31 Revelation XXI


Edward Madeley



By B. F. Barrett.

“A New Heaven and a New Earth”

IN the first verse of this chapter, the seer tells us that he saw ” a new heaven and a new earth” the former heaven and earth having passed away. This was seen in a realm within or above nature, and with the seer s spiritual eyes, which were then opened, thus enabling him to behold things in the upper realms; for this vision, he tells us, was vouchsafed him when he “was in the spirit.” The natural heaven and earth, as embracing all material things, denote (because they correspond to) all the spiritual things of God’s kingdom in both worlds. The vision of ” a new heaven and a new earth,” therefore, was a prophetic intimation (under the law of correspondence) of a new order of things to be some day established in both worlds, the spiritual and the natural ; or a new angelic Heaven in the superior and a new Christian Church in the inferior realm. And straightway an angel came to John and talked with him, saying, ” Come hither ; I will show thee the Bride, the Lamb s wife.” Thereupon the angel, he says, ” carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God.”

Observe the correspondences here. Natural elevation corresponds to spiritual elevation, or exaltation of state. The seer was lifted by Divine influence into a superior spiritual condition, which is what his being carried in spirit to the summit of a high mountain corresponds to ; and in that exalted state there is revealed to him, pictorially ( under the same great law correspondence), the Church of the Future its principles, its spirit, its doctrines and its life. These were to be altogether new. As He that sat upon the throne said : ” Behold I make all things new.” This Church in respect to its doctrine was seen as a city ; for a city corresponds to a church as to doctrine.

“The Holy City, New Jerusalem”

Jerusalem was regarded by devout Jews as the city of the living God. They thought of it and called it the Holy City. It was identified in their minds with all that they held most sacred with their religion, their worship, their church. Their temple and altar were there. Those who dwelt outside of it went there with their tithes and offerings several times a year. There they held their great national festivals ; and, with music, song and dance, gave expression to their intensest national as well as their deepest religious feelings. It was to them the place of worship. They never imagined that God could be truly worshipped anywhere else. Therefore they called it ” the city of God ” ” the holiest dwelling-place of the Most High.” In their minds it was associated with all that belonged to religion and worship, just as Rome (though far more intimately) is at this day associated in the minds of pious Catholics with their religion, or as Babylon is associated in the minds of Protestant Christians with Roman Catholicism.

If the Church of the Future, then, in respect to its doctrine and worship, were to have been pictorially represented as a city eighteen hundred years ago, what city but Jerusalem should we expect would have been chosen ? But it was not the Old Jerusalem that John saw ; for it was not the old but a new system of religious doctrine which was thereby represented. Therefore the city that he beheld was called the New Jerusalem. And because the doctrines of the church thereby typified, were to be no cunning device of man s wit or wisdom, but doctrines revealed from heaven by the Lord himself; because they were to be doctrines disclosed or brought down to man s understanding from out that high and heavenly meaning of the Scripture which the angels perceive, therefore the New Jerusalem was seen “coming down from God out of heaven.”

The New Jerusalem, then, is the type of a new spiritual city the -city of the living God to be established and built up in human hearts and human society, but of materials which come down from God out of heaven. In other words, the type of a new and glorious Church on earth, and one that will be in sweet accord with the heaven of angels ; of a church based not on the vain imaginings of men, but on the precious and enduring truths of God s Word; of a church inspired by the purity, reflecting the glory, filled with the light and liberty and love of God. This is what was symbolized and foreshadowed by the city that John beheld in vision. Or as Swedenborg says,” a NEW CHURCH to be established by the Lord at the end of the former church, which will be associated with the new heaven in divine truths as to doctrine and as to life.”

For, consider what is predicated of this city what it is called and how it is described. It is called

“The Bride, the Lamb’s Wife.”

And it is so called because of the correspondence and spiritual meaning of marriage. What are the constituents of every regenerate soul, or of every true church whether in the larger or smaller form ? Obviously, the truths of wisdom and the goods of love : heavenly laws in the head, and heavenly feelings in the heart. These are the essential things of every true church, as of every true man. And these come down from God out of heaven ; nor can they come from elsewhere. What is said, therefore, of this city s descent from God, accords with the idea that a new Church on earth is what was symbolized by it. But the angel called that city “the Bride, the Lamb s wife.” Natural marriage corresponds to spiritual marriage. And spiritual marriage is the union of true and faithful souls with the Lord. Such souls, loving Him supremely, and seeking above all else to know and do his will, hold a relation to Him which corresponds to the relation of a faithful wife to her husband. They are internally and spiritually married to Him. Therefore, in the symbolic language of Scripture, such souls (in the aggregate) are called his bride or wife : and He is called their husband. (Isa. liv. 5 ; Ixii. 5 ; Jer. xxxi. 32.) Accordingly, in view of that purified state of the church in the then distant future, or of that multitude of souls which would be prepared to receive love and wisdom from the Lord, and thereby to become truly wedded to Him, John says he ” heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia : for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to Him ; for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.

And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white ; for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.” (Rev. xix. 6-8.) If the righteousness of saints is the fine linen in which the Lamb s wife is arrayed, then the saints themselves, or the Lord’s true church must be that wife.

The circumstance, therefore, of the angel s calling the New Jerusalem ” the Bride, the Lamb s wife,” is conclusive of the fact that it typified and foreshadowed a new state of the church on earth ; a state when human hearts would enter into a more intimate and blissful marriage union with the Lord.

“Having the Glory of God.”

This also is predicated of the New Jerusalem. And the ” glory of God ” must be a spiritual or divine glory. And what can that be ? What is a man s true glory ? Not his physical strength nor personal comeliness ; not his worldly possessions however great ; not his social or official position however exalted ; not his stores of knowledge however vast, for these may be unwisely and selfishly used. But a capacious and richly-stored mind, and a heart emptied of selfishness and filled with the love of serving and blessing others this is a man s true glory. In a word, it is unselfish love guided in its activities by the highest wisdom. And if this be the true glory of a man, then must wisdom and love constitute the chief glory of God. The wisdom of his Word is but an emanation from his love, and given for the enlightenment, exaltation and blessedness of mankind.

Human souls, then or a church illumined by the wisdom and in spired by the love which is the very essence of heaven, and with which the spiritual sense of the Word is all aglow may be truly said to have ” the glory of God.”

” By these words,” says Swedenborg,” is described the understanding of the Word with those who are in the doctrine of the New Jerusalem, and in a life according to it [i. e., a life of unselfish love]. With such the Word shines, as it were, when it is read ; it shines from the Lord by means of the spiritual sense, because the Lord is the Word, and the spiritual sense is in the light of heaven which proceeds from Him as a sun.” ” By the glory of God is meant the Word in its divine light.” (A. R. n. 897.) Accordingly it is added, that the light of this city “was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone clear as crystal.” jasper stone corresponds to and therefore signifies ” the divine truth of the Word in its literal sense translucent from the divine truth in the spiritual sense.

” Measured with “a Golden Reed.”

The angel who showed John the New Jerusalem, ” had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof and the wall thereof.” If a new Church is typified by this city, a golden reed must typify something whereby this Church may be measured. And what is that ? How do we measure human beings ? Not with any material standard of measurement for the real man is not material. We measure men by taking the dimensions of their souls, not of their bodies. They are great in the heavenly sense, according as they are wise and good, or according to the strength and purity of their love. Love, then, love akin to God s own is the standard of measure ment to be applied when human souls are to be measured. And this love is what gold corresponds to. A golden reed, therefore, typifies the ability derived from the good of heavenly love, to measure the character of an individual, a community or church. What truer standard than this can be conceived of, whereby to measure beings created to be images and likenesses of Him who is Love itself. Or by wrhat other standard of measurement shall we judge the doctrines of any church ? For a doctrine is true or false, according to its degree of conformity with this standard ; that is, according as its tendency is to develop and strengthen this love, or to hinder its development. This, then, is the true test to be applied to every church, and to all its doctrines and inculcations. And this agrees with what we find in a subsequent verse, where mention is made of the wall of this city. The wall encompasses the city ; and its extent, therefore, shows its size. And the wall of the New Jerusalem is said to be ” according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel.” Unselfish love is the distinguishing character istic of every inhabitant of the celestial realms. The angels are all of them forms of love. Love of the Lord and the neighbor is their ruling principle. And as every true and regenerate man is an angel, viewed as to his immortal part, therefore the measure of a true man is the measure of an angel. And as the church consists of regenerate men, its measure also must be that of the angel.

“The City was Pure Gold.”

It is further said that ” the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass.” Gold, being the most precious of minerals, ought to typify something very precious in the soul of man. It ought to represent the noblest element of humanity the essential constituent of heaven and the church. And what is that ? Not faith, as the old theologies have taught, but love. Love is the crowning attribute of Deity. “God is love.” And the more unselfish men become the more thoroughly imbued and dominated by love of the neighbor, and of all that is just, sincere, true and good for its own sake, the more they become like God. Accordingly the apostle again says : ” And he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God and God in him.” Now since pure gold corresponds to the good of unselfish love, and this love is the essential thing in the church typified by the New Jerusalem, as it is, indeed, the essential thing in the kingdom of heaven as this is the very substance and marrow of all its teachings and the end to which all its doctrines point, therefore this city was shown to John as of ” pure gold.”

“All the particulars of the doctrine of the New Jerusalem,” says Swedenborg, ” relate to love to the Lord and the neighbor. Love to the Lord consists in trusting in Him and doing his commandments ; and to do his commandments constitutes love toward the neighbor, because to do his commandments is to be useful to our neighbor.” (A. R. n. 903.)

As genuine love, or the disinterested love of use, is what pure gold corresponds to, so clear glass is the correspondent and symbol of the transparent truth of the spiritual sense of the Word. And because love to the Lord and the neighbor love enlightened and guided by heavenly truth, is to form the animating principle, yea, the very life and soul of the church signified by the New Jerusalem because this is to pervade all its doctrines, inspire all its activities, shape all its ends, determine all its doings therefore the city is described as ” pure gold like unto clear glass.”

“The City lieth Four Square”

It is further said that ” the city lieth four square ; and its length is as large as its breadth. And he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs.”

The form and dimensions of this city are symbolic, like everything else predicated of it. The quadrangle or square is the type or correspondent of strict and impartial justice, which is another distinguish ing characteristic of this church justice toward all men and in all the relations of life. And to represent its catholicity and universality, the city is further described as cubical ; for ” the length and the breadth and the height of it are equal ” a type of the fact, that this church will embrace all kinds and degrees of good and truth, from the lowest natural or scientific to the highest spiritual and celestial. It will recognize the connection and oneness, yea, the divineness, of all kinds of truth, and show science to be, not the adversary but the sincere friend and faithful handmaid of religion; and that God’s Word and works are never in conflict, but in complete and cordial agreement.

Its Foundations, Walls and Gates.

The foundations and walls of the city are described as of “precious stones.” Stones are the symbols or correspondents of those low but unyielding forms of truth which belong to the literal sense of the Word. On these the church rests as a city on its foundations : for all the doctrines of the New Jerusalem are drawn from and confirmed by the truths of the literal sense. These, too, are its protection its walls as well as its foundations.

” Since the holy city, New Jerusalem,” says Swedenborg, ” means the Lord’s New Church as to doctrine, its wall means nothing else but the Word in its literal sense, from which doctrine is derived ; for that sense defends the spiritual which lies concealed within it, as a wall defends a city and its inhabitants ; and the literal sense is the foundation, containant and support of the spiritual sense.” (A. R.n. 898.)

The stones with which the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished, are said to be all precious, because the truths of the Word which they typify are full of the Lord’s own spirit and life ; and this is what makes them precious. And the twelve gates of the city are the symbols or correspondents of all the knowledges of good and truth by which we are introduced into the church, or into a true church state as people may be introduced into a natural city through gates. And it is said that ” every particular gate was of one pearl,” because there is one precious kind of knowledge which, in spiritual things, pervades all others and conjoins them into one ; and that is the knowledge and acknowledgment of the Lord.

” That the Lord is the very gate through which men are to enter into the church- and thence into heaven, He himself teaches in John x. 9 ; and that the knowledge and acknowledgment of Him is the pearl of great price, is meant by his own words in Matthew : The kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchantman seeking goodly pearls ; who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it. xii. 45, 46. The one pearl of great price is the knowledge and acknowledgment of the Lord.” (A. R. 916.)

” The Temple of It.”

In the 22d verse, the seer says : ” And I saw no temple therein ; for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it,”- a declaration conclusive of the fact, that no natural but a spiritual city is here referred to, a vast multitude of enlightened and sincere worshipers of the Lord Jesus Christ ; for it is only of such kind of city that He is the temple.

A temple, being a place for external and formal worship, corresponds to a state of internal and real worship. This, therefore, is what it typifies and denotes. And in every state of true worship, the Lord himself is the All-in-all ; for all the thoughts, desires and feelings whereby He is truly worshiped, are from Him. Therefore a temple or place of worship becomes the representative of the Lord himself. He is the Living Temple. And men, too, become living temples so far as their hearts come to be the abode of his blessed Spirit. Hence the apostle says to the Corinthian brethren : ” Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (See also 1 Cor. iii. 16.) Now the Lord Jesus Christ, in whom ” dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily,” is the supreme and only Object of worship in the church signified by the New Jerusalem. He and He alone, therefore, is the true and living Temple in this church. “A temple signifies the church as to worship ; and in its highest sense, it signifies the Lord himself as to his Divine Humanity, who is the Object to be worshiped. And since all of the church is from the Lord, therefore it is said, for its temple is the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb/ by which is meant the Lord in his Divine Humanity.” (A. R. 918.)

” The Lamb is the Light thereof”

Look, again, at the manner in which this city is lighted. Not by any artificial means, nor by the luminaries of the natural world. ” The city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon to shine in it ; for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.” There is but One who can say, ” I am the light of the world.” He is the same who declares Himself to be ” THE TRUTH.” He is ” the Word,” which, though coeval and identical with God, ” became flesh and dwelt among men.” The Lord Jesus Christ is ” the true light which enlighteneth every man that cometh into the world.”

And what is the glory of God but the refulgence of the Divine Love the light of spiritual truth which radiates from the ever-living Word, whose glory is especially revealed in its internal sense ? This is the light of the spiritual world the light by which angels see. It is this which illumines all minds on earth and in heaven. Truth emanating from Love and accommodated to human needs; truth from the Word made flesh, penetrating the dark corners of the earth and enlightening the nations ; truth chasing away the shadows of ignorance and superstition and doubt and fear, showing mankind the heavenly paths, and guiding them upward to the celestial summits this is ” the glory of God.” And this it is which is to lighten the church signified by the New Jerusalem. ” For the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.” And because spiritual salvation comes from walking in the light of spiritual truth, that is, from living as the truth requires, therefore it is immediately added :” And the nations of them that are saved shall walk in the light of it.”

With this agrees the prediction of the prophet Isaiah concerning the future state of the church : “And they shall call thee the city of the Lord, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel. . . The Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory. Thy sun shall no more go down, neither shall thy moon withdraw itself; for the Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended.” (Isa. lx. 14, 19, 20.)

“There shall be no Night there.”

It is further said of the New Jerusalem : ” And there shall be no night there ; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun, for the Lord God giveth them light.” Let the Key again be applied here, and note the meaning thereby elicited.

There are natural day and night, and spiritual day and night ; day and night in the natural realm, and day and night in the soul ; and they correspond one to the other. When the face of the earth is turned toward the sun, it is day-time in the world; and when man s heart or will (his spiritual face) is turned toward the Lord, it is day-time in the soul. But when the earth is turned away from the sun, it is night in the world ; and when the heart is turned away from the Lord, it is night in the soul. The correspondence is exact and perfect.

Truth and love are the spiritual correspondents of light and warmth. And these emanate from the Lord as natural light and heat from the natural sun; for He, indeed, is the Sun of the spiritual world. When these are ahsent from men s souls, or when the church on earth, under the blinding influence of the loves of self and the world, invents and confirms itself in various falsities which shut out the sunshine of heaven and obscure the glory of the Lord, then it is night with the church. It is precisely such a night as this a state of spiritual darkness that the prophet Micah refers to, where, speaking of the teachers who cause God s people to err, he says : ” Therefore night shall be unto you, and ye shall not have a vision ; and it shall be dark unto you, that ye shall not divine ; and the sun shall go down over the prophets, and the day shall be dark over them.” (iii. 6.)

It is to such a night such spiritual darkness induced by false persuasions originating in evil loves that the Lord refers when He speaks of that ” outer darkness ” into which the wicked are cast : Also when He says :” If, therefore, the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness !” But in the minds of those who acknowledge the Lord and humbly seek to do his will, there is no such darkness ; ” no night there.” Therefore it is said there shall be no night in the New Jerusalem. There cannot be, since its light is the same as that by which the angels see the light of the spiritual sense of the Word a light ” like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone clear as crystal.” They who are in this light have no need of human creeds ; no need of dogmas or ” plans ” or ” schemes ” of men’s contriving ; no need of the dim, sickly, flickering light of self-derived intelligence, which is what a candle corresponds to. Nor do they need the more glaring but not less false and seductive light which springs from the selfish love of glory, and is what is here meant by the ” light of the sun.”

The sun in a good sense corresponds to the Lord ; and its light corresponds to the truth which proceeds from Him. But this is sometimes used in Scripture in an opposite sense, and denotes the love of self, the nature of which is the opposite of the Lord s love. When used in this sense, the sun s light signifies the glory of the love of self; for this is what its light then corresponds to. Animated by the fire of self-love, men may sometimes ascend temporarily into the light of exalted wisdom. They may see many truths, and teach them from a selfish love of glory. The light into which such persons elevate themselves, is not the genuine light of the Sun of heaven, but the false and seductive light which originates in pride or the selfish love of fame.

But the dwellers in the New Jerusalem are in the love of use, not the love of self. They take delight in the performance of good uses from love to the Lord and the neighbor. And their love of use becoming strengthened by exercise, opens their minds more and more to the understanding and reception of spiritual truth the light by which the angels see. It is plain, therefore, why it is said, ” there shall be no night there.” And because they do not regard their wisdom as their own or self-derived, and are not ambitious of the glory of discovering truth, but humbly look to the Lord in the revelations He has been pleased to make, and reverently acknowledge Him in the truth they understand and in the love they feel, therefore it is added: “and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light.”

Sovereignty of its Citizens.

It is further said of the dwellers in this city, that ” they shall reign forever and ever.” To reign is predicated of those who exercise sovereign authority. But there is a natural and a spiritual sovereignty, corresponding like body and soul. In the New Jerusalem all are to be crowned kings and queens ; all are to sit upon thrones ; for all are to reign spiritually. But to reign in this sense is not to exercise sovereignty over any outward kingdom, but over that empire within which is each one s own by divine right the empire of the soul. Rightly to rule here wisely to regulate and control all the passions, appetites, thoughts and feelings, and to thoroughly subject the inclinations of the natural man to the laws of the heavenly life this is to reign in the highest and best sense. This is to be spiritually crowned, and to reign with Him who is ” King of kings and Lord of lords.” And in the sight of angels this is far nobler than te sit upon any terrestrial throne.

Those who thus reign over the empire within, will never desire to lord it over others, but only to do good and serve from neighborly love. They will seek to govern their feelings and conduct according to the laws of heavenly charity. This is what the angels do. Therefore they are said to sit upon thrones and to reign. And because the members of the church signified by the New Jerusalem will all be internally associated with the angels and forever conjoined to the Lord, therefore it is said that ” they shall reign forever and ever.

Qualifications for Citizenship.

What, now, are the qualifications for admission into this city? Precisely those which fit one for membership in the kingdom of heaven ; and which, therefore, constitute him a member of that true church on earth, which is one with the church in heaven. And it is only the faithful doers of the truth, who have their hearts cleansed of selfishness and sin, and are thus fitted for admission into heaven.

As the Lord himself has declared : ” Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” And as none can enter heaven without keeping the Commandments, or without shunning all known evil as sin, neither can they enter the true and living church on earth in any other way. Accordingly the terms of admission into the New Jerusalem are thus clearly stated : ” Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” And again : ” There shall in nowise enter into it anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination or maketh a lie ; but they that are written in the Lamb s book of life.”

Yes : none but the faithful doers of the truth can really enter or have an abiding place in the New Jerusalem ; for none others come into that state of union with the Lord and fellowship with the angels, which is the true church state. But all who acknowledge the Lord and humbly strive to obey his precepts, by whatever names they are known on earth, are known and acknowledged in the realms above as belonging to the true and living church. They have “entered in through the gates into the city,” Such, briefly, is the meaning of the New Jerusalem, and of the principal symbols employed in its description, as unfolded by the rule or law of correspondence. As to its reasonableness and consistency, as well as its agreement with other parts of Scripture and the indications of God s purposes in the past history and present condition of the church, the reader will form his own conclusion. But he should not forget or overlook the general state of Apocalyptic interpretation, and the darkness, confusion and contradiction which have hitherto prevailed among learned commentators, with regard to the meaning and purpose of this book. If he wishes to pursue the inquiry, and to learn the signification of the numerous other symbols mentioned in the Revelation, and the true meaning of this wonderful book, we refer him to Swedenborg s extended explanation of it in his “Apocalypse Revealed.”