First, though, let me state what divine mercy is. Divine mercy is a pure mercy toward the whole human race with the intent of saving it, and it is constant toward every individual, never withdrawing from anyone. This means that everyone who can be saved is saved. However, no one can be saved except by divine means, the means revealed by the Lord in the Word. Divine means are what we refer to as divine truths. They teach how we are to live in order to be saved. The Lord uses them to lead us to heaven and to instill heaven’s life into us. The Lord does this for everyone; but he cannot instill heaven’s life into anyone who does not refrain from evil, since evil bars the way. So to the extent that we do refrain from evil, the Lord in his divine mercy leads us by divine means, from infancy to the end of life in the world and thereafter to eternity. This is the divine mercy that I mean. We can therefore see that the Lord’s mercy is pure mercy, but not unmediated: that is, it does not save people whenever it feels like it, no matter how they have lived.
The Lord never does anything contrary to his design because he himself is the design. The divine truth that emanates from him is what establishes the design, and divine truths are the laws of the design by which the Lord is leading us. Saving people by unmediated mercy is contrary to the divine design, and anything contrary to the divine design is contrary to the divine nature.
The divine design is heaven for us. We have distorted it by living contrary to its laws, which are divine truths. The Lord brings us back into the design out of pure mercy, through the laws of the design; and to the extent that we are brought back, we accept heaven into ourselves. Whoever accepts heaven enters heaven.
This shows again that the Lord’s divine mercy is pure mercy but not unmediated.
If we could be saved by nothing but mercy then everyone would be saved, even the people in hell. In fact, there would not be any hell because the Lord is mercy itself, love itself, goodness itself. So it goes against his essential divine nature to say that all people can be saved directly and that he does not save them. We know from the Word that the Lord intends the salvation of all and the damnation of no one.
Many people who arrive in the other life from the Christian world bring with them a faith that they are going to be saved out of straight mercy, because they plead for it. When they are examined, though, it turns out that they have believed that getting into heaven was simply a matter of being let in, and that people who had been admitted were in heavenly joy. They have had no notion of what heaven is or what heavenly joy is. So they are told that the Lord does not deny heaven to anyone. They can be let in if they wish and even stay there. Some who wanted to were actually let in; but at the very threshold, at the touch of heaven’s warmth (that is, of the love angels are engaged in) and the inflow of heaven’s light (which is divine truth), they were seized with such pain in the heart that they felt themselves in the torments of hell rather than in the joys of heaven. Struck by this, they plunged down headlong. In this way they were taught by firsthand experience that no one can enter heaven out of straight mercy.
I have at times talked with angels about this and have said that many people in the world who have lived intent on evil and have talked with others about heaven and eternal life say only that getting into heaven is simply a matter of being let in on the basis of pure mercy. This is true especially of people who make faith the only means of salvation, since from this fundamental tenet of their religion they do not focus on life or on the deeds of love that make up one’s life. As a result, they do not focus on the other means the Lord uses to instill heaven into us and render us open to heavenly joy. So since they reject all the actual means, the necessary corollary of their premise is that we enter heaven on the basis of pure mercy, believing God the Father to be moved to it through the intercession of the Son. Angels have responded that they know this kind of dogma follows necessarily from acceptance of the principle of salvation by faith alone and that this dogma is the head of the others, a head into which no light from heaven can flow, because it is not true. It is therefore the source of the ignorance the church is mired in nowadays— ignorance about the Lord, heaven, life after death, heavenly joy, the essential nature of love and thoughtfulness, and in general about what is good and its union with what is true. This results in ignorance about human life, its source, and its quality. Life is never gained by mere thought, but only by intent and consequent deeds. It is the result of thought to the extent that the thought derives from intent, so it is from faith only to the extent that faith derives from love. Angels grieve that these people do not realize that faith alone cannot exist in anyone because faith apart from its source, which is love, is only information, or for some a secondhand belief that counterfeits faith. This belief is not part of our life but is outside it, since it is separated from us if it is not coherent with our love.
Angels have also said that people who are caught up in this kind of principle concerning the essential means of our salvation cannot help believing in straight mercy because they can tell from natural light and from visual experience that faith by itself does not constitute human life—people who are leading evil lives can think and convince themselves of the same principles. This is why they believe that evil people can be saved just like good ones, provided in the hour of their death they talk about intercession and mercy obtained by it.
The angels kept insisting that they have never yet seen people who lived an evil life accepted into heaven out of straight mercy, no matter how fervently they had spoken in the world from faith, or from the trust that is meant by faith in its primary sense. . . .
I can testify on the grounds of abundant experience that it is impossible to grant the life of heaven to people who have led lives opposed to it in the world. There have actually been people who believed that they would readily accept divine truths after death when they heard them from angels, that they would become believers and lead different lives, so that they could be accepted into heaven. However, this has been tried with any number of individuals (though only with people who shared this same kind of belief ), granted them so that they could learn that there is no repentance after death. Some of them did understand truths and seemed to accept them; but the moment they turned back to the life of their own love they rejected them and even argued against them. Some rejected them on the spot, unwilling even to listen to them. Some wanted the life of the love they had acquired in the world to be taken away from them and an angelic life or the life of heaven poured in to replace it. Permission was given for even this to be done for them; but once the life of their own love was taken away, they lay there like corpses, with no control over themselves.
These and other similar kinds of experience teach simple good people that there is no way to change anyone’s life after death, no way to rewrite an evil life into a good one or a hellish life into an angelic one. This is because the nature of every spirit from head to toe is determined by his or her love and consequently by his or her life. To change this into its opposite would mean the total destruction of the spirit. Angels insist that it is easier to change one owl into a dove or another into a bird of paradise than to change a hellish spirit into an angel of heaven.