Table of Contents:
What the Writings Testify Concerning Themselves
The following extracts from the theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg are mostly selections used by the late Rev. C. Th. Odhner in the pamphlet, "Swedenborg's Testimony concerning His Writings", which was published in 1902 and revised by a committee of three editors in 1920.
The object in the present compilation is to present, simply and clearly, those teachings which most directly describe the nature of the revelations given through Swedenborg, who subscribed himself "the Servant of the Lord Jesus Christ".
The passages quoted in the body of the text are taken from the theological works written by Swedenborg after 1748. Two excerpts from the "Documents" have also been used. Repetition has been avoided when possible, but some statements have been used again under different headings. Headings, foot-notes, and some revisions of the translation have been supplied by the compiler who has also appended some NOTES to define the relation of the internal sense to the sense of the letter of the Word, and to describe certain states by which Swedenborg was prepared for his office.
It is obvious that no selection of extracts can present the complete doctrine. The full meaning of any one passage can be gained only when it is read in its context. And the real testimony to the Divine origin and authority of the Writings is the clarity and power of their doctrinal message. The doctrine of the New Church, "by truths from the sense of the letter of the Word and at the same time by rational things from natural light", will convince even the natural man "if he is willing to be convinced". (AR 544, compare SS 4)
Hugo Lj. Odhner
1. Swedenborg received the Doctrine of the New Church from the mouth of the Lord alone.
"... That the Lord manifested Himself before me, His servant, and sent me to this office, and that He afterwards opened the sight of my spirit, and so has introduced me into the spiritual world, and has granted me to behold the heavens and the hells and to converse with angels and spirits, and this now uninterruptedly for many years, I testify in truth; likewise, that from the first day of that call I have not received anything that pertains to the doctrines of the New Church from any angel, but from the Lord alone, while I read the Word." (True Christian Religion 779)
"Every one can see that the Apocalypse could never have been explained except by the Lord alone, for the several words there contain arcana which could never be known without a singular illustration and thus revelation; wherefore it pleased the Lord to open the sight of my spirit and to teach. Do not believe, therefore, that I have taken anything herein from myself, or from any angel, but from the Lord alone. The Lord also said by the angel to John, 'Seal not the words of the prophecy of this book', by which is meant that they are to be manifested." (The Apocalypse Revealed, Preface)
"I have had discourse with spirits and with angels now for many years; but neither has a spirit dared, nor any angel wished, to tell me anything, still less to instruct, concerning anything in the Word, or concerning any doctrine from the Word; but the Lord alone has taught me, Who has been revealed to me and has enlightened me." (Divine Providence 135)
"It has been given me to see [the light of heaven], and from it to perceive distinctly what has come from the Lord, and what from the angels. What has come from the Lord has been written, and what has come from angels has not been written." (The Apocalypse Explained 1183)
"The things which I have learned in representations, visions, and from speech with spirits and angels are solely from the Lord. . . . Thus I have been instructed, consequently by no spirit, nor angel, but by the Lord alone from Whom is everything true and good. ..." (Spiritual Diary 1647)
"... It was evident that even the things which I have learned through evil spirits I have learned from the Lord alone, although the spirits spoke..." (Spiritual Diary 4034)
"As regards myself, it has not been allowed to take any thing from the mouth of any spirit, nor from the mouth of any angel, but from the mouth of the Lord alone." (De Verbo XIII (29)
"In order that the true Christian religion might be disclosed, it could not be otherwise than that some one should be introduced into the spiritual world, and from the mouth of the Lord derive the genuine truths out of the Word." (Invitation to the New Church 38)
2. Swedenborg ascribed his theological Writings to the Lord.
"The Books which were written by the Lord by means of me (a Domino per me), from the beginning to the present day, should be enumerated." * (Ecclesiastical History 3)
* Recenseantur — reviewed, enumerated.
"A certain Anglican bishop told how he especially had insulted the five works concerning heaven and hell and the rest which had been presented to all [the bishops] and to all the Protestant lords in the Parliament, vituperating and blaspheming them. . . Then it was told him that the work is not mine but the Lord's, who desired to reveal the nature of heaven and hell and the quality of the life of man after death and concerning the last judgment. . . And I also told him that this [revelation] is the male child whom the woman brought forth and whom the dragon wished to devour. . . " [Rev. 12] (Spiritual Diary 6101:2)
"That our Savior has visibly revealed Himself before me and commanded [me] to do what I have done and what is yet to be done, and that He thereupon allowed me to come into communion [samtal] with angels and spirits, I have declared before the whole of Christendom. . . . That [the Chancellery of Justice now] relates that they still cannot believe it, I cannot take amiss, since I cannot put my state of sight and speech into the heads of others and so convince them, nor can I cause angels and spirits to talk with them; nor is it permitted that miracles should occur nowadays, but reason itself shall find it [true] when with reflection they read my writings in which much is found such as never before has been discovered nor can be discovered without actual sight and conversation with those who are in the spiritual world... If there should be any further doubt, I am ready to testify with the most solemn oath that may be required of me, that this is [the] truth, complete and actual, without the least fallacy. That our Savior causes this to happen to me is not at all for my sake, but from an urgency which concerns the eternal welfare of all Christians. . ." Swedenborg's letter to the king, May 25, 1770 (Docu. 245 X. Compare AR 962. and Docu. 252 E)
"Read, if you please, the things which have been written in the latest published work, called "The True Christian Religion", concerning the arcana disclosed by the Lord through me His servant. . . and afterwards draw a conclusion, but from reason, concerning my Revelation." (Swedenborg's letter to Cuno in 1770: New Church Life, 1912, page 197)
3. Swedenborg enjoyed a complete Divine inspiration.
"The Lord Jehovah derives and produces from this New Heaven a New Church on the earth, which is done by a Revelation of Truths from His own mouth or from His Word, and by Inspiration." (Coronis 18)
"... When I think of what I am about to write, and while I am writing, I enjoy a complete (full-komlig) inspiration, for otherwise it would be my own; but now I know for certain that what I write is the living truth of God." (Swedenborg's testimony as reported by Gjorwell, Doc. II, p. 404)
"... That the internal sense is such as has been set forth is plain from the singular things which have been explained, and especially from this, that this has been dictated to me* out of heaven." (Arcana Coelestia 6597) * See the following article, page 10.
"The second coming of the Lord is effected by means of a man before whom He has manifested Himself in Person, and whom He has filled with His Spirit to teach the doctrines of the New Church through the Word from Him." (True Christian Religion 779, heading)
"That at this day there exists such immediate revelation, is because this is meant by the Advent of the Lord." (Heaven and Hell 1)
"It has pleased the Lord to prepare me from my earliest youth to perceive the Word, and He has introduced me into the spiritual world, and has enlightened me with the light of His Word more proximately. From this it is manifest that this surpasses all miracles. . ." (Invitation to the New Church 55)
"In place of miracles, there has, at this day, taken place a manifestation of the Lord Himself, an intromission into the spiritual world, and enlightenment there through immediate light from the Lord, in such things as are the interior things of the church; but chiefly, the opening of the spiritual sense in the Word, in which the Lord is in His Own Divine light." (Coronis: Miracles IV)
"That this [New] Church is not instituted and established through miracles, but through the revelation of the spiritual sense, and through the introduction of my spirit, and at same time of my body, into the spiritual world are, and in light might imbibe immediately from the Lord the truths of faith whereby man is led to eternal life." (Invitation to the New Church, VII)
4 The inspiration of Swedenborg differed widely from that of the prophets.*
* See Notes below.
". . . It is given me to behold the marvels of heaven, to be together with the angels as one of them, and at the same time draw forth truths in light, and thus to perceive and teach them; consequently to be led by the Lord." (Invitation to the New Church 52)
"The Most Ancient Church had immediate revelation from the Lord by consort with spirits and angels and by visions and dreams, whereby it was given them to have a general knowledge of what is good and true; and after they had [this], then these general principles were confirmed by innumerable things through perceptions. . ." (Arcana Coelestia 597: Compare AC 2896 and Inv. 52)
"I have been told how the Lord spoke with the prophets, through whom the Word was given. He did not speak to them as with the ancients, by an influx into their interiors, but through spirits who were sent to them, whom the Lord infilled with His aspect, and thus inspired the words which they dictated to the prophets. . . The spirits themselves even called themselves Jehovah. . ." (Heaven and Hell 254)
"All revelation [is] either from speech with angels through whom the Lord speaks, or from perception. . . It is to be known that they who are in good and thence in truth, and especially those who are in the good of love to the Lord, have revelation from perception; whereas they who are not in good and thence in truth, can indeed have revelations, yet not from perception, but by a living voice heard in them, and thus by angels from the Lord. This revelation is external, but the former is internal. Angels, especially the celestial, have revelation from perception, as also had the men of the Most Ancient Church, and some also of the Ancient Church, but scarce any one has at this day; whereas very many, even those who have not been in good, have had revelations from speech without perception, and also by visions and dreams. Such were most of the revelations of the prophets in the Jewish Church. They heard a voice, they saw a vision, and they dreamed a dream; but as they had no perception, they were merely verbal or visual revelations without perception of what they signified. For genuine perception comes through heaven from the Lord, and affects the understanding spiritually, and leads it perceptively to think as the thing really is, with an internal assent, the source of which it is ignorant of. It supposes that it is in itself, and that it flows from the connection of things; whereas it is a dictate through heaven from the Lord, inflowing into the interiors of the thought, concerning such things as are above the natural and sensual, that is, concerning such things as are of the spiritual world or of heaven." (Arcana Coelestia 5121)
"The prophets of the Old Testament. . . did not have their understanding enlightened, but the words which they were to say or write they received merely by the hearing, and did not even understand their interior sense, still less their Spiritual Sense." (Apocalypse Explained 624:15)
"The prophets through whom the Word was written. . . wrote as the spirit from the Divine .dictated, for the very words which they wrote were uttered in their ears. With them was the truth which proceeds mediately from the Divine, that is, through heaven, but not the truth which proceeds immediately; for they had not a perception of what each thing signified. . ." (Arcana Coelestia 7055:3, Compare AC 5121:3)
"That the things which I learned from representations, visions, and discourses with spirits and angels were from the Lord alone. "Whenever there was any representation, vision, and discourse, I was kept interiorly and intimately in reflection upon it, as to what thence was useful and good, thus what I might learn therefrom; which reflection was not thus attended to by those who presented the representations and visions, and who spoke; yea, sometimes they were indignant when they found that I was reflecting. Thus have I been instructed; consequently by no spirit, nor by any angel, but by the Lord alone, from Whom is all truth and good; yea, when they wished to instruct me concerning various things, there was scarcely anything but what was false: wherefore I was prohibited from believing anything that they said; nor was I permitted to infer any such thing as was proper to them. Besides, when they wished to persuade me, I perceived an interior or intimate persuasion that the thing was so and so, and not as they wished; which they also wondered at. The perception was manifest, but cannot easily be described to the apprehension of men. —1748, March 22." (Spiritual Diary 1647)
5 The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem is the same as the Internal Sense of the Word.
"As for the doctrine in special which now follows, it also is from heaven, because it is from the spiritual sense of the Word, and the spiritual sense of the Word is the same with the Doctrine which is in heaven. . . From these things it may appear what is meant by this, that the holy city, New Jerusalem, was seen to descend from God out of heaven. But I will proceed to the Doctrine itself which is for the New Church; which, because it is revealed to me out of heaven, is called The Heavenly Doctrine. . ." (New Jerusalem and Its Heavenly Doctrine 7)
". . . It has now pleased the Lord to reveal many arcana of heaven, especially the internal or spiritual sense of the Word which heretofore had been entirely unknown, and therewith He has taught the genuine truths of doctrine: which revelation is understood by "the Advent of the Lord" in Matthew 24. . ." (Apocalypse Explained 641)
". . . To interpret the spiritual sense from truths of doctrine, opens heaven, because that is the sense in which the angels are; and so man by means of it thinks together with angels, and thus conjoins them to himself in his intellectual mind. . ." (De Verbo VII (20))
"That the spiritual sense of the Word is at this day disclosed by the Lord, is because the doctrine of genuine truth is now revealed, and this doctrine, and no other, agrees with the spiritual sense of the Word." (Doctrine concerning the Sacred Scripture 25)
"The Divine truth in the Word and its quality are described by the 'cherubs' in Ezekiel 1, 9, and 10; and as no one can know what is signified by the particulars in their description but one to whom the spiritual sense has been opened, it has for that reason been disclosed to me what is signified, in brief, by all the things which are told concerning the cherubs in the first chapter of Ezekiel. . . These summaries have also been collated with the Word in heaven, and are in conformity with it." (Doctrine concerning the Sacred Scripture 97:5)
"At this day the spiritual sense of the Word has been revealed by the Lord, because the doctrine of genuine truth has now been revealed, which doctrine is partly contained in The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem, and now in the small works which are being given to the public; and because that doctrine and no other agrees with the spiritual sense of the Word, therefore that sense, together with the science of correspondences, has now for the first time been disclosed. . . By many that sense will not be acknowledged for a long time." (De Verbo VII (21))
"The truth of the internal sense of the Word is the same thing (idem,) as the genuine truth of the Doctrine of faith of the Church." (Arcana Coelestia 9034)
"This explanation of that chapter [Zech. 4] was given me by the Lord through heaven." (Apocalypse Revealed 43e)
"From this Doctrine, also, the internal sense of the Word is known, since the internal sense of the Word is the Doctrine itself of love to the Lord and charity towards the neighbor. . ." (Arcana Coelestia 9409:3)
"It is to be known that the internal sense of the Word contains the genuine doctrine of the Church." (Arcana Coelestia 9424:3)
"The Doctrine of faith is the same thing as the understanding of the Word as to its interiors or its internal Sense." (Arcana Coelestia 2762:2)
"The internal sense is itself the genuine doctrine of the church. . . They who understand the Word according to the internal sense, know the true Doctrine itself of the Church, because the internal sense contains it (AC 9025, 9430, 10401)." (White Horse 11)
"Those who remain in the literal sense of the Word alone and do not gather anything doctrinal thence, . . . are separate from the internal sense; for the internal sense is the doctrinal itself." (Arcana Coelestia 9380)
"This Doctrine itself the internal sense teaches, and he who knows this Doctrine, has the internal Sense of the Word." (Arcana Coelestia 10276)
"The Doctrine which should be for a lamp is that which the internal sense teaches, thus it is the internal sense itself, which in some measure lies open to every one . . . whose internal man is open. . ." (Arcana Coelestia 10400:3)
"The internal sense is not only that sense which lies concealed in the external sense . . . but is also that which results from a number of passages rightly collated, and which is discerned by those who are enlightened by the Lord as to their intellectual. . ." (Arcana Coelestia 7233:3)
". . . The literal sense of the Word is for man while he is in the world, whereas the internal sense is for man when he comes into heaven. But it is to be known that man while in the world is at the same time in the internal sense of the Word when he is in the genuine doctrine of the church as to faith and as to life; for through that doctrine the internal sense of the Word is then inscribed both on his understanding and on his will. . ." (Arcana Coelestia 9430)
"That the Word in the sense of the letter is signified by a "wall" (Rev. 21:12), appears clearly from the things which follow in this chapter which treats much of the wall, its gates, foundations, and measurement. The reason is because the Doctrine of the New Church, which is meant by 'the city', is solely (unice) out of the sense of the letter Of the Word." (Apocalypse Revealed 898)
" 'And the wall of the city had twelve foundations' signifies that the Word in the sense of the letter contains all things of the doctrine of the New Church." (Apocalypse Revealed 902; See notes)
"The true Doctrine of the Church is what is here called the internal sense; for in the internal sense there are such truths as are with the angels of heaven." (Arcana Coelestia 9025)
"It is said in the Apocalypse, 'a new heaven and a new earth', and afterwards, 'Behold, I make all things new'; by which nothing else is meant than that in the church now to be established by the Lord there will be a New Doctrine which was not in the former church. . . . This same doctrine was indeed before given in the Word; but because the church not long after its first establishment was turned into a Babylonia, and with others later into a Philistia, therefore it could not be seen from the Word. For a church does not see the Word otherwise than from its principle of religion and its doctrine." (Doctrine Concerning the Lord, 65)
6. The explanations in the Writings of the spiritual sense are not written in a sense merely natural, but are a natural sense from the spiritual — which is called the Internal Sense.
" 'This is the mind that hath wisdom' [Rev. 17:9-ll], signifies the
understanding of these things in a natural sense from the spiritual. . . In
a sense abstracted from person, 'having wisdom' means the explanation of the
thing represented, in a natural sense from the spiritual, thus the explanation
of what 'the seven mountains' and 'the seven kings' are, which are signified
by 'the seven heads'. For the explanation made by the angel ... is not an explanation
in a natural sense from the spiritual, but is an explanation in a sense merely
natural, in which a spiritual sense is concealed, and this sense must be unfolded;
and it is unfolded when it is explained what is signified. . .
7 The theological Writings of Swedenborg contain and constitute the Doctrine of the New Jerusalem, and thus reveal the Internal Sense of the Word.
"As to what especially concerns the Doctrine which now follows, this also is from Heaven, because it is from the spiritual sense of the Word, and the spiritual sense of the Word is the same with the Doctrine which is in Heaven. . . But I will proceed to the Doctrine itself, which is for the New Church; which, because it has been revealed to me out of Heaven, is called Heavenly Doctrine; for to give this Doctrine is the purpose of this Work." (Heavenly Doctrine of the New Jerusalem 7)
"ARCANA coelestia (Heavenly Secrets) which are discovered (detecta) in the Sacred Scripture or Word of the Lord, are contained in the Explication which is the Internal Sense of the Word. . . ." (Subtitle of Arcana Coelestia)
"The apocalypse explained according to the Spiritual Sense, wherein are revealed arcana which are there predicted and have hitherto been hidden." (Title of Apocalypse Explained)
"The apocalypse revealed, in which are disclosed the arcana which are there predicted and hitherto have lain hidden." (Title of Apocalypse Revealed)
"That the Internal Sense is such as has been expounded, is evident from the particulars which have been explained, and especially from this, that that sense has been dictated to me out of heaven." (Arcana Coelestia 6597)
"This, now is the internal sense of the Word, its very essential life, which does not at all appear from the sense of the Letter." (Arcana Coelestia 64)
". . . The spiritual sense of the Word has been disclosed by the Lord through me. . ." (Invitation to the New Church 44)
"The doctrine of the church is that this* is the advent of the Lord and that thence it is that arcana have been opened by the Lord respecting heaven and hell, man's life after death, the Word, the last judgment—which have all been written out in Latin and sent to all the archbishops and bishops of the kingdom [of Great Britain] and to the nobility. . ." (Concerning the Athanasian Creed 2)
* Ille. The context refers to Matthew 24, and to the phrase "immediate revelation" in Heaven and Hell, n. 1.
"That at this day the spiritual sense of the Word has been revealed by the Lord, is because the Doctrine of genuine Truth has now been revealed, which Doctrine is contained in The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem, and now in the [other] little works which are being given to the public; and because that Doctrine, and no other, agrees with the spiritual sense of the Word, therefore that sense, together with the science of correspondences, has now for the first time been disclosed. This sense also is signified by the appearance of the Lord in the clouds of heaven with glory and power, Matthew 24:30, 31. . ." (De Verbo VII:7 (21))
". . . Not even an iota [of the spiritual sense of the Word] could have been opened except by the Lord alone. This surpasses all revelations which have hitherto been since the creation of the world. . ." (Invitation to the New Church 44)
"The arcana of the internal sense are now revealed, because there is scarcely any faith, since there is no charity; thus because it is the consummation of the age; and when this is so they can be revealed without danger of profanation, because they are not interiorly acknowledged." (Arcana Coelestia 3398:4)
"But since these arcana have been revealed, and lie open to those who are in good, that is, who are angelic minds, therefore, however obscure they may appear to others, these arcana are to be expounded, because they are in the internal Sense." (Arcana Coelestia 3128)
"It has been granted me sometimes to be among the angels of the middle and of the highest heaven, and to hear them conversing with one another; at which time I was in an interior natural state. . . I heard things ineffable and inexpressible. . . Afterwards it was given me to understand that I could not utter nor describe them by any spiritual and celestial expression, but that nevertheless they could be described even to their rational comprehension by words of natural langauge. And it was said that there are not any Divine arcana which cannot be perceived and expressed also naturally, although in a more general (communius) and imperfect way. . ." (De Verbo 111:4 (6))
" 'And she brought forth a male Son,' signifies the Doctrine of the New Church. . . The Doctrine which is here meant is The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem (published at London, 1758) ; as also The Doctrines concerning the Lord, the Sacred Scripture, and Life according to the Precepts of the Decalogue (Amsterdam, 1763) ; for by the Doctrine all the truths of Doctrine are meant, because the Doctrine is their complex. . . ." (Apocalypse Revealed 543)
8 The Internal Sense is the Word Itself.
"That the internal sense is the Word itself, is manifest from the many things which have been revealed. . ." (Arcana Coelestia 1540; See Notes)
". . . Because the case is thus in regard to the Word, viz., that its internal sense has become successively obliterated, and this at the present day to such an extent that its very existence is unknown, — when yet this is the verimost Word (ipsissimum Verbum) in which the Divine is most closely present,— therefore the successive states in respect to it are described in this chapter." (Arcana Coelestia 3432)
"... The Lord is Doctrine itself, that is, the Word, not only as to the supreme sense therein, but also as to the internal sense, and also as to the literal sense. . ." (Arcana Coelestia 3393)
"The Word is Divine Truth, and the internal or spiritual sense is interior Divine truth." (Apocalypse Explained 948)
"By the Holy Spirit is meant the Lord as to the Divine truth such as it is in the heavens, thus the Word such as it is in the spiritual sense, for this is the Divine truth in heaven. . ." (Apocalypse Explained 778:3)
"What is the quality of the Word in the heavens, this is known only from the internal sense, for the internal sense is the Word of the Lord in the heavens." (Arcana Coelestia 1887)
"Moreover, these are the things which are contained in the internal sense, and the internal sense is the Word of the Lord in the heavens: those who are in the heavens perceive it thus. When a man is in the truth, that is, in the internal sense, then he can make one as to thought with those who are in heaven, even though the man be respectively in a most general and obscure idea. . ." (Arcana Coelestia 2094; compare AC 3316:3)
9 Every Divine revelation is the Word of the Lord.
"In John we read: 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and God was the Word' . . . Few know what is here meant by 'the Word': That it is the Lord is evident from the particulars involved. And the internal sense teaches that the Lord as to the Divine Human is meant by the Word, for it is said that the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory. And because the Divine Human is meant, therefore by 'the Word' is understood all Divine truth which is concerning Him and from Him in his kingdom in the heavens and in His church on earth. Hence it is said that in Him was life, and the life was the light of men, and the light appeared in the darkness. And because truth is meant, therefore by the Word is meant every Revelation, thus also the Word itself or the Holy Scripture." (Arcana Coelestia 2894)
"Divine doctrine is Divine truth, and all Divine truth is the Word of the Lord (Divinum Verum est omne Verbum Domini). The Divine doctrine itself is the Word in the supreme sense, in which it treats of the Lord alone; thence the Divine Doctrine is the Word in the internal sense, in which it treats of the Lord's kingdom in the heavens and the earths; Divine doctrine is also the Word in the literal sense, in which it treats of the things which are in the world and on the earth . . . For it is known that the Lord is the Word, that is, all Divine truth. . ." (Arcana Coelestia 3712)
"As regards the Word, the case is this: In the most ancient time, when there was a celestial church, there was not a Word, for the men of that church had the Word inscribed upon their hearts. For the Lord taught them immediately through heaven what was good and thence what was true, and He gave them both to perceive from love and charity and to know from revelation. To them the Lord was the Word itself. After this church another succeeded which was not celestial, but spiritual. This, in the beginning, had no other Word than what had been collected from (ab) the most ancient [people]. This was representative of the Lord as well as significative of His kingdom; thus to them the internal sense was the Word itself. That they also had a written Word, historical as well as prophetical, which is no longer extant, and that in it similarly there was an internal sense, . . . may be seen above, n. 2686. . ." (Arcana Coelestia 3432)
". . . And the Lord is Doctrine itself, that is, the Word, not only as to the supreme sense there, but also as to the internal sense, yea, even as to the literal sense. . ." (Arcana Coelestia 3393)
". . . All Divine truth in general is called 'the Word', and the Lord Himself, from Whom is all Divine truth, is the Word in a supreme sense. . ." (Arcana Coelestia 5075)
". . . In regard to 'this word' (Gen. 41:28), a thing (res) is called 'a word' in the original tongue; thence also a Divine revelation is called the Word, and even, in the supreme sense, the Lord. And by the Word, when it is predicated of the Lord and also of a revelation from (ab) Him, in the proximate sense is meant the Divine truth from which all things that are things (res) have their existence. . ." (Arcana Coelestia 5272)
" 'And God spake all these words, saying,' that this means Divine truths for those in heaven and on earth, appears from the signification of 'the words which God spake,' as meaning Divine truths, for the things which God speaks are nothing but truths. Hence also the Divine truth is called the Word, and the Word is the Lord. . . ." (Arcana Coelestia 8861)
"... The Divine truth is the Lord Himself in heaven. For what proceeds from Him is He Himself; from the Divine nothing else can proceed than the Divine, and the Divine is one ..." (Arcana Coelestia 10646)
"Because the Lord is the Word, He is also Doctrine. For there is no other Doctrine which is itself Divine ..." (Arcana Coelestia 2533:3)
"From love toward the human race the Lord has made such revelations as will . . . conduce to man's salvation. What the Divine has revealed, is With US the Word." (Arcana Coelestia 10320)
10 There have been successive Divine revelations, of which the Writings are the last and most excellent.
"... It was necessary that, from the Divine providence of the Lord, some Eevelation should exist, for a Revelation, or a Word, is the common vessel recipient of spiritual and celestial things, thus conjoining heaven and earth; otherwise these would have become disjoined, and the human race would have perished." (Arcana Coelestia 1775)
"As to the Word,... it has existed at all times, but not the Word which we have at this day. There was another Word in the Most Ancient Church which was before the Flood; another Word in the Ancient Church which was after the Flood. But in the Jewish Church there was the Word which was written through Moses and the Prophets; and, finally, in the new Church, the Word written through the Evangelists ..." (Arcana Coelestia 2895)
"The Word in the Most Ancient Church was not a written Word, but was revealed to every one who was from the Church, for they were celestial men, thus in the perception of the good and the true, as the angels with whom they consorted; so that they had the Word written in their hearts . . . "Thence came the representatives and significatives which, when communication with angels began to cease, were collected by those who are meant by 'Enoch'. . . "From this source was the Word in the Ancient Church which was after the Flood . . . They also had a written Word, which consisted of histories and prophecies, like the Word of the Old Testament; but in process of time that Word was lost ..." (Arcana Coelestia 2896, 2897)
"... When the end of a church is at hand, then the interiors of the Word, of the church, and of worship, are revealed and taught. The reason is that the good may be separated from the evil, for the interiors of the Word, of the church, and of worship, which are celestial and spiritual, are received by the good but are rejected by the evil. Hence there is a separation. Moreover, the interior things of the Word, which are revealed at the end of a church, are of service to the new church which is also then established, for doctrine and for life. That this is so is evident from the fact that when the end of the Jewish Church was at hand, the Lord Himself opened and taught the interior things of the Word . . . "It has been done in like manner at this day; for it has now pleased the Lord to reveal many arcana of heaven, especially the internal or spiritual sense of the Word, which hitherto has been wholly unknown, and with it He has taught the genuine truths of doctrine; which revelation is meant by the advent of the Lord in Matthew (24: 3, 30, 37) ... In both worlds there is a church, and revelation takes place in both, and through this separation, as also the establishment of a new church . . . "If the successive states of the churches on our earth are considered, it is plain that they were like the successive states of a man who is reformed and regenerated; namely, that he may become a spiritual man, he is at first conceived, then born, then grows up, and afterwards is led further and further into intelligence and wisdom. The church, from most ancient times even to the end of the Jewish church, increased as a man who is conceived, is born, and grows up, and is then instructed and taught. But the successive states of the church after the end of the Jewish Church, or from the time of the Lord even to the present day, have been like a man who grows in intelligence and wisdom, or is regenerated. For this purpose the interior things of the Word, of the church, and of worship, were revealed by the Lord when He was in the world; and now again things still more interior; and so far as interior things are revealed, so far man can become wiser, for to become interior is to grow wiser, and to grow wiser is to become interior." (Apocalypse Explained 641)
"At the end of a church, when there is no faith because no charity, the interior things of the Word are manifested, which are to be of service to the new church for doctrine and life. This was done by the Lord Himself when the end of the Jewish Church was at hand. The Lord Himself then came into the world, and opened the interiors of the Word, especially the things concerning Himself, concerning love to Him and love towards the neighbor, and concerning faith in Him, which things formerly had lain hidden in the interiors of the Word . . . These truths . . . were interior truths and in themselves spiritual, which afterwards were to serve the new church for doctrine and life . . . But still, these things were not received at once, but after a considerable course of time, as is known from ecclesiastical history. The reason was that they could not be received until all things in the spiritual world had been reduced into order . . ."
A similar thing occurred when the Most Ancient Church, which was before the Flood, came to its end. The representatives of the celestial things which had been among the most ancients, were then collected into a one by those who were called Enoch, and were preserved for the use of the new church after the Flood . . . With these the same things took place, viz., that these things were separated from the evil ones by being 'taken up into heaven,' and thus guarded, and this even until the old church had come to its last and when a new Church was about to be established.
"A similar thing is taking place today. This church, which is called Christian, has at this day come to its end; on which account the arcana of heaven and the church have now been revealed by the Lord, to be of service to the New Church which is meant in the Apocalypse by the New Jerusalem, for a doctrine of life and faith. This Doctrine, also, has been 'taken up into heaven,' lest, before the establishment of the New Church, it should be hurt by the evil ..." (Apocalypse Explained 670)
". . . That before the church is fully devastated, the Word is interiorly
revealed, i.e., as to the spiritual sense, is because then the Church is to
be established, into which are invited those who are of the former church, and
for this New Church the Divine truth is interiorly revealed. ... It is done
in the same way now as it was done at the end of the Jewish Church. At its end,
which was when the Lord came into the world, the Word was opened interiorly,
for there were revealed by the Lord, when He was in the world, interior Divine
truths which were to be of service and also did serve the new church which was
established by Him. At the present day, also, on account of similar causes,
the Word has been interiorly opened, and thence there have been revealed Divine
truths still more interior, which are to be of service for the New Church which
is to be called the New Jerusalem.
"The Lord Jehovah from the New Heaven derives and produces a New Church upon earth, which is done by a Revelation of Truths from His own mouth, or from His Word, and by means of Inspiration." (Coronis 18)
"In place of miracles, there has at this day taken place a manifestation of the Lord Himself, an intromission into the spiritual world, and enlightenment there by means of (per) immediate light from the Lord in such things as are the interior things of the church. But chiefly, the opening of the spiritual sense in the Word, in which the Lord is in His own Divine light. (Coronis, Mir. IV)
"The manifestation of the Lord in Person, and [my] introduction by the Lord into the spiritual world, both as to sight and as to hearing and speech, surpasses all miracles; for we do not read anywhere in history that such intercourse with angels and spirits has been granted from the creation of the world. For I am daily with angels there, even as I am in the world with men; and this now for twenty-seven years. The testimonies of this intercourse are the books which have been published by me concerning heaven and hell, and also the memorable relations thence in the last work, called the True Christian Religion . . . Tell me, who ever before has known anything about heaven and hell, about the state of man after death, about spirits and angels, etc., etc. "Besides these most evident testimonies [there is the fact] that the spiritual sense of the Word has been disclosed by the Lord through me, which has never before been revealed since the Word was written among the sons of Israel; and this (hic) is the very Sanctuary of the Word: The Lord Himself is in this [sense] with His Divine, and in the natural sense with His Human. This, even as to an iota, cannot be opened except by the Lord Himself. This surpasses all the revelations which have been made since the creation of the world. Through this revelation there is opened a communication of men with the angels of heaven, and a conjunction of the two worlds has been effected; since when man is in the natural sense, the angels are in the spiritual sense ..." (Invitation to the New Church 43, 44)
". . . To interpret the spiritual sense from truths of doctrine opens heaven, because that is the sense in which the angels are, and so man by means of that sense thinks together with angels and thus conjoins them to himself in his intellectual mind ..." (De Verbo VII :6 (20); Compare AC 2094:3, 3316:3)
". . . By 'the book' which the Lamb took from Him that sat on the throne, and of which He loosed the seven seals (Apoc. 5, 6), is meant the Word. . . .Therefore by 'the little book' (Apoc. 10:2) in the hand of the angel, who also is the Lord . . . nothing else is meant than the Word as to some essential therein . . . This is that doctrine in the Word that the Lord is the God of heaven and earth and that His Human is Divine . . . 'The little book' is said to be open because that doctrine appears manifestly in the Word, and is evident to every one who reads it, if he attends . . . This subject is the very essential of the New Church . . . " 'And when he cried, seven thunders uttered their voices', signifies that the Lord throughout the entire heaven disclosed what was in the little book . . . But I will open what was in the little book. In it were those things which are contained in The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem concerning the Lord, from beginning to end . . ." (Apocalypse Revealed 469, 472)
"... In order that the true Christian religion might be disclosed, it could not be otherwise than that some one should be introduced into the spiritual world, and that he should derive from the mouth of the Lord the genuine truths from the Word . . . "Such an intercourse, as far as I know, has not been granted by the Lord to any one before: indications that this is on account of the New Church which is the Crown of all the churches and which is to endure to eternity ..." (Invitation to the New Church, 38, 39)
"In the New Church ... it is lawful to enter with the understanding and penetrate into all the secrets [of faith] and also to confirm them by the Word. The reason is that its doctrinals are continuous verities laid open by the Lord by means of the Word, and confirmations of them by rational things cause the understanding to be opened above more and more, and thus to be elevated into the light in which the angels of heaven are ..." (True Christian Religion 508)
" 'And it was given to her that she should be arrayed in fine linen clean and bright,' signifies that they who will be of the Lord's New Church are instructed by the Lord in genuine and pure truths through the Word." (Apocalypse Revealed 814)
"The angels have told me ... that when [they are turned] to those things which are in my thought from the heavenly doctrine, then they are in greater clarity than in any other case." (Spiritual Diary 5610)
11 By reason of its revealed Doctrine, the New Church is to become the Crown of all the Churches.
"The [first Christian] Church knows nothing whatever of this its consummation and end, nor can it know anything of it, before the Divine Truths which are from the Lord in the work called 'The True Christian Religion' are seen in light and acknowledged." (Coronis, Sum. xlix)
"That the New Church is the Crown of all the Churches that have hitherto been upon the earth, is because it will worship the one visible God, in whom is the invisible God like the soul in the body . . . That this Church is to succeed the churches which have existed since the beginning of the world; that it is to endure for ages of ages, and is thus to be the crown of all the churches that have gone before it, was prophesied by Daniel ..." (True Christian Religion 787, 788)
"Because we now have One God in the Church, who is God Man and Man God, therefore this [Church] is called the Crown of all the Churches." (Invitation to the New Church 53)
"That the four churches of this earth . . . have undergone these changes of state, will be shown in what follows; and finally that the Church truly Christian which today succeeds these four, will never undergo consummation." (Coronis 24)
"That this New Church, truly Christian, which is at this day being established by the Lord, is to endure to eternity, confirmed from the Word of both testaments; and that it was foreseen from the creation of the world. That it is to become the crown of the four antecedent churches, because [there will be] true faith and true charity. "That in this New Church there will be spiritual peace, which is glory, and internal blessedness of life, also confirmed from the Word of both testaments. "That these things will be in this New Church, for the sake of conjunction with the Lord and through Him with God the Father." (Coronis, Sum. lii-liv)
"The manifestation of the Lord and intromission into the spiritual world, surpass all miracles. This has not been granted to any one since the creation as it has been to me. The men of the Golden Age indeed spoke with angels, but it was not granted them to be in any other than natural light; but to me it is granted to be in both spiritual and natural light at the same time. By this means it has been granted me to see the wonderful things of heaven, to be together with the angels as one of them, and at the same time to draw forth (haurire) truths in light and thus to perceive and teach them; consequently to be led by the Lord." (Invitation to the New Church 52)
12 The Revelation of the Doctrines of the New Church constitute the Second Advent of the Lord.
"The Coming of the Lord is not His coming to destroy the visible heaven and the habitable earth ..." (True Christian Religion 768)
"Since His ascension into heaven [the Lord] is in the glorified Human; and in this He cannot appear to any man unless He first open the eyes of his spirit. . . .It is a vain thing to believe that the Lord is to appear in the clouds of heaven in Person; but He is to appear in the Word, which is from Him, thus is Himself." (True Christian Religion 777 )
"[The coming of the Son of Man in the clouds of heaven(Matt. 16:27, 24:30, 26:64, Mark 14:61, 62, Luke 21:27, 22:69) means] that when He comes to judgment He will appear in the sense of the letter of the Word. And because He now has come, He has therefore appeared in the Word through this that He has revealed that there is a spiritual sense in every single thing of the sense of the letter of the Word, and that in it He alone is treated of, and that He alone is the God of heaven and earth. These are the things meant by His advent in the clouds of heaven". (Apocalypse Revealed 642)
"This Second Advent of the Lord is effected by means of a man before whom He has manifested Himself in Person and whom He has filled with His Spirit, to teach the doctrines of the New Church through the Word from Him. "... It follows that He is to do it by means of a man, who is able not only to receive the doctrines of this Church with his understanding. but also to publish them by the press. That the Lord has manifested Himself before me His servant and sent me on this office, and that, after this, He opened the sight of my spirit and thus let me into the spiritual world and gave me to see the heavens and the hells, and also to speak with angels and spirits, and this now for many years, I testify in truth; and also that from the first day of that call, I have not received any thing which pertains to the doctrines of that Church from any angel, but from the Lord alone while I read the Word." (True Christian Religion 779)
" 'And they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory,' signifies that then the Word shall be revealed as to its internal sense, in which the Lord is. The 'Son of Man' is the truth Divine which is therein." (Arcana Coelestia 4060:7)
"The Advent of the Lord is the revelation of truth Divine at the end of the church " (Arcana Coelestia 9807.4)
"... It has now pleased the Lord to reveal many arcana of heaven, especially the internal or spiritual sense of the Word, which hitherto has been entirely unknown; and therewith He has taught the genuine truths of doctrine; which revelation is meant by the Advent of the Lord in Matthew 24." (Apocalypse Explained 641:3)
"That a new ecclesiastical history should be written, because now is the Advent of the Lord, predicted in Matthew, chap. 24. . ."That when the Brief Exposition was published, the angelic heaven . . . appeared of a deep scarlet color with the most beautiful flowers . . . "That there was inscribed on the books, 'The Advent of the Lord' (Adventus Domini)—on all in the spiritual world; by command I likewise inscribed the same on two copies in Holland".* (Ecclesiastical History 1, 7, 8)
One of these two copies—of the Summaria, Expositio—has been found and is on display in the Royal British Museum. The inscription on the fly leaf reads: "Hic Liber est Adventus Domini, scriptum ex mandate" (This Book is the Advent of the Lord, written by command). Four references are added in Swedenborg's hand: "2513, 4535, 6895, 8427, p. 19.
" 'I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse' (Rev. 19:ll) signifies the spiritual sense of the Word revealed by the Lord, and thereby the interior understanding of the Word disclosed, which is the advent of the Lord . . . That this is the advent of the Lord, is because by that sense it manifestly appears that the Lord is the Word, that the Word treats of Him alone, that He is the God of heaven and earth, and that the New Church exists from Him alone. . . . The spiritual sense of the Word is at this day revealed. . . ." (Apocalypse Revealed 820)
"The Coming of the Lord in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory, signifies His presence in the Word, and revelation. . . . Hence it is manifest that by these words of the Lord is meant that at the end of the church, when love and thence faith would be no more, the Lord would open the Word as to its internal sense, and would reveal the arcana of heaven. The arcana revealed in the following pages are concerning heaven and hell and at the same time concerning the life of man after death . . . That at this day there exists such an immediate revelation, is because this is what is meant by the Advent of the Lord." (Heaven and Hell 1)
"The doctrine of the church is that this* is the Advent of the Lord and that thence it is that arcana have been opened by the Lord respecting heaven and hell, man's life after death, the Word, the last judgment—which have all been written out in Latin and sent to all the archbishops and bishops of the kingdom [of Great Britain] and to the nobility. And still not a word has been heard, a sign that they do not interiorly care for the things of heaven and the church, and that it is now the very end of the church and indeed that the church no longer exists ..." (Concerning the Athanasian Creed 2)
* Ille—The context refers to Matthew 24 and to the phrase "immediate revelation" in Heaven and Hell, n. 1.
"... Without the advent of the Lord into the world, no one could have been saved. It is similar at this day: wherefore unless the Lord came again into the world in Divine truth which is the Word, not any One can be saved." (True Christian Religion 3)
" 'The consummation of the age' ... is the last time of the church; and the [second] advent of the Lord then is the revelation of Himself, and of Divine truth from Him, in the Word through the internal sense; elsewhere than in the Word the Lord does not reveal Himself, nor there otherwise than through the internal sense." (Apocalypse Explained 36)
"That a revelation has been made by the Lord concerning heaven and hell, concerning the last judgment (which has been accomplished), and concerning the spiritual sense of the Word. Thus the way to salvation has been revealed, and the state of man after death; and this fully and plainly, so that anyone who understands the Latin language can know ..." (De Domino, Preface)
13 In the Writings, the Lord in His Second Advent is present in His Divine Human, as to Divine Truth and Doctrine Itself.
"To the end that the Lord might be constantly present, He has disclosed to me the spiritual sense of His Word, in which Divine truth is in its light, and in this He is constantly present; for His presence in the Word is from nowhere else than through the spiritual sense . . . (True Christian Religion 780)
"... The spiritual sense of the Word has been disclosed by the Lord through me; which has never before been revealed since the Word was written among the sons of Israel; and this [sense] is the very sanctuary of the Word; the Lord Himself is in this [sense] with His Divine and in the natural sense with His Human ..." (Invitation to the New Church 44)
"By the 'Comforter' (Paradetum) is meant the Divine truth which the Lord was while in the world, and which proceeds from the Lord after He glorified His Human and went out of the world; therefore He said that He would send the Comforter, and that He Himself would come. To 'send the Comforter' is to illustrate and instruct in the truths of faith, and 'to come to them' is to lead into good." (Arcana Coelestia 9199)
"The manifestation of the Lord in the Word was effected by His opening and revealing the internal or spiritual sense of the Word; for in this sense is the Divine truth itself such as it is in heaven, and the Divine truth in heaven is the Lord Himself there." (Apocalypse Explained 594:3)
"Whether you say 'the Lord' or 'the Divine truth,' it is the same, since all Divine truth is from Him, and therefore He Himself is in it: whence it is that the Lord is called 'the Word', for the Word is Divine truth." (Apocalypse Explained 411:4)
"Whether you say 'the Lord's Divine Human' or 'the Divine truth,' it is the same, since the Lord when He was in the world was the Divine truth itself, and when He went out of the world He made Himself Divine good, from which is the Divine truth." (Arcana Coelestia 10258:4)
"Nothing whatever of Doctrine can proceed from the Divine itself except through the Divine Human, that is, through the Word, which, in the supreme sense, is the Divine truth from the Lord's Divine Human." (Arcana Coelestia 5321:2)
"What proceeds from the Lord is the Lord” (Arcana Coelestia 9407:12)
"The internal sense ... is the soul of the Word, and is the Divine truth itself proceeding from the Lord; thus it is the Lord Himself." (Arcana Coelestia 9349:2)
"In order that it may be known how the case is with the doctrine of faith, viz., that it is spiritual from a celestial origin, it is to be observed that that Doctrine is Divine truth from the Divine good, consequently Divine throughout (in totum). What is Divine is incomprehensible . . . but still this Divine which is incomprehensible can inflow into man's rational through the Divine Human of the Lord, and while it inflows into his rational it is received there according to the truths which are there. ... As the Lord is the Divine good, so also He is the Divine truth; thus He is the Doctrine itself." (Arcana Coelestia 2531)
"Inasmuch as the Lord is the Word, He also is the Doctrine, for there can be no other Doctrine which is itself Divine." (Arcana Coelestia 2533)
" 'And she gave birth to a male Son' signifies the Doctrine of the New Church . . . The Doctrine which is here meant is the Doctrine of the New Jerusalem (published in London, 1758) ; also the Doctrines concerning the Lord, the Sacred Scripture and Life (Amsterdam, 1763).... For by 'the Doctrine' are meant all the truths of the Doctrine, because the Doctrine is their complex. When these Doctrines were being written, the Dragonists stood around me, and combined with all their fury to devour, that is, to extinguish them. . . ." (Apocalypse Revealed 543)
"It was also told [the bishop] that the work is not mine but the Lord's Who wished to reveal the nature (quale) of heaven and hell, [etc.] . . . And I also told him that this [revelation] is the 'male child' whom the woman brought forth and whom the dragon wished to devour." (Spiritual Diary 6101:2)
" 'And she brought forth a male son'. This signifies the Doctrine of truth which is for the New Church that is called the New Jerusalem . . . That 'the male son' signifies the Doctrine of the church, is because 'a son' in the Word signifies truth, and the Doctrine of the church is truth in the Whole Complex." (Apocalypse Explained 724:1, 3)
"Hence also it is that as the Lord is the Word, so also is He the Doctrine of the Church; for all Doctrine is from the Word." (Apocalypse Explained 19)
"It is said [in the title], 'The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem', and what is meant there is the Doctrine for the New Church which is at this day to be instaurated by the Lord; for the old church has arrived at its end ..." (Doctrine of the New Jerusalem concerning the Lord, preface)
14 Divine authority belongs to the Lord alone.
".. . It is the Divine which bears witness concerning the Divine, and not man from himself ..." * Apocalypse Explained 635
"Lest man should be in doubt whether the Word is Divine and most holy, its internal sense has been revealed to me by the Lord . . . That sense is the spirit which vivifies the letter; wherefore that sense can testify concerning the Divinity and sanctity of the Word, and convince even the natural man, if he is willing to be convinced". (True Christian Religion 192)
"It is one thing to have faith in and believe in the Lord, and another to have faith in and believe any man. The difference shall be told below." (Doctrine of Faith 7)
"The doctrinals of the church are to be learned, and then exploration is to be made from the Word as to whether they are true; for they are not true because the heads of the church have said so and their followers confirm it, inasmuch as thus the doctrinals of all churches and religions would have to be called true, merely according to country and birth ..." (Arcana Coelestita 6047; Compare AC 5402, 6822, 5432:5)
"... My friend, do not put trust in any council, but have faith in the Word of the Lord Which is above Councils." (True Christian Religion 489)
"The worldly and corporeal man says in his heart, 'Unless I am instructed concerning faith and everything relating to it, by sensual things, so that I may see them, or by means of science, so that I may understand them, I will not believe'; and he confirms himself in his incredulity by the fact that natural things cannot be contrary to spiritual things. Thus he desires to be instructed in what is heavenly and Divine from what is sensual, which nevertheless is as impossible as it is for a camel to go through the eye of a needle; for the more he desires to grow wise by such a process, the more he blinds himself, till at length he comes to believe nothing, not even that there is any thing spiritual or an eternal life. This follows from the principle which he lays down; and this is to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, of which, the more he eats, the more dead he becomes. But he who desires to grow wise from the Lord and not from the world, says in his heart that the Lord must be believed, that is, the things which the Lord has spoken in the Word, because they are truths, and from this principle he thinks. He confirms himself by rational considerations, by science, and by sensual and natural things, and those which are not confirmatory, he separates." (Arcana Coelestia 128)
"There are two principles — one which leads to all folly and madness, and another which leads to all intelligence and wisdom. The former principle is to deny all things, as when a man says in his heart that he cannot believe such things until he is convinced by what he can grasp or feel; this principle is what leads to all folly and madness, and may be called the negative principle. The other principle is to affirm those things which are of doctrine from the Word, as when a man thinks and believes that they are true because the Lord has said so; this principle is what leads to all intelligence and wisdom, and may be called the affirmative principle ..." (Arcana Coelestia 2568)
"Those think . . . from the affirmative who believe that things are true because the Lord has said so in the Word, thus those who have faith in the Lord. They who deny that what is in the Word is true, and who say in their hearts that they will believe when they are persuaded by things rational and scientific, are in such a state of mind that they will never believe, — no, not even when convinced by the bodily senses, as by the sight, the hearing, and the touch; for they always frame new reasonings against such convictions, so as to finally altogether extinguish all faith, and at the same time turn the light of the rational into darkness, because into falses. But those who are in the affirmative, that is, who believe that things are true because the Lord has said so, are continually being confirmed through rational, scientific and even sensual things, and their ideas are enlightened, and they are strengthened . . . With these doctrine 'lives' . . . "They who incline to a life of evil fall into the negative; but they who incline to a life of good are led into the affirmative . . ."They who have blinded themselves by not being willing to believe anything which they do not grasp by the senses, until at length they have come to believe nothing, were of old called 'serpents of the tree of knowledge' . . . "In the other life such are readily distinguished from other spirits by this, that on every subject relating to faith they reason whether it be so or not, and, though it be shown to them a thousand and thousand times to be so, still they raise negative doubts in opposition to every confirmation, and this to eternity. They are therefore blinded to such a degree that they are bereft of common sense — that is, they cannot comprehend what is good and true ..." (Arcana Coelestia 2588:2, 3, 9)
"With those who are in the negative—that is, those with whom the negative universally reigns— doubts can in no wise be removed, for with them one scruple avails more than a thousand confirmations ; for one scruple is as a grain of sand placed close before the pupil of the eye, which, although it is single and small, nevertheless takes away all sight. But they who are in the affirmative—that is, those with whom the affirmative universally reigns—reject the scruples that arise from fallacies which are contrary to truths; and if there are any which they do not comprehend, they reject them to the sides and say that they do not yet understand them, and so they remain still in the faith of truth." (Arcana Coelestia 6479)
"Those who start with a negative never believe, because the negative principle reigns universally [with them], and when it reigns universally, those scientifics which deny inflow and are collected together, but not those which confirm; those which confirm are thrown aside, or are explained so as to favor the negative scientifics, and thus the negative is confirmed." (Arcana Coelestia 6383)
"The truths spoken by the Lord and concerning the Lord, are to be believed even though we are not able to penetrate them by reason. To wish to deny because we cannot penetrate by the reason, is therefore like a desire to deny the procreations of trees from seeds and of animals from eggs . . . Hence it may be seen what kind of a faith a man has when he believes nothing but what he sees, as is common at this day, especially among the learned of the world." (Spiritual Diary 2727)
" 'And the prince of thy people thou shalt not curse' (Exodus 22:28). Hereby is signified that neither ought the Doctrine of truth to be blasphemed . . . Divine truth is the Word, and is Doctrine from the Word. They who deny these in heart, blaspheme, even though with the mouth they praise the Word and preach it. In the denial lies concealed the blasphemy . . . Therefore, with the man of the Church the first of all principles is to believe the Word ..." (Arcana Coelestia 9222)
The Internal Sense and the Sense of the Letter
"The internal sense is the Word itself" (AC 1540). Yet "the Divine truth is in its fulness in the sense of the letter of our Word". (AE 1087:2, compare SS 39) Hence it is also taught that "the Word ... is not the Word until it is in the sense of the letter. The Word not in that ultimate would be like a temple in the air and not on earth, or like a man having flesh but without bones". (AE 1087:2, compare 1088:2-5, TCR 214e, De Verbo 25) "It is from the spiritual sense that the Word is Divinely inspired and holy in every sentence (voce)." (TCR 200) But "in our natural Word are contained both the spiritual Word and the celestial Word", while "in the spiritual and celestial Word the natural Word is not contained; wherefore the Word in our world is most full of Divine wisdom, and thence is more holy than the Words in the heavens". (De Verbo 35, compare 54, heading)
When viewed spiritually, the doctrine of the New Church presented in the Writings cannot be separated in thought from the Word given in its literal sense in the Old and New Testaments; any more than the internal sense can be separated from the sense of the letter. "For the sense of the letter is the basis into which the spiritual ideas, which are with the angels, close, much the same as words (voces) are the basis into which the meaning of the thought falls and is communicated to another" (AE 356:5). The doctrine of the New Church "is solely from the sense of the letter of the Word", and "the Word in the sense of the letter contains all things of the doctrine of the New Church". (AE 898, 902)
The statement that the doctrine is drawn "from the sense of the letter" where it is also "contained", does not contradict the further teachings that it is "from the spiritual sense" (HD 7), that "the internal sense contains it", and that it is identical with the doctrine of genuine truth which is the spiritual sense appearing in the literal sense. (See WH 11:3, AC 9030e, 7233:3, 10400:2-4, 9424, SS 25, et al.)
A similar paradox is presented in the teachings, a) "that the Lord is present with man and enlightens him, and teaches him the truths of the church", in the sense of the letter of the Word "and nowhere else" (SS 53) ; b) that "elsewhere than in the Word the Lord does not reveal Himself, nor there otherwise than through the internal sense" (AE 36). These ideas make one in the light of the statements (in AC 7233:3) that doctrine should be formed from the "internal sense"; for "the internal sense is not only that sense which lies concealed in the external sense,... but is also that which results from a number of passages of the sense of the letter rightly collated, and which is discerned by those who are enlightened by the Lord in respect to their intellectual".
Swedenborg’s States of Preparation
The citations in the preceding collection are selected to illustrate the character of the Theological Writings of Swedenborg and show their status as works of Divine revelation. We have not included any statements which Swedenborg made about his states of inspiration during the years of his preparatory studies of the Scripture, especially during his writing of the "Adversaria", which was not published until long after his death and which is now known by the English title, "The Word Explained". For in this interval (1745-1747), before he began to write the Arcana Coelestia, he did indeed feel states of inspiration,1 but he also records states of despair when inspiration seemed to fail and he experienced uncertainties and obscurities2. He was then annoyed by spirits who caused slips and errors3, so that truths were mixed with things not true4. He showed hesitancy as to whether to make changes in his statements5.
States Experienced for the Sake of Instruction
For the sake of learning the manner in which the Old Testament was "inspired as to every letter", Swedenborg was also permitted to experience certain states like those of the prophets. Thus spirits were occasionally permitted to dictate to him and even seemingly to lead his hand:
"This [happened] very rarely, and only for the sake of information that revelations are effected in this way also. But these papers have been destroyed (deletae) because God Messiah was unwilling that it should be effected in this way. Nor has it been permitted that anything should be dictated viva voce . . . but while it was being written, the [spirits] were silent.6 These matters, God Messiah granting, will be spoken of more fully elsewhere, in order that men may know how revelations took place formerly ..." 7 (WE 7006, written in 1746)
"... It was not allowed me to tell anything here of what was dictated to me orally by any one of them. When this was done, the writing had to be obliterated, it being allowed me to tell only such things as flowed in from God Messiah alone, both mediately through them, and also immediately—which yet was manifest to me." (WE 1892)8
"When I was writing and was in a certain intermediate celestial perception, it was perceived and said that each and all the words and syllables, with their little curves, were perceived by the celestials, and as it were spoke to them. This is effected from the affection in which the man then is, having been communicated to the hand, or being in the hand; for the hand, being power, is the man himself. Hence it was evident in what manner the Word has been inspired, that it is so, as to every single jot and apex. Hence it is that the handwriting is according to the affection and obscurity of the animus with me." (SD 4820)
"[The spirits] who now spoke to me said that the things which I had written are so crude and gross, that they judged that nothing interior could be understood from those words or from the mere sense of the words. I perceived also by a spiritual idea that this was so, that they were indeed very crude; wherefore it was given me to answer that they are only vessels into which purer, better, and interior things can be infused, as a literal sense, and that there are many such vessels, as it were, of the sense of the letter in the prophetical books ... (SD 2185)
"[The angels] especially observed what the inspiration is of those things which are written in the Word of the Lord. For now it has appeared to them in what way, and in what an abundance, there inflowed into those things which were written by me; and this not only into the several words and the ideas of the words; nay, it seemed to them as if certain ones were holding my hand and were writing, claiming that they were the ones who were writing. It was also granted me to perceive by a spiritual idea, nay, as it were to feel beforehand, what was in the most minute singulars of each little letter which was being written. Hence it is as in clear light that the Word of the Lord is inspired as to every letter. 1748, June 10." (SD 2270; compare 557)
Swedenborg also was shown "by living experience" how the prophets of Israel had been obsessed,9 and how they had experienced various types of visions.10 Yet the things ordinarily "seen and heard" by Swedenborg in the other life were not classed as "visions". He wrote, "I asseverate that these things are not visions, but sights in complete wakefulness" (CLJ 35) or "in the highest wakefulness of the body" (AC 1885).
Swedenborg's Personal States
Swedenborg declares that the second coming of the Lord was effected "by means of a man who can not only receive the doctrines of that [new] Church with the understanding, but also publish them in print." (TCR 779)
His personal understanding of the things he was inspired to write necessarily varied according to the spiritual light in which he was. Such varied perception was for the sake of his instruction by the Lord. (See AC 6608, CL 231, De Verbo 5, TCR 504, SD 4820)
He wrote and published his Writings "by command of the Lord" (Doc. Lord, preface, AR 962, cp Docu. 245X, 252E, Eccl. Hist. 8), but in their preparation he used his enlightened judgment and followed his conscience. (BE 1, AR 134, 752e, SD 438, CL 166) Thus he always retained full use of his rational mind, acting as of himself (DP 290), even when, on occasions, for the sake of information, he was "obsessed" by spirits as were the prophets. (SD 2659, 2665, 3963, compare AC 6212)
He gained his information about the spiritual world gradually and it increased with his experiences, as is clearly revealed in his "Spiritual Diary". And while every indication shows that he was a regenerating man, who could on this account be a companion of angels, the Divine inspiration which he enjoyed was not dependent on the advancing states of his personal regeneration. Angels were sometimes present who aided his memory (CL 73e). Yet while writing down the doctrine of the New Church, no spirit dared nor did any angel wish to introduce anything alien; nor did Swedenborg take anything from himself. (AR, preface)
The Heavenly Doctrine in the Spiritual World
Since revelations take place in both worlds (AE 641:3), the Writings were often seen and quoted by Swedenborg in the spiritual world (CL 416, AR 716). The five books published in 1758 were presented to certain African spirits (SD 5946, compare 4775, 4777 and CLJ 76). Swedenborg's summaries of the internal sense were compared with the Word as existing in a heavenly society (SS 97). The heavenly doctrine was seen in the spiritual world reposing on a cedar table, in the form of the "Angelic Wisdom concerning the Divine Love and Wisdom" and "concerning the Divine Providence" (AR 875:15, also called "Celestial Arcana" in TCR 461e). Swedenborg mentions the existence of many copies of the Brief Exposition in the other world. (Eccl. Hist. 4, 8, compare SD 5908)
"When the heavenly doctrine concerning the Lord is known on one earth, the rest are thus able to know it when they become spirits and angels." (SD 4781, cp. 4780, EU 118)