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Revelation

 from "The Essential Swedenborg"

by Sig Synnestvedt

Swedenborg, as has been noted, believed implicitly in two worlds, the natural and the spiritual. He often writes of the connection between the natural and spiritual worlds; the word of God serves to link heaven and earth. In Swedenborg's view, God has always communicated with man and usually has done so in written form to enable man to study and reflect on necessary truths of life. The Swedenborgian view postulates the necessity of God revealing himself to man continuously.

It is believed in the world that a man is able to know from the light of nature, thus without revelation, many things that belong to religion, as that there is a God, that He is to be worshiped, and also that He is to be loved, likewise that man will live after death, and many other things that depend upon . . . self-intelligence. But ... of himself, and without revelation, man knows nothing whatever about Divine things, and about the things that belong to heavenly and spiritual life.

Man is born into the evils of the love of self and of the world, which are of such a nature that they shut out the influx from the heavens, and open influx from the hells. Such ... make man blind, and incline him to deny that there is a Divine, that there is a heaven and a hell, and that there is a life after death. This is very manifest from the learned in the world, who by means of knowledges have carried the light of their nature above the light of others. It is known that these deny the Divine, and acknowledge nature in place of the Divine, more than. others. Also that when they speak from the heart, and not from doctrine, they deny the life after death, likewise heaven and hell, consequently all things of faith, which they call bonds for the common people. (AC 8944)

Without the Word no one would possess spiritual intelligence, which consists in having knowledge of a God, of heaven and hell, and of a life after death. . . . (SS 114) It is through the Word that the Lord is present with a man and is conjoined with him, for the Lord is the Word, and as it were speaks with the man in it. The Lord is also Divine truth itself, as likewise is the Word. From this it is evident that the Lord is present with a man and is at the same time conjoined with him, according to his understanding of the Word. According to this the man has truth and the derivative faith, and also love and the derivative life. The Lord is indeed present with a man through the reading of the Word, but he is conjoined with him through the understanding of truth from the Word. (SS 78)

The Word is truth Divine itself, which teaches man that there is a God, that there is a heaven and a hell, and that there is a life after death, and which teaches besides how a man must live and believe in order that he may come into heaven, and thus, be eternally happy. Without revelation, thus on this earth without the Word, all these things would have been utterly unknown.... (AC 9352)

[It was] necessary that of the Lord's Divine Providence some revelation should come into existence, for a revelation or Word is the general recipient vessel of spiritual and celestial things, thus conjoining heaven and earth. Without it they would have been disjoined, and the human race would have perished. Besides it is necessary that there should be heavenly truths somewhere, by which man may be instructed, because he was born for heavenly things, and, after the life of the body, ought to come among those who are heavenly. The truths of faith are the laws of order in the kingdom in which he is to live forever. (AC 1775)

The nations in every part of the earth have been in worship from some religion. . . . Religion cannot exist except by some revelation, and by the propagation thereof from nation to nation. (Cor 39) There was immediate revelation with the most ancient people on this earth. Therefore they had no written Word. But after their times, when immediate revelation could neither be given nor received without danger to their souls, lest the communication and conjunction of men with the heavens should be intercepted and perish, it pleased the Lord to reveal Divine truth by means of the Word . . . (Word 27)

The Word . . . [has] existed in 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, and another Word in the Ancient Church which was after the flood. Then came the Word written by Moses and the prophets in the Jewish Church Lastly the Word . . . was written by the Evangelists in . . . the [Christian] church. (AC 2895)

From the most ancient times there has been religion, and . . . the inhabitants of the world have had knowledge of God, and have known something about a life after death ... from the ancient Word. [These knowledges came] ... at a later period from the Israelitish Word. From these two Words the things of religion ... spread into the Indies and their islands, and through Egypt and Ethiopia into the kingdoms of Africa, and from the maritime parts of Asia into Greece, and from thence into Italy. But as the Word could not be written in any other way than by means of representatives, which are such things in this world as correspond to heavenly things, and therefore signify them, the things of religion among many of the nations were turned into idolatry. In Greece [they were turned] into fables, and the Divine attributes and predicates into so many gods, over whom they set one supreme.... They had knowledge of Paradise, of the flood, of the sacred fire, and of the four ages, from the first or golden age to the last or iron age, by which are meant the four states of the church.... The Mohammedan religion, which came later ... destroyed the former religions of many nations. [It] was taken from the Word of both Testaments. (SS 117)

Man, like the earth, can produce nothing of good unless the knowledges of faith are first sown in him, whereby he may know what is to be believed and done. It is the office of the understanding to hear the Word, and of the will to do it. (AC 44)

He who abstains from profaning the name of God, that is, the holiness of the Word, by contempt, rejection or any blasphemy, has religion. Such as his abstinence is such is his religion. No one has religion except from revelation, and . . . revelation is the Word. Abstinence from profaning the holiness of the Word must be from the heart, and not merely from the mouth. Those who abstain from the heart live from religion. But those who abstain merely from the mouth do not live from religion, for they abstain either for the sake of self or for the sake of the world, in that the Word can be made to serve them as a means of acquiring honor and gain, or they abstain from some fear. Of these, many are hypocrites who have no religion. (AE 963)

No one can believe in and love a God whom he cannot comprehend under some form. Those who acknowledge the incomprehensible, in their thought fall into nature, and thus believe in no God. Wherefore it pleased the Lord to be born . . . [on earth] to make this manifest by the Word, not only in order that it might become known on this globe, but that by this means it might also be made manifest to all in the universe who come into heaven from any earth whatever. In heaven there is a communication of all. (AC 9356)

The Word is in all the heavens. It is read there as in the world and they preach from it, for it is the Divine truth from which the angels have intelligence and wisdom. Without the Word no one knows anything of the Lord, of love and faith, of redemption, or of any other arcana of heavenly wisdom. Without the Word there would be no heaven, as without the Word, there would be no church in the world, thus there would be no conjunction with the Lord. There is no such thing as natural theology without revelation, and in the Christian world without the Word. . . . If it cannot exist in the world, neither can it exist after death, for such as a man is as to his religion in the world, such he is as to his religion after death when he becomes a spirit. The whole heaven does not consist of any angels created before the world, or with the world, but of those who have been men, and were then interiorly angels. These through the Word come in heaven into spiritual wisdom, which is interior wisdom, because the Word there is spiritual. (Word 30)

-from S. Synnestvedt, The Essential Swedenborg (West Chester, PA: Swedenborg Foundation 1970)

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