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When I looked to the sides, to the left I saw learned clergy, and behind them regular clergy. To the right I saw educated laity, and behind them, uneducated laity. Between us, though, there was a gaping void that could not be crossed.

[3] We turned our eyes and ears to the left where the learned clergy were, with the regular clergy behind them. We heard them reasoning about God in the following way: "On the basis of the doctrine of our church— the single view of God shared by the entire European world—we know that we have to turn to God the Father, because he cannot be seen. By so doing we also turn to God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, who likewise cannot be seen because they are coeternal with the Father. Because God the Father is the Creator of the universe and is therefore in the universe, wherever we turn our eyes he is present. When we pray to him he graciously hears us. After accepting the Son's mediation, the Father sends the Holy Spirit, who carries the glory of the Son's justice into our hearts and blesses us.

"Created as we were to be teachers of the church, when preaching we have felt in our chests the holy effect of that sending and we have inhaled a devoutness from its presence in our minds. We have been affected in this way because we have directed all our senses to a God who cannot be seen, who works not in a particular way in the sight of our intellect but in a universal way throughout the whole system of our mind and body through his emissary Spirit. Worshiping a God who can be seen, a God whom our minds can picture as a human being, would not yield such good results."

[4] The regular clergy who were behind them applauded these points and added, "Where does holiness come from if not from a Divinity who is beyond our ability to picture or perceive? On first hearing even a mention of such a Divinity, our faces light up and broaden into a smile. Like the caress of some sweet-smelling breeze, the thought exhilarates us and we thump our chests with vigor. To the mention of a Divinity who is within our ability to picture and perceive, we react completely differently. When this comes within earshot it translates into something merely earthly and not divine.

"For the same reason the Roman Catholics conduct their mass in the Latin idiom; from the sanctuary of the altar they take the host, about which they utter divine and mystical things, and display it, and the people fall to their knees, as before the greatest of mysteries, and breathe in the holiness."

[5] After that we turned to the right where the educated laity were, and behind them the uneducated laity. We heard the following statements coming from the educated laity.

"We know that the wisest people among the ancients worshiped a God who was beyond their power to picture, whom they called Jehovah. Later on in the age that followed, however, people deified their deceased rulers, among whom were Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, Pluto, Apollo, and Minerva, Diana, Venus, and Themis.373 People built temples for them and worshiped them as divinities. As the times worsened, that worship led to idolatry and eventually made the whole world insane. With unanimous consent, therefore, we agree with our priests and elders that there are three divine persons from eternity, each of whom was and is God. We are satisfied that these three are beyond our power to picture."

The uneducated laity behind them added, "We agree. God is one thing and a human being is another. We are aware, though, that if someone proposes the existence of a human God, the common people with their sensory concept of God are going to welcome the idea."

[6] Then the spirits' eyes were opened and they saw us nearby. Annoyed that we had heard them, they immediately stopped talking. The angels, with a power that had been given them, closed the outer or lower levels of the spirits' thought, which were the source of the statements they had just made. The angels opened instead the inner or higher levels of the spirits' thought and compelled them to speak about God from those levels.

The spirits then spoke and said, "What is God? We haven't seen the way he looks or heard his voice. What then is God except nature with all its levels? Nature we have seen, because it shines in our eyes. Nature we have heard, because it sounds in our ears."

On hearing that, we asked them, "Have you ever seen Socinus, who acknowledged only God the Father, or Arius, who denied the divinity of the Lord the Savior, or any of their followers?"374

"No, we haven't seen them," they answered.

"They are deep beneath you," we said.

Soon we summoned some of the spirits from down there and asked them about God. They said the same type of things as these spirits had been saying. The spirits from below also said, "What is God? We can make as many gods as we want."

[7] We said, "It is pointless to talk to you about the Son of God born into the world, but we are going to do it nonetheless.

"Faith is like a bubble in the air. It was beautifully colored in the first and second ages,375 but was in danger of bursting in the third and following ages because no one saw God. Therefore to preserve our faith about him, faith in him, and faith from him, it pleased Jehovah God to come down and take on a human manifestation. He did this to bring himself into view and to convince us that God is not a figment of our imagination; he is the absolute being who was and is and will be from eternity to eternity. God is not a three-letter word; he is everything real from alpha to omega.376 Therefore he is the life and salvation of all who believe in him as a God who can be seen, although he is not the life and salvation of those who say they believe in a God who cannot be seen, because believing, seeing, and recognizing are one. This is why the Lord said to Philip, 'Those who see and recognize me, see and recognize the Father.' This is also why the Lord says elsewhere, 'The Father's will is for them to believe in the Son. Those who believe in the Son have eternal life. Those who do not believe in the Son will not see life; in fact, God's anger remains upon them.'" (These words occur in John 3:15, 16, 36; 14:6-15.)

On hearing this, many in the four sets of spirits became so enraged that smoke and flame came out of their nostrils; so we went away. After the angels accompanied me to my home, they went back up to their heaven.

The second memorable occurrence. Once I was out on a walk with some angels. We were walking in the world of spirits, which is midway between heaven and hell, the place where all of us first go after we die. There we are prepared, if we are good, for heaven; if we are evil, for hell. I was speaking with them about many different things, among which was the following.

"In the world where I am currently living in my body, countless stars appear at night, large and small. They are all suns that transmit just their light to our solar system. When I noticed that there are also visible stars in your world, I reckoned that there are the same number here as in the world where I live."

Delighted by this topic of conversation, the angels said, "There could well be the same number. Every community in heaven at times shines like a star to those who are below heaven. There are countless communities in heaven, all arranged according to different feelings of love for what is good. These feelings are infinite in God; therefore there are countless feelings from him. Since these heavenly communities were foreseen before creation, I suppose that the stars were provided in the same

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