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This work, originally published in 1766, unfolds the spiritual meaning of the Book of Revelation. It shows that by the "Seven Churches in Asia," to whom this prophecy is addressed, are meant the different classes of Christians of the present day; that the Last Judgment is not an event that is to occur at some future time in the natural world, but one that has already taken place in the world of spirits, and that " the New Jerusalem coming down like a bride out of heaven," symbolizes a new dispensation of truth now descending into the minds of men. Incidentally it explains numerous passages from other parts of the Word. Instructive narratives of things seen in the spiritual world are also interspersed between the chapters.
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Emanuel Swedenborg – A Biographical Primer
Apocalypse Revealed, E. Swedenborg
Jazzybee Verlag Jürgen Beck
86450 Altenmünster, Loschberg 9
By Thomas Hitchcock
Swedish philosopher, born in Stockholm, Jan. 29, 1688, died in London, England, March 29, 1772. He was the son of Jesper Swedberg, bishop of Skara, the name being changed to Swedenborg in 1719 on the occasion of the ennobling of the family. This advancement entitled him, as head of the family, to a seat in the house of nobles of the Swedish diet, but did not confer the title of baron, as has been supposed. Emanuel was educated at Upsal, completing his studies in 1709. After two years of travel in England, Holland, and France, he went to reside at Greifswald in Pomerania, then a Swedish town, and busied himself with scientific research. He also wrote some Latin fables, which were published under the title of Camena Borea. A collection of Latin poems, written by him during his travels, was also published about the same time in a volume entitled Ludus Heliconius. In 1716 he returned to Sweden and established a periodical called Dædalus Hyperboreus, devoted to mathematics and mechanics, which appeared irregularly for two years. During this time he had become intimate with Christopher Polhem, an eminent engineer, and Polhem introduced him to Charles XII., who appointed him assessor extraordinary of the college of mines, and associate engineer with Polhem. For two years Swedenborg maintained close personal relations with the king, and assisted him much in his military operations. During the siege of Frederickshald, at which Charles met his death, Swedenborg constructed, under Polhem's direction, the machines by which several vessels were transported overland from Strömstad to the Iddefiord, 14 miles. At the king's suggestion, it is said, Polhem betrothed his daughter to Swedenborg; but as the young lady preferred another man, Swedenborg relinquished his claim and never married. From 1717 to 1722 he published pamphlets on scientific subjects; among them one describing a method of determining longitude by means of the moon. In 1721 he made a short tour on the continent, visiting mines and smelting works. On his return in 1722 he was promoted to be full assessor of mines, and for the next 12 years he devoted himself to the duties of that office, refusing the professorship of mathematics at Upsal in 1724. In 1734 he published Opera Philosophica et Mineralia in three large folio volumes, illustrated with numerous plates, viz.: vol. i., Principia; vol. ii., De Ferro; vol. iii., De Cupro et Orichalco. In the same year also appeared his Prodromus de Infinito. In 1736 he began another tour of travel, which, with study and writing, occupied him for several years. In 1740-'41 he published his Œconomia Regni Animalis, in two parts, and in 1744-'5 his Regnum Animale, in three parts. Between 1729 and 1741 he was elected successively a member of the academy of sciences at Upsal, corresponding member of the imperial academy of sciences at St. Petersburg, and member of the academy of sciences at Stockholm. His series of scientific publications ended in 1745 with the treatise De Cultu et Amore Dei, &c., in which is set forth, under the form of a prose poem or allegory, his theory of the process of creation. Thereafter, as he says, he was called by God to the work of revealing to men a new system of religious truth. For that end he was permitted to converse with spirits and angels, and behold the wonders of the spiritual world. That he might be more free to perform his task, he resigned his assessorship, retaining half the salary by way of pension. He devoted himself first to the study of the Bible in the original, and then to the writing of books explanatory of his new doctrines, which were published entirely at his own expense. From 1749 to 1756 appeared the Arcana Cœlestia (8 vols. 4to), containing a commentary on Genesis and Exodus, interspersed with accounts of “wonderful things seen and heard in heaven and in hell.” This was followed in 1758 by the De Cœlo et Inferno, De Telluribus in Mundo, De Ultimo Judicio, De Nova Hierosolyma, and De Equo Albo. In 1763 were published the four doctrinal treatises: Doctrina Vitæ, De Fide, De Domino, and De Scriptura Sacra, with a Continuatio de Ultimo Judicio, and the treatise De Divino Amore et de Divina Sapientia. In 1764, the Divina Providentia appeared; in 1766, the Apocalypsis Revelata; in 1768, De Amore Conjugiali; in 1769, Summaria Expositio Doctrinæ and De Commercio Animæ et Corporis; and in 1771, the Vera Christiana Religio. Besides these, he left at his death an immense mass of manuscripts, of which the following have been since printed: Itinerarium, Clavis Hieroglyphica, Opuscula, Apocalypsis Explicata, Adversaria in Libros Veteris Testamenti, Diarium Spirituale, Index Biblicus, Sensus Internus Prophetarum et Psalmorum, Dicta Probantia, De Athanasio Symbolo, De Charitate, Canones, Coronis Veræ Christianæ Religionis, and Invitatio ad Novam Ecclesiam. Copies of a few of these manuscripts have recently been reproduced by the photolithographic process, by subscription, not so much for circulation as for the sake of preserving the contents of the originals from destruction by decay. — Swedenborg's manner of life was simple and modest. He spent much of his time, in later years, in Holland and England, for which countries he expressed great admiration on account of the freedom of speech and writing permitted there. He made no efforts to gain proselytes to his doctrines further than by printing and distributing his writings, and never referred to his intercourse with the spiritual world except when questioned. Several instances are reported of his obtaining information from departed souls respecting affairs unknown even to their families, and describing events in distant places in advance of news by the ordinary means of communication. It is related that, as he lay on his deathbed in London, Ferelius, a Swedish clergyman, solemnly adjured him to tell the truth in regard to his teachings. Swedenborg raised himself half upright in bed, and placing his hand on his breast said with emphasis: “As true as you see me before you, so true is everything I have written. I could have said more had I been permitted. When you come into eternity, you will see all things as I have stated and described them, and we shall have much to say concerning them to each other.” He then received the holy supper from Ferelius, and presented him with a copy of his Arcana Cœlestia. A day or two afterward he peacefully breathed his last. His body was buried in a vault of the Swedish church in Prince's square, a little east of the tower. A eulogium was pronounced upon him in the Swedish house of nobles in October, 1772, by Samuel Sandels, which accords him high praise, not merely for learning and talent, but also for uprightness and fidelity in the discharge of his duties as a public functionary. Several of his acquaintances have also left written testimony to his virtuous character. — Swedenborg's scientific works have long since ceased to be of practical value, but are still highly interesting as collections of facts, and as exhibiting their author's peculiar method of philosophizing. The system he followed was substantially that of Descartes, of whom he continued to the end of his life to speak with admiration, and this led him to conclusions resembling in some striking points those of Spinoza, who was likewise a Cartesian. His “Economy of the Animal Kingdom” is the best of his many productions anterior to his theological career. In it he attempts to deduce a knowledge of the soul from an anatomical and physiological knowledge of the body, and evolves many doctrines which he afterward elaborated in his theological works. Indeed, some of his disciples hold that his seership was the natural result of his intellectual and moral development, and by no means an abnormal condition of mind. According to his own account, it came upon him gradually, and neither astonished nor alarmed him, although in its early stages he was subject to great mental excitement, the phenomena of which may have given rise to exaggerated stories of his insanity. The works written by him subsequent to this change in his mind are quite as systematic and coherent as his earlier productions, and only his claim to a divine mission, and his frequent descriptions of what he saw and heard in the spiritual world, mark them as peculiar. They are consistent from first to last, and though they appeared at intervals during a period of 27 years, they nowhere deviate from the fundamental principles laid down at the outset. — The general features of Swedenborg's theology are presented in his treatise called the “True Christian Religion.” He teaches that God is one in essence and in person, and has been revealed to men as the Lord Jesus Christ. In the Lord is a trinity, not of persons but of principles, and it is these principles which are spoken of in the Scriptures as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The Father is the divine love, the Son the divine wisdom, and the Holy Ghost the divine operation or energy acting upon the universe. The Lord is infinite, eternal, self-existent, omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent, and not only the creator but the sustainer of all creation, which without him would cease to exist. For the sake of redeeming mankind he assumed a natural body born of the Virgin Mary, and glorified it or made it divine, so that it is now invisible to men, and also usually to the angels except as the sun of heaven. Redemption consisted, not in suffering vicariously the punishment of men's sins (for that could not be done, and, if it could, would be useless), but in actual combats, by means of the assumed humanity, with the powers of hell, and overcoming them. This victory restored to man spiritual freedom, which had begun to be impaired by diabolic possessions as narrated in the Gospels, and enabled him to work out his salvation. This he does by looking to the Lord, with faith in him, by repentance, and above all by a life according to the commandments of the decalogue. The chief points that Swedenborg insists on in religion are faith in the Lord and the avoidance of evils as sins against him. Upon everything else, such as outward worship, prayer and meditation, and works of eleemosynary charity, he lays but little stress. The essence of charity is love to the neighbor and occupation in some useful employment. The Word, he says, is the divine truth itself, written to reveal the Lord to man and to serve as a medium of conjunction between earth and heaven. This Word consists of the books of Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Leviticus, Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, the Psalms, the prophecies, the four Gospels, and the Apocalypse. The other books bound up with these in our Bibles are not the Word, although good and useful to the church. The distinction between the two consists in this: that the Word contains an internal or spiritual sense, which the rest of the Bible has not. This spiritual sense is symbolical, and may be discerned by the application of the law of symbolism resulting from the universal correspondence of natural with spiritual things. Thus, the garden of Eden and all things mentioned as existing in it symbolize the human soul and its affections and thoughts; and the disobedience of Adam and Eve, the alienation of mankind at a remote period from their original state of innocence. Hence, too, the decalogue forbids not merely outward sins, but the inward spiritual sins corresponding to them, and the Psalms and prophecies relate not merely to David and the Jews, but to experiences of the human soul independent of dates and localities. At the same time the literal sense alone can be relied on as a basis of doctrine, and Swedenborg is careful to cite it profusely in support of his teachings. The reason he gives for his mission is that the knowledge of true doctrine had been lost and the church destroyed by a false theology and accompanying evils of life. By the promulgation of the truth revealed to him a new church has been established by the Lord, and thus the prophecies in the Apocalypse of the descent of the New Jerusalem have been fulfilled in their symbolical sense. The second coming of the Lord, predicted in Matt, xxiv., has also been accomplished in the same way, a last judgment having been effected in the spiritual world in the year 1757, so that we are now living under a new dispensation. The treatise on “Heaven and Hell” embodies Swedenborg's teachings on the nature of those two realms, and their relations to this world. They exist, he says, not in some other region of space, but within the natural world, as the soul of man exists within his body, being in fact in the souls of men and resting in them as our souls rest in our bodies. At death the body, which is the material envelope of the soul, is cast aside, never to be resumed, and consequently its resurrection is not to be looked for. The soul is the man himself, and is a perfect human being, with a spiritual body of its own, and rises into a conscious perception of the spiritual world, of which the man had previously been unconsciously an inhabitant. He sees and feels and possesses all the other senses, and retains all his personal characteristics. After a longer or shorter preparation in an intermediate state called the world of spirits, which lies between heaven and hell, he is drawn by his own elective affinity to the place where he belongs, and remains there to eternity. Both heaven and hell consist of innumerable societies, each composed of human beings of similar and concordant affections; and both are divided into three distinct regions, according to the degrees of perfection or depravity of their inhabitants. The Arcana Cœlestia, Swedenborg's largest work, is mainly an exposition of the internal or symbolical sense of Genesis and Exodus, with accounts of his experiences in the spiritual world, and various doctrinal teachings interspersed between the chapters. “The Apocalypse Revealed” and “The Apocalypse Explained” are similar expositions of the Apocalypse. In his “Conjugial Love” Swedenborg expounds his doctrine of the relations of the sexes. Males, he says, are masculine and females feminine in soul as well as in body. The masculine element is love clothed with wisdom, while the feminine is wisdom clothed with love. Hence the characteristic of man is wisdom or understanding, and that of woman love or affection. Marriage is the conjunction of two souls who complement each other, and by their union make one complete being, just as the will and the understanding make the individual. Hence the only true marriage is of one man and one woman, and it exists in the next world as well as in this. Polygamy is a degraded state, but not a sin with those whose religion permits it; but adultery is destructive of the life of the soul, and closes heaven against those who confirm themselves in it. The treatises on the “Divine Love and Wisdom” and the “Divine Providence” embody Swedenborg's spiritual philosophy, and exhibit the symmetrical relations of the various parts of his religious system. Love, he says, is the life of man. God alone is Love itself and Life itself, and angels and men are but recipients of life from him. He is very Man, and our humanity is derived from him, so that it is literally true that we are created in his image and likeness. His infinite love clothes itself with infinite wisdom and manifests itself in ceaseless operation, producing, maintaining, and reproducing the boundless universe, with all its innumerable parts and inhabitants. In like manner men, being made in the image of God, also have love or the will, and wisdom or the understanding, and the two produce in them their finite operation. It being the nature of love to desire objects upon which to exercise itself, God could not but create the universe. The creation of this and other solar systems, all of which are inhabited, was effected by a spiritual sun, which is the first emanation proceeding from God, and which is seen in the spiritual world as our sun is seen by us. By means of this spiritual sun natural suns were created, and from them atmospheres, waters, earths, plants, animals, and finally man. Angels, spirits, and devils are men who have been born and died on this or some similar planet. Hence, all things were created from God, and not out of nothing. The spiritual world is related to the natural as cause is to effect, and the supreme first cause of all is God himself. These three, end, cause, and effect, constitute three distinct or discrete degrees, which are repeated in various forms in all created things, and on a grand scale in the universe as a whole. Creation, being from God, is, like the individual man, an image of him, and hence is in the human form in its greatest and least parts, and with more or less approximation to perfection. As we are finitely men, because God is an infinite Man, so all animals, plants, and even minerals wear a resemblance to man, and throughout all nature there is an incessant effort to evolve the human form. In the sight of God and the angels, larger and smaller bodies of human beings and the societies of heaven and hell appear organized like men, and Swedenborg calls the universe the Grand Man (Maximus Homo). As infinite love was the end and infinite wisdom the cause of creation, so the divine life and power are constantly active in sustaining and directing it. This activity is the Divine Providence, and it reaches to every smallest particular of nature and humanity. Man has freedom, because without it he could not be an adequate recipient of the divine love, and by the abuse of his freedom he has introduced evil into the world. The Divine Providence seeks, without destroying this freedom, to lead man back to his original integrity. Hence all the wonderful dealings of God with man recorded in the Scriptures; hence the incarnation; and hence the various forms of religion which exist in the world, all of which embody more or less the essentials of salvation, namely, the worship of God and abstinence from evils as sins against him. The smaller treatises of Swedenborg are mostly extracts from his larger works, with amplifications and additions. — The fullest account of him and his writings is that of William White (2 vols., London, 1867, since republished in one volume). See, also, “Documents concerning Swedenborg,” by R. L. Tafel (London, 1875 et seq.). All of his theological and some of his scientific works have been translated into English. The theological works have also been reprinted in Latin by Dr. J. F. I. Tafel, of Tübingen, Germany, and partially translated and published in French, German, Italian, Danish, and Swedish. Societies for promoting their circulation are in operation both in the United States and in Europe. The principal writers who have undertaken the exposition of Swedenborg's doctrines in England are John Clowes, Robert Hindmarsh, C. A. Tulk, Samuel Noble, J. J. G. Wilkinson, and Jonathan Bayley; in France, E. Richer and J. F. Les Boys-des-Guays; and in the United States, George Bush, Theophilus Parsons, E. H. Sears, Henry James, B. F. Barrett, W. B. Hayden, and Chauncey Giles. For an account of the ecclesiastical organization based upon Swedenborg's doctrines.
1. The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto Him, to show unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass; and He signified, sending by His angel to His servant John, 2. Who testified the Word of God, and the testimony of Jesus Christ, whatsoever he saw. 3. Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear, the words of the prophecy, and keep the things written therein: for the time is near. 4. John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from Him who is, and who was, and who is to come; and from the seven spirits who are before His throne; 5. And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the first-born from the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. To Him that loveth us, and washeth us from our sins in His blood: 6. And He maketh us kings and priests unto God and His Father: to Him be glory and might for ever and ever. 7. Behold He cometh with the clouds, and every eye shall see Him, and they who pierced Him: and all the tribes of the earth shall wail because of Him. Even so; Amen. 8. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, saith the Lord, who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty. 9. I, John, who also am your brother, and companion in affliction, and in the kingdom and patient expectation of Jesus Christ, was in the island called Patmos, for the Word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. 10. I became in the spirit on the Lord's day; and I heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, 11. Saying, I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last: and, what thou seest, write in a book, and send to the churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and Smyrna, and Pergamos, and Thyatira, and Sardis, and Philadelphia, and Laodicea. 12. And I turned to see the voice that spoke with me: and, having turned, I saw seven golden lampstands; 13. And 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. 14. And His head and His hairs were white as white wool, like snow; and His eyes as a flame of fire; 15. And His feet like unto fine brass, as if glowing in a furnace; and His voice as the voice of many waters; 16. And having in His right hand seven stars; and out of His mouth a sharp two-edged sword going forth; and His face was as the sun shineth in His power. 17. And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. And He laid His right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the First and the Last; 18. And am He that liveth, and was dead; and behold I am alive for ages of ages. Amen; and I have the keys of hell and of death. 19. Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter. 20. The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches; and the seven lampstands, which thou sawest, are the seven churches. THE SPIRITUAL SENSE The contents of the whole chapter That this Revelation is from the Lord alone, and that it is received by those who will be in His New Church, which is the New Jerusalem, and acknowledge the Lord as the God of heaven and earth; the Lord is also described as to the Word. The contents of each verse Verse 1. "The Revelation of Jesus Christ" signifies predictions from the Lord concerning Himself and His Church, what the latter will be in its end, and what it will be afterwards (n. 2). "Which God gave unto Him to show unto His servants," signifies for those who are in faith from charity (n. 3). "Things which must shortly come to pass," signifies that they will certainly be, lest the Church perish (n. 4). "And He signified, sending by His angel, to His servant John," signifies the things which are revealed by the Lord through heaven to those who are in the good of life from charity and its faith (n. 5). Verse 2. "Who testified the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ," signifies, who from the heart and thus in the light receive Divine truth from the Word, and acknowledge the Lord's Human to be Divine (n. 6). "Whatsoever he saw," signifies their enlightenment in all the things which are in this Revelation (n. 7). Verse 3. "Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of the prophecy, and keep the things written therein," signifies the communion of those with the angels of heaven, who live according to the Doctrine of the New Jerusalem (n. 8). " For the time is near," signifies that the state of the Church is such that it can no longer continue so as to have conjunction with the Lord (n. 9). Verse 4. "John to the seven churches," signifies to all who are in the Christian world, where the Word is, and by it the Lord is known, and who draw near to the Church (n. 10). "Which are in Asia," signifies to those who are in the light of truth from the Word (n. 11). "Grace be unto you, and peace," signifies the Divine salutation (n. 12). "From Him who is, and who was, and who is to come," signifies from the Lord, who is eternal and infinite, and Jehovah (n. 13). "And from the seven spirits who are before His throne," signifies from the whole heaven, where the Lord is in His Divine truth (n. 14). Verse 5. "From Jesus Christ," signifies the Divine Human (n. 15). "The faithful witness," signifies that He is the Divine truth itself (n. 16). "The first-born from the dead," signifies that He is also the Divine good itself (n. 17). "And the Prince of the earth," signifies from whom is all truth from good in the church (n. 18). "That loveth us, and washeth us from our sins," signifies who from love and mercy reforms and regenerates men by His Divine truths from the Word (n. 19). Verse 6. "And He maketh us kings and priests," signifies who gives to those who are born of Him, that is, regenerated, to be in wisdom from Divine truths and in love from Divine goods (n. 20). "Unto God and His Father," signifies and thus images of His Divine wisdom and His Divine love (n. 21). "To Him be glory and might into the ages of ages," signifies who alone has Divine majesty and Divine omnipotence to eternity (n. 22). "Amen," signifies the Divine confirmation from truth, thus from Himself (n. 23). Verse 7. "And He cometh with the clouds of heaven," signifies that the Lord will reveal Himself in the literal sense of the Word, and will open its spiritual sense, at the end of the church (n. 24). "And every eye shall see Him," signifies that all will acknowledge Him, who, from affection, are in the understanding of Divine truth (n. 25). "And they who pierced Him," signifies that they also will see, who are in falsities in the church (n. 26). "And all the tribes of the earth shall wail," signifies that this will be when there are no longer any goods and truths in the church (n. 27). "Even so, Amen," signifies the Divine confirmation that thus it will be (n. 28). Verse 8. "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End," signifies Who is the Self-existing and the Only from firsts to ultimates, from Whom all things are; thus who is Love Itself and the Only Love, Wisdom Itself and the Only Wisdom, and Life Itself and the Only Life in Himself, and thus the Creator Himself and the only Creator, Saviour, and Enlightener from Himself, and thence the All in all of heaven and the church (n. 29). "Saith the Lord, who is, and who was, and who is to come," signifies who is eternal and infinite, and Jehovah (n. 30). "The Almighty," signifies who is, lives, and has power, from Himself, and who governs all things from firsts by ultimates (n. 31). Verse 9. "I, John, who am your brother and companion," signifies those who are in the good of charity and thence in the truths of faith (n. 32). "In affliction, and in the kingdom, and the patient expectation of Jesus Christ," signifies who in the church are infested by evils and falsities, but these are to be removed by the Lord, when He comes (n. 33). "I was in the island called Patmos," signifies a state and place in which he could be enlightened (n. 34). "For the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ," signifies in order that the Divine truth from the Word may be received from the heart and thus in the light, and that the Lord's Human may be acknowledged to be Divine (n. 35). Verse 10. "I became in the Spirit on the Lord's day," signifies a spiritual state at that time from Divine influx (n. 36). "And I heard behind me a great voice as of a trumpet," signifies the manifest perception of Divine truth revealed from heaven (n. 37). Verse 11. "Saying, I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last," signifies who is the Self-existing and the Only from firsts to ultimates, from whom all things are; and more as above (n. 38). signifies that they might be revealed to posterity (n. 39). "And send unto the churches that are in Asia," signifies for those in the Christian world who are in the light of truth from the Word (n. 40). "Unto Ephesus and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia and unto Laodicea," signifies in particular according to the state of each one's reception (n. 41). Verse 12. "And I turned to see the voice which was speaking with me," signifies the inversion of the state of those who are in the good of life as to the perception of truth in the Word, when they turn themselves to the Lord (n. 42). "And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands," signifies the New Church which will be in enlightenment from the Lord out of the Word (n. 43). Verse 13. "And in the midst of the seven lampstands One like unto the Son of Man," signifies the Lord as to the Word, from whom is that church (n. 44). "Clothed with a garment down to the foot," signifies the proceeding Divine, which is the Divine truth (n. 45). "And girded at the paps with a golden girdle," signifies the proceeding and at the same time conjoining Divine, which is the Divine good (n. 46). Verse 14. "And His head and hairs were white as wool, like snow," signifies the Divine love of the Divine wisdom in firsts and in ultimates (n. 47). "And His eyes as a flame of fire," signifies the Divine wisdom of the Divine love (n. 48). Verse 15. "And His feet like unto fine brass, as if glowing in a furnace," signifies the Divine good natural (n. 49). "And His voice as the voice of many waters," signifies the Divine truth natural (n. 50). Verse 16. "And having in His right hand seven stars," signifies all the knowledges of good and truth in the Word from Him (n. 51). "And out of His mouth a sharp two-edged sword going forth," signifies the dispersion of falsities by the Lord through the Word and through doctrine therefrom (n. 52). "And His face was as the sun shining in power," signifies the Divine love and the Divine wisdom, which are Himself, and proceed from Him (n. 53). Verse 17. "And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead," signifies the failing of his own life from such presence of the Lord (n. 54). "And He laid His right hand upon me," signifies life then inspired from Him (n. 55). "Saying unto me, Fear not," signifies resuscitation, and adoration then from the deepest humiliation (n. 56). "I am the First and the Last," signifies that He is Eternal and Infinite, and thus the Only God (n. 57). Verse 18. "And am He that is living," signifies who alone is life, and from whom alone life is (n. 58). "And was dead," signifies that He was neglected in the church, and His Divine Human not acknowledged (n. 59). "And behold, I am alive for ages of ages," signifies that He is life eternal (n. 60). "Amen," signifies the Divine confirmation that it is the truth (n. 61). "And I have the keys of Hell and of death," signifies that He alone can save (n. 62). Verse 19. "Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter," signifies in order that all the things which are now revealed may be for posterity (n. 63). Verse 20. "The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands," signifies arcana in the visions concerning the New Heaven and the New Church (n. 64). "The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches," signifies the New Church in the heavens, which is the New Heaven (n. 65). "And the seven lampstands which thou sawest are the seven churches," signifies the New Church on earth, which is the New Jerusalem descending from the Lord out of the New Heaven. THE EXPLANATION What the spiritual sense is, has been hitherto unknown. That there is such a sense in every particular of the Word, and that without it, the Word in many places cannot be understood, has been shown in the Doctrine of the New Jerusalem concerning the Sacred Scripture (n. 5-26). This sense does not appear in the literal sense, for it is in it as the soul in its body. It is known that there is the spiritual and the natural, and that the spiritual flows into the natural, and presents itself to be seen and felt in the forms which fall under the sight and touch, and that the spiritual, without such forms, is not perceived otherwise than as affection and thought, or as love and wisdom which are of the mind. That affection and thought, or love whose property it is to be affected, and wisdom whose property it is to think, are spiritual, is acknowledged. That these two faculties of the soul present themselves in the body in forms which are called the organs of sense and motion, is known; also, that they make one, and such a one as that when the mind thinks, the mouth in an instant speaks, and when the mind wills, the body in an instant acts; hence it is evident, that there is a perfect union of things spiritual and natural with man. It is similar in each and everything in the world; there is in them the spiritual, which is the inmost of the cause, and there is the natural, which is its effect, and these two make one; and the spiritual does not appear in the natural, because it is in it as the soul in the body, and as the inmost of the cause in the effect, as was said before. It is similar with the Word; that this in its bosom is spiritual, because it is Divine, can be denied by no one; but as the spiritual does not appear in the sense of the letter, which is natural, therefore the spiritual sense has been hitherto unknown; nor could it have been known before genuine truths were revealed by the Lord, for that sense is in these. For this reason Revelation has not been understood before. But lest there should be doubt that such things are within it, the particulars must be explained, and demonstrated by similar passages elsewhere in the Word. The explanation and demonstration now follow.
Verse 1. The revelation of Jesus Christ, signifies predictions from the Lord concerning Himself and His church, what the latter will be in its end, and what it will be afterwards, as well in the heavens as upon earth. By "the revelation of Jesus Christ" are signified all predictions, which because they are from the Lord, are called the Revelation of Jesus Christ; that they relate to the Lord and His church, will appear from the explanations. In Revelation it does not treat of the successive states of the church, still less of the successive states of kingdoms, as some have hitherto believed, but there from beginning to end it treats of the last state of the church in the heavens and on the earth; and then concerning the Last Judgment; and after this of the New Church, which is the New Jerusalem. That this New Church is the end of this work, is evident, wherefore those things which precede refer to the state of the church, as to its quality just before it. But in what series these are treated of, may be seen from the contents of each chapter; and more distinctly from the explanation of each particular verse.
Which God gave unto Him to show unto His servants, signifies for those who are in faith from charity, or in truths of wisdom from the good of love. By "showing" is signified to manifest, and by "servants" are here signified those who are in faith from charity; to them these things are manifested, because they understand and receive them. By servants, in the spiritual sense, are meant those who are in truths; and because truths are from good, by servants are meant those who are in truths from good, thus also, those who are in wisdom from love, because wisdom is of truth, and love is of good; also those who are in faith derived from charity, because faith also is of truth and charity is of good; and as the genuine spiritual sense is abstracted from person, therefore in it by servants are signified truths. Now as truths are serviceable to good by teaching it, therefore, in general, and properly, by "servant" in the Word is meant what is serviceable, or he or that which serves; in this sense not only the prophets are called the servants of God, but also the Lord as to His Human; that the prophets are called the servants of God is evident from the following passages: Jehovah hath sent unto you all His servants the prophets (Jer. 25:4). He revealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets (Amos 3:7). He set before you by the hand of His servants the prophets (Dan. 9:10); And Moses is called "The servant of Jehovah" (Mal. 4:4). The reason is that by a prophet in the spiritual sense is meant the truth of doctrine, as explained below. And because the Lord was the Divine truth itself, which also is the Word, and from this was Himself called the Prophet; and served in the world, and serves all to eternity by teaching, therefore, He also, in many places, is called the servant of Jehovah; as in the following passages: He shall see of the labor of His soul, and shall be satisfied; by His knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many (Isa. 53:11). Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, He shall be extolled and exalted and be lifted up greatly (Isa. 52:13). Behold, my servant, on whom I lean, mine elect, in whom my soul hath good pleasure, I have put my spirit upon Him (Isa. 42:1, 19); this is spoken of the Lord: in like manner David is called a servant, where, by him, the Lord is meant; as in the following passages: And I Jehovah will be their God, and My servant David a prince in the midst of them (Ezek. 34:24). My servant, David, shall be king over them, that there may be one shepherd to them all (Ezek. 37:24). I will protect this city to preserve it, for My sake and My servant David's (Isa. 37:35). So also in Psalm 78:70-72, 89:3-4, 20. That by David in these places is meant the Lord, may be seen in Doctrine of the New Jerusalem concerning the Lord (n. 43-44). The Lord Himself says the same of Himself: Whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister, and whosoever will be first let him be your servant, as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister (Matt. 20:25-28; Mark 10:42-44; Luke 22:27; likewise Luke 12:37). This the Lord says, because by servant and minister is meant one who serves and ministers by teaching, and abstractly from person, the Divine truth, which was himself. Since, therefore, by servant is meant he who teaches Divine truth, it is evident that by servants in this place in Revelation are meant those who are in truths from good, or in faith from charity, because these can teach from the Lord, that is, the Lord can teach and minister through them. In this sense they are called servants in Matthew: In the consummation of the age, who is the faithful and prudent servant, whom his Lord shall set over his household, to give them their food in its season; blessed is that servant whom the Lord when He cometh, shall find so doing (Matt. 24:45-46). And in Luke: Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord when He cometh, shall find watching: verily, I say unto you, that He shall gird Himself, and make them to recline, and shall Himself come near and minister unto them (Luke 12:37). In heaven all are called servants of the Lord who are in his spiritual kingdom; but they who are in his celestial kingdom are called ministers; the reason is, that they who are in his spiritual kingdom, are in wisdom from Divine truth; and they who are in his celestial kingdom are in love from Divine good; and good ministers and truth serves. But in the opposite sense, by servants are meant those who serve the devil; these are in a state of servitude itself; but they who serve the Lord are in a state of liberty; as the Lord also teaches (John 8:32-36).
Things which must shortly come to pass signifies that they will certainly be, lest the church perish. By coming to pass shortly, is not meant that the things which are foretold in Revelation, will happen immediately and speedily, but certainly; and that unless they do happen the church must perish. In the Divine idea, and thence in the spiritual sense, there is no time, but instead of time there is state; and because shortly relates to time, by it is signified certainly, and that it will come to pass before its time, for Revelation was given in the first century, and since that seventeen centuries have now elapsed, from which it is evident, that by shortly is signified that which corresponds to it, and that is, certainly. The like is also involved in these words of the Lord: Except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved; but for the elect's sake, those days shall be shortened (Matt. 24:22); by which also is meant that unless the church should come to an end before its time, it would altogether perish; in that chapter the consummation of the age and the Lord's coming are treated of; and by the consummation of the age is meant the last state of the old church, and by the Lord's coming, the first state of the new church. It was said that in the Divine idea there is not time, but the presence of all things past and future; wherefore it is said in David: A thousand years in Thy sight are as yesterday (Ps. 90:4); I will declare the decree, Jehovah hath said unto Me, Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee (Ps. 2:7). "This day" is the presence of the Lord's advent. Thence also it is, that an entire period is called day in the Word, and its first state the dawning and the morning, and the last evening and night.
And He signified, sending by, His angel to His servant John, signifies the things which are revealed from the Lord through heaven to those who are in the good of life from charity and its faith. By "He signified, sending by His angel," in the spiritual sense, is meant the things which are revealed from heaven, or through heaven by the Lord: for by "angel" in the Word is everywhere meant the angelic heaven, and in the supreme sense the Lord Himself; the reason is, that no angel ever speaks with man separate from heaven; for there is such a conjunction there of each with all, that everyone speaks from the communion, although the angel is not conscious of it. For heaven in the sight of the Lord is as one man, whose soul is the Lord Himself; wherefore the Lord speaks with man through heaven, as man does from his soul through his body with another; and this is done in conjunction with all and each of the things of his mind, in the midst of which are the things which he speaks. But this arcanum cannot be unfolded in a few words. It is partly unfolded in The Angelic Wisdom concerning the Divine Love and the Divine Wisdom. Hence it is evident, that by "an angel" is signified heaven, and in the supreme sense the Lord. The reason why by "angel" the Lord is meant in the supreme sense, is, because heaven is not heaven from the things proper to the angels, but from the Divine of the Lord, from which is derived their love and wisdom, yea, their life. Hence it is that the Lord Himself is called "Angel" in the Word. From these things it is manifest that the angel did not speak from himself with John; but the Lord by means of heaven through him. By these words is meant, that they were revealed to those who are in the good of life from charity and its faith, because these are meant by "John." For by the "twelve disciples" or "apostles" of the Lord, are meant all who are of the church in truths from good; and in the abstract sense, all things of the church; and by "Peter," all who are in faith, and, abstractly, faith itself; by "James," they who are in charity, and, abstractly, charity itself; by "John," they who are in the good of life from charity and its faith, and, abstractly, the good of life itself therefrom. That these things are meant by "John," "James," and "Peter" in the Word of the evangelists, may be seen in the small work on The New Jerusalem and Its Heavenly Doctrine, published at London in the year 1758, (n. 122). Since the good of life from charity and its faith makes the church, therefore through the apostle John were revealed the arcana concerning the state of the church which are contained in his visions. That by all the names of persons and places in the Word are signified things of heaven and the church, is shown in many places in Arcana Coelestia, also published at London. From these things it may appear, that by "He signified, sending by His angel to His servant John," is meant in the spiritual sense, what is revealed by the Lord through heaven to those who are in the good of life from charity and its faith; for charity through faith operates good, and not charity by itself, nor faith by itself.
Verse 2. Who testified the Word of God, and the testimony of Jesus Christ, signifies who, from the heart, and thus in the light, receive the Divine truth from the Word, and acknowledge the Lord's Human to be Divine. It is said of John that "he testified the Word of God," but as by John are meant all who are in the good of life from charity and its faith, as was said above (n. 5), therefore in the spiritual sense all these are meant. The angels, who are in the spiritual sense of the Word, never know any name of a person mentioned in the Word, but only that which the person represents and thence signifies, which, instead of John, is the good of life, or good in act; consequently all in the aggregate who are in that good. These "testify," that is, see, acknowledge, receive from the heart in the light, and confess the truths of the Word, especially that truth therein that the Lord's Human is Divine; which may be evident from the passages quoted from the Word in great abundance in the Doctrine of the New Jerusalem concerning the Lord. By "Jesus Christ" and by "the Lamb" in the Apocalypse is meant the Lord as to the Divine Human, and by "God," the Lord as to His Divine, from which are all things. With regard to the spiritual signification of "testifying," this is predicated of truth, because in the world the truth is to be testified, and when it is testified, it is acknowledged. But in heaven truth testifies of itself because it is itself the light of heaven. For when the angels hear the truth, they immediately know and acknowledge it; and because the Lord is the truth itself, as He Himself teaches in John 14:6, He is in heaven the testimony of Himself. Hence it may appear what is meant by "the testimony of Jesus Christ"; wherefore the Lord says: Ye sent unto John, and he testified unto the truth; but I receive not testimony from man (John 5:33-34). And in another place: John came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light; he was not that Light; the Word which was with God, and was God, and became flesh, was the true Light, which lighteth every man (John 1:1-2, 7-8, 14, 34). And in another place: Jesus said, Though I testify of Myself, yet My testimony is true, for I know whence I came, and whither I go (John 8:14). When the Comforter has come, even the Spirit of truth, He shall testify of Me (John 15:26). By the Comforter, the Spirit of truth, is meant the truth itself proceeding from the Lord, wherefore it is said of it that it will not speak from itself, but from the Lord (John 16:13-15).
Whatsoever he saw, signifies their enlightenment in all things which are in this Revelation. By "whatsoever he saw," in the spiritual sense, are not meant what John saw, for they were only visions, but the things which they see who are meant by John, who are those who are in the good of life from charity and its faith, as was said above. These see in the visions of John, the arcana concerning the state of the church, not so much when they read them, but when they see them revealed. Moreover to see signifies to understand; on this account in common discourse it is said, that one sees a thing, and he sees that it is the truth; for man has sight as to his spirit as well as to his body. But man with his spirit sees spiritual things, because from the light of heaven, but with his body he sees natural things; because this sees from the light of the world, and spiritual things are real, but natural things are their forms. It is the spiritual sight of man which is called the understanding. From these things it is evident what is meant, in the spiritual sense, by "whatsoever things he saw;" in like manner in what follows, where it is said that he saw.
Verse 3. Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of the prophecy, and keep the things which are written therein, signifies the communion of those with the angels of heaven, who live according to the Doctrine of the New Jerusalem. By "blessed," is here meant one who, as to his spirit, is in heaven; thus, one who, while he lives in the world, is in communion with the angels of heaven; for as to his spirit he is in heaven. By "the words of the prophecy" nothing else is meant than the Doctrine of the New Jerusalem, for by "prophet," in the abstract sense, is signified the Doctrine of the church derived from the Word, thus here the Doctrine of the New Church, which is the New Jerusalem; the same is signified by "prophecy." By "reading, hearing, and keeping the things which are written therein," is signified, to desire to know that doctrine; to attend to the things which are in it, and to do the things which are therein; in short, to live according to it. That they are not blessed who only read, hear and keep or retain in the memory the things which were seen by John, is evident (see below, n. 944). The reason why "a prophet" signifies the Doctrine of the church from the Word, and "prophecy" the same, is, because the Word was written through prophets, and in heaven a person is regarded according to that which belongs to his function and office. From this, also, is every man, spirit, and angel, named there. Therefore, when a prophet is mentioned, because his function was to write and teach the Word, the Word is meant as to doctrine, or doctrine from the Word. Hence it is, that the Lord, because He is the Word itself, was called the Prophet (Deut. 18:15-20, Matt. 13:57, chap. 21:11, Luke 13:33). To show that by "prophet" is meant the doctrine of the church from the Word, some passages shall be adduced, from which this may be collected. In Matthew: In the consummation of the age many false prophets shall rise up, and shall seduce many. There shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and, if it were possible, they shall lead into error the elect (Matt. 24:11, 24). "The consummation of the age" is the last time of the church, which is now, when there are not false prophets, but falsities of doctrine. In the same: He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet, shall receive a prophet's reward; and he that receiveth a just man in the name of a just man, shall receive a just man's reward (Matt. 10:41). "To receive a prophet in the name of a prophet," is to receive the truth of doctrine because it is true; and "to receive a just man in the name of a just man," is to receive good for the sake of good; and "to receive a reward," is to be saved according to reception. It is evident that no one receives a reward, or is saved, because he receives a prophet and a just man in the name of such. Those words cannot be understood by anyone, without a knowledge of what "a prophet" and "a just man" signify; nor can those which follow: Whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only, in the name of a disciple, shall not lose his reward (Matt. 10:42). By a "disciple" is meant charity, and at the same time faith from the Lord. In Joel: I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh, so that your sons and your daughters shall prophesy (Joel. 2:28). This is concerning the church which was to be established by the Lord, in which they would not prophesy, but receive doctrine, which is to "prophesy." In Matthew: Jesus said, Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? but then will I confess unto them, I have not known you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity (Matt. 7:22-23). Who does not see, that they will not say that they have prophesied, but that they knew the doctrine of the church, and taught it? In Revelation: The time is come for judging the dead and for giving reward to the prophets (Rev. 11:18); and in another place: Exult, O heaven, and holy apostles and prophets, for God hath judged your judgment (Rev. 18:20). It is evident that a reward would not be given to the prophets alone, and that the apostles and prophets would not alone exult at the Last Judgment, but all who have received the truths of doctrine, and have lived according to them. These, therefore, are meant by "apostles" and "prophets." In Moses: Jehovah said unto Moses, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh, and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet (Exod. 7:1); "a god" here means the Divine truth as to reception from the Lord, in which sense the angels are also called gods, and by "prophet" is meant one who teaches and speaks it, therefore Aaron is there called a prophet. The same is signified by "prophet" in other places, as in the following: The law shall not perish from the priest, nor the Word from the prophet (Jer. 18:18). From the prophets of Jerusalem hath gone forth hypocrisy into all the land (Jer. 23:15-16). The prophets shall become wind, and the Word is not in them (Jer. 5:13). The priests and the prophets err through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they stagger in judgment (Isa. 28:7). The sun setteth over the prophets, and the day groweth dark over them (Micah 3:6). From the prophet even unto the priest, everyone doeth a lie (Jer. 8:10). In these passages, by "prophets" and "priests," in the spiritual sense, are not meant prophets and priests, but the entire church; by "prophets," the church as to the truth of doctrine, and by "priests" the church as to the good of life, both of which were destroyed; these things are so understood by the angels in heaven; while by men in the world they are understood according to the sense of the letter. That the prophets represented the state of the church as to doctrine, and that the Lord represented it as to the Word itself, may be seen in The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem concerning the Lord (n. 15-17).
For the time is near, signifies that the state of the church is such, that it cannot endure any longer as to its conjunction with the Lord. There are two essentials by which conjunction with the Lord, and thence salvation is effected, the acknowledgment of one God, and repentance of life; but at this day, instead of the acknowledgment of one God, there is an acknowledgment of three, and instead of repentance of life, there is repentance of the mouth only that one is a sinner; and by these two there is not any conjunction; therefore unless the New Church should arise, which acknowledges these two essentials, and lives accordingly, no one can be saved; on account of this danger the time is shortened by the Lord, according to His words in Matthew: For then shall be great affliction, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, nor shall be; yea, except those days should be shortened, no flesh should be saved (Matt. 24:21-22). That near or nearness of time is not meant, may be seen below (n. 947).
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