Apocalypse Explained (Tansley) n. 429

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429. And I heard the number of them that were sealed.-That this signifies the quality of those who are in good, and separated from the evil, is evident from the signification of number, which denotes the quality of the thing treated of, with which signification we shall deal presently; and from the signification of the sealed, as denoting those who are in good, distinct and separate from others. Concerning which signification see just above (n. 427:1).

Number and measure are mentioned in many places in the Word, and it is supposed that nothing more is meant by these than number and measure; but by number and measure in the spiritual sense is meant the quality of the thing treated of. The quality itself is determined by the numbers expressed, as in this place by a hundred and forty and four thousand, and afterwards by twelve thousand out of every tribe. The signification of these numbers shall therefore be explained in the following article. The reason why number signifies the quality of the thing treated of, is that the Word is spiritual, and consequently every detail contained in it is spiritual, and spiritual things are not numbered and measured, but yet they fall into numbers and measures when they [descend] out of the spiritual world, or out of heaven, where angels are, into the natural world or earth, where men are; and similarly, when they pass out of the spiritual sense of the Word in which angels are, into the natural sense of the Word in which men are. The natural sense of the Word is the sense of its letter. This is the reason that in this sense there are numbers, and that they signify spiritual things, or such as relate to heaven and the church. It has been often shown me that the spiritual things of heaven, such as those which the angels think and speak, also fall into numbers. When they were conversing, their discourse fell into pure numbers, and these were seen upon paper; they afterwards said that it was their discourse which had fallen into numbers, and that those numbers in a series contained everything they uttered. I was also instructed as to their signification, and how they were to be understood; upon this subject we shall have frequent occasion to speak in the following pages. But concerning writings from heaven in pure numbers, see Heaven and Hell (n. 263). That all numbers in the Word signify things pertaining to heaven and the church, see also above (n. 203, 336).

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