Apocalypse Revealed #255

By Emanuel Swedenborg

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255. To this I will append the following account:

To prevent someone from entering into the spiritual meaning of the Word and perverting the genuine truth found in that meaning, the Lord has set protections, which in the Word are meant by cherubim, which is what the four living creatures here are.

That protections have been set was represented to me in the following way:

[2] I was given to see large purses, looking like sacks, which had stored away in them a great deal of silver. And since they were open, it seemed as if anyone might take the silver deposited in them, even to make off with it, but next to those purses two angels were sitting as guards. The place where the purses rested looked like a manger in a stable. In the next room I saw modest maidens, together with a chaste wife. Near that room were two little children, and I heard it said that they were not to be played with in a childish way, but wisely. And afterward a harlot appeared, then a horse lying dead.

[3] Having seen these things, I was told that they represented the literal meaning of the Word, which has a spiritual meaning within. The large purses full of silver symbolized concepts of truth and goodness in great abundance. The purses' being open and yet guarded by angels, meant symbolically that anyone might acquire concepts of truth there, but that one should take care not to falsify the spiritual meaning, which contains only truths.

The manger in the stable where the purses were sitting symbolized spiritual instruction for the intellect. (A manger has this symbolism, like the manger where the newborn Lord lay, because a horse, which eats from it, symbolizes an understanding of the Word.)

[4] The modest maidens I saw in the next room symbolized affections for truth, and the chaste wife the conjunction of truth and good. The little children symbolized the innocence of the wisdom in the Word (they were angels from the third heaven, all of whom appear like little children). The harlot together with the dead horse symbolized the falsification of the Word by many people today, by which all understanding of the truth has perished. (A harlot symbolizes falsification, and a dead horse no understanding of truth.)

[5] I have been given to speak with many people after death who believed they would shine like stars in heaven. They believed this, they said, because they held the Word holy, read it often, took many things from it, and used them to defend the tenets of their faith. As a result they were celebrated as learned in the world, so that they believed they would become Michaels or Raphaels. 1 A number of them were examined, however, to see what love prompted them to study the Word. And it was discovered that some did so out of self-love, in order to appear great in the world and to be worshiped as leaders of the church, while others did so out of a love of the world, in order to acquire riches.

When they were explored to discover what they knew from the Word, they were found to know no genuine truth, but only what we call falsified truth, which in itself is false; and in the spiritual world this stinks in the nostrils of angels. Moreover the people were told that this was the case with them because their objectives were focused on themselves and the world, or to say the same thing, on their loves of these, and not on the Lord and heaven. And when people have themselves and the world as their focus, then when they read the Word their mind fastens on themselves and the world, and therefore they think continually in accord with their self-interest, which is in darkness regarding everything connected with heaven. In this state a person cannot be withdrawn from his own light and so be raised into the light of heaven. Consequently, neither can he receive anything flowing in from the Lord through heaven.

[6] I have also seen people like this let into heaven. But when they were discovered to be without truths, they were divested of their clothing and were seen with their private parts exposed. And because those who had falsified truths stunk, they were expelled. Still, however, there remained in them the conceit and confidence that they were deserving.

The outcome was different with people who had studied the Word out of an affection for knowing the truth because it is true, and because it served the useful ends of a spiritual life, not only their own life, but their neighbor's as well. I saw them raised into heaven and so into the light in which Divine truth exists there, and raised at the same time then into angelic wisdom and into its felicity, which is eternal life.


1. I.e., archangels.

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Many thanks to the General Church of the New Jerusalem, and to Rev. N.B. Rogers, translator, for the permission to use this translation.