From Swedenborg's Works

Heaven and Hell #1

Heaven and Hell (Dole translation)

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1. In the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew, we find the Lord talking to his disciples about the close of the age, the last time of the church. 1 At the end of his prophecies concerning the sequence of states of its love and faith 2 he says:

Immediately after the suffering of those days, the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then the sign of the Human-born One will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will lament. And they will see the Human-born One coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a trumpet and a loud voice, and they will gather his chosen ones from the four winds, from one end of the heavens all the way to the other end. (Matthew 24:29-31)

When people understand these words according to their literal meaning, they can only believe that all these things are going to happen just as this meaning describes them, at that end of time called the Last Judgment. This does not mean only that the sun and moon will be darkened and that the stars will fall from heaven, that the sign of the Lord will appear in heaven, and that he will be seen in the clouds with angels blowing trumpets. It also includes matters prophesied elsewhere, statements that the whole visible world is going to be destroyed and that afterward a new heaven and a new earth will come into being.

Many people in the church these days are of this opinion. However, people who believe such things are not aware of the hidden depths that lie within the details of the Word. There is in fact spiritual meaning in these details, for they intend not only the outward and earthly events that we find on the literal level but spiritual and heavenly events as well. This holds true not just for the meaning of phrases but even for each word. 3

The Word is in fact written in pure correspondences 4 so that there may be deeper meaning in the details. Questions about the nature of this meaning can be resolved by all the things I have set forth about it in Secrets of Heaven. A selection of these may be found also in my explanation of the white horse in the Book of Revelation. It is in this deeper sense that we are to understand what the Lord said in the passage just cited about coming in the clouds of heaven. The sun that will be darkened means the Lord in respect to love, 5 the moon means the Lord in respect to faith. 6 The stars mean insights into what is good and true, or into love and faith. 7 The sign of the Human-born One in heaven means the appearing of divine truth. The wailing tribes of earth mean all the elements of what is true and good, or of faith and love. 8 The Lord's coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory means his presence in the Word, and revelation. 9 The clouds refer to the literal meaning of the Word 10 and the glory to the Word's inner meaning. 11 The angels with a trumpet and a loud voice mean heaven, which is where divine truth comes from. 12

This enables us to see what these words of the Lord mean. They mean that at the end of the church, when there is no longer any love and therefore no longer any faith, the Lord will open the Word by disclosing its deeper meaning and will reveal the heavenly contents hidden within it. The particular hidden contents to be disclosed in the pages that follow have to do with heaven and hell and with our own life after death.

Church people these days know practically nothing about heaven and hell or their life after death, even though there are descriptions of everything available to them in the Word. In fact, many who have been born in the church deny all this. In their hearts they are asking who has ever come back to tell us about it.

To prevent this negative attitude - especially prevalent among people who have acquired a great deal of worldly wisdom - from infecting and corrupting people of simple heart and simple faith, it has been granted me to be with angels and to talk with them person to person. I have also been enabled to see what is in heaven and in hell, a process that has been going on for thirteen years. Now I am being allowed therefore to describe what I have heard and seen, in the hopes of shedding light where there is ignorance, and of dispelling skepticism.

The reason this kind of direct revelation is taking place today is that this is what the Coming of the Lord means.

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Footnotes:

1. On the close of the age as the last time of the church: 4535, 10672 [10622?].

2. For explanations of what the Lord said in Matthew 24:25 about the close of the age, his coming, and thus the gradual destruction of the church and the Last Judgment, see the material prefaced to chapters 5-24 [26-40] of Genesis. In particular, see 3353-3356, 3486-3489, 3650-3655, 3751-3759 [3751-3757], 3897-3901, 4056-4060, 4129-4231 [4229-4231], 4332-4335, 4422-4424, 4535, 4635-4638, 4661-4664, 4807-4810, 4954-4959, 5063-5071.

3. There is deeper meaning in every detail of the Word: 1143, 1984, 2135, 2333, 2395, 2495, 4442, 9049, 9086.

4. The Word is composed using pure correspondences, so that its every detail points to something spiritual: 1404, 1408-1409, 1540, 1619, 1659, 1709, 1783, 2900, 9086.

5. The sun in the Word means the Lord in respect to love, and therefore love for the Lord: 1529, 1837, 2441, 2495, 4060, 4696, 4996 [4966?], 7083, 10809.

6. The moon in the Word means the Lord in respect to faith, and therefore faith in the Lord: 1529-1530, 2495, 4060, 4996 [4696?], 7083.

7. Stars in the Word mean insights into what is good and true: 2495, 2849, 4697.

8. Tribes mean all true and good elements in a single complex, or all elements of faith and love: 3858, 3926, 4060, 6335.

9. The Lord's coming is his presence in the Word, and revelation: 3900, 4060.

10. Clouds in the Word mean the Word in the letter or its literal meaning: 4060, 4391, 5922, 6343, 6752, 8106, 8781, 9430, 10551, 10574.

11. Glory in the Word means divine truth as it is in heaven and in the inner meaning of the Word: 4809, 5292 5922, 8267, 8427, 9429, 10574.

12. The trumpet or horn means divine truth in heaven and revealed from heaven: 8815, 8823, 8915."Voice" has the same meaning: 6971, 9926.

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From Swedenborg's Works

Inbound References:

Doctrine of the Lord 26


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 36, 39, 594, 612, 706

Other New Christian Commentary

Sign 1

Resources for parents and teachers

The items listed here are provided courtesy of our friends at the General Church of the New Jerusalem. You can search/browse their whole library at the New Church Vineyard website.


 The Second Coming
While many anticipate the return of Jesus Christ to earth, the New Church teaches the Lord has already made His second coming in the teachings for the New Church.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17


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

From Swedenborg's Works

Arcana Coelestia #2395

Arcana Coelestia (Elliott translation)

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2395. 'For we are destroying this place' means that the state of evil which was theirs would condemn them. This is clear from the meaning of 'destroy', when used of the Lord, as - in the internal meaning - to perish from evil, that is, to be condemned; and also from the meaning of 'place' as a state of evil, 2393. The expression 'Jehovah destroys' occurs many times in the Word, but in the internal sense the meaning is that man destroys himself, for Jehovah or the Lord destroys no one. But because it does seem as though Jehovah or the Lord were the author of such destruction since He sees every single thing and governs every single thing, that expression occurs in various places in the Word, for the reason that it holds men to the very general idea that all things are before the Lord's eyes and all things under His guidance. Once they are held to that idea men can then be taught easily, for explanations of the Word giving its internal sense are nothing other than the details that fill out the general idea. There is the further reason that those who do not have love are held in fear, and in that fear revere the Lord and flee to Him for deliverance. From this it is evident that it does no harm to believe the sense of the letter, even though the internal sense teaches something other, provided that such belief is that of a simple heart. But these points are dealt with more fully further on at verse 24, in 2447, where it is said that 'Jehovah rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire'. Because they have the internal sense angels are so far removed from thinking of Jehovah's or the Lord's destroying anybody that they do not tolerate the very idea. Consequently when man reads these and similar statements in the Word, the sense of the letter is so to speak pushed to the back and at length merges into the teaching that evil itself is what destroys a person and that the Lord destroys nobody, as becomes clear from the example referred to in 1875.

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Inbound References:

Arcana Coelestia 2397, 2402, 2826, 3605, 3614, 4307

The White Horse 9, 10

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 258, 259, 260, 308


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


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