338. III. INSTANTANEOUS SALVATION FROM IMMEDIATE MERCY IS IMPOSSIBLE. In what has gone before it was shown that the operation of the Divine Providence for the salvation of man begins at his birth and continues right on to the end of his life, and afterwards to eternity; also that this operation is continually effected through means out of pure mercy. Hence it follows that neither instantaneous salvation nor immediate mercy is possible. However, as many who give no thought from the understanding to matters pertaining to the Church or to religion believe that they are saved from immediate mercy and consequently that salvation is instantaneous, and yet this is contrary to the truth and is moreover a pernicious belief, it is important that it should be considered in its proper order:
1. The belief in instantaneous salvation from immediate mercy has been assumed from the natural state of man.
2. This belief comes from ignorance of the spiritual state, which is totally different from the natural state.
3. The doctrines of all the Churches in the Christian world, regarded interiorly, are against instantaneous salvation from immediate mercy, but still it is maintained by external men in the Church.
 First: The belief in instantaneous salvation from immediate mercy has been assumed from the natural state of man. The natural man from his own state does not know otherwise than that heavenly joy is like worldly joy, and that it flows in and is received in the same way; that it is, for example, like the joy of a poor man who becomes rich and who thus from a sad state of poverty comes into a happy state of opulence; or like that of a lowly person who becomes honoured and so passes from a state of contempt to glory; or like that of one who goes from a house of mourning to the joy of a wedding. As these states may be changed in a day, and a similar idea is entertained of the state of man after death, it is clear how the belief has arisen that salvation is instantaneous from immediate mercy.
 Moreover, in the world many may be gathered in one company or in one civil community and may be merry together, and yet all may differ in their mind (animis). This happens in man's natural state, and the reason is that the external of one may be accommodated to the external of another, however unlike their internals may be. From this natural state it is also concluded that salvation is merely admission into the company of angels in heaven, and that this admission is from immediate mercy. It is, therefore, also believed that heaven can be granted to the wicked as well as to the good, and that their association is then similar to that in the world, with this difference only that it is full of joy.
 Second: This belief comes from ignorance of the spiritual state, which is totally different from the natural state. The spiritual state, which is the state of man after death, has been treated of above in many places, where it is shown that everyone is his own love, and that no one can live with any except with those who are in a like love; and that if he enters the company of others he cannot breathe his own life. It is for this reason that everyone after death comes into a society of his own people, that is, of those who are in a similar love, and that he recognises them as relatives and friends, and what is wonderful, when he meets them and sees them it is as if he had known them from infancy. This is the result of spiritual relationship and friendship; and what is more, no one in a society can live in any other house than his own, each one in a society having his own house which he finds ready for him as soon as he enters the society. He may take part with others in meetings outside his own house, but still he cannot dwell anywhere but in it. Moreover, in another's apartment no one can sit anywhere but in his own place. If he sits anywhere else he becomes mentally inert and dumb; and what is wonderful, everyone when he enters a room knows his own place. It is the same in places of worship and in assemblies, when people meet together.
 From these circumstances it is clear that the spiritual state is totally different from the natural state, and is such that no one can be anywhere but where his ruling love prevails; for there is the delight of his life, and everyone desires to be in the delight of his life. A man's spirit cannot be anywhere else because that delight constitutes his life, even his very breathing and the beating of his heart. It is different in the natural world, where the external of man is taught from infancy to simulate in countenance, speech and gesture other delights than those of his internal. Therefore, from the state of a man in the natural world no conclusion can be formed regarding his state after death; for the state of everyone after death is spiritual, and is such that he cannot be anywhere but in the delight of his love; and this delight he acquires for himself by his life in the natural world.
 Hence it may be plainly evident that no one who is in the delight of hell can be admitted into the delight of heaven, which is commonly called heavenly joy; or what is the same thing, that no one who is in the delight of evil can be admitted into the delight of good. This conclusion may be still more evident from the circumstance that after death no one is denied entrance into heaven. The way is pointed out to him, opportunity is afforded him and he is even introduced; but as soon as he enters and inhales with his breath its delight, he begins to feel pain in his breast, to suffer torture in his heart, and he falls into a swoon in which he writhes like a serpent brought close to a fire. Then with his face turned away from heaven and turned towards hell he flees headlong down nor does he rest till he is in a society of his own love. Hence it may be evident that it is not possible for anyone to go to heaven from immediate mercy. Consequently, mere admission is not the only thing needful, as many in the world suppose; nor is there such a thing as instantaneous salvation, for this implies immediate mercy.
 There were some who while in the world believed in instantaneous salvation from immediate mercy; and when they became spirits they desired that their infernal delight, or their delight in evil, should be changed by the Divine Omnipotence and at the same time by the Divine Mercy into heavenly delight, or the delight in good. As they ardently desired this, permission was given for it to be done by angels, who then removed their infernal delight. Thereupon, as that was the delight of their life's love and consequently their life, they lay as if dead, deprived of all feeling and motion; nor was it possible to breathe into them any other life than their own, because all the things both of mind and body which had been reversed could not be turned back again. They were therefore revived by sending into them the delight of their own life's love; and they afterwards said that while in that state they had experienced something dreadful and horrible which they did not care to make known. For this reason it is said in heaven that it is easier to change an owl into a turtle dove or a serpent into a lamb than an infernal spirit into an angel of heaven.
 Third: The doctrines of the Churches in the Christian world, regarded interiorly, are against instantaneous salvation from immediate mercy, but still it is maintained by external men in the Church. The doctrines of all Churches, regarded interiorly, teach life. What Church is there whose doctrine does not teach that a man ought to examine himself, see and acknowledge his sins, confess them, repent and then live a new life? Without this warning instruction is anyone admitted to the Holy Communion? Make inquiry and you will be convinced. What Church is there whose doctrine is not founded on the commandments of the Decalogue? and the commandments of the Decalogue are commandments of life. What man of the Church is there in whom there is anything of the Church, who does not acknowledge when he hears it that he who lives well is saved and he who lives wickedly is condemned? Therefore in the Athanasian Creed, which is also the doctrine received in the whole Christian world, it is said
That the Lord will come to judge the quick and the dead; and then those that have done good will enter into life eternal, and those that have done evil into eternal fire.
 From this it is clear that the doctrines of all Churches when regarded interiorly teach life; and because they teach life they teach that salvation is according to the life. Now a man's life is not breathed into him in a moment, but is formed gradually, and is reformed as the man shuns evils as sins; consequently, as he knows what sin is, and recognising it acknowledges it, and as he does not will it and therefore desists from it, and as he learns also the means which relate to the knowledge of God. By all these the life of man is formed and reformed, and these cannot be imparted in a moment; for hereditary evil which in itself is infernal must be removed, and in its place good which in itself is heavenly must be implanted. From his hereditary evil man may be compared to an owl as to the understanding and to a serpent as to the will; but when he has been reformed he may be compared to a dove as to the understanding and to a sheep as to the will. Therefore, instantaneous reformation and consequent salvation would be like the instantaneous change of an owl into a dove and of a serpent into a sheep. Who that knows anything about the life of man does not see that this is not possible unless the owl and serpent nature is removed and there is implanted the nature of the dove and the sheep?
 Moreover, it is well known that every intelligent man may become more intelligent and every wise man more wise; and that intelligence and wisdom may increase in a man, and that they do increase in some men from infancy to the end of life, and that man is thus continually perfected. Why should spiritual intelligence and wisdom not show greater development? This ascends by two degrees above natural intelligence and wisdom, and as this ascends it becomes angelic wisdom which is ineffable. It has been stated above that this increases with the angels to eternity. Who may not comprehend if he will that it is impossible for that which is being perfected to eternity to be made perfect in an instant?