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Distributed for New Century Edition

Secrets of Heaven 2: Portable

The Portable New Century Edition

Secrets of Heaven is Emanuel Swedenborg’s magnum opus, a fifteen-volume work that delves into the inner, spiritual meaning of the Bible. Starting from the first verse, Swedenborg goes through Genesis and Exodus verse by verse, sometimes word by word, uncovering the fascinating teachings behind the literal account. By doing careful comparison of passages and tracing individual images and motifs through the Bible, he demonstrates that it contains a profound, coherent, and unified inner meaning.

The second volume covers Genesis 9–15, beginning with God’s covenant with Noah following the Flood and then following the familiar story of the patriarch Abraham. In the process, Swedenborg discusses the concept of regeneration, or spiritual rebirth, and describes the way the people act before and after rebirth. He also talks about an epoch of human history that he calls the ancient church and the spiritual state of the people in that church. Interspersed with the biblical commentary are chapters on related topics such as the lives of angels in heaven, how distance and time work in the spiritual world, and the nature of hell.

Secrets of Heaven provides essential insight into Swedenborg’s theology and lays the groundwork for the rest of his writings. This new translation, part of the New Century Edition series, makes his insights into Scripture and his accounts of his spiritual experiences more accessible than ever before.

512 pages | 5.5 x 8.5 | © 2012

New Century Edition

View all books from Swedenborg Foundation Publishers


Few if any today know what the inner self and the outer self are. They consider the two selves to be one and the same, primarily because they believe they do good and think truth on their own. That is one of the effects of a sense of autonomy. The inner self, though, is as distinct from the outer as heaven is from earth.

When they contemplate the subject, neither those who are well educated nor those who are untaught conceive of the inner person as anything but the faculty of thought, since this is internal. They consider the outer person to be the body with its sensory abilities and pleasures, since these are external. But the thinking that they consider part of the inner self is not in fact part of it. The inner self contains nothing but good impulses and true concepts, which are the Lord’s; and the intermediate self contains conscience implanted by the Lord. Yet bad people—even the worst of them—have the ability to think, and people devoid of conscience do too. This leads to the conclusion that a person’s faculty of thought belongs to the outer rather than the inner self.  

To see that the body with its sensory abilities and pleasures is not the outer person, consider the fact that spirits, who have no such body as they had while living in the world, are still just as much in possession of an outer self.

No one can ever see what the inner person and the outer person are without knowing that each of us has: a heavenly and spiritual plane (corresponding to the heaven of angels); a rational plane (corresponding to the heaven of angelic spirits); and a relatively deep sensory plane (corresponding to the heaven of spirits).

There are three heavens, all of them present inside us, and the distinctions among them are very clear. That is why people with a conscience first find themselves in the heaven of spirits after death, then are raised by the Lord into the heaven of angelic spirits, and finally come into the heaven of angels. This could never happen unless we had the same number of heavens inside us, so that we could relate to those heavens and to conditions in each.

These things have made it clear to me what constitutes the inner self and what the outer. Heavenly and spiritual qualities form the inner self, rational thinking forms the intermediate self, and sense impressions (not direct physical sensation but something derived from it) form the outer self. These are present not only in people on earth but in spirits too.

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