The Laws of the Divine Providence
No external compulsion to religion
NO ONE IS REFORMED BY VISIONS OR BY CONVERSATIONS WITH THE DEAD, BECAUSE THEY COMPEL.
The rich man in hell said: I pray thee, father Abraham, that thou wouldst send Lazarus to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment. Abraham said to him, They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them. But he said, No, father Abraham, but if one come to them from the dead they will repent. He answered him, If they hear not Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded if one rise from the dead. (Luke 16:27-31)
DP 134. Visions are of two kinds, Divine and diabolical. Divine visions are produced by means of representations in heaven, and diabolical visions by means of magic in hell. There are also fantastic visions, which are delusions of an abstracted mind. Divine visions, which are produced (as has been said) by means of representations in heaven, are such as the prophets had, who were not in the body but in the spirit when they were in these visions; for visions cannot appear to anyone in the waking states of the body. When, therefore, they appear to the prophets they are said to have been "in the spirit," as is evident from [what is said in the Word concerning the visions of Ezekiel, Zechariah, Daniel and John.]
 Such visions do not take place at the present day. If they did they would not be understood, because they are produced by means of representations, each one of which is significative of the internal things of the church and the arcana of heaven. Moreover, it was foretold by Daniel (9:24) that they would cease when the Lord came into the world.
But diabolical visions have sometimes appeared, induced by enthusiastic and visionary spirits, who from the delirium that possessed them called themselves the Holy Spirit. But these spirits have now been gathered up by the Lord and cast into a hell separate from the hells of others. All this makes clear that by no other visions than those in the Word can one be reformed....
DP 134 bis. Conversation with the dead would have the same effect as miracles, of which just above, namely, man would be persuaded and forced into a state of worship for a short time. But as man is thus deprived of rationality, and at the same time evils are shut in, as said above, this spell or internal bond is loosed, and the evils that have been shut in break out, with blasphemy and profanation. But this takes place only when some dogma of religion has been imposed upon the mind by spirits, which is never done by any good spirit, still less by any angel of heaven.
DP 135. Nevertheless, conversation with spirits is possible (though rarely with angels of heaven); and this has been granted to many for ages back. And when it is granted the spirits speak with man in his mother tongue, and only a few words. But those who speak by the Lord’s permission never say anything that takes away the freedom of the reason, nor do they teach; for the Lord alone teaches man, but mediately by means of the Word when in a state of enlightenment, of which hereafter. That this is true it has been granted me to know by personal experience.
Questions and Comments
- The Lord actually did raise Lazarus from the dead. What effect did this have on those represented by the rich man's brothers on this earth? (See John 12:9-11.)
- What are the three types of visions? What visions are most common today? Are these from the spiritual world?
- We are taught that the "enthusiastic spirits" that caused certain visions in the past in the Christian Church have now been judged. Other teachings such as HH 249 indicate that these can still influence men in the world. How might this relate to the works "of the Holy Spirit" in the Pentecostal churches today?
- What about dreams: can they reveal anything to us about the spiritual world? What is the difference between a dream and a vision?
- What about near death experiences? Are these means by which a man may be reformed and regenerated?
- We are taught in the last teaching quoted on the previous page that man can still converse with those who have died. What can we learn from these experiences? What is one of the easiest ways to tell if it was a good spirit or a bad spirit?
- Why is open communication with spirits called dangerous in the Heavenly Doctrine? (HH 249, etc.)