Swedenborg writes on the hells
Let me write a few lines as I desire to write you some truths about what you and your friend were discussing; namely, are there any such hells as are described in the messages contained in the book (Dr Peeble's "Immortality") that you have been reading tonight.
Well, you must know, that in the spirit planes hell is a place as well as a condition, and that as a place it has all the accompaniments that make it a reality to the spirits who inhabit it. Of course, the conditions of the spirits who are in these hells are determined by their recollections worked upon by their consciences. But notwithstanding that these recollections are the things that cause their sufferings, yet, the appearances of the locations in which they live are due to something more than these mere recollections, for, as you have been informed, all these spirits are in darkness - the degree of the darkness in which they live being determined by their recollections. I mean that when the spirit has recollections of deeds done or not done, which are not so bad as the recollections of another, the former spirit is in a place where there is less darkness than the latter.
These places have their own fixed condition of darkness and of gloom, and many other attachments which increases the sufferings that spirits have to endure.
There are, of course, no fires and brimstone lakes, and devils with pitchforks adding to the sufferings of the spirits, but yet, there are certain conditions and appearances which are outside of the spirits themselves, which causes their recollections to become more acute and to work in a manner to produce a greater degree of suffering.
These hells may be places of caverns and rocks and barren wastes and dark holes and other such things as have been written about; and mortals must know that evil spirits do not live in pleasant places and suffer only from the punishments which their recollections bring to them.
And while the hells of the orthodox are in their descriptions greatly exaggerated, yet there is some truth in the ideas which these descriptions convey as to the fact that the hells are places in which are darkness and many accompanying appearances that add to the tortures of the spirits of evil.
I tell you this because I see you want to know the truth, and for the further reason that you do not believe that there are such distinctive places as the hells; and that the darkness which the spirits in their communications to you speak of is, in your opinion, produced by the conditions of the minds and souls of the spirits who write.
But such opinion is not altogether correct, and it is best for men to know that the mere recollections do not include all of what the hells are.
You say you have your hells on earth sometimes, and that is true to a limited extent, and many men suffer very much from their consciences and remorse, but when they come into the spirit world, if they have not gotten out of the condition which these recollections and remorse place them in, they will find that there is waiting them that place or location which will add to their sufferings that arise from the recollections of evil deeds committed while on earth. These evil spirits live in communities, for the law of attraction operates in these dark and lower planes just as it does in the higher spheres, and causes spirits of like or similar conditions to congregate together and find consolation, or what they may at times think to be consolation, in one another's company.
These hells are on the planes nearest the earth, and these spirits are not confined all the time to any particular hell; they have the privilege of moving at will along this plane, but wherever they go they find that they are in these hells, and they cannot escape from them, unless they accept the help from spirits who can instruct them (in) what they must do.
Well, when they come to you to write they are not very far from these hells, because the plane in which they live is a part of the plane in which the inhabitants of earth live.
Of course, I don't mean to say that that portion of the earth plane that surrounds your earth is composed entirely of these hells, for that is not true, as the earth sphere has in it considerable light and some happiness. And you must further remember that there are many planes in this earth plane.
These spirits, while their habitations are in these hells, have the privilege of leaving these particular localities and wandering for a short time in and over other parts of this earth plane; but this is only for a short time, and they have to return to the places where they have been placed, and which this law of attraction, that I speak of, draws them to.
Well, there are thousands of millions of evil spirits, and there is never a time when some of them, thousands of them, are not surrounding and trying to use their bad influences on mortals. We do not know why this is permitted, but only know that it is so. And here again the great law of attraction operates, for many mortals are in similar conditions of development and evil thoughts to what these evil spirits are, and naturally, these evil spirits are drawn to them and do come to them. And frequently it happens, that while visiting these mortals of similar conditions to their own, they attempt to influence mortals who are in a better state of moral and spiritual condition, and sometime succeed in doing them harm.
But the great fact is, that these evil spirits have a place of living, where they have to remain, until by the operation of the law of compensation they are relieved from some of their evil tendencies and desires, when they are permitted to progress.
My principal reason in writing you is to have you know that there are hells of places as well as of conditions, and that these places by reason of what they contain and their appearances add to the suffering of the spirits.
As I have written a long time I will stop, and say that I am a Christian and an inhabitant of the Celestial Spheres, and one of the spirit band that is helping you in your great work of the Master. So in leaving you I will subscribe myself,
Your brother in Christ,
Swedenborg the Seer.