Spiritual background for GENESIS 7    previous  -  next  -  text  -  Genesis  -  BM Home  -  Full Page


AC 692. As with regard to heaven, so with regard to hell, man has only a very general idea, which is so obscure that it is almost none at all. It is such as they who have not been beyond their huts in the woods may have of the earth. They know nothing of its empires and kingdoms, still less of its forms of government, of its societies, or of the life in the societies. Until they know these things they can have but the most general notion of the earth, so general as to be almost none. The case is the same in regard to people‘s ideas about heaven and hell, when yet in each of them there are things innumerable and indefinitely more numerous than in any earthly world. How numberless they are may be evident from this alone: that just as no one ever has the same heaven, so no one has the same hell as another, and that all souls whatever who have lived in the world since the first creation come there and are gathered together.

AC 693. As love to the Lord and toward the neighbor, together with the joy and happiness thence derived constitute heaven, so hatred against the Lord and the neighbor, together with the consequent punishment and torment, constitute hell. There are innumerable genera of hatreds, and still more innumerable species; and the hells are just as innumerable.

AC 694. As heaven from the Lord, through mutual love, constitutes as it were one man, and one soul, and thus has regard to one end, which is the conservation and salvation of all to eternity, so, on the other hand, hell, from man’s Own, through the love of self and of the world, that is, through hatred, constitutes one devil and one mind (animus), and thus also has regard to one end, which is the destruction and damnation of all to eternity. That such is their endeavor has been perceived thousands and thousands of times, so that unless the Lord preserved all every instant, they would perish.

AC 695. But the form and the order imposed by the Lord on the hells is such that all are held bound and tied up by their cupidities and phantasies, in which their very life consists; and this life, being a life of death, is turned into dreadful torments, so severe that they cannot be described. For the greatest delight of their life consists in being able to punish, torture, and torment one another, and this by arts unknown in the world, whereby they know how to induce exquisite suffering, just as if they were in the body, and at the same time dreadful and horrid phantasies, with terrors and horrors and many such torments. The diabolical crew take so great a pleasure in this that if they could increase and extend the pains and torments to infinity, they would not even then be satisfied, but would burn yet again to infinity; but the Lord takes away their endeavors, and alleviates the torments.

AC 696. Such is the equilibrium of all things in the other life in both general and particular that evil punishes itself, so that in evil there is the punishment of evil. It is the same with falsity, which returns upon him who is in the falsity. Hence every one brings punishment and torment upon himself, and rushes at the same time among the diabolical crew who inflict such torment. The Lord never sends any one to hell, but would lead all away from hell, and still less does He lead into torment. But as the evil spirit rushes into it himself, the Lord turns all the punishment and torment to good, and to some use. No penalty is ever possible unless the Lord has in view some end of use; for the Lord‘s kingdom is a kingdom of ends and uses. But the uses which the infernals can perform are the lowest uses; and when they are engaged in them they are not in so much torment, but on the cessation of the use they are sent back into hell.

AC 697. There are with every man at least two evil spirits and two angels. Through the evil spirits the man has communication with hell; and through the angels, with heaven. Without communication with both no man can live a moment. Thus every man is in some society of infernals, although he is unaware of it. But their torments are not communicated to him, because he is in a state of preparation for eternal life. The society in which a man has been is sometimes shown him in the other life; for he returns to it, and thereby into the life that he had in the world; and from thence he either tends toward hell, or is raised up toward heaven. Thus a man who does not live in the good of charity, and does not suffer himself to be led by the Lord, is one of the infernals, and after death also becomes a devil.

AC 698. Besides the hells there are also vastations, concerning which there is much in the Word. For in consequence of actual sins a man takes with him into the other life innumerable evils and falsities, which he accumulates and joins to himself. It is so even with those who have lived uprightly. Before these can be taken up into heaven, their evils and falsities must be dissipated, and this dissipation is called Vastation. There are many kinds of vastations, and longer and shorter periods of vastation. Some are taken up into heaven in a comparatively short time, and some immediately after death.

AC 699. That I might witness the torment of those who are in hell, and the vastation of those who are in the lower earth, I have at different times been let down thither. To be let down into hell is not to be carried from one place to another, but to be let into some infernal society, the man remaining in the same place. But I may here relate only this experience: I plainly perceived that a kind of column surrounded me, and this column was sensibly increased, and it was intimated to me that this was the "wall of brass" spoken of in the Word. The column was formed of angelic spirits in order that I might safely descend to the unhappy. When I was there I heard piteous lamentations, such as, O God! O God! take pity on us! take pity on us! and this for a long time. I was permitted to speak to those wretched ones, and this for a considerable time. They complained especially of evil spirits in that they desired and burned for nothing else than to torment them. They were in despair, saying that they believed their torment would be eternal; but I was permitted to comfort them.

AC 700. The hells being as we have stated so numerous, in order to give some regular account of them, they shall be treated of as follows:-

I. Concerning the hells of those who have lived a life of hatred, revenge, and cruelty.

II. Concerning the hells of those who have lived in adulteries and lasciviousnesses; and concerning the hells of the deceitful, and of sorceresses.

III. Concerning the hells of the avaricious; and the filthy Jerusalem there, and the robbers in the wilderness; also concerning the excrementitious hells of those who have lived in mere pleasures.

IV. Afterwards concerning other hells which are distinct from the above.

V. Finally concerning those who are in vastation. The description of these will be found prefixed and appended to the following chapters.


AC 814. Such spirits as cherish deadly hatred, and hence breathe out vengeance and nothing less than death to another, knowing no rest till then, are kept in the deepest cadaverous hell, where there is a noisome stench as of carcasses; and, wonderful to say, such spirits are so delighted with the stench there that they prefer it to the most pleasing odors. Such is their dreadful nature, and their consequent phantasy. A like stench actually exhales from that hell. When the hell is opened (which occurs rarely, and then only for a short time), so great a stench pours forth from it that spirits cannot remain in the neighborhood. Certain genii, or rather furies, who were sent forth thence in order that I might know their quality, infected the sphere with such poisonous and pestilent breath that the spirits about me could not stay; and at the same time it so affected my stomach that I vomited. They manifested themselves under the appearance of a little child, of not uncomely face, with a concealed dagger, whom they sent to me, bearing a cup in his hand. From this it was given me to know that they had a mind to murder, either with the dagger or with poison, under a show of innocence. Yet they themselves had naked bodies, and were very black. But presently they were sent back into their cadaverous hell, and it was then given me to observe how they sank down. They went on to the left, in the plane of the left temple, and to a great distance, without descending, and afterwards sank down; first into what appeared as a fire, then into a fiery smoke as of a furnace, and then under that furnace, toward the front, where were many most gloomy caverns tending downward. On the way they were continually revolving and intending evils, and chiefly against the innocent, without cause. When they sank down through the fire they greatly lamented. That they may be well distinguished as to whence and what they are, when they are sent out they have a kind of ring to which are affixed points as of brass, which they press with the hands and twist about. This is a sign that they are of this nature, and are bound.

AC 815. They who so delight in hatred and the consequent revenge that they are not content to kill the body only, but desire to destroy the soul, which yet the Lord has redeemed, are sent down through a very dark opening toward the lowest parts of the earth, to a depth proportionate to the degree of their hatred and vindictiveness; and there they are struck with grievous terror and horror, and at the same time are kept in the lust for revenge; and as this increases they are sent down to lower depths. Afterwards they are sent into a place beneath Gehenna, where great and dreadful thick-bellied serpents appear (so vividly that it is just as if they were real), by whose bites they are tormented, feeling them acutely. Such things are keenly felt by spirits, answering to their life just as things of the body do to the life of those who are in the body. Meanwhile they live in direful phantasies for ages, until they no longer know that they have been men. Their life, which they have derived from such hatreds and revenges, cannot otherwise be extinguished.

AC 816. As there are innumerable genera of hatreds and revenges, and species still more innumerable, and one genus has not the same hell as another, and as it is therefore impossible to recount them singly in their order, I may refer to what have been seen. One came to me who appeared to be a noble. (Those who appeared to me were seen as in clear daylight, and even more clearly, but by my internal sight; for of the Lord‘s Divine mercy it has been given me to be in company with spirits.) At his first approach he pretended by signs that he had much he wished to communicate to me, asking whether I was a Christian; to which I replied that I was. He said that he was too, and asked that he might be alone with me, to tell me something that others might not hear. But I answered that in the other life people cannot be alone, as men think they are on earth, and that many spirits were present. He now came nearer and approached stealthily behind me to the back of my head, and then I perceived that he was an assassin. While he was there I felt as it were a stab through the heart, and presently in the brain--such a blow as might easily be the death of a man. But as I was protected by the Lord, I feared nothing. What device he used I do not know. Thinking me dead, he told others that he had just come from a man whom he had killed in that way, and by a deadly stroke from behind, saying that he was so skillful in the art that a man would not know until he fell down dead, and it would not be doubted that he himself was innocent. It was given me to know from this that he had but lately departed from life, where he had committed such a deed. The punishment of such is dreadful. After they have suffered infernal torments for ages, they at length come to have a detestable and most monstrous face--such as is not a face, but a ghastly thing as of tow. Thus they put off everything human, and then every one shudders at the sight of them, and so they wander about like wild beasts, in dark places.

AC 817. There came one to me out of an infernal apartment at the left side and spoke with me. It was given me to perceive that he was of a villainous crew. What he had done in the world was disclosed in the following manner. He was sent down somewhat deep into the lower earth, in front, a little to the left, and there he began to dig a grave, as is done for the dead who are to be buried. From this arose a suspicion that in the life of the body he had perpetrated some deadly deed. Then there appeared a funeral bier covered with a black cloth. Presently one rising from the bier came to me, and in a devout manner related that he had died, and that he believed he had been killed by that man with poison, and that he had thought so at the hour of his death, but did not know whether it was more than a suspicion. When the infamous spirit heard this, he confessed that he had committed such a deed. After the confession, punishment followed. He was twice rolled about in the dark hole he had dug, and became as black as an Egyptian mummy, both face and body, and in that state was taken up on high and carried about before spirits and angels, and the cry was heard: What a devil! He also became cold, thus one of the cold infernals, and was sent down into hell.

AC 818. There is a dreadful hell beneath the buttocks, where they seem to stab one another with knives, aiming the knives at one another’s breasts like furies, but in the act of striking the knife is continually taken away from them. They are those who have held others in such hatred that they burned to kill them cruelly; and from this they had derived a nature so direful. This hell was opened to me (but only a little on account of their direful cruelties), so that I might see the nature of deadly hatred.

AC 819. There is at the left, in a plane with the lower parts of the body, a kind of stagnant lake, large, and of greater length than breadth. About its bank in front there appear to those who are there monstrous serpents, such as inhabit stagnant waters, with pestilent breath. Farther away, on the left bank, appear those who eat human flesh, and devour one another, fastening with their teeth on one another‘s shoulders. Still farther away to the left appear great fishes, enormous whales, which swallow a man and vomit him out again. In the farthest distance, or on the opposite shore, appear very ugly faces, too monstrous to be described, chiefly those of old women, who run about as if frenzied. On the right bank are those who are trying to butcher each other with cruel instruments, which vary in accordance with the direful feelings of their hearts. In the middle of the lake it is everywhere black, as if stagnant. Sometimes I have been surprised to see spirits brought to this lake, but was informed by some who came from it and told me, that they were those who had cherished intestine hatred against the neighbor; and that their hatred burst forth as often as occasion offered, in which they perceived their greatest delight; and that nothing had pleased them more than to bring a neighbor to judgment and cause punishment to be inflicted on him, and, if the penalties of the law had not deterred them, to put him to death. Into such things are the hatreds and cruelties of men turned after the life of the body. The phantasies to which their hatreds and cruelties give rise have to them the reality of life.

AC 820. In the other life those who have practised robbery and piracy love rank and fetid urine above all other liquids, and seem to themselves to dwell among such things, and among stagnant and stinking pools. A certain robber approached me, gnashing his teeth, the sound of which was as plainly heard as if it had proceeded from a man, which was strange, since they have no teeth. He confessed that he would rather live in urinous filth than by the clearest waters, and that the smell of urine was what he delighted in. He said he would rather stay and have his home in urinous vats than anywhere else.

AC 821. There are those who outwardly present an honorable face and life, so that no one could suspect them of being other than honorable, studying in every way to appear so, for the sake of being raised to honors, and of acquiring wealth without the loss of reputation. They therefore do not act openly; but through others by deceitful artifices they deprive men of their goods, caring nothing if the families they despoil perish of hunger; and they would themselves be personal agents in this villainy, without any conscience, if they could escape public notice, so that they really are of the same character as if they perpetrated it by their own act. They are hidden robbers, and the kind of hatred peculiar to them is joined with scornful contempt for others, greed of gain, unmercifulness, and deceit. In the other life such men desire to be esteemed blameless, saying that they have done nothing wrong, because it was not detected. And to show themselves guiltless, they put off their garments and present themselves naked--in this way attesting their innocence. Yet while they are being examined their quality is thoroughly well perceived from every single word and every single idea of their thought, without their being aware of it. Such, in the other life, desire without any conscience to murder whatever companions they fall in with. They have also an axe with them, and a maul in their hand, and seem to have another spirit with them whom they strike, when on his back; but not to the shedding of blood, for they are afraid of death. And they cannot cast these weapons out of their hands although they strive to do so with all their might, in order to prevent the actual ferocity of their disposition from appearing before the eyes of spirits and angels. They are at a middle distance under the feet, toward the front.

AC 822. There is a kind of hatred against the neighbor, which finds its delight in injuring and harassing every one; and the more mischief they can do the more delighted they are. There are very many such from the lowest of the common people. And there are those not of the common people who have a similar disposition, but outwardly are of better manners, from having been brought up in good society, and also from fear of legal penalties. After death, the upper part of the body of these spirits appears naked, and their hair dishevelled. They annoy one another by rushing forward and placing the palms of their hands on each others shoulders, and they then leap over their heads, and soon come back and make a severe attack with their fists. Those of whom it was said that they have better manners act in a similar way, but first exchange greetings, then go round behind their neighbor’s back, and so attack with the fist; but when they see each other face to face they make a salutation, and again go round behind his back and strike him with the fist. In this way they keep up appearances. These appear at some distance toward the left side, at a middle height.

AC 823. Whatever a man has done in the life of the body successively returns in the other life, and so does all that he has even thought. When his enmities, hatreds, and deceits return, the persons against whom he has indulged hatred and has clandestinely plotted are made present to him, and this in a moment. Such is the case in the other life; but concerning this presence, of the Lord‘s Divine mercy hereafter. The thoughts a man has harbored against others make their appearance openly, for there is a perception of all thoughts. Hence come lamentable states, for there concealed hatreds break out openly. With the evil all their evil deeds and thoughts thus return, to the life; but it is not so with the good. With these all their good states of friendship and love return, attended with the highest delight and happiness.

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