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The Method of Giving Revelation

by Martin Pryke

(Third Session, June 16, 1950.)

The end of the Divine Love is that there shall be, from the human race, a heaven wherein man may receive eternal joy. This heaven is a state of conjunction between God and man, a state of reciprocity. But the achievement of conjunction and reciprocity is dependent upon a similarity of form between the two; therefore was man created in the image of God. Moreover, it is dependent upon each entering freely into it; wherefore man is endowed with free will and rationality, in order that his will and understanding may freely be conjoined with, may freely respond to, the Divine Love and the Divine Wisdom.

When man exercises his free will and rationality aright, he learns obedience to the Divine Will, he learns to respond to the Divine Love, and he learns so to love his neighbor that he is prepared to be an orderly and useful citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven. But man, of himself, is frail, human, ignorant, and can only be led to his destined end by the especial guidance of the Divine Itself. If man is to be conjoined with God, if God is to be worshipped and obeyed, He must be known and His will understood. The rationality granted man cannot be exercised except it be fed with truth. If the end of the Divine Love is to be achieved (and the Divine constantly bends itself to this achievement), then the Lord must reveal Himself to mankind.

This Revelation will be man's spiritual guide, the "lamp of his feet," the "light of his path." It is important that we be able to recognize this lamp for what it is, and to understand the nature of this light. We cannot set up as our authority that which we do not understand; we cannot obey that of which we know nothing. Therefore it is our present purpose to show something of the means whereby the Divine Truth has been revealed to man, and it is hoped that thereby we may have a better understanding of the significance of that which we study and by which we seek to mold our lives.

We shall not consider the content of Revelation, but shall treat of the manner in which it has been given, the way in which it has been prepared, to unveil and disclose, as well as clothe and accommodate, the Divine Truth. It is worthy of note that both of these apparently contradictory processes are involved: for, in order that the Divine Truth (otherwise hidden from man's gaze) may be made known, revealed, unveiled, it must be suitably accommodated to meet man's understanding. Man would be blinded by the immediate and complete revelation of the Divine Itself, and so this must be clothed: but it must be so clothed that the Divine may shine through, so that a perfectly correspondential image may be seen.

The men of the Most Ancient Church, before the fall, were born into true order (without hereditary perversion), and thus Divine Truths were inscribed on their hearts (A. C. 2896), and they had open intercourse with angels and spirits (A. C. 69), even conversing face to face with the Lord, who appeared to them as a man (A. C. 49). When they looked upon the ultimates of nature, they immediately knew the spiritual truths to which the natural effects corresponded (A. C. 2722, 1409). Thus the Most Ancients needed no written Word; the whole realm of nature and of the spiritual world was seen by them in the light of their true perception, and these constituted their Word; in these they saw their Creator and the laws Divine which constituted the light of their path.

After the fall, the will and understanding of man were separated and, in consequence, celestial perception was lost. Man could no longer be instructed directly by the heavens, and it became necessary that another revelation should be provided. This new revelation was the first of four written revelations: this was the Ancient Word which has also been lost.

With the consummation of the Most Ancient Church, mankind needed a new form of revelation which would be adapted to their fallen condition, and this has been given through the instrumentality of man. Written revelations have not been given by a miracle which excludes man's instrumentality. No golden plates from heaven, ready graven, have been used.*

* The first tables of the Decalogue, which were hewn out by God and graven 'with His finger' had to he destroyed because man was not fit to receive such a Revelation, and instead, tables hewn and carved by Moses at the command of God, were prepared. (See: Exodus 31: 18; 32: 16; 34: 1; and 34: 28.)

It is the use of man, in a whole series of revelations from Moses to Swedenborg, which is our particular consideration now. We shall not treat of the lost Ancient Word, although we believe that the principles here expounded are equally applicable to it. We shall keep within the framework of the Three Testaments which are the Word of the New Church; and whenever we refer to "the Word" we wish it clearly understood that we treat of the Old and New Testaments and the Writings of the Second Advent.

Whenever the Lord has chosen to use a man as an instrument in the giving of His Word, He has effected His purpose by means of a special influx or inspiration which has disposed those things which are in the man's mind so that they fittingly (correspondentially and representatively) clothe the Divine Truth. This disposing is ultimated and made permanent in the written Word. As the Word is written, there is not an influx of some new knowledge of truth into the mind of the revelator from within-this is impossible, for knowledge can only enter the mind from without. Instead, at the time of writing, there is an inspiration which orders and arranges truths already there.

This method of inspiration involves, then, two steps:

I. The provision of ultimates (knowledges) in the mind of the revelator which will suitably clothe and reveal Divine Truth. These come from without, not by an influx through the soul; but by external means, either through the natural or the spiritual senses; thus, if needs be, by miraculous revelation.

II. The disposing of these ultimates in correspondential and representative series by means of a Divine inspiration-the result of which is the written Word as we know it.

Providing suitable ultimates in the mind, and disposing them by inspiration,-these two are the steps involved in all Revelation, and constitute the subject of our present consideration. They comprise two revelations; one a primary or preparatory revelation to the revelator himself to equip him for his office; the other a secondary or final revelation whereby he writes, and thus preserves for all posterity, the Word of the Lord which is given by means of his instrumentality. We will treat of these two separately.


Before the Divine Truth could inflow into the mind of a revelator, there to clothe itself for presentation to man, it was necessary that suitable clothing be provided. There must be such things in the mind (in the experience and memory) of the revelator as are suitable for this purpose. Therefore, in the Divine Providence, such a man was chosen (prophet, evangelist or instrument of the Second Advent) as would be able to receive such suitable ultimates; then that man was prepared for the high use awaiting him. This preparation (this provision of suitable clothing) was itself a form of revelation-it was a primary revelation to the individual revelator. Such a preparatory revelation was not effected for the sake merely of the individual, but in order that a basis might be provided for a subsequent (secondary and permanent) revelation which should be for all mankind.

In the course of this preparation of the revelator, ultimates were provided from two sources: from the natural world and from the spiritual world; through the eyes and other senses of the body, and through the eyes of the spirit. Certain material ideas and images were capable of clothing and accommodating and revealing the Divine Truth, but in certain cases things were needed which could only be provided from the spiritual world; and so the spiritual eves of the revelators were opened. The twofold environment of man was called in to serve this vital work. How this was done can best be seen by considering specific instances in the case of each of the Three Testaments.

All the revelators of the Old Testament, in the first place, knew, from worldly learning, how to write their language, even to the jot and tittle. Their inspiration was not such as to teach them (dictate to them) the art of writing, rather was the inspiration an influx into this which was already known. Similarly with the general subject matter of which they wrote.
Moses had that portion of the Ancient Word which now comprises the first eleven chapters of Genesis; he knew from word of mouth the history of his forebears, of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and his twelve sons; he knew, from experience, the history of the exodus from Egypt and the wandering in the wilderness. Joshua and Samuel and the prophets likewise had experienced personally, or knew by tradition, the histories of which they treat. This knowledge of the history of their race was called upon when the Word was dictated to them. Doubtless there were many other particulars known to them which were not suitable for clothing the Divine Truth, and doubtless detailed particulars (especially as in such matters as numbers) were dictated according to their correspondence with the truth within, and not as a literally accurate record of history. In this way natural things were made subservient to and were molded by the spiritual use.

Where natural phenomena (such as the physical features of Canaan) and histories were not able fully to clothe and reveal the Divine Truth it was necessary to use spiritual phenomena and events. Thus the spiritual eyes and ears of Moses were opened, and the long and complicated system of laws and statutes were taught him from heaven. The tabernacle was shown him in the spiritual world, so that he might afterwards construct it and be inspired to describe it as part of written Revelation. These same two modes of preparation applied likewise to the prophets who wrote of historicals of this world and of things seen in the spiritual world (as with Ezekiel's vision of Jerusalem).

The prophets were also inspired (as were Moses, Samuel, David and others) to speak words of condemnation, exhortation, and prophecy, as well as Psalms of prayer and praise. These things were first spoken by them, and then afterwards they, or others, wrote them down. Their inspiration as they spoke was similar to that which they received as the Word itself was written. It was a dictation, but the dictation comprised a disposing of things already in their memories. Thus they denounced states which they had seen, exhorted according to teaching given from heaven, or prophesied in sensual images familiar to them. Their preparatory experience is summed up, in the Arcana Coelestia, in these words: "They heard a voice, they saw a vision, they dreamed a dream, but . . . these were merely verbal or visual revelations without any perception of what they signified." (AC 5121.)  Such was the primary revelation of Old Testament times.

In the New Testament, the case is even clearer. The four evangelists, together with many others, learned (whether directly themselves or indirectly through others) the story of the Lord's life on earth and the words which He uttered. Every detail of circumstances, of act, example and word, which made up the life of the Incarnation was itself a Divine Revelation. In the whole, the Divine Human of the Lord, and the process of the Divine Glorification, and the regeneration of man, were revealed. This (apart from its other functions of redemption) provided a preparatory or primary revelation to the evangelists. Their memories were filled with images supremely adapted to accommodating and revealing the Divine Truth for the Christian Church. From the many such images which must have been in their minds, those were chosen to form the New Testament which were best suited for that purpose.

In addition, John was prepared as the means of providing the crowning part of the New Testament, by his spiritual experiences whilst on the Isle of Patmos. There his spiritual eves were opened, and he enjoyed experiences which, when written down, served to prophesy concerning the eventual destiny of the Christian Church and the link between that and the final crowning dispensation.

It is interesting to note that there was also another form of primary revelation to the apostles. We are told that when they taught throughout the Mediterranean lands after the ascension and the descent of the cloven tongues of fire upon them at Pentecost, that then what they said was Divinely inspired (cf. John 14: 25, 26; Acts 1: 8 and chapter 2; S. D. 1509; T. C. R. 154). This served as a temporary revelation to establish the Christian Church before the New Testament was prepared and accepted. It was a link between the Primary Revelation which the Lord Himself gave in His teaching, and the permanent Word of the New Testament which was to be the light of the Christian Church. The teaching thus given is not preserved except partially in the Epistles, and they are not fully or continuously inspired; its use has been fulfilled.

Many scholars of the New Church have dealt at length with the subject of Swedenborg's preparation for his mission as revelator of the Second Advent. This preparation falls readily into three parts: scientific and philosophic, scriptural, and spiritual. A rational revelation must be clothed in rational expressions, and to this end Swedenborg learned the sciences of his age. This served as a basis for and confirmation of the Divine Truth. Most notably do we see how his knowledge of anatomy and physiology was later used to reveal truths concerning the Grand Man of heaven, and so of the Divine Human Itself. Because a subsequent revelation does not supersede or destroy its predecessors, but rather is built upon them, it was necessary that Swedenborg should know thoroughly the letter of the Scriptures and the sacred languages. By this means the clothing of Divine Truth in the Third Testament can be seen clearly to be in accord with, and a fulfillment of, the Old and New Testaments. By this means it was possible for the spiritual sense of the Old and New Testaments to be included in the New Revelation.

Finally, it was necessary that Swedenborg's memory and understanding be filled with knowledges concerning the spiritual world; for this Third Testament was to teach man much of the life after death (H. H. 1; T. C. R. 779). Therefore Swedenborg was introduced into the spiritual life, and there he learned facts and principles (H. D. 7; A. R. Preface; T. C. R. 779) which later were ordered and arranged in the words of revelation. Swedenborg not only observed in the spiritual world, but he was also instructed there by the Lord Himself (D. P. 135; De V. 29) concerning the doctrines which were later made available to the whole world through his instrumentality.

Thus we see, although only briefly, that the revelators of each of the Three Testaments have been fully and carefully prepared for their missions. Before a word was written, their minds had to be filled with suitable clothing for the image of the Divine which was to be presented (be that image sensual, moral or rational, as it was in the Three Testaments). This clothing came from without, from their environment, spiritual as well as natural; but only those could be chosen for this high office whose training and environment was suitable, and who could be led to gather the vitally necessary vessels for the Divine Truth.

We should note also a very important effect of this mode of revelation. Truth was clothed by vessels in the mind of the revelator. Although, in many instances, special means were used to provide suitable vessels which would not otherwise have been available (as with the opening of the spiritual eyes), it yet remains true that the revelation was made in terms which were generally understood by and acceptable to the man of the church for whom they were particularly written. Thus this served as a means of accommodating Divine Truth to the precise level of understanding which existed in each dispensation. The Jews received a precise, didactic, threatening and exhortatory revelation in images they understood. This exactly filled their need; it was cast in their mold. And it has been the same with the moral teaching of the New Testament and the rational teaching of the Writings.

A further use springing from this mode of providing revelation is to be observed. Because inspiration disposed those things already in the memory, the appearance was that the man wrote from himself. The consequence of this is that mankind is left more free to accept or reject the authority of Divine Revelation. There is, as we intimated earlier, no miraculous provision from heaven without the mediation of man; there is no compelling miracle. Man may say, if he will, that the works are as the works of other men in appearance, and that there is no justification for ascribing absolute authority to them; and many have so said. Nevertheless, for the man who is humbly seeking truth, there lies here the only plain image of his Creator, the only revelation of His Love and Providence, the only guide for mankind.


Now we must turn to consider in more detail how the written Word (the secondary and permanent revelation) was prepared; how, to this end, the disposing of these especially provided vessels took place; how the man was so inspired that that which he wrote may indeed be called the Word of the Lord. "The Word is said to be inspired because it is from the Lord; and they are called inspired who wrote it." (A. C. 9229.) What is this "inspiration"?

The term comes from the Latin "spiro" (to breathe). It is the operation of the Holy Spirit "breathing" upon the revelator, influencing him, guiding him, indeed compelling him, to write what is the Revelation of the Divine. But this is a special operation of the Holy Spirit; for the Holy Spirit operates upon all of us at all times and in all that we do. Wherein lies the difference?

It lies in this: that normally the Holy Spirit is so operative upon man (giving him life) that the man cannot feel the operation, but is left free to act according to his innate human freedom and rationality; he acts from the Lord, but he acts as if from himself. Thus the normal effect of the Holy Spirit operating on man is modified and conditioned by the man's proprium; that which results is human in quality, if not in origin. The special operation of the Holy Spirit which takes place in the giving of revelation, however, takes place differently. In this case the free will of the man is temporarily withdrawn, and he comes more completely under the influence of the Holy Spirit. This man is not free as he normally is; he is not free to write whatever he wants. For the eternal purposes of God, he is, for the moment, deprived of that freedom so that the Holy Spirit can manifest Itself perfectly and correspondentially through the human instrument.

This may well be compared with the means whereby the Lord was manifested to the prophets of old. Their spiritual eyes were opened, and they saw an angel infilled with the presence of the Lord. In this process (which was an especial influx of the Holy Spirit into the angel), the proprium of the angel was laid asleep, and they were so infilled with the Divine that they themselves thought that they were the Lord. (A. C. 1925; D. P. 96; T. C. R. 135:4.) Thus their free will was temporarily taken from them, that they might serve in the performance of a very high use.

The precise degree in which the revelators of the Three Testaments were inspired, however, was not the same. The difference lies in the degree of freewill left to them, and the degree of compulsion (or dictation) imposed upon them by the Lord. In each case men were chosen who would freely (as of themselves) respond to the call made to them. There is no suggestion that men were forced into this role; they could have laid down the pen; but those were chosen who would not do so.* Having taken the pen up, however, they were not free as to what they wrote.

* A question may here be raised in view of the reluctance of Balaam (Numbers, chapter 22) and Jonah (Jonah, chapters 1 to 4) to prophesy; but we doubt if such compulsion was needed in the case of those who served as instruments in providing the written Word.

Before we consider the varying degrees of inspiration in each of the Testaments, let us first note an important principle of all revelation: Inspiration is effected only through the heavens, and never immediately into this world. This applies equally to the primary (preparatory) revelation of which we have been speaking, and to the inspiration of the secondary (final) written Word.

"The Word in its essence is Divine Truth, from which both men and angels derive all heavenly wisdom, since it was dictated by the Lord; and what is dictated by the Lord passes through all the heavens in order, and terminates with man. (Italics mine.) Thus it is accommodated both to the wisdom of angels and the intelligence of men; and therefore angels have the Word, and read it as men do on earth." (H. H. 259.) Thus we see that the descent from the Divine to the revelator in inspiration is according to the order of Divine Influx, through the spiritual to the natural. We are not to think of it as being an immediate influx into the natural (without successive accommodation through the heavens), or as a voice speaking on the ultimate plane immediately provided by the Divine. (See A. C. 9094.) It is by this means that there are celestial and spiritual senses within all Three Testaments of the Word; they are there by virtue of the very mode of its presentation. We read: "In each and all things of the Word there is an internal sense; for each and all of the things of the Word are inspired, and being inspired they cannot but be from a heavenly origin; that is, they must necessarily store up within them celestial and spiritual things, for otherwise it could not possibly be the Word of the Lord." (A. C. 1783; see also A. C. 1887.)

It is important to understand, however, that when we say that revelation is made by the Lord through the heavens, it is not meant that the revelation is in any way from the angels. The angels serve as instruments, but nothing of their proprium is permitted to affect in the least degree what is inspired. It is from the Lord through the angels. (A. E. 8; A. R. 809; A. C. 1925.) It is thus with the revelator on earth; nothing of his proprium may affect that which is inspired. The Lord presents the truth through him and by means of him, but it is in no sense his. We recall the familiar number in De Verbo: ". . . As regards myself. I have 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 V. 13).

Let us now consider the inspiration of the Three Testaments separately. That of the Old Testament was, in a certain sense, the most complete. The prophets, as we have said, freely responded to their call; they willingly prepared paper and ink and lifted their hands to write. But once they began to write they were inspired as to every word they wrote; indeed, as to every letter, every jot and tittle. Here their freedom was temporarily taken from them, and they could only put down that which was dictated to them. In this process the Divine inflowed so as to dispose the vessels in their minds which had been prepared from their earthly environment and their spiritual instruction. This is why each prophet has a style peculiar to himself. (W. E. 6884.) Thus Divine Truth clothed Itself; but the clothing was such (the inspiration so complete and precise) that not only did the sense of the letter (the story or sentence) clothe and show the Divine Truth, but so did each word, each letter, and each jot and tittle.

Thus, as they wrote the Word, the freedom of the Old Testament prophets was very slight indeed. There was literal dictation; they could write no otherwise. The importance of realizing this lies in the fact that that which is dictated is Divinely inspired and is therefore inviolable, whilst that which is from the man is not. In the Old Testament a blemish in the paper, a fault in the ink, are of no consequence; but the least part of a letter is of spiritual significance.

This inspiration was a manifest dictation. "They heard the words which they wrote from Jehovah Himself." (A. R. 945.) Obviously they were fully conscious in the body (they did not write in some kind of trance), but whilst conscious in the body they heard a voice declaring to them that which they should write. This state of consciousness in dictation is to be distinguished from their state when receiving the primary revelation; then their spiritual eyes were opened and, whilst unconscious of bodily life, they saw in the spiritual world. (Lord 52; A. R. 945.)

We have already said that it is a principle of inspiration that it is effected through the heavens. That this applies also in the present instance is evident from the following number:

"I have been informed of the manner in which the Lord spake with the prophets, through whom the Word was given. He did not speak with them as He did with the ancients, by an influx into their interiors, but through spirits who were sent to them, whom He filled with His aspect, and thus inspired them with the words which they dictated to the prophets. This was not influx, but dictation. And since the words came forth immediately from the Lord, therefore they are each filled with the Divine, and contain within them an internal sense, which is such that the angels of heaven perceive them in a heavenly spiritual sense, while men perceive them in a natural sense: thus the Lord has conjoined heaven and the world by means of the Word." (H. H. 254.) This dictation, however, was not a sound from without which reached the ears of the prophet and could have equally reached the ears of any other person near at hand. The sound reached their ears, but by an internal way: it seemed as sonorous to them as any other speech, but it came by a different path. The angelic speech, reaching the ears of their spirit, clothed itself with a corresponding sound in the ears of the body; thus it appeared to them that the sound reached them from without through the normal means of physical hearing. (A. C. 7055, 4652.)

In the course of this inspiration the prophets understood no more than the obvious literal sense of the Word; not only did they not have any idea of how such dictation was effected, but also they had no idea of there being any spiritual content in that which they wrote. although they certainly believed it to be the Word of Jehovah. (A. E. 624(15); A. C. 5121.)

The case with the New Testament is somewhat different. Numbers (S. S. 13; L. J. 41) which speak of the inspiration of the Old Testament even to the jot and tittle, when speaking of the New Testament, refer only to each word. Nowhere are we told of the significance of Greek letters, as we are of the Hebrew. Thus we may know that, whereas with the prophets of the Old Testament inspiration reached to letters, with the evangelists of the New Testament it reached only to the words. A primary revelation-(by the Lord's own words, by John's visions on Patmos, and other such means)-had established the suitable vessels in the minds of the evangelists; then the Divine Influx disposed these vessels so that they clothed Divine Truth. Moreover, such words were dictated as were representative or correspondential; therefore each word in the New Testament is an inviolable part of revelation. Not a word shall be taken away. (Apoc. 22: 19.)

The revelators of the New Testament, then, were free in their choice of paper and ink, free in their choice of letters (the spelling of words is of no significance) but they were not free in their choice of ideas or words, which were infallibly dictated to them.

The precise mode of inspiration of the evangelists as they wrote the Gospels and the Apocalypse is not anywhere described in the Writings. It is possible that the dictation was a silent one which worked through the interiors of the man in such a way that he thought it all to be of himself. It would appear more probable, however, that it was similar to that of the Old Testament prophets: a sonorous, living voice, dictating each word that they should write* We might be disposed to think that, after the Advent and with the beginning of a new dispensation, a new mode of giving revelation would be provided; but it must be remembered that the evangelists were essentially in the same state as the prophets of old. As far as revelators are concerned, the real effect of the Advent is not felt until Swedenborg; and yet, even in his case, those principles of revelation which we have been discussing were equally applicable.

* The juxtaposition of references to John and the Old Testament prophets in Apocalypse Revealed 945 seems to suggest this.

The revelator of the Third Testament was in the greatest freedom of all revelators. He chose his own letters and words, but the ideas he expressed were inspired from the Lord. In these ideas Swedenborg had no choice, and in them there was nothing of his own. That he chose his own letters and words, and that there was no specific dictation of them, is quite evident from an examination of the original documents of the Writings. In these we see cases where he has changed a word many times; in one instance wavering between the Latin words "a" and "ex" more than a half a dozen times.

It would be virtually impossible to prepare a "textus receptus" on the basis of a belief in the verbal (or literal) inspiration of the Writings. There is nothing in the Writings to suggest that the inspiration reaches further than to the ideas (to the sentences). Certain numbers in the Word Explained which seem to teach this are clearly but expressions of opinion, or are in general terms. In the early preparatory state of the "Word Explained" period, Swedenborg may have mistaken the inspiration of ideas for the inspiration of actual words. In the last number in the Word Explained which deals with this subject, it is clearly denied that he was permitted to preserve any writing in which he had been literally inspired. (See W. E. 1409, 1530, 5587, 6327, 6884, 7006.)

The worldly and spiritual experiences of Swedenborg (forming a primary revelation) provided vessels which could be disposed to accommodate and express Divine and angelic ideas in human, rational, clothing. This clothing is perfectly inspired, and must be held inviolable so far as every idea is concerned; but errors of spelling or of choice of words (both of which appear in the manuscripts) are human errors which have no spiritual significance.

Whilst we emphasize the difference between the inspiration of the New Testament and that of the Writings we must make it perfectly clear that this does not involve any suggestion that the latter are not of complete authority or are not the Word. Any idea that Swedenborg was inspired and received a revelation in his spiritual experiences, but in his writing simply put down a personal account in his own uninspired words, cuts the very roots and foundations away from under us. We are left with no authority, no Second Advent, and no need of a New Church.

Those numbers which treat quite definitely of the absolute authority of the Writings have been gathered together so often in the General Church that we need not repeat them all now. We will content ourselves with quoting only one or two: "They are not my works, but the Lord's." (S. D. 6102.) "What has come from the Lord has been written, and what has come from the angels has not been written." (A. E. 1183; cf. De V. xiii.) "The Lord Jehovah derives and produces from this New Heaven a New Church on the earth, which is by a Revelation of Truths from His own mouth, or from His Word, and by Inspiration." (Cor. 18.) "The Second Advent of the Lord is effected by the means of a man, before whom the Lord 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. (T. C. R. 779. Italics mine.)

Within the limits of one address we have been able to present only a bare outline of the ideas which have interested us concerning the method of giving revelation and the nature of the inspiration of the Three Testaments. There is much more that might, and should, be said. However, from the outline given, we can reach certain conclusions.

Firstly, we note a progressive change in the manner and form of the revelation. The Old Testament, a sensual revelation adapted to the state of the Jews, the New Testament, a moral revelation for the Christian Church, and the Writings, a rational revelation for the New Church (the Crown of Revelations to eternity); through the series there has been a steady progress. In the first, the part of the revelator (so far as his free will was concerned) was small indeed, providing but the paper and ink; in the second it was greater, providing the letters; but in the third it was the greatest; for he provided the words to clothe the inspired idea.

In another sense there is a similar progression. We see that the balance between the extent to which phenomena of the natural and the spiritual worlds were drawn upon has changed. In the Old Testament there is very much "history' of worldly events, and less description of things of a spiritual origin. In the New Testament, with the Apocalypse, there is a larger proportion based on spiritual experiences. Whilst in the Writings, by far the greatest proportion is drawn from vessels formed in Swedenborg's mind when his spiritual eyes were opened. Thus, as we progress through the series of three, there is a greater dependence upon a Primary Revelation. Clearly the mode of giving the revelation has a relation to the degree of the natural mind for which the particular revelation is intended.

It is interesting to note, in quite another sphere, that the difference between the type of inspiration in the Three Testaments links up very closely with problems of textual criticism. We would be most concerned with precise accuracy in the text in the Old Testament, for there each letter is of significance; in the New Testament we should be less concerned, although each word is still of moment; in the Writings, letters and words do not concern us so much as the ideas expressed. Now, from the point of view of age, we would expect the fewest textual problems in the Writings, especially as the original manuscripts are available in many cases; but the case is the opposite.

The fewest textual problems are in the Old Testament, thanks to the work of the Massorites; there are more with the New Testament, and most undoubtedly exist in the Writings, where a difference between draft and final copy, where printers' errors and other very difficult points make the preparation of a "textus receptus" very difficult. Moreover, whilst there are no problems as to the precise limits of the canon of the Scriptures, there are no such limits clearly laid down for the Writings. These problems need not concern us unduly; we do not doubt that the Divine Providence constantly cares for the preservation of the Word, even as it cared for its original production. The Church will doubtless be led to the true authorities as time progresses.

Perhaps the most important point of all that follows from the line of reasoning that we have been following is that concerning the basis for correspondences in the Three Testaments. It must surely follow from what has been said that that which is inspired (which is outside the scope of the free will of the revelator; which is the result of an unperverted influx from the Lord through the heavens) is the correspondential basis of all that lies within. Thus, in the Old Testament, each letter, each jot and tittle, because they were inspired and were not at the free disposal of the prophets, is a correspondential (or representative) basis for the spiritual, celestial and Divine senses which are within. In the New Testament, this basis is the individual word-each of which corresponds. In the Writings. Divine and heavenly truths are clothed in correspondential forms in the ideas (or sentences) there expressed. Inspiration is the successive clothing, through discrete degrees, of Truths which are Divine in origin. The final clothing cannot help but contain these higher degrees within them. If the Three Testaments are the Word and present an accommodation of the Divine Truth, then they must contain the angelic truths (which cannot be expressed in human language) as well. Note again this number which cannot but be applied to the Writings themselves: `In each and all things of the Word there is an internal sense; for each and all of the things of the Word are inspired, and being inspired they cannot but be from a heavenly origin; that is, they must necessarily store up within them celestial and spiritual things, for otherwise it could not possibly be the Word of the Lord." (A. C. 1783.)

As we have said, it has only been possible to outline the points which we have had in mind. There are many things that have had to be omitted, and there are many more which we do not yet understand. As the studies of the Church proceed we shall gradually see more light on these many fascinating considerations. I believe that, in seeking for this light, we need to be careful of the general attitude we adopt towards the subject. We should not consider the Three Testaments as three rivals for the first place. One is not to be considered superior to another because it has a different kind (a different degree) of inspiration. Each has filled its proper part in contributing to a final threefold revelation which will meet all states of all men to eternity.

Further, I believe that we should particularly avoid placing the Old and New Testaments on one side of the balance, with the Writings on the other. We shall not really understand the nature (the status) of the Writings until we understand the difference between the Old and New Testaments. The present Revelation is not made up of two parts on one side and one on the other; it is made up of three different but equal partners. It is necessary that we step back farther from the picture, as it were, to see that it is a triptych; to see it in its proper perspective.

Finally, in all of our studies, let us not forget that the one and only purpose of revelation is to make known to man the way of God, that he may find the true path of life. Apart from this it has no use; apart from an appreciation of this our studies in this field are fruitless meanderings of the intellect.

"O send out Thy light and Thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto Thy holy hill, and to Thy tabernacles. Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy." (Psalm 43: 3, 4.)

READING: Isaiah 55:1-13.



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