Explanation(s) or references from Swedenborg's works:
Bible Studies:The Nexus, Part 3: Internal Work
By Rev. William Woofenden
"Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Matthew 3:3
Additional readings: Isaiah 1:1-20
In the childhood of the human race, before men had departed from right ways of life, heaven was near to them. They could be led directly by the Lord, for their hearts and minds were open to him. Of this Golden Age of the human race it is written, "Man walked with God." But we have all read in the history of the human race as revealed in the Scripture the account of how many departed from the way of life and, following the devices of his own heart, closed his mind to the direct reception of goodness and truth from the Lord, until finally he reached a state in which all true knowledge of God and heaven was lost.
Then the Lord came to bring salvation to mankind, and preparation for His reception was made through John the Baptist, the messenger sent in fulfillment of a prophecy given centuries before. John’s message is our text: "Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." And when John was put to death, and the Lord began His active ministry in the world, the words of our text were also His first message. For He came to make clear the way of life, and wrong ideas held possession of the minds of men then, as they do of many minds today.
It is not by chance that this first message turns our thoughts to heaven. The purpose of our creation is that we may so live that we shall find our homes in heaven. Belief in heaven had been lost, along with the knowledge about it. And today belief in heaven is for the most part vague, and many think that eternal life does not mean personal existence in the spiritual world, but only the persistence of one’s influence in this world. Great men like Homer, Plato, Moses, Shakespeare, Gladstone, Lincoln, Pasteur, and many others perpetuate themselves in the influence they exert in the minds of living men. This, they say, is what is meant by immortality, by everlasting life. But we should realize that this type of everlasting life is open to the evil as well as to the good. A Diocletian may be remembered forever as well as the beloved Apostle. We need to know the truth that men and women, as individuals, live forever after death in the spiritual world.
But this is not the implication of the text which I have chosen for consideration this morning." The kingdom of heaven is at hand." We know that heaven is not in some remote part of the natural sky, that we cannot say, "Lo, here, or Lo, there" (Luke 17:21). But we are still apt to think of it as far away. We are also inclined to think of it as remote in time. We speak commonly of the "future" world. In the thought of some even, it lies at the indefinitely remote time, when they expect a general resurrection along with others; death is the gateway of heaven, but heaven still seems too distant to be of much practical and present interest.
But the truth is that heaven is far away neither in space nor in time. It is here, it is now, it is "at hand." We live in it now, or we may do so. It is a present reality, the most real and the most important element of the life we are now living. When we speak of heaven, and of living for heaven, we are not, as some charge, setting our hearts on something far away, and despising the real world in which we now are. If one lives for a far-off heaven — and no doubt some have lived so — he may be careless of this world’s joys and sorrows, of opportunities for usefulness, keeping his eyes fixed on some vision of the future. But we may live for heaven and still live thoroughly in the present. We ought to value heaven as the most real of present realities. The Gospel is true: "The kingdom of heaven is at hand."
We are taught in the New Church that heaven is essentially a state of human feeling, thought and life, a state in which love to the Lord and love to the neighbor are the ruling motives. We are taught that no outward paradise which could be made by human or by Divine skill would be a heaven if those affections were absent from the heart, that there is no real or lasting satisfaction except in the exercise of these affections. It follows that we can come into heaven in this world, and live in heaven while we live on earth, for we may learn here to love the Lord and one another, and to find our chief enjoyment in the exercise of these heavenly loves.
But this is an abstract way of speaking. Concretely, heaven is not merely a heavenly state in ourselves; it is the great world of human beings who are living in that state, those people in whose hearts are heavenly affections, whose minds are bright with spiritual light, and whose hands are busy with heavenly works. There are many such people in this world. There are countless more who have gone from the earth to the spiritual world, and are there living the same good life under freer and happier conditions. All these people are heaven.
When we have love to the Lord and the neighbor in ourselves, we are brought spiritually near to those in like affections, both of this world and of the spiritual world. It is not a figure of speech when we say that heaven is about us when we are in heavenly states. It is a literal and positive fact. Heaven is so really around us at such times that if it were granted to us, as it was to Elisha’s servant and to others in Bible days to have our spiritual eyes opened, we should see the angels who are our companions and the beautiful land in which they dwell. Among them we should see and recognize some who were dear to us on earth, who still love and help us, and there would be some whom we had not known before but who would from the first glance seem to us as old friends, because they have similar desires and thoughts. And we should recognize them as the source of our happiness.
The Lord created the world and all things in it. All things in the world were made for man to use and enjoy, from the very materials of the earth to all the myriad things of the vegetable and animal kingdoms, the beast of the field, the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea. For man’s needs of food, clothing, shelter, for gratification of his senses, and the improvement of his mind these things were made. All these were created and given to man for blessings. But they are subject to one important condition: man must indeed labor to make these things of service to himself, but he must also use them in the service of others. Only so can he have any security or peace. The world of nature and of human beings is not for one man, or a few men, or a nation to control or exploit. Indeed we cannot rightly claim sovereignty over ourselves. We need the guidance of the Lord. And whatever under the Divine Providence we have been able to acquire, whether of material wealth, or of skill, or of learning, we did not acquire it by our unaided efforts. Our daily knowledge of the happenings in the world, our libraries, our schools are made possible by the labor of mind and body of other men and women, great or humble, living or dead. We depend on others and they on us, and life and security today, as always, depend upon the honesty and good will of the community in which we live.
Yet we should also realize that behind the labors and sufferings and the honesty and good will of men stands the Lord. Through His power alone man achieves progress. It is a law of the Divine Providence that man must act in freedom according to reason. This applies to the life of nations as well as to the life of individuals. But the Lord is present and operative always.
For infinitely wise and good reasons, the Lord does not draw the veil aside for us and allow us to see the heavenly world. Some argue that if only they could see heaven, they would believe in it. But to see that world as an outward, objective reality would destroy our freedom. We should be lured by its outward attractiveness, and it would be less possible for us to come into its true spirit.
When we are living in selfish and evil affections, we are in hell. Not only is hell within us at such times but it is also about us, not by a figure of speech, but actually. We are breathing its poisoned atmosphere and, if our eyes were opened, we should see the forms and faces of those who find their life in evil and who exult in influencing others to evil. Why, at least then, does the Lord not draw the veil aside and show us the terribleness of evil? The sight might for the moment frighten us, but we should be less able to shun evil freely because it is evil, and our power to escape permanently from it would be greatly lessened.
If we are tempted to question the Lord’s Providence in not revealing to us more openly the conditions of the good and evil in the spiritual world, we do well to remember His words, "They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them….If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead" (Luke 16:29-31).
The Lord said, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness" (Matthew 6:33). We should seek those good things which endure forever, and should not sacrifice them for the sake of money or health or life itself. To acquire love to the Lord and to the neighbor is the only thing worth living for. Our business dealings should have as their motive the love of use, of service to others. The most necessary thing in making a home is having in it the sunshine of heaven. The only absolute requirement for our happiness as we go to and fro in the ways of the world is that heaven shall go with us. This is to live for heaven, and yet to live must fully in the present. This is the practical meaning of living for heaven.
It may be stated still more simply. Heaven is not heaven from locality, neither is it heaven from anything which belongs to the angels as their own. It is heaven from what is received from the Lord into the lives and hearts of the angels. To be near the Lord, not in place merely, but in heart, to feel the protection and peace of His presence is heaven. Heaven is being near to the Lord and keeping near to Him. There is no other heaven for men or angels.
"The kingdom of heaven is at hand." When John first spoke this message, the kingdom of heaven was in a special sense at hand, because the Lord had come to live with men and to make Himself accessible to them. A power to heal and bless went forth from the Lord during His life on earth. Men obsessed felt his saving power and sat at His feet clothed and in their right mind.
At the Transfiguration Peter said, "Lord, it is good for us to be here" (Matthew 17:4, Mark 9:5, Luke 9:33). In following the Lord, in hearing His Word and in doing His work, they were tasting of heaven. But we need to note that the mere physical nearness of the Lord did not make heaven. Some cried out with fear at His approach. It was not heaven to them. It was not heaven to those who followed Him to accuse and to betray Him. His presence was a blessing only to those who in some measure drew near to Him in spirit.
Even in the Lord’s coming on earth the kingdom of heaven was not forced on me. It was made accessible to them; it was brought within their reach.
It is brought within our reach. Just as there is no royal road to knowledge, there is no royal road to heaven. We must cease to do evil before we can learn to do well. Repentance, the willingness to recognize and acknowledge our faults and weaknesses and to struggle to overcome them opens the door. Heavenly life comes into the soul when selfish desires are replaced by kindly thoughts and the desire to serve. The Lord tell us to seek these heavenly virtues now, not for the sake of honor for ourselves, but that we may be really kind and helpful to others, that our lives may have something of the Lord’s love in them. Then we shall find that life here makes one with heavenly life, and that our Heavenly Father is the Source of happiness in both alike.
504. So far we have shown the signification of hail; we shall now show the signification of fire. Fire signifies in the Word, the good of celestial love, and flame, the good of spiritual love; but in the opposite sense, fire signifies the evil arising from the love of self, and flame, the evil arising from the love of the world. It must be understood that goods of every kind derive their existence from celestial love and spiritual love, and that evils of every kind derive their existence from the love of self and the love of the world. And because love, in both senses, is signified in the Word by fire, therefore also all good and all evil, which exist from those two loves, are signified. Since the term fire, in the Word, is used both of heaven and of hell, and since it has been hitherto unknown that love is signified by fire, I will adduce some passages from the Word in order to make it clear, that fire, in a good sense, there signifies celestial love, and, in a bad sense, infernal love.
(References: Revelation 8:7)
 That celestial love is signified by fire in the Word, is clear, first from the signification of the fire of the altar, which denotes celestial love, or love to the Lord, concerning which see above (n. 496); and that fire not of the altar has a similar signification is evident from the following passages.
"I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was round about it, and like the form of a live coal, in the midst of the fire. And out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, and like the appearance of lamps; it went up and down among the living creatures; and the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning. Above the expanse that was over their head was the likeness of a throne, which was the likeness of a man. And I saw as the appearance of a burning coal, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about" (n. 4, , 13, 26, 27, viii. 2).
By the cherubim, which were seen as living creatures, is meant the Lord as to Divine Providence, and as to guardianship that He may not be approached except by means of the good of love; and because this very guardianship is in the heavens, and especially in the inmost or third heaven, therefore this heaven also is signified by the cherubim; as may be seen above (n. 152, 277, 313, 322, 362, 462). And because the third heaven is signified chiefly by these, and as the Lord is above the heavens, therefore also the Lord was seen upon a throne above the cherubim. The fire seen in the midst of the cherubim, with brightness round about, and lightning therefrom, and also about the throne, and from the loins of Him that sat on the throne, upwards and downwards, clearly signifies celestial Divine Love. For the Lord Himself is Divine Love, and whatever proceeds from the Lord, proceeds from his Divine Love; this is therefore the fire which had brightness round about it.
 Similarly in Daniel:
"He came to the Ancient of days whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool; his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him" (vii. , 9, 10).
The Ancient of days also means the Lord; the Son of man, in this place the Lord as to Divine Truth, and the Ancient of days, the Lord as to Divine Good or Divine Love. He was called the Ancient of days, from the remotest time, when the celestial church existed, which was in love to the Lord. This church, and the heaven of those who were from it, are meant by the throne, which was like a fiery flame; but the wheels which were as a fire burning, signify the doctrine of celestial love; the Divine Love itself proceeding from the Lord is signified by the fire going forth and issuing from before him.
 It is also said by Daniel, that there appeared to him
"A man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with gold of Uphaz; His body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as torches of fire, and his arms and his feet like the brightness of polished brass" (x. 5, 6).
That it was the Lord who was thus seen by Daniel is evident from the Apocalypse, where the Lord was represented before John in an almost similar manner, concerning Whom it is said,
"In the midst of the seven lampstands one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire, and his feet like unto polished brass, as if they burned in a furnace, and his countenance like the sun" (i. 13-15, ii. 18).
From the similarity of the description of the Son of man seen by John in the midst of the seven lampstands, and of the man clothed in linen, and also of the Ancient of days seen by Daniel, it is clear that they both saw the Lord. His face being seen as lightning and His eyes as a flame of fire, signifies the Divine Love of the Lord. For with man the face is an image representative of the affection of his love, and this is especially the case in regard to the eyes, for from them love shines forth, whence they sparkle as it were from fire.
 It is also said of him who sat on the white horse,
"His eyes were as a flame of fire" (Apoc. xix. 12).
It is evident that it is the Lord, as to the Word, who was there represented as sitting upon a white horse, for it is said that he who sat on the white horse is called the Word of God, and that he is King of kings, and Lord of lords. Because fire signifies the Divine Love, therefore the Lord was seen by Moses upon Mount Horeb in a flame of fire in the bush (Exod. iii. 2). So also the Lord was seen by Moses and all the Israelitish people when He descended upon Mount Sinai in fire, concerning which it is thus written:
"Mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke because Jehovah descended upon it in fire; and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace" (Exod. xix. 18; Deut. iv. 36).
The fire also seen there represented the Divine Love.
 Since fire, in the highest sense, signifies the Divine Love of the Lord, it was therefore commanded that fire should be kept burning continually upon the altar, and that they should take of that fire for the offering of incense. It was, on this account, a religious rite among both the Greeks and Romans to keep a fire burning continually, over which the Vestal virgins presided. They derived their worship of fire as a holy thing from the ancient churches which were in Asia, wherein everything connected with worship was representative. Since fire in the highest sense signifies the Divine Love, therefore a lampstand was placed in the tent of assembly, on which were seven lamps, which were kept burning continually. Concerning this, it is thus written in Moses:
"Command the sons of Israel, that they bring unto thee [pure] oil of olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamps to burn continually. Aaron shall order it from the evening unto the morning before Jehovah continually. He shall order the lamps upon the pure lampstand before Jehovah continually" (Lev. xxiv. 2-4).
Concerning the lampstand itself, see Exod. xxv. 31 to end, xxxvii. 17-24, xl. 24, 25; Num. viii. 2-4. The signification of the seven lamps of fire burning before the throne of God (Rev. iv. 5) is similar. But the fire of the altar signified celestial Divine Love, and the fire of the lampstand, which was flame, signified spiritual Divine Love; and therefore the oil, from which the fire of the flame arose in the lamps of the lampstand, signifies the Divine Love, and also the oil which the five wise virgins had in their lamps, but which the five foolish virgins had not (Matt. xxv. 1-12).
 The Lord's Divine Love is also signified by fire in the Evangelists. John said:
"I baptize with water" but Jesus "shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit, and with fire" (Matt. iii. 11; Luke iii. 16).
To baptize with the Holy Spirit, and with fire, signifies to regenerate man by means of the Divine Truth and the Divine Good of love from Himself, for the Holy Spirit is the Divine Truth proceeding from the Lord, and the fire, His Divine Love, from which [that truth proceeds].
 Similarly what is signified by fire, is also signified by a fire-hearth, in Isaiah:
Jehovah "who hath His fire-hearth in Zion, and His oven in Jerusalem" (xxxi. 9).
It is said, "who hath his fire-hearth in Zion," because Zion signifies the church in which is celestial love; and "his oven in Jerusalem," because Jerusalem signifies the church in which is the truth of doctrine; celestial love being respectively like a fire-hearth, and the truth of doctrine like an oven, in which bread is prepared.
(References: Isaiah 31:9)
 Because the good of love is signified by fire, and worship from the good of love was represented by the burnt-offerings, therefore fire was sometimes sent down out of heaven, and consumed the burnt-offering; as when a burnt-offering was offered for the expiation of the people, concerning which as follows in Moses:
This being done "there came forth fire from before Jehovah, and consumed upon the altar the burnt-offering and the fat; and all the people beheld, and shouted and fell on their faces" (Lev. ix. 24).
Similarly it is said, that fire
"consumed the burnt-sacrifice of Elijah, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the waters that were round about in the trench" (1 Kings xvii. 38).
This fire also signified the Divine Love, and consequently the acceptance of worship from the good of love. Similarly the fire that ascended out of the rock, and devoured the flesh and unleavened cakes, which Gideon brought to the angel of God (Judges vi. 21). The Divine Love was also signified by the lamb being roasted by fire, and not sodden by water, and by what remained until the morning being burnt by fire (Exod. xii. 8, 9, ). These verses are explained in the Arcana Coelestia (n. 7852-7861).
 The Divine Love of the Lord was also signified by the fire into which He went before the sons of Israel in the desert, when they were on their journey; also, by the fire over the tabernacle of the congregation at night, concerning which as follows in Moses:
"Jehovah went before them by day in a pillar of cloud, to lead them in the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light. The pillar of the cloud by day, and the pillar of fire by night, departed not from before the people" (Exod. xiii. 21, 22; Num. ix. 15-23; Deut. i. 33).
"For the cloud of Jehovah was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys" (Exod. xl. 38; Psalm cv. 32, 39).
The cloud appearing in the day, and the fire by night, represented the guarding of heaven and the church by the Lord. For the tabernacle represented heaven and the church; the cloud and fire, guardianship; for the day, when the cloud appeared, signified the Divine Truth in light, and the night the Divine Truth in shade. Lest they should be injured by too great a light they were protected by a cloud, and by a shining fire lest they should be injured by too much shade.
 That such was the representation of these things is evident in Isaiah:
"Jehovah shall create over every dwelling-place of Mount Zion, and over her assemblies, a cloud by day, and the smoke and shining of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory a covering. And there shall be a tabernacle for a shade in the day on account of the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert against the inundation and rain" (iv. 5, 6).
The dwelling-place of Mount Zion signifies the good of the celestial church, and her assemblies signify the truths of that good; guardianship from injury by too much light or too much shade, is signified by a cloud by day and by the smoke and shining of a flaming fire by night; therefore it is said, "over all the glory a covering," and that there shall be "a tabernacle for a shade in the day on account of the heat." Lest falsities should break in, because of too much light or too much shade, is signified by its being a refuge and covert against inundation and rain, for inundation and rain denote the rushing in of falsities.
(References: Isaiah 4:5-6)
 In Zechariah:
"I will be" unto Jerusalem "a wall of fire round about, and in glory I will be in the midst of her" (ii. 5).
A wall of fire signifies protection by the Divine Love, for this the hells cannot approach; the glory in the midst of her is the Divine Truth in the light on every side. Because fire signified the Divine Love, therefore also the burnt-offerings were called "offerings made by fire to Jehovah," and "offerings made by fire of an odour of rest to Jehovah" (Exod. xxix. 18; Lev. i. 9, 13, 17; ii. 2, 9, 10, 11; iii. 5, 16; iv. 35; v. 12; vii. 30; xxi. 6; Num. xxviii. 2; Deut. xviii. 1). The signification of this is that they were accepted, on account of the representation of worship from the good of love; this worship was represented by the burnt-offerings, because in them the cattle were burnt whole in the fire, and consumed.
(References: 2 Kings 2:11, 2 Kings 6:17; Deuteronomy 18:1; Exodus 29:18; Leviticus 1:17, 1:9, 1:13, 2:9-10, 2:11, 2:2, 2:9-11, 3:16, 3:5, 4:35, 4:31, 5:12, 7:30, Leviticus 21:6; Numbers 28:2; Zechariah 2:5)
 Because the Word is the Divine Truth itself united to the Divine Good - for the marriage of good and truth is everywhere in it - therefore Elijah was seen to ascend up into heaven in a chariot of fire and horses of fire (2 Kings ii. 11); and for the same reason the mountain around Elisha was seen to be filled with horses and chariots of fire (vi. 17); for Elijah and Elisha represented the Lord as to the Word, and therefore the chariot signified doctrine from the Word, and horses, the understanding of the Word.
 That fire signifies love, is also clear in David, in which it is said of Jehovah,
"Who maketh his angels spirits, his ministers a flaming fire" (Psalm civ. 4).
Jehovah making His angels spirits signifies that they are recipients of Divine Truth, therefore they signify Divine truths themselves; and His making His ministers a flaming fire, signifies that they are recipients of the Divine Good, consequently they signify Divine goods. Hence it is evident that a flaming fire signifies the good of love. That angels in the Word mean the Lord as to Divine Truth, and in a respective sense, the recipients of the Divine Truth from the Lord, may be seen above (n. 130, 200, 302); and that ministers signify the recipients of the Divine Good, which is of the Divine Love, may be seen also above (n. 155). It is therefore evident that a flaming fire signifies the good of love. Fire signifies love, because the Lord, from His Divine Love, appears in the angelic heaven as a Sun, from which Sun heat and light proceed; and in the heavens the heat from the Lord as the Sun is the Divine Good of love, and the light from the Lord as the Sun is the Divine Truth; for this reason, fire signifies, in the Word, the good of love, and light, the truth from good. That the Lord appears in the angelic heaven as the Sun, from Divine Love, may be seen in Heaven and Hell (n. 116-125); and also that the light from that Sun is Divine Truth, and the heat from that Sun, Divine Good (n. 126-140; also n. 567, 568). It is from the correspondence between fire and love, that, in common discourse, when speaking of the affections which are of love, we use the expressions to grow warm, to be inflamed, to burn, to become hot, to be on fire, and others of a similar kind. Also a man grows warm from his love, of whatever kind it be, according to its degree.
 So far concerning the signification of fire in the Word, when ascribed to the Lord, and also when spoken of heaven and the church. On the other hand, when fire in the Word is used in reference to the evil and the hells, it then signifies the love of self and of the world, and thence every evil affection and desire which torments [cruciat] the wicked in hell after death. Fire has this opposite signification, because the Divine Love, when it descends out of heaven, and passes into the societies where the evil are, is turned into a love contrary to the Divine Love, and thence into various burning desires and lusts, and thus into evils of every kind; and therefore also into torments, because evils carry with them their own punishment. In consequence of this conversion of the Divine Love into infernal love with the evil, the hells, where the loves of self and of the world, and hatreds and revenge reign, appear like a flaming fire, both within and round about, although no fire is perceived by the devilish crew who are in them. In fact, in consequence of these loves, those who are in such hells, appear with their faces inflamed and reddened as though from fire. Hence the signification of fire in the following passages is evident.
 In Isaiah,
"For wickedness shall burn as a fire; it shall devour the briar and thorn, and shall kindle the thickets of the forest, and they shall mount up like the lifting up of smoke; and the people shall become as the fuel of the fire; no man shall spare his brother" (ix. 18, 19).
All the people "shall be for burning, for fuel of fire" (ix. 5).
O Assyrians, "conceive chaff, bring forth stubble, your breath, a fire that shall devour you. Thus the peoples shall be as the burnings of lime, thorns cut down which are burned in the fire. Who shall remain to us with the devouring fire? Who shall remain to us with burnings of eternity?" (xxxiii. 11, 12, 14).
The Assyrians mean those who, from falsities and fallacies, reason against the goods and truths of the church from their own intelligence, that is, from the love of self; these are here described.
In the day of the vengeance of Jehovah "the streams of the land shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into brimstone, and the land thereof shall become burning pitch. It shall not be quenched night nor day; the smoke thereof shall go up for ever" (xxxiv. 8-10).
"They became as stubble; the fire burnt them; they shall not deliver their soul from the power of the flame" (xlvii. 14).
"Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks; walk in the light of your fire, and among the sparks that ye have kindled" (l. 11).
"Their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched" (lxvi. 24).
"I will deliver thee into the hand of burning men. Thou shalt be for fuel to the fire" (xxi. 31, 32).
"Thou shalt make them as a fiery oven in the time of thine anger, and the fire shall devour them" (Psalm xxi. 9).
"Let burning coals fall upon the wicked; let the fire cast them into deep pits, that they rise not again" (cxl. 10).
So in Matthew:
"Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. He will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire" (iii. 10, 12; Luke iii. 9, 17).
"As the tares are burned with fire, so shall it be in the consummation of the age."
"The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire" (Matt. xiii. 41, 42, 50).
In the same:
He shall say unto them on his left hand, "Depart from me, ye cursed, into the eternal fire (ignem oeternum), prepared for the devil and his angels" (xxv. 41).
"Whosoever shall say to his brother, Thou fool, shall be in danger of the gehenna of fire" (Matt. v. 22; xviii. 8, 9, Mark ix. 45, 47).
The rich man in hell* (in inferno) said, "Father Abraham, send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame" (xvi. 24).
"When Lot went out of Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed" (Luke xvii. 29, 30).
In the Apocalypse:
"If any man worship the beast he shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone" (xiv. , 10).
The beast and the false prophet "were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone" (xix. 20).
"The devil was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone"(xx.10).
"Death and hell were cast into the lake of fire, and he who was not found written in the book of life, was cast into the lake of fire" (xx. 14, 15).
"The unbelieving, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolators, and liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone" (xxi. 8).
In these passages, fire signifies every desire of the love of evil, and its punishment, which is torment. In addition to these observations we refer the reader to those given in the work concerning Heaven and Hell (n. 566-575), where the meaning of infernal fire, and of the gnashing of teeth, is shown.
(References: Ezekiel 21:31-32; Heaven and Hell 566-575; Isaiah 34:8-10, Isaiah 47:14, 50:11, Isaiah 66:24; Luke 3:9, Luke 3:17, 3:16-17, Luke 16:24, 17:29-30; Mark 9:45, 9:47; Matthew 3:10, Matthew 3:12, 5:22, 13:50, 13:41-42, 13:40, 18:8-9, 25:41; Psalms 21:9, Psalms 140:10; Revelation 14:9-10, Revelation 19:20, 20:10, Revelation 20:14-15, 21:8)
 In the article above, where hail was treated of, it was stated that the Divine, when it descends out of heaven, produces in the lower sphere, where the evil are, an effect contrary to that which it causes in heaven itself; for in heaven it vivifies and conjoins, but in the lower parts where the evil are, it induces death (mortified) and disjoins. The reason of this, is that the Divine influx from heaven opens the spiritual mind of the good, and adapts it for reception; but with the evil, in whom there is no spiritual mind, it opens the interiors of their natural mind, where evils and falsities reside, and these cause them to cherish a repugnance to every good of heaven, hatred of truths, and the lust to commit every sort of crime; they are consequently separated from the good, and their condemnation follows soon after. This influx with the good, of which we are now speaking, appears in the heavens as a fire vivifying, reanimating, and conjoining; while with the evil below, it appears as a fire consuming and destroying.
 Because such is the effect of the Divine Love flowing down out of heaven, therefore, in the Word, anger and wrath are so frequently ascribed to Jehovah, that is, to the Lord, anger, from fire, and wrath, from the heat of fire. Mention is also made of the fire of His anger, and He is said to be a consuming fire; there are many other expressions of a similar kind, which are not used because fire proceeding from the Lord is of such a nature, for this in its origin is Divine Love, but because it becomes such with the evil, who from its influx become angry and wrathful. That this is the case is evident from the fire which appeared on mount Sinai, when the Lord descended upon it, and promulgated the law. Although this fire in its origin was Divine Love, from which is Divine Truth, still it appeared to the people of Israel as a consuming fire, in the presence of which they feared exceedingly (Exod. xix. 18 xx. 18; Deut. iv. 11, 12, 15, 33, 36; v. 5, 22-26), for the reason that there was no spiritual internal with the Israelitish people, but only a natural internal, which was full of evils and falsities of every kind; and the Lord appears to every one according to His quality. That the sons of Jacob were of the nature and quality above mentioned, may be seen in the Doctrine of the New Jerusalem (n. 248).
 For this reason Jehovah, that is, the Lord, is called in the Word a consuming fire; as in the following passages:
"Jehovah thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God" (Deut. iv. 24).
"For behold, Jehovah will come in fire, and his chariots like a whirlwind, in flames of fire. For in fire and in his sword will Jehovah contend with all flesh; and the slain of Jehovah shall be multiplied" (lxvi. 15, 16).
"Thou shalt be visited with the flame of devouring fire" (xxix. 6).
Jehovah "in the indignation of his anger, and, with the flame of a devouring fire, with scattering, and inundation, and hailstones" (xxx. 30).
"There went up a smoke out of his nostril, and a devouring fire out of his mouth; coals were kindled from it. By the brightness before him his thick clouds passed, hailstones and coals of fire. Jehovah also thundered from the heavens, and the Most High uttered his voice; hailstones and coals of fire" (Psalm xviii. 8, 12,13).
"Our God shall come, and shall [not] keep silence; a fire shall devour before him" (Psalm l. 3).
"Upon the wicked" Jehovah "shall rain snares, fire and brimstone" (Psalm xi. 6).
"I will set my faces against them; that although they shall go out from the fire, nevertheless fire shall devour them. And I will make the land desolate, because they have committed a trespass" (xv. 7, 8).
"For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains" (Deut. xxxii. 22).
Such things appear in the spiritual world, when the Divine Good and Truth descend out of heaven towards the lower parts there, where the evil are, who are to be separated from the good, and dispersed; those things were said from appearances there. And because when fire, which in its origin is Divine Love, descends out of the heavens, and is received by the evil, becomes a consuming fire, therefore, such fire, in the Word, is spoken of in reference to Jehovah. Infernal fire is nothing else than the changing of the Divine Love into evil loves, and into mischievous desires to hurt and do evil.
 This was also represented by the fire which fell from heaven and consumed Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. xix. 24); also by the fire which consumed Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, because they offered incense with strange fire (Lev. x. 1, and following verses). The incense of strange fire signifies worship from other love than love to the Lord. So again the same thing is signified by the fire which consumed the uttermost parts of the camp of the sons of Israel because of their evil lusts (Num. xi. 1-3). Again, the representation was similar in the case of the Egyptians perishing in the Sea Suph (Red Sea), when Jehovah looked upon their camp out of the pillar of fire and of the cloud (Exod. xiv. 24-27). That that fire, in its origin, was the Divine Love, giving light before the sons of Israel during their journeyings, and over the tabernacle in the night time, has been shown above in this article; but yet, the looking thence by Jehovah altogether disturbed and destroyed the camp of the Egyptians.
 That fire, descending from heaven appeared to consume the evil in the spiritual world, is evident from the Apocalypse, where that was seen by John, for he says, that fire came down out of heaven, and devoured Gog and Magog (xx. 9; Ezek. xxxviii. 22). To devour signifies there to disperse and to cast into hell. Thus again it is said in Isaiah,
"And the light of Israel shall be for a fire, and his Holy One for a flame: and it shall burn and devour his thorn and his briar in one day" (x. 17).
The thorn and briar signify evils and falsities of the doctrine of the church; the destruction of them by the Divine Truth descending out of heaven is signified by the words "the light of Israel shall be for a fire, and his Holy One for a flame."
 Because fire, in the opposite sense, or in regard to the evil, properly signifies the love of self, and flame, the love of the world, therefore also fire signifies every evil, as enmity, hatred, revenge, and many others, for all evils flow from these two sources, as may be seen in the Doctrine of the Jerusalem (n. 75), consequently, fire also signifies the destruction of man's spiritual life, and therefore it signifies condemnation and hell. All these things are signified by fire, because love is signified by fire, as is still further evident from the following passages.
"They shall see, and pine away for their hatred of the people; yea, the fire shall devour thine enemies" (xxvi. 11).
The destruction of the evil who are here meant by people and enemies, is described by hatred and by fire.
 In the same:
"When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee; when thou passest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee" (xliii. 2).
To pass through the waters and through the rivers, and not to be overflowed, signifies that falsities and reasonings from falsities against truths shall not enter and corrupt; for waters here denote falsities, and rivers, reasonings from falsities against truths. By passing through the fire and not being burned, and by the flame not kindling upon them, is signified, that evils, and the desires arising from them, shall not hurt them, for fire signifies evils, and flame signifies the desires therefrom.
(References: Isaiah 43:2)
"Our house of holiness and our glory, where our fathers praised thee, is burned up with fire; and all our desirable things are laid waste" (lxiv. 11).
The house of holiness and our glory signifies the celestial and the spiritual church; the house of holiness signifies the celestial church, and glory the spiritual church. Where our fathers praised thee, signifies the worship of the Ancient Church, to praise signifies to worship, and fathers, those who were of the Ancient Church; to be burned up with fire, signifies that all the goods of that Church were turned into evils, by which the goods were consumed and perished. And all our desirable things are laid waste, signifies that all truths were similarly consumed; desirable things in the Word denote the truths of the church.
(References: Isaiah 64:11)
 In the same:
"For ye shall be as an oak whose leaf fadeth, and as a garden that hath no water. And the strong shall be as tow, and his work as a spark, and they shall both burn together, and none quenching" (i. 30, 31).
An oak signifies the natural man, and its leaves the scientifics and cognitions of truth therein; a garden signifies the rational man. Ye shall be as an oak whose leaf fadeth, and as a garden that hath no water, signifies that there shall be no more any scientific truth or rational truth. The strong and his work signifies that which is produced from [man's] own intelligence. He is sometimes called strong, in the Word, who trusts to himself and his own intelligence, for he supposes himself, and the work which he thence produces, to be strong; and because the proprium of man drinks in every kind of evil and falsity, and by means of these destroys all good and truth, it is therefore said the strong shall be as tow, and his work as a spark, and they shall both burn together; to be burned denotes to perish by falsities of evil.
(References: Isaiah 1:30-31)
 In Ezekiel:
"Thy mother is like a vine. Now she is planted in the desert, in a dry and thirsty land. Fire is gone out from a rod of her branches, it hath devoured them and her fruit" (xix. 10, 12- 14).
By the mother who is like a vine, is signified the Ancient Church which was in the good of life, and thence in truths; that the church is now without goods and truths is signified by her being now planted in the desert, in a dry and thirsty land; a dry land denotes the church where there is no good, and a thirsty land where there is no truth; a fire going forth from a rod of her branches and devouring them and the fruit thereof, signifies that the evil of falsity had destroyed all truth and good; fire denotes evil, a rod of branches the falsity of doctrine in which is evil, and to devour them and the fruit thereof, denotes to destroy truth and good; the evil of falsity, is the evil which is from the falsity of doctrine.
 Again, in Zechariah:
"Behold, the Lord will impoverish" Tyre, "and he will shake off her wealth in the sea; and she herself shall be devoured with fire" (ix. 4).
Tyre signifies the church as to the cognitions of truth and good, and therefore Tyre signifies the cognitions of truth and good pertaining to the church; the vastation thereof by falsities and evils is signified by the Lord shaking off her wealth into the sea, and by she herself being consumed by fire.
(References: Zechariah 9:4)
 Again in David:
"Enemies have set thy sanctuary on fire, they have defiled the dwelling-place of thy name even to the earth; they have burned up all God's places of assembly in the land until there is no more any prophet; neither among us any that knoweth how long" (Psalm lxxiv. 7-9).
That desires arising from evil loves destroyed the goods and truths of the church, is signified by the enemies setting the sanctuary on fire, and defiling the dwelling-place of the name of Jehovah; that they altogether destroyed everything of Divine worship, is signified by their burning all God's places of assembly in the earth, that there was no longer any doctrine of truth, or understanding of truth, is signified by "there is no more any prophet; neither among us any that knoweth [how long]."
(References: Psalms 74:7-9)
 In Moses, it is said if wicked men have drawn away the inhabitants of a city to serve other gods, they shall all be smitten with the edge of the sword, and the city with all the spoil shall be burnt with fire (Deut. xiii. 13-16). These words signify in the spiritual sense, that the doctrine, from which there is worship, that acknowledges any other God than the Lord, should be wiped out, because in it there is nothing but falsities originating in evil desires. This is the signification in the spiritual sense of the above words, because a city, in the Word, signifies doctrine, and serving other gods signifies to acknowledge and worship some other God than the Lord; a sword signifies the destruction of truth by falsity; and fire, the destruction of good by evil.
 The Lord said in Luke that He came to send fire upon the earth, and what would He if it were already kindled (xii. 49). This signifies hostilities and combats between evil and good, and between falsity and truth. For before the Lord came into the world, there was nothing but absolute falsities and evils in the church, consequently there was no combat between them and truths and goods; but after truths and goods were disclosed by the Lord, then combats could first begin to exist, and without combats between them reformation is not possible. This is what is meant therefore by the Lord saying what would He if the fire were already kindled. That these words are to be thus understood is evident from what follows, namely that He came to cause division;
"for from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother" (verses 51-53).
By the father against the son, and the son against the father, is meant evil against truth, and truth against evil; and by the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother, is meant the desire for falsity against the affection for truth, and the reverse. In one house, signifies in one man.
 Since sons signify in the Word the truths of the church, and daughters, the goods thereof, the signification of the burning of sons and daughters, as recorded in Jeremiah is evident:
"They have built the high places of Tophet in the valley of the [son] of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters" (vii. 31).
"I will cause an alarm of war to be heard against Rabbah [of the children] of Ammon; and her daughters shall be burned with fire" (xlix. 2).
And in Ezekiel:
"When ye offer your gifts, when ye make your sons to pass through the fire" (xx. 31).
By burning their sons and daughters in the fire, is signified to destroy the truths and goods of the church by evil desires, or by evil loves. Suppose that they actually committed such abomination, still, the destruction of the truth and good of the church by filthy and abominable lusts, which they confirmed by falsities is signified by them.
 From these things it is now evident that by hail and fire mingled with blood, and cast upon the earth, whence a third part of the trees was burnt up, and all green grass burnt up, is signified the influx out of heaven, and the first change thence before the Last Judgment. But what is signified by tree and by green grass, will be explained in what follows. Similar things are also said concerning the plagues in Egypt, which preceded their final extinction, or drowning in the Sea Suph (Red Sea); as for example, that, upon the land of Egypt it rained hail, and fire mingled with the hail, and the herb of the field was struck and every tree of the field was broken (Exod. ix. 23-26).
 That similar things would take place before the day of Jehovah, which is the Last Judgment, is also predicted in the prophets.
"The day of Jehovah; a day of darkness and of thick darkness. A fire shall devour before it; and behind it a flame shall burn" (ii. 1, 2, 3).
In the same:
"I will show wonders in heaven, and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of Jehovah come" (ii. 30, 31).
"Fire hath devoured the habitations of the wilderness, and the flame hath burned all the trees of the field" (i. 19, 20).
And in Ezekiel:
"Say to the forest of the south, Behold, I will kindle a fire in thee, which shall devour every green tree in thee; the flame of the grievous flame shall not be quenched, whence all faces from the south even to the north shall be burned therein" (xx. 47).
The forest of the south signifies the church, which may be in the light of truth from the Word, but which, now destitute of spiritual light, is in knowledges alone; the trees which the fire shall devour, signify such knowledges; that evil desires also would deprive them of all spiritual life, and that there would be no longer any truth in clearness, nor even any remains thereof in obscurity, is signified by "all faces of the earth from the south to the north shall be burned." From the known signification of fire in both senses, it can be seen what is signified in the Word by the expressions to grow warm, to be inflamed, to be set on fire, to grow hot, to be burnt up, and to be consumed; by heating, flame, ardour, burning, enkindling, hearth, coals, and many other terms.
* Greek en to adei.