From Swedenborg's Works

Heaven and Hell #1

Heaven and Hell (Dole translation)

Study this Passage

Go to section / 603  

Next →

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.

-----
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.

-----

Go to section / 603  

Next →

   Study this Passage
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 #4966

Arcana Coelestia (Elliott translation)

Study this Passage

Go to section / 10837  

← Previous    Next →

4966. 'The chief of the attendants' means which facts come first and foremost in explanations. This is clear from the meaning of 'the chief of the attendants' as the facts which come first and foremost in explanations, dealt with in 4790. Ones which come first and foremost in explanations are those which are pre-eminently suitable for explaining the Word, and so for coming to understand teachings drawn from the Word about love to God and charity towards the neighbour. It should be recognized that the factual knowledge of the people of old was entirely different from that existing at the present day. As stated above, the factual knowledge of the people of old had to do with the correspondences of things in the natural world with realities in the spiritual world. Knowledge which at the present day is called philosophical knowledge, such as Aristotelian systems and their like, did not exist among them. This is also evident from the books written by ancient authors, most of which consisted of descriptions of such things as were signs of, represented, and corresponded to more internal realities, as may be seen from the following evidence, and ignoring all else.

[2] They envisaged Helicon on a mountain and took it to mean heaven, and Parnassus on a hill below that, and took it to mean factual knowledge. They spoke of a flying horse, called Pegasus by them, which broke open a fountain there with its hoof; they called branches of knowledge virgins; and so on. For with the help of correspondences and representatives they knew that 'a mountain' meant heaven, 'a hill' the heaven beneath this, which is heaven as it exists among men, a horse' the power of understanding, 'its wings with which it flew' spiritual things, 'its hoof' that which was natural, 'a fountain' intelligence, while three virgins called 'the Graces' meant affections for good, and virgins who were named 'the Heliconians and 'the Parnassians' meant affections for truth. To the sun they likewise allotted horses, whose food they called ambrosia and whose drink they called nectar; for they knew that 'the sun' meant heavenly love, 'horses' powers of the understanding which sprang from that love, while 'food' meant celestial things and 'drink' spiritual ones.

[3] The Ancients are also the originators of customs that are still followed when kings are crowned. The king has to sit on a silver throne, wear a purple robe, and be anointed with oil. He has to wear a crown on his head, while holding in his hands a sceptre, a sword, and keys. He has to ride in regal splendour on a white horse shed with horseshoes made of silver; and he has to be waited on at table by the chief nobles of the kingdom. And many other customs are followed besides these. The Ancients knew that 'a king' represented Divine Truth that is rooted in Divine Good, and from this they knew what was meant by a silver throne, a purple robe, anointing oil, crown, sceptre, sword, keys, white horse, horseshoes made of silver, and what was meant by being waited on at table by the chief nobles. Who at the present day knows the meaning of any of these customs, or where the information exists to show him their meaning? People refer to them as symbols, but they know nothing at all about correspondence or representation. All this evidence shows what the factual knowledge possessed by the Ancients was like, and that this knowledge gave them a discernment of spiritual and heavenly realities, which at the present day are scarcely known to exist.

[4] The factual knowledge that has replaced that of the Ancients, and which strictly speaking is called philosophical knowledge, tends to draw the mind away from knowing such things because such knowledge can also be employed to substantiate false ideas. Furthermore, even when used to substantiate true ones it introduces darkness into the mind, because for the most part mere terms are used to substantiate them, which few people can understand and which the few who do understand them argue about. From this it may be seen how far the human race has departed from the learning of the Ancients, which led to wisdom. Gentiles received their factual knowledge from the Ancient Church, whose external worship consisted in representatives and meaningful signs and whose internal worship consisted in the realities represented and meant by these. This was the kind of factual knowledge that is meant in the genuine sense by 'Egypt'.

(References: Genesis 39:1)

Go to section / 10837  

← Previous    Next →

   Study this Passage
From Swedenborg's Works

Inbound References:

Arcana Coelestia 4967, 4969, 5038, 5044, 5068, 5079, 5084, 5087, 5164, 5223, 5237, 5276, 5313, 5321, 5323, 5354, 5373, 5402, 5417, 5580, 5619, 5637, 5700, 5900, 5922, 5942, 5958, 5964, 6004, 6015, 6047, 6125, 6141, 6148, 6169, 6235, 6410, 6432, ...

The White Horse 12

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 1, 51, 121, 261


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 27, 31, 126, 236


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


Translate: