Angels

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The teachings of Swedenborg have revealed that each person is joined to good and evil spirits all the time.

Everybody has at least two angels with him through whom he has communication with heaven, and two evil spirits through whom he has communication with hell. (AC 986.2; see also AC 1277, 2379, 6600; and many others)

We are not aware of this, at least not in our thoughts or consciousness. Even though we can see our own thoughts, and even though these thoughts do come out of our affections, still we cannot see their source in the spiritual world.

A person does not know anything about them [angels and spirits], because the state of spirits and angels is spiritual, and that of people is natural. These two states are associated together solely by means of correspondences, and association by means of correspondences causes them to be together in affections but not in thoughts. (AR 943.2)

Not only do we have what can be called personal spirits and angels around us, but these are themselves part of larger communities and again connected to other communities. “A person’s thought, and also that of spirits and of angels, radiates into many societies in the spiritual world” (AC 6600.1).

Now, how does this tie in with the Word? Here is a curious story that Swedenborg tells about an experiment he once carried out:

When I read the Word through from the first chapter in Isaiah to the last chapter in Malachi and the Psalms of David, and I kept thinking about their spiritual meaning, I was given a clear perception that every verse communicates with some community in heaven, and therefore the whole Word communicates with the entirety of heaven. (TCR 272)

The extraordinary conclusion that we might draw from this is that we can extend our association with angels way beyond those that are currently with us. This happens when we read the Word. By analogy, when we step outside the house after a spell of rain, and make the transition from a stuffy living room to the fresh, fragrant outdoors, we become acutely aware of the impressions we get from the new surroundings. The same happens when we again enter the house. Now we become acutely aware of its stuffiness, compared to outside. So when we read the Word and are, unconsciously, connected to new and different communities in heaven, we can sometimes experience an inkling of this and notice it in our state and our affections. The correspondences of the Word cause the spiritual state of the angels and our own natural state “to be together in affections” (AR 943.2). This experience we describe with the term “holiness.”

The doctrine of the Sacred Scripture supports this conclusion in the following passage:

There is association with angels by means of the sense of the Letter because within that sense there are the spiritual and the celestial senses, and the angels are in those senses…. These senses are unfolded from the natural sense of the Word, which is the sense of the Letter…. This unfolding is instantaneous, and thus also is a person’s association [with angels]. (SS 63)

From this a rather essential aspect of holiness can now be given:

[key phrase] When reading or hearing the Word we are connected, through correspondences, with angels in heavenly communities. This connection flows into our affections, and is experienced by us as holiness.

In other words, just as we earlier concluded that holiness comes from the presence of the Lord, at another level holiness comes from the presence of angels.

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