Philip h-johnson-revelation-through-the-ages-the-swedenborg-society-1955


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Emanuel Swedenborg

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Philip h-johnson-revelation-through-the-ages-the-swedenborg-society-1955

  1. 1. REVELATIONTHROUGH THE AGES BY PHILIP H. JOHNSON, B.A., B.Sc. This essay Jormed part !f a brochure issued in 1949 to mark the occasion !f the publication !f the Third Latin Edition !f arcanll ltatlestia BY EMANUEL SWEDENBORG and !f theTwo Hundredth Anniversary !f the publication !f the First Edition SWEDENBORG SOCIETY (INe) 20 Bloomsbury Way, London 1955
  2. 2. THE greatest need of mankind today is for a knowledgeof where to look for a clear and authoritative revelationfrom God. It always has been so and it always will beso, but the present time is our chief concern, and manyprofessing Christians are deeply perturbed by theapparent lack of such revelation. Ifthere be a loving God, a Heavenly Father caring forHis children, surely He would reveal Himself to them,and would provide those children with a means ofknowing His will, and of Iearning how they may live inaccordance with it. In olden times the difficulty was not so great. Therewere Writings, Holy Scriptures, which man accepted asthe Word of God. Christian people recognized theJewish Scriptures as a,. Divine revelation to aIl men.They added to them the gospels, the stories of the life ofJesus Christ upon earth; they accepted also the letterswritten by Paul and other apostles to the early Christianchurches, and with some hesitation they added to thesethe strange book known as the Apocalypse of John theDivine. AlI these writings have been in existence for weIl nightwo thousand years, some of them very much longer,and while we are bound to acknowledge that there aremany other writings for which Divine authority isclaimed, yet we must also admit that the Bible hasgained wider acceptance as the Word of God than haveany of the sacred books of other religions, with thepossible exception of the Mohammedan Koran, largelycopied from the Old Testament Scriptures. The discussion of the comparative merits of thesewritings is beyond the scope of this pamphlet, whichseeks to draw your attention to the fact that two hun­ 3
  3. 3. dred years ago there appeared a remarkable book,written by Emanuel Swedenborg, which sought amongother things to re-establish the authority of the Bible asthe Word of God, and which contained, for those whoread and studied it, abundant evidence for the accept­ance of that authority. For we must recognize that though many Christianscontinued to sing We wont give up the Bible, Gods holy book of truth;yet there were many also, sorne of whom still professedto be Christians, who nevertheless gave up their beliefin the Bible as the Word of God. The attacks led byVoltaire, Thomas Paine and many other writers con­temporary with Swedenborg, were having their effectin shaking mans belief in the Sacred Scriptures as beinga Divine reve1ation, and we believe that the results ofthose attacks are manifested in the state of the worldtoday. We fully appreciate the honesty of sorne of thoseattacks, but we daim that a fair consideration ofSwedenborgs reply to them might have changed thehistory of the world. The book above mentioned is the ARCANA CAELESTIA,first published in 1749. It was written in Latin and con­tains sorne three million words, so that we can scarcelyhope to summarize it in a few pages, but we may in ashort space draw attention to sorne of the guidance itprovides to man in his search for the Word of God. Swedenborg suggests (or rather informs us, but untilwe accept his mission we will be satisfied with sugges­tion), that primitive man was nearer to God than ismodern man. This is not a mere flight of imagination:4
  4. 4. we may note that Sir G. Elliott-Smith in his masterlywork on Primitive Man arrives at a similar conclusionthough differently worded. He is convinced that warand bloodshed came to mankind with the arrivaI ofwhat we caU civilization and wealth. Being nearer to God, early men saw Him in aU theirsurroundings; like Shakespeare, they Found tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, Sermons in stones, and good in everything. They lived a family life and teaching their family wasan important part of their occupation, and the form oftheir teaching was parabolic. Long ages age men spokein parables, they told fables, they talked of birds andbeasts, but saw in them Gods creatures. And in Godscreatures, ox and lamb, sheep and goat, aye, even in theserpent, they saw representatives of things Divine.Hence arose the manner of expression familiar to us inthe earliest chapters of the Bible, and if we wouldunderstand those chapters we must find out what thethings in them represent, and thereby we can leam howman feU from his early state of innocence. Now this way of speaking, and later of writing, washanded down to the descendants of primitive man,even though the things represented were not so clearlyseen. Hence came the hieroglyphic writings andpolytheistic religion of Egypt, the cuneiform inscrip­tions of Babylon and Chaldea with their remarkableparaUels to the early chapters of Genesis. There is acommon idea that these last are copied from theBabylonian tablets, but it needs Httle study of thesetablets to show the impossibility of this: one might asweU suggest that Beethovens sonatas are a derivative ofAmerican jazz-music. 5
  5. 5. Abraham certainly came from Ur of The Chaldeessorne four thousand years ago, but it is very doubtfulwhether he brought with him any of its stories andlegends. He was a pastoralist and the founder of theJewish people, and we read in the Bible a remarkablehistory of how that people rose to a position of world­wide importance, a position which they have maintainedto the present day. But wherein lies this importance? l suppose that there are those today, especiallyamong the Jews themselves, who will say that it arosefrom their being Gods chosen people. But whychosen? The answer is very different from what wemight expect, and yet as Swedenborg explains it, itis very satisfying. We read in Deuteronomy ix 6,Know therefore that the Lord thy God giveth thee notthis good land to possess it for thy righteousness; forthou art a stiff·necked people. It may at first seem incredibJe that this obstinatepeople should be chosen by God for His purposes, butthere are cases in which obstinacy can be useful.Winston Churchill is probably as obstinate a man asever lived, but he managed to instil his obstinacy intoothers with commendable results at a time of crisis. And the obstinacy of the Jews made them a peoplepeculiarly suited for preserving the Word of Godunaltered: firstly, by their rigid observance of therepresentative rites of worship; and secondly, by theirmeticulous accuracy in handing down the HebrewScriptures. Note that these rites and these scriptureswere both founded on the representatives receivedfrom the earlier direct revelations, although theirmeanings had mostly been forgotten. But a dark age formankind had to be bridged, and the revelation had to6
  6. 6. be preserved through that period. Only an obstinatepeople, determined to maintain the exact rites andwords handed down from their forefathers couldaccomplish this task. Anyone who has studied ancientmanuscripts, and the variant readings to which thecopying of them gave rise, must regard with amaze­ment and admiration the meticulous accuracy of theHebrew Bible. It is not perfect, but no other ancientbook in the world approaches it for purity of text. Itseems only rational to believe that this preservation ofthe text is the result of a Divine interposition in theaffairs of men. If there be a Word of God handed downfrom ancient times, then these writings assuredlyprovide, in their form and in their history, strongerevidence for such a daim than any other. It is strange, however, to meditate on the utterlychanged outlook ofthese recipients of Divine revelation.The earliest men looked at worldly objects and sawin them representations of Divine things; the Jews,especially in the years just before the Lords first advent,looked at worldly objects and saw in them things toworship. In spite of their Sacred Scriptures they wereutter materialists. Their temple was a building toworship, not one in which to hold communion withGod. Their sabbath was a ceremonial to be worshipped,not an occasion for approaching God more dosely:and their scriptures were an object of worship ratherthan of learning Gods will. It is always tempting to ponder on what might havebeen. Suppose that the Jews had recognized that theirScriptures were Gods Word for mankind, not merelyfor themselves; suppose that they had sought for thespiritual teaching underlying the rites and ceremonies 7
  7. 7. therein described, instead of being solely concernedwith their exact observance; suppose that they hadspread their teachings abroad among men, instead ofselfishly concealing them from aIl but the chosenpeople. WeIl, many things might have happened, one ofwhich would almost certainly have been a seriouscorruption of the text, for wide dispersion of writtenmanuscripts would certainly have had this result, aswe see in the case of the gospels, and to a lesser degreein the variations of the Alexandrian Septuagint fromthe original test. But what did happen? We have it in the words ofHimWho brought a further revelation: Thus have ye made the Word of God of none effect by yourtradition (Matthew xv. 6);and because the Jews, in spite of their care, had madethe Word of God of none effect, therefore The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us full of grace andtruth (John i. 14). In these simple words the Gospel of John discloses thefact that, and the means by which, the Word of Godwas restored to men; in this statement we have asummary of the whole teaching of the gospels. But wemust notice that the gospels do not replace the OldTestament scriptures, although there is a tendencyamong Christians to regard them as doing so. Theywho would banish the Old Testament from our churchesand schools must surely have given but superficial studyto the words of Jesus: such words for example as: Think not that 1 am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: 1am not come to destroy, but to fuIfil (Matthew v. 17);or again in Luke, And beginning at Moses and aU the prophets, He expounded untothem in all the seriptures the things concerning Himself(Luke xxiv. 27).8
  8. 8. Search the Scriptures was His command, for these arethey which testify of Me (John v. 39). Assuredly theywho reject the Hebrew scriptures reject the teachingsof Jesus. In the ARCANA CAELESTIA we find a marvellousrevelation of how these scriptures teach the inner life ofour Saviour, but the book must be read to appreciatethis. The gospels certainly differ in style as they do inlanguage from the Jewish scriptures, but we may notethe enlightening statement, too often neglected, thatwithout a parable spake He not unto them (Matthewxiii. 34). There are many hard sayings in our Lordsdiscourses which would not prove so hard to under­stand if we would recognize that He a/ways spoke inparables, and that these parables can be interpreted, asSwedenborg clearly shows, by exactly the same methodsas apply to the dark sayings of psalmist and prophet. Yet we ought also to recognize, what was so readilyaccepted by our predecessors, that there is in the Biblejust as it stands in its literaI sense all that is necessary formans salvation. The spiritual teachings of the Wordshine through the letter, as the face of -MosesshonetIiIôtigh the veil he wore on coming down from Sinai. Let us accept the truth that the purpose of the gospelsis not to supersede, but to reveal the spirit ~nd life ofthe Jewish scriptures, and we shall then find that theOld and New Testaments are not opposed, but comple­mentary one to the other; and that either is necessaryfor understanding the other. The Old Testament tellsagain and again of the promised coming of the Messiah,but the Jews utterly misread the promise: the NewTestament tells of the actual coming, but the Jewsutterly rejected Him Who fulfilled the promise, in fact 9
  9. 9. they crucified Him. There are many today who arespiritually as the Jews, and it is for their salvation thata new revelation is now taking place. This may seem a bold statement, but it should provevery welcome to those who desire to have their faith inGods Word restored. And it is not contrary to Scrip­ture: Jesus speaking to his disciples proc1aimed: 1 have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear themnow. Howbeit when He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He wiH guideyou into aH truth (John xvi. 12, 13). Surely we can see in these words a promise of furtherrevelation, but still c1earer, if we would but recognize it,is the promise contained in another dec1aration to Hisdisciples: Then shaH appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and thenshaH aH the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shaH see the Son ofman coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.(Matthew xxiv. 30). -- Fundamentalists will scoff at the suggestion thatthis day is this scripture fulfilled; others will regard itas sheer imagination; many will exc1aim that the idea isimpossible in view of the facts of science and meteor­ology. We grant the difficulty of a literaI interpretationofthe words, but, as stated above, Jesus spoke in parables. Can we interpret this parable? The crucial word is c1ouds. Earthly c10uds shut usoff from the blue heaven and from the sun in thatheaven: is it sheer imagination to suggest that thec10uds of which Jesus spoke are those which shut us offfrom the spiritual heaven and from the Sun of right­eousness, that is, from Gad, the Light of the world? This is more than poetic imagery though poets oftensee more c1early than prosaic mortals, as Keble didwhen he wrote:10
  10. 10. Oh may no earth-born cloud arise To hide Thee from Thy servants eyes. But it is Swedenborg who points out that the cloudsof heaven mentioned in our Lords prophecy are justthose difficulties and obscurities of which we have beenwriting. The hard sayings, the strange parables, theunclean incidents, the obscure figurative language ofmany parts of the scriptures: these are earth-born, theWord might have been given throughout in the beautifullanguage of the first chapters of Genesis, and we mighthave appreciated fully its imagery, but for mans faU. Because of the hardness of your heart was theexplanation Jesus gave to the Jews of difficulties in thetext of scripture, and so it has ever been. Yet alwaysthere have been concealed in that text Divine andspiritual truths for those ready to receive them. Thesun is ever behind the clouds, and many of the cloudshave a silver lining. It is interesting, and should be convincing, to lookthrough a concordance of the Bible, and note how everyreference to clouds is enlightened by this correspond­ence, as Swedenborg caUs it, of cloud to the letter ofthe Word. The sign of the covenant with Noah, thebow in the cloud, is surely a prophetie announcementof this same revelation of God through an unveiling ofthe spiritual teaching within the written scripture. Themiraculous guide of Israel in the wilderness was a pillarof cloud to the earth-bound Egyptians, but a pillar offire to those who were Israelites indeed. Many a refer­ence in the Psalms becomes full of light as we thinkof this correspondence, and we may note especial1y theverses: He covereth the heaven with clouds, and Hemaketh the clouds His chariot. It is Divine Providence 11
  11. 11. that has preserved the Word of God by concealing it in the clouds of the letter, but that same letter is still the chariot of God by which He wars against evil and falsity, and by which He can bear us up to heaven, as Elijah was carried up in a chariot of fire-a glorious representative of the uplifting power of the Bible for those who recognize it as the Word of God. One hesitates to draw attention to the convenience of this interpretation for fear of detracting from its Divine significance. Yet there are many earnest Christians who are puzzled by what our learned divines in their wisdom describe as the eschatology of the scriptures, a word they define as the doctrine oflast, or final, things. The more one studies their commentaries on eschatology the more one is Led to understand that it is aU very inter­ esting but aU a mistake, and the puzzled earnest Christian very naturaUy enquires, Was Jesus then quite mistaken in His beliefs? and are His words often those of a mistaken enthusiast? We commend the attention of these puzzled Chris­ tians to Swedenborgs eminently rational and beauti­ fuUy simple explanation. Because of the hardness of heart of His hearers our Lord spoke in parables, but this( parable is easy ofinterpretation. His promise ofcoming1 in the clouds is a prediction that He would reveal Him­i self to His disciples at some future time by showing them His glory through the dark sayings of the sacred scriptures. Many may still be worried by the time element, but surely they ought not to be. There is no time in affairs of the spirit, modern physicists support the fact by telling us there is no real time even in this world, Behold 1 come quickly means behold 1 come surely and has no 12
  12. 12. reference to worldly time; and those who stand here and shaH not see death are those who take their stand on the rock of faith in Christ, who assuredly will not taste of spiritual death. The second coming of Christ is not a physical but a spiritual coming: there was a coming in the flesh and in­ time, and this we celebrate every Christmastide, but it is not one that is to be repeated, and there is now no reason or excuse for apprehension as to a last day for this wonderful universe. If only we can raise our ideas a little above the world and the flesh, we begin our preparation to receive with joy the news of the Lords second coming in power and great glory by the opening o~ye~ to_behol(t1bJUY.on~der§_~f the -Sa~d-Sc~ip­ tures-wonders that have always Iain conceaIeathere, bUt which are today unveiled for those who are willing to have their eyes opened. This is the message that Swedenborg gave to the wodd two hundred years ago, and this pamphlet is an invita­ tion to you to examine that message. You will, of course, start by enquiring as did the lews, Have any of the rulers believed on him? and it would be possible to draw up quite an imposing list of writers, scientists, industrialists and others, who have been receivers and, to a greater or lesser extent, foHowers( of his teachings, but it is very much better that you) should judge for yourself of the truths contained in his writings. The task presents sorne difficulty and demands careful consideration, but so does every task that is1. worth doing. You will find that in many points there are differences between the Christian religion as set forth in the Writings of Swedenborg and that preached by many today. We would emphasize, however, with 13
  13. 13. all the power at our disposaI, that Swedenborg did not reveal, or profess to reveal, a new religion. His writings are an unfolding Qf what is in.Jhe S~cred Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. The very title ofthë"WOfk to which we are drawmg attention on this 200TH ANNIVERSARY of its first publication dearly demon­ strates this. The full title is ARCANA CAELESTIA QUAE IN SCRIPTURA SACRA SEU VERBO DOMINI SUNT DgI.!3GfA, which being translated is, The secret things of Heaven that are in the Sacred Scripture or Word of the Lord, uncovered . ~ The outstanding words of this title are areana and( deteeta, both difficult to translate exactly, although, comparatively easy to understand. Areana from area (=a chest or depository) suggests treasures stored awayî for safe keeping; detecta reminds us of the modern craze r for detection and detective stories. We love mysteries but still more do we love their unravelling. There are no mysteries of modern literature that can for a moment compare with the mysteries of mans origin and destiny, and to our mind there are no unravellings that can compare with those displayed in this remarkable work. Not that Swedenborg daims to have disdosed ail the mysteries of the Word: again and again he assures us that they are infinite in number, and many of them beyond human grasp; but he does show how, by careful and prayerful study of the Word as a whole, we may solve many of the difficult problems that scientist, philosopher and theologian find so puzzling.1 With acceptance of the teachings set forth in this work (teachings which Swedenborg justly daims, as it) seems to us, to be the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ, and which he supports by thousands of quotations from 14
  14. 14. aIl parts of the Bible), we shaIl indeed find that therough places ar~ma~~ smooth, the stumblin~cksare removed, the clouds dispersed, and the true lightthat enlighteneth every man coming into the world isdisplayed in aIl its brightness. But before accepting these teachings the enquirerwill naturaIly wish to know something of the teacher,whether he be of God, or whether he speaks from him­self only. There is probably no religious writer whoselife can bear closer inspection than Swedenborgs. Theson of a Swedish bishop, Jesper Svedberg, bishop ofSkara, he received his education at Upsala, the Swedishhome of learning, and subsequently traveIled widely inEurope. The breadth of his studies is truly amazing andhe weIl deserved the title of the Swedish Aristotle thathas been bestowed upon him. There was scarcely abranch of knowledge that he did not explore and inmany he was an adept. It is very noticeable that he wasno mere bookworm, for he writes to his brother-in-lawBenzelius, 1 have always desired to turn to sornepractical use the studies which l selected on youradvice. A list of the subjects he studied and on which hepublished treatises would occupy many pages of thispamphlet; we must be satisfied with two quotationsfrom the ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICAS article onSwedenborg: Swedenborgs voluminous writings were not properly coUected andexamined until towards the end of the 19th century; it was then seenthat in almost every department of scientific activity he was ahead ofhis time. His work on palaeontology shows him the predecessor ofaU the Scandinavian geologists. He was also a great physicist andhad arrived at the nebular hypothesis theory of the formation of theplanets and the sun long before Kant and Laplace; he wrote a lucid 15
  15. 15. account of the phenomena of phosphorescence, and adduced amolecular magnetic theory which anticipated sorne of the chieffeatures of modern hypotheses. The French chemist Dumas, creditshim with the first attempt to establish a system of crystallography.He was the first to employ mercury for the air pump, and devised amethod of determining longitude at sea by observations of the moonamong the stars. This seems a noteworthy list of achievements and onewhich might weIl entitle him to a niche in the halls offame, but the article continues: In no field were Swedenborgs researches more noteworthy thanin physiological science. In 1901 Max Neuberger of Vienna calledattention to certain anticipations of modern views made by Sweden­borg in relation to the functions of the brain, and the University ofVienna appealed to the Royal Swedish Academy for a completeissue of the scientific treatises. Swedenborg showed (lSO years beforeany other scientist) that the motion of the brain was synchronouswith the respiration and not with the action of the heart and thecirculation of the blood, a discovery the full bearings of which arestill unrealized. He arrived at the modern conception of the activityof the brain as the combined activity of its individual cells. Thecerebral cortex, and, more definitely, the cortical elements (nervecells), formed the seat of the activity of the soul, and were orderedinto departments according to various functions. His views as to thephysiological functions of the spinal cord are in agreement withrecent research, and he anticipated modern research on the functionsof the ductless glands. As we read this account of almost dazzling achieve­ment we are driven to enquire how it is that Sweden­borg is not ranked, as he deserves to be, with greatscientific pioneers such as Galileo, Kepler, Newton andDarwin. His discoveries were no less remarkable, inimportance they were equal to those for which thesepioneers attained world-wide fame, yet the name ofSwedenborg is known to comparatively few. How canwe account for this neglect? The answer probably lies inthe fact that he wrote the ARcANA CAELESTIA. The implications of this explanation are worthy of16
  16. 16. careful consideration, especial1y in these days when w~ are witnessing the downfal1 of a materialistic conception of the universe that1las-flourished for sorne two huiïdred ye~rs. They liave been years-of astonisnfng material progress for mankind, but he would be a bold man who ventured to suggest that either moral or spiritual progress has been equal1y great during this period. Many indeed are of the opinion that the reverse is the case and that humanity has made little or no progress. We do not propose to enter into a discussion of this question, but we would point out that it is exactly what Swedenborg foresaw, and that it was just because he was aware of the terrible dangers of materialism that he gave up his scientific pursuits and devoted the latter years of his life to the study of spiritual matters. Throughout his studies he had been an enquirer. He was haunted by the everlasting Why1 He sought always for the causes of things and he discovered (and passed on to us the discovery) that there is a world of causes above and within the phenomenal world of the scientist. This may not seem a great advance on Plato and other Greek philosophers, but consider the words in which Swedenborg passes on this discovery: they will be found in §2993 of the ARCANA: The causes of aH natural things are from spiritual things, and the beginnings of causes are from celestial things; or what is the same thing, aH things in the natural world derive their cause from truth, which is spiritual, and their beginning from good, which is celestial. AU things of nature take their rise from these (i.e. truth and good) in accordance with the different forms of truth and good found in) the Lords kingdom, and thus from the Lord Himself, the source of aH good and truth. This is a tremendous statement and volumes might be written upon it. We do not propose to do more than 17
  17. 17. ask your careful consideration of what is implied by it, and to point out that Swedenborg does not daim it as his own discovery, but states that he learned it from his converse with angets, and that it is a revelation from the Lord Hims~lf. His own comment upon-itisfffiportant. These things, he writes, cannot but seem strange, especially to those who will not, or cannot, raise their thoughts above the things of nature. We suggest, however, that in his theological works, and especially in the ARCANA, Swedenborg showed that he was willing and able to raise his thought above merely natural things, and that in so doing he has helped us to see something of the causes and origins of the things around us. His critics find fault with him for abandoning the pursuit of natural science in which he had taken such great strides, and turning to the study of theology; especially do they object to his turning to the Hebrew, but surely this quotation from his writing provides a complete explanation of his reasons for so doing, nay more, it shows that believing as he did, he could act in no other way. We must refer you to his biographers for details of the steps he took in surrendering his place in the world of science and devoting himself to the dutY he felt incumbent upon him, that of prodaiming to a world sadly in need of such teaching, that the spiritual world is at least as worthy of investigation as the natural, and that it can be investigated by those who have learned( the right methods. He chose as the motto to be printed at the beginning of each volume of the ARCANA :) Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and ail these things shaH be added unto you (Matthew vi. 33); and if ever man sought to live up to his motto surely it was Swedenborg who did so. 18
  18. 18. He resigned his high position in the Swedish College of Mines, explaining in a letter to the King, As 1 feel it incumbent on me to finish the work on which 1 am now engaged, 1 would most humbly ask your Majesty to select another in my place.... It is my humble wish that you graciously release me from my office, but without bestowing upon me any higher rank, which 1 most earnestly beseech you not to do. 1 further pray that! 1 may receive half of my salary, and that you will graciously grant me leave to go abroad to some place where 1 may finish the important work on which 1 am now engaged. (Stockholm, June 2nd, 1747). The work on which he was engaged was his prepara­ tion for writing the ARcANA. The request was granted and he proceeded with that work, though he probably had no idea at the time that the rest of his life would be devoted to similar productions and that after some five and twenty years of unremitting labours he would still leave much of it uncompleted and unpublished. We can well understand, however, the need he felt for more time, when we contemplate the_!.stop.j§hLng acc,!m_ulation of his preparatory work. This is now stored up, chiefly in the library of the Royal Academy of Sciences, Stockholm, but much of it has been pub­ lished either in book form, or in phototyped copies. We gather from it that, during the two years preceding his retirement from public office, Swedenborg was engaged in an intensive study of the Bible. The actual i volume he used has been preserved and its margins 1 bear witness to the thoroughness of his study, these marginal notes alone would fill a volume. But in addition to this he compile_d indexes of names and subjects which fill nearly a thousand pages ~f close 19
  19. 19. writing, and there are also more than two thousand pagés of notes and comments on his reading of the Word. Sorne of these he seems to have intended for publication, but the time was not yet. To many students this would appear a full-time job, but the results of his release from official duties show that it was not so with Swedenborg, for in the next year he produced fifteen hundred more pages of ~ indexes, and seven hundred pages of notes that have ) been preserved, while there is abundant evidence that much of his labour is unrecorded, as for example, his work of mastering the Bebrew tongue. We stress the importance of these preliminary studies as evidence that the ARCANA are not, as superficial students of them have suggested, the random writings of a disordered mind; stilliess are they as Swedenborgs latest biographer suggests a chaotic mass, but they are ) the ordered findings from a most intensive study by a mind endowed with extraordinary acuteness. Few can devote the time to their study that was expended on their production, but the history of how they were produced suggests that superficial study will not be sufficient to disclose their depth.- These studies had now reached a stage such that Swedenborg was ready to write and publish his work, but for this something more was needed, and that was freedom of the press. Only in Bolland or in England could that be obtained in 1748. Hence his request for leave to go abroad where he might finish the important work. The place chosen was London and we may feel proud of the compliment paid to our ancestors by this choice. Ten years later, in 1758, Swedenborg writes of the 20
  20. 20. noble English nation and enlarges upon the freedomthey enjoy, though he also remarks, gently but firmly,upon their insularity, as when he notes their readinessto contract intimacy with friends of their own nationand rarely with others. Englishmen, he says, arelovers of their country and zealous for its glory, andregard foreigners much as a person looking through atelescope from the roof of his house regards thoseoutside the city. But never mind this aloofness, the English press wasfree, he could publish his work without interference.So early in OC1()12er)-J 748, Swedenborg sailed forEngland wfth ms Hebrew and Latin Bibles, his Hebrew·Lexicon, his precious indexes and his notes on spiritualexperiences, and there he sought for a quiet lodging1where he could write his new book and superintend itspublication. One would like to know where he lodged, but whilewe have evidence and addresses of later residences,there is none for his address while writing the ARCANA.In a now very shabby quarter of London, close to thedocks and still frequented by Swedish and Norwegiansailors, there is a Swedenborg Street and a SwedenborgSquare, close by is Wellclose Square where he certainlystayed at a later time with a Swedish compatriot, butwe have been unable as yet to trace the origin of thesenames. Possibly they arise from Swedenborgs remainshaving Iain for over a hundred years in the Swedishchurch in Ratcliffe Highway, which is not a greatdistance away. The fact remains, however, that the place where thisgreat work was written is at present shrouded inmystery, aU we have with regard to it is a scrap ofpaper, 21
  21. 21. stuck to the flyleaf of his spiritual diary, or notes on spiritual experience. This scrap, when translated from the Swedish, reads: Took 10dgings on the 23rd November, 1748, for six shillings per week for haIf a year. For one year sufficient will be deducted to make the rent f14, being a saving of thirty two shillings. This sounds perhaps a little parsimonious, but we must remember that, as the figures prove, money was then at least ten times as precious as today, and we must recognize that Swedenborgs care for small sums was due ratber to generosity than to parsimony. Certainly these must have been but poor lodgings for a Swedish nobleman, the associate of kings, and prime ministers,) but he proposed to defray the whole expense of printing and publishing his work, and those expenses ran into) sorne thousands of pounds. Nor did he look for any monetary return. His printer informs us that the profits, if any, were to be devoted to the propagation of( the gospel. Swedenborg was not a wealthy man and he) needed to be careful in his private expenditure. The ARCANA CAELESTIA was a generous gift to the world, and the world hardlynoticed the-grr( st~d it express any gratitude for it, certainly not in the life­ time of the donor. Since that time sorne thousands of copies either in the original Latin, or in various trans­ lations have been printed, distributed and sold, but the numberofthosewhoacceptitsteachingsisstill verysmall. Now, two hundred years after its first appearance, it is being re-published in Latin. Those responsible for this republiëation desire aM hope for an awakened interest in it. The Latin needed revision in the light of modern scholarship, and the revision has been greatly helped by a comparison with Swedenborgs own manu­ 22
  22. 22. script, which has been almost miraculously preserved in the archives of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. More than ten years have been spent in its production and it should contain information invaluable for ther student. The manuscript just mentioned is not that which was sent to the printer, Swedenborg re-copied its more than two million words, but there seems little1 doubt that in many cases it is nearer to Swedenborgst words than is the sometimes faulty printed version. In the new edition both MS. and printed edition are repro­ duced, either in text or notes, so that the reader can know and learn from both. No writer can be fully appreciated save in the lan­ guage in which he wrote, and it is to the original lan­ guage we must turn in aIl controversial matters:-If is hoped that this willoé recogmzea--by a11 ardent students of Swedenborg, and that there will be a wide demand for this new edition. But there will still be many who have not had the privilege of education in the Latin tongue, and yet desire to read of these Heavenly Mysteries. Heavenly Mysteries was the translation of ARCANA CAELESTIA accepted in Swedenborgs own time, and we presume by Swedenborg himself, for he spent 8:Ju~ther ;(200 on having the second volume translated into EnglisL Mysteries, mystics and mysticism wefe anathematothe) materialistic age of the past two centuries, but today we- begin to see that there may be something in them, as did1 the Greeks of old. Swedenborg frequently speaks of the mysteries of faith, and we can scarcely close this brief appreciation of his work on a more appropriate note than that of his approach to these mysteries. In Psalm viü. 9, 10, we read The Lord bowed the 23
  23. 23. heavens and came down, and thick darkness was underHis feet, and He rode upon a cherub. Of this passageSwedenborg writes (in A.C. n 1761): Thick darkness isput for clouds, and to ride upon a cherub tells of theLords Providence lest man should enter from himselfinto the mysteries of faith. This last sentence might almost be described as theessence of Swedenborgs method, for he does not enterinto the mysteries of faith from himself, but from theLord. He accepts the opening verses of Johns gospel,he recognizes that the Word is God, that the Word wasmade flesh and dwelt among us, and that it is full ofgrace and truth. So fully did he recognize this thatthe Lord actually revealed Himselfto Swedenborg in thespirit, and instructed him to convey to mankind theunveiling of the mysteries of faith. The results of this opening of Swedenborgs spiritualsight are disclosed in many passages in the ARcANA, butit would need a volume to discuss them. Here it issufficient to emphasize the fact that while the writingof the book is Swedenborgs, yet it was not from himselfthat he obtained its contents, but from the Word, andtherefore from the Lord Himself. We might write atlength to support this contention, but the best supportfor it will be found in reading the work. And see what ispromised thereby (i) a revelation of the mysteries offaith, (ii) a discovery of Gods providential care formankind, (iii) a way of approach to the Lord JesusChrist, and (iv) a knowledge of, and guide to eternallife. Surely it is worth while to read and study this book.24