The Last Judgement #1

By Emanuel Swedenborg

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Those unfamiliar with the spiritual sense of the Word have understood only that on the day of the Last Judgment everything in the world we see around us will be destroyed. For it is said that then heaven together with the earth will perish, and God will create a new heaven and a new earth. To reinforce this belief it has been noted that it is said that all will then come up out of their graves, and then the good will be separated from the wicked, and so on. But this is said in the literal sense of the Word, a sense which is natural and at the lowest level in God's order, in which all the details contain a spiritual sense. As a result anyone who takes the Word only in its literal sense may be driven to accept various views, as has happened in the Christian world; this is the reason why there are so many heresies, every one of which is proved from the Word.

[2] Seeing, however, that no one has yet known that every detail of the Word contains a spiritual sense, nor even that there is such a thing as a spiritual sense, those who have taken this view of the Last Judgment should be forgiven. But they ought now to know that it is not the sky we see with our eyes which is to be destroyed nor is it the earth on which we live, both of which will remain in existence; but the 'new heaven and new earth' mean a new church, both in the heavens and upon earth. We say a new church in the heavens, because there is a church there just as much as on earth. There the Word is likewise to be found, there sermons are preached, and Divine worship takes place much as upon earth. The difference is that everything there is in a more perfect condition, because it is not in the natural but the spiritual world. So all the people there are spiritual, and not natural as they were in the world. On this subject see my HEAVEN AND HELL, in particular the description there of how heaven is linked with man by means of the Word (303-310) and of Divine worship in heaven (221-227).

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Thanks to the Swedenborg Society for the permission to use this translation.