True Christian Religion (Chadwick) n. 508

Previous Number Next Number Next Translation See Latin 

508. The sixth experience.

One day a magnificent church building appeared to me; it was square in plan with a roof like a crown, with arches above and a raised parapet running around. Its walls were all windows made of crystal, its door of a pearly substance. Inside on the south side towards the west there was a platform, on which the open Word lay at the right surrounded by a blaze of light, so bright as to spread round and light up the whole platform. In the middle of the church was a shrine with a curtain in front of it; but this was now raised and there stood a golden cherub with a sword which he brandished in all directions in his hand.

[2] When I caught sight of all this, as I meditated, the meaning of each of the details came flooding into my mind. The church meant the new church; the door of a pearly substance, entry into it; the windows of crystal the truths which enlighten it; the platform the priesthood and their preaching; the Word on it, open and lighting up the top of the platform, the revelation of its internal, or spiritual, sense; the shrine in the middle of the church the link of that church with the heaven of angels; the golden cherub there the Word in its literal sense; the sword brandished in his hand meant that this sense can be twisted in different ways, so long as it is made to refer to some truth. The lifting of the curtain in front of the cherub meant that now the Word was laid open.

[3] Later, when I got closer, I saw there was an inscription over the door: NOW IT IS PERMITTED. This meant that now it is permitted to enter with the understanding into the mysteries of faith. Seeing this inscription led me to think that it is extremely dangerous to enter with the understanding into the dogmas of faith which have been put together out of one's own intelligence and the falsities it produces, and even more so to seek to support them by quoting the Word. This has the effect of shutting off the understanding at the top and little by little also at the bottom, to such an extent that theology is not only disliked but actually wiped out, like the writing on a paper being destroyed by book-worms, or the wool of a piece of cloth by grubs. His understanding then concerns itself only with political affairs which affect his life in the country where he lives, and with civil affairs relating to his official duties, and with domestic affairs of his household; and in all of these he constantly embraces nature, being led by the enticement of its pleasures to love it, as an idolater does the golden image in his lap.

[4] Now since the dogmas of present-day Christian churches are put together not from the Word, but from people's own intelligence and the false ideas that come from that, and also by means of some ideas supported from the Word, for this reason the Lord's Divine providence has seen to it that among Roman Catholics the Word has been taken away from laymen, while among Protestants it remains open, though shut off by their frequent saying that the understanding must be kept in obedience to their faith.

[5] But in the new church the opposite happens; here it is permitted with the understanding to approach and penetrate all its secrets, and also to support them from the Word. The reason is that its doctrines are a series of truths revealed by the Lord through the Word; and proving them by rational argument causes the understanding to be opened up above more and more. This lifts it into the light enjoyed by the angels of heaven; and that light is in essence truth, and it makes the acknowledgment of the Lord as the God of heaven and earth shine out in all its glory. This is what the inscription 'NOW IT IS PERMITTED' over the door means; and the removal of the curtain of the shrine in front of the cherub has the same meaning. It is a rule in the new church that falsities shut off the understanding, and truths open it up.

[6] After this I saw what looked like a child overhead, holding a paper in his hand. As he approached me, he grew in size until he was a man of average height. He was an angel from the third heaven; all there look at a distance like children. When he reached me, he held the paper out to me. But since it was written in the rounded script customary in that heaven, I gave it back and asked them to expound the meaning of what was written on it in words I could comprehend in my thinking.


This page is part of the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg

© 2000-2001 The Academy of the New Church