I have now finished my self-imposed task of running through the Doctrine of the Sacred Scripture to show that what is there said concerning the Word applies to the Writings also, though with discrimination. The reader may perhaps have noticed that, nevertheless, I have generally referred to the Revelation to the New Church not as " the Word " but as " the Writings." I have done this purposely, though, as surely it is unnecessary to explain, not with any idea of detracting from their status as the Lord's Word. The term "The Writings" is equally exclusive as the term " The Word," or " The Scriptures," and seeing that it has become established in the Church, and has a well-defined meaning, there seems no good reason why it should now be discarded for the term " the Word," unless indeed in literature whose special purpose is to demonstrate that the Writings are in truth the Word.
To me there is also another and positive reason why the term " the Writings " should be used rather than " the Word," namely, that the Revelation now given surpasses all other revelations. In previous revelations, the Divine Truth has been more or less veiled; in this revelation the Lord comes " with power and great glory." It seems appropriate, therefore, that this vital difference shall receive an ultimate expression in a difference of terms.
Moreover, the use of the term " the Writings " to designate our Revelation, rather than " the Word " avoids possible confusion of thought; for by a usage of almost two thousand years, " the Word " has come to mean the Old and New Testaments. The continual use of this term to designate the Writings, might therefore tend to turn the mind away from the distinction between previous revelations and this final revelation which surpasses them all in excellence.
I have no desire to lay this down as a point of doctrine; it is merely an expression of my view of what is the most suitable term with which to designate the Crown of Revelations on which the New Church is founded.
My primary endeavor in these pages has been not so much to show that the Writings are the Word, as to show that, granting this, to them must be attributed, though with rational discrimination, the characteristics which they themselves ascribe to the Word. Surrounded by the spheres of Christian thought, and accustomed to a use of words which has come from that thought, we are naturally apt to conceive of " the Word " as being the Word and Holy, not because it is Divine Revelation, but because it is Revelation couched in the form to which we have grown accustomed—the story of the Patriarchs, the poetry of the Psalms, the awful utterances of the Prophets, the simple truths of the Gospels, the visions of the Apocalypse. Nay, with many this attachment to the form of Divine Revelation is almost inseparable from a deeply rooted reverence for the King James' Version.
It is far from my wish in any way to weaken devout reverence for the Word of God. The Old and New Testaments remain the Word as before. Nothing is detracted from them by the revelation of the Writings, just as nothing was detracted from the Old Testament by the revelation of the New. Nay, rather is the opposite the case.
I would, however, waken in the minds of my readers, some reflection as to the nature of their reverence for "the Word." It is a fact, that those also may have reverence for " Holy Writ " with whom such reverence is mere tradition; and the reverence may remain even when He who revealed the Word is at heart denied. Therefore it may well behoove us, who have access to a revelation wherein is taught the source of the holiness of the Word—it may well behoove us, I say, to reflect as to whether possibly some tinge of idolatry, or something of merely historical faith may enter into our reverence for "the Word."
To the New Church it is given to know what the Word is and wherein is its holiness; to know that all Divine Revelation is the Word, whatsoever the form in which it is given; and that its holiness consists not in the form but in the fact that the Lord there speaks to men in ultimates, making manifest his Divine Love and Wisdom, that He may be present in lasts as in firsts for the accomplishment of the end of creation.
Seeing this, there will be no loss in true reverence for the Old Testament or the New; but there will be a more genuine reverence for that Crowning Revelation in which the Lord appears with power and great glory; and there will also be humble adoration of Him from a grateful heart, because He has been pleased thus to manifest himself and to reveal the hidden mysteries of eternal life.