Further still, heaven is where the Lord is recognized, trusted, and loved. The different ways he is worshiped—in variations that stem from the difference of activity from one community to another—do not cause harm but bring benefit, because they are a source of heaven’s perfection.
It is hard to explain this in such a way that it can be grasped without resorting to expressions usually found in academic circles and using them to explain how a perfect whole is formed from a variety of elements. Every perfect whole arises from a variety of elements, for a whole that is not composed of a variety of elements is not really anything. It has no form, and therefore no quality. However, when a whole does arise from a variety of elements, and the elements are in a perfected form in which each associates with the next in the series like a sympathetic friend, then it has a perfect quality. Heaven is, then, a single whole composed of a variety of elements arranged in the most perfect form; for of all forms, the form of heaven is the most perfect.
We can see that this underlies all perfection from every instance of beauty, charm, and delight that moves both our senses and our spirits. Such instances arise and flow invariably from a harmonious agreement of many things that are in sympathetic concord, whether they are together simultaneously or follow in a sequence. They do not flow from a single unit that lacks plurality. So we say that variety delights, and recognize that the delight depends on the quality of the variety. We can see from this, as though in a mirror, how perfection stems from variety in heaven as well, since things that happen in the natural world offer us a reflection of things in the spiritual world.
We can say the same of the church as we have of heaven, since the church is the Lord’s heaven on earth. It also has many components, and yet each is called a church and is a church to the extent that the qualities of love and faith rule within it. In it, the Lord forms a single whole out of the varied elements, and therefore makes a single church out of many churches.
Much the same can be said of the individual member of the church as has been said about the church in general, namely that the church is within and not outside, and that anyone is a church in whom the Lord is present in the qualities of love and faith.
Much the same can be said of the individual who has the church within as has been said about the angel who has heaven within, that such an individual is a church in least form as the angel is a heaven in least form. Even more, we can say that the individual who has the church within is a heaven just as much as an angel is, for we have been created to enter heaven and become angels. So anyone who has the quality of goodness from the Lord is an angel-person.
It is worth noting what we have in common with angels and what we possess that they lack. We have in common with angels the fact that our deeper levels are formed in the image of heaven and that we also become images of heaven to the extent that we participate in the qualities of love and faith. What we have that angels lack is that our more outward levels are formed in the image of this world; and that to the extent that we are engaged in what is good, the world within us is subordinated to heaven and serves it; and that then the Lord is present with us on both levels as he is in his heaven. He is actually present on both levels in his divine order, for God is order.
It should be noted in closing that people who have heaven within themselves have heaven not only in their larger or shared aspects but also in their smallest or most specific ones, with the smallest ones in them reflecting the largest. The reason for this is that as individuals we are our love and have a quality that depends on the quality of the love that is ruling. Whatever rules flows into the specifics and arranges them, and imposes everywhere an image of itself. In heaven, it is love for the Lord that rules, because the Lord is loved there above all else. As a result, the Lord is the sum and substance of everything there, flowing into absolutely everything, arranging everything, clothing everything with his likeness, and making heaven to be where he is. So an angel is a heaven in least form, a community a heaven in greater form, and all the communities together a heaven in greatest form. On the Lord’s divine nature as constituting heaven, and on his being the sum and substance of heaven, see above, Sections 7–12.
from Heaven and Hell, Sections 56-58
Previously Cited: 2/15/2018
Sections 7-12: Published 5/29/2017-5/31/2017