Spiritual Meaning of REVELATION 18:12
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AR 772. Verse 12. The merchandise of gold and silver and precious stone and pearls, signifies that they no longer have these, because they have no spiritual goods and truths, to which such things correspond. By "their merchandise" nothing else is signified than the things there named; for it is known that they have gold, silver, and precious stone and pearls in abundance, and that they have gained them by their religious things, which they made holy and Divine. Those who were of Babylon had such things before the Last Judgment; for it was then conceded to them to form to themselves as it were heavens, and to procure such things to themselves from heaven by various arts, yea, to fill cellars with them as in the world. But after the Last Judgment, when their fictitious heavens were destroyed, then all those things were reduced to dust and ashes, and carried away by an east wind, and strewn as a profane dust over their hells. But of these things read the things described from things seen, in the little work on The Last Judgment and Babylon Destroyed, published at London, 1758. After that overthrow and their casting down into hell, they are in such a miserable state, that they do not know what gold, silver, a precious stone, and a pearl are. The reason is, that "gold," "silver," and "a precious stone" correspond to spiritual goods and truths, and "pearls" to the knowledges of them, and as they have not any truths and goods, nor the knowledges of them, but in their stead evils and falsities and the knowledges of these, they cannot have those precious things, but such as correspond to their state, which are vile materials and of ugly color; except some sea-shells on which they set their hearts, as they did before on the precious things named above. It is to be known, that there are in the spiritual world all things which are in the natural world, with the difference only that all the things in the spiritual world are correspondences; for they correspond to their interiors. They have splendid and magnificent things who are in wisdom from Divine truths and goods from the Lord through the Word; and they who are in insanity from falsities and evils have the opposite. There is such correspondence, from creation, when what is spiritual in the mind is brought down into the sensual of the body; on which account everyone there knows the quality of another, as soon as he comes into his own chamber. From these things it may be evident, that by "the merchandise of gold and silver and precious stone and pearls" is signified that they have these no longer; because they have not spiritual goods and truths, nor the knowledges of good and truth, to which such things correspond. That "gold" from correspondence signifies good, and "silver" truth, may be seen above (n. 211, 726). That "a precious stone" signifies spiritual truth (n. 231, 540, 726). That "pearls" signify the knowledges of truth and good (n. 727).

AR 773. And fine linen and purple and silk and scarlet, signifies that they no longer have these things, because they have not the celestial goods and truths to which such things correspond. By the above named, which were "gold," "silver," "precious stone" and "pearls," are signified in general spiritual goods and truths, as was said above (n. 772); but by these, which are "fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet," are signified in general celestial goods and truths; for with those who are in heaven and in the church, there are spiritual goods and truths, and there are celestial goods and truths. Spiritual goods and truths are of wisdom, and celestial goods and truths are of love; and because they have not these goods and truths, but the evils and falsities opposite to them, these are therefore mentioned, for they follow in order. Now as the case with these is the same as with the foreigner, there is no need of further explanation than that in the preceding article. What "fine linen" in particular signifies, will be told in the following chapter, in explaining these words, "the fine linen is the just deeds of the saints" (Apoc. 9:8; n. 814, 815). That "purple" signifies celestial good, and "scarlet" celestial truth may be seen above (n. 725). By "silk" is signified mediating celestial good and truth; good from its softness, and truth from its brightness. It is mentioned only in (Ezek. 16:10, 13).

AR 774. And all thyine wood, and every vessel of ivory, signifies that they no longer have these, because they have not the natural goods and truths, to which such things correspond. These things are similar to those which were explained above (n. 772, 773); with the difference only that by those named first spiritual goods and truths are meant, which are treated of above (n. 772); and that by those mentioned in the second place celestial goods and truths are meant, as explained just above (n. 773); and that by these now mentioned, which are "thyine wood and vessels of ivory," natural goods and truths are meant. For there are three degrees of wisdom and love, and thence three degrees of truth and good. The first degree is called celestial, the second spiritual, and the third natural. These three degrees are in every man from birth, and also in general they are in heaven and in the church; which is the cause of there being three heavens, the highest, the middle, and the lowest, altogether distinct from each other according to those degrees; in like manner the Lord’s church on earth. But what its quality is with those who are in the celestial degree, and what in those who are in the spiritual degree, and what in those who are in the natural degree, does not belong to this place to explain, but see concerning them in The Angelic Wisdom concerning the Divine Love and the Divine Wisdom, Part Third, where degrees are treated of; here only that with those who are of Babylon there are not spiritual goods and truths, nor celestial goods and truths, and not even natural goods and truths. That spiritual things are mentioned in the first place, is because many among them can be spiritual, provided they hold the Word holy in heart, as they say with their mouth; but they cannot become celestial, because they do not approach the Lord, but approach living and dead men, and worship them. This is the reason why the celestial things are named in the second place. By "thyine wood" is signified natural good, because "wood" in the Word signifies good, and "stone" truth; and "thyine wood" takes its name from two, and "two" also signifies good. That it is natural good, is because wood is not a costly material, like gold, silver, precious stone, pearl, fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet, stone likewise. It is the same with ivory, by which natural truth is signified. "Ivory" signifies natural truth, because it is white, and can be polished, and because it protrudes from the mouth of an elephant, and likewise makes his strength. That "ivory" may be the natural truth of that good which is signified by "thyine wood," it is said "a vessel of ivory;" for by "a vessel" that which contains is signified; here truth the containant of good. That "wood" signifies good may be in some degree evident from these passages:--

That the bitter waters in Marah were made sweet by wood cast in (Exod. 15:25.)

That the tables of stone, on which the Law was written, were laid up in an ark made of shittim wood (Exod. 25:10-16).

That the temple at Jerusalem was covered and sheathed within with wood (1 Kings 6:10, 15).

That the altar in the wilderness was made of wood (Exod. 27:1, 6).

Besides from these:--

The stone crieth out from the wall, and the beam of wood answereth (Hab. 2:11).

They shall seize thy wealth, and make a prey of thy merchandise, and thy stones and thy woods shall they put into the midst of the sea (Ezek. 26:12).

It was said to the prophet, that he should take one piece of wood, and write upon it the name of Judah and of the sons of Israel; and also the name of Joseph and Ephraim; and should make them into one piece (Ezek. 37:16, 19).

We drink our waters for silver, and our wood cometh for a price (Lam. 5:4).

If anyone goeth into a forest with a companion, and his axe falleth from the wood upon his companion, that he die, he shall flee into a city of refuge (Deut. 19:5).

This was because "wood" signifies good, and thus that he had not put his companion to death from evil, or with evil intention, but from an error, because he was in good; besides other places. But by "wood" in the opposite sense is signified what is evil and cursed; as that they made graven images of wood, and adored them (Deut. 4:23-28; Isa. 37:19; 40:20; Jer. 10:3, 8; Ezek. 20:32): also that hanging upon wood was a curse (Deut. 21:22, 23). That "ivory" signifies natural truth may be evident from the passages where ivory is mentioned; as (Ezek. 27:6, 15; Amos 3:15; 6:4; Ps. 45:8).

AR 775. And every vessel of precious wood, and of brass and iron and marble, signifies that they no longer have these, because they have not the scientific goods and truths in matters of the church, to which such things correspond. These are similar to the things explained above (n. 772-774); with the difference, that by these the scientific which are the ultimates of man‘s natural mind are meant, which, as they differ in quality from the essence that is in them, are called vessels of precious wood, of brass, of iron and of marble. For by "vessels" are signified scientific here in matters of the church; because scientific are the containants of good and truth, as vessels are the containants of oil and wine. Scientifics are also in great variety, and their receptacle is the memory. That they are of great variety is because man’s interiors are in them: they are also introduced into the memory either from intellectual thought, or from hearing, or from reading, and then according to the various perception from the rational. All these are within scientific; which appears when they are reproduced, which happens when the man speaks or thinks. But what is signified by "vessels of precious wood, of brass, of iron, and of marble," shall be briefly told. By "a vessel of precious wood" is signified a scientific from rational good and truth; by "a vessel of brass" a scientific from natural good is signified; by "a vessel of iron," a scientific from natural truth is signified, and by "a vessel of marble" is signified a scientific from the appearance of good and truth. That "wood" signifies good may be seen just above (n. 774). That good and at the same time rational truth are here signified by "precious wood," is because "wood" signifies good, and "precious" is predicated of truth; for one kind of good is signified by the wood of the olive-tree, another by that of the cedar, the fig, the fir, the poplar, and the oak. That "a vessel of brass and of iron" signifies what is scientific from natural good and truth, is because all the metals, as gold, silver, brass, iron, tin, lead, in the Word, signify goods and truths. They signify because they correspond; and because they correspond, they are also in heaven; for all things there are correspondences. But what each of the metals signifies from correspondence, this is not the place to confirm from the Word; only to show by a few passages that "brass" signifies natural good, and hence "iron" natural truth; as may be seen from these:--

That the feet of the Son of man appeared like unto brass, as if glowing in a furnace (Apoc. 1:15).

That there appeared to Daniel a man whose feet were as the brightness of polished brass (Dan. 10:5, 6).

That the feet of the cherubim also appeared glittering as the brightness of polished brass (Ezek. 1:7).

That the feet signify the natural, may be seen (n. 49, 468, 470, 510). That an angel was seen like the appearance of brass (Ezek. 40:3).

That the statue seen by Nebuchadnezzar was as to its head gold, as to the breast and arms silver, as to the belly and side brass, as to the legs iron (Dan. 2:32, 33).

By which statue the successive states of the church were represented, which were called by the ancients the ages of gold, silver, brass, and iron. Since "brass" signified the natural, and the Israelitish people were merely natural, therefore the Lord‘s natural was represented by:--

The Brazen Serpent, which they that were bitten by the serpents could look upon, and be healed (Num. 21:6, 8, 9; John 3:14, 15).

That "brass" signifies natural good may also be seen in (Isa. 60:17; Jer. 15:20, 21; Ezek. 27:13; Deut. 8:7, 9; 33:24, 25).

AR 776. He who does not know what is signified by "gold," "silver," "precious stone," "pearl," "fine-linen," "purple," "silk," "scarlet," "thyine wood," "an ivory vessel," "precious wood," "brass," "iron," "marble," and "a vessel," may wonder that such things are enumerated, and may think that they are only words multiplied for the exaltation of the subject. But it may be evident from the explanations, that not a single word is unmeaning, and that by them it is fully described, that they who have confirmed themselves in the dogmas of that religious persuasion have not a single truth; and if not a single truth, they have not a single good which is a good of the church. I have spoken with those who have confirmed themselves in that religious persuasion, also with some who were delegates in the Councils of Nice, of the Lateran, and of Trent, who in the beginning believed that what they had decreed were pure and holy truths, but after instruction and enlightenment then given from heaven, confessed that they did not see one truth; but because they had then confirmed themselves in them more than others, after the enlightenment, which they themselves extinguished, they returned to their former faith. They especially believed that what they had sanctioned concerning Baptism and Justification were truths. But still, when they were in enlightenment, they saw, and from enlightened sight confessed, that no one has original sin from Adam, but from his own parents successively; and that this is not taken away by the imputation and application of the Lord’s merit in baptism; then that the imputation and application of the Lord‘s merit is a human fiction, because impossible; and that faith is never infused into any suckling, because faith is of one who thinks. Still they saw that baptism is holy and a sacrament, because it is a sign and a memorial that man can be regenerated by the Lord through truths from the Word, a sign for heaven, and a memorial for man. Also that by it a man is introduced into the church, as the sons of Israel by the crossing of the Jordan were introduced into the land of Canaan, and as the inhabitants of Jerusalem were prepared for the reception of the Lord by the baptism of John, for without that sign in heaven before the angels, the Jews could not have subsisted and lived at the coming of Jehovah, that is, the Lord, in the flesh. Similar to these were the things which they sanctioned concerning justification. That the imputation of the Lord’s merit neither is, nor is given, may be seen in The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem concerning the Lord (L n. 18). And that hereditary evil, which is called original sin, is not from Adam, but from parents successively, see in The Angelic Wisdom concerning the Divine Providence (DP n. 277). What "Adam" means in the Word, see (n. 241) there.

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Author:  E. Swedenborg (1688-1772). Design:  I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002. www.BibleMeanings.info