Page:A Compendium of the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg.djvu/422

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THE CHURCH.

came into the world,—and therefore Him who was the Word they crucified. The fourth church is the Christian, established by the Lord through the evangelists and apostles. Of this there have been two epochs; one from the time of the Lord to the council of Nice, and the other from that council to the present day. But in its progress this church was divided into three parts, the Greek, the Roman Catholic, and the Reformed. They are all however called Christian. Besides, within each general church there have been several particular churches, which, although they have withdrawn have yet retained the name of the general; as the heresies in the Christian church. (T. C. R n. 760.)

 

General Character of these four Churches.

In the most ancient times men were informed concerning heavenly things, or the things which relate to eternal life, by immediate intercourse with the angels of heaven. For heaven then acted as one with the man of the church, for it flowed in through the internal man into their external; whence they had not only enlightenment and perception, but also converse with the angels. This time was called the golden age, from the fact that men were then in the good of love to the Lord; for gold signifies that good. These things are also described by the Garden of Eden in the Word. Afterwards information concerning heavenly things, and concerning the things that relate to eternal life, was given by such things as are called correspondences and representations; the knowledge of which was derived from the most ancient men, who had immediate intercourse with the angels of heaven. Heaven then flowed into these things with them and enlightened them; for correspondences and representations are external forms of heavenly things. And men were then enlightened in proportion as they were in the good of love and charity; for all Divine influx out of heaven is into the good in man, and through the good into truths. And because the man of the church at that time was in spiritual good, which good in its essence is truth, those times were called the silver age; for silver signifies such good. But when the knowledge of correspondences and representations was turned into magic, that church perished; and a third succeeded, in which all worship was indeed performed by things almost similar, but yet it was unknown what they signified. This church was established among the Israelitish and Jewish nation. But as information concerning heavenly things, or the things which relate to eternal life, could not be communicated to them by influx into their interiors, and thus by enlightenment, therefore angels from heaven spoke by the living voice with some of them, and instructed them concerning external