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in'a direction more and more oblique, turning outwards to the world, and so by God towards God through the world, and at length it was inverted to an opposite direction, which was downwards towards themselves; but as it is impossible for God to be beheld by man thus interiorly inverted, and consequently averted, they separated themselves from Him, and were made forms of hell, and consequently of the devil. Hence it follows, that in the first ages of the world, men acknowledged in heart and soul, that they had all the good of love, and thence all the truth of wisdom, from God, which still were His, in them, and thus that they themselves were mere receptacles of life from God, whence they were called images of God, sons of God, and born of God; whereas in succeeding ages they did not acknowledge this truth in heart and soul, but only with a kind of persuasive faith, and afterwards with an historical faith, and at length with the lips alone, which last kind of acknowledgment is no acknowledgment at all, nay, it is in fact a denial at heart. From what has been said, it is easy to see what kind of wisdom prevails at this day on earth among Christians, who, though they could be inspired by God from the written revelation they possess, yet know not the distinction between man and beast; hence many suppose, that in case man lives after death, a beast must live also; or because a beast does not live after death, neither will man : is not our spiritual light which enlightens the sight of the mind, become darkness with such persons ? and is not their natural light, which enlightens the sight of the body only, become brightness to them?"
After this they all turned themselves towards the two strangers, and thanking them for their attendance, and for the relation they had given, they intreated them to go and communicate to their brethren what they had heard. And the strangers replied, that they would endeavour to convince their brethren of this truth, that so far as they
attribute all the good of charity, and all the truth of faith, to the Lord, and not to themselves, so far they are men, and in the same proportion become angels of heaven.
693. THE SECOND MEMORABLE Relation. After some weeks, I heard a voice from heaven, saying, “Lo! there is another assembly to be held in Parnassium; come hither, and we will point out the way:" so I went, and as I drew nigh, I saw a certain person on mount Heliconæum with a trumpet, announcing and proclaiming the assembly. And I saw the inhabitants of the city of Athenæum and its suburbs, ascending as before, and in the midst of them three novitiates just arrived from the natural world; they were of the Christian community, the first a priest, the second a politician, and the third a philosopher. The inhabitants of the city entertained them in the way with discourse on various subjects, particularly about the wise men of old, whom they mentioned by name: the novitiates inquired whether they should be permitted to see them, and were answered in the affirmative, and that they might also, if they were so disposed, pay their respects to them, for they were courteous and affable: they then inquired after Demosthenes, Diogenes, and Epicurus; and received for answer, “ Demosthenes is not here, but with Plato; Diogenes, with his scholars, has his abode below Heliconæum, because he regards worldly objects as of no account whatever, but keeps his mind wholly engaged in heavenly contemplations; as for Epicurus, he dwells in a remote border towards the west, and is not admitted among us, because we distinguish between good and evil affections, asserting that good affections are united and make one with wisdom, but that evil affections are contrary to wisdom.” When they had reached the top of mount Parnassium, some guards who were stationed there, brought water which issued from a fountain in the mount, in crystalline cups, and said, “ This is water from the fountain, which, according to ancient fable, was broken open by the hoof of the horse Pegasus, and was afterwards consecrated to nine virgins ; but by the winged horse Pegasus, the ancients understood the understanding of truth, which is the medium of attaining wisdom; by the horse's hoofs they understood matters of experience, by which natural intelligence is attained; and by the nine virgins they understood knowledges and sciences of every kind : these things are now called fables, but they were in fact correspondences, agreeable to the primeval method of speaking.” Then they who attended the three strangers said, “Be not surprised; the guards here stationed have been instructed to speak in this manner; and we by drinking water from a fountain understand to be instructed in truths, and by truths in good, and thus to grow wise. After this they entered the Palladium, and the three novitiates, the priest, the politician, and the philosopher along with them; and immediately the persons crowned with laurel, who sat at the tables, asked, “What News FROM EARTH ?” they replied, “ This is new, that a certain person declares that he holds converse with angels, and hath his sight open into the spiritual world as distinctly as into the natural; in consequence of which he has brought thence a variety of new intelligence, and these particulars among other : that man lives as man after death, just as he lived before in the world; that he sees, hears, converses, as he did before in the world; that he is clothed and decked with ornaments, as before in the world; that he hungers and thirsts, eats and drinks, as before in the world; that he enjoyeth conjugial delight as before in the world ; that he sleeps and wakes as before in the world ; that in the spiritual world there are lands and lakes, mountains and hills, plains and valleys, fountains and rivers, paradises and groves; that there are also palaces and houses, cities and villages, as in the natural world; beside writings and books, employments and trades as well as precious stones, gold, and silver; in a word, that there are in the spiritual world all things that are in the natural world, and the same things in the heavens infi. nitely more perfect, and yet with this difference, that all things in the spiritual world are from a spiritual origin, and consequently spiritual, because they are from the sun of that world, which is pure love, whereas all things in the natural worldare from a natural origin, and consequently natural and material, because they are from the sun of that world, which is pure fire; in short, that man after death is perfectly man, nay, more perfectly man than he was before in the world, for there he was in a material body, but in this world he is in a spiritual body.” On hearing this, the ancient sages asked, “What do the people on earth think of such information ?" We know that it is true," the strangers replied, “because we are in the spiritual world, and have viewed and examined all things; but we will tell you the remarks and reasonings of people on earth about it.” Then the Priest said, “All who are of our order, when they first heard such relations, called them visions, afterwards fictions, then insisted that the man saw ideal spectres, but at last stopt, and said, “ Believe them who will: the doctrine we have hitherto taught is, that man will not live in the body after death before the day of the last judgment." Then the sages asked, “ Are there not some persons of intelligence among the people of your order, who can prove and convince them of the truth, that man liveth as a man after death ?” The priest answered, “ There are some who prove it indeed, but who cannot convince : they who prove it say, that it is contrary to sound reason to suppose that man doth not live as man before the day of the last judgment, and that he is in the mean time a soul without a body ; 'for what is the soul,' say they, for where is it, in the mean time? is it a vapour, or breath of 'wind floating in the atmosphere, or an entity hid in the bowels of the
earth? Where then is its Pu?*Have the souls of Adam and Eve, and of all their posterity, for these six thousand years, or sixty centuries, been flitting about the universe, or kept shut up in the centre of the earth, expecting the last judgment? What can be conceived more anxious and miserable than such an expectation ? May not their condition, in such a case, be compared with that of prisoners bound with chains and fetters, and lying in a dungeon ? If this is to be the state of man after death, would it not be better to be born an ass than a man? But is it not contrary to reason to imagine that the soul can be re-invested with its natural body? For is not the natural body devoured by worms, by mice, or fish? is then the very skeleton, which is dried up by the sun or decayed to dust, to be clothed with a new body? for how can the cadaverous and putrid materials be collected, so as to be united with their respective souls?' When such arguments are urged, they of our order do not pretend to offer any rational objections, but adhere to their creed, saying, 'We keep our reason in obedience to our faith. As to collecting all the dead from their graves at the last day, they say, “This is the work of omnipotence;' and when omnipotence and faith are named, reason is banished; indeed I can assert, that in such case sound reason is regarded as nothing, and by some as a spectre; nay, they can say to sane reason, Thou art insane.'' On hearing this the Grecian sages said, “Surely such paradoxes, being full of contradiction, vanish and are dispersed of themselves, and yet such is the state of the world at this day, that they cannot be dispersed by sound reason. What can be conceived more paradoxical than the present sentiments of mankind on the subject of the last judgment;
* This is formed from a Greek word which signifies where. It is used hy writers on the intermediate state, as a suitable name for the unknown residence of departed souls, in the interval between the death and the expected resurrection of the body.