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.
* Jer. 1:18; 15:20.