Apocalypse Explained (Tansley) n. 889

Previous Number Next Number Next Translation See Latin 

889. (v. 11) And the smoke of their torment ascendeth unto ages of ages. That this signifies the dense falsity encompassing them, and flowing forth from their loves continually, is evident from the signification of smoke, as denoting the dense falsity flowing forth out of the hells from the evils of earthly and corporeal loves, which prevail with those who are there (concerning which see above, n. 539); and from the signification of torment, as denoting the direfulness of hell, thus hell itself (see above, n. 888); and from the signification of ascending, as denoting to encompass and flow forth; of which we shall speak presently; and from the signification of, unto ages of ages, as denoting continually. Strictly, by ages of ages is signified eternal or without end; but in the spiritual sense, which has no reference to the idea of time, is signified the state interiorly ruling continually. It is, therefore, evident, that by the smoke of their torment ascending unto ages of ages, is signified the dense falsity encompassing them, and flowing forth from their loves continually.

[2] That a dense falsity encompasses and flows forth from them, follows from this, that every one is his own truth or his own falsity, because he is his own love. For everything that a man thinks interiorly, or in his own spirit, proceeds from his love; and everything that a man thinks, has reference either to truths or to falsities. It follows, therefore, a man is either his own truth or his own falsity; and - what has so far remained a mystery - man is his own truth or his own falsity, not only as to the thoughts that are from his will, but also as to his whole body. For the body with all its organs, viscera, and members, is a plane into which the thoughts from the will rush forth and diffuse themselves. This is why the whole man, as to everything belonging to him both interior and exterior, is his own love, and consequently his own truth or his own falsity. But upon this subject see what is said above (n. 775, 837).

[3] That truth or falsity from man's loves encompasses him and also flows forth from him, is evident from this, that all things in the world, both animate and inanimate, pour forth a sphere from themselves, which is sometimes felt at a great distance; as from animals in the woods, which dogs keenly smell out, and follow by the scent; also from vegetation in gardens and forests, which emits an odoriferous sphere in every direction; the same is the case with the ground, and its various minerals. These exhalations, however, are natural. It is similar in the spiritual world, where from every spirit and angel there flows forth the sphere of his love, and thence the sphere of his truth or falsity, and this in every direction round about. This is why the quality of spirits is known from the spiritual sphere alone which flows forth abundantly from them; and that according to these spheres they have conjunction with societies of a similar love, and thence of a similar truth or falsity.

[4] Those who are in the love of good and of the truth therefrom are conjoined with the societies of heaven; and those who are in the love of evil and of the falsity therefrom, are conjoined with the societies of hell. I am able to assert that neither spirit nor man can have even a single thought which does not communicate, by means of that sphere, with some society. That this is the case has not hitherto been known to man, but it has been made evident to me from a thousand instances in the spiritual world. Therefore also when spirits are thoroughly examined as to their quality, it is discovered whither their thoughts extend. Consequently it is known with what societies they are conjoined, and thus their quality is ascertained; and that the evil are conjoined with societies of hell, and the good with societies of heaven. Hence also it has been made evident to me, that as the eye, according to its determinations, takes the quality of its sight from the objects in the natural world, so the understanding takes the quality of its thought from truths, these being its objects in the spiritual world, also according to its determinations; and thus that a man does not think the least thing from himself, but either from hell or from heaven; and that he thinks according to the determination of the affections of his love. In determination resides his freedom.

[5] These things are stated that it may be known what is meant by dense falsity encompassing them, and flowing forth from them. The falsity, which flows forth from the hells where they are, is clearly perceived by all those who are not in falsities, while they are walking over the hells. Those falsities sometimes are seen like smoke from conflagrations or like furnaces; sometimes like black clouds; sometimes like dark and foul-smelling waters; sometimes like stinking odours. But still the hells, lest they should strike too strongly the nostrils, and hurt the interiors of other spirits, are covered over with black soil; and, where the persuasions of falsity reign, these are covered with rocks, and generally with gravel and barren earth, by means of which they are kept shut; but, still, they continually exhale falsities from evils. From these things it is now evident why smoke, in the Word, signifies falsities from evil.

This page is part of the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg

© 2000-2001 The Academy of the New Church