Selection from Emanuel Swedenborg’s The Athanasian Creed
Where the Lord, in the presence of His disciples, speaks about the consummation of the age, which is the last period of the Church, towards the end of the predictions regarding its successive states with respect to love and faith, He says this:
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: And 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. 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. Matthew 24:29-31
Those who understand these words in accordance with the sense of the letter have no other belief than that at the final period which is called the Last Judgment, all those events will occur as described in that sense. Therefore, they believe not only that the sun and moon will be darkened and the stars will fall from heaven, that the sign of the Lord will appear in the sky and that He Himself will be seen in the clouds as well as angels with trumpets, but also, as is foretold elsewhere, that the whole visible earth will be destroyed, after which a new heaven with a new earth will come into being. Such is the opinion of most men within the Church at the present day.
But those who so believe do not know the arcana which lie concealed in every particular of the Word. For, in every particular of the Word there is an internal sense in which are discerned, not the natural and worldly matters such as are in the sense of the letter, but spiritual and heavenly things. Moreover, this is true not only of the meaning of groups of words but it is also true of every single word. For the Word has been written by means of pure correspondences to the end that the internal sense may be in every particular….
It is in accordance with that sense that the words of the Lord, quoted above, concerning His coming in the clouds of heaven, are to be understood. In that passage, by the “sun” which is to be darkened is signified the Lord as to love, by the “moon” the Lord as to faith, by the “stars” cognitions of good and truth or of love and faith, by the “sign” of the Son of man in heaven the manifestation of Divine Truth, by the “tribes of the earth which shall mourn“, all things relating to truth and good or to faith and love, by “the coming of the Lord in the clouds of heaven with power and glory“, His presence in the Word and revelation; by “clouds” is signified the sense of the letter of the Word, and by “glory” the internal sense of the Word, by “angels with a trumpet and great voice” is signified heaven whence comes Divine Truth.
Thence it is evident that by those words of the Lord is meant that in the end of the Church when there is no longer any love and consequently no faith, the Lord will open the Word in its internal sense and reveal arcana of heaven….
The man of the Church at this day knows scarcely anything about heaven and hell or about his life after death, although they are all set forth and described in the Word. Indeed, many people born within the Church even deny them, saying in their hearts, “Who has come from that world and told us?” Lest, therefore, such a negative attitude, which prevails especially with those who have much worldly wisdom, should also infect and corrupt the simple in heart and the simple in faith, it has been granted to me to associate with angels and to talk with them as man with man, also to see the things in the heavens as well as in the hells, and this for thirteen years (1747-1758). Now, therefore, from what I have seen and heard I am permitted to describe these things, in the hope that thus, ignorance may be enlightened and unbelief dispelled. Such immediate revelation is now made because that is what is meant by the Coming of the Lord.
(Heaven and Hell 1)
That that [revelation] is the Coming of the Lord, and that it is in consequence of this that the arcana concerning heaven and hell, concerning man’s life after death, concerning the Word, concerning the Last Judgment, have been opened by the Lord – this is the doctrine of the church. All these things have been written out in the Latin language, and they have been sent to all the archbishops and bishops of this kingdom [Great Britain], and to some of the nobility; and still not a word has been heard – a sign that they do not interiorly care for the things of heaven and of the church, and that it is now the very end of the church, and indeed that the church is not; for the church is where the Lord is worshiped, and the Word is read with enlightenment, and there are yearly examinations from the assembly.
(from Emanuel Swedenborg’s The Athanasian Creed)