Arcana Coelestia (Elliott) n. 1850

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1850. That 'will I judge' means visitation and judgement becomes clear without explanation. Judging or judgement does not mean some last judgement, as most people suppose, that is to say, a time when heaven and earth are to pass away and then a new heaven and a new earth are to be created, as described in the Prophets and in the Book of Revelation, and thus a time when all things are to be destroyed. This conception has become so widespread that it has taken possession of even the best-informed minds, so much so that they do not believe the dead are to rise again until that time. As a consequence because that time has been foretold and yet after the passing of so many centuries since the prediction was made they do not see it happening or about to do so, they feel safe in confirming themselves in their assurance that there is no truth in the idea, thus that they are not going to rise again. But it should be recognized that no such thing is meant by the Last Judgement, that is, by the prediction that heaven and earth are to be destroyed. According to the sense of the letter that is indeed the meaning, but not according to the internal sense. By the Last Judgement, according to the internal sense, is meant the final period of the Church, and by heaven and earth's passing away is meant the Church as regards internal and external worship - a Church that ceases to be a Church when no charity exists.

[2] A Last Judgement of the Most Ancient Church took place when all charity and faith were at an end and when no perception existed, as was the situation just before the Flood. The Flood itself, which has been dealt with above, was the Last Judgement of that Church. At that point heaven and earth, that is, the Church, passed away, and a new heaven and a new earth, that is, a new Church called the Ancient Church, was created, which too has been dealt with. This Church as well had its final period, namely when all charity was growing cold and all faith was being blacked out. This was about the time of Eber. This period was the Last Judgement of that Church, which was the heaven and earth that passed away.

[3] The new heaven and the new earth was the Hebrew Church. This too had its final period or Last Judgement when it had become idolatrous. A new Church was as a consequence established, and this was accomplished among the descendants of Jacob. That which was called the Jewish Church was nothing other than a Church representative of charity and faith. In that Church, that is, among the descendants of Jacob, no charity or faith existed, and therefore no Church existed but merely the representative of a Church. This was so because direct communication of the Lord's kingdom in the heavens with any true Church on earth was not possible, and therefore an indirect communication by means of representatives was effected. The last period or Last Judgement of this so- called Church was when the Lord came into the world, for at that time representatives came to an end, that is to say, the sacrifices and similar practices did so; and to bring these to an end the Jews were expelled from the land of Canaan.

[4] After this a new heaven and a new earth were created, namely a new Church which must be called the Primitive Church, which was begun by the Lord and after that gradually grew stronger, and which at first possessed charity and faith. The destruction of this Church is foretold by the Lord in the Gospels and by John in the Book of Revelation, and it is this destruction which is called the Last Judgement. Not that heaven and earth are now going to pass away but that a new Church will be raised up in some part of the world, while the present one continues in existence with its external worship just as the Jews do with theirs. As is quite well known, their worship includes no charity or faith at all, that is, nothing of the Church. So much for the Last Judgement in general.

[5] In particular there is a last judgement for everyone immediately after he has died, for at this point he passes over into the next life, in which, once he has entered into the life that was his in the body, he undergoes a judgement that points either to death or to life. This last judgement involves every detail of the person. With him whose judgement is to death every single detail condemns him, for there is nothing in his thought and will, not the smallest thing, that does not show the same as his individual last judgement or draw him towards death. But with him whose judgement is to life, every single detail of his thought or will in a similar way possesses the image of his individual last judgement and bears him towards life. For as is the person in general, so is he in every detail of his thought and affection. These are the things meant by the Last Judgement.

This page is part of the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg

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