481. That more may be learned as to the nature of the grossness of the present age where wise men see nothing of sin in adultery, as disclosed above (no. 478) by angels, I will add the following Memorable Relation:
There were certain spirits who, from habit acquired in the life of the body, infested me with peculiar skill. They did this by an influx somewhat gentle like a kind of undulation such as is usual with the influx of upright spirits; but it was perceived that in the spirits now present were cunning designs and the like to entrap and deceive. At last I spoke with one of them who, it was told me, when he lived in the world had been the general of an army. Perceiving that there was something lascivious in the ideas of his thought, I spoke with him in spiritual speech with representatives--a speech which fully expresses many meanings and indeed in a single moment. He said that in the life of the body in the former world, he had accounted adulteries as nothing. But it was given me to tell him that adulteries are heinous, even though, before the eyes of such men, because of the delight which they experience and of the persuasion therefrom, they do not seem to be such, nay, and seem to be lawful; and, moreover, that he might have known this from the fact that marriages are the seminaries of the human race and hence also of the heavenly kingdom, and for that reason are not to be violated but are to be held holy; also from the fact--which he ought to know, being now in the spiritual world and in a state of perception--that conjugial love descends from the Lord through heaven, and that from this love as a parent is derived mutual love, which is the support of heaven; and further, from the fact that adulterers, when they merely come near heavenly societies, smell their own stench and therefore rush headlong towards hell. He might at least have known that to violate marriages is against Divine laws, against the civil laws of all kingdoms, and also against the genuine lumen of reason, and so against the law of nations because against order, both Divine and human, besides much else. He answered that in the former life he had not thought of such things, and he wished to reason whether they were so. But it was told him that truth does not admit of reasonings, for reasonings defend the delights of the flesh against the delights of the spirit, of the nature of which last, he had no knowledge; that he ought first to think over what had been said because it was the truth; or to think from the principle well known in the world, that no one should do to another what he does not wish the other to do to him. Thus, if any one had in this way ensnared his wife whom he had loved, as is the case in the beginning of every marriage, then, when in a state of anger thereat, had he spoken from that state, would he not himself have detested adulteries? and being a man of ability, would he not then have confirmed himself against them more than other men, even so far as to damn them to hell? and, that the matter might not be a reproach to him, being the general of an army and with men of prompt action, would he not either have slain the adulterer or cast the adulteress out of his house?*
* In the original edition, this Memorable Relation is enclosed in inverted commas, being quoted from HEAVEN AND HELL, no. 385. The last sentence, however, is an addition. In SPIRITUAL DIARY [now called Spiritual Experiences], no. 4405, it is said that the general here referred to was Prince Eugene, that is, Francois Eugene, Prince of Savoy (1663-1736), one of the most famous generals in the Austrian army. The conversation here recorded was held in the summer of 1750, when Swedenborg was in Aix-la-Chapelle.