that no words can express it, no
painter can represent it. It is the holiest love, the purest
and sweetest charity, in living, glowing, perfect form ; so
living and speaking that it penetrates the hearts of the

This perfection of form is the effect and expression of
internal states of progress in knowledge, of growth in
goodness. Truth is infinite. No finite man can sound
its depths or exhaust its riches. The wisest men in this
life only learn a few facts and gain a knowledge of some
general principles. But the more we know, the more we
shall see that there is to be known. The horizon of
truth enlarges as we rise. When we pass into the other
life we pass from darkness into light. The intellectual
faculties are freed from the limitations of time and space
and the imperfections of the material body, and from the
hinderance imposed by artificial language and methods.



Thus, while all the faculties gain an immense increase in
power the facilities for acquiring knowledge keep even
pace with them. Truth is not learned by rote, and only
understood after long and painful reflection. Knowledge
is gained by intuition. The understanding is illuminated
by Divine truth, and revels in its light as in its own native
sphere. It is continually surprised and delighted with
new discoveries of the wisdom and goodness of the Lord.
It penetrates deeper into causes, and rises higher into
purer light.

The affections also enlarge with the intellect, and keep
even pace with it. This is another source of happiness.
There is no divorce between the head and the heart.
The will and the understanding, so long put asunder by
evil and falsity, are reunited in heavenly marriage, and
become one. All that the heart loves, the head sees and
the hands gain. There is no conflict between the desires
and knowledge. Attainment always equals expectation.
Such a life is so remote from our observation or ex-
perience in this world that it is difficult for us to form any
just conception of it. But what more could we hope for
than the attainment of such a state ? To be free from all
struggle between our desires and our knowledge of duty ;
to be delivered from every weight and shadow of the past ;
to see clearly, to love freely, to attain fully, and to be
conscious of rapidly advancing to new heights of wisdom

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Online LibraryChauncey GilesProgress in spiritual knowledge → online text (page 17 of 26)