Spiritual Meaning of

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That flame denotes love Divine is because love in its first origin is nothing else than fire and flame from the Lord as a sun. It is the fire or flame of this sun which gives the being of life to every man; and it is the vital fire itself which fills the interiors of man with heat, as can be seen from love, for in proportion as love increases with man, he grows warm, and in proportion as love decreases, he grows cold.

[4] Hence it is that when the Lord appeared in vision, He appeared as fire and Same, as in Ezekiel:--

The appearance of the four animals (which were cherubs) was like burning coals of fire, like the appearance of torches; it was going along among the animals, as the brightness of fire, and out of the fire went forth lightning. Above the expanse that was over their head was as it were the appearance of a sapphire stone, the likeness of a throne; and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man upon it above. And I saw the appearance of a burning coal as the appearance of fire within it round about, from the appearance of his loins and upward; but from the appearance of his loins and downward I saw as it were the appearance of fire, which had a brightness round about (Ezek. 1:13, 26, 27).

That the details of this vision are significative and representative of something Divine, no one can deny; but unless it is known what is signified by cherubs, by burning coals of fire like the appearance of torches, by a throne, by the appearance of a man upon it, by the loins from which was the appearance of fire upward and downward, and brightness from the fire, it is impossible to know the holy secret contained within it. That cherubs denote the providence of the Lord, see (AC 308); that a throne denotes heaven, properly the Divine truth proceeding from the Lord, which forms heaven, (AC 5313). That the appearance of a man upon the throne above denotes the Lord as to the Divine Human, is plain; that loins denote conjugial love and from this all heavenly love, (AC 3021, 4277, 4280, 4575, 5050-5062); which love was represented by the appearance of burning coal as the appearance of fire, which had a brightness round about.

[5] In Daniel:--

I beheld even until the thrones were cast forth, and the Ancient of days did sit; His garment was like white snow, and the hair of His head was like clean wool; His throne was a flame of fire; His wheels were burning fire, a stream of fire issued and went forth from before Him (Daniel 7:9, 10);

the Divine good of the Lord's Divine love was here also seen as a flame of fire. In John:--

He that sat upon the white horse had eyes as a flame of fire (Rev. 19:12);

that He that sat upon the white horse is the Lord as to the Word, is there openly said (Rev. 19:13, 16); thus the Same of fire is the Divine truth which is in the Word, which is from the Lord's Divine good. Again:--

In the midst of the seven candlesticks was one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot. His head and hairs were white as white wool, as snow; and His eyes were as a flame of fire (Rev. 1:13, 14);

here also eyes as a flame of fire denotes the Divine truth proceeding from the Lord's Divine good.

[6] That a flame of fire denotes the Divine truth proceeding from the Lord, is evident also in David:

The voice of Jehovah falleth down like a flame of fire (Ps. 29:7);

the voice of Jehovah denotes the Divine truth. That the Divine truth might be represented as proceeding from the Lord's Divine good, the command was given that they should make a lampstand of pure gold with seven lamps, and that it should be set in the tent of the congregation by the table on which were the loaves of setting forth, and that the lamps should burn continually before Jehovah (Exod. 25:31-40; 37:17-24; 40:24, 25; Lev. 24:4; Num. 8:2; Zech. 4:2). By the lampstand with the seven lamps was represented the Divine truth proceeding from the Lord's Divine good.

[7] That the Divine good itself might also be represented, it was commanded that there should be a perpetual fire on the altar:--

The fire shall burn upon the altar, and shall not go out; the priest shall kindle pieces of wood upon it every morning. The fire shall burn continually upon the altar, and shall not go out (Lev. 6:12, 13).

That fire was very well known to the ancients to be representative of the Divine love, is very evident from the fact that this representative spread from the Ancient Church even to remote nations which were in idolatrous worship, and who are known to have instituted a sacred perpetual fire, and to have appointed to it virgins, called the Vestals.

[8] That in the opposite sense fire and flame signify filthy loves, such as the loves of revenge, of cruelty, of hatred, of adultery, and in general the concupiscences which are from the loves of self and of the world, is evident also from many passages in the Word, of which it is enough to cite only the following:

Behold they are become as stubble, the fire hath burned them; they rescue not their soul from the hand of the Same; no coal to warm at, or a fire to sit before (Isa. 47:14).

Behold I will kindle a fire in thee, which shall devour in thee every green tree, and every dry tree; the flame of a grievous Same shall not be quenched, whence all faces shall be burned up from the south to the north (Ezek. 20:47);

by fire and flame are signified the cupidities of evil and falsity, which extinguish all the good and truth of the church, whence comes its vastation.

[9] In Luke:--

The rich man said to Abraham, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this Same (Luke 16:24);

they who do not know that the fire of life in man is from a different origin than is elementary fire, cannot possibly know otherwise than that by the fire of hell is meant such fire as is in the world; when yet in the Word no such fire is meant, but the fire which is of love, thus which is of man's life, proceeding from the Lord as a sun; which fire, when it enters into those who are in things contrary, is turned into the fire of cupidities, which, as before said, are those of revenge, hatred, and cruelty, springing forth from the love of self and of the world. This is the fire which torments those who are in the hells, for when the rein is given to their cupidities, they rush one upon another, and torture one another in direful and unspeakable ways, because everyone desires to be pre-eminent, and by secret or open artifices to take from another what belongs to him. This being the case on both sides, deadly hatreds come forth from it, and from these the perpetration of savage deeds, especially by means of magical arts and also by means of phantasies, which arts are innumerable and are quite unknown in the world.

[10] They who do not believe in spiritual things, especially the worshipers of nature, can never he brought to believe that the heat in living beings, which makes the internal life itself, is from any other origin than the heat of this world; for they cannot know, still less acknowledge, that there is a heavenly fire proceeding from the Lord as a sun, and that this fire is pure love. Consequently they cannot know innumerable things that exist in the Word, where no other fire is meant; neither can they know innumerable things in man, who is an organ receptive of this fire.

from AC 6832

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