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The Crown of All the Churches
This book foretells the culmination of the Christian religion in regaining the lost innocence of the race in the beginning. Like the Gospels, Revelation is divided into four sections organically related to each other in their inner sense. First, the seven golden candlesticks, representing the seven churches, with the Son of man walking in their midst; second, the opening of the seven seals; third, the sounding of the seven trumpets; and, fourth, the pouring of the seven vials of the wrath of God upon the earth, from which there emerges the vision of the Holy City, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven. The whole picture describes how the Holy Spirit ("the seven spirits of God" in chapter 4) is at work today throughout the world through the progressive opening of the Word, bringing into the light the evils within and without, and operating unfalteringly to separate that which is "unjust and filthy from that which is righteous and holy." This is involved in the number seven—the sacred day of rest after labor. The Word opens with "man" in the garden of Men "naked and unashamed," and closes with "the Lamb that was slain" on the throne of heaven, and all the angels acclaiming Him worthy "to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength and honor, and glory, and blessing, forever and ever." The tree of life, also, in the center of the garden of yore, at last appears in the center of the Holy City in full fruitage. And the leaves of that tree—most blessed promise—are for the healing of the nations.
The Seven Churches
Chapter 1. John’s revelation is addressed to those who love the Lord above all others. We can only appreciate the blessing of keeping this prophecy as it takes on a meaning that touches our ordinary lives. John’s salutation to the churches is "to all who are in the Christian world, where the Word is, and the Lord is known by it," and who desire to be Christian in deed as well as in word. The Lord gives those born anew the power to know what is right and to do it; that is, make them kings and priests unto God. He reveals Himself in the literal and spiritual sense of the Word. Even those in falsities (they who pierced Him) shall see Him in penitence, and look to Him for help to restore the life of religion in a cruel and faithless world. We face that world with our backs to the Lord, and condemn it unsparingly. That, however, does not improve matters. We need to face about, to see the truth that saves, and not condemns. "For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved" (John 3:17). As this inversion of our state of mind takes place, we see the Son of man, or the Lord as the Word, in a new light. The written Word touches life on every plane even to the outward daily life. "The Son of man was clothed with a garment down to the foot." The Word conjoins us with heaven (the golden girdle), and disposes our thoughts to good purpose (the head and hairs white as wool). The new understanding of the Word reveals God’s love more and more (eyes like a flame of fire), especially in the Lord’s life in the Gospels (the feet as if glowing in a furnace). The Word has something to say about everything we know, and stresses the power in heavenly truths (the voice of many waters and seven stars in his right hand). It separates the true from the false, and reveals the Love and Wisdom of the Lord. The vision prostrates us from a sense of our unworthiness. The Lord revives our spirit, and gives us to understand that He will preserve us from all evil (Divine Providence #221–233). The church in heaven is guardian of the church on earth.
2, 3. The weaknesses in each church may exist for rectification in any individual, or group of individuals.
Ephesus—the opinionist. He is hard-headed, intolerant of evil, and quick to expose shams. He loses his first love for others, however, and will, therefore, cease to be a light-bearer, unless he repents, and recovers his good will to all.
Smyrna—the altruist. He is tender-hearted, easily imposed upon, and led astray. He regards himself as God’s chosen child, but his judgment is unbalanced. Wisdom is attainable only through trying self-discipline.
Pergamos— the behaviorist. His actions are right in the main, but tainted with hypocrisy, or self-merit. The life is not clean, until the inside of the cup is as clean as the outside.
Thyatira—the dogmatist. With him, orthodoxy takes precedence of love. He therefore falsifies the Word to justify violations of the law of love. Not until love rules supreme can his power over evil come with the dawn of a new and better day.
Sardis—the pietist. "Thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead." The little good in worship will cease to exist, unless we practice what we preach. With repentance rituals, like garments, are purified, and the name of being religious made good.
Philadelphia—the balanced life. "Because they know that they have no ability of themselves," they have power from above to overcome evil from their youth up, and live a normal life. They are the pillars of the church, the trusted leaders in society.
Laodicea—the inconstant life. Peter and Judas were warm when loyal to the Lord, but cold in their denial and betrayal. We are at least tempted to play fast and loose with the Lord, as it appears best for self-interest at the time. "Behold, I stand at the door and knock."
We must open the door and let Him in, to attain perfect self-mastery in the name of the Lord, to overcome all and sit with Him on his throne, even as He overcame, and sits with the Father on his throne.
The Seven Seals
4. Consider now the state of the world. The wickedness in sight is as nothing to the wickedness out of sight. That which is kept hidden by fear of consequences is beyond computation. All this evil, to the last ugly or mean thought, must be brought into the light, condemned and finally exterminated by the help of the Lord. We are now considering the means whereby the Lord works to this end without interfering with our free will at any point. A door in heaven is opened, and we are invited to ascend, through humility, and see how the stage is set for the drama. Behold, a throne with the Lord upon it. The Lord operates perpetually to separate good from evil. Around the throne are twenty-four judges representing all that is good and true in the church in heaven and on earth. Out of the throne came lightnings, and thunder and voices—enlightenment, perception and instruction. And before the throne was a sea of glass, representing those at the limit of the Christian heaven about to be formed. The four animals in and around the throne represent the source of judgment, our affection for the power, the knowledge, the wisdom and the forethought in and from the Word of God (a lion, calf, man and eagle). All ascribe the glory and honor to the Lord.
5. The means of judgment is the Word itself. This is a sealed volume. No one in heaven or earth is able to open its meaning and "to know the states of life of all, and to judge everyone according to his state. The Lord alone sees the state of everyone from inmost to outmost," for time and eternity. There is solid comfort in knowing that "the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof," even the Lamb of God—the Lord as to his Divine Human—who is omnipotent and omniscient. And now that the Word is being opened and the judgment is in operation, there comes to the souls of men from the higher heavens, even though it be felt as yet only as the slightest tremor, the joyous confession of the Lord’s Divine Human, with thoughts of faith springing from the desire for better living. It is a new song ringing with joy in contemplation of ultimate "deliverance from hell, and salvation by conjunction" with the Lord for those "in the church, or in any religion," who live according to their light. The lower and the lowest heavens contribute their share of inspiration in acknowledging the power of the Lord "to execute judgment, and by it to reduce all things in the heavens and upon the earth to order." A transcendent Amen comes from the living Word, with humble adoration from all in heaven.
6. Opening the Seven Seals:
The first step in the judgment is to explore the minds of those who had passed into the spiritual world within the Christian era. In apostolic times the people remarked: "See these Christians how they love one another." When the will loves good, the understanding loves truth, and is quick to confirm it. Even so the rider controls the horse—the understanding—and has it take him where he wants to go. The early Christians understood the Word in its purity, and went forth to conquer evil. That is the significance of the white horse emerging on the opening of the first seal.
On the opening of the second seal, there came forth a red horse. In the second period of the Christian Church, from the fourth to the sixteenth century, an evil understanding of the Word justified hatred in dealing with heretics. The rider on the red horse claimed the right "to take peace from the earth, that they should kill one another."
The third period, from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century, was marked by a false understanding of the Word. The rider on the black horse had a balance in his hand. The church estimated the value of the life of religion at a mere trifle. Faith alone was its standard. And that period was succeeded by naturalism, agnosticism, atheism, the denial of everything supernatural in religion.
The rider on the pale horse was named Death, "and hell followed with him." "Every man has spiritual life, indeed, from creation, and thence from birth; but that life is extinguished when God, the holiness of the Word, and eternal life, are denied." This state of the world throughout those centuries made it hard for a large mass of well-disposed people to get a clear concept of religion. They gathered together in the spiritual world, and are here spoken of as "the souls under the altar."
With the opening of the fifth seal, they are said to have received white robes, signifying "genuine truths of wisdom," awaiting the fullness of time when they might be released (see chapter 20). The opening of the sixth seal "brought into the light "the state of life of those who appeared as Christians in external form, but were interiorly evil." Their hypocrisy was laid bare to their great consternation.
7. The first stage of the judgment is at an end. The Lord, however, provides that the stronger influx from heaven which is to follow shall be restrained until that which has already been under judgment has been freed altogether from further assault. God’s servants are then sealed in their foreheads. The twelve tribes are named in four groups of three. The first of each tribe signifies some love which is of the will, the second something of wisdom, and the third some use, or effect, from them. After that all in the Christian world who are truly religious and hear the Lord’s word acknowledge from the heart that the Lord is their Savior, and all in the entire heaven worship Him forever. Reference is here made to the souls under the altar. Who are they? "They which came out of great tribulation." Their robes washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb are emblems of their religious principles, cleansed by fighting against evils and rejecting falsities. They live in the Lord’s presence, and lack nothing. They have ceased to desire evil as formerly, and are taught of the Lord, who leads them "to living fountains of waters; and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes."
The Seven Trumpets
8. On the opening of the seventh seal, heaven was silent with astonishment. Self-love had long kept us blind to evil within and without. It is a shock to have our eyes opened and see things as they are. We pray for mercy, but God’s love is made manifest through the exposure and removal of wrongs that are opposed to it. Almost everyone lives more or less under the delusion that God will be merciful and deliver him from all his sins for the asking. This doctrine of faith without works existed long before Luther formulated and adopted it. It is responsible for the growth of evil beyond measure. The next nine chapters deal with the exposure and judgment of this evil.
The sound of the first trumpet lays open the state of religion with those who are interiorly in that faith, destroying good and falsifying the Word.
The second trumpet affects those who are exteriorly infected by that doctrine, falsifying general truths, and vitiating knowledges from the Word.
The third trumpet sound brings out how this belief heightens one’s pride in abstract teachings of religion, and contempt for spiritual truths.
The fourth trumpet discloses a decline in ability to know "what love is, what faith is, or any truth." These woes are light compared with the three that are to follow.
The fifth trumpet sounds. The learned and wise justify their belief in salvation by faith alone. A star falls from heaven and opens the abyss in which they live; for the confirmation of a falsity is the denial of the truth. Lusts burst forth unchecked, with sensuous judgments. Their power to persuade others was limited to those like themselves. It was tormenting, for they would never listen to reason themselves, and always regarded their arguments as irrefutable. They falsify the Scriptures with subtlety to stupefy others to the destruction of religion.
The sixth trumpet uncovers the weaknesses of the uneducated, who simply believe in faith alone, and do as they like. Being free from any restraint, their minds are crammed with visionary ideas that shut out the light and life of religion, which is to do good. When arguing for the right to do as they please they sometimes give utterance to great truths, but falsify them by a selfish interpretation of them. The confirmation of their evils is not so subtle, or so deep, as that of the learned. Their idols are more gross and repulsive, yet they are inaccessible to reason. "Faith alone induces in their hearts stupidity, fickleness, and hardness, so that they do not think anything of any sin that is to be shunned, because it is with the devil and against God."
10. The Lord Himself appeared in his Word with special reference to its testimony to Him as the God of heaven and earth. He is the center of all religion, and deplores the decadence of his church, which is unprepared to receive Him, until the heart has rejected its dependence upon salvation by faith without works. After the judgment He will come as foretold in both the Old and New Testaments. John took the little book and ate it up to illustrate how the teaching in regard to the Lord as the God of heaven and earth would be received in the church. In his mouth it was sweet as honey, but bitter in his belly. The church will accept Him as its Savior agreeably, but demur when asked to acknowledge "that He alone is God of heaven and earth, and that his Human is Divine." Therefore, the exposure of the false beliefs that stand in the way must proceed, until we see and overcome all resentment in ourselves to correction, and make full reparation for the evils to which we are prone.
11. The angel gave John a measuring rod. To those who love the Lord is given the power to see and know the state of the church in heaven, or as it ought to be, "before it should be conjoined to the church in the world, the court which is without the temple." In the light of this the church here is desolated and destroyed by evil living. This will work its own ruin, and then open the way to a new beginning. Until then the acknowledgment of the Lord and a life according to the ten commandments shall be taught regardless of opposition. They are the two witnesses, two olive trees and two candlesticks. Whoever hurts them brings punishment upon himself, and falsifies the truths of the Word. "They who love to follow their inclinations and are carried away by the enjoyments of their lusts" (the beast out of the abyss) reject them, even in the church itself. "The love of ruling from the love of self, and love of governing from the pride of one’s own intelligence" (Sodom and Egypt), are the arch enemies of Christianity (where also our Lord was crucified). We have nothing to do with the fate of anyone who expects "instantaneous salvation from mercy apart from means" (Divine Providence #338). Nor can we judge anyone. But it is of paramount importance that we should see what is implied by our indifference to evils within, and our sensitiveness to correction. We dare not reject "the two prophets that torment those that dwell upon the earth." They are the essentials of religion. When we see the situation within, and take it seriously, "the spirit of life from God enters into them," and the dead arise and stand upon their feet. There is trouble within. The true and the false stand in opposition, a great change takes place. At last we expect to pay the full price of salvation, give up our selfish life for the life eternal.
The seventh angel sounds his trumpet. "The kingdoms of this world are become our Lord’s and His Christ’s, and He shall reign forever and ever." The conflict is on again, and the judgment "to destroy them that destroy the earth" in ourselves.
12. "The woman clothed with the sun" represents the new Christian ideal imbued with the love of God, that is, the desire to keep his commandments, and the faith that evil in ourselves can be overcome—"the moon under her feet." The Word assures us of victory—"the crown of stars." Our conception of the truth that convicts us of a definite sin matures with difficulty. The love of that evil is entrenched in the soul. We excuse, we procrastinate, we vacillate, we do everything to evade the issue. Our unregenerate sensuous nature—the serpent—is exceedingly cunning and seductive, in forming the most unsound excuses, even falsifying Scripture to break down our determination to face the issue. The child born to the woman signifies "truth conceived in the spiritual man and born in the natural." It is the truth about our besetting sin, seen in the light of the Word and by rational arguments. "The only thing by which man is man, and by which he is conjoined to the Lord, is that he can do good and believe truth from his will according to his judgment." The flesh is weak, however, and we are unable to make real our aspiration at once. Fortunately, we have opened the way for the Lord to work within. Heaven has drawn nearer, and the result of a conflict there becomes evident in our disposal of argument after argument favoring our evils, or our inability to cope with them. The dragon, that old serpent, is cast out into the earth—the world of spirits. "Now is come the salvation and strength, and the kingdom of God, and the power of his Christ." Our woes increase—the dragon persecutes the woman. The Lord protects his own. We see more within our evils, and are plagued with pessimism. The devil and Satan would have us believe that we can never get rid of our evils. Why attempt the impossible? The irrationality of pessimism becomes increasingly apparent. "The earth helped the woman." The serpent then shows its fangs—contempt of those who claim Power to do right in a world wherein evil reigns supreme. We stand firm on the confines of heaven. "I stood upon the sand of the sea."
13. "And I saw a beast coming up out of the sea," and a second beast coming up out of the earth. Both of these beasts had all power and authority from the dragon, and therefore represent "the doctrine and faith of the dragon among the laity and the clergy" respectively. The first beast had seven heads and a name of blasphemy on them. A belief in three gods, and in salvation without means, is the product of an unsound mind. It derives its power from Scripture, though wholly false. It is blasphemous when it denies the Lord’s Divine in his Human, or regards Him as a mere man. It is a dangerous heresy based on a misinterpretation of the Word. The Word insists that man is judged by his works and not by faith alone. How can it be possible that sin is no sin for those who have faith? That they are not bound by the moral law? That they are free? No one dare call their belief in question! Only believe, and your sins are forgiven! Heaven is yours for the asking! "The whole earth wondered after the beast," leading others away from a true belief, and from right living. They go together into captivity—in bondage to unrepented evils. "Here is the patience and the faith of the saints," to feel the temptation to take the way of all flesh, in preference to the way of the cross, trusting in the mercy of the Lord. The beast from the earth had "two horns like a lamb, but spake as a dragon." The clergy "speak, teach and write from the Word, as if it were the Lord’s Divine truth, and yet it is truth falsified." They entered more deeply into the faith. "They argued that no one can do a good work of himself, and fulfill the law," which is true, but falsified when said that Christ suffered in man’s stead "and thereby took away the condemnation of the law." If you do not accept that faith you will perish! Faith is the only means of salvation! Orthodoxy is a sine qua non of religion! This takes all the good out of Christianity, letting down the race, instead of lifting it up.
14. We see it, and condemn it as intolerance and bigotry. With our judgments, new and better states of living are being formed by the Lord within. Christianity is forming. "And I saw, and behold a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him a hundred and forty-four thousand, having his Father’s name written upon their foreheads." "The twelve" multiplied twelve thousand times! The nucleus of a new heaven from which shall come a new earth! New truths, a new perception, a new confession of the Lord, a new joy for the redeemed of the Lord! The proclamation of the everlasting gospel has a new ring to it that stimulates an interest in the Scriptures and in the worship of the Lord, free from pride and arrogance. "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth. Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow with them." There is still much to be accomplished. The Lord will appear in the literal sense of the Word to execute further judgment (a sharp sickle). Harvest time is near, the grapes and grain must be gathered in, and the grapes cast into the winepress and trodden without the city—"Sodom and Egypt." All the ways in which the Christian Church has violated the Gospel must be brought into the light for final judgment.
The Seven Vials
15. "And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God." John saw this. They who love the Lord see what it means concerning judgment in themselves. The attendant suffering is "the wrath of God," because "man, from his evil, is angry against God"; he resents reproof. The content of the vials is a revelation of unwelcome truth from the Lord. John saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire. This represents professing Christians who worship the Lord Jesus Christ outwardly, but themselves inwardly. In contrast are those who "stand by the sea of glass, and sing the song of Moses, and the song of the Lamb," representing those who live according to the commandments, and believe in the Lord as their Creator and Redeemer, and as one with the Father. Their confession is expressed in the words of their songs, which opens heaven in the heart, in preparation for a judgment that achieves a final separation of the false from the true in Christian faith and life.
16. The seven vials of wrath depict the soul’s rage when the genuine truth from the Word condemns the evils of life that have had a free hand in everyone who relies on God’s free grace and pardon after death. The debt must be paid to "the last farthing." The first vial poured on the earth unveils the foulness of interior evils and falsities that infect the learned. The second, on the sea, shows the extinction of Divine truth by exterior evils and falsities in the masses. The third, on the rivers and fountains of waters, points out how faith alone perverts all the teachings of the Word, bringing condign punishment in its train. The fourth, on the sun, discloses how the Lord’s Divine love is torture to "those who are in the lusts of evil from the enjoyment of the love of self." The fifth, on the throne of the beast and his kingdom, proves that where faith alone reigns darkness prevails. The sixth, on the Euphrates, drying up its waters, makes it clear that every reason advanced to justify procrastination through mistaken trust in God is a denial of the Lord’s power to save, and the failure of faith. An extension in the breakdown of faith means Armageddon—a world conflict that menaces religion and civilization. "The seventh angel poured out his vial into the air." The air we breathe, the spirit of life, everything in which we have any faith! Can it be that we refuse to reflect upon the evils in ourselves? Refuse to face the facts about ourselves? That we separate faith from charity, and remain fixed in the enjoyment of our evils to the end of life? The issue raises a commotion within that is almost unendurable. And then the Lord concentrates our thoughts upon the root cause of our troubles. "Babylon came into remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fury of his wrath."
Babylon the Great
17. We finally establish a complete contact with the root of all evil, the love of rule from the love of self, or simply the love of self. "It surpasses all other loves in its ability to adulterate goods and falsify truths; and it does this by a misuse of the rationality that every man, both the evil man and the good man, has from the Lord. By its proofs it can even make evil to appear wholly like good, and falsity like truth" (Divine Providence #233). So long as we learn truth in the abstract which is in no way mixed with the evil of the will, there is no profanation of it. But whenever the truth we know checks an old selfish habit, and we resentfully excuse it, or attempt to prove that it is not so bad, or quite justifiable, that is essential whoredom and profanation. This is what is meant by one of the seven angels that had the seven vials showing John the judgment of the great harlot that sitteth upon many waters; that is, if we, through hearts aflame with God’s love, see the evil in our thoughts and intentions, and let it pass. Babylon is the great harlot; the Holy City is the Lamb’s wife. The love of dominion is responsible for the greatest crimes, which are most offensive when committed in the name of religion. "Mystery" is her name. She does her work in secret, and not in the open. And "drunken with the blood of the martyrs," she is intolerant of opposition, even a slight difference of opinion in one who is disliked. She perverts all the teaching of the Word, when self-will is ranged against God’s will. There are many, however, who are not beyond conviction, when pushed to extremes. Outwardly, however, the world seems at present to be overwhelmed by the lust for power.
18. "And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened by his glory. And he cried mightily with a strong voice, Babylon the great is fallen, and is become the habitation of demons, and the hold of every unclean spirit, and the cage of every unclean and hateful bird. Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues." For the adulteration and profanation of the truths of the Word it works out its own ruin, which is more serious for those in authority than for their subordinates, or for the outsider, or the common people. "Rejoice over her, O heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets." This does not mean that the saint shall triumph over the sinner. joy is inherent in deliverance from evil, as suffering is inseparable from sin. There does not appear to be any need of picturing the horrors attending the struggle for supremacy in church and state. History and current events are quite adequate to the demand. The world, however, stands badly in need of a clearer understanding of the inside. And this will undoubtedly follow the continuous opening of the Scriptures with the progressive effort on our part to know and do the will of the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
19. "After these things I (that is, they who love the Lord) heard as it were a voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, Alleluia, Salvation and glory and honor and power unto the Lord our God; for true and just are his judgments; for he hath judged the great harlot, who corrupted the earth with her whoredoms, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand." This is the beginning of the end—thanksgiving for the removal of a hateful selfish spirit, and the gift of freedom to love all men, particularly those who stand in greatest need of it—the spirit of all in heaven. The Lord alone reigns within. "The marriage of the Lamb is come." "They who will be of the Lord’s New Church are instructed by the Lord in genuine and pure truths through the Word," for the construction of a new social order "devoid of evil" (Apocalypse Revealed #814). Blessed are they whose hearts are open to the call. The reality of the vision is so inspiring that we are tempted to worship the vision as and for the reality. The Divine, however, only exists in bearing testimony to the Lord in Christian living, in brotherly love (John 5:39; 6:57, 63). In the future the opening of the meaning of the Word will enable those who love the Lord to discriminate clearly the difference between right and wrong in all human relationships. "I, John, saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse," on which sat Him whose name is The Word of God. By "truths from the literal sense of the Word confirmed by rational arguments from the natural man" the Lord will lead us in the conflict with the enemies of the spiritual life—the love of dominion and faith alone. The invitation to participate in the blessings of the new life through conjunction with the Lord—the marriage supper of the Lamb—is extended to all who have seen the vision, and are prepared to sacrifice all to realize it.
20. We eat to live. Some of the food is assimilated almost immediately by the papillae of the tongue and the esophagus, while most of it is more slowly taken up by the stomach and the intestines. So with those who congregated in the world of spirits during the first seventeen centuries of the Christian era. Some of them entered heaven soon after death. Others were detained longer to complete the process of separation of evil from good in its entirety. And still others were unable to be subjected to the process, until certain elements in the world of spirits were withdrawn, to make it possible for the light from the Word to reach them. So John speaks of the dragon being bound for a time, and cast into the abyss, when the souls under the altar were set free to face the light without fear or inordinate group pressure from without. The world of spirits in the eighteenth century was full of people from Christendom who were Christian in name only, and others externally associated with them who were truly Christian at heart. Light came from the opening of the spiritual sense of the Word of God, through the instrumentality of the Lord’s servant Emanuel Swedenborg. That light was gladly hailed by weak Christians, while the influence of the dragonists was under restraint. After they were strengthened in their character the dragonists were permitted to bring all influence available to break down their faith, but without success. The evil was rejected, and the light perfected. And this is the order of the universal judgment. We are writing our books of life daily. Everything we think, intend, say, or do is imprinted on the interiors of the mind. Nothing is wanting or lost. And when we pass into the spiritual world the books are opened, and compared with the things in The Book of Life—the Lord’s life in the Old and New Testaments. And wherever our books are found to be in agreement, everything that is out of harmony with that Life Divine is cast out to make it possible for us to feel at home with others in the Father’s household, commonly called heaven.
The Bride, the Lamb’s Wife
21. "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth." John saw the vision objectively, and they who have the Lord’s love in their hearts see it subjectively—a Christian heaven in the spiritual world, the source of the inspiration to establish a new order in this world ruled by the Lord Himself. A church or state that only simulates a true religion or form of government, being rotten at the core, cannot stand. "I, John, saw the Holy City, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband." The new order means a new freedom and a new life. It comes into existence as the evil in man is separated from the good. To this end— "for the sake of the Lord, the neighbor and salvation"—the Lord gives from Himself through the Word the knowledge of the truth that conduces to that use. "I will give unto him that thirsteth of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son." Thus, it was "one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues" who showed "the bride, the Lamb’s wife" to John. From the Lord out of the inmost heaven they who desire to keep the ten commandments are led by the Lord to see the meaning of the law in their hearts, for judgment and for right living from day to day, from hour to hour, aye, at times, from minute to minute, when wicked thoughts are on the wing, that they may be conjoined to the Lord through his Word (Apocalypse Revealed #669, 670, 718, 719, 895). The objective is a new community life—a Holy City—with everything that is of evil without its walls. The new civilization will be built on the precious teachings of the Gospel, and perfected through obedience to the commandments. The names of the Apostles were on the foundation stones, and those of the tribes on the gates. The square deal is the rule of life on every plane of life. The integrity of the new Christianity will be determined by a settled trust in the Lord. The measure of the wall is the measure of a man, that is, of an angel. The Lord Himself in his Divine Human is the all of the new order. The opportunity to enter into it is open to all for all time.
22. The end is in the beginning, and the beginning in the end; the fruit in the seed, and the seed in the fruit. And every least part of the tree has its special contribution to make toward the perpetual reproduction of leaf and fruit. The tree of life in the garden of Eden speaks of the growth in the infancy of the human race of the consciousness that "life for man is God in him, and that he then has heaven and eternal life" (Marital Love #135). Fruit and foliage on the tree of life exist only by implication in childhood. The period of the former prophets likens the man who shuns evils as sins against God to "a tree that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither" (Psalm 1). The latter prophets present a more advanced form of its growth (Ezekiel 47). Here the tree of life reaches its perfection. It is a central feature of the Holy City. It draws its sustenance from the river of the water of life proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. It is in the midst of the street of the Holy City. It yields fruit every month, and its leaves are for the healing of the nations. In the inmost of the truths that make for the better regulation of our international, national and personal life is the Lord in his Divine Love. Every truth drawn from His Word will be productive of good according to the varying needs of every individual from time to time (fruit for every month). The leaves of the tree signify "rational truths from the goods of love and charity by which they who are in evils and hence in falsities are led to think soundly, and to live becomingly." "Nothing accursed shall be there, and the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and his servants shall minister unto Him. And they shall see his face, and his name shall be in their foreheads. These words are faithful and true." Mistake not the vision for the reality! "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city." Everything that has even the least suspicion of evil in it must be cast out that the Lord may dwell within, and that we may be his people. Does it seem to be impossible of realization in this godless world? "He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen." The marriage covenant is sealed when the church answers: "Yea, come, Lord Jesus."
"The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen."
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