Extended Overview of the Theological Writings

If we use the Swedenborg Foundation's Standard Edition as our reference, and add to it the Spiritual Diary, a complete set of the Writings in English consists of thirty-five volumes. According to the catalog of the works which "contain the Doctrine of the New Church" published in the Liturgy (1966 ed., pp. 236-238), this collection of books contains forty-three titles. These range in size from fragments, tracts and pamphlets through one-volume works to larger ones in five, six and even twelve volumes.

The very extent and variety of this sacred library imposes somewhat of a handicap on the person who is just beginning to study it or whose reading has been restricted to a relatively few works. Sometimes he does not even have access to a complete list of titles; and in many instances he as yet lacks a general knowledge of the contents of the works that would give him an over-all view, enable him to relate a particular work with others, and suggest where he should go in order to find certain things.

It is therefore proposed to offer this year a summary or survey of the Writings. To meet the purposes of this survey the several works will not be considered chronologically. Instead they have been classified and grouped under several headings according to general subject-matter. The works which constitute the Writings are of three general types.

1) Some of them are expository. These are devoted mainly or entirely to the systematic exposition of the internal sense of certain books of the Old and New Testament Word.

2) Others are distinctly philosophical in form and content. They are just as much the Heavenly Doctrine as the rest, but the revealed Divine truth they contain has to do with those matters which are the especial concern of philosophy.

3) A third group, which is by far the largest, can only be described as doctrinal. It may be divided further into three sections:

a) Theological works
b) Moral works, in the sense in which the Writings use that term.
c) Historico-doctrinal and descriptive. This name has been coined for those works which record and describe events and happenings in the spiritual world and phenomena which could not have been known without Divine revelation.

In the chart on the following page the titles which appear under each of these headings and subheadings are arranged in chronological order. However, it should be realized and thoroughly understood that this is only one of several ways in which these titles can be arranged, and, indeed, that other arrangements according to subject-matter could be made. There is not just one way to consider the Writings; different approaches can be made according to the purpose of the study.

This is one subject-matter arrangement, and it should be understood also that the classifications employed are used somewhat flexibly. Thus a work which might have been included in one category for certain reasons has been placed under another heading for equally good reasons. For example, Heaven and Hell might have been listed as an historicodoctrinal and descriptive work, but it has been placed where it is because the opening sections are entirely doctrinal and the balance of the work is doctrinal in form: expounding the causes of spiritual phenomena as well as describing the phenomena themselves. The system has been worked out simply because it can lead to a general view.

Main Divisions of the Writings

1. Expository Works

2. Philosophical Works

3. Doctrinal Works

a) Theological

b) Moral

c) Historico-doctrinal and Descriptive

1. Expository Works

Arcana Coelestia, Apocalypse Explained, Prophets and Psalms, Apocalypse Revealed

Philosophical Works

Apocalypse Explained (Inserts), Divine Love, Divine Wisdom, Divine Love and Wisdom, Divine Providence, Conversations with Angels, Five Memorable Relations, Intercourse of the Soul and the Body

Doctrinal Works

a) Heaven and Hell, Heavenly Doctrine, White Horse, Athanasian Creed, Concerning the Lord, Word of the Lord from Experience, Precepts of the Decalogue, Doctrine of the Lord, Doctrine of the Sacred Scripture, Doctrine of Faith, Summary Exposition, justification and Good Works, Sketch of the Doctrine of the New Church, Canons, Ecclesiastical History, True Christian Religion, Nine Questions, ] Consummation of the Age, Invitation to the New Church

b) Doctrine of Life, Doctrine of Charity, On Marriage, Indices to a work on Conjugial Love, Conjugial Love

c) Spiritual Diary, Earths in the Universe, Last judgment, Last judgment (post.), On the Spiritual World, Continuation Concerning the Last judgment, Memorabilia for the True Christian Religion

The Expository Works

The first title in this group, and the major work of the Writings in terms of size, is Arcana Coelestia, which consists of twelve volumes in English translation. Volumes one through eight are a systematic exposition of the internal sense of the book of Genesis, and the exegesis is so exhaustive as to unfold the spiritual meaning of every word, phrase and sentence in the fifty chapters of Genesis. A summary of the internal sense is given at the beginning of each chapter, and the verses are then explained in the groups into which the internal sense forms them. In the course of the exposition the internal meaning of many passages in other books of the Word is also given.

Chapters 1-11 of Genesis, which consist of factitious history, are expounded on the planes of the internal sense proper and the internal historical sense. Here we find the basic doctrine of regeneration as the real subject of the creation stories; and the interior history of the Most Ancient Church, the fall, the Ancient and the Hebrew churches all expressed in the stories of Adam and Eve, the expulsion from Eden, Noah, the flood and the ark, and Eber. In the rest of the book of Genesis, the historical portion, it is the celestial sense that is expounded, in which the subject is the doctrine of the Lord; but there are occasional shifts to a lower, parallel plane on which the subject-matter is redemption, and to those planes on which regeneration and the spiritual history of the church are considered. The stories of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are shown to involve the Divine in the Human, the Divine rational and the Divine natural, respectively, thus the Lord's glorification; and in the Joseph and Benjamin series we have. the record of the union of the Divine and the Human in the Lord and, in the negative series, the states of the future church as to the Divine Human.

It is of doctrine that the Lord came into the world to glorify His Human and to redeem the race. His glorification has been treated in the volumes of the Arcana which expound Genesis, and in the last four volumes the internal sense of Exodus is unfolded systematically. The twin subjects here are redemption-the salvation of the spiritual, which was effected through the glorification-and regeneration by the spiritual mode which was established by the Lord through glorification and redemption. These are shown to be the true subjects of the stories of the Egyptian bondage, the exodus, the giving of the Law at Sinai, the early wanderings in the wilderness, and the description, building and setting up of the tabernacle.

Between the chapters doctrinal articles are inserted which cover a wide field and are really the bases of the extended treatments found in the later doctrinal works. These inserts fall into three main groups. In volumes 1-8 there are treatments of the resuscitation of man and his states after death; heaven, hell, vastations and the spiritual world; dreams and visions, angels and spirits; memory; marriage; freedom; representatives and correspondences; the Grand Man; the correspondences of the human body and the correspondences and causes of disease; influx and the intercourse of the soul and the body; and a detailed exposition of the internal sense of Matthew 24 and 25, which relate to the consummation of the Christian Church, the Second Coming and the Last judgment.

Then, in the four volumes expounding Exodus, we find two series of inserts. One, first called "The Doctrine of Charity" and then "The Doctrine of Charity and Faith," is practically the text of The New Jerusalem and Its Heavenly Doctrine, published in 1758. The order of topics is not quite the same. Four which are here treated separately are interwoven with others in the later work, and one, "Love Truly Conjugial," is not repeated. Apart from this and some slight variations the two treatments are substantially the same. The second series is on the earths in the universe, and except that the Arcana treats of only four earths in the starry heaven, the text is substantially the same as that of the work of that name. Volume 9 was written in 1754. We may conjecture that the "Doctrine of Charity and Faith" was commenced then as the beginning of the organized doctrine of the New Jerusalem because the essential doctrine of the Lord had been drawn from the book of Genesis. The earths in the universe would seem to be treated of in the volumes expounding Exodus because the subject there is redemption, and the scope of redemption could not be glimpsed unless it had been revealed that there are countless inhabited earths. Thus the two main themes of the Arcana, glorification and redemption, make a unity of subjectmatter , and the doctrinal inserts are all related with the expositions they accompany, though some less obviously so than others.

Some who might otherwise have read the Arcana have been deterred by its size, and a few have even felt that this work is only for the clergy! However, the expository parts are not difficult to read if one does not try to master every detail, and the inter-chapter material may be read by itself in the series into which it is organized.

The second work in this group is Apocalypse Explained, which fills six volumes in all the standard English editions. It is a systematic and most detailed and voluminous exposition of the internal sense of the book of Revelation to the tenth verse of the nineteenth chapter; after which it ends abruptly with a summary of the internal sense of the first fifteen verses of chapter twenty. The subjects followed out in the exposition are the revelation of the Divine Human, the preparation of the spiritual world for the Last judgment after all in Christendom had been invited into the New Church, the performance of the judgment on the Reformed and the Roman churches, and the union of the Lord with the New Church in the heavens thereafter. Like the Arcana, this work gives the internal sense of hundreds of passages in other books of the Word, and it is therefore an invaluable exegetical source. Subjoined to nos. 932-1028 is a sectioned but serial exposition of the Ten Commandments; and between nos. 1091 and 1228 are to be found similarly arranged treatments of God, Providence and creation. Because these are philosophical in character they will be considered when we come to the philosophical works of the Writings.

As its title indicates, the next work, Summary Exposition of the Prophets and Psalms, gives the internal sense of these books of the Word in a highly condensed form. The internal meaning of each chapter or psalm is reduced to a single sentence, or to several sentences each explaining a group of verses. At the beginning of the work there is a numbered table of subjects; and reference to this for the meanings of the numbers printed in boldface against the expository sections gives the reader the general spiritual subjects of the chapter or psalm being expounded. Evidently the importance of this little work far exceeds its size, for there are no fewer than nine intimations of it elsewhere in the Writings, and Swedenborg states that celestial angels rejoiced at heart over his intention to publish it for the common good of the New Church. The reason for this would seem to lie in the teaching that if man knew that there is an internal sense, and would think from some knowledge of it when reading the Word, he would come into interior wisdom and be still more conjoined with heaven, because he would thereby enter into ideas like angelic ones [HH 310; AC 3316]. For this little work makes it possible for men to do so with part of the Word.

The Apocalypse Revealed, which is the last of the expository works, is also a consecutive exposition of the internal sense of the book of Revelation. It is much more compact, filling only some 800 pages, and the exposition is complete, giving the spiritual sense of the last three chapters, which deal with the completion of the Last judgment, the formation of the New Heaven, and the descent from it of the New Church, which as to life is described as a bride and as to doctrine as a city. Between the chapters we find Memorabilia, which usually have reference to the doctrinal subjects dealt with in the chapters to which they are appended. These relations are found in only a few works, are sometimes repeated, and generally have their source in the Spiritual Diary. The Memorabilia will be dealt with in an appendix. The main difference between this work and the Apocalypse Explained is this: it shows clearly that from beginning to end the book of Revelation treats of a new church on earth which is to be called the New Jerusalem, and which is to succeed the consummated Christian Church. Swedenborg was apparently prepared to receive the idea of the New Church as distinct and distinctive while he was writing the Apocalypse Explained, which treats rather of the church universal-prepared through one work for another. This would seem to be why he abruptly stopped work on the Apocalypse Explained, leaving it unfinished and unpublished; although it is evident from the title page which he prepared that he had originally intended to publish it in London in 1759.

While the Writings expound the spiritual sense of thousands of passages in the Word, Genesis, Exodus and Revelation are the only books the internal sense of which is unfolded systematically and in detail; for the expositions of the Prophets and the Psalms are summary. The only other systematic expositions to be found in their pages are those of the Ten Commandments in Apocalypse Explained and True Christian Religion and of Matthew 24 and 25 in the Arcana.

The Philosophical Works

This classification should not be misunderstood. The works included in it - the Apocalypse Explained inserts, Divine Love, Divine Wisdom, Divine Love and Wisdom, Divine Providence and Intercourse of the Soul and the Body - are an integral part of the Heavenly Doctrine and are as fully inspired and authoritative as the others. They are so designated because the revealed Divine truth given in them has to do especially with the questions and problems which are the concern of science, philosophy and psychology.

Subjoined to nos. 1111-1228 of the Apocalypse Explained there are serial treatments of God, Providence, Creation, Omnipotence and Omniscience. While the first and last of these series are theological, the subjects of Providence and Creation are considered philosophically. In the former, the salvation of men is shown to be the end of creation, and the laws of Divine Providence which operate to that end are stated and expounded; in the latter, the inner distinctions between man, animals and plants are shown, and we are told of the Divine and spiritual laws which operate in the kingdoms of nature, even to the ultimates thereof.

The next works in this group, Divine Love and Divine Wisdom, are separate treatises written in 1762 and 1763, respectively, but published posthumously, and in one edition issued together under the editorial title The Doctrine of Uses. They should not be confused with the published work, Divine Love and Wisdom, from which they are quite distinct although they may have been written as a first draft for it. Despite the fact that they were written in successive years they are so complementary as to present a unity of thought, and they should be read as such. As their titles indicate, they deal with the deepest realities of human life both in themselves and in their subjects, which are men; for God is ultimate reality because He is life itself, and Divine love and wisdom is His life.

Divine Love starts as a philosophic inquiry into the nature of love, which is said to be the very life of man. It then shows that the Lord is love itself, and states that life, which is the Divine love, is in a form, which is a form of use in its whole extent. Having thus revealed the nature of love itself, it then traces out the successive derivations of love, all of which are forms of uses. In a final thesis it then develops the organized doctrine of use, the center of which is man, and the doctrine of the relation of uses to the heavenly form.

Divine Wisdom deals especially with man; with the interior organization of the human mind as the receptacle of love and wisdom from the Lord. It describes the will and the understanding; the formation of the embryo in the womb by influx through them; and the analogy between gestation and reformation. The functions, conjunctions, relations and correspondential ultimates of these two receptacles are worked out in considerable detail; and the treatment closes with a statement of the mode by which creation subsists and a sketch of the angelic idea of the creation of the universe.

In Divine Love and Wisdom, the subjects outlined in Divine Love and Divine Wisdom are developed in their full philosophic form. This work was undertaken, we are told, because the angels lamented that they saw in men no knowledge of God, of heaven, or of the creation of the world; and its avowed purpose is to show that man is not life but a recipient of life. Its five parts deal, respectively, with the nature of God; the spiritual sun and the relation of the two worlds; the discrete and continuous degrees of which all things in both worlds are composed, and which are the means and modes of creation; the creation of the universe by and from God; and the form and organization of the human mind, the will and the understanding, and how the conjunction of these two can be effected. This book may be called the metaphysics of the Writings; and it sheds the light of heaven on the nature of God, of man and his constitution, and of the world and its degrees and uses. Monistic in its theology, it is dualistic in its philosophy, revealing that there are two orders of created substance, spiritual and natural, and that these are discretely separate. It offers the most universal concept of an organic creation that can be grasped: The Lord, immanent in His creation but not continuous with it, as the end; the spiritual world as the realm of causes; the natural as a world of effects-a concept that is not pantheistic and that involves influx, correspondence and degrees.

Divine Love and Wisdom is essentially a work on creation; its purpose being to show that the universe was created from the Divine substance but is not continuous with God, and that the object of creation is that its uses may ascend by degrees from ultimates to man and through man to the Creator from whom they are. The next work in this group, Divine Providence, does not treat of causes but of ends; that is, not of creation itself but of the conservation of the universe after creation. In it the Divine Providence is defined as the government of the Lord's Divine love and wisdom, and as these proceeded from the Lord as one, its purpose is that every created thing shall be a one. The work shows how the will and the understanding, with their faculties of liberty and rationality, are to be used that the end of the Divine Providence in the creation of the universe-an angelic heaven from the human race-may be attained. It states and expounds the laws by which Providence acts to preserve that which is in order and to restore to order that which is not-the laws of the Lord's government which obtain in all the conditions of human life. To it we turn, therefore, for an understanding of the nature, purpose and characteristics of the Lord's government, and for light on the perplexing problems that arise in theology and in human situations. It unfolds the process and laws of regeneration, which is spiritual creation, and the end of the natural creation dealt with in Divine Love and Wisdom.

These two works are so interrelated that they should be read consecutively. It may be said in passing that we should not be misled by the full titles of these two works - Angelic Wisdom Concerning the Divine Love and Wisdom and Concerning the Divine Providence. This does not mean that they are books of wisdom transmitted to Swedenborg by angels, but that the truths revealed to him by the Lord and contained in them are the truths which constitute the wisdom of the angels on the subjects with which they deal.

Intercourse of the Soul and the Body, a short tract, rounds off this group of works. It deals with the ratio between the spiritual and the natural and with the mode of their relation, that is, with influx. After disposing of the theories of physical influx and preestablished harmony much favored by the philosophy of the day, and this by showing that the mind is not moved to think by sense impressions and that the correspondence of events without and within the mind is not the result of parallel experience, it demonstrates that the only ratio between the soul and the body is by spiritual influx. Will and thought flow into the natural and there produce sensation, speech and determined action. It should be noted, however, that the spiritual influx here taught is not that of eighteenth century philosophy, which was the influx of the soul into the body. It is influx from the Lord into the soul and through the soul into the body. The work also makes clear the difference between the spiritual and the natural worlds, showing that the former is discretely different and not a highly refined natural.

Here, then, we have a group of works which shed the light of heaven on the problems of science, philosophy and psychology, and show how to look for spiritual laws in the study of human behavior and also in the ultimates of nature. Without straining the interpretation it seems possible to see a certain general series. In the inserts and the first two little works universals concerning the Divine love and wisdom are given. The next two deal with creation and its purpose, the conservation of creation, and the laws by which the end of creation is achieved; and in the final work the ratio and distinctions between the two worlds emerge.

with which they are in contact of progress and development. However, any New Church group requiring further information is invited to write to Miss Lynda Ford, 45 Eversley Road, London, S.E. 19. Individual members should approach the officials of their own Church or association.

The Doctrinal Works

The third general class of works we discerned in the Writings is doctrinal: books which in character, form and content are works of organized doctrine. This class we subdivided into three groups which deal, respectively, with theology and religion; with morals, in the specific sense in which that term is used in the Writings; and with spiritual history and description; as whole subjects in rational form.


The first subsection, that consisting of works of systematic theology, is too large for the titles to be enumerated here. However, the works included will be surveyed in chronological order, with the their titles as listed above.

In three parts, Heaven and Hell contains the organized doctrine of the spiritual world. After showing that the Lord is the God of heaven, and that His Divine, in reception, makes heaven, it describes the nature, structure, organization and form of heaven; its correspondence with man and with the universe; its phenomena; the qualities characteristic of the angels; various aspects of heavenly life; and the different inhabitants of heaven. The second part deals with the world of spirits and its uses; the resuscitation of man; his nature, form and attributes after death; the three states of the world of spirits; the conditions of salvation; and the life that leads to heaven. The third part treats of the nature of the hells; their government and organization and order; and the equilibrium between heaven and hell in which man is kept. The new reader may find this book easier to understand if he or she will begin with the second part, move to the first, and end with the third part.

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine, one of the smaller works, presents summaries of twenty-three doctrines which are developed at length elsewhere in the Writings. There are copious references to the Arcana at the end of each section, and the student who follows them through will find himself entering deeply into the doctrines conveniently summarized for the new reader or for review.

White Horse, the next work in this group, is a tract of twenty pages in English. It is closely connected with the Apocalypse Explained and begins by expounding spiritually the description of the white horse in Revelation 19, from which it takes its name. It then presents under twelve headings a digest of passages, extracted from the Arcana, on the doctrine of the Sacred Scripture. These deal largely with the need for the Word and the conditions for understanding it; the existence, nature and uses of the internal sense; and the letter and the spirit.

Athanasian Creed is a systematic exposition of the Creed of Athanasius, designed to show that this creed is true and scriptural if by the Trinity is understood a trinity of person, not of persons, and it contains a number of leading statements on the doctrine of the Lord. Some confusion has been caused by the fact that this title has been used twice. In 1759, while writing the last volume of the Apocalypse Explained, Swedenborg inserted a short treatment of the Athanasian Creed in sections at the end of paras. 1091-1109. Then, in 1760, he wrote a separate treatise, De Athanasii Symbolo, which long remained untranslated, but is now available to the English reader. In 1810, the Apocalypse Explained treatment was extracted, translated, and published in England under the editorial title "The Athanasian Creed." However, the title, Athanasian Creed, belongs properly to the 1760 treatise, which is the only separate work on the subject and the one we have considered.

Long untranslated, and therefore known to scholars by its Latin title, De Domino, The Lord contains an outline of the essential doctrine of the Lord.

Also for long untranslated, De Verbo, or The Word of the Lord from Experience, is a fragmentary work showing the wonderful structure of the Word and the relation of the letter to the spiritual sense, the necessity of an ultimate Word, and the function of the church in relation to the Word. Apart from the Arcana treatments and their condensation in Heavenly Doctrine and White Horse, it is the first work written on the subject of the Word; and although it was not published by Swedenborg, it may possibly be regarded as a first draft for Doctrine of the Sacred Scripture. Of particular interest are its refutations of spiritism and natural theology, which latter was much in vogue in the 18th century.

The next work in this subgroup, also a fragment, is Precepts of the Decalogue. It consists of a series of propositions, written down as chapter heads and subheads, for a projected work on the consummation of the age, the New Church and the life of charity, in relation to the Ten Commandments.

Next come three little works, Doctrine of the Lord, Doctrine of the Sacred Scripture, and Doctrine of Faith which, together with Doctrine of Life, were referred to by Swedenborg and are published as "The Four Doctrines." In the first of these three works we have the organized teaching of the Writings concerning the Lord as the Word, the nature of the work of redemption, the glorification of the Human, the sole Divinity of the Lord, and the Holy Spirit as the Divine proceeding. The teaching is confirmed abundantly at every point from the Old and New Testament Word.

In the second of these three works we are shown that 'the Word is the Divine truth itself, and that it contains throughout a spiritual sense from which it is Divinely inspired and holy. The characteristics of the sense of the letter and its functions are then considered; the relation of the church to the Word, and thereby to the human race, is developed; and the necessity of the Word is made clear.

Doctrine of Faith, the third work, defines genuine faith as an internal acknowledgment of truth from inward sight of it, contrasts this with the blind faith of the former church, distinguishes knowledge from truth, and shows the impossibility of separating faith from charity. The formation of faith is worked out; the true Christian faith and the faith of the day are stated for contrast; and the main representatives in Scripture of those who are in faith alone are enumerated.

Summary Exposition, sometimes wrongly entitled Brief Exposition, is a small, closely reasoned treatise which examines and contrasts the doctrinal tenets of the Roman and Protestant churches with the doctrines of the New Church; shows that the New Church is separate from the old in the spiritual world and must be separate on earth; and demonstrates that without the second coming of the Lord no flesh could have been saved. It is possible that no other work of the Writings has aroused less general interest among New Church men! Yet its militant, uncompromising statements are those which especially show that the New Church is new and a church, and are our authority for a distinct and distinctive church organization and life; and it is the work which was Divinely selected for the inscription, Hic Liber Est - "This book is the Advent of the Lord."

Although still included in the list published in the Liturgy, Justification and Good Works is not a work of the Writings at all. It is a digest of some of the dogmatic decisions of the Council of Trent, convened by Rome to restate and confirm the dogmas which seemed to be threatened by the Reformation, and it does not contain a line of New Church doctrine.

A Sketch of the Ecclesiastical History of the New Church is a fragment consisting of jotted notes. As the New Church had not been organized when it was written, and the number of receivers could scarcely have amounted to more than fifty people, its title suggests that the true history of the church is the history of the reception of the Writings. It contains the well-known statement, "the books written by the Lord through me are now to be enumerated"; and the information about the Hic Liber Est inscription on Summary Exposition.

Canons of the New Church contains in brief compass the whole theology of the New Church. As used in theology, the term, canons, means an authentic summary of doctrine and a standard of orthodoxy, and the new reader who is looking for this will find the work especially valuable. The doctrines treated are those of God, the Lord the Redeemer and Redemption, the Holy Spirit and the Divine Trinity; and the treatments form as it were an outline of the first three chapters of True Christian Religion. The prologue contains another well-known sentence: "At this day nothing else than the self-evidencing reason of love will re-establish [the canons of faith] because they have fallen."

Egyptian Hieroglyphics, a short work, demonstrates, as its title suggests, that some knowledge of correspondences remained in Egypt after it had been lost elsewhere, and was the origin of the picture writing of the Egyptian priests.

True Christian Religion , subtitled "The Universal Theology of the New Heaven and the New Church," is the theological work of the Writings, a major treatise, and the crowning achievement in the giving of the Word of the Second Advent. In fourteen chapters of text, with Memorabilia appended, all the principal doctrines of the New Church are developed, each one in an orderly series of propositions; and if the chapters are allowed to fall into natural groupings we find that the subjects dealt with are the Lord, the Word, faith and life, rebirth, worship and the church. The doctrinal treatments are frequently explained and elaborated with parable-like illustrations, and consistent use is made of the naked truths in the letter of the Word to confirm and support doctrine. Examples of the interior senses of the Word are given, as in the exposition of the spiritual and celestial senses of the Ten Commandments and in the chapter on the Sacred Scripture.

In True Christian Religion we find the elements of theology, philosophy and religion: theology, as in treatments of God the Creator, the Lord the Redeemer, the Holy Spirit and the Divine Trinity; philosophy in treatments of creation, the differences between the two worlds, the nature of the soul, and discrete degrees; religion in treatments of repentance, regeneration, charity and worship. We find also the spiritual history of the rise and fall of the churches before the Second Advent, the doctrine of faith and life for the New Church, and prophecies concerning the New Church about to be established. The doctrine itself is supplemented by descriptions of various ecclesiastical leaders and nations in the spiritual world; and in a memorandum we learn of the calling and sending of the apostles on the 19th day of June in the year 1770-an event that is mentioned in two other places also. Appropriately, this final work is inscribed: "Emanuel Swedenborg, Servant of the Lord Jesus Christ."

The remaining works in this subsection can be mentioned very briefly. Nine Questions is Swedenborg's answers to questions on the Trinity proposed by the Rev. Thomas Hartley. It contains important statements about the relation of the representative Human before the Advent to the Divine Human, and about the difference between the Spirit of God and the Holy Spirit.

Coronis, the appendix to True Christian Religion, treats of the consummation of the age, the Last judgment, the Second Coming and the New Church. In dealing with these subjects it offers the outlines of a Divine philosophy of history, traces the states of the successive churches, and shows that the New Church is the "crown of all the churches"-foreseen from the creation of the world and to endure to eternity, and thus the church which unifies all time.

Consummation of the Age is a manuscript consisting only of headings for a projected treatise on the state of the Christian Church at the time of the Last judgment. In a series of strong indictments it describes that state as one of no religion and no knowledge of any essential, so that there is no church.

The last of the theological works, Invitation to the New Church, is also fragmentary. It is divided into three parts. The first of these deals with the consummation of the age, the Lord's second coming and the New Church; the second treats of the abomination of desolation; and the third is a summary of the Coronis. The work is well named; for in it the reader is shown that the truths lost to the Christian Church are now restored, and that all in the Christian world are invited to the New Church that their state may be healed. There is evidence that Swedenborg intended to include Consummation of the Age and Invitation in the Coronis or Appendix to the True Christian Religion. Thus the statement (Inv. 25) that "unless this little work be added to the preceding work [TCR], the church cannot be healed," may be taken as referring to the Coronis as a whole, and as meaning that unless the teaching there given about the death of the Christian Church is acknowledged, no distinctive New Church can be established.

With this we conclude our survey of the first subsection of the doctrinal works of the Writings-those books which may be described as theological because they present entire doctrines systematically. Only a very general series can be suggested here. If the titles and what has been said about them are recalled, it may be seen that these works all look to the future New Church on earth as descended from a spiritual world reordered by the Second Coming and the Last Judgment: a distinct and distinctive church based on acknowledgment of the Lord and the Word, and on recognition of the internal death of the former church; a church founded upon truth from good, on a doctrine of love and life and faith; a church foreseen and provided for from creation, and to endure to eternity as the crown of all the churches.


We move on now to the works which form the second subsection of the third general class into which we have here distinguished the Writings. These are the ones which were defined as moral works; the designation being used as the term, moral, is defined in the following statement: "Moral truths are those which the Word teaches concerning the life of man with the neighbor which is called charity."[ Wis. xi: 5.] They form a comparatively small group of five titles: Doctrine of Life, Doctrine of Charity, Concerning Marriage, Indices of a Work on Conjugial Love, and Conjugial Love itself.

The first in order, Doctrine of Life, shows that man can do good, love truths, have faith and become spiritual only from the Lord, and this only as he shuns evils as sins-from the Lord, but as if of himself. It then discloses that the Decalogue teaches what evils are sins, and shows systematically and in detail how man comes into the opposite goods as he shuns the evils enumerated in the second table of the Decalogue. Here in brief, therefore, is a doctrine of life that is entirely new because it teaches that man is given to will good as he ceases to will evil.

Doctrine of Charity disposes of false, sentimental, pietistic and self-seeking ideas of charity, and shows that charity is to perform a use from the Lord as a result of looking to Him and shunning evils as sins. In so doing, it emphasizes man's relation to others and to society as a use and distinguishes degrees of use and of the neighbor. It contains essentially the doctrine of uses, and lays down the principles of a spiritual sociology; and in these first two titles we have a summary of man's whole duty to other men and to the Lord.

However, man has specific duties which center in and have to do with marriage, and these are dealt with in the last three works in this subseries. The first of these, the fragmentary work, Concerning Marriage, contains many arcana of conjugial love not found elsewhere and is thus of great importance. In a series of short articles which may, perhaps, be regarded as preliminary sketches, it sets forth the essentials of the doctrine of conjugial love and its opposites-the essentials of the doctrine developed later in the work Conjugial Love.

Closely connected with this, and written in the same year (1767), are the two Indices of a Work on Conjugial Love. These are the only record extant of a work projected on a large scale. The synopsis outlines a work in two parts, with sixteen and ten chapters, respectively, and 2050 short paragraphs as against the 535 paragraphs in Conjugial Love. Whether these indices are the only remains of a missing treatise or are a first draft of Conjugial Love is a question on which New Church scholars have differed.

Conjugial Love is the fully developed and final statement of the Writings on the subjects of marriage, sex-morality and the various perversions of marriage love. Although it consists of two parts it is a unit and not two separate treatises, as some have alleged; and it is a moral work, ethical in its approach, and addressed to the rational mind. The first part traces the origin and descent of conjugial love from the Lord, focusses attention on the inmost nature of man and woman, and shows how conjugial love can be attained through the orderly steps of courtship, betrothal and marriage by those who look to the Lord, shun evils as sins and love uses; describes the interior changes effected by marriage; shows how jealousy, temptation and disaffection can be met; and reveals how marriage may be made tolerable through prudence and courtesy even if conjugial love is absent. The second part deals with the opposite of conjugial love, analyzes the evils which infest marriage and arranges them in their classes and degrees, and prescribes Divinely permitted means of return to order. The human conditions here described are evil, but what is really being revealed is the mercy of the Lord in meeting evils. Finally, we are shown in this work that the delights of marriage are for the propagation of the race and as a seminary for heaven; and that while the evil as well as the good are affected by love of offspring, those children who are born from a conjugial marriage have an inclination toward wisdom and the things that wisdom teaches. Spiritual love of offspring is also distinguished from natural.

It is to the five works in this subgroup especially that the student will go for instruction in all the moral, ethical and sociological problems that have to do with man's life with the neighbor in societies. For here is described for us the life of charity itself and its application to all the degrees of the neighbor, and then its specific application in marriage, wherein conjugial love is the regenerate love of the neighbor directed to one of the opposite sex.


We come now to the third and last subsection of this final general group. It consists of those works which were categorized as historico-doctrinal and descriptive of the phenomena and life of the spiritual world, and it contains seven titles. The name given to this subsection is not really satisfactory. It is intended to be suggestive rather than definitive, and to be taken only as indicating that the. subject-matter of the works grouped under it has to do with the spiritual world other than in a strictly theological sense as in Heaven and Hell, and that they deal with events and things there, with the interior states of people and nations, with the inner life of the church, and with the history of morals and doctrine in the Christian Church-none of which could have been known without Divine revelation.

The first work in this subsection is the Spiritual Diary, perhaps more correctly called "Swedenborg's Memorabilia." It is in part a, detailed record, sometimes day by day, of Swedenborg's experiences in the spiritual world and an eyewitness account of the Last judgment; in part a collection of statements of doctrine and of spiritual philosophy, especially concerning the spiritual world. The record extends over a period of eighteen years and fills five volumes in English translation.

Because of the way in which it is written it is impossible to give a detailed analysis and review of the contents. However, we may note that the Spiritual Diary is a storehouse of knowledges concerning the inhabitants, phenomena and life of the spiritual world; Swedenborg's experiences there and his progressive enlightenment; the spiritual causes of natural things; and the state in the other life of many persons well known to the student of history. Also, it adds to our information about the spiritual meaning of many passages in the Word and contains many doctrinal statements, some of which we do not find elsewhere, or at least worked out in such detail; for example, the doctrine of reflection. These are all things with which the New Church man should be familiar. As a means of learning the facts about the spiritual world the Diary can be of great value to the student who has grasped the principles in such a work as Heaven and Hell; and the study of it may help to introduce us into an understanding of the spiritual sense, just as the experiencing of what is recorded prepared Swedenborg to receive and expound that sense.

In the little work Earths in the Universe we have one of the most fascinating books in the Writings. While science is still debating the habitability of the planets, it assures us that all the planets are inhabited and that the stars are suns round which inhabited earths turn, because the Divine love is so immense that nothing less than countless inhabited earths could satisfy it. The work describes the people of the then known planets, and of five earths in the starry heaven, as seen by Swedenborg through the eyes of spirits coming from those earths; notes the spiritual quality and place in the Grand Man of each race; depicts the worship and life of each earth; and discloses why the Lord willed to be born on our earth, and not on any other.

A closely knit series is to be found in the next four works. Last Judgment disposes rationally of the Christian ideas on this subject, shows that the judgment must take place in the spiritual world, announces that it has already been accomplished, and describes in detail how it was effected on the Roman Church and how the false heavens were destroyed. It closes with a treatment of the state of the world and the church after the judgment.

Last Judgment (posthumous) is a compilation of notes describing various nations in the spiritual world and the state there of several religious leaders, whose final state, in some instances, was evidently not reached until later. The judgment on the Gentiles and the Reformed is then described. Few other works give a more concrete picture of the spiritual world than these and the two which follow them.

On the Spiritual World is a miscellaneous collection of articles and notes on various persons and nations already mentioned, doctrinal extracts, and a formal argument on the Last judgment.

Continuation Concerning the Last Judgment, the fourth and last work, again shows that the judgment has been effected, treats of the state of the world and the church before and after the judgment, and describes again the judgment on the Reformed. There are also descriptive articles on the spiritual world and on various nations and prominent persons there. These are of particular value because they are not Swedenborg's analyses, based on observation of external characteristics, but revelations of the internal character of these nations. There is some repetition among these four works, but together they give fully the rationale of the Last judgment, the description of it, and an account of its effects.

Finally there are the Memorabilia for the True Christian Religion. These are miscellaneous papers written by Swedenborg as the first draft of some of the memorabilia in that work, and left by him in the ship in which he made his last journey from Stockholm to Amsterdam. They are, specifically, the drafts of -nos. 16, 71, 76, 110, 112, 134, 136, 159, 335, 459, 504, 508 and 695 of the True Christian Religion.

Appendix I

Our survey of the Writings has now been concluded. We would emphasize again that it should not be thought of as demonstrating the only way in which the Writings can be organized. The books might have been ,grouped according to subject-matter; or they can be followed in the order in which they were written, noting the reasons for that order and the series that can be traced out in it. Here we have followed a type clas- sification; and the purpose has been to open the way to a general knowledge of the contents of the Writings and of where to go for the doctrine on various subjects.

There remains only to consider in two short appendixes the Word Explained, with particular reference to its status in the General Church, and the Memorabilia which occur in various works of the Writings. The Word Explained, written between 1745 and 1747, and therefore in the intermediate period of Swedenborg's life, is a spiritual exposition of the five books of Moses; of selected portions of Joshua, judges, Ruth, Samuel, Kings and Chronicles; and of Isaiah and Jeremiah. It should be recalled that at this time it had not yet been revealed to Swedenborg which books of the Old Testament contain the internal sense and are therefore books of the Word.

Although specimen translations in English, French and German were made from time to time after the publication of the Latin text as the Adversaria, the translation made by Dr. Alfred Acton is the first and only complete presentation of the work in another language than Latin. The work itself belongs, as has been said, to the intermediate period of Swedenborg's life; that is, after his introduction into the spiritual world, and his renunciation of the study of philosophy and science, but before he began to write the works in which the Heavenly Doctrine is given by the Lord to the church.

There have been a few who have wished to include the Word Explained in the canon of the Writings, but the general thought of the church has been that it should not be accorded the same status as the Arcana and the later works. Study of the mode of Swedenborg's inspiration, and of the work itself, has led rather to the opinion that in the Word Explained we have Swedenborg being trained by actual practice for the carrying out of his commission; that the immediate use of the work was to Swedenborg himself rather than to the church. It is felt, in other words, that in this work the Lord spoke to Swedenborg but not through him; spoke to him in order that later He might speak through him; and that while the work may be said to lead to the walls of the New Jerusalem, it does not introduce us into the Holy City itself.

Nevertheless the Word Explained should not therefore be dismissed as of little or doubtful value. It is an important work, and much that is of value would have been lost if we did not have it. It is of inestimable value in the illustration and confirmation of doctrine, as a commentary on the books covered, for comparative study, and as a text on Swedenborg's preparation. But in our view it should not be regarded as a foundation of doctrine, and it has no place in the Writings themselves.

Appendix II

A remarkable feature of the Writings is the insertion of Memorabilia between sections of the text in certain works. These relations have long been a source of embarrassment to some who were willing to accept the doctrinal parts of the Writings, and several questions do arise in connection with them. Why were the Memorabilia published? What use do they serve? How are they to be taken? Some consideration of these questions, however brief, must be included in any survey of the Writings.

In regard to the first of these questions, we note the following statement. "I foresee that many who read the Memorabilia that are appended to I the chapters of this book will believe them to be figments of the imagination. But I declare in solemn truth that they are not inventions but were truly seen and heard; not seen and heard in some state of the mind when asleep, but in a state of complete wakefulness."[1] Swedenborg's forebodings were justified. Count von Höpken urged him not to publish the Memorabilia, and Cuno wrote strongly to the same effect; but he answered that he was commanded by the Lord to publish them.[2] The Memorabilia, then, were published by Divine command; and this indicates that they can perform uses to which the doctrinal parts of the Writings are not so well adapted.

The general uses of the Memorabilia, and therefore the reasons for this command, may be seen, in the following teachings. The Memorabilia are in the place of miracles, and unless men read, believe and are affected by them, they will be unwilling to hear the interiors of the Word.[3] It is important to know what is in the spiritual world in order to understand the spiritual sense of the Word.[4] The literal sense of the Word is derived mostly from the appearances of the spiritual world;[5] and a knowledge of the Memorabilia is necessary for an understanding of the spiritual sense of the Word.[6]

Other uses may readily be seen. The Memorabilia bear a close relationship to the historicals of the letter of the Word, which are the first introduction to the spiritual truth of the Word. Indeed they may be thought of as the historicals of the spiritual world. They are the first of the Writings to be taught to children and the young; and an effective use of them, in conjunction with more doctrinal instruction, might be developed for new readers. They convey the facts of the spiritual world to the imagination, and are thus a means of introduction to the spiritual sense of the Word; they present in objective or spiritual-historical form the phenomena of the spiritual world, and also the general truths of doctrine; and they contain the doctrine of genuine truth as it is taught to newly arrived spirits who are in ignorance of genuine truth. In this last function they perform a use answering to that of the historicals in the letter of the Word, and they may be regarded as part of the spiritual-natural or internal-historical sense of the Word. Finally, in the field of general uses, we may note that sensual truth-which is defined in the Writings as seeing all things as created by God, each for some end, and in each an image of the kingdom of God[7] - conveyed to the mind in the objective phenomena of the spiritual world revealed in the Memorabilia.

Another use of the Memorabilia may be seen in this fact. It was an essential part of Swedenborg's preparation that he should be introduced to the spiritual world before he could enter into the spiritual sense of the Word and reveal it to men. That revelation could not have been made, it is said, "unless the nature of the things in the other world had been made known,"[8] and unless it had been given to Swedenborg to "have consort with the angels of heaven and to speak spiritually with them."[9] "In order that the true Christian religion might be manifested," it is said further, "it was necessary that someone should be introduced into the spiritual world and derive from the mouth of the Lord genuine truths out of the Word."[10] This suggests an analogous use that might be made of the Memorabilia in the church; though the analogy should not be pressed to the point of suggesting that the newcomer should read them and nothing else, for Swedenborg was being instructed in doctrine at the same time as he was observing the phenomena described in these memorable relations.

To sum up: the Memorabilia can be of service in the church in these ways:

1) They can make the spiritual world more real to us.

2) They can serve as a basis for thought about and understanding of the spiritual world.

3) They can show the relation of men to spirits and angels.

4) They can illustrate how it is possible to live in two worlds.

5) They can show the origins of thoughts and affections.

6) They can illustrate the protection of the Divine Providence.

7) They can show in a striking manner where our loves and our thoughts may lead us.

8) They can give us an objective picture of the spiritual world; confirm and illustrate many truths of doctrine; and teach other truths without seeming to do so.

9) They can help us to understand many things in the letter of the Word that would otherwise be obscure.

10) They can serve as an introduction to the spiritual sense of the Word and thus to the Heavenly Doctrine itself.

It is sometimes asked how the Memorabilia are to be taken. The question seems to arise out of their form. There is a strong appearance in some of these relations that Swedenborg is writing allegorically, or is translating doctrinal truth into correspondential language and thus expressing it as made-up history. But all the experiences recorded were real and authentic. Swedenborg is describing things "truly seen and heard"; and the appearance noted arises out of the fact that the things seen were themselves representative forms and correspondences because they were seen in the spiritual world. The difference is as that between the first chapters of Genesis, in which the doctrine is expressed correspondentially in the form of made-up history, and the descriptions by the prophets of visions seen in heaven which were representative but were actually seen by them.

Certain characteristics of the Memorabilia should also be noted. Thus, in recording conversations with angels, Swedenborg did not reproduce their speech verbatim, but translated it into Latin forms. In some instances, indeed, he summarized what he had heard as being the most convenient form of reporting.[11]

Also, it should be noted that the Memorabilia are not necessarily contemporaneous with the works in which they appear. In the case of those which are being repeated from earlier works this is, of course, obvious. A relation is inserted because of some connection between it and the doctrine which it follows, or, in at least one instance, precedes. An outstanding example is the relation early in True Christian Religion in which Swedenborg, charged by angels with having in his thought the idea of three gods, invited them to enter more deeply into his thought, where they would see that he had only the idea of one God.[12] It would seem almost incredible that there should be any trace in Swedenborg's mind of the idea of three Divine persons when he was writing that work. The experience had, in fact, occurred many years earlier; it was repeated here after the section on the Divine Esse because it had a bearing on the doctrine there developed.

Finally, it may be mentioned in passing that the descriptions of life in angelic societies found in some of the Memorabilia-details of dress, buildings, social organization, and so on-need not be regarded as permanent and invariable. It seems evident that most of the societies Swedenborg visited, except for those specifically said to have been formed from previous religious dispensations, were more or less contemporaneous; and that they need not be regarded as models for societies formed later, or still to be formed in the future.


1 TCR 851.
2 Docu. I: 66, II: 409, 416, 469.
3 SD 4123.
4 AE 410.
5 AE 503.
6 SD 6663.
7 AC 1434.
8 AC 67.
9 LJ 42.
10 Inv. 38.
11 See CL 183.
12 TCR 26.

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