The Spiritual Sense is in each and all Things of the Word
This cannot be better seen than by examples. For instance, John says in the Apocalypse, “I saw heaven, opened, and behold a white horse, and He that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire; and on His head were many crowns; and He had a name written that no man knew but He Himself And He was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood; and His name is called the Word of God. And the armies which were in the heavens followed Him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And He hath on His vesture and on His thigh a name written, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords” (xix. 11-14, 16). No one can know what these particulars involve except from the internal sense. It is manifest that each is representative and significative of something. For indeed it is said that heaven was opened; that there was a horse which was white; that One sat upon him who in righteousness doth judge and make war; that His eyes were as a flame of fire; that on His head were many crowns; that He had a Name which no man knew but He Himself; that He was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood that the armies which were in the heavens followed Him upon white horses; that they were clothed in fine linen, white and clean; and that on His vesture and on His thigh He had a Name written. It is plainly said that He is the Word, and that He who is the Word is the Lord; for it is said, “His name is called the Word of God;” and afterwards, “He hath on His vesture and on His thigh a name written, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.” From the interpretation of each expression it is clear that the Word is here described as to its spiritual or internal sense. That heaven was opened, represents and signifies that the internal sense of the Word is seen in heaven, and therefore by those to whom heaven is open in the world. The horse, which was white, represents and signifies the understanding of the Word as to its interior truths. That this is the signification of the white horse will be clear from what follows. That He who sat upon him is the Lord as to the Word, therefore the Word, is manifest; for it is said, “His name is called the Word of God;” He is called Faithful, and is said to judge in righteousness, from Good; and is called True, and is said in righteousness to make war, from Truth. For the Lord Himself is righteousness. His eyes, as a flame of fire, signify Divine Truth from the Divine Good of His Divine Love. The many crowns upon His head signify all goods and truths of faith. Having a name written, that no man knew but Himself, signifies that what the Word is in the internal sense no one sees but Himself, and him to whom He reveals it. Clothed with a vesture dipped in blood, signifies the Word in the letter, to which violence has been done. The armies in the heavens which followed Him upon white horses signify those who are in the understanding of the Word as to its interior truths. Clothed with fine linen white and clean, signifies the same in truth from good. A name written on His vesture and on His thigh, signifies truth and good and their quality. From these particulars, and from those which precede and follow [in the chapter], it is evident that it is therein foretold that at about the last time of the church the spiritual or internal sense of the Word would be opened. (WH n. 1; SS n. 9)
It is written in the Apocalypse, “I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away…. And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband…. The city had a wall great and high, which had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel…. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb…. And the city lieth four square, and the length is as large as the breadth. And he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs; and the length, and the breadth, and the height of it were equal. And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits; the measure of a man, that is, of an angel. And the wall of it was of jasper; but the city itself was pure gold, like unto pure glass; and the foundations of the wall of the city were of every precious stone…. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; … and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass…. The glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb was the lamp thereof. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it, and the icings of the earth shall bring their glory and honour into it” (xxi. 1, 2, 12-24). When a man reads these words he does not understand them otherwise than according to the sense of the letter; he therefore understands that the visible heaven and earth will be dissolved, and a new heaven be created; and that the holy city Jerusalem will descend upon the new earth; and that as to its measure it will be according to the description. But the angels understand these things very differently; that is, the particulars which man understands naturally they understand spiritually. And the things which the angels understand are what they signify, and this is the internal or spiritual sense of the Word. According to this internal or spiritual sense, in which the angels are, by a new heaven and a new earth a new church is meant, both in the heavens and on the earth, each of which shall be spoken of hereafter; by the city Jerusalem descending from God out of heaven its heavenly doctrine is signified; by the length, breadth, and height, which are equal, are signified all the goods and truths of that doctrine in the complex; by its wall are meant the truths which protect it; by the measure of the wall, which is a hundred and forty-four cubits, which is the measure of a man, that is of an angel, all those defending truths in the complex are meant, and their quality; by the twelve gates, which are of pearl, introductive truths are meant,—which are likewise signified by the twelve angels at the gates; by the foundations of the wall, which are of every precious stone, the knowledges are meant whereon that doctrine is founded; by the twelve tribes of Israel, and also by the twelve Apostles, are meant all things of the church in general and in particular; by gold like unto pure glass, whereof the city and its streets were built, the good of love is signified, by which the doctrine and its truths are made transparent; by the nations who are saved, and the kings of the earth who bring glory and honour into the city, are meant all from the church who are in goods and truths; by God and the Lamb the Lord is meant as to the very Divine and the Divine Human. (HD n. 1)
In the Apocalypse, chap. vi., it is said, That when the Lamb opened the first seal of the book there went forth a white horse, and he who sat thereon had a bow, and a crown was given unto him; that when He opened the second seal there went forth a red horse, and unto him who sat thereon there was given a great sword; that when He opened the third seal there went forth a black horse, and he that sat thereon had a pair of balances in his hand; and that when He opened the fourth seal there went forth a pale horse, and the name of him that sat thereon was Death. What these things signify can only be evolved by means of the spiritual sense; and it is fully evolved when it is known what is signified by the opening of the seals, by the horses, and by the other particular things mentioned. By these things the successive states of the church are described as to its understanding of the Word, from its beginning to its end. The opening of the seals of the book by the Lamb signifies the making of those states of the church manifest by the Lord. By a horse the understanding of the Word is signified; the white horse is the understanding of truth from the Word in the first state of the church. The bow of him that sat upon that horse signifies the doctrine of charity and faith contending against falsities; the crown signifies eternal life, the reward of victory. The red horse signifies the understanding of the Word as to good, destroyed in the second state of the church; the great sword is falsity fighting against truth. The black horse signifies the understanding of the Word destroyed, as to truth, in the third state of the church; the pair of balances signifies that the estimation of truth is so little as scarcely to be any. The pale horse signifies the understanding of the Word annihilated, by evils of life and the falsities from them, in the fourth or last state of the church; and death signifies eternal damnation. That such is the signification of these things in the spiritual sense is not apparent in the sense of the letter, or the natural sense; unless therefore the spiritual sense were once opened, the Word, as to this passage and the rest of the Apocalypse, would have been closed entirely so that at length no one would know where the Divine Holiness therein was concealed. It is equally so, in respect to what is signified by the four horses and the four chariots that came forth from between the two mountains of brass, in Zechariah vi. 1-8.
In the Apocalypse, chap. ix., it is written: “The fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth, and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit; and he opened the bottomless pit, and there arose a smoke out of the pit as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit; and there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth, and unto them was given power as the scorpions of the earth have power … The shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared for battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold; and their faces were as the faces of men, and they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions; and they had breastplates as of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of many chariots running to battle; and they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails; and their power was to hurt men five months. And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is .Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon.” Neither would any one be able to understand these things unless the spiritual sense were laid open to him, for nothing here is uselessly said, but all things, even to the least particulars, have a signification. The subject here treated of is the state of the church when all knowledges of truth from the Word are destroyed, and consequently man, having become sensual, persuades himself that falsities are truths. By a star fallen from heaven are signified the knowledges of truth destroyed; by the sun and air being darkened is signified the light of truth made darkness; by the locusts which came forth out of the smoke of the pit are signified falsities in the extremes,—such as pertain to those who have become sensual, and who see and judge all things from fallacies by a scorpion is signified their persuasive [power]. That the locusts appeared as horses prepared for battle signifies their ratiocinations, as if from the understanding of truth; that the locusts had crowns like unto gold upon their heads, and faces as the faces of men, signifies that they appeared to themselves as conquerors, and wise; their having hair as the hair of women signifies that they appeared to themselves as if they were in the affection of truth; their having teeth as the teeth of lions signifies that sensual things, which are the ultimates of the natural man, appeared to them as if they had power over all things; their having breastplates as breastplates of iron signifies argumentations grounded in fallacies, by which they fight and prevail; that the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots running to battle signifies ratiocinations as if from truths of doctrine from the Word, for which they were to contend; their having tails like scorpions signifies persuasions; their having stings in their tails signifies the cunning arts of deceiving thereby; their having power to hurt men five months signifies that they induce a kind of stupor on those who are in the understanding of truth and in the perception of good; their having t king over them, the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name is Abaddon, or Apollyon, signifies that their falsities were from hell, where they are who are merely natural and in self-intelligence. This is the spiritual sense of these words; nothing of which appears in the sense of the letter. There is such a spiritual sense throughout the Apocalypse. (SS n. 12, 13)
That it may be seen that the prophetical parts of the Word of the Old Testament in many places are not intelligible without the spiritual sense, I will adduce only a few passages; as this in Isaiah: “Then Jehovah of Hosts shall stir up a scourge against Ashur, according to the smiting of Midian at the rock of Oreb; and His rod shall be upon the sea, which He shall lift up after the manner of Egypt. And it shall come to pass in that day, that His burden shall be taken away from off thy shoulder, and His yoke from, off thy neck…. He shall come against Aiath,; He shall pass to Migron; against Michmash, He shall direct His arms; they shall pass over Mebara; Gebah shall be a lodging to us; Bamah shall tremble; Gibeah of Saul shall flee. Wail with thy voice, O daughter of Gallim; hearken, O Latish, O wretched Anathoth. Madmenah shall be a wanderer; the inhabitants of Gebim shall gather themselves together; as yet there is not a day to stand in Nob; the mountain of the daughter of Zion, the hill of Jerusalem, shall shake her hand…. Jehovah shall cut down the thickets of the forest with iron, and Lebanon shall fall by the Mighty One” (x. 26-34). Here mere names occur, from which no meaning can be drawn but by the aid of the spiritual sense; in which sense all names in the Word signify things pertaining to heaven and the church. From this sense it is gathered that these things signify that the whole church was devastated, by means of sensuous knowledges perverting all truth and confirming all falsity. In another place in the same Prophet it is written: “In that day … the envy also of Ephraim shall depart, and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off; Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim; but they shall fly upon the shoulders of the Philistines towards the west; they shall spoil them of the east together; they shall lay their hand upon Edom and Moab…. Jehovah shall utterly destroy the tongue of the Egyptian sea, and with His mighty wind shall He shake His hand over the river, and shall smite it in the seven streams, and make men go over dryshod; and there shall be a highway for the remnant of His people which shall be left, from, Assyria” (xi. 11-16). Here also no one can see anything Divine unless he knows what is signified by each particular name; and yet the subject treated of is the advent of the Lord, and what shall then come to pass, as plainly appears from verses 1-10. Who then without the aid of the spiritual sense would see that these things in their order signify, that they who are in falsities through ignorance, and have not suffered themselves to be seduced by evils, will come to the Lord; that the Church will then understand the Word; and that then falsities will be no longer hurtful to them. The case is the same where no names occur; as in Ezekiel: “Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Thou son of man, speak unto every feathered fowl, and to every beast of the field, .Assemble yourselves, and come; gather yourselves from every side to My sacrifice that I do sacrifice for you, even a great sacrifice upon the mountains of Israel, that ye may eat flesh and drink blood. Ye shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes of the earth; … ye shall eat fat till ye be full, and drink blood till ye be drunken, of My sacrifice which I have sacrificed for you. Ye shall be filled at My table with the horse and the chariot, with the mighty man, and with every man of war…. And I will set My glory among the heathen” (xxxix. 17-21). He who does not know from the spiritual sense what is signified by sacrifice, what by flesh and blood, what by the horse and the chariot, the mighty man, and the man of war, will understand no otherwise than that such things are to be eaten and drunken; but the spiritual sense teaches that to eat the flesh and drink the blood of the sacrifice which the Lord Jehovah shall offer upon the mountains of Israel, signifies to appropriate Divine Good and Divine Truth from the Word. For the subject referred to is the calling together of all to the Lord’s kingdom; and in particular the establishment of the church by the Lord among the Gentiles. Who cannot see that flesh is not here meant by flesh, nor blood by blood?—so that men should drink blood till they are drunken, and that they should be filled with the horse, the chariot, the mighty man, and every man of war? So in a thousand other places in the Prophets.
Without the spiritual sense no one could know why the Prophet Jeremiah was commanded to buy himself a girdle, and put it on his loins; and not to draw it through the waters, but to hide it in the hole of a rock by the Euphrates (Jer. xiii. 1-7); or why the Prophet Isaiah was commanded to loose the sackcloth from off his loins, and to put off the shoe from off his foot, and go naked and barefoot three years (Isaiah xx. 2, 3); or why the Prophet Ezekiel was commanded to pass a razor upon his head, and upon his beard, and afterwards to divide [the hairs of] them, and burn a third part in the midst of the city, smite a third part with the sword, scatter a third part in the wind, and bind a little of them in his skirts, and at last to cast them into the midst of the fire (Ezek. v. 1-4); or why the same prophet was commanded to lie upon his left side three hundred and ninety days, and upon his right side forty days; and to make himself a cake of wheat, and barley, and millet, and fitches, with cows’ dung, and eat it; and in the meantime to raise a rampart and a mound against Jerusalem, and besiege it (Ezek. iv. 1-15); or why the Prophet Hosea was twice commanded to take to himself a harlot to wife (Hosea i. 2-9; iii. 2, 3), and many such things. Moreover, who without the spiritual sense would know what is signified by all things belonging to the tabernacle,—by the ark, the mercy seat, the cherubim, the candlestick, the altar of incense, the bread of faces on the table, and its veils and curtains? Or who, without the spiritual sense, would know what is signified by Aaron’s garments of holiness,—by his coat, his cloak, the ephod, the Urini and Thummim, the mitre, and other things? Who, without the spiritual sense, would know what is signified by all the things which were enjoined concerning burnt-offerings, sacrifices, meat-offerings, and drink-offerings? concerning Sabbaths also, and feasts? The truth is, that not the least thing of these was enjoined which did not signify something relating to the Lord, to heaven, and to the church. From these few examples it may be clearly seen that there is a spiritual sense in each and all things of the Word. (SS n. 15, 16)