(TCR) - True Christian Religion: Containing the Whole Theology of the New Church Predicted by the Lord in Daniel 7:13-14 and Revelation 21:1-2

TCR 694

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694. Third Memorable Relation:
Sometime afterward I looked toward the city Athenaeum, spoken of in the foregoing Memorable Relation, and I heard a strange noise coming from it. There was in it something of laughter, in this something of indignation, and in this still something of sadness; and yet the noise was not discordant but harmonious, because the sounds were not simultaneous, but were one within the other. In the spiritual world the variety and commingling of affections is distinctly perceived in the tone of the voice.
At a distance I asked, "What is the matter?" They answered, "A messenger has arrived from the place where newcomers from the Christian world first appear, saying that he has heard from three persons there that in the world from which they had come, they in common with others there had believed that after death the blessed and happy would have rest from all kinds of labor; and because administrations, and official and manual employments are labors, there would be rest from these. And as these three have now been brought here by our messenger, and stand waiting at the door, a clamor has arisen; and after consultation it has been decided that they should not be introduced into the Palladium on Parnassium as the former new-comers had been, but into the great auditorium there, that they may tell their news from the Christian world; and some have been sent to introduce them formally."
As I was in the spirit, and as with spirits distances are according to the state of their affections, and as I then had an affection for seeing and hearing the newcomers, I seemed to myself to be there present, and I saw them introduced and heard them speak.
[2] In the auditorium the older or wiser sat at the sides, and the others in the center, and in front of these was a raised floor. The three new-corners with the messenger were conducted hither, through the middle of the auditorium, by the younger ones in formal attendance; and when silence had been obtained they were introduced by one of the elders, and asked, "What news from earth?"
They replied, "There is much news; but pray tell us to what subject your inquiry refers."
The elder replied, "What news from earth respecting our world and heaven?"
They answered, "When we first arrived in this world, we heard that both here and in heaven there are governments, ministerial offices, occupations, business, all kinds of studies, and wonderful works; although our belief had been that after our removal or transfer from the natural world into this spiritual world, we should enter into eternal rest from labors. But what are occupations but labors?"
[3] To this the elder replied, "By eternal rest from labor did you understand eternal idleness, wherein you would constantly sit and lie, inhaling delights with the breast, and drinking in joys with the mouth?"
The three newcomers smiled pleasantly at this and said, "We did entertain some such opinion."
They were then asked, "What has joy, delight, and consequent happiness in common with idleness? By idleness the mind is not expanded but dissipated; that is, man is deadened by it, not vivified. Picture to yourselves a man sitting in utter idleness, his hands hanging down, his eyes cast down or withdrawn, and at the same time surrounded by an aura of delight; would not a lethargy seize upon both his head and body, the vital expansion of his face give way, and with relaxed fibers would he not nod and nod, until he fell to the ground? What keeps the whole bodily system expanded and tense, but the tension of the mind? And whence comes the mind's tension but from administrative duties and works, when they are performed from delight? I will therefore tell you this news from heaven, that there are governments here, ministerial duties, judicial tribunals, greater and less, as also mechanical and other employments."
[4] When the three newcomers heard that there were greater and lesser judicial tribunals in heaven they said, "Why so? Are not all who are in heaven inspired and led by God, and do they not therefore know what is just and right? What need then of judges?"
The elder replied, "In this world we are taught and learn what is good and true, also what is just and equitable, the same as in the natural world, and these things we learn not immediately from God, but mediately through others; and every angel, like every man, thinks what is true and does what is good as if of himself, this being not pure but mixed, according to the state of the angel. Moreover, among angels some are simple and some wise, and the wise must judge of what is just, while the simple from their simplicity and ignorance are in doubt about it of depart from it. [5] But as you are yet new in this world, follow me, if you would like to do so, into our city, and we will show you everything."
And they left the auditorium, others of the elders also accompanying them; and first entered a large library, which was divided into smaller libraries, each devoted to a different branch of knowledge. The three new-comers, seeing so many books, were amazed, and said, "Are there books in this world also?" Where do the parchment, paper, pens and ink come from?"
The elders replied, "We perceive that in the former world you believed this world to be empty because it is spiritual; and this you believed because you cherished an idea of the spiritual as something abstract from the material; and what is abstract from the material seemed to you like nothing, thus like a vacuum; and yet here is an abundance of all things. All things here are substantial, not material, and material things have their origin in the substantial. We who are here are spiritual men, because we are substantial and not material. For this reason all things that exist in the natural world exist here in their perfection, even books and writings and many other things."
When the three newcomers heard the word substantial, they recognized the truth of the matter, both from seeing the written books and from hearing that matter originates in substance. To convince them still further, they were taken to the abodes of the writers who transcribed the writings of the wise men of the city; and they examined the writings and wondered at their neatness and elegance.
[6] After this they were conducted to the museums, gymnasia, colleges, and places where they held their literary games, some called the games of the Heliconides, some of the Parnassides, some of the Athenaeides, and some of the Virgins of the fountain. They said that the latter were so named because virgins signify affections for knowledges, according to which affections everyone has intelligence. The so-called games were spiritual exercises and trials of skill. After this they were conducted about the city to the rulers, administrators, and their officers, and by these latter to the wonderful works which their workmen execute in a spiritual manner.
[7] When these things had been seen, the elder again spoke to them about the eternal rest from labor, into which the blessed and happy enter after death. He said, "Eternal rest is not idleness, for idleness produces a languid, torpid, stupid, and sleepy state of the mind, and therefrom of the whole body; and this is not life but death, still less is it the eternal life which the angels of heaven live. Eternal rest is therefore a rest that dispels that state and causes man to live; thus it is nothing else than what elevates the mind; and is some pursuit or work by which the mind is aroused, enlivened, and delighted; and this is accomplished in the measure of the use from which, and for which the mind labors. Because of this the whole heaven is regarded by the Lord as a containant of uses, and every angel is an angel in the measure of his use. Delight in use bears him on as a favoring current does a ship, causing him to be in eternal peace and in the rest of peace. This is what is meant by eternal rest from labor. That an angel is alive in the measure of the application of his mind to use is very manifest from this, that everyone has conjugial love with its vigor, potency, and delights, according to his application to the genuine use in which he is engaged."
When the three newcomers had been convinced that eternal rest is not idleness, but the delight arising from some useful work, some virgins came and presented them with needlework and embroidery made with their own hands; and as the newcomers were departing, the virgins sang an ode in which they expressed in angelic melody the affection for useful labor and its charms.


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