If the fields of Electromagnetism and Universal Gravitation are in correspondence with the field of Wisdom-Love, we should expect the laws of life and morality to be analogous to those of electromagnetism and gravitation. When we throw a stone up in the air, its motion or behavior is a curve because it is curving around the gravitational center of the earth. Satellites such as the moon also move around the gravitational center of the earth due to the universal law of Gravitation. By correspondence, our loves, intentions and actions should behave in a similar fashion according to the law of Wisdom-Love. This Law is known as “the Golden Rule.” Whatever we intend and do unto others curves around the Divine center of Love and eventually comes back to us. Hence, when we are caring and useful to others, this goodness curves around Infinite Love and comes back to us as pleasant circumstances in our outer life and as more love in our heart. However, our malicious, cruel and reckless intentions and actions also curve around the center of Love and return to us as unpleasant circumstances outwardly and anguish, guilt, remorse, fear and pain inwardly. When we are aware of this law, we tend to treat others as we wish others to treat us. For example, if we desire to be free, we respect our neighbor’s freedom.
Many people reject spirituality and religion because they BELIEVE that religion is a matter of belief. And, since humans are free to believe anything they wish, spirituality must be a domain of speculation and we can never really know anything with certainty about the spiritual world. In fact, they even question the very existence of the spiritual world. Such skeptical persons usually prefer science because science deals with knowledge, laws and certainty.
And, before we totally reject the spiritual world, we should perhaps determine what it is first. The Bible speaks a great deal about faith, love and morality because the spiritual world is the world of our intentions, desires, thoughts and ideas. No one can deny that human feelings and thoughts do exist in some way. But this world of thoughts and emotions is not just personal, as most people believe; it is UNIVERSAL. And the spiritual world is also governed by universal LAWS that are analogous to those of the physical world. The only problem is that scientists have not yet discovered these laws. These LAWS are in the Word (or the spiritual and celestial sense of the Bible). Now, once we discover these LAWS, we are still free to believe and obey them or to reject them and remain in the spiritual darkness of our fantasy, ignorance, falsehood and suffering.
Hence, we are free to believe that there is no spiritual world but our spiritual body of desires, emotions and thoughts will nevertheless remain within the spiritual world after the death of our material body. Furthermore, this spiritual body will ultimately be attracted to a spiritual society that corresponds exactly to our ruling love and beliefs. We will also be compelled to live with spirits who harbor similar loves and beliefs as our own. And these events will unfold according to Universal Law.
Since the spiritual world is universal, we can know the laws of the spiritual world with as much certainty as we know the laws of the physical world. In the natural world, if we put our hand in the midst of physical fire, some of us (who are insane or ignorant) may not believe that it will burn. However, most of us will know with certainty what will happen because we know and understand the laws of physical combustion. Similarly, if we continue to give in to our selfish and cruel passions, many of us may not believe that our being will be affected in any way. However, some of us will be able to predict exactly what will ultimately occur because we know and understand the laws of spiritual fire (Love), infernal fire (self-love) and spiritual combustion.
Due to the freedom of human belief, some people also foolishly believe that God will instantly save them by Divine Mercy. But this is just another one of their fantasies by which they live. The spiritual world is governed and maintained by Universal Laws and our being can only be gradually transformed and our soul be saved in accordance with spiritual Law.
Instant salvation by direct mercy is impossible. I have just explained that the work of divine providence for our salvation begins at our birth and continues until the end of our life and then goes on to eternity, and that this work is constantly being done out of pure mercy and through means. It follows that there is no such thing as instant salvation or direct mercy.
However, there are many people who do not think about church matters or religious matters with discernment. They believe that they are saved by direct mercy and that salvation therefore happens instantaneously; yet the opposite is true; and this is a destructive belief. For these reasons, it is important to lay the matter out in its sequence.
(a) Belief in instant salvation by direct mercy is based on the state of our earthly natures.
(b) This belief comes from an ignorance of our spiritual state, which is completely different from our earthly state.
(c) If we look more deeply into the teaching of all the churches in the Christian world, they deny instant salvation by direct mercy; and yet nominal members of the church are sure of it.
Belief in instant salvation by direct mercy is based on the state of our earthly natures. In our earthly consciousness, all we know from our normal state is that heavenly joy is like earthly joy, that it flows in and is received in the same way. For example, it is what happens when poor people become rich and change from the depressed mood of poverty to the happy mood of wealth, or when menial individuals become respected and move from scorn to honor; it is like people going from the sorrow of a wake to the joy of a wedding. Since these moods can change in a single day, and since people have no different concept of our state after death, we can see why they believe in instant salvation by direct mercy.
In this world, there can be a large gathering in one civil community, all happy together even though they are all different in character. This happens in our earthly state because the outward face of one individual can adjust to the outward face of another no matter how different they may be inwardly. Looking at this earthly state, people conclude that salvation is simply admission to the company of angels in heaven and that admission is by direct mercy. So they believe that heaven can be granted to evil and to good people alike, and that they will then relate to each other the way they do in the world, except that everyone will be full of joy.
This belief comes from an ignorance of our spiritual state, which is completely different from our earthly state. There is a great deal of information in the preceding pages about our spiritual state, our state after death. I have explained that each of us is her or his own love and that none of us can live anywhere but with people whose loves are like ours, and that if we do visit others, we cannot breathe in our own life. This is why after death we all begin to associate with people whose loves are like ours. We recognize them as relatives and friends; and strange as it may seem, when we meet and see them it is as though we had known them from childhood. It is our spiritual likeness and friendship that causes this.
Not only that, within our own communities we can live only in our own house. We all have our house in that community, which we find ready for us as soon as we join the community. We can get together with others outside the house, but we can settle down only in our own. Beyond this even, when we are in someone else's quarters we can sit only in our own place. If we sit anywhere else it is as though our minds failed and we could not speak. Remarkably, when we enter a room, we know where we belong. The same holds true in churches and wherever people gather in groups.
We can see from this that our spiritual state is totally different from our earthly state. Essentially, we cannot be anywhere but where our dominant love is. That is where the delight of our life is, and we all want to be where the delight of our life is. Our spirit cannot be anywhere else because it constitutes our life, our very breathing, and the beating of our hearts. It is different in this earthly world. Here our outward nature is trained from early childhood to pretend with our faces, speech, and body language to pleasures that are not the ones we are feeling inwardly. As a result, we cannot draw conclusions from people's moods in this world about their state after death, since their state after death will be a spiritual one. That is, they will not be able to live anywhere except in the pleasure of the love they have acquired by the way they lived in this world.
This makes it abundantly clear that none of us can be admitted to that pleasure of heaven that is commonly known as heavenly joy if we enjoy the pleasures of hell, which is the same as saying that we cannot enjoy what is good if we enjoy what is evil. This becomes even clearer when we realize that after death no one is prevented from coming up into heaven. We are shown the way and given the resources, and we are let in. However, [if we enjoy evil] when we get to heaven and breathe in its pleasure, we begin to have such chest pains, heart pangs, and dizziness that we writhe like a snake next to a fire. Then with faces turned away from heaven and toward hell, we run away headlong, finding no rest until we are in the community of our own love. This shows that no one can get to heaven by direct mercy, and particularly that it is not simply a matter of being let in, as many people in this world presume. So there is no instant salvation, because this would presuppose direct mercy.
There have been people who had believed in instant salvation by direct mercy in the world and who, once they had become spirits, wanted their hellish or evil pleasure to be transformed by divine omnipotence and divine mercy into heavenly or good pleasure. Since they craved this intensely, permission was granted for angels to do it. The angels took away their hellish pleasure. However, since this was the pleasure of their life's love, since it was their life, in fact, they lay there as though they were dead, senseless and motionless. No life could be breathed into them except their own because all the elements of their minds and their bodies had been turned backwards and could not be turned around again. So they were revived by letting the pleasure of their life's love back in. Later they said that in this more inward state they had felt something profoundly threatening and terrifying, something they did not want to talk about.
So in heaven they say that it is easier to change an owl into a turtledove or a snake into a lamb than to change a hellish spirit into an angel of heaven.
If we look into the teaching of all the churches in the Christian world, they deny instant salvation by direct mercy; and yet nominal members of the church are sure of it. If we look deeply enough, we find that the theologies of all our churches teach how to live. Does any church have a theology that does not tell us we should examine ourselves, see and admit our sins, confess them, repent of them, and then lead a new life? Is anyone allowed to take the Holy Supper without this warning and this command? Investigate the matter, and you will be assured.
Does any church have a theology that is not based on the Ten Commandments? The laws of the Ten Commandments are laws of life.
Is there anyone in the church who has a little of the church within who does not admit, on hearing it, that we are saved if we lead good lives and damned if we lead evil lives? That is why the Athanasian Creed (which is accepted theology throughout the Christian world) says that "the Lord will come to judge the living and the dead, and then those who have done good things will enter into eternal life, and those who have done evil things into eternal fire."
We can see from this that if we look deeply enough, we find that the theologies of all our churches teach how to live; and since they teach how to live, they teach that our salvation depends on how we live. Our life is not breathed into us in an instant but is formed gradually, and is reformed as we abstain from evils as sins--specifically, as we see what is a sin, recognize it, admit it, and then do not intend it, and therefore refrain from it, and also as we know the means that relate to knowing God. By these two means our life is formed and reformed, and they cannot just be poured into us in an instant. Our inherited evil, which is essentially hellish, has to be banished first, and goodness, which is essentially heavenly, planted in its stead. Because of our inherited evil we are like owls as to our discernment and snakes as to our volition, while if we have been reformed we are like doves as to our discernment and sheep as to our volition. This means that instant reformation and consequent salvation would be like the instant transformation of an owl into a dove and a snake into a sheep. Can anyone who knows anything about human life fail to see that this could not happen unless the nature of the owl and the snake were taken away and the nature of the dove and the sheep implanted?
We also know that everyone who is intelligent can become more intelligent and that everyone who is wise can become more wise. That is, our intelligence and wisdom can increase; and for some people it does increase from early childhood right to the end of life, with individuals becoming steadily more and more perfect. Why should this not be even more true of spiritual intelligence and wisdom? This rises by two levels above earthly intelligence and wisdom, and as it rises it becomes angelic and inexpressible. I have already noted  that for angels it keeps growing forever. Can anyone fail to grasp the notion that it is impossible for something that keeps becoming more perfect forever to become perfect in an instant? Emanuel Swedenborg [DP 338]
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