What the Writings of Swedenborg Say About Themselves
The important question is: What do the Writings of Swedenborg say concerning themselves?
Swedenborg, in a conversation with Carl Christopher Gjorwell, said: When I think of what I am about to write, and while I am in the act of writing, I enjoy a perfect inspiration, for otherwise it would be my own; but now I know for certain that what I write is the living truth of God. (Tafel, Documents Concerning Swedenborg, II, 1404-405)
Every one can see that the Apocalypse can by no means be explained but by the Lord alone. . . . Wherefore it has pleased the Lord to open the sight of my spirit and to teach me. Do not believe, therefore, that I have taken anything therein from myself, nor from any angel, but from the Lord alone. (Apocalypse Revealed, by Emanuel Swedenborg, preface)
What has come from the Lord has been written. (Apocalypse Explained, Number 1183)
The books are to be enumerated which were written, ... by the Lord through me. (Ecclesiastical History, Number 3; Post. Theol. Works, I, p. 305)
But that the internal sense is such as has been set forth, is evident from all the details that have been unfolded, and especially from the fact that it has been dictated to me from heaven. (Arcana Coelestia, Number 6597)
It is not my work but the Lord's, who wished to reveal the nature of heaven and hell, and of man's life after death. . . . This (Revelation) is the male child whom the woman brought forth, and whom the dragon wished to devour. (Spiritual Diary, Number 6101)
On the flyleaf of the small work, the Summary Exposition, Swedenborg wrote, "This book is the Advent of the Lord, written by command."
Swedenborg states: "In the spiritual world there was inscribed on all these books: 'The Lord's Advent.' The same I also wrote by command on two copies in Holland." (Ecclesiastical History, Number 8.) One of those copies has been found and is now in the British Museum.
Without the Lord's coming again into the world in Divine Truth, which is the Word, no one can be saved. (True Christian Religion, Number 3)
The Coming of the Lord in the clouds of heaven with power and glory [signifies] His presence in the Word, and revelation. . . . Such immediate revelation is granted at this day because this is what is meant by the Coming of the Lord. (Heaven and Hell, Number 1)
We read: "And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, Jesus of Nazareth, the king of the jews . . . and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin." (John 19:19.)
The Old Testament is written in Hebrew, the New Testament in Greek, and the Writings of Swedenborg were written in Latin. That the two Testaments were not complete, but looked to a Third Testament, thus to a trine, is indicated by the Lord's words: "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now." (John 16:12.)
These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you plainly of the Father. (John 16:25)
Most Protestants at this day doubt that the Bible is the Word of God, inspired as to every word. These, even if they are impressed by many things in the Writings of Swedenborg, will still not accept them as the Word of God.
As we have pointed out, there are two reasons why the Bible is not accepted by many as the Word of God, one intellectual and the other emotional. The intellectual reason is that many things in the Bible treat of history, of wars, and of dynasties, which do not appear to differ much from other history; and there are other things in the Bible which appear to be of little importance; and some things appear to be impossible, as, for example, the sun standing still. The emotional reason is, that a mana sophisticated man does not like to submit or humble himself before a written Revelation from God.
There are some, indeed, who are conceited, vain, and proud, and who accept the Bible but are proud of their own interpretation of it, and they are therefore unwilling to accept any interpretation that is superior to their own, especially the revelation that speaks with divine authority. This was the case with the Jews, who resented the fact that the Lord spoke to them with authority and not as the scribes.
Those who have such a pride will seldom accept the Writings of Swedenborg, and especially will they not accept them as the Word of God. They may indeed accept certain things in them, because they appear more rational than the usual interpretations of the Bible, provided they feel they have an equal right to interpret the Scriptures and to judge for themselves in all matters. A man indeed must judge for himself whether the Lord has made His Second Coming in the Writings of Swedenborg or not. If, however, he comes to see that in them the Lord has made His Second Coming, if he is not proud, he will then humble himself before these Writings as the Word of God.
Every religion, to begin with, thinks the books which it regards as holy are of God. Otherwise it is not a religion but a philosophy. A church not based on Divine Truth can be based only on the shifting sands of human opinion. Such a church cannot long stand. In its beginnings, the Protestant Churches were founded on the idea that the Bible was the Word of God and was of divine authority. This faith, to a large extent, has been lost, and with this loss the Protestant Churches have become internally so weak that some, even in these churches, have asked the question, "Can Protestantism be saved?" The confusion even to insanity has become so great that some theologians, who call themselves Christian, inspired by Nietzsche, have proclaimed that God is dead.
Much of what the Lord said was a rebuke to hypocrisy, the counterfeit, and the falseespecially those who were leaders of the church. "Woe unto you scribes and pharisees, hypocrites." (Matthew 23:13.) Pride, clothing itself with the appearance of humility; vanity in the guise of piety; ambition masquerading as brotherly love and service; and sophistication pretending to be erudition, were rebuked.
If the hypocrisy of the world of today were denounced in the very words of our Lord, which were most sharp, the denouncer would be charged by most so-called Christians with lacking Christian charity. He would be called intolerant and arrogant. This clearly illustrates the hypocrisy so prevalent in what are called Christian lands.
No wonder that they who say God is dead think so, for haven't they killed God already in their hearts?
If there is no belief that there is a foundation of eternal truths in a written revelation, and if men think, therefore, that all is a matter of human opinion, they soon lose interest in religion and turn to something which has a solid foundation, namely, to science or nature.
Many think that scientific knowledge is relative and uncertain, yet there are few who do not believe that eternal laws govern nature, and most think that science has discovered at least some of these laws. And though it may be felt that some of these laws, as formulated, may have to be modified, it is seldom doubted that nature has its own order and laws, whether man has discovered and knows them or not.
It is the nature of the mind to wish to deal with something that has a solid foundation, as science has in nature. For this reason the intellectual development which has taken place in modern times has been mostly scientific. Unless the Bible is regarded as a Divine basis containing all spiritual laws, as nature is a basis containing all natural laws, theology becomes a vague guesswork, unable to satisfy the mind of man.