17. That the spirit of man, after its release from the body, is a man, and in a similar form, has been attested to me by the daily experience of many years; for I have seen, heard, and spoken with spirits a thousand times; and even on this very subject; that men in the world do not believe them to be such, that they who do believe it, are accounted as simple by the learned. The spirits were grieved in heart, that such ignorance should still prevail in the world, and most of all in the church; but this, they said, proceeded principally from the learned, who thought of the soul from the sensual corporeal; wherefore they have conceived no other idea of it, than as of mere thought; which, when it is regarded without any subject in which and from which it is viewed, is like some volatile form of pure ether, which is necessarily dispersed when the body dies. But since the church from the Word believes in the immortality of the soul, they were obliged to ascribe it to some vital quality, such as belongs to thought, though not the sensation which man has, till it is again conjoined to its body. On this opinion is founded the doctrine of the resurrection at the time of the Last Judgment, and a belief in the conjunction of the soul and the body then; for from this hypothesis about the soul, coupled with the belief of the church in man's eternal life, no other conclusion can be reached: hence it is, that when any one thinks of the soul, from the doctrine and the hypothesis together, he does not at all comprehend that it is a spirit, and that this is in the human form. Add to this, that scarcely any one at this day knows what the spiritual is, and still less that they who are spiritual, as all spirits and angels are, have any human form. Hence it is, that almost all who come from the world are greatly amazed that they are alive, and are equally men as before, with no difference whatever. But when they cease to be amazed at themselves, they then wonder that the church knows nothing of this state of men after death, when yet all who have ever lived in the world, are in the other life, and live as men. And because they have also wondered why this was not manifested to man by visions, it was told them from heaven, that this could be done, for nothing is easier, when the Lord pleases, but that still they who had confirmed themselves in falsities against it, would not believe, even though they themselves were to see it; and moreover that it is perilous to manifest anything from heaven to those who are in worldly and corporeal things, for in this case they would first believe and afterwards deny, and thus profane the very truth itself; for to believe and afterwards to deny, is to profane; and they who profane, are thrust down into the lowest and most grievous of all the hells. It is this danger which is meant by these words of the Lord:
He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their hearts, lest they should see with the eyes and understand with the heart; and convert themselves, and I should heal them (John 12:40). Also that they who are in worldly and corporeal loves, still would not believe, is meant by these words:
Abraham said to the rich man in hell, They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them; but he said, Nay, father Abraham, but if one from the dead come to them, they will be converted; but Abraham said to him, if they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they believe even if one rose from the dead (Luke 16:29-31).