59. IV. Why they were there tolerated, until the day of the Last Judgment. The reason was, because it is from Divine order that all who can be preserved, shall be preserved, even until they can no longer be among the good. Therefore all those are preserved, who can emulate spiritual life in externals, and present it in a moral life, as if it were therein, whatever they may be as to faith and love in Internals; so also those are preserved who are in external holiness, though not in internal. Such were many of that nation, for they could speak piously with the common people, and adore the Lord in a holy manner to implant religion in their minds, and lead them to think of heaven and hell, and could hold them in doing goods by preaching works. Thus they were able to lead many to a life of good, and therefore into the way to heaven; on which account also, many of that religion were saved, although few of their leaders. For these are such as the Lord means by:
False prophets, who come in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves (Matt. 7:15).
By "prophets," in the internal sense of the Word, are meant those who teach truth, and by it lead to good; and by "false prophets," those who teach falsity, and seduce by it. They are also like the scribes and Pharisees, who are described by the Lord in these words:
They sit in Moses' seat; all things that they bid you observe, observe and do, but do not according to their word; for they say and do not; all their works they do to be seen of men; they shut up the kingdom of the heavens against men, but go not in themselves: they eat widows' houses, for a pretence pouring forth long prayers. Woe unto you, hypocrites, ye make clean the outside of the cup and platter, but within they are full of rapine and iniquity; cleanse first the inside of the cup and platter, that the outside may be clean also; ye are like whited sepulchres, which appear outwardly beautiful, but within are full of the bones of the dead: thus ye outwardly appear just before men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity (Matt. 23:1-34).
Another reason moreover why they were tolerated was, because every man after death retains his religious principles that he has acquired in the world; into which therefore he is introduced, when first he comes into the other life. Now with this nation, the religious principle was implanted by those who gave an oral preference to sanctity, and feigned holy gestures, and moreover, impressed the people with a belief that they could be saved through them; hence also they were removed, but were preserved among their own. But the principal reason was, that all are preserved from one judgment to another, who live a life similar to a spiritual life in externals, and emulate as it were a pious and holy internal; by whom the simple may receive instruction and guidance: for the simple in faith and heart look no farther than to see what is external, and apparent before the eyes. Hence all such were tolerated from the commencement of the Christian church, until the day of the judgment. That a Last Judgment has existed twice before, and now exists for the third time, was shown above. Of all these "the former heaven" consisted, and they are meant in the Apocalypse (20:5, 6) by "those who are not of the first resurrection." But since they were such as above described, that heaven was destroyed, and they of the second resurrection were cast out. But it ought to be known that they only were preserved who suffered themselves to be held in bonds by laws both civil and spiritual, they being capable of living together in society; nevertheless they who could not be held in bonds by those laws were not preserved, but were cast into hell long before the day of the Last Judgment: for societies are continually purified and purged from such. Hence, they who led a wicked life, who enticed the common people to do evils, and entered on abominable arts, such as exist among spirits in the hells (see the work on Heaven and Hell, n. 580), were cast out of societies, and this in their turns. In like manner also those who are interiorly good are removed from societies, lest they should be contaminated by those who are interiorly evil; for the good perceive the interiors, and therefore pay no regard to the exteriors, except just so far as they agree with the interiors; they are sent in their turns to places of instruction (concerning which see the work on Heaven and Hell, n. 512-520), and are carried thence into heaven; for "the new heaven" is formed of them, and they are meant by "those who are of the first resurrection." These things are said that it may be known, why so many of the Papal religion were tolerated and preserved until the day of the Last Judgment; but more will be said on the same subject in the following article, where "the first heaven" which passed away is to be treated of.