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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.


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

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 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 #9049

Arcana Coelestia (Elliott translation)

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9049. 'You shall pay soul for soul' means the law of order that you shall do to your neighbour as you wish him to do to you, and therefore that it shall be done to you as you do to another. This is clear from the fact that paying soul for soul, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, and so on, means having done to you what you would do to another. The reason why this law was given to the children of Israel was that a similar law exists in the spiritual world. Anyone there who does good to another with all his heart receives good in like measure; and therefore one who does evil to another with all his heart receives evil in like measure. For good done with all one's heart carries its own reward together with it, and evil done with all one's heart carries its own punishment together with it. So it is that heaven is the reward for good people, and hell the punishment for evil ones. Considerable experience has allowed me to know that this is so. The situation with both groups is as follows. With someone who does good with all his heart good is flowing in from heaven on every side into his heart and soul and inspiring him greatly to act as he does. At the same time love and affection for the neighbour to whom he does the good is increasing, and with this love and affection a delight that is heavenly delight, beyond description. The reason why all this happens is that the good of love from the Lord reigns everywhere in heaven, flowing in unceasingly in the same measure as it is being given out to another. Similarly with someone evil who does evil to another with all his heart. Evil on every side is flowing in from hell into his heart and spurring him on greatly to act as he does. At the same time selfish love and affection is increasing, and with them the delight born of hatred and vengeance against those unsubmissive to him. The reason why all this happens is that the evil of self-love reigns everywhere in hell, flowing in unceasingly in the same measure as it is given out to another. When this happens those who punish are immediately present, and they deal roughly with the evil-doer. In this way evil along with its delight is kept in check.

[2] These things are so because the laws of order in the next life are not learned from books and then stored away in the memory, as they are with people in the world. Rather they are laws written on the heart, laws of evil on the heart of those who are evil, and laws of good on the heart of those who are good. For everyone takes with him into the next life that which has been fixed in his heart by his life in the world, that is to say evil in the case of evil people and good in the case of good ones.

[3] The law of order from which these things follow is that which the Lord has taught in Matthew,

All things whatever you wish people to do to you, do also to them; this is the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:12; Luke 6:31.

Order arises out of Divine Truth which comes from the Lord. In heaven the laws of order are truths springing from good, but in hell they are truths separated from good. They are said to be separated not on account of what the Lord does but of what man does. Good is separated when it is unreceived.

[4] The law called the law of retaliation is set out in Leviticus as follows,

Whoever strikes the soul of a beast shall make restitution, soul for soul. If a man has caused disfigurement in his neighbour as he has done, so shall it be done to him - fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. As he has caused disfigurement in a person, so shall it be paid out to him. One striking a beast shall make restitution, and one striking a human being shall be killed. Leviticus 24:17-21.

Since evil carries its own punishment with it the Lord says that one should not resist evil. At the same time He explains what this law means for those in the spiritual world who are governed by good, in their relations with those ruled by evil, in the following words in Matthew,

You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. But I say, Evil is not to be resisted. But whoever smacks you on your right jaw, turn the other to him also. And if anyone wishes to drag you to court and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. Whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to everyone asking from you, and from him desiring to receive a loan from you, do not turn away. Matthew 5:38-42.

(References: Leviticus 24:18-21, Leviticus 24:18-22)

[5] Who can fail to see that these words should not be taken literally? Who is going to turn his left jaw to one who has smacked him on the right jaw? Who is going to give his cloak to one who wishes to take away his tunic? Who is going to give what he has to all who ask for it? And who will not resist evil? But these words cannot be understood by anyone who does not know what the right jaw and the left, tunic and cloak, a mile, a loan, and all the rest are being used to mean. The subject in these verses is spiritual life or the life of faith, not natural life, which is the life of the world. In this chapter and the next the Lord reveals things of a more internal nature that belong to heaven; but He has done so by means of the kinds of things that exist in the world. He used such things in order that worldly-minded people might not understand them, only heavenly-minded people. And the reason why the worldly-minded people should be prevented from understanding was so that they would not profane the more internal truths of the Word; for by profaning these truths those people would cast themselves into the most horrible hell of all, which is the hell of profaners of the Word. This explains why the Lord has said in Luke,

To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to everyone else in parables, that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not hear. Luke 8:10.

And in John,

Isaiah said, He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they should see with their eyes and understand with their heart, and should be converted and I should heal them. John 12:40.

It says 'lest I heal them' because those who are healed but then go back to falsities and evils commit profanation. These are the ones who are meant in Matthew 12:43-45.

(References: John 12:39-40)

[6] But what the Lord's words quoted above are used to mean in the internal sense must be stated now. They refer in the internal sense to those who wish to use falsities to destroy the truths of faith, that is, to destroy the spiritual life with a person when he is undergoing temptation, or suffering persecution, and with good spirits when they are subject to molestations from evil spirits. 'The jaw' means an affection for interior truth, 'the right jaw' being an affection for truth derived from good; 'smacking' means the act of injuring that affection; 'tunic' and 'cloak' mean truth in an outward form, 4677, 4741, 4742; 'dragging to court' means trying to destroy; 'mile' means that which leads to truth, for 'mire' is similar in meaning to 'way', which means that which leads to truth, see 627, 2333, 3477; and 'giving a loan' means informing, which shows what 'giving to all who ask' means, namely declaring everything composing one's belief in the Lord. The reason therefore why 'evil should not be resisted' is that evil can have no harmful effect at all on those governed by truth and good, for they are protected by the Lord.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 4741-4742)

[7] These are the things that lie concealed beneath those words spoken by the Lord, which being so, the Lord says simply, 'You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth', quoting no further than this. He goes no further because 'an eye' means more internal truth of faith, and 'a tooth' more external truth of faith, as will be seen below. This shows in what way the Lord used words when He was in the world, that is to say, in the same way as they were used everywhere in the Old Testament Word - at the same time both for angels in heaven and for people in the world. For in itself His speech was Divine and heavenly, since it sprang from the Divine and came by way of heaven. But to present the truths He spoke He used such things as corresponded to them in the world. What such things correspond to is taught by the internal sense.

[8] The fact that 'smacking the jaw' or striking it means destroying truths is evident from places in the Word in which the expression 'striking the jaw' is used. And since in the genuine sense it means the destruction of truth, in the contrary sense it means the destruction of falsity, in which sense it occurs in David,

You will strike all my enemies on the jaw, You will break the teeth of the wicked. Psalms 3:7.

In Micah,

With a rod they will strike the judge of Israel on the jaw. Micah 5:1.

And in Isaiah,

The bridle of one that leads astray will be on the jaws of peoples. Isaiah 30:28.

'The face' means the affections, 4796, 4797, 4799, 5102, 5695, 6604. Consequently parts of the face mean such things as belong to the affections and correspond to the functions and uses they perform. The eye for example corresponds to the understanding of truth, the nostrils to the perception of truth, and parts of the mouth - the jaws, lips, throat, or tongue - to such things as belong to the utterance of truth, 4796 4805.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 4796-4805, 4796-4797; Exodus 21:23; Leviticus 24:18-22)

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Inbound References:

Arcana Coelestia 9057

The White Horse 12, 13

References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 946

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