Churches (religions) have a lifetime


[1 of 1] Swedenborg (1688-1772, Sweden): primary subject "Church" (search under Outer Life/Religions, Ways)": source "Divine Providence": detail "Section 328[1] - 328[4]"
Every religion declines and comes to an end in the course of time. There have been several churches on this earth, one after another, for wherever mankind is, a church is. For heaven, which is the goal of creation, is from mankind, and no one can enter heaven unless he is in the two universal marks of the church which are the acknowledgment of God and living aright. It follows that there have been churches on this earth from the most ancient times to the present. These churches are described in the Word [Bible], but not historically except the Israelitish and Jewish church. There were churches before it which are only described in the Word under the names of nations and persons and in a few items about them.
 The first, the most ancient church, is described under the names of Adam and his wife Eve. The next church, to be called the ancient church, is described by Noah, his three sons, and their posterity. This church was widespread and extended over many of the kingdoms of Asia: the land of Canaan on both sides of the Jordan, Syria, Assyria and Chaldea, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Arabia, Tyre and Sidon. These had the ancient Word. That this church existed in those kingdoms is evident from various things recorded about them in the prophetic parts of the Word. This church was markedly altered by Eber, from whom arose the Hebrew church, in which worship by sacrifices was first instituted. From the Hebrew church the Israelitish and Jewish church was born and solemnly established for the sake of the Word which was composed in it.
 These four churches are meant by the statue seen by Nebuchadnezzar in a dream, the head of which was of pure gold, the breast and arms of silver, the belly and thighs of brass, and the legs and feet of iron and clay (Dan. 2:32, 33). Nor is anything else meant by the golden, silver, copper, and iron ages mentioned by ancient writers. Needless to say, the Christian church succeeded the Jewish. It can be seen from the Word that all these churches declined in the course of time, eventually coming to an end, called their consummation.
 The consummation of the most ancient church, brought about by the eating of the tree of knowledge, meaning by the pride of one's own intelligence, is depicted by the Flood. The consummation of the ancient church is depicted in the various devastations of nations mentioned in the historical as well as the prophetic Word and especially by the expulsion of the nations from the land of Canaan by the children of Israel. The consummation of the Israelitish and Jewish church is understood by the destruction of the temple at Jerusalem and by the carrying away of the people of Israel into permanent captivity and of the Jewish nation to Babylon, and finally by the second destruction of the temple and of Jerusalem at the same time, and by the dispersion of that nation. This consummation is foretold in many places in the Prophets and in Daniel 9:24-27. The gradual devastation of the Christian church even to its end is pictured by the Lord in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21, but the end itself in Revelation. Hence it may be manifest that in the course of time a church declines and comes to an end; so does a religion.