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clared of man when he dies that “ he that is unjust, shall be unjust still, and he that is filthy, shall be filthy still, and he that is righteous, shall be righteous still, and he that is holy, shall be holy still." (Rev. xxii. 11.) The governing principle, therefore, of a man's life, or his ruling love, is fixed at death, and cannot be changed. This is also denoted by the saying," As the tree falls so it lies," and that “ beyond the grave there is no repentance.” But who can doubt that the man who dies in a state of regeneration, that is, whose ruling love is the love of God and his neighbour, is capable of constant progress and improvement in holiness, love, wisdom, and happiness, to all eternity ? This constant progress is declared by the Lord when He says,—"Be ye perfect, even as your Father who is in heaven is perfect ;” (Matt. v. 28.) for this evidently implies that as our Father in heaven is infinitely perfect, so man, who is to become as perfect, must necessarily increase in perfection to all eternity. But this progress towards absolute perfection can only be effected by the constant development and purification of his faculties for the reception of a continually increasing measure of love, wisdom, and happiness from God. This is the law of his progress. All angels, or “the spirits of just men made perfect,” are therefore capable of constant purification ; for the perfection to which, through the Lord's mercy, they have hitherto attained, or to which they will ever attain, is only relative, and not absolute, or infinite. We consequently read that the heavens are not pure in his sight," and that "he charges his angels with folly," which evidently indicates, that the heavens are being continually purified, and that the angels are constantly increasing in wisdom.
This universal law of purification is stamped upon creation, and is a condition of its preservation. Thus nature is a theatre representative of the Lord's kingdom, “ the invisible things of which may be understood by the things which are made.” (Rom. i. 20.) The atmosphere, the waters of the ocean, and the earth itself, require constant purification and renovation to preserve them in their proper condition to fulfil their uses and destinies. Every vegetable requires to be purified of its grosser sap and juices, in order that its sour and bitter qualities may be removed, and its sweetness and maturity developed and brought to perfection; and the mode by which this is accomplished is also a process of purification. In the animal kingdom, and especially in the human body, this law is also universal, and is the essential condition of its preservation. Thus in the body all the viscera and the organs serve, as their essential use, to purify the chyle, the humours, and the blood, upon which the health of the entire system depends. But the
human body is the image of " Christ's mystical Body," (Eph. i. 23.) or heaven, and as " the things which are made" illustrate, or enable us to understand “the invisible things” of God's kingdom, we may easily infer from this, that heaven, or rather the inhabitants of heaven, are constantly the subjects of purification.
This, however, is especially the case with the intermediate world of spirits, the first receptacle, as shewn in the previous paper, of departed men, and denoted in the Parable by the gulf between Dives and Lazarus. This first receptacle of souls, or this intermediate state, may be compared to the stomach in man, which is a kind of gulf, and is intermediate between the higher and the lower viscera of the body. Christ's “mystical Body,” or heaven, requires to be fed as well as our own bodies; and it is fed by the constant salvation of souls, who enter into its composition as its constituent members. Nothing but this can satisfy His divine hunger. (Matt. iv. 2.) Now all our food enters, in a mixed condition, into the stomach, where it begins to be digested and prepared for admission into the system itself. That departed spirits enter in a mixed condition, as tares mixed with the wheat, into hades or “the world of spirits,” cannot be doubted. Here the final process of judgment commences, which chiefly consists in separating the good from the evil, the wheat from the chaff—the sheep from the goats, and in raising the former to heaven, and removing the latter into the opposite direction. The individual man also takes with him into the world of spirits a mixed condition. It is true that his governing love, as said above, which gives character to his being either for good or evil, is fixed at the period of death, and cannot be changed; but in the case of most, yea, of all, how many frailties, infirmities,— how much ignorance and fallacy,-how much dulness, and grossness as to heavenly ideas, perceptions, and affections has to be removed, before even the best of men can enter fully into consociation with angels! Ask any Christian of whom you have formed the highest opinion, as to his holiness, his faith, and his love, and he will tell you that he feels himself lacking in many things,-he feels that he wants more purity and elevation of motive,-more disinterestedness and expansion of love,-more clearness and certainty in his knowledge and intelligence,-more firmness and constancy in his faith, and more decision and zeal in his life and conduct. He will also tell you that he hopes, through his Saviour God, to have, in another life, these defects removed, and his states purified and exalted. He consequently hopes in a process of purification by which his progress in wisdom and happiness is secured and promoted. All instruction in higher spiritual truths and mysteries, in which the good after death will experience exquisite delight, is only a kind of purification ; for every one must admit that the mind is purified of its ignorance, its errors, its fallacies, and its dulness in the intelligence of spiritual and heavenly things, chiefly through the process of instruction.
Some may object that, by this doctrine of a constant purification, we do away, as they say, with the “atonement, the satisfaction, and the merits of Christ." But the atonement properly understood, as taught by the apostle, (2 Cor. v. 19.) and by the Lord Himself in Matt. v. 24, is not only perfectly consistent with this doctrine; but purification is, in fact, impossible without it; for had not the Lord Jesus Christ effected an atonement by reconciling or atoning human nature in Himself, or in His flesh, (Eph. ii. 15, 16.) to the Divine Nature also in Himself, we could not possibly have been purified, regenerated, and saved. His Atonement, therefore, or His work of universal Redemption and the glorification of His Humanity, are the sole cause of our purification and salvation ; thus, most true it is, that “without Him we can do nothing;” (John xv. 5.) and again most true it is, that if “He wash (or purify] us not, we can have no part with Him.” (John xiii. 8.) Thus all the means and all the power by which we are purified come from the Lord; the means are the divine Truths of His Word, and a life according to them, and the power is the operation of His Holy Spirit. (John xx. 22.)
The doctrine, therefore, of the constant development and purification of our spiritual faculties and states, is founded in the very nature of our rational and spiritual humanity, and is in perfect accordance with the Scriptures; it is also the only condition of our constant advancement in holiness, wisdom, and happiness, and consequently the desire and the hope of the right-minded Christian.
From what the Lord says in Matt. xviii. 8, 9, it may, we apprehend, be correctly inferred that in the other life, and especially in the intermediate state, a process of purification is not only indicated, but absolutely required. For He says," It is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into everlasting fire;"—“it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire.” Now it is plain that entering into life, and also the mode of entering into life, is the subject of these divine words, which teach the fact that
enter into life in an imperfect state. For these bodily defects evidently correspond to defects in the spirit; the life or the governing love in the internal may be good, that is, grounded in love to God and the neigh
bour, but from the lack of the knowledge of Truth, or from the presence of infirmities and frailties in the external not yet subdued, and cast off, the man is said to “enter into life halt or maimed, or with one eye.” But it cannot be supposed that the spirit is to enter into he ren, which is a state of perfection, with these imperfections and mutilations. This imperfect state must consequently be removed, and · the man made perfect” (Heb. xii. 23.) in the intermediate world between heaven and hell. Whereas, to have “two hands, or two feet, or two eyes, and to be cast into everlasting fire,” is to have our states, both of will and understanding, that is, all the powers of our mind, confirmed in evil, and consequently incapable of entering into heaven. We infer, then, from the Lord's divine teaching, that with many “ who enter into life” a process of purification is absolutely required, and in infinite Mercy provided in an intermediate state. For, not to mention the simple and the uninstructed among the Christians, who enter into life with numerous mental defects, how many myriads are there among the poor Gentiles, who, from not possessing the Word of God, are necessarily defective in their spiritual condition, and enter into life halt, maimed, &c.
But many Protestants may probably say, “ This is the Romish doctrine of Purgatory, which we utterly reject." We however maintain that Purgatory is a perversion of this Truth, and that it is our solemn duty to separate the Truth from the perversion,—to adopt the former and to cast the latter away. The end and design for which it has been perverted, is that of acquiring dominion over souls, and of procuring money by saying masses and by offering up prayers for the dead, that they may thereby be more speedily released from the pains of purgatory. And indeed this has been, in the hands of priestcraft, a mighty engine in establishing its dominion, and in acquiring wealth. But, notwithstanding this great perversion, the Truth must be vindicated and maintained.
We often read in Scripture of a process which is denoted by the term wasting or laying waste, in Hebrew, 771 shaddad, and also dow shamem, to devastate. These terms, which denote a process of devastation and desolation, are applied both to the good and the evil. Thus the Psalmist says,—"
—“Hide me from the wicked that waste,* or devastate me.” (xvii. 9.) Again ;—“They that wasted (or devastated] us required of us mirth.” (Psalm cxxxvii. 3.) This, together with other passages of a similar import, is predicated of the good who are in states of desolation and devastation, when in temptations induced by
* See the marginal reading, which gives the Hebrew.
evil spirits, who are the enemy. This process of devastation is also predicated of the evil :—“O daughter of Babylon, who art to be devastated or wasted."* (Psalm cxxxvii. 8.) · Those nations (that will not serve Thee] shall be utterly wasted or devastated.” (Isaiah lx. 12.) Many other passages might be adduced.
Hence it appears that one of the operations of Judgment which, as shewn in the previous paper, is effected after death in the world of spirits, is that of divesting the evil of the knowledges of Truth, and of the semblances of Good which they had acquired and assumed in their external man as a means of imposing upon others, but whose hearts were devoted to self and to the world. Such after death, as their internal and governing principles become manifest, have to be laid waste or devastated ; that is, divested of the external appearances which they had assumed. In this manner their true nature is openly declared, because in the spiritual world, it is a law that internal principles and external appearances shall make a one. In this world “ the outside of the cup
and the platter may appear clean, whilst the inside is full of extortion and excess ;” (Matt. xxiii. 25.) but in the other world this cannot be; that is, when the process of judgment is accomplished. Then, if the inside of the cup is unclean, the outside must appear unclean also. The Scriptures, as we have seen, often allude to this process of devastations, and we consequently infer that there is a doctrine of devastations, † by which those who “enter into life halt or maimed, or with one eye,” &c., may have their imperfections removed, so that all things in their external may be brought into harmony with the governing principle of goodness and sincerity in their internal man. Now the Lord plainly establishes this doctrine of devastations, when
-“Whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that which he seemeth to have.” (Luke viii. 18.) These words, as is evident from the previous verse, are spoken of a man as he is in the spiritual world after death, and they teach us that if a man hath love to God as his governing principle of life, he shall then have an abundance of heavenly good and happiness; but that he who only in his external man has the semblance (seemeth) of good, and not the reality in his internal, will be devastated of all his external semblances, and become a waste and a ruin as to every thing good and true. The Lord also teaches the same fact in the parable of the talents ;—those who had made a good use of
* See marginal reading, which gives the Hebrew. + See Swedenborg's Arcana Cælestia (Index), where he shews from Scripture and reason the nature of this doctrine, and also its necessity and uses.
[Enl. Series.—No. 16, vol. ü.]