IT has been explained in the two preceding chapters that heaven as a whole reflects a single individual and that the same holds true for each community in heaven. From the chain of causes presented there, it follows that each single angel reflects the same as well. As heaven is a person in greatest form and a community of heaven is a person in lesser form, so an angel is a person in least form; for in the most perfect form, like the form of heaven, there is a likeness of the whole in the part and of the part in the whole. The reason for this is that heaven is a commonwealth. In fact, it shares everything it has with each individual, and individuals receive everything they have from the commonwealth. An angel is a recipient and therefore a heaven in least form, as has been explained in the relevant chapter above.
To the extent that they accept heaven, people here too are recipients and heavens, and are angels (see Section 57).
This is described in the Book of Revelation as follows: “The wall of the holy Jerusalem was measured, a hundred and forty-four cubits, the measure of an individual, that is, of the angel” (Revelation 21:17). “Jerusalem” in this passage is the Lord’s church, and in a more elevated sense, heaven.a The wall is the truth that protects it from the assault of false and evil things.b “A hundred and forty-four” refers to all good and true things as a whole. “Measure” refers to its quality. The human being is where all these things are found, in general and in specific, and therefore where heaven is found; and since an angel is a person as well because of these characteristics, it says “the measure of an individual, that is, of the angel.” This is the spiritual meaning of these words. Apart from this meaning, who would understand that the measure of the wall of the holy Jerusalem would be the measure of an individual, which was the measure of the angel?
But let us turn to experience now. As for angels being human forms, or people, this I have seen thousands of times. I have talked with them face to face, sometimes with just one, sometimes with several in a group, and as far as their form is concerned, I have seen in them nothing different from that of a human being. At times I have felt surprised that they were like this; and to prevent it being said that this was some illusion or hallucination, I have been allowed to see them while I was fully awake, or while I was in full possession of my physical senses and in a state of clear perception.
I have often told them that people in the Christian world are in such blind ignorance about angels and spirits that they think of them as minds without form, as mere thoughts, and can conceive of them only as something airy with something alive within it. Further, since they attribute to them nothing human except a capacity for thought, they believe angels cannot see because they have no eyes, cannot hear because they have no ears, and cannot talk because they have no mouths or tongues.
Angels have replied that they know many people on earth have this kind of belief and that it is prevalent among the learned and—strangely!—among the clergy. They have told me that it is because some of the learned who were particularly eminent and who came up with this kind of concept of angels and spirits thought about them on the basis of the sensory faculties of the external person. If people think on this basis and not on the basis of a more inward light and the common idea native to everyone, they cannot help constructing images like this, because the sensory faculties of the external person grasp only matters that are within the bounds of nature and not things that are higher. So they do not grasp anything at all about the spiritual world.f From these eminent people as leaders, false thoughts about angels spread to people who did not think independently but relied on others; and people who let their thinking rely primarily on others and then form their faith, and later look into these matters with their minds, have a hard time giving these ideas up. As a result, many of them cooperate in confirming these false notions.
Angels have also told me that people of simple faith and heart are not caught up in this concept of angels, but have an image of them as people in heaven. This is because they have not let erudition snuff out the image implanted in them from heaven and because they do not grasp anything unless it has some form. This is why the angels we see sculpted and painted in churches are invariably represented as human. As for this “image implanted in them from heaven,” angels tell me that it is something divine that flows into people who are intent on goodness of faith and life.
from Heaven and Hell, Sections 74, 75
Section 57: Published 2/15/2018