The Four Ages

- from the theological writings of Emanuel Swedenborg
Revelation through the Ages

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(AC 10355)
Concerning information by means of the Word, something shall here be said. In the most ancient times men were informed about heavenly things, or those things which are of eternal life, by immediate intercourse with the angels of heaven; for heaven then acted as a one with the men of the church, for it flowed in through their internal man into their external, and from this they had not only enlightenment and perception, but also speech with angels. This time was called the Golden Age, from men being then in the good of love to the Lord, for "gold" signifies this good. This state is also described in the Word by "Paradise."

Afterward information about heavenly things and the things of eternal life was accomplished by means of 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. Into these correspondences and representations heaven then flowed with men, and enlightened them. For correspondences and representations are the external forms of heavenly things, and in so far as men were then in the good of love and of charity, so far they were enlightened. For all Divine influx from heaven is into the good with man, and through the good into the truths; and because the man of the church was then in spiritual good, which good in its essence is truth, therefore those times were called the Silver Age, for "silver" signifies such good.

But when the science of correspondences and of representations was turned into magic, that church perished, and a third church succeeded in which indeed almost all the worship was performed by similar observances; but still it was not known what they signified. This church was instituted with the Israelitish and Jewish nation. But as information about heavenly things, or those of eternal life, was not possible with the men of this church by influx into their interiors, and thus by enlightenment, therefore angels from heaven spoke with some of them in a living voice, and instructed them about external things; but very little about internal things, because these they could not apprehend. Those who were in natural good reverently received the things taught them, and from them these times were called Brazen, for "brass" signifies such good.

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