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Chapter 56

The Lord Rules the Hells.

536. Above, in treating of heaven it has been everywhere shown (especially in n. 2-6) that the God of heaven is the Lord, thus that the whole government of the heavens is the Lord's government. And as the relation of heaven to hell and of hell to heaven is like the relation between two opposites which mutually act contrary to each other, and from the action and reaction of which an equilibrium results, which gives permanence to all things of their action and reaction, so in order that all things and each thing may be kept in equilibrium it is necessary that He who rules the one should rule the other; for unless the same Lord restrained the uprisings from the hells and checked insanities there the equilibrium would perish and every thing with it.

537. But something about that equilibrium shall first be told. It is acknowledged that when two things mutually act against each other, and as much as one reacts and resists the other acts and impels, since there is equal power on either side, neither has any effect, and both can then be acted upon freely by a third. For when the force of the two is neutralized by equal opposition the force of a third has full effect, and acts as easily as if there were no opposition. [2] Such is the equilibrium between heaven and hell. Yet it is not an equilibrium like that between two bodily combatants whose strength is equal; but it is a spiritual equilibrium, that is, an equilibrium of falsity against truth and of evil against good. From hell falsity from evil continually exhales, and from heaven truth from good. It is this spiritual equilibrium that causes man to think and will in freedom; for whatever a man thinks and wills has reference either to evil and falsity therefrom or to good and truth therefrom. [3] Therefore when he is in that equilibrium he is in freedom either to admit or accept evil and its falsity from hell or to admit or accept good and its truth from heaven. Every man is held in this equilibrium by the Lord, because the Lord rules both heaven and hell. But why man is held in this freedom by such an equilibrium, and why evil and falsity are not taken away from him and good and truth implanted in him by Divine power will be told hereafter in its own chapter.

538. A perception of the sphere of falsity from evil that flows forth from hell has often been granted me. It was like a perpetual effort to destroy all that is good and true, combined with anger and a kind of fury at not being able to do so, especially an effort to annihilate and destroy the Divine of the Lord, and this because all good and truth are from Him. But out of heaven a sphere of truth from good was perceived, whereby the fury of the effort ascending from hell was restrained. The result of this was an equilibrium. This sphere from heaven was perceived to come from the Lord alone, although it appeared to come from the angels in heaven. It is from the Lord alone, and not from the angels, because every angel in heaven acknowledges that nothing of good and of truth is from himself, but all is from the Lord.

539. In the spiritual world truth from good is the source of all power, and falsity from evil has no power whatever. This is because the Divine Itself in heaven is Divine good and Divine truth, and all power belongs to the Divine. Falsity from evil is powerless because truth from good is the source of all power, and in falsity from evil there is nothing of truth from good. Consequently in heaven there is all power, and none in hell; for every one in heaven is in truths from good, and every one in hell is in falsities from evil. For no one is admitted into heaven until he is in truths from good, neither is any one cast down into hell until he is in falsities from evil, (That this is so can be seen in the chapters treating of the first, second, and third states of man after death, n. 491-520; and that all power belongs to truth from good can be seen in the chapter on the power of angels in heaven, n. 228-233.)

540. Such, then, is the equilibrium between heaven and hell. Those who are in the world of spirits are in that equilibrium, for the world of spirits is midway between heaven and hell. From the same source all men in the world are kept in a like equilibrium, since men in the world are ruled by the Lord by means of spirits in the world of spirits, as will he shown hereafter in its own chapter. No such equilibrium would be possible unless the Lord ruled both heaven and hell and regulated both sides. Otherwise falsities from evil would preponderate, and would affect the simple good who are in the outmosts regions of heaven, and who can he more easily perverted than the angels themselves; and thereby equilibrium would perish, and with it freedom in men.

541. Hell, like heaven, is divided into societies, and into as many societies as there are in heaven; for every society in heaven has a society opposite to it in hell, and this for the sake of equilibrium. But evils and falsities therefrom are what distinguish the societies in hell, as goods and truths therefrom are what distinguish the societies in heaven. That for every good there is an opposite evil, and for every truth an opposite falsity may be known from this, that nothing can exist without relation to its opposite, and what anything is in kind and degree can he known from its opposite, and from this all perception and sensation is derived. For this reason the Lord continually provides that every society in heaven shall have an opposite in some society of hell, and that there shall be an equilibrium between the two.

542. As hell is divided into the same number of societies as heaven, there are as many hells as there are societies of heaven; for as each society of heaven is a heaven in smaller form (see above, n. 51-58), so each society in hell is a hell in smaller form. As in general there are three heavens, so in general there are three hells, a lowest, which is opposite to the inmost or third heaven, a middle, which is opposite to the middle or second heaven, and a higher, which is opposite to the outmost or first heaven.

543. How the hells are ruled by the Lord shall be briefly explained. In general the hells are ruled by a general outflow from the heavens of Divine good and Divine truth whereby the general endeavor flowing forth from the hells is checked and restrained; also by a particular outflow from each heaven and from each society of heaven. The hells are ruled in particular by means of the angels, to whom it is granted to look into the hells and to restrain insanities and disturbances there; and sometimes angels are sent to them who moderate these insanities and disturbances by their presence. But in general all in the hells are ruled by means of their fears. Some are ruled by fears implanted in the world and still inherent in them; but as these fears are not sufficient, and gradually subside, they are ruled by fears of punishments; and it is especially by these that they are deterred from doing evil. The punishments in hell are manifold, lighter or more severe in accordance with the evils. For the most part the more wicked, who excel in cunning and in artifices, and who are able to hold the rest in subjection and servitude by means of punishments and consequent terror, are set over them; but these governors dare not pass beyond the limits prescribed to them. It must be understood that the sole means of restraining the violence and fury of those who are in the hells is the fear of punishment. There is no other way.

544. It has been believed heretofore in the world that there is one devil that presides over the hells; that he was created an angel of light; but having become rebellious he was cast down with his crew into hell. This belief has prevailed because the Devil and Satan, and also Lucifer, are mentioned by name in the Word, and the Word in those places has been understood according to the sense of the letter. But by "the devil" and "Satan" there hell is meant, "devil" meaning the hell that is behind, where the worst dwell, who are called evil genii; and "Satan" the hell that is in front, where the less wicked dwell, who are called evil spirits; and "Lucifer" those that belong to Babel, or Babylon, who would extend their dominion even into heaven. That there is no one devil to whom the hells are subject is evident also from this, that all who are in the hells, like all who are in the heavens, are from the human race (see n. 311-317); and that those who have gone there from the beginning of creation to this time amount to myriads of myriads, and every one of them is a devil in accord with his opposition to the Divine while he lived in the world (see above, n. 311, 312).

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Footnotes to Chapter 56

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