Arcana Coelestia (Elliott) n. 6559

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6559. 'And will fully return to us all the evil with which we repaid him' means that a punishment as merited is therefore impending. This is clear from the meaning of 'returning the evil with which they repaid him' as a punishment as merited; for the return of evil that is done to someone is the punishment that is duly merited. What the returning of evil is, or what the nature of punishments in the spiritual world is, must be stated because it will show what the internal sense is of the words under consideration here. If in the world of spirits evil spirits do anything evil that exceeds the evil they assimilated by the life they led in the world, those who administer punishment become present in an instant and chastise those spirits in exact accord with the degree of their transgression. For the rule in the next life is that no one should become more evil than he had been in the world. Those who suffer punishment have no knowledge at all of how the ones who administer such punishment know that the evil they do exceeds what they assimilated in the world. But they are told that the nature of order in the next life is such that evil itself carries its own punishment, so that the evil that is committed is completely bound up with the evil inflicted as punishment, that is, within the evil itself lies its own punishment. It is therefore in keeping with order that those who repay with punishment should be instantly present.

[2] This is what happens when evil spirits in the world of spirits perform evil. But in their own hell one spirit chastises another in accord with the evil they assimilated by their actions in the world; for they take that evil with them into the next life. From all this it may now be seen how one is to understand the statement that a punishment as merited is therefore impending, meant by 'will fully return to us all the evil with which we repaid him'.

But as for good spirits, if by chance they utter what is evil or do what is evil, they are not punished but are pardoned and also freed from blame; for it is not their intention to utter what is evil or to do what is evil. And they know that such evil words and deeds were aroused in them by hell and for that reason were not their own fault. This fact can also be recognized from their action against that evil and subsequent grief.

This page is part of the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg

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