41. The quality of the Lord's church on earth, cannot be seen by any man, so long as he lives in the world, still less how the church in process of time has turned aside from god to evil. The reason is, that man whilst he is living in the world, is in externals, and only sees those things which appear before his natural man; but the quality of the church as to spiritual things, which are its internals, does not appear in the world. Yet it does appear in heaven as in clear day, for the angels are in spiritual thought, and also in spiritual sight, and hence see nothing but spiritual things. Furthermore, all the men who have been born in this world from the beginning of creation are together in the spiritual world, as shown above, and are all there distinguished into societies according to the goods of love and faith, as may be seen in the work on Heaven and Hell (n. 41-50); whence it is that the state of the church, and its progressions, are manifest in heaven before the angels. Now since the state of the church as to love and faith is described in the spiritual sense of the Apocalypse, therefore no one can know what all the things in its series involve, but he to whom it has been revealed from heaven, and to whom at the same time it has been granted to know the internal or spiritual sense of the Word. This I can assert, that each thing there, nay, that every word, contains within it a spiritual sense, and all things of the church, as to its spiritual state, from the beginning to the end, are fully described in that sense; and because every word there signifies some spiritual thing, therefore not a word can be wanting without the series of things in the internal sense thereby suffering a change; on which account, at the end of that book, it is said:
If any one shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part out of the book of life, and from that holy city, and from those things which are written in that book (Apoc. 22:19).
It is the same with the books of the Old Testament; in them also every thing, and every word, contains an internal or spiritual sense, wherefore not one word can be taken away from them either. Hence it is that, of the Lord's Divine providence, those books have been preserved entire to an iota since the time in which they were written, and by the care of many who have enumerated their minutest particulars; this was provided by the Lord on account of the sanctity which is within each iota, letter, word, and thing they contain.