Highly as I valued Swedenborg as a commentator and an opener of the Word, I was not as yet prepared to accept him as a revelator. Accustomed to regard the Bible as a unit and unique, as a great light with which God had endowed His people, I hesitated to believe that His revelations could be incomplete, or could ever require supplementation. It seemed more probable that Swedenborg had read the Word more carefully, had penetrated its mysteries more profoundly, and developed truths equally accessible to any person endowed with equal genius and equally free from sectarian delusions and moral infirmities. If the Word required the light which Swedenborg professed to shed upon it, why was it withheld so long, and why had not preceding generations been permitted to profit by it?
This question reminds one of an Italian who wrote a book to prove that the four new planets discovered by Galileo were imaginary, and concluded by asking: "Of what use are they? Astrologers have got on very well without these new planets hitherto. There can be no reason, therefore, for their starting into existence now."
I ultimately found my answer where any earnest seeker of truth, for truth's sake, may find a deliverance from all doubts which obstruct his spiritual evolution - in the Bible itself. The objection to a new revelation in the eighteenth century I found, could, with equal propriety, be made to the revelations made by our Savior and by John, nay by Abraham, by Moses and by all the prophets. Over a thousand years intervened between the inditing of the Ten Commandments on the one hand, and the prophecies of Malachi on the other, during which interval the Lord appears to have been in frequent, not to say constant, communication with His people. The call of Abraham occurred B.C. 1921. The prophecies of Malachi were written B.C. 420. During this interval of more than fifteen centuries the Bible records over fifty distinct revelations of the Divine Will to as many different persons and on as many different occasions. I have taken the trouble to prepare a list of some of the recipients of these revelations, with a reference to the text where they are recorded.
The New Testament equally presents a succession of revelations, made to as many different persons and at different times. Here is a list of some of them:
We have in the Old and New Testaments together no less than seventy different revelations made by the Lord to almost as many different persons and on almost as many different occasions, within a period of sixteen hundred years. What reason was there for supposing that John, any more than Malachi, or than Isaiah, or than Solomon, or than David, or than Joshua, or than Abraham, or than Moses, was to be the last to whom He would reveal Himself? And would it not have seemed, reasoning from the past, more surprising had He not made any further revelation of Himself in the next seventeen centuries than that He did? What did He mean when He said to His disciples, "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now," if not that when His disciples were fit to know more of righteousness, temperance and judgment to come, more would be revealed to them - that they would hear from Him again?
As for the agent through whom to make new revelations, I had no difficulty in acknowledging the entire sufficiency and fitness of Swedenborg, nor does my memory suggest the name of any one man who lived before or since the time of Jesus more thoroughly equipped for such an extraordinary commission; of any medium through which the light of Divine truth would pass with less refraction. It is not possible to find any authority for supposing that any of those who had been previously selected by the Lord as such media possessed any qualifications for their mission which, mutatis mutandis, Swedenborg did not possess for his, while, humanly speaking, it is doing none of the others any injustice to say that for his peculiar mission he possessed many qualifications which all the others presumably lacked. At his maturity, he was the most illustrious scientific man living. He consecrated his extraordinary talents to the loftiest and most elevating uses. He was a favorite of his king because of his usefulness; there were hardly any worldly honors or political distinctions he did not receive to which he might not have aspired. He laid them all down to devote himself exclusively to the work to which he believed the Lord had called him, neither receiving nor desiring any reward from the world for his labors or his sacrifices. He not only printed all his books at his private expense, but as fast as printed gave them all away, mostly to libraries, to await the time when the world would realize its need of them, having implicit faith that the Lord would in His own good time breathe into them the breath of life.
I had no longer any difficulty therefore with what at first seemed like an impeachment of the completeness and sufficiency of the Bible, and I came to regard every revelation of spiritual truth, from Moses down the ages, as merely successive liftings of veils, the dispersing of clouds, for the revelation of vital truths of which all nature is the Divine Scripture, and the Bible its translation and interpreter, but which the children of men are prepared to accept only, as it were, by installments. Neither had I any further difficulty in regarding Swedenborg as a suitable agent for the reception of a new revelation, as much so as any of the twelve Apostles appear to have been.