« הקודםהמשך »
THE DOCTRINE OF THE NEW JERUSALEM CHURCH
CONCERNING THE END OF THE WORLD,” MENTIONED IN MATTHEW XXIV. 3, AND ELSEWHERE.
“FOR THE FIRST HEAVEN AND THE FIRST EARTH WERE PASSED AWAY."
Rev. xxi. 1.
The Lord says, that “the Life of the Word, (or Sacred Scriptures,) is the light of men; and the light shineth in darkness and the darkness comprehendeth it
(John i. 4, 5.) Whence we are instructed that so far as men's minds are darkened by confirmed false doctrines originating in evil loves, so far they are unable to comprehend or receive the light of genuine truth, however bright it shines. The pupil of their intellectual eye having become adjusted to the darkness of error, genuine truth dazzles and blinds them. Hence the meaning of these words in John, “ And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world ; that they which see not might see, and that they which see might be made blind." ix. 39. This text is thus explained in the Arcana Cælestia by Emanuel Swedenborg, “ To come into the world for judgment, denotes to reveal divine truth, which truth makes those to see who relish wisdom from the Lord, and makes those blind who are wise from themselves, thus who have the reputation of being learned.” A. C. 9857. “They that see denotes those that think themselves intelligent above all others, concerning whom it is said, that they shall become blind, that is, will not receive faith ; that not to see, or to be blind, is predicated of those who are in false principles, also of those who are in ignorance.” (A. C. 3865.)
They who have confirmed false principles in themselves, and have thus come to see or to think they see,
not by the pure light of heavenly wisdom, but by the fatuitous light of their own self-intelligence, are always blind to the perception of genuine truth. Therefore, they always resist the truth whenever it is announced —for to them it does not appear true but false, since they see darkness as light and light as darkness. Genuine truth, to their minds, is as the natural light of day to the eyes of owls and bats, which see best in the nighttime, and cannot bear the light of the sun.
Now, because of the perverted state of the Church, all our minds are more or less in this darkened condition. Spiritual truth is very obscure to us. We do not readily comprehend the shining light.
Again: the Lord says, 66 This is the condemnation that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds we John, iii. 19. These words denote, that, while men live wicked lives—while their motives of action are wrong, and the loves of self and the world instead of love to the Lord and the neighbor, have dominion over them, they do not love the light of truth, because this reveals their own evil quality, and condemns their wickedness. Hence they prefer the darkness of falsity, which leaves them in the quiet indulgence of their evil loves. Wherefore, the Lord adds, "for every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved." (v. 20.)
“The Lord,” says Swedenborg in the Apocalypse Explained, “calls himself the light, because He was the divine truth itself when in the world; hence by light is signified the Lord as to divine truth, and also divine truth from the Lord; and whereas darkness is opposed to light, by the darkness which men loved more than light is signified the infernal false principle, which is the false of evil si. e. the false originating in selfish and evil loves ;] that it is the false of evil which in this passage is signified by darkness, is manifest from its being said, because their works were evil, since from evil works, or from evils of life exists the false of evil ; for as good conjoins to itself truth, so evil conjoins to itself
the false, inasmuch as one is of the other.” (Ap. Exp. n. 526.)
From these texts, as thus explained, we may conclude that persons who are quite satisfied with, and fully confirmed in, the dogmas of the prevailing theology, and those whose ruling affections are wrong, and who have no desire to become regenerated by having the loves of self and the world brought under subjection to the principles of heavenly life, cannot, in their present state, receive the truths of the New Church. Such persons must first “ go and wash in Jordan seven times ;" i. e. they must first suffer those knowledges of truth and goodness derived from the Word, which form the first boundary to the spiritual Canaan-those truths which are introductory to the church—to effect in their minds a plenary purification from falsified truths, which is the cleansing of their spiritual leprosy.* They must first receive from John the baptism "of water unto repentance," before they can receive, from “One mightier than he,” that other baptism which is “ with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” At present they are not in a state to comprehend the light of the New Dispensation.
It is the design of the present lecture to exhibit the doctrine of the New Jerusalem Church concerning "the end of the world," which, according to our common English version, is spoken of in Matthew xxiv. 3, xiii. 40, and other parts of the New Testament.
It has been, and is still, a prevailing belief among those belonging to the first Christian church, that this natural world with all things appertaining to it, will, at some future time, be utterly destroyed : that then will be the general judgment day, when the Son of Man will be seen in person coming upon the natural clouds, with all the holy angels with Him. And at different periods of the church there have arisen “false Christs, and false prophets," who have assumed to know and to foretell the precise time when this event would take place. But their predictions have thus far proved to be all untrue. The sun and the stars continue to shine,
* See Apocalypse Explained by Emanuel Swedenborg, n. 475, p. 203, for the explanation of the spiritual import of the miracle of healing wrought upon Naainan, the Syrian, by washing seven times in Jordan. Also, the Dictionary of Correspondences under the words washing, Jordan, seven, fc.
and the earth moves on in her orbit as 'orderly and undisturbed as ever.
Many religionists in our country have recently had their attention considerably awakened to this subject-the end of the world, and some have had their fears greatly alarmed, by the preaching of the Rev. Mr. Miller, who teaches that the end of all things is at hand; and who has lately published a book, wherein he attempts to prove from Scripture that this world will certainly be destroyed in 1843. And so plausible an argument has this writer made out from the literal sense of Scripture, and from a deceitful handling of the Word of God, that not a few intelligent men have been led to admit that there is certainly a pretty strong probability that this event will take place at the period assigned by the writer. And those who have rejected the conclusions of Mr. Miller, have generally admitted his first position, viz., that such an event will certainly take place some time or other ; but have denied that he, or any one else could tell precisely when.
But when the year 1843 shall have closed upon us, we shall behold the face of nature still unchanged in its aspect. The firmament will look as bright and sparkling, and the earth will roll on in her orbit as steadily as before; and the writer above referred to will be reckoned among the false prophets who have gone before him.
We shall not stop to remark upon the exceedingly irrational and unphilosophical character of the opinion about “the end of the world,” which has been most prevalent in the church. We will only say that it is highly improbable such an event, in the sense in which the Church has commonly understood it, will ever take place; for it would be a manifest departure from all that we know of the divine laws of order, progress, reproduction and preservation in the natural world. The prevailing belief of the Church upon this subject, has doubtless originated partly in the mistranslation, and consequent misunderstanding of the passage in Matthew above cited, and which is of frequent occurrence in the New Testament; and it has been confirmed by other
passages of Scripture understood according to their literal sense, such as that in Rev. xxi. 1. The Greek words ouvréhela toù « õvós (he sunteleia tou aionos) mean, not the end of the world, as is read in the common English version, but the Consummation of the Age. This is known and admitted by every good classical scholar of whatever religious sect. Alov (Aion) means an age, a life, or any full period, whether long or short; and ouvréheld (sunteleia) means the end, consummation, or finishirig of that period.—(See Schleusner's Greek and Latin Lexicon.)
Now, according to Swedenborg, this natural world is never to be destroyed; but the Consummation of the Age mentioned in the New Testament, denotes the consummation or end of the first Christian Church. This therefore, is the doctrine of the New Church upon the subject before us. What is meant by the consummation or end of the church, may best be learned from Swedenborg's own language, which we quote from his work entitled “The True Christian Religion."
753. “THAT THE CONSUMMATION OF THE AGE IS THE LAST TIME OR END OF THE CHURCH.
On this earth there have been several churches, and all in the course of time have been consummated; and after their consummation, new ones have existed; and thus even to the present time. The consummation of the church takes place when no divine truth remains, except what is falsified or rejected ; and when there is no genuine truth, no genuine good can be given, since all the quality of good is formed by truths; for good is the essence of truth, and truth is the form of good; and without a form quality is not given. Good and truth can no more be separated, than the will and the understanding, or, what is the same thing, than the affection of love and the thought thence: wherefore, when the truth in the church is consummated, the good is consummated also; and when this is done, then the church has an end, i. e., there is a consummation of it.
754. “ The church is consummated by various things, especially by such as make the false appear as true; and when that appears true, then the good which, in itself