It is well known that in the age of reason and the enlightenment came an explosion of scientific breakthroughs and understanding. With the opening of internal reflection there naturally comes increased rational thinking and scientific awareness. This fact of history is prophecied in the Bible concerning the second coming, but it is little known and can hardly be seen without an understanding of correspondences. In the following quote Swedenborg describes first, the need for the opening of the internal sense, and second, how correspondences from the prophecies of Isaiah show how it is that with the opening of the internal sense came increased rational and scientific understanding:
It is asserted in the Church that the Word is holy, because Jehovah the Lord spoke it; but since its holiness is not apparent in the sense of the Letter alone, any one who begins to doubt its holiness on that account, confirms his doubts by many things he afterwards reads in the Word, for he says to himself, “Is this holy? Is this Divine?” Accordingly, lest such thoughts should enter the minds of many and ultimately prevail…and the Lord’s conjunction with man be thereby cut off, it has pleased the Lord at this time to reveal its spiritual sense, in order that it may be known where within it its Divine holiness lies concealed. Some examples may be given to illustrate this. In the Word mention is sometimes made of Egypt, Assyria, Edom, Moab, the children of Ammon, the Philistines, Tyre, Sidon, and Gog. Any one who does not know that by these names are signified things of heaven and the Church may erroneously conclude that the Word treats much of peoples and nations, and but little of heaven and the Church, thus much of worldly and little of heavenly things. When he knows, however, what is signified by these peoples or by their names, he may be led from error to the truth.
We read in Isaiah: “In that day shall there be a highway out of Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian shall come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria; and the Egyptians shall serve with the Assyrians. In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land: Whom JEHOVAH ZEBAOTH shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance.” xix. 23-25.
These words, in the spiritual sense mean that at the time of the Lord’s Coming the scientific, the rational, and the spiritual shall become one, and the scientific shall serve the rational, and both shall serve the spiritual; for, as has been said, by Egypt is meant the scientific principle, by Assyria the rational, and by Israel the spiritual. By the day, twice mentioned, is meant the First and the Second Coming of the Lord (A. C. n. 200)..
I cannot prove that these meanings ascribed to Egypt, Assyria, and Israel by correspondences are true. I could show, as I did on the subject of clouds, how it is that these meanings are consistent throughout the scriptures and how they are coherent with the rest of the Bible, but I will not here. One can only truly come to see it by the self-desire to understand. Love and desire when they are strong enough elevate the understanding to see, and to put in the effort to see. This scripture shows us that with the opening of the internal comes a great sense of self agency and wonder. It describes accurately the kind of thinking that men Like Decarte, Spinoza, and Newton were suddenly (in history) inspired to propound to the world. The opening of the internal increases the reflective faculty; it increases the desire and ability to examine ourself and our world – ideally for the sake of spiritual growth. Swedenborg writes that ‘at the time of the Lord’s coming the scientific, the rational, and the spiritual shall become one’, clearly showing that with the opening of the internal comes the seeking of integration and wholeness. Separate they are good for the development of the mind, which is developmentally necessary but alone remain natural. The ability to relate one to the other, to see how one principle leads to and makes the other meaningful brings deeper and more whole understanding. In his time, the time of the second coming, Swedenborg articulated a very well developed spiritual psychology that was unheard of in the world, and like Swedenborg other philosophers, notably Decarte and Spinoza, were scientific thinkers that deeply explored the psychological and spiritual make-up of man. They famuosly debated and published leading theories on the body-mind-spirit relationship in man. Newton, the giant of pure science, also practiced alchemy a great deal, an art based partly in science, partly in spirit and magic. Certainly in history there have been other periods of spiritual wonders, but our point here is that in the centuries before the enlightenment there was a long decline, then a sudden renewal, which is the second coming. When we look at the timeline of history the increase in knowledge in the last 200 years since the second coming there have been phenomenal advances in science, and in our ability to exercise self agency in religion and spirituality.
The quote from Isaiah above concerning the correspondential meaning of Assyria, Egypt and Israel gives the reader a glimpse of how profound and universal correspondences are; thousands of such examples could be given from the Bible and we would only be beginning.
Swedenborg’s role in the second coming was essential to, and directly commissioned by, the Lord. His particular purpose was to bring to the world, by publication, the understanding of the inner sense of the Word. In this sense, he was the primary agent of the second coming on earth. He is not the second coming; he was merely the primary agent of its communication. The second coming is the light of the Lord being made available in its fullness for the understanding and liberty of humanity, and this was received and communicated by many men and woman that received and shared this light in thousands of creative ways. But these latter did not receive a direct commissioning of the Lord in the way that Swedenborg did.
When people think of the second coming they expect a magical, extraordinary, supernatural event, but as we all know from life the Lord works within the regular processes of life; He works from within the natural world, from the internal to the natural. In this sense it seems less than what religious people hoped for, but in fact we have the ability now to deeply engage the Word, where there is a great sense of wonder, and joy, as if we had found a great treasure – for we have. This had been lost in the centuries before 1757. Swedenborg famously said to the world, “It is now permitted to enter the mysteries”. This is the essence of the second coming. And as I have shown the enlightenment was a sudden unprecadented development in history. It was an explosion of spiritual and scientific awareness in the world. It is so by the will, the providence, the wisdom, and the Mercy of the Lord. Without it we would have declined into an abysmal darkness for once again there had grown separation between God and man because of the failure of religion. Jesus could ‘come’ the second time in the Word – because He is the living Word! When He resurrected He fully entered the natural and fully became the living Word, because all the universal truths in Him that have unlimited depth are expressed in the Word. I described in the chapter on the Glorification that He became the divine truth of the Word by fulfilling all prophecy; (one becomes what they do). Prophecy is divine truth From God (Jehova) and by fulfilling all prophecy while on earth by the might of His divine soul He established union between Himself, the Word, heaven and earth. All of this takes place by correspondences, which are living because they connect to heaven, and everything in heaven is alive in the truest sense. The Lord’s human corresponds to the literal sense of the Word, and His divine soul corresponds to the internal of the Word. Since He is the living Word, which is commonly known by Christians, why should it be considered odd by Christians that the second coming of Jesus was accomplished by the revealing of the internal sense of the Word? In the beginning of John the Bible tells us plainly that He is in the Word: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…That was the true light which gives light to every man coming into the world” (John 1:1,2..9). And in Matthew He says, “Take my yoke upon you, learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart” (Mat. 11:29). All generations are meant to learn of Him in the Word. Again in Luke on the road to Emmaus Jesus teaches His companions: “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” Swedenborg reveals that in the highest sense of the internal sense of the Word, the celestial sense, the whole of Holy scripture is about the development and life of Jesus in all its detail. By correspondences the Old Testament stories contain a celestial sense that tells the story of the Lord’s development from childhood up to the beginning of His ministry. (The Gospels of course tell the story of his ministry). This may seem wonderous and far out to the reader, but Swedenborg reveals throughout his writing. In truth it only makes sense, for if Jesus is the living Word it follows that He is so in every detail. To see this requires a deep study of the Word and Swedenborg. I mention it here to give the reader a further sense of how it is that He is truly in the word and that He is the living word.
Even though His presence is available to us spiritually and in the Word, we are in the natural world, and this world is always in the balance between good and evil. Nothing is handed to us on a silver platter; we are meant to fight the fight of finding internal meaning in life as we grow. The Lord provides freedom and leaves us in freedom to do so, but is unceasingly urging us to be in relationship with Him.
I mentioned above that Swedenborg’s role is primary in the second coming; it is so for two reasons. For the last thirty years of his life, he was given the great gift of being raised into the light of heaven; in this capacity he travelled the realms of heaven so that he could communicate to humanity the wisdom of heaven. The degree to which he did this is unprecedented in all of history. Secondly, he was taught by revelation from the Lord the internal sense of the Word in enormous detail. Only Swedenborg taught the principle of correspondences to the world, and correspondences is the most direct expression of the internal sense. He published many volumes about, or using correspondences. He was commissioned by the Lord to publish what he learned from heaven, and he did so with tireless dedication. Here is a quote from Swedenborg explaining the nature of his role:
Since the Lord cannot manifest Himself in Person, and yet has foretold that He would come and establish a New Church, which is the New Jerusalem, it follows that this will be effected by means of a man, who is able not only to receive the doctrines of that into his understanding, but also to publish them by the press. I testify in truth that the Lord manifested Himself to me His servant, and sent me to this office; and that afterwards He opened the sight of my spirit, and so intermitted me into the spiritual world, and has granted me to see the heavens and the hells…from the first day of that calling I have not received anything whatever relating to the doctrines of that church from any angel, but from the Lord alone, while I was reading the Word. (True Christian Religion, n. 779,780)
I am there with the angels daily, even as I am in the world with men, and now for twenty-seven years (I N C 43). Things which I have learned from symbolic displays, visions, and conversations with spirits and angels, are only from the Lord. Whenever there was a symbolic display, vision and conversation, I was kept reflecting upon them inwardly and more inwardly to see what useful and good purpose [they could serve], thus what I was learning from them. Those who were presenting the displays and visions, and those who were speaking, were not paying much attention to my reflection, and in fact, they were sometimes indignant when they realized that I was reflecting. So consequently, I was taught by no spirit, neither by any angel, but by the Lord Alone, from Whom is all truth and goodness (S.D. 1647).
The spiritual sense of the Word has been disclosed by the Lord through me, which has never before been revealed since the Word was written among the sons of Israel: the Lord Himself is in this sense with His Divine, and in the natural sense with His Human. Not a single iota in this sense can be opened except by the Lord alone. This surpasses all the revelations that have hitherto been made from the creation of the world. By means of this revelation a communication has been opened between men and the angels of heaven, and conjunction of the two worlds has been effected (I N C 44).
In all history, have bolder words been spoken?