Spiritual Occupations

A Sermon by Rev. James P. Cooper


"Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you." (John 14:1,2)

As we go through life in this world, we try to behave in such a way that we will "make it" to heaven but we all wonder what it will be like when we get there, what kinds of things will we do to keep ourselves busy all day long. But in order to get a better grasp on what spiritual occupations are like, we must look carefully at the loves that lie within our earthly occupations, and look closely at what the Heavenly Doctrines teach about life in the spiritual world. We read from the Heavenly Doctrines

"The works of the mind are intentions and endeavors, and the works of the body are utterances and actions. Both of these proceed out of a man s internal life, which is of his will or love. Whatever does not terminate in works, whether it be internal things or external things, these are not in the man s life, for they inflow out of the world of spirits but are not being received" (AR 868).

If earthly works are not terminated in actions they are not part of a person s life. Is it not also true that heavenly works must be terminated in heavenly actions for them to be part of the angel s life? Is not the spiritual world the mediate cause of the natural world? Do not the spiritual principles of the one apply to the other? Are not the angels in the loves of their life more perfectly than are people? Does this not mean that there must be as many spiritual ultimations of uses as there are angels? Is not the perfection of uses in the Grand Man of Heaven directly related to the variety of uses performed in the spiritual world?

Life descends from the Lord, through the spirit, and is terminated in a person s actions. For an angel, this life descending is terminated in his spiritual activities. There must be spiritually "physical" activities as a foundation for the influx of life from the Lord just as there must be an organic of natural substances of the spiritual body to rest upon as a foundation. Without determination, a spiritual cause is a breath of air, performing no use. And without use, in this world and the next, there is no real life.

Angels perform spiritual uses. An angel has a spiritual body through which he senses the spiritual world, and by means of which he acts. It would seem, then, that when an angel is present with a person, providing a means for influx from the Lord, his spiritual body would be performing some spiritual activity that represents that function perhaps planting spiritual tree in the spiritual garden.

In heaven, every angel delights in performing uses for others, and they are given food and clothing freely from the Lord. They love their work, He loves to give them the things they need. They earn, but have no sense of needing to earn, no sense of the relationship between time worked to rewards given. Rather, rewards and honors are given according to each individual angel s elevation of use and accumulated wisdom. Angels are never jealous of each other s riches, but instead, they feel joy that the other is permitted such a wonderful and elevated use. For example, imagine if a friend has been saving for a long time for something he really wanted, but that you yourself had no desire for, something you would not envy. Then think of the happiness you would feel when he finally succeeded in getting it. This would illustrate the unselfish joy of heaven.

In hell there is no delight in use. There, they wish only to do things that bring pleasure to themselves, the loves of self and the world rule. Thus they hate to do anything that might be of any benefit to another (unless they think that it will be a way of getting something). Yet even though they are of this nature, the Lord loves them too, and provides for them. But in hell the food and shelter are only provided in direct relation to their state of external order. They may want to do evil, but when they do, they are severely punished, and they are not given any food unless they keep themselves in order and perform the tasks required by their angel supervisors. This points out the tremendous importance of use. Even the devils must perform duties that are analogous to uses. They are completely external, but still they must be done. One might think that hell could be organized in such a way that devils do not have to work that the denial of their loves of self and the world would be torment enough. However, central to this idea is the false idea that hell was created to be a place of punishment for those who do not follow the Lord. The Lord punishes no one. Hell has been created by human beings and permitted by the Lord out of His love for everyone. Devils are of such a character that it would be unendurable torment if they were forced to live in heaven because it is totally alien to them. No worse torment could be thought of or experienced than for a devil to be forced to be present with the angels under the light and heat of the spiritual sun. It is a further aspect of the Lord s love that they are punished into external order and uses in hell, for they are such that they would kill each other if not restrained by angels who love order so much that they can associate with them. The Lord created us to live to eternity in heaven. We are free to choose hell if we wish, but we are not free to end our life.

These spiritual principles also apply to people in the world because the Lord s kingdom on earth is the church. This means that when a person comes into the truths of faith from the Word, begins to understand them, and apply them to his life, he is coming into the genuine life of the church, the life that leads to heaven. In order to do this we must practice self-examination and repentance, and amend our life; for good works are not really possible until truth is seen and applied in life.

When we shun a sin, the opposite love will be implanted in our hearts by the Lord therefore, after we have done works and won in temptation with the Lord s help, we come into the life of heaven, that is, the church is formed within us. When we become a church, we still continue to work in the world, even though love becomes more important, still, every love must have an ultimate expression, and so we continue to work in the world, but with renewed strength and joy. As the love of our married partner grows, so does our desire to express it in a great variety of external forms embraces, gestures, gifts, offers of help, and many others. In the same way, as our wisdom increases, we find new ways to do things that will bring delight to others, our loves continually seek new forms to express themselves.

The Writings teach further that "works" are not exactly the same thing as "occupation," except that on earth works can be the same as occupation. It depends on the motive, the ruling love, the spiritual cause. Take for example a laborer working 40 hours a week soldering parts into circuit boards on an assembly line. If such a person were in the love of self, he might work to avoid the loss of his reputation if he were fired. He might try to do a good job to keep the paychecks coming regularly. Again, he may be inspired to work hard and do a good job so that he can afford to buy expensive presents for his children so that they will "love" him. Perhaps he sees himself in his children, so by giving them gifts, he gives gifts to himself. If the love of the world rules in him, he might do a good job because he wants to enjoy the pleasures of the world that his wages can buy.

On the other hand, if he is in the affection of natural truth, he may work hard and do the best job he can because he believes that this is what he should do. His pleasure from the job might be that he enjoys seeing the solder melt perfectly into the joint, making a perfectly finished product.

If he is in an affection of spiritual truth, and genuine love towards his neighbor, perhaps he might see that he is not just soldering joints in a circuit board, but rather he may reflect that the circuit board is part of a larger system, which might then be used in a truck which is used to carry useful goods to stores. He begins to see that his work stretches out in a hundred directions, touching many people, bringing them work, profit, and pleasure that they would not have if he did his job poorly and the truck kept breaking down. He thinks of all those people who depend on him doing his job well, and works with pleasure for them.

While this illustration may seem mundane, it does illustrate the true nature of spiritual occupations, for in heaven, each angel performs some task or occupation, not just to keep busy, or because the goods are needed (since every necessity is provided by the Lord), but they work because each one of them perceives that he is a part of the whole of heaven, and that his actions, as led by the Lord, contribute to the corporate life of heaven in a meaningful, unique way. On earth, any occupation can be a use, if the love within it is love to the neighbor or the Lord. In heaven, the physical tasks that the angels perform are representatives of each angel s own ruling love, so all occupations in heaven are uses.

Having spent a great deal of time considering the source and nature of heavenly duties, we now turn to a partial list of occupations that hopefully will help us get a feeling for what we will be doing to eternity. The doctrines point out that it is extremely difficult to enumerate because the various occupations are numberless each individual angel will have a unique occupation that is perfectly suited to his loves and abilities. However, we are told that each society has its own particular duty. Further, we are told that all the angelic jobs fall into one of three types ecclesiastical, civil, and domestic; and that those things that pertain to the general good are performed by the wiser angels, and those that pertain to smaller groups by the less wise, and so on.

As said above, all societies are distinct according to the use that they perform. Those uses are diverse, yet all those listed seem to have one thing in common, that they are all forms of education in some degree. There are societies employed in

Taking care of little children.

Instructing the boys and girls who have acquired a good disposition from their education in the world, and in consequence have come into heaven.

Teaching the simple good from the Christian world, and leading them in the way to heaven.

Teaching and leading the various heathen nations into heaven.

Protecting newly arrived spirits from being infested by evil spirits by helping them learn the customs of heaven, and keeping them away from those who want to enslave them with their lies.

Attending to the spirits who are in hell, and preventing them from torturing each other beyond what is permitted.

Attending to those who are being raised from the dead.

In general, angels from each society are sent to people on the earth to watch over them and to lead them away from evil affections and consequent evil thought, and to inspire them with good affections as far as they will receive them in freedom.

Those who in the world have loved the Word and eagerly sought in it for truths, not with honor of gain as an end, but on account of uses of life both for themselves and for others, are concerned with ecclesiastical affairs in heaven. These serve as preachers. Those who in the world have loved their country, and have loved its general good more than their own, and have done what is just and right from a love of what is just and right, are concerned with civil affairs. They are all in the delight of their work and labor from a love of use, and no one from a love of self or of gain. (See HH 383-393)

In the same way that you cannot solder circuit boards here on earth by just sitting around thinking about doing it, in heaven, your use must be expressed representatively by doing some activity with spiritual ultimates. In confirmation of this, we read the following

"...Ten men can do works that appear alike in externals, but which are unlike even with all of them, because they come forth out of a different end and cause, and the end and cause make works to be either good or evil; for every work is a work of the mind, and consequently such as the mind is, such is the work. If the mind is charity, the work becomes charity; but if the mind is not charity, the work does not become charity; yet both can appear alike in externals. Works appear to men in an external, but to angels in an internal, form; while to the Lord they appear such as they are from inmosts to outmost" (AR 76 Cf. AR 141, 641).

We all wonder what our lot in the other life will be. We wonder if we will be worthy of heaven when we are called. We wonder where we will live, what our neighborhood will be like, who our friends will be, what we will have to do that will keep us interested to eternity. We need not worry, though, for the Lord has assured us that there is a place for us there, where we will be happy to eternity, for He Himself taught us, In My Father s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you (text). AMEN.

1st Lesson DAN 610-23

(Dan 610-23) Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days. {11} Then these men assembled and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God. {12} And they went before the king, and spoke concerning the king s decree "Have you not signed a decree that every man who petitions any god or man within thirty days, except you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions?" The king answered and said, "The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which does not alter." {13} So they answered and said before the king, "That Daniel, who is one of the captives from Judah, does not show due regard for you, O king, or for the decree that you have signed, but makes his petition three times a day." {14} And the king, when he heard these words, was greatly displeased with himself, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him; and he labored till the going down of the sun to deliver him. {15} Then these men approached the king, and said to the king, "Know, O king, that it is the law of the Medes and Persians that no decree or statute which the king establishes may be changed." {16} So the king gave the command, and they brought Daniel and cast him into the den of lions. But the king spoke, saying to Daniel, "Your God, whom you serve continually, He will deliver you." {17} Then a stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the signets of his lords, that the purpose concerning Daniel might not be changed. {18} Now the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; and no musicians were brought before him. Also his sleep went from him. {19} Then the king arose very early in the morning and went in haste to the den of lions.

{20} And when he came to the den, he cried out with a lamenting voice to Daniel. The king spoke, saying to Daniel, "Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?" {21} Then Daniel said to the king, "O king, live forever! {22} "My God sent His angel and shut the lions mouths, so that they have not hurt me, because I was found innocent before Him; and also, O king, I have done no wrong before you." {23} Then the king was exceedingly glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no injury whatever was found on him, because he believed in his God. Amen.

2nd Lesson JOH 141-14

(John 141-14) "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. {2} "In My Father s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. {3} "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. {4} "And where I go you know, and the way you know." {5} Thomas said to Him, "Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?" {6} Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. {7} "If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him." {8} Philip said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us." {9} Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, Show us the Father ?{10} "Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. {11} "Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves. {12} "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. {13} "And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. {14} "If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. Amen.

3rd Lesson HH 387, 389

THE EMPLOYMENTS OF ANGELS IN HEAVEN.

It is impossible to enumerate the employments in the heavens, still less to describe them in detail, but something may be said about them in a general way; for they are numberless, and vary in accordance with the functions of the societies. Each society has its peculiar function, for as societies are distinct in accordance with goods (see above, n. 41), so they are distinct in accordance with uses, because with all in the heavens goods are goods in act, which are uses. Everyone there performs a use, for the Lord s kingdom is a kingdom of uses.

389. All things in the heavens are organized in accordance with Divine order, which is everywhere guarded by the services performed by angels, those things that pertain to the general good or use by the wiser angels, those that pertain to particular uses by the less wise, and so on. They are subordinated just as uses are subordinated in the Divine order; and for this reason a dignity is connected with every function according to the dignity of the use. Nevertheless, an angel does not claim dignity to himself, but ascribes all dignity to the use; and as the use is the good that he accomplishes, and all good is from the Lord, so he ascribes all dignity to the Lord. Therefore he that thinks of honor for himself and subsequently for the use, and not for the use and subsequently for himself, can perform no function in heaven, because this is looking away backwards from the Lord, and putting self in the first place and use in the second. When use is spoken of the Lord also is meant, because, as has just been said, use is good, and good is from the Lord.