<< MATTHEW XXIV: Spiritual Meaning >>
1 And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple.
Whole Chapter Cited. The last judgment is nothing else than the end of the church with one nation, and its begin-ing with another, which end and beginning occur when there is no longer any acknowledgment of the Lord, or what is the same, when there is no faith. That at such time there is an end of the church, and a transference of it to others, is plainly manifest from all those things which the Lord Himself taught and foretold in the Evangelists concerning that last day, or the consummation of the age. A. 3353.
This last time of a former church, and first of a new church is what is also called the consummation of the age, of which the Lord spoke, and also His coming, for the Lord then leaves the former church and comes to the new. A. 4535
The gradual devastation of the Christian church until its end is described by the Lord in Matthew xxiv. P. 328.
Now for the sake of the New Church all the things which are in the Apocalypse have been uncovered in the “Apocalypse Revealed,” published at Amsterdam in the year 1766, and those will see them who believe in the Word of the Lord in Matthew xxiv. concerning the state of the church at the present time, and concerning His coming. T. 116.
Expiation, propitiation, intercession, and mediation are forms of speech according to appearance, by which are meant the ways and means of access to God, and of receiving grace from God through His Human, which not being understood, men have divided God into three, and upon these three have founded all the doctrine of the church, and so have falsified the Word, hence the abomination of desolation foretold by the Lord in Daniel, and again in Matthew xxiv. T. 135.
In Matthew xxiv., Mark xiii., and Luke xxi. are described the successive states of the decline and corruption of the Christian church, and by the great affliction, such as had not been seen since the beginning of the world,, neither should be, is there meant the infestation of truth by falsities until there remains no truth which is not falsified and consummated. This also is there meant by the abomination of desolation. T. 180.
That the consummation of the age signifies the last time of the church was shown in the preceding article. T. 757.
The successive states of the church were predicted by the Lord Himself in Matthew, yet the descriptions there given are written in the Dwine prophetic style, which is by correspondences, and hence they are such as can only be revealed and laid open by the internal or spiritual sense. E. 5.
It is supposed that these things are said concerning the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, but from the particulars of the chapter it is evident that it treats of the destruction of the church in its end. E. 573.
That the spirits might be.still further convinced, the angels quoted what the Lord said to His disciples in Matthew about the consummation of the age and His coming, which could be understood by no one without the spiritual sense. D. V. 5.
Of Christ. Can. Note, page 41.
Of Miracles that they destroy the church, various, and from the Word of God Matthew xxiv. Inv. 29.
These things which are afterwards mentioned are not miracles, but are testimonies that I have been introduced by the Lord into the spiritual world — for miracles are not done to-day . . . the. reasons from the Word of God stated in Matthew xxiv. Inv. 29.
The 24th Chapter of Matthew treats of the successive declensions and perversions of the Christian church, even to its consummation and end. B. 92.
1, 2. By the temple is here signified the church of this day, and by its destruction till there should not be one stone upon another, is signified the end of that church, that there should not be any truth then remaining. For when the disciples spoke with the Lord concerning the temple, the Lord foretold the successive states of that church, even to its end, or the consummation of the age, and by the consummation of the age is meant its last time, which is at this day. This is represented by that temple being destroyed to its foundation. R. 191.
That there should not be left of the temple one stone upon another which should not be thrown down, signifies the total destruction and vastation of the church, for stone signifies the truth of the church, and hence it follows that the successive vastation of the church is treated of. E.220.
By these words is understood that all Divine truth, consequently everything of the church would perish, for the end of the church is there treated of, which is called the consummation of the age. E. 630.
1-3. That by the temple in a restricted sense is to be understood the temple in Jerusalem, in a wide sense the church of the Lord, in a wider sense the angelic heaven and in a still wider sense the Lord as to His Human, may be seen in R. 529. B. 71.
1-51. Of the advent of the Lord and the consummation of the age. D. P., Page 8.
1. After the Lord had delivered his discourse to the scribes and Pharisees, in which he described, under their awfully corrupt and hypocritical character, that of the church of which they were the representatives, he went out, and departed from the temple. This was the Lord’s last visit to the temple, and his final departure from it. How solemn and significant, under such circumstances, are the words, he “went out, and departed from the temple!” – a sign to the Jews that their house was left unto them desolate. He was the glory of their house, and his departure from the temple, after this his last visit to it, made it truly like Israel when the ark of God was taken – “Ichabod, the glory is departed.” But this symbolical act, as well as the prophetic discourse that followed it, is not to be understood in reference to the Jewish church only, but is descriptive of the state of the Christian church – of that dispensation of the church, at least, which had its commencement at the time of our Lord’s first advent. For the church itself, as consisting of the essential principles of religion, never dies, though dispensations come and disappear. The Christian church will continue for ever; but the dispensation which was formed after the Jewish had passed away was destined to come to an end, to be succeeded by another; that is, the Lord’s first coming in the flesh, was to be succeeded by his second coming, in the spirit. It is reasonable, indeed, to suppose that the Christian church should consist of more than one dispensation. We are to date the upward progress of the church, and of the human race, from the time of the Lord’s birth into the world. From the fall to the Incarnation, the church and the world had progressively descended, till they had become so utterly corrupt that the remedy could be no longer delayed. Yet we know that the church did not decline by imperceptible, but by distinctly-marked degrees: it consisted not of one dispensation, but of several. There was the first dispensation, commencing with, or called Adam; there was a second, commencing with, or named Noah; and there was a third, commencing with Israel. This last was, however, rather the representative of a church than a real church: it was the shadow of what was to come. Excluding this, the Israelitish, there were two other dispensations possessing the real characters of a church. If, then, the church descended by two distinct dispensations, it is reasonable to suppose that it should also ascend by two. And such may be seen to be the case. The New Testament, while it records the Lord’s first coming, gives the promise of a second. As the progress of the church and of humanity must be, in a certain sense, a return towards the state of innocence and wisdom from which they departed, we find this shadowed forth in the Scriptures themselves. Revelation ends, as it begins, with the description of an exalted state of the church and of man and, by the same figures, at the end of the Apocalypse, there is the creation of a new heaven and a new earth. On this new earth there is a paradise, with the river of the water of life flowing through it, and the tree of life growing in it. Yet there is a difference between this and the first paradise, such as is entirely consistent with the altered state and condition of man. The second Eden unites a garden and a city, for man has added science to wisdom; and the tree of life not only bears fruit that is good for food, but produces leaves that are good for medicine, for man now requires not only to be fed but restored. The Lord’s second coming is commonly connected with the end of the world; but this arises from misapprehending the meaning of the Scriptures, the end of the church being meant by the end which they predict. The knowledge of this was, no doubt, providentially hid from the members of the first dispensation of the Christian church, and is only now revealed because the event itself has revealed it. It is in reference to these dispensations of the Christian church that we are to understand this remarkable prophesy. It treats of the decline and end of one, and the beginning and progress of the other. It is fraught with matter of the deepest interest and of the greatest importance. To read it aright will enable us to see some of the deepest mysteries of the kingdom, in the providential operations of the Lord, in relation to his church on earth, as an instrument of his saving mercy. When Jesus had departed from the temple, his disciples came to him for to show him the buildings of the temple. The Lord knew more of the temple than the disciples could show him, but this took place and is recorded for the purpose of teaching us that the Lord explores the church by means of the truths of his Word. Exploration always precedes judgment. And when the Lord leaves a church, which is a consequence of the church having so profaned the sanctuary that he can no longer dwell therein, he only returns to it as a Judge; for when the church completely rejects the Lord’s truth, or places itself in opposition to it, the truth cannot act otherwise towards it than as a judge. Although the grand object of the Lord’s coming was for salvation, it was also, though secondarily, for judgment (John ix. 39).
2 And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
2 From the time of the council of Nice heaps of abominable heresies concerning God and concerning the person of Christ began to spring out of the earth, and antichrists began to lift the head and to divide God into three, and the Lord the Saviour into two, and so to destroy the temple built by the Lord through the apostles, and this even till not one stone was left upon another which was not thrown down, according to His own words, where by the temple is meant not only the temple at Jerusalem, but also the church, the consummation or end of which is treated of in the whole of this chapter. T. 174.
See Chapter V., 18, 26. E. 228.
2, 3. By these words Jesus taught His disciples that He should be altogether denied by the Jewish nation, on which account also the temple was destroyed from its foundation. E. 391.
3 It was this appearing, or this sign of the Son of Man in heaven as to which the disciples asked, for they knew from the Word that when the age should be consummated, the Lord would come, and they learned from the Lord Himself that He would come again, by which they understood that the Lord once more would come into the world, not yet knowing that the Lord has come whenever the church has been vastated. Not that He has come in person, as when He assumed the human by birth and made it Divine, but that it has been by an appearing—either manifest, as when He appeared to Abraham in Mamre, to Moses in the bush, to the people of Israel on Mount Sinai, and to Joshua when he entered the land of Canaan ; or not so manifest, as by inspirations by which the Word was given, and then through the Word, all things in the Word being from Him and concerning Him. This is the appearing which is here signified by the sign of the Son of Man. A. 4060.
When the end of an old church and the beginning of a new are at hand, a final judgment takes place. That time is what is meant in the Word by last judgment, and also by the coming of the Son of Man. A. 4230.
By the consummation of the age nothing else is signified than the last time of the church. A. 4535.
The Lord instructed the disciples concerning the last time of the church. A. 6895.
By the consummation of the age is signified the last time of the church, when there is no longer any faith because there is no charity. A. 10248.
That that mountain, the Mount of Olives, was over against the temple. A. 10261.
See Chapter XIII., 39, 40. A. 10622.
The consummation of the age is the last time of the church, when a last judgment takes place. R. 187.
Since the Mount of Olives signified the Divine love, for that reason the Lord spake with the disciples upon that mountain concerning His coming and concerning the consummation of the age. R. 336.
The devastation of the church when there is no longer any truth of doctrine and good of life therein, and thus when its end has come, is meant by consummation, and because then is the coming of the Lord and of His kingdom, therefore both the consummation of the age, and the coming of the Lord are spoken of. R. 519.
A sign relates to future things, and is then a revelation. R. 532.
Signs were testifications of the truth. R. 598.
Every church declines in process of time by receding from the good of love and from the truths of faith, until there is not anything of them remaining, and this is caused by the successive increments of evil and falsity, and when it is so the end of the church is come. This is the end which is signified by consummation. R. 658.
See Chapter XIII., 30, 39, 40. T. 755.
The Lord beginning then foretold and described the consummation, what would be its character successively even to His coming, and that He then should come in the clouds of heaven with power and glory, and should gather together His elect, beside many other things, which by no means occurred at the destruction of Jerusalem. T. 757.
That the coming of the Lord is to be expected, is clearly manifest from His prediction respecting it in Matthew. T. 764.
That the last state of the church of the day is at its end by the consummation of the age and then the advent of the Lord is understood. B. 70.
See Chapter XIII., 39, 40, 49. E. 397.
By the coming of the Lord and the consummation of the age is signified the beginning of the new church, and the end of the former church. By the coming of the Lord the beginning of a new church, and by the consummation of the age the end of the old church, wherefore in those chapters (Matthew xxiv. 3 ; Mark xiii. 4 ; Luke xxi. 7) the Lord instructs His disciples concerning the successive vastation of the former church, and concerning the establishment of the new church at the end thereof, but He instructs and teaches them by mere correspondences, which cannot be unfolded and known except by the spiritual sense, and inasmuch as the expressions by which the Lord spake were correspondences, therefore they were all signs, consequently testifications.
By the Lord’s advent is not there understood His advent in person, but that He will then reveal Himself in the Word., that He is Jehovah, the Lord of heaven and earth, and that He alone is to be adored by all who will be in His new church, which is the New Jerusalem. E. 870.
2 After the disciples had shown him the buildings of the temple, Jesus turns to them and pronounces the doom of the sacred structure to which his attention had been drawn. See Ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. How solemn and expressive! Not less so spiritually than naturally. The stones of the temple were symbols of the truths which constitute the church – collectively, of those truths built up into a system of religious doctrine. The temple aptly represented a system of doctrinal truths framed by the wisdom of man; for the temple which then existed was not Solomon’s, but had been built by Herod. Nevertheless it represented the principles of the church as a unity – such as that which the Jewish hierarchy elaborated, but which was no more like a heaven- derived form of pure and sound doctrine than the temple of Herod was like that of Solomon. Yet there it stood in its entirety and seeming stability. But the hand of him whose touch reduces things of human creation to their original elements was upon it. Its stones were to be thrown down and dispersed. The result in such cases is that the unity of the church is broken up, though the elements are preserved. And so we find even in our own day that amid the desolation of the Christian sanctuary, many single truths are preserved, though they no longer exist in such a unity as to form a whole – Their connection is broken, their unity is destroyed. We may see and admire many particular truths, but we no longer see them in combination, such as that which made them rise in a form of beauty, a house of prayer, the place where God inscribed his name. There is not left one stone upon another, that is not thrown down.
3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
3-7. The first state of the perversion of the church, which was that they would begin no longer to know what was good and what true, but would dispute about it among themselves, from which falsities would originate. A. 3486-87.
3-8. They who keep in the sense of the letter cannot know whether these things, and those which follow in the chapter, were spoken concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, and the dispersion of the Jewish nation, or concerning the end of days, which is called the last judgment ; but they who are in the internal sense see clearly that the end of the church is here treated of, which end is what is here, and elsewhere, called the coming of the Lord, and the consummation of the age. All those expressions signify things of the church. When it is said that many shall come in My name, saying I am the Christ, and shall lead many astray; name does not signify name, nor Christ Christ, but name signifies that by which the Lord is worshipped, and Christ signifies truth itself. Thus it is meant that there would come those who would say, this is of faith, or this is true, when yet it is neither of faith, nor true, but false. They should hear of wars and rumours of wars, there would be disputes and strife concerning truths, which are wars in the spiritual sense. That nation should be stirred up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, signifies that evil would fight with evil, and falsity with falsity. There shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes in divers places signifies that there would be no longer any knowledge of good and truth, and thus that the state of the church would be changed, which is an earthquake.A. 3353. See Chapter XXIV., 3-7, under A. 3487, repeated in A. 3354.
3-22. The successive vastation of the church. First they began not to know what good and truth are, but to contend about them, next they treated them with contempt, in the third place they did not acknowledge them in the heart In the fourth place they profaned them. A. 4058.
3-28. What the Lord announced and foretold concerning the consummation of the age, or the final judgment. A. 4056.
- et seq. See Chapter XXI., 1. R. 493.
See Chapter XXI., 1, adding: It was on this mount that Jesus discoursed with his disciples respecting His advent and the consummation of the age. E. 405.
See Chapter XXI., 1. E. 638.
3, 27, 37, 39. The time of the last judgment is called in other places the day of Jehovah, the day of visitation, the day of slaughter, and the day of the Lord’s coming. E. 413.
3-30. In this passage is described the last time of the former church and the first time of the new. The Son of Man is truth Divine proceeding from the Lord, the clouds of heaven are the Word in the sense of the letter, power and glory are the internal sense, thus the Divine truth which shall then be manifest. The coming of the Lord stands for the acknowledgment of truth Divine by those who are of the new church, and for the denial by those who are of the old church. A. 8427.
That the Lord is called the Son of Man where His coming is treated of, is evident. By the consummation of the age is meant the last time of the church, by coming in the clouds of heaven with glory is meant the opening of the Word, and a manifestation that the Word is written concerning the Lord alone. L. 26.
To give glory to the Lord signifies to acknowledge and confess that all truth is from the Lord. R. 629.
At the Lord’s first coming the hells had grown to such a degree from the multitude of idolaters, magicians, and falsifiers of the Word, but at His second coming from Christians so called, both such as are imbued with naturalism, and also such as have falsified the Word by confirmations of their spurious faith cpncerning three Divine persons from eternity, and concerning the passion of the Lord, that it was redemption itself. These are they who are meant by the dragon and his two beasts in Revelation xii. and xiii. . T. 121.
3, 30, 37. It has now pleased the Lord to reveal various arcana of heaven, especially the internal or spiritual sense of the Word, which was hitherto entirely unknown, and therewith He has taught the genuine truths of doctrine, which revelation is understood by the advent of the Lord in Matthew. E. 641.
4-51. That faith would be rare in the last times, was foretold by the Lord, when He spoke of the consummation of the age, where everything that is said implies that charity and faith will be rare at those times, and that at last there will be none. A. 1843.
3 Having uttered this general declaration respecting the fate of the temple, the Lord retired, and sat upon the mount of Olives, where he revealed, in all its length and breadth, the series of events connected with, and leading to, that great overthrow of which the destruction of the temple was the general type. His first prediction regarding the destruction of the temple was addressed to the disciples generally; his discourse on the mount appears to have been uttered in the ears of a few. Mark (xiii. 3) mentions Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew. These representing the higher graces of the religious life, are capable of entering into the deeper mysteries of the kingdom, or of seeing the particulars of those truths that come to the general apprehension. Jesus sat on the mount of Olives. This mount itself was the symbol of a high and holy principle. A mountain means the principle of love; and as the olive signifies the celestial principle, the mount of Olives is the symbol of celestial love, – that is, of the most heavenly of all loves – love to God. But in reference to Jesus, who is now upon the mountain, it is the symbol of divine love; and when, as now, he sits upon it, and thus speaks from it, we have a representation of the Lord, from the inmost of his divine love, uttering the highest truths of his divine wisdom. Such truly are the Lord’s words, spiritually understood. Indeed, he who sees all the future, and who exercises a wise and beneficent providence in all he foresees, must be infinite both in love and wisdom. The disciples came unto him privately, and he speaks privately to them. They enter with him, as it were, within the veil, and are there privileged to see the unrolling of the book on which is written lamentations, and mourning and woe. Aware of the general import of the Lord’s predicted destruction of the temple, the disciples say unto him, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? The disciples speak as persons who understood the subject, and only ask about the time and the signs of their occurrence. Time signifies state, for time is not predicable of spiritual, but only of natural things. States are to the church and the soul what times are to the world and the body. It is not the knowledge of time, but of state, that enables us to see the character of the church. The disciples asked also to know the signs of the Lord’s coming, and of the end. What are those signs? Spiritual things are exhibited in natural things; and spiritual truths are revealed in the symbolic language of the natural world by correspondence. Correspondences, therefore, are the signs of the Lord’s coming. These, as Luke (xxi. 11) terms them, are signs from heaven, because correspondence has its origin in heaven. And those signs are said (v. 25) to be in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars, for these are symbols of love, faith, and knowledge, which are the ruling principles of the church, and whose states they mark, having been appointed for signs and for seasons, and for days and for years. It is by these correspondences, as signs, that we are able to know the nature of the Lord’s coming and of the God of the world. By them, as the means of the right interpretation of the Word, we learn that the coming of the Lord is not a personal coming, but a coming in spirit, by a revealing of himself as the Truth, and by a perception and reception of him as the Truth in the hearts and minds of men. By the same means we learn that his coming is not to be attended by the end of the world, but by the end of the church. Indeed, the “world” does not here mean the material frame of our globe: it means an age or period in the history of the world, as when we speak of the golden or of the silver age. The end of the world means, therefore, literally, the consummation or conclusion of the age, or religious dispensation. And this is the true meaning of the end of the world, when the phrase occurs in the New Testament, as is evident from other parts. Thus in Hebrews ix. 26, “Now once in the end of the world hath he (Christ) appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” And in I Cor. x. 11, “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the world are come.” This is not, therefore, a question of interpretation, but of translation. The end at which our Lord came was, it is obvious, the end of the Jewish age, or dispensation; and the passage can have no reference to the end of the physical world. And the times in which the apostles lived were the ends of the age which had come upon them. That which is connected with the Lord’s second coming is an end of the same kind as that which attended his first coming. The language in which they are described is the same. What reason can there be for giving them an entirely different signification? If the end that marked his first coming was the end of a church, it is only consistent to believe that the end that is to mark his second coming must be the end of a church also. It is difficult, indeed, for the members of the Christian church to believe that the dispensation to which they belong can have in end as a, church. The Jews to this day reject the idea that their dispensation has ceased, or can cease, to exist as a church. But the fact that the first Christian dispensation would have an end ought to be admitted on the simple ground of consistent interpretation, not to speak of translation The Lord has promised to come a second time into the world. That coming is to be accompanied with the end or consummation of the age. What can this end be but the end of the age or period of his first coming? The end of the first age and the beginning of the second are the end of the dispensation of his first advent and the beginning of the dispensation of his second. It is true that the end, and also the beginning, are described by other “signs” or images, as the darkening of the sun and moon, and the falling of the stars; by the passing away of the heavens and the earth, and the creation of a new heaven and a new earth in their place. We shall see that the darkening of the luminaries of heaven is the darkening of the lights of the church – the love, and truth, and knowledge by which the church is enlightened and sustained. As to the passing away and re-creation of heaven and earth, unfettered reason and common sense may give the interpretation. What wisdom can there be in destroying one earth to create another? The material world is not at fault, nor unfit for its purpose, that another should be required. But the moral world, or rather the moral and religious age, may be at fault, and require to be replaced by another and a better. The church may wax old like a garment, and another suited to the wants of the body – that body which never dies – may be absolutely necessary. And such is promised – “a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.”
4 To the inquiries of the disciples as to the time of the end and signs of his coming, the Lord answered, Take heed that no man deceive you. This caution is greatly necessary in all matters of spiritual and eternal interest, and not least in those which relate to Christ himself and his kingdom, and still more in relation to his second than to his first coming The disciples are those who are principled in the goods and truths of the church, and, abstractly, these principles themselves. That such persons require care in perilous times appears from the Lord’s declaration, that in the last times such will be the power of false Christs and prophets that “if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” And then the truths themselves come to be so ingeniously explained in favour of that which men love and practise, that they lose the quality and power of truths, and virtually become falsities.
5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
5-7. The signification of war, the combat of truth grounded in good, with the false grounded in evil. A. 10455.
By wars in the Word spiritual wars are signified, which are fightings against the truth, and are carried on by reasonings from falsities. R. 500.
5-8. These things were said by the Lord to the disciples concerning the consummation of the age, by which is signified the state of the church as to its ultimate, which is described in those chapters. The successive perversion and falsification of the truth and good of the Word, until there remains nothing but what is false, and evil thence derived, is understood. By those who shall come in His name, and call themselves Christ and seduce many, are signified those who shall say that what they teach is Divine truth, when yet it is truth falsified, which in itself is the false, for by Christ is understood the Lord as to Divine truth, but in the opposite sense truth falsified. By wars and rumours of wars are signified dispu-tings and contentions concerning truths, and thence falsifications. By nation being stirred up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom is signified that evil shall combat with evil, and false with false, for evils never agree among themselves, nor falses among themselves, which is the cause of so many divisions taking place in the church, and so many heresies being produced. Nation signifies those who are in evil, and kingdom those who are in falses, of whom the church consists. And there shall be famines and pestilences and earthquakes, signifies that there will be no longer any knowledge of truth and good, and that by reason of the infection arising from falses, the state of the church will be changed. Famine signifies the privation of the knowledges of truth and good, pestilence infection from falses, and earthquakes the changes of the church. E. 734.
5—14. Then there shall be war and rumour and saying ” I am Christ,” false prophets shall arise and seduce many, signifies heresies in the last times, which were many. D. P., Page 46.
5-14, 23-25, 28. That false Christs and false prophets will arise, that war and rumours of war signifies heresies in the last times. D. P., Page 8.
5, 23, 24. Here by false Christs are signified truths not Divine or falsities, and by false prophets those who teach them. A. 3010.
It is not to be understood that any will arise who will call themselves Christ or Christs, but that they will falsify the Word, or say that this or that is Divine truth when it is not. They who confirm falses from the Word are understood by false Christs, and they who hatch or propagate falses of doctrine, are understood by false prophets. E. 684.
5, 11, 23-27. By Jesus is understood the Lord as to Divine good, and by Christ the Lord as to Divine truth, and by not being Christ, is signified not Divine truth, but what is false. E. 102.
6, 7. These words do not signify such things in the natural world, but things corresponding in the spiritual world, for the Word in its prophecies does not treat of kingdoms on earth, nor of nations there, thus neither of their wars, and also not of famine, pestilence and earthquakes there, but of such things as correspond to them in the spiritual world. J. 73.
5 While the Lord cautions the disciples against deception, he describes the character of those who will try to deceive them. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. In the second century one appeared who called himself the Christ – certainly, this has never yet been done by “many.” This, however, is not the Lord’s meaning. The Lord’s name signifies that by which he is worshipped, and Christ is especially expressive of his character as divine truth, as Jesus is of divine good. False Christs are false doctrines respecting Christ – falses which have the appearance of truths. All false systems of Christianity are false Christs. Christ in Christianity is all that is divine and saving in it: in fact, he is Christianity itself, in its purity and perfection. False Christs are falsifications of the truth and perversions of the principles of Christianity, which deprive it of its beneficent character and saving power. Of such false Christs there may be, and doubtless have been, and now are, many in the world. A Christianity without Christ is itself false and deceptive. Emptied of the great truths which Christ taught for the salvation of sinners, and filled with the ideas of erring or interested men, such forms of false Christianity deceive many for too many incline to the deception, and too readily fall under it. Corruptions of Christianity, particularly as respects the character of Christ, were early introduced into the Christian church; and with the division of the godhead and the degradation of Christ, the doctrine of salvation by him has proportionally suffered. The result is that state of things which our Lord next declares.
6 And Ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars. Since it is not the physical world, but the church, that is the subject of the prophecy, these are not to be understood as political wars among the nations of the earth, but spiritual wars among the members and parties in the church. Natural wars come, indeed, of these spiritual discords, but it is to the spiritual, and not to the natural, that the spiritual sense of Scripture relates. The first wars that arose in the Christian church were wars of opinion, and after them came wars of passion. These are the wars and rumours of war of which our Lord speaks. Whoever is acquainted with the history of the early ages of the church, when these disputes and conflicts prevailed, must be astonished to see with what violence and bitterness they were conducted. The simple and sincere members of the church must have been shocked and appalled at the tremendous conflicts, and might well suppose such perversions and divisions to be the signs of the final consummation predicted by the Lord, for they well knew it did not mean the end of the world. To prevent such from being led into delusion, or having their faith in the truth of Christianity destroyed, when they thus saw it in a manner torn to pieces before their eyes, the Lord says, see that Ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. In reference to these, the Lord tells his disciples to see that they be not troubled. The reason of this exhortation is, that these first indications of troublous times are debates and disputations about truth, arising from different views and feelings respecting what it teaches; and these are not such as to involve serious opposition or danger to the principles of truth and good, which the disciples represented. When the church has begun to decline, all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. In these differences there is neither the moral end of destroying the truth, nor the end of the church, as its result.
7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
7 Kingdom stands for falsity of doctrine, evils fight against evils, and falsities against falsities. A. 2547.
But the last judgment upon those in front in the western quarter, and upon those in the northern quarter, where there was also a great city, was effected as follows. After some great earthquakes, which rent everything there to the very foundations, an east wind went forth . . . and laid bare that whole region, these are the earthquakes which are meant in the Word. … J. 61.
These changes of their state were accompanied with various concussions of their dwellings and lands, mighty according to their perversions. C. J. 25.
The things here are said concerning the last judgment. The reason that earthquakes signify changes of state in the church, is because the earth signifies the church, and because in the spiritual world, when the state of the church is anywhere perverted and a change is made, there is an earthquake. R. 331.
The consummation of the age is the last time of the church, nation rising against nation stands for evil against good, and kingdom against kingdom, falsity against truth. E. 48.
By nation rising against nation, and kingdom against kingdom is here signified that evil shall combat with evil, and falsity with falsity, nation signifying the good of the church and in an opposite sense its evil. Kingdom signifies the truth of the church, and in an opposite sense what is false. By their being famines and pestilences and earthquakes in divers places is signified that goods and truths, and the knowledges of good and truth will be no more, and thus that the state of the church will be changed, which is signified by earthquakes. In these chapters of the evangelists the successive states of the church, even to its consummation are predicted. E. 400.
7, 8. A sword is the destruction of spiritual life by falsities. The pestilence and death are the utter wasting
away, and thus damnation. R. 323.
By the pestilence is signified deprivation of spiritual life. E. 386.
7-9, 21, 29. Here the consummation of the age, or the last times of the church are treated of. Affliction stands for temptation, external and internal. The external are persecutions from the world, the internal are persecutions from the devil. That there will be no charity is signified by nation being stirred up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, also by the sun being darkened, that is the Lord and love and charity. A. 1846.
7, 9. These things are also said by the Lord concerning the last time of the church, and by nation rising against nation, and kingdom against kingdom is signified that there will be dissensions of evils and falsities among themselves. By famines and pestilences are signified the defect and consumption of truths, by earthquakes the perversion of the church, by being hated by all nations, to be hated by all who are in evil. By the name of the Lord, on account of which they shall be hated, are signified all things of love and faith by which the Lord is worshipped. E. 175.
7, 29. These things one and all signify the state of the church, what it is to be when its last judgment comes. By the sun is meant love to the Lord and charity toward the neighbour, by the moon faith, and by the stars the knowledges of faith, all which in the last times will be thus darkened, will not give light, and will fall from heaven — that is will pass away. A. 2120.
7 But more serious calamities arise after, and out of these. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. In the spiritual sense of Scripture, nations mean those who are in the love of evil, and, abstractly, evil itself as an object of love; and kingdoms or peoples mean those who are in the belief of error or falsity, and, abstractly, the error or falsity which is believed. This describes a state of the church in which there was not simply a war of opinion about the doctrines of religion, deplorable as that was, but a conflict of evil against good, and of one evil against another; and also a conflict of falsity against truth, and of one false persuasion against another. This implies not disputation and contention only respecting the principles of goodness and truth, which constitute religion and the church, but the rejection to some extent of these Christian principles, and the proportionate adoption of evil and error in their place. The natural and necessary result of these conflicts is, that there are famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes – that is to say, there is a defect of the knowledge of good and truth, signified by famines, and infestation from evils and falsities, signified by pestilences, and changes and inversions in the state of the church, signified by earthquakes. And these being in divers places, means that they exist in the church in various parts – though not an entire, but partial change has as yet taken place in the state of the church.
8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.
8-14. By these words is described a second state of the perversion of the church, which is, that they would despise good and truth, and also turn away from them, and thus that faith in the Lord would expire in proportion as charity should cease. A. 3487. That the second state of perversion of the church was described by those words of the Lord is plain from their internal sense which is as follows : All these things are the beginning of sorrows signifies those things which precede, that is, which are of the first state of perversion o the church, which is, as was said, that they would beginf to know no longer what was good and what true, but would dispute about it among themselves, from which would arise falsities and therefore heresies. . . . Then shall they deliver you unto affliction and shall kill you signifies that good and truth would perish, first by affliction, that is by perversion, afterwards by them killing them, that is by denial. To kill when predicated of good and truth is not to receive, thus to deny. . . . And ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake signifies contempt and aversion for all things which are of good and truth . . . for my name’s sake is for the Lord, thus for all things which are from Him. . . . And then many shall be offended. and shall deliver up one another and shall hate one another signifies enmities on account of those things. . . The Human itself of the Lord is that against which is enmity. . . . And many false prophets shall arise and lead many astray signifies preachings of falsity. . . . And because iniquity shall be multiplied, the love of many shall wax cold signifies the expiring of charity with faith. … Where faith is not, there charity is not, and where charity is not, faith is not. Charity is what receives faith, and no charity is what rejects faith. . . . But he that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved signifies the salvation of those who are in charity. He that endureth to the end, is he who does not suffer himself to be led astray, thus who does not succumb in temptations. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole inhabited earth, for a testimony unto all nations, signifies that this should first become known in the Christian world. Shall be preached means shall be made known. This gospel of the kingdom is this truth, that it is so. Gospel is announcement, kingdom is truth. The whole inhabited earth is the Christian world. A. 3488.
Verses mentioned. A. 3650.
8 All these are the beginning of sorrows. They describe the first state of the perversion of the church, which is, when men begin no longer to know what is good and true, but dispute with each other on these subjects, from which disputes come some errors of doctrine and evils of life. These are indeed the beginnings of sorrows – sorrow to the church, sorrow to religion, and sorrow to the soul. Sorrow is ever the attendant of sin, whether it be against righteousness or truth. In the description thus far of the sorrows of the church, we see very strikingly the progress and end of the first stage of religious corruption. First men dispute about goodness and truth, then they adopt and contend for some false principles, and lastly, they proceed to pervert goodness and truth, so as either to invalidate them or bend them to favour their own principles and practice. These religious disputations and contentions, meant by wars, arose early in the Christian church, and were carried on with great bitterness and acrimony, as history abundantly testifies; and could not fail to be followed by a famine, not of bread or water, but of the hearing of the Word of God, and, as a consequence, by pestilent disease of mind, and by convulsions and revolutions of both opinion and principle.
9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.
10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
9 By killing is signified depriving of spiritual life, that is faith and charity, for by the disciples are signified all things of the truth and good of faith and charity. A. 8902.
This last the Lord says to the disciples, but by the disciples are meant all who worship the Lord, and live according to the truths of His Word. These the evil in the world of spirits continually wish to kill, but as they cannot there do this as to the body, they continually wish to do it as to the soul; and as they cannot do this, they burn with such hatred against them, that they feel nothing more delightful than to do evil to them. . . . To kill in the Word, signifies to destroy souls.R. 325.
In the spiritual and representative sense . . . they shall kill you, that they shall then destroy the goods and truths of the church. E.315.
9, 10. For my name’s sake plainly means for the sake of the Lord’s doctrine. A. 2009.
See Chapter VI., 9. A. 2724.
See Chapter VII., 22. P. 230.
See Chapter X., 22., R. 81.
See Chapter VII., 22. R. 839.
See Chapter X., 22. T. 682.
See Chapter X., 22. E. 102.
All who are in the hells are against the Lord. Such persons would bear hatred against all who acknowledge the Lord. E. 137.
9, 11. See Chapter X., 17, 18. E. 122.
9, 21-29. By affliction is meant the state of the church, when it is infested by evils and falsities. R. 33.
The consummation of the age is the last time of the church, and because falsities would then reign and oppose truths, therefore it is said that they shall be in tribulation, and in so great tribulation as was not from the beginning of the world. E. 47.
Of the sign of the advent of the Lord and the consummation of the age, D. P., Page 46.
9 A second state of the decline of the church, and of her sorrows, is described by what now follows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and Ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. The disciples represented the principles of goodness and truth; and this describes the treatment which these heavenly principles would come to experience, after the members of the church had, by disputations and contentions, obscured their perceptions of truth and goodness. To afflict, to kill, and to hate the disciples, means to pervert, deny, and contemn the spiritual principles which they represented. Nations denote those who are in evils of life; and to be hated of them, is to be held in aversion by the men of the church on account of the prevalence of such evils amongst them. But the Lord said not only that they would be hated by all nations, but that they would be hated for his name’s sake. Those within the church who hate goodness and truth, hate them as religious principles, as coming from the Lord, and leading to him through the obedience and worship which he requires. And, indeed, all hatred against the principles of goodness and truth has in it, and fundamentally is, hatred against the Lord, who is goodness itself and truth itself, and the origin of everything good and true in the Word and in the church.
10 The Lord proceeds to say, And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. This follows, and is a consequence of, the disciples being hated and persecuted. If the principles of goodness and truth, as revealed in the Word, and as they relate to the Lord, are persecuted, many must be offended, or stumble. The disciples, or the truths of the Word, are instructors and guides to the members of the church; and when these are deprived of their aid, they cannot but stumble and even fall. The Word is a lamp unto our feet, and a light unto our path; and when its teaching is obscured by error, the members of the church must suffer. And not only will they be offended, but they will offend. They shall betray one another, and hate one another. As mutual love is the result of true and undefiled religion, and of walking uprightly in it, so mutual hatred is one of the fruits of error, and of the stumbling which it causes.
11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
11, 15. By the great affliction is signified an inversion of the church, which is made by falsities and falsifications of the truth. T. 179.
By the great affliction is understood the infestation of truths by falsities, until no genuine truth from the Word is left which is not falsified and thus consummated. B. 75.
11, 24. By prophets in the internal sense are signified those who teach, by false prophets those who teach falsities. A. 2534.
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. R. 8.
In these passages by false prophets and false Christs are not understood prophets in the common acceptation ii of the term, but all those who pervert the Word and teach falsities, such are also false Christs, for Christ signifies the Lord as to Divine truth, whence false Christs signify Divine truths falsified. … By the elect are signified those who are in spiritual good, that is, who are in the good of charity. E. 624.
11 Betrayal and hatred are followed by falsehood and deception. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. In the New Testament a prophet means a preacher, and, abstractly, the doctrine which is taught. Therefore, false prophets mean not only false teachers, but false principles. Error could not fail to be multiplied when the Lord, who is the Truth, was virtually denied, and a false Christ was set up in his stead. The true acknowledgment of the Lord’s divinity is an acknowledgment of the divinity of his humanity. When this is denied, Jesus Christ must either be regarded as a divine person separate from the person of the Father, or a finite being. Such false persuasions cannot fail to seduce men from the true faith, and from a righteous life, which have their origin in the Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ.
12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
12 There are at this day assemblies of friendship, which regard as their end the enjoyments of sociability, the joyousness of the mind and the liberation of imprisoned thoughts, and thus for warming anew the sensuals of the body and perfecting their state. But there are as yet no gatherings of charity, for the Lord says, In the consummation of the age, that is, in the end of the church, iniquity will be multiplied, and charity will grow cold. This is, because the church has not yet acknowledged the Lord God the Saviour as the God of heaven and earth, and gone immediately to Him, from Whom alone genuine charity proceeds and flows in. T. 434. Iniquities will be multiplied and the charity of many will grow cold. D. P., Page 37.
12, 13. See Chapter III., 8, 9. A. 1017.
See Chapter III., 8, 9. A. 2371.
12, 14. In this chapter is described by the Lord the state of the church successively decreasing as to love and faith, but it is described by pure correspondences. J- 35-14.
See Chapter IV., 23. L. 42.
By the world is not signified the world of lands, but the church in it. R. 551.
See Chapter IV., 23. R. 664.
See Chapter III., 2. R. 749.
See Chapter IV., 23. E. 612.
By the world is signified the church as to good, therefore it is said that that gospel shall be preached to all nations, for by the nations who shall hear and receive are signified all who are in good, but by nations in the opposite sense, all who are in evil, who also will hear, but in this case by the world is meant the universal church when fallen into evils, whence it is also said that then shall the end come. E. 741.
12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. Increase of error never fails to cause an increase of evil; and when evil abounds, love must wax cold. The love which is here spoken of is charity, or love to the neighbour. When error leads men to believe that salvation is attainable by faith without works, virtue must fail, and as a consequence, charity must wax cold. Where there is no true faith, there can be no genuine charity. In the purely spiritual sense, which is abstracted from persons, this means that many truths would be deprived of love or charity, and thus of all vitality. When this is the case, there is neither charity in the heart nor faith in the understanding. Faith without charity is dead, and charity without faith is blind. Love to the Lord is the origin of love to the neighbour, and holiness of life is its foundation.
13 The Lord now gives encouragement to those who avoid the prevailing corruptions, and are disposed to go forward in the life of practical religion. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. The end of these afflictions is one that must be applicable to the members of the church in their individual experience. Those who see the perversions of truth in the church must not consent to them, and suffer themselves to be seduced by them into a careless or evil life, as men are so liable to be, by a prevailing state of belief and character. To be saved amid corruption, we must strive against the corruption. Perseverance is persistent continuance in well-doing, and it is constancy in the midst of temptation. Trial is implied in the promise. To fail in fidelity and duty to God, in troublous times, is not only a possibility, but a thing to be feared; for liable as we all are to fall away, even with the best influence and example to aid us, how much more when defect of faith and morality surround us?
14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
14, 15. The lot of the Christian church may be compared to that of a ship laden with merchandise of the greatest value, which as soon as it left the port was driven about by storms, and soon after, a wreck on the sea, it settled down, and its merchandise is in part destroyed by the water, and partly scattered by the fishes. T. 378.
15 Desolation is the apparent deprivation of truth with those who are being regenerated, but the absolute deprivation of it with those who are not being regenerated. A. 5376.
That by Jerusalem is not understood the Jerusalem inhabited by the Jews is evident from the Word, where it is said of that city that it was entirely destroyed, and that it was to be destroyed. B. 100.
When a belief in three Gods was introduced into the Christian churches, which was done at the time of the Nicene council, they banished all the good of charity and all the truth of faith, for these two are wholly inconsistent with the mental worship of three Gods, and the oral worship at the same time of one God. Yes, from that time the desolation foretold by Daniel has begun and has increased. T. 634.
That these words were spoken by Daniel concerning the end of the present Christian church, may be seen in Matthew. T. 755.
That such abomination of desolation exists to-day in the Christian church will be still more manifest from the Appendix (The Coronis), in which it will be seen that there is not a single genuine truth remaining in the church, and also that unless a new church be raised up, in place of the present, no flesh can be saved, according to the Lord’s words in Matthew. T. 758.
See Daniel ix. 27. This is a prediction concerning the end of the Christian church, clearly evident from the words of the Lord in Matthew. T. 761.
Daniel ix. 27 is referred to by the words of the Lord in Matthew. T. 782.
That these last words were predicted in Daniel (ix. 27) concerning the end of the Christian church is evident from the Lord’s words in Matthew. E. 684.
The profanations which are signified by abominations are the perversions of the holy things of the church, thus conversions of the goods thereof into evils, and of the truths thereof into falses. They are called abominations, because the angels abominate them. The profanations of the Word, of the church and of worship are spoken of. E. 1045.
Verse mentioned. J. Post., Page 132.
By the vastations of Jerusalem is understood the devastation of the church in general, and after that the devastation of the Christian church, as is clearly evident from the words of the Lord in Matthew. D. P., Page 12.
It is called by the Lord the abomination of desolation predicted by the prophet Daniel. D. P., Page 13.
14 A sign of another and very different kind from any of those which the Lord had as yet pointed to, he now announces. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. If these words be applied to the time when the corruptions which virtually included the utter destruction and consequent end of the church – which is indicated in the next verse as the abomination of desolation – first gained admission, they will denote the period when the profession of Christianity was established by the Roman empire, which is often called in the New Testament (by the word translated as here) the world, and which took place in the reign of Constantine the Great, soon after the end of the third century. But “end” in Scripture, and “the last days,” often denote a long period of time. There was a period in the history of the church which formed the beginning of the end, and another period which formed its completion. The beginning of the end belongs to the reign of Constantine, by whose power and influence the Christian religion, which is the gospel of the kingdom, was preached or propagated throughout the whole Roman world; and the completion of the end belongs to our own times, when the gospel may be said to be universally proclaimed, especially by the circulation of the letter of the Scriptures, throughout the whole globe, through the agency of the Missionary and Bible Societies. Thus, the periods called in Scripture “the time of the end” and “the last days” were marked by the setting up of the profession of a nominal Christianity through the Roman empire; and its termination is marked by the actual extension of the Scriptures, through the proclaiming of the gospel over the whole globe, as we see effected at this day. This is certainly a very remarkable sign indeed, alone sufficient to convince us, if we think there is any truth in the prediction of Omniscience, that we are living in the days prophesied of as those in which the Son of man was to make his second and spiritual appearing. But it may seem incredible that two such events as the establishment of the Christian religion, or that of the Roman empire, and the circulation of the Scriptures throughout the whole habitable globe, should be considered as signs of the end – not of the world, but of the church. In regard to the first of these events, nothing can be more true. No sooner almost had the Emperor Constantine declared himself Christian, and made Christianity the religion of the state, than, to condemn the destructive doctrine of Arius, the famous general council, at which were present about 318 bishops, was held at Nice. The Arian heresy was indeed then condemned, though it was far from being extinguished. But the only way which the fathers of the council could find of opposing the Arian doctrine, which denied the proper divinity of Christ, was by asserting his distinct divinity, and that of the Holy Spirit, thus giving origin to the notion of three distinct persons in the godhead, which cannot be distinguished in idea from the notion of a trinity of gods. The establishment of this awful perversion as the orthodox doctrine of Christianity is, in fact, that which is denoted by the abomination of desolation set up in the holy place, of which our Lord now speaks.
15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)
15, 16. In those chapters is described by the Lord the successive vastation of the church, but it is described by mere correspondences. When ye shall see the abomination of desolation signifies when the disciples, that is they who are in truths from good, perceive the church to be devastated, which takes place when there is no longer any truth, because there is no good, or when there is no faith, because there is no charity. Then let them that be in Judea flee to the mountains signifies that they who are of the Lord’s church should remain in the good of love, Judea, the church of the Lord, mountains, the goods of love, to flee to them, to remain therein. And let him that is on the housetop not go down into the house signifies that he who is in genuine truths should abide therein, house signifying the man as to all interior things of the mind. Hence the housetop the intelligence which is from genuine truths, thus also the genuine truths which are the fundament of intelligence. E. 405.
15-18. The abomination of desolation is the state of the church where there is no love and no charity, when these are desolated abominable things reign. Judea is the church, and indeed the celestial church. This is manifest from the Word of the Old Testament throughout, both the historic and the prophetic. The mountains to which they should flee are love to the Lord, and thence charity toward the neighbour. He that is upon the house is the good of love. To go down to take away anything out of his house, is to turn one’s self away from good to truth. They who are in the field are those who are in the spiritual church. . . . Let him not return to take his garments means that he should not turn himself away from good to truth which is of a doctrinal, because garments signify truths, for truths clothe good like garments. . . . Truth is said to turn itself away from good and to regard doctrinals, when the man of the church no longer has it at heart what kind of a life he lives, but what his doctrine is; when yet life according to doctrine makes the man of the church, but not doctrine separate from life. A. 2454.
Verses quoted. A. 3650.
When therefore ye shall see the abomination of desolation signifies the vastation of the church which occurs when the Lord is no longer acknowledged consequently when there is no love and no faith in the Lord, also when there is no longer any charity toward the neighbour and consequently when there is not any faith of good and truth. When this is the case in the church, or rather in the land where the Word is possessed and read— that is when men are such in the thoughts of the heart, even if not such in the teaching of the lips — then there is desolation. . . . Which was foretold by Daniel the prophet signifies, in the internal sense, by the prophets. Where any prophet is mentioned by name in the Word, it is not the prophet that is meant, but the prophetic Word itself, because names never penetrate into heaven, and yet the same is not signified by one prophet as by another. … By Daniel is signified everything prophetical concerning the Lord’s coming, concerning the state of the church, in the present case concerning its last state. . . . Standing in the holy place signifies vastation as to all things which are of good and truth. The holy place is a state of love and faith. . . . Let him that readeth understand signifies that these things are to be well observed by those who are in the church, especially by those who are in love and faith, who come now to be treated of. Then let them that are in Judea flee unto the mountains signifies that they who are of the church will not look elsewhere than to the Lord, thus to love to Him and charity toward the neighbour. By mountain is signified the Lord Himself, but by mountains love to Him and charity toward the neighbour. . . . Judea signifies the church. A. 3652.
There are three kinds of men within the church, those who are in love to the Lord, those who are in charity toward the neighbour, and those who are in affection for truth. They who are in the first class, namely in love to the Lord, are specially signified by these words, Let them that are in Judea flee unto the mountains. They who are in the second class, namely in charity toward the neighbour are specially signified in these words, Let him that is upon the house not go down to take anything out of his house. They who are in the third class, namely in affection for truth are specially signified in these words, And let him that is in the field not return back to take his garments. A. 3653.
Verses mentioned. A. 3751.
15, 16 et seq. When ye shall see the abomination of desolation foretold by Daniel the prophet. D. P., Page 8.
15, 17, 18. The signification of field is man, here the mind of man in which good is implanted by truth, for man is called a field from this, that he receives the truths of faith, which are seeds, and brings forth the fruits of the feeds, which are goods. A. 8505.
15, 21. The abomination of desolation signifies the falsification and deprivation of all truth, affliction signifies the state of the church infested by evils and falses ; and the consummation of the age, concerning which those things are spoken, signifies the last time or end of the church. The end is now, because there does not remain a truth which is not falsified, and the falsification of truth is spiritual whoredom, which acts in unity with natural whoredom, because they cohere. M. 80.
15, 21, 22, 29. All those in Christendom have no faith, who reject the Lord and the Word, although they live morally, and speak, teach, and write rationally, even about faith. That in the consummation of the age there would be no faith, because none in the Lord as the Son of God, the God of heaven and earth, and one with the Father, the Lord foretells in the evangelists. T. 384.
That the last time of the Christian church is the very night into which the former churches went down, is evident from the Lord’s prediction respecting it. T. 761.
15, 28. See Chapter XXIV., 15 add : and to that faith and the imputation thereof the eagles have gathered together, eagles there mean the lynx-eyed leaders of the church, T. 634.
15, 29. That the Lord when He spake with the disciples concerning the consummation of the age and concerning His own advent, the end of the present church and the beginning of the New church, predicted these things. That there is such an affliction and desolation in the church is utterly unseen and unknown in the world, because it is everywhere said by those in the church, that they are in the very light of the gospel. Can., Chap. ix. i, 2.
15, 30. That these things were said by Daniel prophetically respecting this time, is evident from his words, as also from the Lord’s words in Matthew. T. 788.
39 Daniel speaking of the Christian church that was to come is to be understood that it would perish by falsifications, the end thereof being with an inundation even to desolations. Drowning signifies in the spiritual sense destruction by falses. Coro. 34.
15 When Ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place (whoso readeth, let him understand). The holy place, in the language of Scripture, always means, in its literal sense, the interior part of the temple, which was considered as being the immediate seat of the Divine presence. Of course, it must representatively signify the most holy part of Christian doctrine and worship. To set up an abomination and desolation, or an abomination that makes desolate, in this holy place, can be nothing else than to introduce some principle destructive of all genuine Christianity. In regard to the doctrines of the church, there is none so holy as that which relates to the true nature and character of the God whom the church is to worship. The inmost of the doctrine of the church – that which occupies her holy place – is the idea she forms of her God. To set up an abomination in this holy place must be, to introduce a false notion of God, instead of the true one. This is what the prophecy, understood according to its true meaning, would lead its to expect to see take place in the professing Christian church. Accordingly we find by history, and indeed see in the present day, that this was done when the doctrine of three separate persons in the Divine nature was introduced into the Christian church, and decreed to be the orthodox doctrine by all her leading ministers and members. This was first effected at the Council of Nice, previous to which the doctrine was entirely unknown to many, and had only been partially entertained by some. It was then first declared to be the authentic doctrine of the church, and such it continues to be held at the present day. As this is a subject of the very highest importance, it may be expedient to point out some of the steps by which the belief of a Trinity of separate persons or gods, which has desolated the sanctuary and driven all true religion out of the church, or at least compelled it to quit Judea and take refuge in the mountains, successively obtained so universal a reception.
The formulary of faith called the Apostles’ Creed, though not composed by the apostles, is yet the most ancient document in the form of a creed that has existed in the Christian church. Although no nice discrimination is attempted in it, and nothing is expressed but general truths, nearly in the language of Scripture, yet it contains nothing inconsistent with the genuine truths of Christianity. Nothing is said about either three persons in the godhead or a Son of God born from eternity. Respecting the three essentials of the Divine Trinity, called Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the words of the creed are: “I believe in God the Father Almighty, and in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord who was conceived of the Holy Ghost, and born of the virgin Mary.” There is no mention here of a Son existing from eternity, but only of one begotten and born in time, nor is anything said of the distinct personality of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit;. According to this, the Son of God is the humanity assumed by Jehovah through the instrumentality of the Virgin. And as the divine essence is incapable of division, Jehovah himself is in that humanity as the soul in the body, by virtue of which, through a process of temptation and suffering, the humanity itself was made divine. Thus “Jesus Christ” is the proper name both of the humanity assumed by incarnation and also, by virtue of the indivisibility of the divine essence, of Jehovah in that humanity. All this is taught or implied in the formulary of faith, called the Apostles’ Creed. The doctrine of that creed is thus in perfect harmony with the genuine doctrines of the Word of God. So long as the Christian church adhered simply to this faith and held nothing inconsistent with its genuine import, it was, so far as faith or doctrine is concerned, the pure church of the Lord in the world.
However, very strange and extravagant doctrines respecting the Lord Jesus Christ speedily began to be promulgated, some of which denied his divinity, and separated him entirely from the Supreme God. To guard against any mode of explaining the subject which would rob the Lord Jesus Christ of his divinity, a teacher named Praxeas, about the close of the second century, strongly insisted that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are but different names for the One God, or the One God viewed under different characters or relations. As none of his writings now exist, it is difficult to know with perfect accuracy what the views of this leader on the subject were, beyond the general fact, that he held Father, Son, and spirit to be one person. If, from want of being acquainted with the important doctrine of the progressive glorification of the Lord’s humanity, he maintained, as his opponents affirmed, that the Father himself, or the Divinity, suffered on the cross, he certainly erred in a very important particular. However, his doctrine of One God in one person – the person of the Lord Jesus Christ – was so consonant with the feelings of all simple-minded Christians, that it was in a fair way of being acknowledged throughout the Christian world. Even the Bishop of Rome, who, though without the popish power assumed by his successors, was regarded as the chief bishop of Christendom, declared himself in favour of Praxeas. But Praxeas was soon violently opposed by Tertullian, an eloquent presbyter of Carthage, but a man of harsh and gloomy temperament, and whose notions of the distinct personality of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were so positive, that he had embraced the monstrous heresy of Montanus, who had the madness to pretend that he himself was the Holy Ghost in person, or, at least, that the Holy Ghost as a distinct person dwelt within him. On the vehement representations of this Tertullian, who is still venerated as one of the principal fathers of the church, the Bishop of Rome withdrew his patronage from Praxeas, and he began to be generally regarded as a heretic; while the doctrine of the far greater heretic, Tertullian, was favourably regarded, and at length was adopted as the standard of orthodoxy in the Christian church.
But the doctrine of Tertullian, in behalf of the notion of three absolutely distinct persons in the Godhead, though generally favoured (or though something approximating towards it began to be generally held), was not yet authoritatively established. About a hundred years later, Arius being imbued with the notion of the completely distinct personality of the Father and the Son, pursued this to its proper consequence – the denial of the real divinity of Christ. He saw that if the Father and Son are two Persons, they must, if each is God, be also two gods. But as he was fully persuaded of the great truth, that God is and can be but one, on seeing the incompatibility of this with the notion of separate divine persons in the Godhead, he solved the contradiction the wrong way. Instead of inferring that as God is One, and Jesus Christ is a divine person, Jesus must be that one God manifested in human nature, he argued, that as God is one, and Jesus is a distinct person, Jesus cannot truly be God at all. He therefore invented the notion, that, as the Scriptures testify, the world was created as well as redeemed by Jesus Christ; he was in fact the first of all created existences – a being invested with great but delegated powers, and only called God by courtesy.
In modern times this genuine doctrine of Arius has but few adherents. The notion of a created Creator does such violence to reason, that the modern deniers of the Lord’s divinity deny his creatorship, and believe him to have been a mere man also, and the Scripture passages which assert it, they divest of their proper meaning by violently forced explanations. Indeed, most of those who in modern times deny the Lord’s divinity, deny his pre-existence in any character whatever. This, however, is an excess of daring and of contradiction to the plainest Scripture evidences to which the early impugners of his divinity ventured not to go; and the doctrine of Arius, irrational as it is regarded to be by modern humanitarians, repeatedly threatened, during several centuries, to become the reputed orthodox doctrine of the Christian church. The first serious check which it received was at the Council of Nice, called by Constantine the Great. At this council was framed the doctrine afterwards digested into the famous creed called the Nicene Creed. But the fathers of the Council of Nice being imbued with the notion of Tertullian about the distinct personality of the three subsistences of the Trinity, saw no other way of maintaining the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ, and his eternal existence, in opposition to the denial of it by Arius, than by asserting his existence from eternity in the character of a Son, or in adopting the doctrine of the eternal sonship.
16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:
16 Mountains on account of their height above the earth signify the Lord and His holy celestial things. Judea stands for the vastated church. A. 795.
Heaven and the church where are love to the Lord and love toward the neighbour, and thus where the Lord is, are signified by mountains and hills. R. 336.
16-18. The first state of the man who is regenerating is to be led by truths to good, and the other state is to be led by good. When he is in this latter state the order is inverted, he is then led of the Lord, consequently he is then in heaven, and thereby in the tranquillity of peace. . . . The other state is here described,fand none ought to return from it to the first. That those states are distinct see Deuteronomy xxii. 8-12: Leviticus xix. 19. A. 9274.
16 When this great evil is seen to be done, the Lord’s direction is, Then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains; by which is meant that the church would no more truly exist with those who are confirmed in its received doctrines, but with those who shunned the abomination, and, betaking themselves into a state of retiring love, continued to worship the Lord in simplicity and truth, not dividing his divinity from the divinity of the Father, whether or not they had distinct ideas of the manner of their unity. And this is it direction now to be regarded by those who witness the corruptions of a perverted church. When truth of doctrine is in obscurity, they are to flee to the mountains, which always means, in the language of Scripture, to take refuge in the principle of love, cultivated in the inner recesses of the soul. They are not to shut themselves up in the beleaguered city and defend its errors and corruptions; neither are they to join the besieging heathen army of infidel foes, that would fain bring everything of the church to destruction. They are to stand aloof from the tumult, cultivating the graces of love and charity, in dependence on the Lord, and in reliance on his protection. So will they be recognized by him as his true disciples, will be admitted to form the first fruits of his new church in the world, and will certainly be finally elevated to his kingdom in heaven. Of this class there are large numbers at the present day. Many who are afraid to look narrowly into the doctrines of religion as held by the professing church, find a sanctuary in the good of religion, where they can pour out their hearts in acts of piety to God, and extend their hands in deeds of benevolence to men.
17 Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house:
17 Good is called lord, because truths and scientifics are of good as their lord. Good also is called house, because truths and scientifics are in good as in their own house. A. 9154.
By the roof is signified what is celestial, which is inmost, good is also signified, for good is everywhere inmost and truth proceeds from it, comparatively as light from flame. A. 10184.
17, 18. A house and a field are occasionally mentioned in other parts of the Word, and when the subject is the celestial man by a house is signified celestial good, and by a field spiritual good. Both the one and the other are signified in Matthew. A. 4982.
The sense of these words being, let not him who is in good betake himself therefrom to what is of the doctrines of faith. A. 5895.
They who are of the Lord’s celestial kingdom, because they are in celestial good, and celestial truth is charity, while spiritual truth is faith, are not willing even to mention faith, lest they should go down from good and look back. A. 5897.
For they who from good regard truth are in the interior heaven, but they who from truth regard good are in the exterior heaven, the latter from the world look to heaven, the former from heaven look to the world, whence they are in a kind of opposition. So, if they were together, the one would destroy the other. A. 7601.
When man is being regenerated, the good with him then proceeds from the truth of faith, for he then acts in accordance with truth, not from affection for truth, but from obedience, because it was so commanded. Afterward, however, when he is regenerated, he does good from affection, thus from love. These two states with man are well distinguished in the Word, by reason that man cannot be at the same time in both states. If any one betakes himself to the former state, he loses then the affection for doing good from love, and relapses into the state of faith, which had been serviceable to him for introduction to good, and he also relapses beyond that state. This, in the internal sense, is meant by the Lord’s words concerning the last judgment in Matthew. A. 7857.
By the roof is signified good, and by being upon the house or upon the roof a state when man is in good. He who is in good, which is the state of the regenerate man, shall not return into a state of truth, which is his prior state, namely during regeneration. For in this latter state man is led by truth to good, thus partly by himself, but in the former or posterior state, when he is regenerated, he is led of good, that is by good from the Lord. A. 10184.
As there are three degrees of heaven, so each angel has three degrees of life. To angels in the inmost heaven the third or inmost degree is open, and the second and first are closed. To those in the middle heaven, the second degree is open and the first and third are closed. To those in the lowest heaven the first degree is open and the second and third are closed. As soon therefore as an angel of the third heaven looks down into a society of the second, and speaks with any one there, his third degree -is closed, on the closing of which he is deprived of his wisdom, for his wisdom resides in the third degree, and he has none in the second and first. This is what is meant by the words of the Lord in Matthew. H. 208.
17-19, 21. These things are also said concerning the state of the church about its end, when falses of evil, and evils of the false have rule, and the truths of the Word are not received except falsified and adulterated. This is understood by woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days, and also by the great affliction which shall then take place. E. 721.
17 Again, Let him which is on the house-top not come down to take anything out of his house. It is evident that this exhortation is not to be literally understood. It is commonly supposed to be a figurative mode of expressing haste. But the Word contains no mere figures of speech. Every figure is a correspondence or spiritual analogy. The house is an emblem of the mind, the top of the house, of the highest or inmost faculty and degree of the mind, and the lower part a lower faculty or degree. The top of the house is the will, where there is love to the neighbour or charity, and the lower part is where there is faith or truth. The exhortation, spiritually understood, is, that he who is in a state of charity is not to come down to a state of faith.
18 Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.
18 So where the Lord said in reference to the consummation of the age, that they should not return back to take up their garments. Garments here are truths.
A. 2576. Verse quoted. N. 186.
19 By those that are with child and those that give suck in those days, over whom lamentation is made, are understood those who then receive the goods of love and the truths of that good. They that are with child stand for those who receive the good of love, and they that give suck those who receive the truths of that good, for the milk which is given to suckle signifies truth from the good of love. The reason why it is said, woe to them, is because they are not able to keep the goods and truths which they receive, for then hell prevails and takes them away, whence arises profanation. Hell then prevails, because in the end of the church the falses of evil reign, and take away the truths of good. E. 710.
These things are said concerning those who are in the end of the church, when no genuine truths, but what are falsified can be received. E. 721.
18 Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. He who is in the field is one who is in the good of faith and his clothes are the truths of faith. To return back from the field to take his clothes, is to recede from the good of faith to the truths of faith, which is to recede from a good life to mere empty profession and nominal Christianity. In the three cases we have now considered there is a receding from a state of good to a state of truth, or from a religion of the heart to a religion of the intellect; but there is a gradation which shows the distinctions that are so frequently presented in the Word, of which little trace is discernible in the literal sense. There are men of three kinds described in the Word – they who are in love to the Lord, they who are in charity to the neighbour, and they who are in the affection of truth. They who are in love to the Lord are meant by those who flee from Judea into the mountains; they who are in charity to the neighbour are meant by those who are not to come down from the house-top to take anything out of the house; and they who are in the affection or the good of truth, are meant by those who are not to return from the field to take their clothes. It is but another way of expressing it, to say, that the three classes are the celestial, the spiritual, and the natural; who form the three degrees of the Lord’s kingdom on earth and the three degrees that are still more distinctly marked in his kingdom in heaven.
19 And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!
20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day:
19-22. It is manifest that these things are said concerning the last time of the church, that is, concerning its vastation, which is then said to be vastated, when there is no longer any charity. A. 3752.
Woe, is a form of expression signifying the danger of eternal damnation. To be with child is to conceive the good of heavenly love, to give suck is also a state of innocence, those days mean the state in which the church then is. A. 3755.
Verses mentioned. A. 3897.
19 And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! It is almost unnecessary to say that this must have another than the natural sense. In the Word nothing is more common than to compare man’s spiritual to his natural birth. And, indeed, there is a perfect analogy between them. To be with child and to give suck is therefore to be understood of the spiritual life. To be with child is expressive of that state or stage of the regenerate life when good is conceived in the internal man, but is not yet brought forth into the external – that is, when religion is in the mind, but not yet in the life. To bear in the womb is to conceive the good of celestial love. To give suck is to imbue innocence with spiritual truth from a celestial origin. But why should the woe to which these are subject be attached to or attendant on these states? This is not a woe of punishment but of affliction; and most expressive is it when seen in reference to the present subject, in the troublous times in which the state exists. As natural birth is attended with anguish and danger, so is spiritual pain, as of a woman in travail is the very expression in which we recognize the pains of spiritual parturition. In fact, the time of “labour” and pain in the spiritual life is the time of “bringing forth” our religion, or religious principles, as conceived in the inner, into actual existence in the outer man, or from the mind into the life. If this is afflictive in the most favourable circumstances, what must it be under circumstances the most unfavourable? It is sufficiently difficult to bring our religion into the life, our principles into practice, even when we have the aid and encouragement of proper teaching and good example; how much more so when we are beset on every side by temptation to sin! But whence the woe to them that give suck? If, in evil times, it is difficult to bring our principles to the birth, it must be also difficult, after they are born, to sustain and nourish them, and this more specially when they are but new-born, or in their early infancy, and are tender and susceptible, and unable to bear the cold and privation from which even a mother’s love may not be always able to preserve them. And let us remember that these states derive much of their afflictive character from being connected with one that immediately follows, symbolized by flight.
20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day. Flight denotes the last time of the church; it signifies also the last period of life, when the good flee away and are at rest from the tribulations of this world; and the wicked flee from one set of troubles to meet another. Flight has therefore two opposite meanings, because it is applicable to two opposite states. Spiritually, it denotes recession from good, or escape from evil. When it denotes recession from good and innocence, it involves the sin of profanation, which is the last state of the church; when it means escape from evil, it is a deliverance, and is the prelude of a new beginning. In either case the exhortation is to be attended to. As summer and its heat are emblematical of love, winter and its cold are emblematical of the absence of love; and when there is no love there is no life. Winter, therefore, denotes a state of the church when there is, indeed, the light of truth, but not the warmth of love, – when there is a complete end of vital religion. The Sabbath, the consecrated emblem of a holy state, is also the emblem of a state of seeming holiness – of a holy external without a holy internal – of sanctity in the manner, without piety in the heart. This is descriptive of the last state of the church, or religion, among men. The end of the church does not imply a universal, or even a general state of open infidelity, wickedness, and impiety. On the contrary, the church may be virtually at an end, while there is greatest outward appearance of religion – a church establishment, with all its pomp and circumstance. The church really is as seen by the eye of Omniscience. There may be abundance of light, but it is the light of winter – without heat; there may be abundance of piety, but it is the formal piety of the Sabbath, without the holiness of every-day life. If the church does recede from goodness and innocence, it is to be prayed for that it should not be when the church is in the very last stage of dissolution, so that no remnant can be saved – no remains left, out of which a new church can be formed. What the consequences of this would be we shall see when we come to the 22nd verse. Those who, on the other hand, are fleeing from the wrath to come, may pray that their flight be neither in the winter nor on the Sabbath day – neither in a state of too much cold nor in a state of too much heat.
21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.
21 The end of the church is also described in the prophets by the shakings, overthrowings, and sinkings of the earth, and by other things which relate to earthquakes. R. 7 11.
Verse quoted. B. 74.
That by the great affliction is understood the infestation of truths by falses, until nothing remains of the genuine truths of the Word which is not falsified and thus consummated. This has come to pass because the churches have not acknowledged the unity of God in the trinity. B. 75.
See Chapter XXIV., n, 15, two references. T. 179.
But it is asked, Whence is the very vein of the foundation from which has flowed such abomination of desolation as never was, nor ever will be? The answer is, From the faith which universally prevails in the Christian world, and from its influx, operation and imputation according to traditions. It is wonderful that the doctrine of justification by faith alone (although it is not a faith but a chimera) carries every point in Christian churches, that is, that it reigns there with the clerical order, almost as the only thing in theology. T. 181.
That the last state of the church is caused by that faith (faith alone) which is understood by Matthew xxiv. 21. D. J., Page 17.
See Chapter XXIV.,, 15, 29. Can., Chap. ix. i, 2.
There will be such affliction as has not been since the beginning of the world. D. P., Page 8.
21, 22. At this day instead of the acknowledgment of one God, there is an acknowledgment of three, and instead of repentance of life, there is a repentance of the mouth only that one is a sinner, and by these two there is no conjunction : on which account unless a new church rises up, which acknowledges these two essentials and lives them, no one can be saved. On account of this peril the time has been shortened by the Lord. R. 9.
This is said of the last period of the church when the judgment takes place. That such is the state of the church at this day, may be known from these things only, that in the greatest part of the Christian world there are those who have transferred the Lord’s Divine power to themselves, and who wish to be worshipped as Gods, and who invoke dead men, and scarcely any one among them the Lord. The rest in the church make God three, and the Lord two, and place salvation not in amendment of life, jDut in certain words uttered in a devout tone, thus not in repentance, but in the trust that they are justified and sanctified, provided they fold the hands and look up ward, and pray in the established form. R. 263.
Violence is offered to the Word, and to the Lord Himself by the Roman Catholic religion, also by the religion among the reformed in regard to faith alone. The Lord endured the evils and falsities of both, when He executed the last judgment, by which He again subjugated the hells, and unless they had been subjugated again, no flesh could have been saved. R. 829.
Unless a new heaven and a new church are founded by the Lord, no flesh could be saved. T. 182.
It is manifest of what quality man becomes after death if the natural man is not regenerated, consequently what he would become in his fantasy, if a new church in which genuine truths are taught, were not established by the Lord. Such is the meaning of these words of the Lord. T. 598.
That the Lord, when He spake with the disciples concerning the consummation of the age and His advent, that is concerning the end of the present church and the commencement of the New Church, after describing the desolation and affliction, said, that unless those days were shortened no flesh could be saved, that is, all would perish in eternal death. Can., Chapter x. i.
22 All flesh signifies every man, and thus the whole human race. A. 1050.
As to the nature of the purpose of subjugating, it has also been given me to know what it is with the wicked who are from hell. Their effort and purpose of subjugating those who are in good and truth is such, as cannot be described, for they use all malice, all cunning and fraud, all deceit and cruelty so great and of such a nature that if they were told only in part, hardly any one in the world would believe. They can do no good whatever, because it is repugnant to them, if they do good it is for the sake of self, thus to self. Within the church cunning is now esteemed ingenious, and adultery honorable, and they who think otherwise are laughed at. This state at this day within the church is a sign that its last time is at hand, according to the Lord’s words in Matthew, since indeed all evil is contagious and infectious like leaven in dough, and so at length infects all. A. 6666.
Unless the church should come to an end before its time, it would altogether perish. R. 4.
That had not a New Church been instituted by the Lord nobody could be saved. This is understood by these words in Matthew. B. 91.
By shortening those days is understood to make an end to the church of this day, and to institute a New Church. B. 92.
See Chapter XXIV., 15. T. 758.
This coming of the Lord, which is the second, takes place in order that the evil may be separated from the good, also that those may be saved who have believed and do believe in Him, and also that a new angelic heaven may be formed from them, and a New Church on earth, and without this no flesh could be saved. T. 772.
See Chapter XXIV., 22. B. 91 statement repeated. D. J., Page 18.
Verse partly quoted. D. P., Page 8.
21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. The greatest good is capable of the greatest perversion, – the greatest blessing may be turned into the greatest curse. Truths of a higher order and of a more interior kind were revealed to the Christian than had been revealed to the Israelitish church, and were capable of being more falsified and profaned. The tribulations are said to be greater than any that had been from the beginning of the world; but the world spiritually means the church, and the beginning, not its first time, but its first state. Its beginning and its end are spiritually its first and last principles, and the last are more profaned than the first. The times and the states of a falling church, no doubt, to some extent run parallel – but it is not time, but state, that affects it, and it is only when its last principles are corrupted that the church comes to an end. While these remain, the foundations are not entirely destroyed; but when these give way, the entire fabric falls into ruin. And the last state is worse than the first: the last affliction is the accumulated intensity of all the others. But the affliction of these last times is greater than ever shall be, as well as greater than ever has been. This is, in fact, a promise that there shall be no more end, or, as the Word expresses it, that there shall be no more death, no more curse, no more sorrow nor crying – in a word, no more affliction: for the former things and states are passed away. The new heavens and the new earth that the Lord will create shall remain before him. The last shall be the crown of all dispensations, and shall stand for ever.
22 But in order that better days should begin, the evil days must be shortened: for except those days should be shortened, there, should no flesh be saved. It is a law of Divine order, or rather an arrangement of Divine mercy, that no dispensation is ever allowed to come to a complete end, or die completely out. Its end must be hastened, or rather anticipated. It must be brought, and not allowed to come to its end. If the end of a dispensation were not anticipated – if its days were not shortened – there should no flesh be saved, for the reason that there would be none left, – all would be consumed. Flesh spiritually means the principle of good, and, personally, those in whom there is some principle of good. Every declining church is brought to an end by a process of judgment, before all the good that belongs to it has died out, or been consumed, that the small remnant of good saved from the old may form a germ out of which the new may be produced. Those in whom this remnant of good exists are the elect, for whose sake the evil days shall be shortened. These are not any number chosen without respect to their merits. Whom God elects, he elects because they are worthy. Men are not good because they are elected, but they are elected because they are good. The elect are the good, and the good are the elect. For their sakes the days of affliction are shortened; for they are the ones that are to be gathered together, and out of them the new kingdom is to be formed.
23 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.
23, 24. Those who call themselves Christians and say they worship Christ, but do not live according to His precepts, they worship him with idolatry, because they worship His name alone, since it is a false Christ whom they worship—concerning which false Christ see Matthew. A. 3732.
23-25. By Christ is signified the Lord as to the Divine truth of the Word. Therefore their saying ” Lo here is Christ” signifies^that they would say that this is the Divine truth of the Word. But that it is falsified is signified by these words, ” If any man shall say to you; Here is Christ, or there, believe it not, for there shall arise false Christs and false prophets.” R. 595.
23-26. Truths also in which the Lord is not are those which are taken from the Word, especially from the sense of the letter, and are explained in favor of self-dominion and self-gain. These in themselves are truths because they are from the Word, but they are not truths because they are misinterpreted and thus perverted. They are such as are meant by the Lord by these words in Matthew. A. 8868.
23-28. Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is the Christ, or there, believe it not signifies an exhortation to beware of their doctrine. The Christ is the Lord as to Divine truth, and hence as to the Word, and as to doctrine from the Word. That here the contrary is meant, namely Divine truth falsified, or doctrine of falsity is evident. . . False Christs are doctrinals from the Word falsified, or truths not Divine. . . . They shall show great signs and wonders signifies things that confirm and persuade from external appearances and fallacies, by which the simple-minded suffer themselves to be seduced. . . . To seduce if possible even the elect signifies those who are in the life of good and truth, and thence with the Lord. These are they who in the Word are called the elect. … By wilderness is meant whatever is not cultivated or inhabited, also whatever has little life, as is then the case with truth in the church. The inner chambers or secret recesses signify, in the internal sense, the church as to good, and also simply good. That what they say about truth and what they say about good is not to be believed, is because they call falsity truth, and evil good. Verse 27 signifies that it was thus with internal worship of the Lord as with lightning, which is instantly dissipated. For by lightning is signified what is of heavenly light, and thus what is preached about love and faith, since these are of heavenly light. . . . Verse 28 signifies that confirmations of falsity by means of reasonings will be multiplied in the vastated church.
The carcase here is the church without the life of charity and faith. A. 3900.
The truth of faith and the good of charity were still to remain in the midst, or with some who are called the elect. A. 4058.
23 The elect are not saved without tribulation. A series of seducing evils, similar to those which arose at the beginning of the church, are to prevail at its end. When the disciples asked the Lord what would be the sign of his coming the first sign he warned them of was that many would come in his name, saying, I am Christ. Here he says, there shall arise false Christs and also false prophets. There is a difference between the former and the latter Christs, not undeserving of attention, and which will be noticed as we proceed. Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there: believe it not. Here and there have a similar meaning to near and distant. Here signifies what is internal, and there signifies what is external; and place signifies state. As the state of the church is treated of, here and there signify the internal and external of the church, thus of her doctrines and worship. That we are not to believe a man, when he says, Lo, here is Christ, or there, implies that Christ is not to be found either in the internal or in the external of the church. Christ signifies divine truth; and when the church is corrupted, there is no longer the truth in her doctrines and worship, either in their internal essence or in their external manifestation.
24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
25 Behold, I have told you before.
24 Signs signify here testifications that the things they teach are true, although they are false. . . . For every heretic who has confirmed himself in falsities, after the confirmation brings proof that his falsities are
truths. R. 598-
Here by great signs and miracles is signified that they will testify and persuade, also that they will strike and induce astonishment, whence arises strong persuasion. E. 706.
That miracles are not done at this day, for reasons given in the “True Christian Religion,” wherefore God says in Matthew xxiv. 24. Inv. 39.
That miracles are not done at this day, since they seduce men and make them natural. They obstruct the interiors of his mind wherein faith ought to be rooted and thence mere falses proceed. Inv. 46.
Miracles are nothing else than snares to seduce. Inv. 52.
Verse mentioned. Inv. 55.
24, 25. That the religion of this church could not be implanted by miracles, but by the Word and by light from the Lord therein. This light enters and remains to eternity. A religion by miracles extinguishes this light, and because it places itself in the front, therefore it perishes by a breaking to pieces. J. Post., Page 139.
The foregoing statement repeated. J. Post., Page 141.
False Christs shall arise and shall shew signs and wonders. D. P., Page 34.
24-26. By the beast coming up out of the earth (Revelation xiii. 11) who did the signs, and is elsewhere called the false prophet, is signified the faith of the dragon among the clergy. The like is said by the Lord in Matthew. R. 600.
24 But although the one true Christ is no longer there, there shall arise false Christs and false prophets. False Christs are falsified truths, and false prophets are those doctrines formed from them, as well as those who teach them. Those here spoken of are called false Christs- but this is not said of those mentioned at the 9th verse. There it is only said that many would come in the Lord’s name, saying, I am Christ. The reason of this difference no doubt is, that in the beginning of decline falses prevail, but in the end falsified truths. And truths falsified or perverted are much more deceitful and dangerous than simple errors. It is therefore said of these false Christs and false prophets, that they shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Signs and wonders are evidently means that these pseudo-Christs are to employ to induce people to believe their teaching. And the means which the designing employ to induce others to believe their doctrines are persuasion and influence – persuasion for the understanding, and influence for the will: the first appeals to their fallacies, the second to their cupidities. A sign is that which acts upon the understanding; a wonder is that which acts upon the will. A sign is not a means of convincing, but only of persuading. Our Lord therefore refused the Jews a sign, because he would exert no power over the understanding to induce upon it a, blind, unreasoning, and unperceiving faith. He performed wonders or miracles, because they only impressed the will with a sense of awe, but did not interfere with man’s rational liberty. The very object of the false Christs and prophets, in performing their signs and wonders, is to take away the power of reason and freedom from others, or so bring them under their own influence as to make them their devoted followers. Unscrupulous men have an extraordinary power over untrained minds, especially when not balanced by fixed principles, and most of all when religion is the engine they employ to effect their purpose of deception. The best safeguard against such influence is a principle of real, genuine goodness. Those who have this principle are the elect, whom it is impossible to seduce. For when the mind is established in goodness; as the very essential element of religion, there is the best protection against evil. It is true that goodness defends itself by truth; but genuine goodness implies the presence of truth and of life as their embodiment.
And while goodness is the best protection against the deceitful teaching of false Christs, it is the best ground in which to receive the teaching of the true Christ. It is to such that the Lord gives salutary warning. Behold, I have told you before. Those who are in good receive truth. And they also receive it internally. This is signified by being told before. For here again we have to translate the natural into the spiritual – the natural idea of time into the spiritual idea of state. For time, like place, signifies state. There is this difference between them, that place or space signifies state in reference to the will, and time, state in reference to the understanding or, what is the same, space refers to states of good, and time to states of truth. Before and after are correlations of here and there, and of before and behind; before, has relation to the internal, and after, to the external. To be told before is therefore to receive truth from the Lord by an internal way, and into the internal of the mind; and they who thus receive are prepared to resist the seductive machinations of the wonder-working prophets.
26 Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.
26 That a vastated church, or one in which all the truths of the church are falsified, such as it was with the Jews at the time of the Lord’s coming, is signified by a wilderness (desert). R. 546.
By Christ is understood the Lord as to Divine truth, consequently as to the Word and as to doctrine from the Word, and by false Christs are signified falses of doctrine, from the truths of the Word falsified. By a wilderness is understood the church, where there are no truths because no good, consequently where the false is, because there is evil, for where truth and good is not, there is the false and evil. E. 730.
26 Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. Something similar to there and here are meant by the desert and the secret chambers. As here and there mean internal and external, the secret chambers and the desert mean what relates to the will and understanding, or to good and truth. The church is called a desert when it is devastated as to truth; and the human understanding is described by the same figure when it is in the same state. And, indeed, it amounts to the same, whether we speak of the church or the human understanding as a desert; for it is the devastation of truth in the understanding of her members that brings the church into that state. It amounts to the same, whether we say that the church is devastated as to good, or that the human will is; for it is because there is devastation of good in the wills or hearts of the members of the church generally, that the church can be in that state. The will is meant by the secret chambers, as the understanding is by the desert. And is the consummated church is devastated both of good and truth, both as to will and understanding, therefore the truth is neither in the one nor the other. Christ is neither in the secret chambers of her moral principles nor in the desert of her intellectual ideas. Her moral principles, or secret chambers, are full of lewdness, where the pure good of the Lord’s love cannot enter; and her intellectual principles are a desert, where there is only barrenness and desolation, the haunt of the serpent and the basilisk, with which the lamb cannot herd together. And when this is the case with the church, it is also the case with the Word, – not with the Word itself, but with the Word so far as the church is its expositor. If we look into the secret chambers of the church, what do we see? Mysteries that are not only above, but contrary to reason, rendering the exhortation, “Believe them not,” a necessity as well as a ditty. Again, we see the moral attributes of God so brought into conflict with one another as to refuse reconcilement, without a satisfaction that involves a violation of the highest moral principle. How can the elect believe that Christ is there? On the other hand, has not faith alone made the church a desert? How can the elect expect to find in the dogma that man is saved by an act of faith, Him who said, “If ye would enter into life, keep the commandments?” When such is the state of the church and of religion, the advent of Christ must be at hand; for truly, except these days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved.
27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
28 For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.
27 By the east is signified the Lord. E. 422. As the lightning cometh out of the east, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be. D. P., Page 8.
It is explained what the Lord said in Matthew xxiv. Inv. 33.
27, 30. The coming of the Son of Man signifies the revelation of truth Divine in the consummation of the age, that is in the end of the church. All the tribes of the earth which shall then mourn stand for all the goods and truths of faith and love from the Lord, and thus to the Lord in the complex. The clouds of heaven, in which He is about to come stand for the literal sense of the Word, virtue and glory — the internal sense, in which sense the Lord alone is inrnostly treated of. A. 9807.
The Son of Man is the Lord as to the Divine Humanity, and as to Divine truth proceeding from Him. E. 63.
28 In the opposite sense eagles signify the knowledges of falsity, from which comes perverted understanding. R. 244. See Chapter XXIV., 15, add: To that faith and the imputation thereof the eagles have gathered together, eagles there mean the lynx-eyed leaders of the church. T. 634.
27 For as the lightning cometh out of the cast, and shineth, even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. This coming of the Lord is not his future grand advent, which forms the commencement of a new dispensation, and which is described a little further on, by his coming in the clouds but it is his coming to the old dispensation in the last stages of its decline. For the coming of the Lord is not according to the literal expression, that he is to appear again in the world, but it is his presence within every one, which occurs as often as the gospel is preached, and holy thought is excited. The Lord, therefore, is constantly coming. The nature of his coming, or, what is the same, of his reception, differs, as the state of the church, and is described by the different modes in which his Word represents it. The nature of his coming and reception at the end of the church being described in this instance, we can derive an idea of its character and results from the correspondences by which it is described. The figure here employed by the, Divine speaker presents the idea of an appearance that is sudden and brilliant, but evanescent – a flash that lights up the horizon for a moment, but is instantly dissipated, leaving a profounder darkness than that which it dispelled. And this, in truth, is just that kind of coming of the Lord which takes place at the end of a church, when deadness and darkness prevail. There is no continuous spiritual light, no sustained spiritual thought, no reigning spiritual affection. The prevailing state is deadness of the affections, darkness of the intellect. By the preaching of the gospel, or rather, while the gospel is preached, or some exciting cause acts upon the mind, the faculties may be awakened and lighted up, but it is only for the moment. If the mind has no light and life in itself, one is only religious by fits and starts, as some external agency moves and persuades. When the world is within and religion without, religious states are emotional and imaginative. Vivid impressions and notions can be conveyed and entertained. The lightning may come out of the east, and shine even unto the west. Heavenly light from the east may flash in upon the soul, through the feelings of charity excited in the mind, but it as soon disappears in the west, where an antagonistic selfishness prevails. Lightning is the emblem of the heavenly light of truth; the east, whence it comes, is love and charity and the west, sometimes the continuation and termination of a holy state, is also, as here, its opposite, where a good commenced is neutralized.
28 We come now to the last state of the church, represented by a figure that can at once be recognized: it is that of a dead body. And what an image of death and desolation does it present! The carcase and the vultures are the only remaining objects in the scene of desolation. The body of the church is dead, – fallen in the desert which she herself has created; and the vultures are hastening to the scene, to contend for their share of the foul banquet which the carcase offers. For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together. We can hardly render the state of the church represented by the dead body more intelligible or expressive by explanation. But there is something to be said about the rest of the picture. Although it is only the vulture that feeds upon carrion, the eagle has no doubt been employed by the Lord on account of its signification. The vulture can only have a bad correspondence, but the eagle has both a good and a bad meaning. And the eagles are here introduced to represent principles in the church which were once good; having, like everything else, become perverted and profaned. Eagles correspond to the rational principles of the mind. And these may be either true or false. A man can reason in favour of truth or error, nay, of good or evil, as the motives prompt him. Reason is a noble faculty, and when employed in the service of truth and righteousness, can give them excellent support; but when it is degraded, and is made the slave of passion and self-interest, it becomes as mischievous as it was formerly beneficent. When reason is the minister of good, it is as the wings of eagles, with which the renewed mind mounts up; when the minister of evil, it is like the eagles that scent the carrion and hasten down to the prey. Do we not find that such is the case? – That mere reason, which is rather ratiocination, has been gathered around the Word itself, which is treated as a dead letter, possessing no inherent divine life; and have not many of those critics in these last days contended over the soulless body as vultures over their prey? And when the Word is thus regarded and thus treated, how can the church and religion fare better? For the Word is the origin and support of both.
29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
29 By the sun is here meant love which is obscured, by the moon faith, which does not give her light, by the stars knowledges of faith which fall from heaven, and which are the virtues and powers of the heavens. A. 32.
By the sun are meant the celestial things of love, by the moon the spiritual things, by the stars good and truth, or the knowledges of good and truth, which are thus darkened near the consummation of the age, when there is no faith, that is, no charity. A. 1808.
Not that the sun of the world will be darkened, but the celestial which is of love and charity, nor the moon, but the spiritual which is of faith, nor that the stars will fall from heaven, but the knowledges of good and truth with the man of the church. These are the powers of the heavens, nor will these things take place in heaven, but on earth, for heaven is never darkened. A. 1839.
By the sun are signified love and charity, by the moon faith therefrom, and by the stars knowledges of good and truth, which are said to be obscured, to lose their light and to fall from heaven, when there is no longer any acknowledgment of the Lord, nor any love to Him, nor any charity toward the neighbour, and when these have become nought, the love of self with its falsities takes possession of man, for the one thing is a consequence of the other. A. 2441.
By these words of the Lord is thus signified that in the consummation of the age or in the last period of the church, there will be no longer any love, or charity, nor therefore any faith. That this is the sense is evident from similar words of the Lord in the prophets. (Isaiah xiii. 9, 10 : Joel ii. 2, 10.) A. 2495.
The last day or the last state of the church is here treated of, by the sun being darkened and the moon not giving her light is signified, that then the good of love and of charity will perish. And by the stars falling from heaven, that the knowledges of good and truth will also perish. A. 4697.
See Chapter V., 34. A. 9408.
By the sun is here signified love, by the moon faith, and by the stars knowledges of good and truth. They are said to be darkened, to lose their light and to fall from heaven, when they are no more. H. 119.
By stars falling from heaven are not meant stars, but that the knowledges of good and truth are to perish. R. 51.
These things are said of the Jewish church in Micah iii. 5, 6. The like is meant by the Lord’s words. R. 53.
Who, that elevates his mind cannot see that the sun, the moon and the stars of the world are not meant in these cases. Falsities of various kinds are signified by darkness. R. 413.
That neither love, nor faith, nor knowledges of good and truth are in the Christian church in the last time, when its end approaches. B. 77.
In the prophetic Word similar things are said of the sun, the moon and the stars, as here in Matthew. B. 78.
In all these places in the Old Testament the last time of the Jewish church is spoken of, which existed when the Lord came into the world. Similar things are meant here in Matthew and in Revelation, but in reference to the last time of the Christian church, when the Lord has made His second advent, but in the Word, which is He Himself and in which He is, for immediately after these words in verse 29 follows in verse 30, And then will appear the sign of the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven. By the sun is meant love, by the moon faith and by the stars the knowledges of good and truth. B. 78.
Indeed the apostolic church actually was like a new star appearing in the starry heaven, but the church after the two Nicene councils became like the same star afterwards darkened and lost to view, just as has sometimes happened in the natural world, according to the observations of astronomers. T. 176.
See Chapter XXIV., 21, add: That the doctrine of that faith has at this day blinded the minds of men to such a degree that they will not, and therefore as it were cannot, see any Divine truth interiorly, by the light of the sun, or by the light of the moon, but only exteriorly, as on some rough surface, by the light of the hearth by night, has been proved to me. T. 181.
When it is known that the sun signifies the Lord as to Divine love, thus also the Divine love from the Lord, and that stars signify the truths of the church, and their knowledges, it may also be known what is signified in the Word, where it is said that the sun shall be darkened, and that all the stars shall withdraw their shining, and also that they shall fall from heaven. £.72,
By the sun and moon being darkened is signified that there no longer remained any good and truth. On account of this signification the sun was darkened when the Lord was upon the cross, because in the church, which was then among the Jews, He was entirely rejected, and they were consequently in dense darkness or falsities. E. 401.
The stars signify such things as pertain to the light of heaven, and thence give light, and these are the knowledges of good and truth. E. 402.
The reason why falling, when predicated of stars, by which are signified the knowledges of good and truth derived from the Word, signifies to perish is, because Divine truth, when in the spiritual world it falls out of heaven to the earth in that world, where the evil are, is turned into falsity, and when Divine truth is falsified, it then perishes. E.518.
These words relate to the last time of the church, when there are no longer any|spiritual good and truth, or good and truth of heaven and the church, but only evil and what is false. E. 526.
The knowledges of good and truth from the Word are falsified by those, who acknowledge the Word, but apply it to favor their own loves, and the principles which are from self-derived intelligence, for thus they turn the truth of the Word into falsity and thus the knowledges of good and truth with them perish. To fall down or fall from heaven to earth, signifies to perish, that is not to have any more a place in heaven. E. 535.
Casting to the earth when predicated concerning the stars, by which are signified the knowledges of truth and good from the Word, signifies to extinguish and destroy them. E. 720.
That this state of the church is caused by the faith which is understood by this passage. D. J. 17.
That the successive decrease of good and truth and increase of evil and falsity in the church are called in the Word vastation and desolation. Can., Chap. iv. 5.
The sun shall be darkened, the moon not give her light and the stars fall from heaven. D. P., Page 8.
Ezekiel xxxii. 7, 8, 9. This passage is similar to what the Lord foretold concerning the consummation of the present Christian church in Matthew. Coro. 59.
29, 30. These words by no means signify the darkening of the sun and moon, nor the falling of the stars from heaven, nor the mourning of the tribes, but they tell of charity and faith, for these are the sun and the moon in the internal sense, and they will be darkened, and of the knowledges of good and truth, for these are the stars, and they are here called the powers of heaven which will thus fall down and vanish, and of all things of faith, which are the tribes of the earth. A. 1984.
These words the angels apperceive altogether different from man. By the sun which shall be obscured they do not apperceive the sun, but love to the Lord, by the moon they apperceive faith to the Lord, by stars knowledges of good and truth, by the Son of Man the Lord as to Divine truth, by the tribes of the earth, all the truths of the church, by the clouds of heaven the Word in the sense of the letter, and by virtue and glory the Word in the internal sense. Into this understanding of these words the angels come in an instant from correspondence when man reads them, nor do they know that man thinks of the sun, of the moon, of the stars, etc. A. 10604.
By sun here is meant the Lord as to love, by moon the Lord as to faith, by stars the Lord as to knowledges of good and truth, by the Son of Man the Lord as to the Word, by cloud the sense of the letter of the Word, by glory the spiritual sense of the Word and its transparence in the sense of the letter. S. 112.
All the tribes of the earth shall wail, signifies that there are no longer any knowledges of good and truth, the affliction signifies the state of the church. R. 27.
See Chapter XXIV., 3. T. 764.
By all the tribes of the earth is signified the whole church, and by their wailing (mourning) that truth and good are no more, because falsities and evil will bear rule and oppose. E. 39.
29-31. See Chapter XXIV., 29, 30 in S. 112, statement repeated. D. V. 17.
By these words is signified the state of the church at that time as to good, that is as to charity toward the neighbour and love to the Lord. But immediately after the affliction of those days, signifies the state of the church as to the truth of faith. Frequently in the Word the desolation of truth is called affliction. Days are states. From this it is manifest that by these words is signified, that after there is no longer any faith, there will be no charity, for faith leads to charity, because it teaches what chanty is, and charity takes its quality from the truths of faith ; but the truths of faith take their essence and their life from charity. The sun shall be darkened and the moon shall not give her light, signifies love to the Lord the sun, and charity toward the neighbour the moon. To be darkened and not give their light, that they will not appear and thus will vanish away. The sun and the moon in the heavens, or the Lord, is never darkened, nor loses its light, but shines perpetually. . . . Those however who are in no love and charity, but in the love of self and the world, and thence in hatred and revenge, bring that darkening upon themselves. . . . He shall send forth his angels with a trumpet and with a great voice, signifies election, not by visible angels, still less by trumpets and by great voices, but by the influx of holy good and holy truth from the Lord through angels. By the trumpet and great voice is signified evangelising. The elect are those who are in the good of love and faith. The four winds from which they shall be gathered are all states of good and truth, from one end of heaven to the other end means the internals and the externals of the church. A. 4060.
They who understand the words according to the sense of the letter, have no other belief than that at the last period, which is called the last judgment, all these things will come to pass according to the literal description. Of this opinion are most of the men in the church at the present day. But they who so believe do not know the arcana which lie within all the particulars of the Word. For the Word is written wholly by correspondences, to the end that in every particular there may be an inner sense. H. 1.
That the darkening of the sun and moon and the falling of the stars to the earth are not meant, is very evident from the prophets, for in them similar things are said concerning the state of the church, when the Lord was about to come into the world. S. 14.
In the spiritual sense by the sun which will be darkened is meant love to the Lord, by the moon which will not give her light — faith in Him. By the stars which fall from heaven — knowledges of truth and good. By the sign of the Son of Man in heaven — the appearing of Divine truth in the Word from Him. By the tribes of the earth which shall mourn — the want of all truth which is of faith, and of all good which is of love. By the coming of the Son of Man in the clouds of heaven with power and glory — the Lord’s presence in the Word and revelation, the clouds of heaven — the sense of the letter of the Word, glory — its spiritual sense. By the angels with a great sound of trumpet is meant heaven, whence is Divine truth. By gathering together the elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other — a new heaven and a new church of those who have faith in the Lord and live according to His commandments. T. 198.
See Chapter XXIV., 29, 30 under S. 112. Statement repeated in T. 271.
29 But we now come to the end, out of which comes the beginning. Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken. This is a most important prophecy. Considered in connection with the words which follow it, and which announce its sequel, it foretells the most momentous future event that the New Testament treats of. Its importance demands a proportionate share of our attention.
The impression which this prophetic declaration has made upon the centuries of the Christian church has been almost universally such as the simplest literal apprehension of the language could convey. It is here supposed that the event predicted in this address of our Lord is the end of the material world, and the present passage is understood to describe the catastrophe. It is not perhaps, surprising that such a notion has prevailed. No event can be clearly understood before it is accomplished; and it may be assumed that the language in which future events are announced in Scripture is designedly framed so as to preserve a belief in their approach, but to conceal their exact nature. It is a law of Divine order that we cannot see the Divine in his approach: we can only see him on the back, after he has passed. This has been the case hitherto. The Jews, who possessed and studied the whole range of prophecy relating to the end of their dispensation and the coming of the Lord to establish a new one, were so ignorant of the exact nature of the events that they refused to recognize them when they occurred before their eyes. Christians might learn from their example, both to be less positive in believing that they clearly understand the prophecies relating to the second coming of the Lord, and more ready to examine the claims of an expositor who offers a new interpretation, and one professedly founded on or supplied by their actual fulfilment. If they would adopt a course which is at once scriptural and reasonable, they might reach a satisfactory conclusion. That course is, to ascertain how predictions of a similar character in the Old Testament have received their fulfilment. We will adopt this course; and the result will show that prophecies in the Old Testament, almost identical in their character, and even in their language with this in the New, have never received a literal accomplishment. In a prophecy in Isaiah (ch. xiii.) relating to the destruction of Babylon, it is said (v. 10), “For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine.” The same language is employed by Ezekiel in describing the fall of Egypt (ch. xxxii. 7), “I will cover the heaven, and make the stars thereof dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give her light.” It is evident that these are not to be literally understood. There is a prophecy of this class in Joel which may have more force, since an apostle has declared that it relates to the Jewish church at the time of its end. When the multitudes that were gathered together saw the effects of the pouring out of the Spirit on the apostles on the day of Pentecost, they were amazed, and some mocked; but Peter, standing up with the eleven, said, “This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh . . . and I will show wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath: blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: the sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: and it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Now, here is a prophecy in which precisely the same figures occur. Interpreted literally, the last days could mean nothing else than the end of the world; but the apostle gives us clearly to understand that these were the “last days” of the Jewish church; and the extinction of the sun and moon can mean nothing else than the extinction of love and light in the church. As, therefore, this prediction of Joel had only a spiritual fulfilment, it is but reasonable to conclude that the Lord’s prophecy must have a spiritual fulfilment also. We now know that a literal fulfilment of such a prophecy is impossible. The darkening of the sun would involve the ruin of our entire solar system; and the falling of the stars the destruction of the whole sidereal heavens – in fact, the literal fulfilment of the prophecy involves no less a catastrophe than the end of the natural universe. If the natural sense is utterly impossible, the prediction must have a spiritual meaning. We must inquire what that meaning is.
The sun is mentioned in many places in Scripture, and always as an emblem of love, It is in reference to its vivifying qualities of supporting all things on earth by its heat, that the sun has this signification. For as the body is warmed by heat, so is the mind (and the body too, very often) by love. The moon, however, which is also mentioned, gives no perceptible heat, but only light, and that the reflected light of the sun; and as light is a clear emblem of truth, therefore the moon is always employed in Scripture to denote the principle of faith, which is a belief of truth. The stars, too, which to us are lesser lights, denote the knowledge of what is good and trite derived from the Word of God. The symbolical nature of these luminaries, and almost their exact signification, may be gathered from a remarkable passage in the twelfth chapter of Revelation, which is also prophetic in its character. “There appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her bead a crown of twelve stars.” This woman is a symbol of the church. She is clothed with the sun, to represent the church as invested with love; she has the moon under her feet, to represent that a true faith is that on which the church rests; and she has a crown of twelve stars, to represent that the wisdom and intelligence of the church are derived from the knowledges of truth and love revealed in the Scriptures. When, therefore, the Lord declares that, at the time of his second coming, “the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven,” he teaches that at the time of his second coming there will be no love to him and to the neighbour remaining in the church, signified by the sun’s being darkened; that all true faith in him will be lost, signified by the moon not giving her light; and that all genuine knowledges of truth derived from the Word will be banished, signified by the stars falling from heaven. To the same purpose it is said, in the sixth chapter of revelation, that, at the opening of the sixth seal, “the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; and the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.” Here the meaning is the same, except that the moon is said not simply to cease giving her light, but to be turned into blood; and as blood, in a bad sense, always signifies truth falsified, therefore, by the moon’s undergoing this transformation, is meant that a false faith would be established instead of a true one. Nearly the same is signified in the eighth chapter, when it is said that, at the sounding of the fourth angel, “the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.” In all cases, by such language is implied a manifestation of the state of the church in regard to its love, faith, and knowledge of divine truth derived from the Word. The luminaries of heaven are the source of light and heat, and as such they are the symbols of spiritual principles which are to the church what light and heat are to the earth. In Scripture, the sun is the emblem of love, the moon of faith, and the stars of knowledges. The Lord is the grand source of all the life and light of the church, but he communicates these through love, and faith, and knowledge. It is only in the human mind, too, that the Lord’s life and light can be interrupted or intercepted. The darkening of the sun and moon, and the falling of the stars, result from the corruptions of the church, or, what is the same, of the human mind. Self-love intercepts love to God; false persuasions intercept the light of faith; and disregard of knowledge causes it to fail. The stars are said to fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven to be shaken. In Genesis we read that, when God made the two great lights, he set them in the firmament of heaven, which is an allegorical mode of describing the elevation of love and faith in the internal of the mind, which heaven signifies. The falling of the stars from heaven is the degradation of spiritual knowledge from the internal to the external man; which means that spiritual knowledge is placed on a level with natural knowledge, and is regarded as earthly, and esteemed for earthly ends. Then it is that the powers of the heavens are shaken; for when spiritual things are regarded and loved for natural ends, the foundations of heaven are removed, and heavenly principles lose their stability and power.
30And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
30 The literal sense of the Word is called the clouds of heaven. Power and glory are the internal sense of the Word, which in general and in each particular relates solely to the Lord and to His kingdom, therefore the power and glory are in that sense. A. 49.
Tribes signify goods of love and truths of faith. By all the tribes of the earth mourning, is signified that there would be no longer any acknowledgment of truth, and life of good, for the subject here is the consummation of the age. A. 3858.
A cloud is here the literal sense of the Word and the glory the internal sense. A. 4391.
The literal sense of the Word is a cloud, and the internal nense glory, consequently Divine truth such as it is in heaven. Glory is the intelligence and wisdom which belong to Divine truth. The Word as to the external sense is in a cloud, for the reason that human minds are in darkness. A. 5922.
He who does not know that the expressions in the Word signify what is spiritual and celestial, and that some nre spoken of good and some of truth, cannot but suppose that such expressions are mere repetitions, spoken to fill up, and thus in themselves useless, when yet the veriest Divine things are stored therein, namely the heavenly marriage, which is heaven itself, and the Divine marriage which is the Lord Himself. This sense is the glory in which the Lord is, and the literal sense is the cloud in which is that glory. A. 6343.
By the coming of the Lord is not meant His appearing with angels in the clouds, but acknowledgment in hearts by love and faith, also His appearing from the Word, the inmost or supreme sense of which treats of the Lord alone. A. 6895.
The literal sense is called a cloud because the internal sense of the Word, which is called glory, cannot be comprehended by man except he be regenerated, and so enlightened. The internal sense of the Word, or truth Divine in its glory, if it appeared before a man not regenerated, would be as thick darkness, in which he would see nothing at all, and by which he also would be blinded, that is would believe nothing. A. 8106.
A cloud Is truth accommodated to apperception. By the glory of Jehovah seen in the cloud is signified the presence of the Lord in truth, accommodated to apperception, A. 8443.
The coming and presence of the Lord in the Word is also meant in Matthew by seeing the Son of Man. The literal sense of the Word is called a cloud, because it is in the light of the world, and the internal sense is called glory, because it is in the light of heaven. A. 9405.
The reason why the interiors of the Word are called glory is, because the Divine truth proceeding from the Lord as a sun is the light in heaven, which gives sight to the angels there and at the same time intelligence and wisdom. From that Divine light is all glory in heaven. A. 9429.
By clouds is meant Divine truth, such as it is in the light of the world, thus such as it is with men, by the glory is meant Divine truth such as it is in the light of heaven, thus such as it is with angels. A. 10574.
The clouds of heaven the Word in the literal sense. The glory the Word in the spiritual sense. R. 24.
The Lord will execute judgment from His Divine Human, because He is the Word. R. 273.
Honour, power and might occur in the Word where the Divine good is treated of. R. 373.
A sign in the Word relates to future things, and then it is a revelation, or it relates to the truth, and then it is a testification, or to the quality of a state or a thing and then it is a manifestation. R. 532.
See Chapter XVII., 5. R. 642.
See Chapter XVII., 5. R. 820.
By glory is meant the glory of the Word, or the Divine truth in the Lord. R. 897.
See Chapter XXIV., 29. B. 78.
See Chapter XVII., 5. T. 776.
The glory in which He is to come signifies Divine truth in its light, in which the spiritual sense of the Word is. T. 780.
The consummation of the age, which is the subject here treated of, is the last time of the church. The coming of the Lord at that time is the revelation of Himself, and of the Divine truth which is from Himself in the Word by the internal sense. E. 36.
All the tribes of the earth signify all the truths and goods of the church, which are said to mourn when they are no more. E. 304.
These words signify that at the end of the church the Lord would reveal Himself in the Word by means of the internal sense, and that all who are in truths derived from good would acknowledge Him. E. 431.
The spiritual signification of clouds — the truths in the literal sense of the Word. E. 594.
See Chapter XXIV., 3. E. 706.
See Chapter XXIV., 3. E. 870.
See Chapter XVII., 5. E. 906.
30, 31. Verse quoted. U. 171.
The spiritual sense of the Word has been disclosed by the Lord at this day, because doctrine of genuine truth has now been revealed, and this doctrine, and no other, agrees with the spiritual sense of the Word. That sense is also signified in Matthew xxiv. The same chapter treats of the consummation of the age — the last period of the church. S. 25.
After this I heard as it were the voice of singing, and further in the east I saw a glittering of light more resplendent than the former, and I asked the angel what was the subject of their glorification? He said these words in Daniel (vii. 13, 14). They are further celebrating the Lord from these words (Revelation i. 5-7 ; 10-13) Matthew xxiv. 30. 31. M. 81.
That the Lord would again come into the world He foretold in the evangelists. T. 182.
See Chapter XXIV., 3. T. 757.
These words viewed in the spiritual sense treat of the calling and gathering together of the faithful and of their separation from the evil before the last judgment. E. 849.
By a cloud of heaven there and elsewhere in the Word, is signified the Word in the letter, where it is as a cloud in respect to the spiritual sense. But by the glory is signified the Word in the spiritual sense, which is also the Divine truth in light, and by power is signified the power of this in the Word. D. V. 21.
Then they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven and He shall send His angels with the sound of a trumpet. D. P., Page 8.
That thus the day of the last judgment is represented. Inv. 33.
That these things were neither seen nor heard in Jerusalem which was destroyed, and it is known that these things are believed at this day of the future time of the last judgment. B. 73.
30-34. That by the coming of the Lord is understood His coming in the Word and thus the establishment of a new church in the place of the former which is consummated, is clear from His words in Matthew. B. 71.
30, 32. Once when I was meditating upon the Lord’s Second Coming, there suddenly appeared a flash of light, coming forcibly upon my eyes. I therefore looked up, and lo, the whole heaven above me appeared luminous, and there in continued series was heard a glorification. And an angel stood near who said: “That is a glorification of the Lord on account of His coming, which is made by the angels of the eastern and the western heavens.” T. 625.
30, 37, 39, 44. The Lord’s rising again on the third day also involves that truth Divine, or the Word as to the internal sense, as it was understood by the ancient church, will be revived in the consummation of the age, which is also the third day, on which account it is said that the Son of Man, that is truth Divine, will then appear. A. 2813.
30, 39, 42. By the Lord’s advent is not there understood His advent in person, but that He will then reveal Himself in the Word, that He is Jehovah, the Lord of heaven and earth, and that He alone is to be adored by all who will be in His new church, which is meant by the New Jerusalem, for which end also He has now opened the internal or spiritual sense of the Word. E. 870.
30 When the whole fabric of the church, internal and external, thus trembles and totters to its fall, then is the time for the Divine power to be exerted to uphold it, and restore it to a state of stability. When the luminaries are darkened, and the powers of heaven are shaken, then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. This is the grand announcement of the Lord’s second advent – that event to which the church has never ceased to look for eighteen centuries. It seems to have been the purpose of God’s providence to keep the church in uncertainty and constant expectation of the great event. Watchfulness was required: “Watch; for Ye know not the day nor the hour when the Son of man cometh.” That the nature of the event is different from the expectation is a point on which we have already spoken, and does not affect the question of its vastness and importance. The first great difference between the reality and the expectation is, that the Lord’s coming is not a personal coming, but a coming in spirit; not a visible, but an invisible advent. If this is seen to be true, it alters the entire signification of the description of his coming. If his coming is not personal and visible, he cannot come in the clouds of the material heaven. If the circumstances attending the Lord’s coming are entirely different in their nature from what a literal interpretation of his words would lead us to suppose, it is but reasonable to believe that his coming must be entirely different also. If one part of the prediction is to be understood spiritually, so must the other. A just interpretation of this particular will reveal to us the true nature of his advent. If the Lord is not to come in person, but in spirit and power, how is such a coming to take place ? He can come in the hearts and spirits of his people , and this indeed, is his real, his practical and saving advent. Yet this coming to the minds and souls of men must be effected through some medium, and the only medium through which it can take place is the Holy Word, in which the Lord reveals himself to man. His Holy Spirit operates upon their hearts, but the Spirit of truth cannot operate savingly but by the Word of truth. This Word of truth is the medium through which the coming of the Lord takes place. The clouds of heaven in which he is to appear are the truths of the Word in its literal sense. This sense is compared to and imaged by a cloud, because it covers the inner spiritual sense as a cloud covers the glory of the heavens, or shades the brightness of the sun. The literal sense of the Word is meant by clouds in those passages where it is said that the Lord’s righteousness is in the clouds, that his truth reacheth unto the clouds, that he maketh the clouds his chariot, and that the clouds are the dust of his feet. Unless the Word is acknowledged to be divinely inspired, and expressed according to the law of correspondence, these expressions will only be regarded as figurative, and as such, understood as having a certain undefined sublimity. To those only who see the true nature of divine revelation can the spiritual sense be acceptable. Having then stated the facts generally, that the Lord’s coming is not natural but spiritual, therefore not to the sense but to the mind, and that it is to be effected through the medium or teaching of the Word, we will proceed to explain this important prophecy as it stands.
“Then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven.” Between the appearing of the sign and the coming of the Son of man there is a distinction, but there is also a connection. We will first state this distinction in technical language, and then explain it. The sign of the Son of man is truth divine, the Son of man is divine truth. The first is truth from the Lord, the second is the Lord as the truth. The first gives us to know the Lord out of ourselves, the second gives us to know the Lord in ourselves. The difference between them is, in fact, expressed by the Lord in speaking of himself as the Spirit, when he said, “He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” Truth divine is with us, divine truth is in us. The first is not the truth itself, but its sign. It is its precursor. The sign comes before the thing signified, and prepares the way for it. This preparation is not made without the tribulation of temptation, for it is by anguish and trial that the mind is humbled and purified, and made fit to receive the truth in its fulness and perfection. It is therefore said that, on the appearing of the sign of the Son of man in heaven, “Then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn.” The tribes of the earth are those within the church who are in good and truth, and their mourning is expressive of the tribulation and sorrow they experience, in passing from the first state to the second. And, indeed, all new truth induces spiritual trial, for it disturbs the old states of the mind, which it is its purpose to remove. In the purely spiritual sense this is more easily seen. In this Sense the tribes mean the principles of good and truth themselves, and the earths the natural mind, in which these principles are. When the sign of the Son of man appears in heaven – that is, when truth divine is first perceived in the spiritual mind, which is heaven – its influx into, or influence on the natural mind causes distress and mourning, and the days of mourning continue till the state is inverted, and inversion of state takes place when the Son of man comes, and is received at his coming. We may here remark that there is and must be, an analogy between the first and second coming of the Lord. We are instructed that, when the Lord was in the world, he first made his humanity truth divine, and then made it divine truth. This may be otherwise expressed by saying that he first regenerated his humanity, and then glorified it; he first made it an image of the Divinity, and then made it divine, or, what is the same, he first made it heavenly, and then made it divine. And this was not effected without the bitterness of mourning or temptation. Although the Lord cannot now undergo these states in himself, he still undergoes them in his church and people. At his second coming he has to make his humanity in us truth divine before he can make it divine truth. And a corresponding progression goes on in the church and in the world in general. And the first we see going on before us. We see the sign of the Son of man in all new truth that is manifested in the world, and not only all new religious truth, but all truth in philosophy and science, and government; for all such truth is from the Lord, though it is not the Lord. Some do not even know the source from whom it comes. Yet it is the sign of his coming, though here also we see that the tribes of the earth mourn; for all the mighty changes that are going on are not effected without blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke.
We have already explained what is meant by the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven. The Lord comes as Divine Truth, and he comes in and through the Word of truth. The internal sense of the Word, like the internal of the human mind, is meant by heaven, and its external sense is meant by the clouds of heaven. We have now to explain the meaning of “the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” The Lord comes in the literal sense of the Word, revealing its spiritual sense. He comes in the literal sense, because from the literal sense all doctrine is to be drawn and confirmed; and genuine doctrine derived from the literal or natural sense of Scripture is the very vehicle in which the Lord comes to his church and to the human mind. “He maketh the clouds his chariot;” and a chariot signifies doctrine, and doctrine, deduced by right interpretation from the letter of the Word, is the necessary receptacle and medium of all the higher degrees of knowledge. But while the Son of man comes in the clouds of heaven, he comes with power and great glory. These are the properties of the internal or spiritual sense of the Word, the revelation of which forms one of the essential and peculiar features of the Lord’s second advent. The cloud of the letter is indeed the chariot in which be comes, but the power and great glory in which he appears are the attributes that give a distinctive and transcendent character to his second coming. His first coming in the flesh was in weakness, his second coming in the spirit is with power; his first coming was in humility, his second is with glory. The spiritual sense of the Word has power, because by it the Lord is more able to regenerate the human will, which he does by the principle of spiritual goodness, which power signifies; and the spiritual sense has glory, for by it the Lord has more light to enlighten and regenerate the human understanding, which he does by spiritual truth, which glory signifies. Yet in all the power and glory of his divine majesty the clouds are under his feet, nor can we see him invested with the power and glory of the internal sense of his Divine Word but in the cloud of the letter, for none are or can be admitted into the spiritual sense of the Word but those who are in the genuine doctrines of its literal sense. The spiritual sense of the Word does not set aside the letter, nor does it even diminish its importance and sanctity; on the contrary, it increases and exalts them. As the glory of the Lord filled the temple where he had his habitation, so does the glory of the spiritual sense fill the temple of the letter, where it dwells, and through which alone it can be approached by men on earth.
31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
31 By which is meant the beginning of a new church. A. 4229.
The sound of a trumpet signifies the state of the angelic heaven encompassing the Divine, and truth Divine therefrom in the internal form through heaven, and the preaching thereof. A. 8915.
By those winds or by those quarters, are signified all things of good and truth, thus all things of heaven and of the church. Therefore from ancient times it has been customary to give temples a direction towards the east and west, since the cast signified the good of love in its rising, and the west the good of love in its setting. This originated in the representatives in which the ancients, who were of the church, were principled. A. 9642.
The four quarters are called in the Word the four winds. J. 49.
Four is descriptive of goods and signifies them, and also the conjunction of good and truth. R. 322.
What is signified by the trumpets is evident from the statute respecting their use among the children of Israel. (See Numbers x. 1-10.) R. 397.
After this work was finished (The True Christian Religion) the Lord called together His twelve disciples who followed Him in the world, and the next day He sent them all forth into the whole spiritual world, to preach the gospel that the Lord Jesus Christ reigns, Whose kingdom shall be for ages of ages, according to the prediction by Daniel vii. 13, 14, and in Revelation xix. 9. This took place on the i9th day of June in the year 1770. This is what is meant by these words of the Lord. T. 791.
Trumpet signifies the revelation of Divine truth from heaven. E. 55.
See Chapter XIIL, 41, 49. E. 130.
A trumpet stands for the Divine truth manifested and revealed out of heaven. The voice which is heard from heaven by those who are in the spirit, is usually heard as a human voice, but the reason of its being heard as a trumpet speaking, was because it was clearly and manifestly perceived by the angels, and what is clearly and manifestly perceived by them falls with a sound into the hearing of the spirit E. 262.
By the angels with a great sound of trumpet is signified evangelisation concerning the Lord, and by gathering together, the elect is signified the establishment of a new church. The elect are those who are in the good of love and faith. E.418.
To gather together signifies to call to Himself those who are His own. E. 427.
To sound the trumpet signifies the influx of Divine truth from heaven, because when the Divine truth flows down from heaven it is sometimes heard in the spiritual world as a sound of a trumpet. E. 502.
The east signifies the good of love in clearness, the south the truth of doctrine in clearness, the west the good of love in obscurity, the north the truth of doctrine in obscurity. E. 724.
Not that any angels are sent to gather them together, but that the Lord by His Divine truth does this, for by angels are signified Divine truths. E. 910.
31 It is remarkable that the second coming of the Lord is not followed by any such catastrophe as it is generally considered shall accompany or follow that event. The first act of the Lord after his coming is to send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. Spiritually understood, this description is highly expressive. The church, not the world, having come to its end, the Lord has come through his Divine, Word to establish a new one. His first act therefore is to gather together the remnant of the faithful the elect – those who have in them as much spiritual principle as can be laid hold of by the power of the Lord’s love and truth, and can be gathered together into the Lord’s fold. No doubt angels are employed in this beneficent work, but the angels here are emblems as well as agents; for while they are agents of the Lord, they are emblems of his divine attributes, and their trumpets are symbols of the truths of his Word. The angels are emblems, too, of the angelic heaven, whence descend the influences that draw men into the Lord’s church, gathering and holding them together in the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace. But this, though it varies, does not alter the signification, for the Lord is the all of heaven, as well as in that constitutes the angelic nature. Whatever mediums he uses, the origin and essence of every one of them is from him. The Lord’s sending his angels with a great sound of a trumpet is his divine influx through angels by the truths of his Word. These truths are the trumpets that sound in the ears of the faithful, and draw them into the Lord’s church and kingdom. The trumpets used in the Israelitish church for proclaiming their festivals and calling the scattered members to the holy convocations, were types of the holy truths of the Word, by which, as by the voice of God, the children of God are brought together. Here they are called from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. The calling the elect from the ends of heaven is the calling of all who have anything of heaven in them. The four winds or quarters are expressive of every kind and degree. The same thing is meant here by the four winds as by the east, and the west, and the south, and the north, from which men should come to the kingdom when the rebellious Jews should be cast out. Those from the east and west are those in all degrees of good, from the most internal to the most external; and those from the south and the north are those in all degrees of truth, from the clearest to the obscurest. All, therefore, who are in any degree whatever of the love and practice of good and truth are invited, and will be received into the Lord’s church as the gate of heaven. The Lord speaks of the four winds, and of the extremities of heaven; and although naturally they mean the same, spiritually there is a difference between them. The winds are symbolical of the spirit of intellectual life, and the heavens are symbolical of voluntary life, and are applied to the spiritual and the celestial. We may remark, in conclusion, that, understood in reference to the individual mind, to whom the Lord’s coming is the beginning of regeneration, the gathering together of the elect from the four winds is the gathering of all the affections of goodness and perceptions of truth, which is effected when they are directed to one supreme object, and subordinated to one ruling end. That one object is the Lord, that one end is to do his will.
32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:
33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.
32 See Chapter XXL, 19. R. 936.
32, 33. See Chapter XXL, 18-21. R. 334.
The commencement of a new church is understood by the fig-tree. E. 386.
The subject here treated of is the consummation of the age, which is the last judgment, and the signs which precede are enumerated, which are understood by the things which shall begin to come to pass, that a new church will then commence, which in its beginning will be external is signified. The fig-tree signifies the external church, and all the trees signify in general the knowledges of truth and good. The kingdom of God, which is said to be then near, signifies the new church of the Lord. E. 403.
32-35- Verse 32 signifies the first thing of a new church, the fig-tree is good of the natural, her branch is affection therefrom, and its leaves are truths. . . . Affection springs forth from good as a branch from its trunk and leaves are truths. . . . From this it is now clear what the parable involves, namely, that when a new church is created by the Lord, then there appears first of all good of the natural, that is good in the external form with its affections and truths. By good of the natural is not meant good into which man is born, or which he derives from his parents, but good which is spiritual in its origin. Into this one is not born, but is led by the Lord through knowledges of good and truth. . . . So also ye, etc. Verse 33 signifies that when those things appear which are signified in the internal sense by the words spoken just before (verses 29-31) and by these concerning the fig-tree, then is the consummation of the church, that is the last judgment and the coming of ihe Lord. Verily I say unto you, etc. Verse 34 signifies that the Jewish nation shall not be extirpated like other nations. Verse 35 signifies that the internals and externals of the former church would perish, but that the Word of the Lord would abide. A. 4231.
32 We now come to contemplate the first fruits of the Lord’s glorious coming. In the parable of the fig tree we have a picture of life, and freshness, and promise. Now learn a parable of the fig tree; when his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, Ye know that summer is nigh. No image of the church is more common, both general and individual, than the fruit-bearing tree, whether it be the fig, the vine or the olive. These are the emblems of the three great characters by which all churches, and all the men of the church, are distinguished – natural, spiritual, and celestial. That the fig tree should furnish the emblem of the first signs of returning life is not surprising; for should it not begin at the lowest, that it might ascend to the highest? The natural is before the spiritual, and the spiritual before the celestial. And although this church of the second advent is to be the crown of all churches, on the banks of whose living stream the tree of life, first planted in Eden, is to grow and bear its monthly fruits; yet for that very reason its life should be developed from the humblest and commonest of its forms. The sign of returning summer – for in Scripture there is no word for spring – is, that the branch of the fig tree is tender, and putteth forth leaves. The branches of a tree are the emblems of the affections in man; for the affections grow out from the will as branches do from the stem of the tree. And as the will produces affections, like as the tree sends forth branches, so the affections produce thoughts, as the branches put forth leaves. The branches and leaves of the fig tree are therefore the symbols of affections and thoughts; and the quickening of the affections and the unfolding of the thoughts are the spiritual ideas presented in the natural imagery of this brief parable. While the branch is yet tender. And what makes the branch tender? Is it not the gentle warmth and the early dew? And are not these themselves the emblems of returning love and faith, under whose genial influence and refreshing power the affections grow tender and the thoughts expand? This is equally true of the members and of the body – of the parts and of the whole. In the external church this beautiful parable has been strikingly exemplified. The second coming of the Lord has already taken place. More than a century ago a solitary voice, but one clear, and calm, and solemn as an angel’s trumpet, sounded in the ear of Christendom the awful but joyful tidings that the judgment had come, and that the dispensation of the first advent had passed away, and that of the second advent had commenced. The Son of man had indeed come as a thief in the night, – unseen and unacknowledged; and men slept and waked, and bought and sold, as if nothing had occurred to disturb the dead calm of their settled naturalism. But old things are passing away, and all things are becoming new. A new influence has begun to descend, and new truths have begun to be diffused; and ignorant as men generally are as to the cause, all confess that a new power operates on the world, and that signs of a new life are everywhere visible. The branch of the fig tree is tender, and putteth forth leaves. Men’s affections have received a new impulse, and their thoughts a new direction. True, this mental activity has as yet been manifested chiefly on the natural side. But how great has been that activity, how extraordinary its results! Knowledge has increased, science has advanced, invention and discovery have progressed with a rapidity and to an extent altogether unprecedented. It is not, however, to the facts only, but to their results that we are to look for the signs of a new life. Steam has been turned into a beast of burden, and electricity has been endued with the power of speech. The first has supplied the world with a new muscular power, the second with a new nervous system. They have brought the inhabitants of the earth nearer to each other, and established amongst them a community of goods. These confer upon the inhabitants of the world material advantages chiefly. Admitting this to be the case, they are not in themselves unimportant, and they give the promise of higher things. They do not bring us the summer, but they tell us that the winter is past, and that the summer is nigh. They are but the leaves of the fig tree, and those leaves but in their budding forth. Their unfolding is yet to come, and in this they will display yet greater beauty, and produce yet greater results. But although the human mind has been developed chiefly on the natural side, it has by no means been developed on this side only; The moral and religious side has been to some extent developed also. This we see in the growing desire and increasing efforts to ameliorate the condition and improve the character of the masses, and in the greater tolerance and more liberal views that are beginning to prevail in the religious world. All these are signs of the spring, and give the promise of summer. Spring is the time for the tree to unfold its leaves and put forth its blossoms; summer is the time for it to produce its fruits. That season will come, but the time of figs is not yet. This is the age of intelligence, but behind that intelligence there is a prevailing selfishness. Men generally serve others with a view to serve themselves. Each does a little for others, and as much as he can for himself. There is therefore, in the world a much greater inequality of natural and spiritual wealth than is consistent with general happiness. The summer will bring the fruits of righteousness to fill up the measure of human good, to make men brothers of a common family, whose Father is Christ, and give that evidence of their being what they profess to be, which our Lord pointed out: By this shall all men know that Ye are my disciples, if Ye love one another.”
Our Lord directs us to the use of his parable, by saying, So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Those who see all these things which include the darkening of the sun and moon, the coming of the Son of man, and the budding of the fig tree, must see them spiritually; and the spiritual discernment of these things will indeed enable the mind to know that these great events and changes are near, even at the doors. Nearness is not nearness of time and place, but of state. This proximity of state will be best understood when it exists in ourselves. And these doors at which these things are, where are they but in our own minds – these doors by which spiritual things enter into the mind from within, and natural things from without? The doors are those of the natural mind, because good and truth first gain admission into this degree of the mind when man is being regenerated and made a church.
34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
34 The Jews who lived before the coming of the Lord, as also they who lived afterwards, had no other opinion concerning the rituals of their church, than that Divine worship consisted solely in external things, caring nothing for what they represented and signified. As the tribe of Judah was of this character more than the other tribes, and at this day as formerly they account the rituals holy, which may be observed out of Jerusalem, and have a holy veneration for their fathers, and a particular reverence for the Word of the Old Testament, and as it was foreseen that Christians would almost reject that Word, and would likewise defile its internal things with things profane, therefore the Jewish nation has been preserved to this time, according to the words of the Lord in Matthew. A. 3479.
That the residue of worship of the Jewish nation is to have an end with the end of the church at this day in Europe, the Lord predicts in Matthew. A. 10497.
34 The nearness of these things is presented under another form in the next words: Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. This is sometimes understood to be a promise that all these predictions would be fulfilled during the time of those who were then living. In the historical sense, the generation meant is the race of the Jews; and the promise is, that that race should continue even to the time of the second advent. This promise has had a literal fulfilment. And this is the more remarkable, considering that for eighteen centuries the people have had no national existence, but have been scattered and persecuted in most of the countries of the world. Among the purposes of Providence in preventing the extinction of this extraordinary people, the preservation of the Hebrew Scriptures was undoubtedly one; for it is probable that but for their conservative care, neither the books nor the language of the Old Testament revelation would have survived. Spiritually understood, generation means regeneration; and in this sense the promise is, that these things are fulfilled in regeneration and in the regenerate, and that regeneration shall not be completed until the corresponding states are realized.
35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
35 See Chapter XIII., 19. A. 1288. Whatever Jehovah or the Lord speaks is eternal truth,
for it comes from the very Esse of truth. A. 2842. The heavens which shall vanish and the earth which shall wax old like a garment, signify the church. It successively falls away and at length is desolated, but not so the visible heaven and the habitable earth. E. 304.
Verse quoted. D. P., Page 9.
35 From the time, the Lord proceeds to the certainty, of the events. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. In explaining the 29th verse, we took occasion to show that the darkening of the sun and moon was not to be expected to have a literal accomplishment. We may here also show that a similar prophecy to this had previously been fulfilled, but of course without disturbing the existing order of the physical universe – being fulfilled in fact, spiritually. In Isaiah li., at the 6th verse, there is a similar prediction connected with the work of human redemption at the time of the Incarnation. “Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner: but my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished.” Independently of its application to the time of the first advent, the prediction has the appearance of a figurative enunciation. And other passages in the prophecies confirm this view. Take for instance, one from the same prophet: “Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.” The prediction in which this occurs relates to the calling of the Gentiles at the Lord’s coming in the flesh, when it could have received only a spiritual fulfilment. Indeed, the heavens and the earth are figures of the church – heaven its internal, and earth its external. And that this prediction relates to the church is made almost absolutely certain from the words which immediately follow: “Be Ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create; for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing and her people a joy.” It is surprising that, with such obvious reference to the church, these prophecies should still be regarded as declaring the approaching end of the visible world, – an event which, supposing it to be destined to take place, can have no real connection with the religious condition of mankind. Science has now come to the aid of theology, and gives its testimony to the youth and stability of the universe, for these prophecies, literally understood, involve no less than the destruction of the whole. When the Lord declared that heaven and earth should pass away, he taught that the church would come to its end yet he gave a promise that his Word would endure, which was equivalent to promising that, while the church remains, there is a sure ground of hope for the human race; that, in brief, the endurance of the Word is a promise of the renewal of the church – of the creation of a new heaven and a new earth. And so we find that he who here declares that heaven and earth shall pass away, in showing John the vision of future events, enabled him to record: “I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first earth had passed away, and there was no more sea.” And here, again, Jerusalem was created a rejoicing and her people a joy for John beheld the holy city, new Jerusalem, descending from God out of this new heaven to this new earth, “prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” Who can doubt that the whole of the splendid vision was a symbolic representation of the glorious church of the future?
36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
36 Of that hour my Father alone knows. D. P., Page 8.
36-42. But of that day and hour knoweth no one, signifies the state of the church at that time as to goods and truths, that it would not appear to any one, neither on earth nor in heaven. By day and hour, or time is here meant state as to good and truth. Times in the Word signify states. . . . Not the angels of the heavens, but my Father only, signifies that heaven does not know the state of the church as to good and truth in particular, but the Lord alone, as also when that state of the church will come. The Lord Himself is meant by the Father. Verse 38 signifies the state of vastation of those who are of the church, which is compared with the state of vastation of the first or Most Ancient church, the consummation of the age, or the final judgment of which is described in the Word by the flood. . . . Days signify states. . . . Eating is the appropriation of good, and drinking the appropriation of truth, and thus in the opposite sense the appropriation of evil and falsity. Marrying is conjunction with evil, and giving in marriage conjunction with falsity. … In the internal sense it is the conjunction of good and truth, but here it stands in the opposite sense and is the conjunction of evil and falsity. Whatever the Lord spoke, since it is Divine, is not the same in the internal sense as in the letter. . . . Until the day that Noah entered into the ark, signifies the end of the former church, and the beginning of the new. . . . And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away, signifies that the men of the church will not then know that they are inundated by evils and falsities. . . . They will also be ignorant that the internal is what saves and condemns, but not the external, separate from the internal. So shall the coming of the Son of Man be, signifies the Divine truth, and that they will not receive it. … Verse 40 signifies those within the church who are in good and those within the church who are in evil. They who are in good will be saved, and they who are in evil will be condemned. A field is the church as to good. Verse 41 signifies those within the church who are in truth or in affection for it from good, that they will be saved. Those within the church who are in truth or in the affection for it from evil, will be condemned. In the Word by those that grind are meant those within the church who are in truth from affection for good, and in an opposite .sense those within the church who are in truth from affection of evil. A. 4334-4335.
36 The Lord returns again to the time of the end, and speaks of its being hid in the mind of the Eternal. But of that day and hour knoweth, no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. Time means state. Not the time of the end of the world, but the state of the church at its end, is the subject of which the Lord here speaks. Why should the Lord mention the day and the hour? Because the day means the general state of the church, and the hour means its particular state, which is the particular state of every person in it. This no man or angel knows, nor can know. It is remarkable, and whispers to us the existence in it of a secret and sacred meaning, that in Mark (xiii. 32) the Lord mentions himself as one of those from whom the time is concealed. Is it supposable that the very person who was to come should be ignorant of the day of his coming? – that he who was to judge the world knew not the time when the judgment was to take place? Impossible. Does not this teach us that the Lord’s words are spirit and not flesh? The reason that the Father alone knew the time of the end is to be found in the significance of the names and principles of the Godhead. The Father is the infinite Divine Love, the Son is the infinite Divine Wisdom, and angels and men are but the finites answering to these infinites. Yet why should not the Son, who is the infinite Wisdom, know this time? One might think that he was the very one to possess this knowledge. The reason is to be found in the character of the time – in the nature of the state of the church at its consummation. The Lord is said in Scripture to know those who know him, and not to know those who know not him; and the same is said of finite beings. When it is said that the day and hour were not known to men and angels, we are instructed that in the church at its end there would remain nothing truly human or angelic – that the church, both general and particular, would be entirely destroyed, internally and externally. This is analogous to the declaration that heaven and earth would pass away, for as angels are inhabitants of heaven and men are inhabitants of the earth, when these had ceased to exist, there was no ground for the perceptions of the truly human and angelic mind, and indeed, no reception of truly human or angelic principles; and when men reject all good and truth of heaven and the church, there is no longer in them anything by which holy men and angels can know them. But even the Son did not know, but the Father only. And this singular declaration teaches us that, in the end which was coming upon the world, there would be no remains of truth or wisdom left in the church, or in the minds of its members, so that there would be nothing for the Divine wisdom to know or acquire. All that would be left in the church, or in the human mind, would be some remains of good or love, which would preserve them in some connection with the Divine love and goodness, and by which the Divine Father might spiritually know them. This the Lord taught in another form, when he said to Peter, respecting John “If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me” meaning that some remains of good or charity would be preserved to the time of the Lord’s second coming at the end of the church, but that truth or faith would pass away.
37 But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
37-39. By eating is to be understood the appropriation of evil, by drinking the appropriation of what is false, by marrying and giving in marriage the conjunction of falsity with evils, and of evils with falsity, for the subject treated of is the state of the church when the last judgment takes place, for this is signified by the coming of the Son of Man. E. 617.
In this consummation, or in this end of the church it will be proclaimed from all pulpits and vociferated by the people in every sanctuary, this is the habitation of God, this is the temple of God, this is the church of God, this is salvation, this is the light of the gospel, and indeed they do not know that they are in utter darkness, and besides that they sleep the sleep of the ages (of death). The reason is that they believe falsity to be truth, also truth to be falsity, and that evil is good and contrariwise. This night and this sleep the Lord predicted in Matthew. J. Post., Page 129.
Like the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. D. P., Page 8.
37, 39, 44, 46. That the coming of the Lord is to be expected, is clearly manifest. T. 764.
37 The same truth which we have now considered is carried out in the words that follow. But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. The devastation of the church is here described. But Noe signifies the spiritual church, or the church which is principled in truth or wisdom as Adam signifies the celestial church, or the church which is principled in goodness or love. This comparison of the state of the church with that of Noe implies that the church was devastated as to truth; but as no comparison is made between its days and those of Adam, it was not devastated as to good, of which some still remained. And, indeed, as celestial remains are stored up in infancy, and are the most interior, they are the last to be destroyed; and if they were destroyed, the restoration of the church and the salvation of men would be impossible. Then the day and the hour would be unknown, Not only to the Son, but to the Father also, and the day and hour of the church would be blotted out for ever. But, blessed be God, whose mercy never faileth, a very small remnant is ever preserved, which divine, love can take hold of to form a new seed in the earth! The state of the first Christian church at its end is compared to that of Noe, because the first Christian church was analogous to the ancient church. The Christian church was the ancient church unswathed, for its principles lay infolded in the representatives of the ancient church. But the analogy may seem not to hold good here, since the days of Noe, to which those of the Christian church are likened, are not the last days of the ancient, but of the most ancient church, before the flood came and swept them all away. The seeming incongruity will disappear when we reflect that the course of the Christian churches is the inverse of that of the pre-Christian. The first church was analogous to the ancient church, and the second is analogous to the most ancient. The states of the devastation of the Christian church are compared to those of the most ancient church, which were of a direful character. Yet they are called the days of Noe, to indicate their spiritual origin. But Noe’s is a name of promise as well as of devastation. His name means comfort and as Noah signifies those who can be saved by temptations, the comfort which succeeds temptation, which is the flood, is included in the name of the last of the most ancient and the first of the ancient church. So may we say of the coming of the Son of man he comes as the Judge and as the Comforter; for it is the same divine truth that condemns the evil and comforts the good.
38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,
39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
38, 39. These words were spoken by the Lord concerning the last judgment. By eating and drinking, contracting matrimony and giving in marriage are signified external delights and pleasures, which are of the body and of the world only, and not at the same time of, the soul and of heaven. E. 1162.
38 The nature of the states signified by the days of Noe are next described. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking – that is, they appropriated evil and falsity; marrying and giving in marriage – that is, they conjoined evil and falsity. This “marrying and giving in marriage” is expressive of the mutual and reciprocal desire and activity of evil and falsity to unite with each other. Evil marries what is false, and what is false gives itself in marriage to evil. This is the infernal marriage – the union of will and intellect, of heart and head, in loving and thinking evil; and it is also the union of heart and hand in willing and doing it. This continued until the day that Noe entered into the ark. Noe was the remnant saved out of the earliest church, as the germ out of which the second might be produced. The ark was the means by which he was preserved during the flood, and carried him, as it were, from the old over into the new world. And what is the ark of safety for the church, and for the man of the church, but the Word of God? It is from that we derive the materials, as it is from God we receive the wisdom, to form a refuge and covert from the tempest. And this is just that which the wicked despise, and to which they will not betake themselves. The day when Noe entered into the ark is the state when the pure are separated from the impure, the righteous from the wicked, and when the faithful separate themselves from the world, and place themselves under the protection of the Most High.
39 The evil knew nothing of the coming judgment until the flood came and took them all away. The flood, spiritually understood – and it had no historical existence – is an inundation of falses. It was this that brought the first church to an end. This it was that took them all away. So shall also the coming of the Son of man be. This does not mean that the end of the Christian church would come with a flood. The end of this dispensation or “world” is declared to be with fire. Fire is an emblem of love, and evil love is the fire by which the church of the first advent has been consumed. When it is said, “So shall also the coming of the Son of man be,” it is in reference to the evil not knowing the time of their visitation. The Word always speaks of the day overtaking the evil in the midst of their traffic and their pleasures. The righteous know not indeed, the day or the hour, but they watch, that the Lord at his coming may find them ready.
40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
40 By the field is meant doctrine of faith, both true and false. A. 368.
40, 41. By the last judgment is not meant any destruction of the world, but the consummation or vastation of the church as to charity and faith. This is quite evident from these words in Matthew. A. 4059.
Grinding, in a good sense, means to select truths from the Word and explain them in the service of what is good, and in a bad sense, in the service of what is evil. A. 9995.
By the field is signified the church, because harvest is there, by them that grind at the mill-—those in the church who search after truths, those that are taken — they who find and receive them, they that are left — they who do not search after, nor receive them, because they are in falsities. R. 794.
This influx of the Lord out of the superior heavens was received by those who had lived in good when they were in the world. By virtue of this good in them they were conjoined to the superior heavens, and thus separated from those who could not receive the influx, because they had not lived in good but in evil, when they were in the world. E. 493.
By the first two here mentioned are understood men, and by the last two, women. By men are signified those who are in truths and by women those who are in good from the affection of truth. In this case also by men — those who are in falsities, and by women those who are in evil from the affection of what is false. . . . They shall be saved (taken) who are in truths from affection, and they shall be condemned (left) who are in evils from affection. Field signifies the church, to grind at the mill — to procure for themselves the truths of doctrine from the Word. They who apply them to good are signified by those who shall be taken, and they who apply them to evil by those who shall be left. E. 555.
When the good in the spiritual world are to be separated from the evil, and the good to be protected lest they should be hurt by the evil, then the good are taken away from the societies, and the evil left, according to the words of the Lord in Matthew. E. 674.
By being in the field is signified to be within the church, grinding — to explore and learn truths from the Word. He who explores and learns truths is meant by the one grinding at the mill who is taken, but he who falsifies truths — by the other who is left. E. Sro.
By the two grinding at the mill are understood those who confirm themselves in truth, and who in falses from the Word. Those who confirm themselves in truths, are
understood by her who is taken, and those who confirm themselves in falses by her who shall be left. E. 1182.
40, 41. And the Lord at his coming finds both evil and good. For then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. These twos are evidently in opposite states. The two in the field are those of whom some are in good and some in evil; and the two grinding at the mill are those of whom some are in truth and some in falsity. The two are therefore not two persons, but two classes; and these the two classes everywhere treated of in the Word – those who act more from the will, and those who act more from the understanding. In the figure by which the Divine Speaker represents the second class there is a peculiarity that deserves attention. There are two “grinding at the mill.” Grinding is the symbol of inquiring and investigating and therefore implies an intellectual operation. The two grinding at the mill are two who are in the same doctrine, but who are in opposite states of life – a circumstance which is always possible, but which is more common in a declining or degraded state of the church. And from this we learn that it is not doctrine, but life, that determines the real and final state of man. The same doctrine may be studied and maintained from opposite loves, which is indicated by those grinding it the mill being women.
41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
43 But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.
41 The ancients when they described the first rudiments of the doctrine of faith, described them by sitting; at the mill-stones. A. 7780.
A mill and grinding in a good sense signifies application to good uses, so in the opposite sense it signifies application to evil uses. A. 10303.
42 The Lord says this, where He is speaking expressly of His coming. A. 4636.
Be watchful signifies that they should be in truths and in a life according to them. Nothing else is signified by watching in the Word, for he who learns truths, and lives according to them, is like him who is awakened out of sleep and becomes watchful, but he who is not in truths but only in worship, is like him that is sleeping and dreaming. R. 158.
That a man is to watch and not to know the hour in which the Lord comes, is for the end that he may think and act as of himself, thus in freedom according to his reason, unaffected by fear, for everyone would have fear if he knew. That which a man does from himself in freedom remains to eternity, but what he does from fear does not remain. R. 164.
Be watchful means that they should procure for themselves spiritual life. . . . Spiritual life is to moral life without spiritual, as wakefulness is to sleep, or as the noonday light is to the evening, yea to darkness. But that this is the case is neither known nor perceived by those who are in natural life alone, nor by those who are in moral life without spiritual, for this life is also natural life. E. 187.
42, 43. This is said of the Lord, and a thief signifies nothing but unawares and unexpected. A. 4002.
By this is understood that if a man knew the hour of his death, he would indeed prepare himself, but not
from the love of truth anl good, but from the fear of hell, and whatsoever a man does from fear does not remain with him, but what he does from love remains,
wherefore he must prepare himself continually. E. 193.
See Chapter VI., 19, 20. E. 1005.
42-44. Verses 42 and 44 cuoted. D. P., Page 8.
42-51. What these words involve may be evident from the series of things, for the subject in the whole of this chapter in Matthew is the last period of the church, which in the internal senst is the consummation of the age and the coming of the Lord. A. 4422.
42, 44. By these words is not only understood man’s ignorance of the time of his death, but also of the state of his life at that time, which state remains to eternity. E. 194.
42 The Lord now turns from the immediate subject of the consummation of the age and his second coming, to teach his disciples, and us through them, some solemn lessons for our guidance in relation to it. The first is an admonition and a warning combined. Watch therefore: for Ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. Spiritual watchfulness is not merely an act, but a state; not a duty only, but a principle. Watchfulness implies devotion to an end, and faithfulness in keeping that end constantly in view, and in doing everything necessary to secure it. Watchfulness is a state of the good of faith, or a state of truth and a life according to it; and the good of faith is the life of faith. Watchfulness is thus preparedness. The reason given for watching is, that we know not what hour our Lord doth come. The end of a church and the end of life are equally hid from us, that we may be influenced, by the general knowledge, to do what the particular knowledge would incapacitate us for doing. And as the Lord comes to each of us at the time of the end, as truly as he comes to the church at the time of its consummation, we may, with more direct practical advantage, consider the remainder of the Lord’s address as it applies more immediately to ourselves. In relation to our own last day and hour, Divine Providence has wisely and mercifully concealed them from us, for the very purpose of making us watch, and being always ready. We are not to watch as one does who is to meet and repel an enemy but as one who is to meet and welcome a friend. The coming of the Son of man is in itself inevitable and irresistible. It is an event that most of us would ward off or avoid if we could. But as there is no use in attempting this, we ought to do that which alone is wise – prepare ourselves for the event. We know not what hour the Lord shall come, but we know that he will come. This is all we require to know in order to be always ready.
43 But this seems to be rather set aside by our Lord’s next words. But know this, that if the good man of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. At first sight this seems as if it would be an advantage for the possessor of the house to know when the thief would come. This however, is rather a description of what man would do, than of what he should do. A man would indeed watch if he knew in what hour he should be called away; but then, he would never think of watching till the hour approached. We see this disposition and its consequence in the world. Many speak of giving up their pleasures or their business in time to devote themselves to religion, as advancing age gives its monition of their approaching end. All such plans are the results of spurious feelings and mistaken views. They proceed on the mistake that religion is something separate from the duties and enjoyments of common life. Common life is the appointed and congenial sphere for the daily cultivation and practice of religious virtue. Religion is to be infused into all the actions of life. Life, is a school for practically learning the way to heaven. That way lies through active usefulness. He leads a heavenly life who sanctifies his earthly deeds with heavenly ends. The heavenly life must be lived without reference to time.
We know not what a day may bring forth. There is some difference in the expression here. The Lord does not speak of the hour, but of the watch. “If the good man had known in what watch the thief would come.” A watch in the Old Testament times was four hours; at this time it was three. A watch therefore indicates a more general state than an hour. It also has relation to a state of truth, or an intellectual state, as the idea of watching and watchfulness implies. In the good, watchfulness is truth terminating in good, or intellect grounded in will; with the evil, it is truth without good, intellect grounded in concupiscence. This is the state of the man who, if he had known the time of visitation, “would not have suffered his house to be broken up” – more literally, to be “dug through.” And here again we have an expression that has reference to intellectual action for to dig is to inquire, to investigate or search thoroughly into anything. Here, it is true, digging is not cultivating the soil in order to sow and reap, but digging into the house to obtain by stealth what one is too indolent to procure by industry. How would this supposed watcher not have suffered his house to be dug through? His intellect would have been awake, so as to keep the character of his mind from being discovered; for the house is a symbol of the mind, digging through which is to enter into it, and take away the knowledge it has acquired.
44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.
45 Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?
46 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.
47 Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods.
48 But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming;
49 And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken;
44 That the Lord is called the Son of Man when judgment is treated of. L. 25,
See Chapter XXIV., 53. R. 273.
45, 46. Since by a servant is meant he that teaches Divine truth, it is evident that by servant in this passage those are meant who are n 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. R. 3.
46, 48. Verses quoted. D. P., Page 8. 50. Man remains to eternity such as the quality of his life is to the end, and not it all such as he is at the hour of death, for repentance 21 that time with the evil is of no avail, but with the good it confirms the state. E. 194.
The Lord of the servan: shall come in an hour that he is not aware of. D. P., Page 9.
44 Therefore be Ye also ready, says our Lord; for in such an hour as Ye think not the Son of man cometh. Readiness is now substituted for watchfulness. To be ready is to be prepared as to the will and goodness, as to be watchful is to be prepared more especially as to the understanding. Watchfulness prepares the way for readiness; truth, for goodness. He that is watchful will find himself ready – he that faithfully uses knowledge will come to the virtue which it teaches. To be in this state is to be ready. And this is a state at which all should aim. When that hour comes that the Son of man appears, that hour which we know not, then shall we feel the value of being prepared.
45, The Saviour now illustrates the subject of his teaching by a parable. In this he describes the man that watcheth as a servant whom his lord made ruler over his house, and whom he found faithful at his coming; and the man who does not watch, he represents as a servant who, thinking his lord delayed his coming began to smite his fellow-servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken. The end of the one was honour, that of the other, degradation. We proceed to examine this divine simile. Who then is a faithful and wise servant whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? We are servants of God, who created us to serve him. And we find in what our service to him consists. We too often make our service to God to consist in serving him in worship. The service he requires is here described as ministering to his household – doing good to our fellow-servants, both as members of his church and of his human family. The name “servant” has spiritually reference to those who are in possession of the truth; but these may be either good or bad servants, as they employ the truth to do good or to do evil. The servant is made ruler over his lord’s household. The house is the church, and the household are its members. The servants in the church are its ministers, whose office it is to give to the members of the household, which they have been called to rule or feed, meat in due season – suitable and seasonable instruction. In an enlarged sense every one is a servant, for it is the duty of every member of the household of faith to serve, or do service to the brethren; so that every one is accountable for the way in which he discharges his duty as a servant of God by serving his neighbour. Those especially who are in truth above others are able to serve their simpler brethren, and lead them where the truth directs them to walk. If they perform their duty, the servants will be blessed; if they do not, their final lot will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. The general lesson of the parable lies near the surface. The purely spiritual sense leads us into a more interior and even more practical wisdom and on this sense we offer a few remarks. It is a characteristic of this sense that it applies to the individual mind, leading one to look into the state and workings of his own heart and interior life. In the internal sense, we may find the lord, and the servant, and the household in ourselves. The internal man is the lord, and the external is the servant more interiorly, the principle of good in the internal is lord, and the principle of truth in the external is servant, and the household, or family, are the affections of goodness and perceptions of truth. The servant is appointed by his lord to rule over his household. The household being the affections and thoughts of the natural mind, truth is ruler over them; for it is the office of truth to produce and maintain order. Good may indeed be called the ruling power but good rules by means of truth, or, what amounts to the same, the will rules by means of the understanding. Good and the will cannot rule by themselves, or immediately, for good is mere affection, and will is blind impulse. To truth and intellect belong discrimination and judgement – in one word, laws by which rule and order exist. Hence it is that to bring and keep the affections and thoughts in order, good must employ truth, or the will must employ the understanding. Rule, is not exercised by the higher as in active power through the lower as a passive instrument. If this were the case, the servant could have no choice, and incur no blame, and would have no title to either praise or blame. But the internal and external of man are distinct. They form the inseparable parts of every man, but they have a distinct will and action the internal acts upon the external, but it does not act through it. The external is a re-agent, and so much is it so, that it can re-act either with or against the internal, and may then be either a “faithful and wise,” or “an evil” servant. Besides these two parts of the mind, there is a third – a sort of intermediate. Of the existence of this we are conscious; for we can look into and see both sides of our own mind and character, both the good and the bad, the true and the false. Who then is a faithful and wise servant? The external is such a servant when it submits itself to the will of the internal, and carries out its purposes by ruling over the natural affections and appetites, and giving them their meat in due season, which is to give them the nourishment which they require to sustain them, including seasonable orderly gratification. Meat more especially means the good necessary to support them. Yet that good is not so much imparted as acquired. The Lord showed how the mind was to be fed when he said, “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.” Just as the Lord’s humanity was fed by doing the will of the indwelling divinity, or, just as his external man was fed by doing the will of his internal, so are the affections of our external man fed by a faithful and wise subordination of the external to the internal – of the natural to the spiritual. The servant is to give the household their meat in due season, which is, to make them do good according to truth, or to exercise charity according to faith, or, as it may be expressed, to do good with discrimination; for truth discriminates, as good desires and loves.
46 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. The blessing promised, or pronounced, on the wise and faithful servant, is the result of his fidelity and wisdom. The result of ruling and feeding the affections and perceptions of the external man, in obedience to the will of the internal, is, that these two parts of our nature become harmonized and united. And this union is itself blessing, for it introduces the mind into a tranquil, peaceful, happy state. Naturally, the inner and outer man are entirely opposite. This opposition is the cause of mental disorder and misery; and it is only when their opposition is removed, and true peace between them is restored, that the Divine blessing is received. The blessing is promised to him whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. The lord is represented as being absent, the servant being left with the entire charge of the family, indicating that our natural man is as it were left to himself in the exercise of his freedom, to do or not to do as his will may determine. It implies also the necessity of persevering unto the end, when the Lord cometh to judgment.
47 And what is in this case the result of judgement? Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. When the Lord was speaking of his union with the Father, he said, “All things that the Father hath are mine.” The divinity and the humanity were related to each other as the internal and the external man. All that was accomplished in the Lord was the grand prototype of what can be effected in man. As by glorification the Lord’s humanity became possessed of all the attributes of the divinity, so by regeneration the external man becomes possessed of all the properties of the internal. They are not, indeed, his own as independent possessions. Such a claim would deprive him of them. He is only appointed over them, and holds them and uses them under the internal as their owner, under whom they ought to be administered. It is enough that all the good and truth, and, with them, all the joys and delights, of the inner man should be enjoyed by the outer, as the reward of fidelity in the use of his own. He that is faithful over a few things is made ruler over many things, and enters into the joy of his Lord.
But the opposite side of the external man is presented in contrast to this. But if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My Lord delayeth his coming. The case of a wicked servant is here supposed, but one who has been entrusted with the charge of the household, and who so far feels his obligation as to look for his lord’s return, but who abuses his trust when be thinks his lord delays his coming. He represents one, therefore, who is nominally a Christian, but who is really, as this servant is called, a hypocrite. Considered as a type of the natural man, he presents to our view the external of one who has been trained in the forms and habits of religion, and has preserved an outward conformity with the order of spiritual life. In this case the inner man, flowing into the orderly external, gives it that power which is necessary to its free and independent action. And, indeed, the servant denoting not only the external man in general, but truth in the external man in particular, we here see the character of the mind when it has truth, but has no corresponding good. The first manifestation of the true character is in the servant saying in his heart, “My lord delayeth his coming.” Spiritually, this is more than a secret doubt, it is a thought, the offspring of a wish. A voice within the heart is a thought that springs out of the will, which is desire speaking. Delay has in it something more than the idea of procrastination. Time being the symbol of state, haste and delay signify certainty and uncertainty. When the Lord said to John, “Behold, I come quickly,” be did not promise to come soon, but to come certainly. When the evil servant said his lord delayed his coming, he entertained a secret disbelief that his lord would come at all. This is the spiritual idea it contains, and the spiritual state it describes. And this disbelief in the lord’s coming is spiritually a denial of the existence of in internal man, and with it a doubt of every corresponding internal – a denial of the internal of the church, of heaven, of the Word, and of the Lord. This state results in a state and in acts described in the next verse.
And shall begin to smite his fellow-servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken. The fellow-servants are co-ordinate and subordinate truths. Truths disagree, not that truths have any disagreement among themselves, but they are set at variance in ill-regulated and contentious minds, and among discordant men. It is good that makes men agree with one another, and it is good that makes truths agree with one another. So far as we are evil, so far do the truths we possess come into conflict. We see this exemplified in open and extreme cases in infidel minds, who consider that revealed religion is a system of contradictions. This is more or less the case, though differently manifested, in every mind where evil has a controlling influence. And that ruling truth which evil has perverted, smites every other. It is the Ishmaelite whose hand is against every man. And when truths are silenced or rejected, there is then the appropriation of evil and falsify, which is to eat and drink with the drunken. The drunken are they who imbibe falsities, so that this being opposite to a state of truth, which a good servant signifies, the servant’s conduct is expressive of the falsification of truth.
50 The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of,
50, 51. Cutting asunder or dividing means separating and removing from goods and truths, thus dissipating. A. 9093.
50 But a day of reckoning comes. The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is, not aware of. If the lord signifies the internal man, and yet the evil have no proper internal, what are we to understand the lord’s coming to mean? Every man has an internal, although the internal of the evil is different from that of the good. Evil closes the trite internal, and makes it as if it did not exist; and in this state it is that the servant, says in his heart that his lord delays his coming. His coming as the author of good and the dispenser of blessing is indeed delayed or prevented by the evil itself that rules in the external. But the lord does come, if not in this world, at least in the next. For judgment is effected by laying open the internal, opening the book of the internal memory, where all the life is written – not the actions, but the ends from which they have been performed. For while the word and deed are written in the external memory, the motive is engraven at the same time in the internal memory. And when this is laid open, and explains every recorded word and deed in the external, then does the lord come. And he comes in a day when he looketh not for him; for the inner memory of the spirit is unknown to man while he lives in the world, and therefore, during it, it remains silent, till death breaks the seals and reveals its contents. And so compete is this revelation of every one’s interior state that men are not only convicted but convinced of their evils.
51 And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
51 See Chapter VIII., 12. A. 4175.
See Chapter XIII., 12. A. 4424.
See Chapter VIII., 12. H. 575.
See Chapter VIII., 12. R. 435.
See Chapter VIII., 12. E. 556.
51 The consequences of the lord’s coming are described by the lord saying of the servant that he shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with, the hypocrites. This cutting asunder describes the result of judgment, or the opening the internal, in separating from the nominal and deceitful disciple everything good and true. Those who are of this formal religious character have good and truth outwardly, which they have put on, as the false prophets put on a hairy garment to deceive. Stripped of this outward vesture, they stand out in their own undisguised character, as evil servants. And those assumed excellencies of good and truth, of love and faith, adhere only to the external man, and have had no real conformity with their essential character. They are therefore appointed a portion with the hypocrites, or profane; and where these are, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Weeping is misery arising out of evil, and gnashing of teeth is misery arising from falsities. Weeping is grief of heart, gnashing of teeth is sorrow of intellect – not alas! weeping or sorrow for sin, but rather of rage and disappointment; grief for the restrained evil of a malevolent will and the transparent fallacies of a perverse and deceitful understanding. Evil and falsehood carry their own punishment in themselves, and in the other life it comes out and returns upon the evil doer.
AUTHOR: EMANUEL SWEDENBORG (COMPILED BY ROBERT S. FISCHER AND LOUIS G. HOECK 1906)
COMMENTARY AUTHOR: WILLIAM BRUCE (1866)
PICTURES: JAMES TISSOT Courtesy of Brooklyn Museum