"...I have been told by angels that when Melancthon died, a house was prepared for him like that in which he had
lived in the world. This also is done with most of the new-comers,
owing to which they do not know that they are not still in the natural world...The things in his room, also were all like this he
had before, a similar table, a similar desk with
compartments, and also a similar library; so that as soon as he awakened from sleep, he seated himself at the table and
continue his writing, as if he were not a dead body, and this one
the subject of justification by faith alone, and so on for several days, and writing nothing whatever concerning charity. As
the angels perceived this, he was asked through messengers
why he did not write about charity also. He replied that there was nothing of the church in charity...
He said these things arrogantly, but he did not know that he was dead and that the place to which he had been sent
was not heaven. When the angels perceived this, they
A few weeks after this, the things which he used in his room began to be obscured, and at length to disappear, until at
last there was nothing left there but the chair, the table, the
paper and the inkstand; and, moreover, the walls of his room seemed to be plastered with lime, and the floor to be covered
with a yellow, brick-like material, and he himself seemed to be
more coarsely clad. Still, he went on, bent over his desk, persisting in writing his denial of charity...
He suddenly seemed to himself to be under ground in a sort of scriptorium, where there were other
theologians, like him. And when he wished to go out he was detained by some
force. At this, he began to question his ideas, and the was taken out, and sent back to his former chamber...he appeared clad
in a hairy skin, but he tried to imagine that what had gone
before was mere hallucination, and he went on praising faith and denying charity.
One evening, at dusk, he felt a chill. That led him to walk through the house, and he realized that the other rooms were
no longer those of the dwelling in which he had lived on
earth. One room was filled with unknown instruments, another had shrunk so much that he could not enter it; another one had
not itself changed, but its windows and doors opened onto
great sand dunes, at which sat men like himself, who also cast charity into exile, and he said that he conversed with them, and
was confirmed by them day by day, and told that not other
theologian was as wise as he. He was smitten with that adoration, but since some of the persons had no no face, and others
were like dead men, he soon came to abominate and mistrust
them. Then he began to write something about charity; but what he wrote one day, he did not see the next; for this happens to
every one there when he commits anything to words from the
external man only, and not at the same time from the internal, thus from compulsion and not from freedom; it is obliterated
When any novitiates from the world entered his room to speak with him and see him, he was ashamed that they should
find him in such a sordid place, and so he would summon
one of the magical spirits, who by fantasy could produce various becoming shapes, and who then adorned his room with
ornaments wound with flowered tapestry...but as soon as the
visitors were gone, these shapes vanished, and the former lime plastering and emptiness returned, and sometimes before.
The last word we have of Melancthon is that the wizard and one of the men without a face carried him out to the
sand dunes, where he is now a servant to demons..."
Source : Emanuel Swedenborg, from Arcana Celetia (1772) translated into Spanish, Jorge Luis Borges and footnoted as source material in his Universal History of Iniquity (1935), "Et
Cetera" section after he encountered the story in The Swedenborg Concordance : A Complete work of reference to the
Theological Writings of Emanuel Swendenborg, based on the
original latin writings of the author (trans. by Rev. John Faulkner Potts) 4v. (London : Swedenborg Society, 1888) - see p.531 of Collected Fictions : Jorge Luis
Borges (Penguin : 1998) trans. Andrew Hurley.
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