78. The Fourth Memorable Relation:
Two days later, the angel again spoke to me, saying: "Let us complete the period of the Ages; there still remains the last Age which is named from IRON. The people of that Age live in the north, at the side of the west, inwards, that is to say, breadth-wise. They are all from the ancient inhabitants of Asia, with whom was the Ancient Word and worship therefrom; consequently, they lived before the time of the advent of our Lord into the world. This is evident from the writings of the ancients in which those times are so named. The same Ages are meant by the statue seen by Nebuchadnezzar, the head of which was of gold, the breast and arms of silver, the belly and thighs of brass, the legs of iron, and the feet of iron and also of clay" (Dan. 2:32, 33).
 All this the angel told me on the way, which was shortened and hastened by changes of state induced upon our minds according to the genius of the inhabitants whom we passed; for in the spiritual world, spaces and hence distances are appearances according to the states of minds. When we raised our eyes, behold, we were in a forest consisting of beeches, chestnuts, and oaks; and there, when we looked about, on the left were seen bears, and on the right leopards. I was wondering at this, when the angel said: "These are neither bears nor leopards. They are men who guard these inhabitants of the north. With their nostrils, they catch the life-spheres of passers-by and rush upon all who are spiritual, for these inhabitants are natural. Those who merely read the Word and draw nothing of doctrine therefrom, appear at a distance like bears, and those who confirm falsities therefrom, appear like leopards." On seeing us, however, they turned away and we passed on.
 After the forest, appeared thickets, and then grassy plains divided into plots and surrounded by box trees. Behind these, the country descended gently into a valley wherein were cities upon cities. Passing by some of these, we entered into a city of large size. Its streets were irregular, as likewise were its houses. The latter were built of brick with intersecting timbers and were plastered over. In the public places were fanes of hewn limestone, the substructure of which was below the ground, and the super-structure above. Into one of these we descended by three steps. Around the walls we saw idols in various forms and a crowd upon their knees adoring them. In the center was a choir, from which the tutelary god of that city emerged as far as his head. As we were going out, the angel told me, that among the ancients who lived in the Silver Age, spoken of above, idols were representative images of spiritual truths and moral virtues; and that when the knowledge of correspondences fell from memory and became extinct, these images first became objects of worship and then were adored as gods, whence arose idolatry.
 Outside the fane, we examined the men and their dress. They had a steel-like face of a bluish gray color, and were dressed like clowns, with cloths about their loins hanging from a close-fitting tunic on the chest; and on their heads were caps crimped into the shape of boats. "But enough of this," said the angel. "Let us get information respecting the marriages of the peoples of this age."
We then entered the house of one of the magnates, on whose head was a cap in the shape of a turret. He received us courteously and said, "Walk in and let us engage in conversation." We walked into the vestibule and there sat down. I then asked him about the marriages of that city and country. He said: "We do not live with one wife, but some with two, some with three, and some with more, and this because variety and obedience and honor as of majesty are pleasing to us. These we receive from our wives when there are several. With only one, there would be, not delight from variety but wearisomeness from sameness; not soothing calm from obedience but trouble from equality; not happiness from domination and the honor resulting therefrom but annoyance from contention respecting superiority. And what is a woman? Was she not born subject to the will of man? to serve and not to rule? Therefore, in his own house every husband here has royal majesty, as it were. This, as belonging to our love, is also the blessedness of our life."
 "But," I asked, "where then is conjugial love which of two souls makes one and which conjoins minds and blesses man? That love cannot be divided; if divided, it becomes a burning heat which effervesces and passes away."
To this he replied: "I do not understand what you are saying. What else blesses a man but the rivalry of his wives for the honor of supereminence with their husbands?" Saying this, the man went into his harem and opened two doors. But from the harem came a libidinous effluvium which stank like filth; it was from polygamous love, a love which is connubial and at the same time scortatory. I therefore rose up and shut the doors.
 I then said, "How can you continue to live on this land when you have nothing of love truly conjugial, and when, moreover, you worship idols?" To this he answered, "As to connubial love, we are so fiercely jealous of our wives that we do not permit any one to enter our houses farther than the vestibule; and because there is jealousy, there is also love. As to the idols, we do not worship them; but we are not able to think of the God of the universe except by means of images set before our eyes; for we cannot raise our thoughts above things sensible to the body, and our thoughts concerning God above things visible thereto."
I then further asked him, "Are not your idols of different forms? how can these bring the vision of one God?" to which he answered, "That is a mystery to us; something of the worship of God lies hidden in each form."
I then said: "You are merely sensual corporeal. You have no love of God, nor any love of a married partner which derives anything from what is spiritual, and it is these loves together, that form man and from being sensual make him heavenly."
 When I had said this, there was seen through the outer door something like lightning; and I asked, "What is that?" He said: "To us such lightning is a sign that the Ancient One is about to come from the East who teaches us about God, that He is One, the only Omnipotent, who is the First and the Last. He also admonishes us not to worship idols but to look upon them merely as images representative of the virtues proceeding from the one God, which together form the worship of Him. This Ancient One is our Angel whom we revere and to whom we hearken; and when, by reason of some fantasy respecting the images, We fall into an obscure worship of God, he comes to us and raises us up."
 On hearing this, we left the house and the city; and on our way, we drew conclusions from what we had seen in the heavens, as to the circle and progression of conjugial love--as to its circle, that it passed from the east to the south, thence to the west, and from there to the north; and as to its progression, that it decreased according to its circling, that is to say, that in the east it was celestial, in the south spiritual, in the west natural, and in the north sensual. We also concluded that it decreased in even step with the love and worship of God. From this comes the following conclusion: In the first Age, that love was like gold, in the second like silver, in the third like brass, and in the fourth like iron; and finally it was lacking.
My angel guide and companion then said, "Yet I am nourished by the hope that this love will be resuscitated by the God of heaven, who is the Lord; for its resuscitation is possible."