Forms of Government in Heaven (Continued)

In the Lord’s spiritual kingdom there are various forms of government, not the same in one community as in another but varying depending on the functions the communities fulfill. Their functions parallel those of the human [body], to which they correspond; and the variety of these is well known. The heart has one function, the lungs another, the liver another, the pancreas and spleen others, and so also for each sensory organ. Just as we have these various services going on in our bodies, so services are carried on in the universal human that is heaven, since it is its communities that correspond to them. (The reader may see in the appropriate chapter above, Sections 87–102, that everything in heaven corresponds to something in us.)

Still, all the forms of government share a central focus on the public good as their end, and within that good, the good of each individual. This is because everyone in all heaven is under the guidance of the Lord, who loves everyone and who from his divine love arranges things so that it is the common good from which individuals receive what is good for them. Each individual receives benefit in proportion to his or her love of the whole, for to the extent that they love the whole they love all the individuals. Since this love is the Lord’s they are proportionally loved by the Lord and are benefited.

We may conclude from this what the officials are like—namely, that they are the people who more than others enjoy love and wisdom and who therefore, out of that love, wish well to everyone and out of that wisdom know how to make sure it happens. People like this do not control and command but minister and serve, for doing good for others out of a love for what is good is serving, and making sure that it happens is ministering. They do not make themselves more important than other people but less so, for they put the welfare of the community and of their neighbor first and their own later. What is first is more important, and what is later is less.

They do have respect and renown, though. They live in the center of their communities, loftier than others, and in splendid mansions as well; and they accept this renown and respect. However, they do so not on their own account but for the sake of obedience. They all know that this respect and this renown are gifts from the Lord, so that they may be obeyed.

This is the meaning of the Lord’s words to the disciples:

Whoever among you wants to be great needs to minister to you; and whoever among you wants to be first needs to serve you; just as the Human-born One did not come to be ministered to, but to minister. (Matthew 20:27–28 [26–28])

Let the greatest among you be as the least, and the one who is your guide be as one who ministers. (Luke 22:26)

A similar form of government, on the smallest scale, is found in each household. There is a master and there are servants; and the master loves the servants and the servants love their master, so out of this love they serve each other. The master teaches how to live and says what needs to be done and the servants obey and fulfill their functions. Being useful is the essential delight of life for everyone. We can see from this that the Lord’s kingdom is an organized structure of functions.

There are forms of government in the hells as well; for unless there were, they would not be kept in restraint. However, the forms of government there are exact opposites of those in the heavens because they all derive from selfishness. All people there want to control others and to be preeminent. They hate the people who do not agree with them, and use vicious means to get even with them because this is what selfishness is like. So for them it is the more vicious ones who hold office, and who are obeyed out of fear. But more on this later, where I discuss the hells.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 217-220


Sections 87-102: Published 6/4/2017-6/12/2017


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