We are much pleased to see the Memorabilia presented in a form that will make them accessible to all. They are full of profound insights, and cannot be read to any purpose except by those who are seriously at work to develop for themselves the inward life.
This number, ‘On the state of Infants in Heaven,’ will be of almost universal interest, as there is none, as to which not only bereaved parents, but men in general, have felt more embarrassment and anxiety.
It might seem the simple way for those who profess belief in a God All Wise and All Love to leave to His wisdom and love the care of this matter also, to be sure that He will not suffer any soul once born to be bereft of its legitimate destiny, and that if accident or infraction of the physical laws hurry these little ones prematurely from our sphere, the universe, in which our world is but one little heart or form of life, may afford others as suitable to instruct and perfect their faculties.
But most mortals, imprisoned amid sensible images, demand a picture or theory as a scaffolding, by means of which to raise their thoughts above the shadows of earth. If they find not such beneath their feet, they complain of living ‘in the clouds.’—If the wings of the spirit were grown so that they could soar in faith, and poise themselves a little higher, they would find that only from that hight can the scenes of earth be truly seen and comprehended.
To the many who seek this scaffolding the revelations of Swedenborg offer a shining stair upwards, and on its steps stand, angel-like, noble and beautiful thoughts in harmony with many intimations of habitual Experience.
We add an extract which gives a clue to the import of the whole:
19. I have spoken with angels concerning infants, whether they are pure evils, because they have no actual evil, like adults: but it was told me that they are equally in evil, yes, that they also are nothing but evil; but that they, like all angels, are withheld from evil and held in good by the Lord, so that it appears to them as if they were in good of themselves. Wherefore also infants, after they become adults in Heaven, lest they should be in a false opinion concerning themselves, that the good with them is from them and not from the Lord, are sometimes let back into their evils, which they have received hereditarily, and are left in them, until they know, acknowledge, and believe, that the infant, but who grew up in Heaven, was of a similar opinion (he was the son of a certain king;) wherefore he was let back into the life of evils in which he was born; and then I perceived, from the sphere of his life, that he had a disposition to domineer over others, and that he esteemed adulteries as nothing, which evils he had derived hereditarily from his parents; but after he had acknowledged that he was such, he was then again received among the angels, with whom he was before. No one in the other life ever suffers punishment on account of hereditary evil, because it is not his, thus it is not his fault that he is such; but he suffers on account of the actual evil which is his own, thus as far as he has appropriated to himself hereditary evil by actual life.*—That infants, when they become adult, are let back into a state of their hereditary evil, is not therefore that they may suffer punishment for it; but that they may know, that of themselves they are nothing but evil, and that by the mercy of the Lord they are taken from the hell which is with them into Heaven, sad that they are in Heaven not from any merit of their own, but from the Lord; and thus that they many not boast before others of the good which is with them, for this is contrary to the good of mutual love, as it is contrary to the truth of faith.
20. Several times when some infants have been together with me in choirs, when they were as yet altogether infantile, they were heard as something tender and inordinate, so that they did not yet act as one, as they do afterwards, when they have become more adult; and, what I wondered at, the spirits with me could not refrain from leading them to speak; the resistance and repugnance, which was with a species of indignation, I have often perceived; and when any liberty of speaking was given them, they said only that it is not so. I have been instructed that such is the temptation of infant, in order that they may learn and get accustomed not only to resist what is false and evil, but also that they may not think, speak, and act from another, consequently that they may not suffer themselves to be led by any other than the Lord alone.
* It is known, that man derives evil from each parent, and that this evil is called hereditary evil, therefore he is born into it; but still it does not manifest itself until the man becomes adult, and acts from understanding and thence from will; meanwhile it lies concealed, especially in infancy. And whereas by the mercy of the Lord, no one comes into blame on account of what is hereditary, but on account of what is actual, and what is hereditary can not become actual, until man acts from his own proper understanding and from his own proper will, therefore infants are led of the Lord by infants and angels from the Lord, whence they appear in a state of innocence, hereditary evil still lying concealed in every thing which they do. This (hereditary evil) yields them nourishment, or is as a nurse until the time that they judge for themselves; and then if they are regenerated, they are led of the Lord into a state of new infancy, and at length into heavenly wisdom, thus into genuine infancy, that is, into innocence, for genuine infancy or innocence dwells in wisdom: the difference is, that the innocence of infancy is without, and hereditary evil within, but the innocence of wisdom is within, and actual and hereditary evil without.[Arc. Cel. 4563.
Section 20 contains a fine and profound observation on marks of feeling in children, little understood by their human guardians. It is, indeed, amazing how little people learn from their children, how eager they are to re-make, infer, and pervert, instead of trying to interpret the leadings afforded them by these new books of divinity. Swedenborg was not a father in the flesh, but he was so in the spirit, and thus children came to belong to him far more than to their earthly parents, who took care of them as bodies, but never learned to apprehend them as souls. They were meant to teach us the meaning of our first youth, by giving us a second, enjoyed in the disinterestedness of guardian love, seen from a higher point and reflected in the mirror of intellect. To those who have begun to discern the possibility of joys and studies like these, the thoughts of Swedenborg will afford immediate aid, for he was the Seer of Degrees and will lead them gradually upward into the realm of universal truths. To our own eye there are sad limitations on this view of his, but it may be made precious, if only taken as a far sight and not the whole sight.*
“Memorabilia of Swedenborg . . ,” New-York Daily Tribune, 6 January 1846, p. 1.