The Four Ages

- from the theological writings of Emanuel Swedenborg

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The historical parts of the Word, like the prophetical parts, contain within themselves a spiritual sense, in which there is nothing historical relating to the world, as in the sense of the letter; but there are heavenly things which relate to the Church, and in the highest sense to the Lord, exactly like the prophetical parts. The historical parts there are representative, and all the senses, with their literal forms of expression, are correspondential.

It should be known that all the Churches, until the coming of the Lord, were representative Churches. They represented the Church, and, in the highest sense, the Lord; and consequently the Word is spiritual, and is Divine. Representative Churches, however, ceased when the Lord came into the world, because all things of the Word, prophetical as weil as historical, signified and represented Him; and consequently the Lord is called the Word.

There were three notable changes in the representative Churches: the first, which was before the Flood, shall be called the Most Ancient Church; the second, which was after the Flood, shall be called the Ancient Church; and the third, which followed the Ancient, shall be called the Israelitish and Jewish Church.

The Most Ancient Church is described briefly by Adam and his posterity; the Ancient Church by Noah and his posterity; and the Israelitish and Jewish Church by the Historical parts of the Word.

The former Churches were described in a similar way, but by more interior correspondences, in a Word which is mentioned by Moses; but this Word has been lost, and the Word which exists today was given in its place.

The Church that followed these three is the Christian Church, which is an internal Church, differing from the Jewish Church as a moonlight night differs from a dark night. But as this Church has come to its end, by the fulfilment of the Last Judgment, a New Church is now being instituted by the Lord, which is called in the Apocalypse the New Jerusalem, to which the things that are being published by me at the present day will be of service. It is also being instituted elsewhere.

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