By Alfred Regamy

I. Swedenborg's Intellectual Qualities.

In his Representative Men Ralph Waldo Emerson refers to Swedenborg as "one of the Missourium and mastodons of literature." Indeed, nothing could better characterize the impression which Swedenborg makes on all who have studied him at all closely or who have had the opportunity of examining the voluminous manuscripts which he has bequeathed to posterity and the numerous works he published during his lifetime.

Swedenborg was an indefatigable worker! He immersed himself successively in one field of science after another and dedicated his entire life to writing down and publishing the results of his researches. Having acquired his doctorate in philosophy at the University of Upsala, he wrote immediately to his brother-in-law Eric Benzelius asking for letters of introduction to the leading scholars of England. He announced his intention to visit that country without delay to advance his studies in mathematical sciences, in which he was particularly interested at that time. He expressed particular interest in classifying the fields of mathematics so far developed and searching out possible new applications. To the very end of his life Swedenborg displayed an eminently practical interest in all physical sciences and continuously dedicated himself to improve on or develop new inventions with the purpose of contributing to the advancement and progress of sciences through the publication of his researches.


SWEDENBORG AT WORK p. 2 It is therefore hardly surprising that he should have left an impressive volume of manuscripts dealing with these fields. It is easy to understand the astonishment often expressed by scholars on having their attention drawn to the prodigious volume of work which flowed from the pen of this genius. Many new readers of Swedenborg express astonishment on learning that the complete collection of his theological works alone fills more than 30 fat volumes, not to mention his works published during the first period of his life as a scientist and philosopher representing as great if not a greater volume of writing than his' theological works.

In 1869-1870 the attention of the cultural world was attracted by something entirely new. For the first time in history an important collection of manuscripts of one single author, comprising a total of ten thick volumes in folio, made up of 500 pages each, were reproduced in toto by photolithographic procedure. This author was Swedenborg some of whose principal manuscripts were published under the direction of Dr. Rudolf Tafel of London. To this first collection a second one, comprising 18 volumes of the same format and the same number of pages each were similarly reproduced, the photolithographic of this section was completed in 1918. Meanwhile this procedure of manuscript reproduction became generalized and considerably simplified by photo-offset process with excellent results.


SWEDENBORG AT WORK p. 3 However, the photolithographing and photo-typing of the collation of Swedenborg's manuscripts, totalling 28 volumes, or 15,643 pages in folio, is still far from complete. According to reliable estimates there are still to be published 7 to 8 volumes of documents of 500 folio pages each before the reproduction of all of Swedenborg's manuscripts known to us today can be called complete. It has been only the shortage of available funds which has prevented the accredited New Church organizations from completing the undertaking. Yet, even assuming such funds were at hand, these 35 volumes would still not furnish us with definite knowledge of all that Swedenborg wrote. Indeed, it must be remembered that most of the time Swedenborg was accustomed to produce two successive manuscripts of the works he published, the first, a kind of rough draft and the second, a revised copy for the printer. In general we have found only one manuscript copy of most of the works which he published, the clean copies furnished to the editors having been lost or not returned to him.

It must also be taken into account that in the case of certain works published by Swedenborg during his lifetime we have no manuscript at all, neither draft nor clean copy, and in the case of certain other treatises the existence of which is attested by indices which the author himself was accustomed to maintain and which have come down to us, we have neither the manuscript nor the published work.



To give one or two examples of this circumstances the initial pages of his Diarium, or Spiritual Diary, (Nos. 1 - 148) have never been found. Nevertheless, the index of this interesting work is complete and refers many times to these first numbers. Furthermore another index refers to an Opus primum de Amore Conjugiali, (first treatise on Marital Love), this work which must have included more an 2,000 paragraphs might indeed have served as first outline for the work which Swedenborg published in 1768 under the title Delights of Wisdom About Conjugial Love. So only one who is aware of all these documents is in a position to form an approximate idea of the prodigious work which Swedenborg accomplished.

Among members of the New Church few are acquainted with more than the theological works of this author, and particularly those which Swedenborg published during his lifetime, and even less, perhaps excepting the Apocalypse Explained and the Doctrine of Charity, aware of the fact that he left to the state manuscript which were only published after his death. That is indeed regrettable, for these latter, although it is true that they are often no more than outlines, plans, or unfinished drafts of works later revised and published, are of considerable value because they help us the better to understand the others which Swedenborg published himself.


SWEDENBORG AT WORK p. 5 They help us, as it were, to sit down near Swedenborg's desk and watch the man at work! More       than that, they supply valuable information regarding the circumstances which, in many cases, incited him to write and the working conditions under which the writing was done. We also learn what preliminary studies were necessary, how he proceeded to assemble the material he needed and the sources of the documentation he consulted. Finally, they confirm us in the conviction that the Lord guided him providentially through his earliest years, and that the whole first part of his life his long career as a scientist and philosopher was a desirable and indispensable preparation for the mission which he was destined to undertake. Swedenborg asserts this himself in a letter which he addressed to Oettinger in 1766, in which he writes: "I was led to the study of natural sciences by the Lord and thereby prepared during the years 1710 to 1744 for the time when heaven would be opened to me." In The Word Explained (Adversaria), vol. II, no. 839, he writes similarly: "I could not understand at the time they happened, the implications of the incidents of my life, but through the Divine Mercy of God Messiah I did understand later some and even many of their details. Thereby I perceived that the Divine Providence directed the acts of my life continuously from my earliest years and caused them to develop so that I could attain a state of intelligence, and thus, at the Divine Mercy of God Messiah, serve as an instrument to reveal the things which are hidden interiorly in the Word."



No one was better qualified than Swedenborg to fulfill the mission entrusted to him as herald of the Second Coming of the Lord, since he was not only endowed with a rare intellect and possessed a broad general culture, but he also displayed those spiritual qualities indispensable to the accomplishment of the great mission reserved for him. I refer to precision, minuteness, accuracy, a truly remarkable capacity of observing every phenomena down to its least details and talent for clearly recording the results of his observations and research. That is hardly unimportant for once his spiritual sight was activated and he was permitted to observe the marvels of the heavenly environment Swedenborg applied the same methods in reporting them. He examined everything he was permitted to see with the greatest of care, inquired into everything most minutely and made note of the smallest details of the observations he had made, fully warranting the subtitle "According to Things Heard and Seen" to the works which he published.

It is, moreover, not only in his scientific and theological works that such qualities are observed. Equivalent meticulousness is noted, for example, in his records for the year 1770 where we find the date he planted a carnation, the date it bloomed, and the number of seeds he eventually collected therefrom.




I. Working Methods.

Complementing the qualities referred to in the preceding chapter Swedenborg also possessed those of the trained mathematician: logic, order, clarity of expression, extraordinary powers of deduction, along with the methodical and systematic mentality: characteristics which are repeatedly displayed in his writings and perhaps particularly in his doctrinal treatises. In these each chapter begins with a series of propositions which the author briefly analyzes and which he breaks down into a now series of propositions which are successively developed. I see no point in citing many examples. This method, which never fails to impress all who are familiar with our author, is still more evident in some of his posthumous works where, in many cases, and precisely because they represent first drafts or unfinished projects, the text is limited to a long enumeration of propositions or axioms arranged in a certain order in which some are logically deduced from others." One only needs to look at The Canons of the New Church to find a good example. We note in passing that this little work (composed of a series of notes which the author left unfinished) is perhaps no more than a preliminary outline of a work which Swedenborg published shortly before his death under the title of True Christian Religion. We consider this hypo, thesis warranted by the fact that these notes were written in 1769, only a year before Swedenborg published this final work, and also because on one of the two copies made of the original manuscript of these notes - the manuscript itself having been lost appears the following notation:


SWEDENBORG AT WORK p. 8 "This work contains the universal theology of the New Church." This was the precise subtitle which Swedenborg gave to his True Christian Religion.

Reverting to the Canons of the New Church in the first pages and particularly those of part one entitled "Concerning God" we find it beginning with a summary formed of ten propositions. Consider the first four: I. There is only one God. II. This one God is Being (esse) itself which is called Jehovah. III. This God is from all eternity and consequently is eternity itself. IV. Since God is Being itself and because He is from all eternity He is the creator of the Universe. The fourth proposition is obviously a logical deduction from the two preceding, that is why, moreover, the word "since" and the word "because" are used. And what is still more noteworthy, each of these affirmations will in its turn become the title of a chapter in the work. Let us consider one of these chapters the first, for example, which corresponds to the first proposition and which deals with the unity of God or an only God. What do we see there? A new series of 10 propositions on this topic of the unity of God comprising a corresponding number of concomitants by means of which Swedenborg confirms or tries to prove such unity. We admire the geometrical construction of his arguments, after a general observation on the importance of the doctrine of the unity of God, which is according to him "the principal and sumo most important doctrine of the Church" Swedenborg assembles his arguments and advances different methods of demonstration.


SWEDENBORG AT WORK p. 9 Among others, his appeal is addressed to:


"There is a universal influx from God and from the angelic heaven into the soul of man, influx by means of which he can feel that there is a God and that this God is One." (Proposition 5.)


"On the basis of many things in the natural world human reason can acknowledge, if it so desires, that there is one God and that this God is One." (Proposition 6.)

The letter of the Holy Scriptures man teachings of the Church:

"It is the teaching of the Holy Scriptures and consequently that of the Christian Church that there is only one God." (Proposition 8.)

Without over looking in his argument a reduction to, the absurd:

"If there were not a God how would the Universe have been created and how would it be preserved?" (Proposition 2.)



Now if we compare these various propositions with the last topics dealt with in the first chapter of True Christian Religion we observe that these, after all, are no more than a development of the same arguments, if not in the same order at least under the same headings. Thus they serve to confirm opinion we have expressed regarding the relation between these two works. The Canons are no more than a preparatory outline, a kind of preliminary plan for the composition of the True Christian Religion. Such an assumption is not unimportant because it helps us to understand how Swedenborg worked to prepare his treatises, the pains he took in first formulating a detailed plan, carefully studied, and in which he listed with order and method under a certain number of headings and sub-titles all that he had the intention of discussing.

All we have observed with regard to the Canons, and True Christian Religion could be repeated with regard to other works. Take for example the little treatise De Domino the manuscript of which only comprises 7 pages and which appears upon examination to be a resume of a systematic work on the Lord the Redeemer. Could it be the first outline of the Doctrine of the Lord published several years later? It hardly seems doubtful. In its rudimentary form it contains a series of solid arguments on the nature of the Divine-Human of the Lord, arguments drawn:


SWEDENBORG AT WORK p. 11 first from common faith, second from reason, third from the Athanasian Creed, fourth from his experience (in the spiritual world), fifth from the Word. We moreover note what the plan of it is as formulated by Swedenborg himself: "By the 'Son of Man' the truth proceeding from the Divine is to be understood. (Since this is not generally understood it is appropriate to explain it.) Consider here all the passages concerning the Lord dealt with in the Doctrine of the New Jerusalem and in Arcana Coelestia. Also the work on Heaven and Hell, the treatise on The Last Judgment and that on Earths in the Universe, particularly the paragraphs concerning the Lord."

We have just mentioned the Athanasian Creed. We observe that Swedenborg left among his manuscripts a little work rather several sheets of detached notes, since a number of sentences are incomplete - on this topic, and that they plausibly form a rudimentary outline of work which he proposed to publish under that title. The first words we find there suffice to indicate how far the plan had been developed, "To enumerate here all that the Lord said in Matthew concerning the last state of the Church. The words ought to be quoted and successively explained as in #1 of the work on Heaven and Hell."

Another brief manuscript written about the same time and which is doubtless a collection of notes for the Doctrine of Life published shortly afterwards, is entitled Precepts of the Decalogue. It remained in more or less the same state of development as the preceding one.



It begins: "When the last judgment was accomplished a New Church was promised, which, is called in the Apocalypse the New Jerusalem. 1. Explain the entire Chapter XXI and Chapter XXII verses 1-5. 2. Demonstrate by means of other verses from the Word that by Jerusalem the Church must be understood, as in the following passages: (There follow among many others not less than 48 quotations from Isaiah.) 3. Discuss the things which precede in the Apocalypse, particularly regarding the dragon, the scarlet beast and their destruction. 4. Regarding the Last Judgment. This Judgment has already been described but additional details adduced."

The foregoing adequately supports our first points Swedenborg never wrote a treatise, or at least a doctrinal work, without first preparing a detailed outline, noting the ideas which he wished to develop successively and carefully marshalling all the arguments that he could find in their favor. Once having outlined the plan, he then undertook a first effort at composition, a slow and arduous work which acquired a great deal of patience, and of which it is not always easy for the reader to become aware of if he only sees the final result, the published work. In many cases Swedenborg was not satisfied with his first composition and as indicated above, for the greater part of the works which he published, he made a new clean copy of manuscript for the printer. In doing this he occasionally made rearrangements, substitution of words in the interest of greater clarity and lighter style.



At times he even proceeded to make a complete rearrangement, discarding a number of points which he at first intended to develop and replacing them with new ones. Let us refer for example to the manuscript of the Adversaria (The Word explained), no. 289. We find there two successive paragraphs bearing the same number. The first is struck out and replaced by a second in which he deals with a matter entirely different from that treated in the deleted paragraph.

In general it is evident that the final copies showed very few erasures or corrections, a circumstance which has misled many to affirm their divine inspiration - as though the divine character of the writings of a religious author resided in such detail!

Such persons were furthermore confirmed in this opinion by the fact that the editor of the photolithographic reproductions (1870-71) - the only ones accessible to them as a basis for such an opinion - had been careful to eliminate such defects in the manuscript before photographing them. This point of view is certainly not shared by those who have been able to examine the drafts and the first manuscripts, and no more can faith be attributed to the allegations of Pernetty, the first translator of Heaven and Hell in French (Berlin 1782) who notes in the biographical preface to this work, dedicated to Swedenborg, on page 78: "His Excellency the Councellor Sandel on visiting Swedenborg, and observing a number of manuscripts without corrections or erasures, on the table where he wrote, inquired whether he took the trouble to make clean copies.


SWEDENBORG AT WORK p. 14 The author replied. I make the clean copies on writing them the first time, because I am only a secretary who writes as the spirit dictates." We shall refer to this paragraph later on.

Resuming study of the changes noted between first drafts and final copies, it is interesting to compare the index of the first part of Conjugial Love and that of Delights of Wisdom Concerning Conjugial Love. We observe that a number of topics listed for discussion in the former do not figure in the latter, and vice versa. It sometimes even happens that our author is not satisfied with the treatise as rewritten - a clean copy delivered to the printer - and abandons the initial intention to have it published. Such was the case with Apocalypse Explained two manuscripts of which are at hand. The earlier one ending with no. 1232 has been reproduced in the phototype series, of which it forms vol. XV to XVII, and the second, which closes with no. 1229 and comprises the volumes IX and X of the photolithographic series. In both cases the commentary on the Apocalypse ends abruptly at verse X of Chapter XIX, and Swedenborg never finished this work, for which we nevertheless have two manuscripts. This appears to warrant the conclusion that our author did not expect to have it completed for recopying, but probably, in order to vary his work, wrote both manuscripts simultaneously. It would be difficult to say why Swedenborg never finished the Apocalypse Explained and abandoned its publication.


SWEDENBORG AT WORK p. 15 We know, of course, that some years later the Apocalypse Revealed appeared, a work which he was no doubt moved to write during the years he was busy preparing Apocalypse Explained.

In this connection the hypothesis of Dr. R. L. Tafel in his "Documents Concerning Swedenborg" is interesting. He says: The great distinction which one can make between Apocalypse Explained and Apocalypse Revealed consists in the following: While the doctrine of the internal sense is applied to the Universal Church in the first of these works, the second deals exclusively with the Church of the New Jerusalem and the position which the latter holds in relation to the old Christian Church. That is why the author, once he had grasped the more special significance of the last book of the Bible, suddenly dropped his work on Apocalypse Explained so that the treatise ends on verse 10 of Chapter XIX. This example demonstrates how Swedenborg, in the middle of a treatise, was at times moved to write another on the same subject but from a more particular point of view." (Document 313, page 1000-1001.)

The foregoing is recited - and we have dwelt on the details intentionally - in the desire to make more understandable that patience with which Swedenborg worked in the preparation of his writings. He would never have sent a manuscript to the printer before having reviewed it carefully and found it entirely satisfactory.


SWEDENBORG AT WORK p. 16 He wrote no less than three attempts of interpretation of the first chapters of Genesis before writing the first version of Arcana Coelestia. The initial manuscript of 25 pages was written in 1745 and entitled History of Creation as Described by Moses. Then The Word Explained (a work usually known as the Adversaria). Finally the marginal notes on Genesis, and Exodus which were written by Swedenborg in his Latin Bible in 1747, that is during the time he was assembling material for the Arcana. It would be interesting to study the explanations given in these three manuscripts and compare them with those given in the Arcana, but that would be too long a task to include in this study. Let it suffice to say that he who undertakes such a study cannot fail to be impressed by the progressively deeper understanding which Swedenborg developed in the measure that his consciousness of the spiritual environment brought him broader views of the realities of the world beyond. In The History of Creation written very shortly before the beginning of his introduction to the spiritual world - a circumstance which he moreover mentions in no. 25 (English edition 1928) - we still find a purely literal interpretation of the chapters of Genesis which are developed there. It was furthermore the first time that our author attempted to comment on the Word, and he still judged by appearances. But we find there an occasional tendency to look for a deeper sense. For example: verse 7 of Chapter 3 commences:


SWEDENBORG AT WORK p. 17 "Then their eyes were opened and they both saw they were naked," he writes "that is to say they perceived evil, how great was their ignorance. After the fall nudity represented what was previously innocent. But," he adds at the end of this little work - and the remark will servo to introduce the Word Explained (Adversaria) which he wrote immediately afterwards and which was a second attempt to interpret the Holy Scriptures - "that is to examine the Scriptures for the more particular purpose to seek there the Kingdom of God, that is to know what it is and all that it brings, because this Kingdom is the purpose of the creation of all things in Heaven as it is on earth."

And that is indeed the topic dealt with in the Word Explained (Adversaria). In this new work find no longer a literal study of Holy Scripture but an interpretation of its content in its relationship of the progress of the Kingdom of God in the bosom of humanity in general and of the Jewish nation in particular. To this typo of interpretation we ordinarily apply the term 'internal historical sense.' This step marked the beginning of Swedenborg's advance into the spiritual understanding of Holy Scripture. As his spirit gradually opened to the light of heaven he penetrated its more profound significance. He saw clearly that beneath the letter a mote interior significance lay hidden. Refer, for example, to no. 23 of the Adversaria. "It is clear to every intelligent man," he writes, "that in the history of creation as reported by Moses the words have a double meaning throughout, that is a spiritual along with the natural sense...


SWEDENBORG AT WORK p. 18 A reason for this is that everything existing in the divine cannot but exist also in nature which constitutes a representation of a celestial idea. There is therefore a correspondence between everything, which, with divine permission, we propose to study in detail." Swedenborg did not perceive these correspondences clearly all at once but step by step as he progressed in his study of Scripture whore he found the same words repeated again and again. He began anew with Genesis and on the margins of his old Bible he noted the results of his observations and discoveries. At this time he had the advantage of more than two years of experience in the other world and of its light. Once accustomed to plumb the hidden sense he searched the Writings for even more profound applications, their significance for each human soul. He was finally equipped to write the Arcana Coelestia which he undertook shortly afterwards. It is not our intention to dwell overlong on this now work. We would, however, like to emphasize one striking detail of it. This consists of an abrupt alteration of interpretation beginning with Chapter 12 of Genesis (AC 1401) beginning with the histories of Abraham and the patriarchs. Here Swedenborg applies his particular exegesis of Scripture to the life of the Lord Himself, although he had hitherto limited himself to seek their application to the life of man, individually and collectively.


SWEDENBORG AT WORK p. 19 Had his progress in the perception of spiritual content reached an understanding Of the celestial sense? Also the following declaration which be noted on August 7, 1747 (old calendar) in his Genesis, (Codex 6, page 1. photolithograph vol. X, page 1164): "A change of stets has taken place in me in the celestial Kingdom, by means of an image." Does this relate to that progress? It is difficult to doubt. By these words Swedenborg "asserts that the celestial and that degree of his spirit is opened and that from then on he was capable of seeing not only the spiritual sense but also the celestial sense of the Word." (Tafel, Document 313, page 963.) This was not the only change of state Swedenborg was to undergo and we can understand that he experienced others progressively as he entered brighter spiritual light and progressed in the preparation of the task entrusted to him by the Lord. The careful reader can uncover manifest evidences of these changes even in the very style of his writings. Compare, for example, the style of his scientific writings and that of his later works during his theological period, while in the former the style is generally pure, even elegant at times, with, here and there, a certain refinement, in the latter he becomes dry, simple, arduous. One senses an effort of self-effacement by the author in order to better illustrate his presentation of truth with all the strength and power inherent in itself.



* * * * *

III. Swedenborg's preparation For His Mission, Study of the Word

We have asserted above that no one was better qualified than Swedenborg to fulfill the mission to which he had been called by the Lord, and we have tried to demonstrate that by his studies he had indeed acquired the aptitudes and the mental conditioning, all the endowments and qualities needed for the accomplishment of his task. In addition, however, he needed specialized preparation treatise natural as well as from the spiritual point of view. First of all, in ardor to read and subject to careful study the Old Testament in its original tongue he had to add a thorough knowledge of Hebrew to his previous scholastic achievements. This involved familiarizing himself with the various styles in which these books are written and with the spiritual import of each word appearing therein, On this point we quote the following extract which Swedenborg himself wrote to his friend, Dr. Beyer, in February 1767:

"That is why, once heaven opened to no, I had first to study Hebrew and the correspondences in accordance to which the whole Bible is composed, which caused we to read the Word several times." I recall my personal astonishment when I opened Swedenborg's Diary for the first, time my eyes tell on section 192 and 193 where a series of Hebrew words was conjugated. I wondered then what this had to 40 with the rest of the book and if it were not an error imputable to the publisher of the work.


SWEDENBORG AT WORK p. 21 I know now of cows* that it is nothing of this sort and that thee* pages in Hebrew are a natural inclusion in the manuscript of the Diary. Like a serious scholar Swedenborg was at that time - September 1747 - engaged in the study of the Hebrew language, and, for his exercise notes, took advantage of the paper closest at hand, in this case the sheets of his Diary. Swedenborg was 57 years of age at that time and he soon acquired sufficient facility in that language to read not only the Old Testament from the earliest texts than known, but even to be able to appreciate and compare the different versions. A translation which he preferred above all and in which he had the greatest confidence was that of Sebastian Smidius. He gives us the reason in section 363 of part two of the Word Explained in the following terms:

"To date no one sees anything else in the Word than its purely literal sense, because humanity wallows in such materialism that it entirely disregards anything spiritual. There are indeed translators of Holy Scriptures who have confirmed themselves in such a state of obscurantism that they attach little importance to the exact translation of the words themselves in accordance with the original source such as Smidius has done. They rather seek a certain elegance of style such as affected by many translators of ordinary literature, They have thereby altered the meaning of words to such an extent that one no longer attached to the text of Holy Scripture more than a historical importance thereby depriving themselves of all the light which radiates from the actual words of the Lord."



A long list - too long to be included here - of documents and manuscripts in our possession demonstrate the painstaking and assiduous study Swedenborg dedicated to the sacred books which he read and often reread, whether for a strictly specific purpose or fox his own edification. To demonstrate his reading of the Word for his own edification we can do no better than recall the first of his Rule of Life which is s to often read and meditate on the Word of God." Regarding his studies of the Bible for a particular purpose we likewise refer to one of his own affirmations, selected from among several. This is found in no. 37 of the Doctrine of the Lord: "I may first mention the fact that I have been permitted to study all the prophets and the Psalms of David, examine each verse and to learn what each one deals with, and I have observed that the only subjects dealt with ace: the Church which is established and which will be established by the Lords the coming of the Lord His struggles, His glorification, His redemption, His salvation, etc," This was perhaps following the study to which Swedenborg refers here when he wrote his little treatise bearing the title Summary Exposition of the Internal Sense of the Prophets and the Psalms.

We can mention yet another occasion when Swedenborg read the Bible with a specific purpose in views this was when he was engaged in composing the True Christian Religion and he collected for that purpose all the passages of the Holy Scriptures supporting the doctrines he presents, recurring also in this cane to passages selected from the Pauline Epistles.


SWEDENBORG AT WORK p. 23 These lists of texts so collated have been published posthumously by Dr. Immanuel Tafel of the University of Tuebingen under the title of Dicta Probantia, (confirmatory texts). In comparing the different chapter headings under which all these passages of Holy Writ are classified in the notes along with the subjects treated in True Christian Religion, there is no doubt whatsoever that they are merely a compilation specifically for the composition of this work.




IV. Index Compilation and Marginal Notes

One of the strongest proofs we have of the assiduity which Swedenborg applied in his study of the Bible is the voluminous index which he left and which, in part, comprises what we would call today a Biblical Concordance, this difference however, that instead of limiting himself to the simple enumeration of passages containing a designated word - the usual practice for this type of concordance - Swedenborg occasionally adds commentary or explanations illustrating the spiritual correspondence. In addition there are numerous annotations that ha left on the margins of most of the pages of his Bible. This volume, preserved in the Library of the Royal Academy of sciences in Stockholm, was photolithographed in 1869-70 by Dr. R. Tafel concurrently with a number of manuscripts already mentioned. On some of the pages of that Bible the notes are so numerous that they completely surround the printed text. They are particularly abundant on Genesis, Exodus and the Prophets and reflect the work of Swedenborg during the years 1746-47 when, as he tolls us himself in the above mentioned letter to Dr. Beyer recalling his frequent rereading of the Word of God. During that period Swedenborg was fully absorbed in his study of the significance and correspondence of each word, and with the aid of his concordance he particularly sought out in the books of the Bible words repeatedly used in order to elucidate and apply their spiritual meaning. As this research progressed and his spiritual understanding broadened he then noted on the margins the Arcana revealed to him.


SWEDENBORG AT WORK p. 25 In this connection the following passage taken trams a manuscript page on Gad and Asher - a page which was found in an original edition of Heaven and Hell kept by Swedenborg himself and which may possibly, be identical with no. 28 of the lost paragraphs of the Diary - is highly suggestive. We read, "There are things which are hidden and regarding which one might write at length. February 8th, 1747, the day I was permitted to note on the margin something concerning the blessings of the sons of Jacob (Genesis 49)." Here we learn how the spiritual sense of the word was revealed to Swedenborg. Explanations were given him from above while he read the Bible, but he was not permitted to write it down. Anyone who is curious can today find the reference in the photolithographic edition of Swedenborg's Bible at the margin of chapter 49 of Genesis, or more precisely verse 19 and 20 in which reference is made to Gad and Asher.

These marginal notes were a source of constant documentation for Swedenborg, he made frequent use of them. Repeatedly, in the Word Explained for example, we find these words: "See marginal notations regarding this," or "See marginal note relative to this passage," Swedenborg transcribed a great number of these in his Biblical Index, which thus served at once as a concordance and as a dictionary of correspondences. He was very fond of compiling such references and this type of compilation formed an integral part of his daily work.


SWEDENBORG AT WORK p. 26 He compiled indices for the greater part of his works: Diary, Arcana, Apocalypse Revealed, quite apart from the Biblical Index which, was in the main an index of marginal notations on his Bible. We read in section 3417 of the, Diary: "When I extracted - i.e. made the Index of (cum excerparem) - what is written in sections 1719 and 1720 regarding spirits and their senses, certain scholars were present and their perception was communicated to me." We also have the index of a number of lost manuscripts (Index of missing numbers of the Spiritual Diary and two indices of the first draft of Conjugial Love, and these are particularly valuable to us because they allow us to form an idea of the contents of these works. In some oases the index which is left is entirely struck out) line after line as though to indicate that the particular purpose of their compilation had been accomplished.

In general these indexes of Swedenborg may be classified in two categories one, comprising entries following the numerical order of the paragraphs of the book, for example "word and Subject Index of Arcana Coelestia," and on the other hand, those in which the topics are methodically arranged and the subject includes a number of sub-divisions, for example "The Index of Apocalypse Revealed." It is probable that Swedenborg intended this last type of index for the public to be used in connection with the books and that he had the intention at least at one time, of proceeding with their publication.


SWEDENBORG AT WORK p. 27 We are led to this hypothesis by the fact that we have two manuscripts of the last of these indices, one a kind of draft and the other a clean copy.

Regarding the index following the numerical order of a volume we are inclined to believe that Swedenborg was accustomed to compile it progressively as he proceeded with the composition of his work. He constantly used these indices as very helpful adjuncts to his labors. Indeed, thanks to this methodical and continual compilation he was able, with remarkable precision and without loss of time, to rater the reader of his works back to preceding paragraphs in the same work or other works previously published dealing with the topic which he was developing at greater length, For this reason one also finds cited in such an index a number referring to a treatise published later on. For example: the reference in the Index to the Arcana Coelestia (apparently compiled between 1749 and 1756), under Soul and Tooth, to numbers in the Apocalypse Explained (written 1757-1759). Similarly a number in the Apocalypse Revealed (1766) figures in the Index under Babel, and a number in Conjugial Love, (1766) under GOOD. For additional examples refer to the preface of the French translator (St. Amand 1858) of l'Index des Mots et des choses contenus dans les "Arcanes Celestes."

Reverting to Swedenborg's custom of making notes on leaf margins, we may say that this did not begin merely from the time when he made particularly close studies of the sacred books (1747-47), now confirmation, take the example of his De Cultu et Amore Dei, (1745), now in the possession of the Royal Academy of Sciences in Stockholm.


SWEDENBORG AT WORK p. 28 A glance at the early pages of this work reveals a number of marginal notations which appear to consist of succinct resumes of the corresponding paragraphs. We are warranted in supposing that Swedenborg had perhaps the intention of preparing an index of the book fox public use but never implemented the project.

Another interesting and noteworthy case is the following, around 1420 a first edition of Arcana Coelestia, presumed to have been a part of Swedenborg's own personal library collection, was discovered in the Library of Harvard University. This was subsequently deposited with the Library of the New Church Theological School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The margins of the later volumes dealing with Exodus are replete with annotations regarding inhabitants of other plants, apparently by the hand of the author himself. All points to the conclusion that it comprises the original outline of Swedenborg's project for his treatise on the Earths in the Universe, published in 1758, several years after Arcana Coelestia and which cowers practically the same material dealt with more fully in the later treatise.

One thing is certain: Swedenborg repeats himself often and in his writings ha deals many times with the saws topic, albeit in differing perspectives. The Arcana Coelestia, and the Apocalypse Explained together are the two principal theological works providing the source for a large part of the material developed in his shorter treatises.


SWEDENBORG AT WORK p. 29 Thus, Heaven and Hell might be said to be only a systematic presentation of what he wrote on the same topics in Arcana Coelestia but arranged in a different order. For example, while Swedenborg, in the Arcana, speaks first of the World of Spirits, than Heaven and finally Hell, in the new work he begins with Heaven, continues with the World of Spirits and concludes with Hell. Three other treatises published in 1758, concurrently with Heaven and Hell, are likewise drawn, in greater part at least, from the Arcana Caelestia. These are The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine, already expounded in the paragraphs preceding each chapter of the Arcana dealing with Exodus, the White Horse, topic treated in Genesis 22 (AC 2760-2763), and Earths in the Universe, already mentioned above. Another little work entitled Babylon Destroyed was published the same year. Its content, however, was not drawn from the Arcana, but from his Spiritual Diary, (5034-5871). We should also mention the readily established relation between the treatises published 1763-1766 (including the Four Doctrines, Divine Love and Wisdom, Divine Providence, The Apocalypse Revealed) and his voluminous work the Apocalypse Explained, which he wrote during 1757-59. In pointing this out we would not have you suppose, nevertheless, that all Swedenborg wrote in his numerous theological works was already covered in the two principal ones (Arcana Caelestia, and Apocalypse, Explained), but it is none the less true that one finds in these numerous paragraphs reproduced in the others and that he made use, in composing the latter, of all kinds of notes, systematically assembled while engaged in writing the Arcana and the Apocalypse Explained.


SWEDENBORG AT WORK p. 30 As confirmation we quote the following note found on a bundle of pages labelled De       Mundo Spirituali, - probably written in 1760 - "Many things regarding the spiritual world have been drown from this collection and published in Continuation Regarding the Spiritual World (title given by Swedenborg to the second part of the little work entitled Continuation of the Last Judgment.).




V Gradual Opening of His Spiritual Eyes

So far we have dealt with Swedenborg's mental qualities and special aptitudes for the task to which he was called. We have tried, in brief references to manuscripts which he did not publish, to familiarize the reader with some of his working methods, from which he never departed and of which we want to speak in more detail in the interest of clarity: his habit of adding marginal notes to the sheets on which he was working; preparation of detailed plans or schedules in which he summarized the principal ideas he intended to develop; progressive elaboration of indices and classifications as he advanced in the composition of his works. We have also mentioned his initial preparation when, abandoning the specialised study of natural sciences and philosophy in order to dedicate himself to theology, he undertook the study of Hebrew, the Holy Scriptures and the symbolic language of correspondences.

But it is still another aspect of his preparation, regarding which we have as yet said but little, to which we now turn, because it is highly important for an adequate understanding of our subject. It is what might be called his special preparation, as a revelator, for his role as a seer, prior to his awakening to the light of heaven, before it became possible for him to report to mankind the details of the "world beyond" ex Auditis et visis (from things heard and seen).



This preparation was certainly not the work of a day; at the beginning Swedenborg could not reach up to the higher regions of the spiritual world; some years were necessary for him to attain to its full light and to equip him to converse with spirits and angels. "It has been nearly three years," he writes in his Diarium in August 1747, "since I began to sense and observe the activities of spirits, not through any gift of internal sight but by way of a sensation accompanied by an obscure perception. I thus became conscious of their presence, their approaches and their departures, and many other things." We have already mentioned the matter of gradual and progressive revelation in commenting on the diverse interpretations which Swedenborg gave successively to a single chapter of Genesis, as he advanced into brighter light, and experienced changes of state in himself.

There is moreover another means of assuring ourselves of this "interior" preparation taking place with Swedenborg. That is to study in the works he published towards the end of his life all he tells us of the circumstances which spirits must necessarily experience before being admitted to the higher spheres of heaven, and apply these to his own ease; for we are convinced that such conditions are integral components of the laws of order, and that they cannot be ignored even in the case of Swedenborg.


SWEDENBORG AT WORK p. 33 We quote what he himself wrote in Heaven and Hell 130, where, speaking of the gradual elevation of a spirit into the light of heaven, he adds:       "I have been raised up interiorly into that light by degrees; and as I was raised up my understanding became so enlightened as to enable me to perceive what I could not perceive before, and finally such things as I could not even comprehend by natural light."



* * * * *


Another interesting passage is found in AC 805, whore Swedenborg speaks of internal respiration among antediluvians (Ge 7:21, 22). He adds: "After these tines internal respiration ceased, and with it communication with heaven and thus celestial perception, and external respiration ensued." It is accordingly clear that communication with heaven and angels is impossible unless man's spiritual lungs are accustomed to this spiritual breathing and external respiration be suspended, at least as long as such communication persists. We recur to Swedenborg himself for further particulars. First, in the Spiritual Diary 3317, after emphasizing that breathing varies according to the quality of a person's faith, he wrote: "I can understand and believe it because my own respiration was so developed by the Lord so that I could breathe internally for an extended period, without the help of external air. In fact my breathing was controlled internally so that my physical senses, nevertheless, conserved their full vigor and my active life continued unaltered. However this can only be granted and prepared by the Lord." (See also Spiritual Diary, 3320 and AC 9281).



We draw on No. 143 of the second part of the Adversaria for another reference to internal breathing. We reads "From my earliest youth I accustomed myself to this kind of breathing. When I said my morning and evening prayers, and later when I studied the marvelous interplay of the lungs and hear, and especially when I found myself deeply preoccupied in writing the works which I published over the years, I was able to observe a tacit respiration, barely perceptible, and I meditated about it frequently... Accordingly I have been accustomed for many years, since my infancy, to such respiration, particularly when absorbed in deep speculations, during which my external breathing ceased almost completely, the more so since all profound study is almost impossible otherwise. Later when the heavens were opened to me and I was able to converse with spirits I barely breathed, at times for nearly an hour, inhaling hardly enough air to maintain thought processes. Is such a manner was I initiated by the Lord into internal respiration." There can hardly be a more categorical affirmation than that. Swedenborg was, from his tenderest years habituated to this type of tacit breathing, and a certain period was a necessary for him to accustom his organism to the spiritual atmosphere in which he was called to live in a state of full consciousness.




The best way to form an idea of the special preparation Swedenborg had to undergo before he could be admitted to the light of heaven is to undertake a study in depth of the years 1743-47, during which he became a theologian, supplementing the scholar and philosopher. What he wrote during that period becomes highly useful to us because it is self-evident that the mental processes of the author and changes of state he experienced must needs find reflection in the works he wrote. During these years Swedenborg published no more than two manuscripts. One was The Animal Kingdom and the other On the Worship and Love of God. What suggestive titles they are! And how well they reflect the author's dominant moods! Indeed, was he not deeply interested in exploring the human organism in his search for its of soul? And was not his strongest desire that of leading his fellow man to worship the Lord and to convince them of His love? These titles alone suffice to demonstrate that no one was more deeply desirous than he of fulfilling the task entrusted to him by the Lord who chose him as the instrument for revelation of hitherto unsuspected verities concerning man as a spiritual being and his life beyond the grave.


SWEDENBORG AT WORK p. 37 But if, as last suggested, the books published by him during these years were only two, the manuscripts he composed were numerous, and these furnish us with precious documentation for our study; particularly those he wrote for his strictly private use. Among the latter his Diarium (Spiritual Diary) and his Drommar (Book of Dreams) have particular significance. In fact, the manuscript notes under the headings were no other than the customary private journal of observations noted (even as you or I) in the course of a day's work, recording his impressions, his reflections on unusual things he began to hear and see, his phantases, and new sensations he experienced and the evolving states of mind he

Swedenborg carefully noted all these things in his private journal, with many details, as a conscientious scholar consigns to paper each new observation and insight granted him for the purpose of better confirmation and formulation of eventually meaningful conclusions. Indeed, I know of no more valuable documents for a psychological study of Swedenborg than the manuscripts of these "years of internal crisis." I feel sure that no one who takes the trouble to subject them to impartial and objective study could thereafter classify his as a mystic or insane as he has so frequently been referred to. No one has over approached spiritual problems in such a methodically scientific spirit as Swedenborg did, and it is precisely that approach which puts Swedenborg's revelations in a different category from those of other seers.


SWEDENBORG AT WORK p. 38 With him there was no danger of being lost in ecstasy or mystic contemplation. He was purely the scholar in the service of religion and this explains why his religious teachings so perfectly harmonize with science.




It is quite evident that Swedenborg had to undergo a number of ordeals to completely subdue the evil remaining in his nature since "Spirits are not permitted to converse with a man whose thoughts are centered on worldly things and matter; indeed such things attract his spiritual thoughts and hold them captive (SD 1166)." Moreover "to the extent that anyone is without the love of self he has the capacity to be wise in Divine things. It is that love (of self) that closes up the interiors against the Lord and heaven" (HH 272). These are pass-ages worthy of close attention. They emphasize that no communication with heaven or with angels is possible for a can whose thoughts are filled with corporeal and mundane preoccupations, nor any spiritual progress for who remains in the love of self. The man seeking regeneration should consequently start by emptying his heart and mind of all egoism and look humbly to the Lord, acknowledging that to Him only can be attributed the wisdom and intelligence capable of instructing him. Swedenborg had to experience that. It was indispensable that he thoroughly humbled himself, not that he was particularly prone to prideful thought, but because his social and intellectual environment tended to encourage such characteristics.       We thus find ourselves in the company of a highly trained scientist who had achieved world renown on his own works and discoveries, suddenly called by the Lord to become His humble servant.


SWEDENBORG AT WORK p. 40 Let us well understand the magnitude of the sacrifice which acknowledgement of his total ignorance must have represented. In entries 194-5 of his Diarium for 1744 he expresses it in these terms: "I have become aware that I am in a state of complete ignorance of the subject," and "It is promised that the Lord Himself will instruct me once I have reached a state of total ignorance freed from all preconceptions, which is the beginning of wisdom." Note also that at the head of his first theological study (History of Creation), be placed the biblical injunction "Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you" (Mat 6:33).




Since there is no such thing as regeneration or spirituality from struggle it is evident that Swedenborg had to undergo temptations: some severe ones. The dreams he had during this period, an account of which he recorded in his Journal of Dreams testify to this. Swedenborg attached considerable significance to them and sought a rational explanation.

We mention here several along with the interpretation he gave them. Rather than extended commentary, he outlines certain aspects of the temptations to which he was subjected in anticipation of his assigned mission.

First, in a dream he had during the night of April 2-3, 1744, he wrote "I saw two persons enter a house which, although completely built, was as yet unfurnished. They inspected it thoroughly but were not favorably impressed. I felt considerable fear because one of them approached me and said they had decided to punish me severely unless I went elsewhere. However, I did not find an exit. He said he would direct me. Then I awoke. This signified to me that I had invited the All-Highest into a dirty and disorderly habitation, therefore meriting punishment. But the Lord nevertheless deigned to show me the way to escape his displeasure."



But one such experience was not enough to free Swedenborg from his self love and pride. Several days later, the night of April 8-9, he had another highly significant dream. He found himself seated with a black dog in his lap, and which, to his great astonishment, was able to talk. The dog asked him about his former owner (named Schwab), and licked his face. Swedenborg interpreted this as a hint that he was still susceptible to flattery and prone to strive for the high esteem of others.       His understanding, tinctured with a certain smugness, risked misleading him, a possibility to which his attention was called several times by dreams of riding on a black charger; but his mount, somewhat mettlesome, left the good road and went astray into thickets from which he was forced to turn back. Hs felt he still had to learn to humble himself before the Lord and confess his profound ignorance. That is what other dreams tended to impress upon him. We refer to two of these. In the first (night of April 24-25), he found himself in the company of King Charles XII who addressed him in broken French. To his stupefaction Swedenborg could not understand him. "This means", he wrote, "That God speaks to me but that I only get the vaguest intimation of what He tells me because he speaks by representations (parables) regarding which know but little as yet."


SWEDENBORG AT WORK p. 43 The other dream (October 12-13) he records thus: "Handsome loaves of bread were offered me on a plate.       That indicates that the Lord himself will instruct me once I reach a state of acknowledgement of complete ignorance after discarding all my preconceptions; for that is the first degree of wisdom. In other words I must become a new-born babe if I wish to be fed by the Lord."

Other dreams, in which he was attacked by savage dogs, winged dragons or hostile men, permit us better to understand the internal struggles he had to meet. He notes once during the night of April 23-24, when he was in Leyden, Holland, "I dreamed that I was pursued by a woman to the very shore of the sea, into which I waded. I was nevertheless able to grasp her by the head and strike her smartly with a piece of driftwood whereupon she gave up. This symbolizes the infestations and struggles with my thoughts which I finally succeeded in controlling. I then seemed to hear pronounced the words: interiorescit (he becomes internal) and intecratur (he becomes integral, his renewal is operating), which signifies that I was being internally cleansed by these infestations."

Several days previously he had spoken of this cleansing in these terms: "Night of April 14-15...


SWEDENBORG AT WORK p. 44 I dreamed that I mounted a platform. I broke the neck of a bottle. A viscous liquid flowed out and spread over the whole floor. This, I believe, probably means that yesterday considerable evil, had been uprooted from my thoughts."

Finally, the following dream (October 25-27) is also an interesting one of its type, as showing the preponderant role of his daily occupations in his dreams. Ha saw himself in his work-room receiving a visit from a friend or relative. Wanting to give him the impression that he possessed handsomer and more spacious quarters than he really had he invited them to accompany him into neighboring rooms he had routed especially for the occasion. Together they crossed several rooms to reach the parlor. On opening the door of the latter they found themselves looking out into a large market square. Everything there was exhibited for sale, notably beautiful pottery resembling porcelain. This dream, he said, deals with a treatise he proposed to write (On the Worship and Love of God). His own little office represented the things properly belonging, to himself. The rented rooms and the objects displayed in the market place symbolized the concepts and theories of others which be should not include in his treatise. "May God lead no in the right way", he added.


SWEDENBORG AT WORK p. 45 "Christ has told me that I should not undertake anything without Him."

This resistance to let himself be influenced by the writings of other thinkers in composing his theological works finds confirmation in the following fragment extracted from a letter which Swedenborg addressed to Dr. Beyer in February 1767, already mentioned above: "You enquire my opinion on the works of Boehme and aw. I have never read them. I was moreover forbidden to read dogmatic treatises and systematic theology before heaven was opened to me. The reason is that I could easily have been influenced by conjectures or erroneous opinions, from which I might subsequently have difficulty in freeing my mind."




With regard to the dreams referred to in the preceding chapter one can well conclude that, in a certain sense, they are exceptional experiences of an equally exceptional individual. Besides, they did not last long; those mentioned all being dated during the year 1744. But already before that time Swedenborg had experienced certain precursory indications of his supra-normal aptitudes and gifts as a seer.       In his Spiritual
Diary (2951) noted in August 1748, we find his own comment on this: "Before my spirit was opened and it became possible for me to converse with spirits and thus become pursuaded by experience. I had such confirmations that it surprises me to reflect that I was not sooner convinced that the Lord governs all things through them. For not only did I have dreams dealing with the subjects under study but also certain changes of state occurred within me as I wrote. The things I wrote of seemed particularly luminous to me. In closing my eyes I had visions and a miraculous light was granted me. I was conscious of the influx of spirits, in a manner equally as manifest as sensorial perceptions. Strange things were perceived. I was tempted and felt myself surrounded by evil spirits. Then when I had written certain things antagonistic to what they thought I was obsessed to the point of succumbing in horror.


SWEDENBORG AT WORK p. 47 I saw flames of fire and heard words in the morning. One day a spirit addressed several words to me. I was greatly astonished that he could know my thoughts, and later when I could converse with them."

It would be highly interesting, should we want to prolong this essay, to dwell more at length on this topic and collate the numerous paragraphs of manuscript written during this period dealing with the manifold kinds of illustration to which Swedenborg alludes in this section of his Diary. While this would carry us beyond the limit set for our study we cannot resist the urge to call the reader's attention to the experience recorded by Swedenborg during which he saw "flames of fire" and which deals with the period when he was composing his work On the Worship and Love of God. Regarding this he noted in his Book of D, "I. have received new intimations regarding this treatise; it is a divine book." In Nos. 7011 and 7012 in part 3 of The Word Explained (Adversaria) in which he explains that the flames symbolise the confirmation that what he has written is true. He cites in support of this interpretation the foot that hardly a day passed while composing a certain treatise that he failed to see a luminous flame. For him these were signs from heaven approving what he wrote; and this before spirits had begun to converse with him or that he could bear their voices.



In this respect it is interesting to find here and there in his writings the following characteristic phrase: "This must be true because I saw the sign" (Haec vera sunt quia signum habeo).




Those dreams and changes of state as he wrote, visions with eyes closed, perceptions, at first vague, then becoming distinct, of the presence of spirits and their inflowing, infestations, and fiery flames, continued for but a few years, years during which the philosopher gradually turned into a theologian.       This preparation, both internal and external drew to a close, He now sees, hears and converses distinctly. Then, conscious of the mission to which he felt summoned by the Lord as herald of the Second Coming, and overwhelmed by the grandeur of his task, he writes the king to request release from his functions as assessor to the College of Mines on June 2, 1747. From then until his death in 1772 Swedenborg dedicated himself exclusively to his mission as revelator and prophet. He labored with continually renewed ardor on the composition of his theological works and undertook numerous trips abroad to publish them. "The sole reason for my recent trip abroad," he wrote in 1769 to Dr. Hartley," has been the desire to be of service in publishing the bidden things which have been entrusted to me." It is not easy to form an adequate idea of the intense activity displayed by our author during this latter period of his life.       


SWEDENBORG AT WORK p. 50 Even his contemporaries record their astonishmont at his truly prodigious literary production, and his courage in undertaking such long journeys, far from his native land despite his advanced age. Cuno, to whom we are indebted for numerous details of his latter years, wrote a letter to a friend dated January 26, 1771, in which he speaks of Swedenborg as follows: "He works indefatigably: I should mention that he is busy with his new work (True       Christian Religion) in a really astonishing and. superhuman manner. Sixteen folios of half the size of those of his previous writings have already been issued and each sheet of printed text represents four of manuscript. Since he has two folios printed every week, the galleys of which he corrects by himself, he has to compote eight during the sass period." Several weeks later (March 5) Cuno wrote to another correspondent, still speaking of Swedenborg: "The many visits he receives take up a good deal of his time and I understand even less bow he is able in spite of that to print every week two folios of close text and compose six without a single line in reserve.       He asserts that his angel dictates to him so he can write rather rapidly."

"His angel dictates to him!" Would Swedenborg have made such an assertion to Cuno? We permit ourselves to doubt it since even a superficial examination of his manuscripts fails to corroborate it any more than those mentioned above as reported by Pernetty in his preface to Heaven and Hell, as a faithful account of an interview Swedenborg had with Chevalier Sandal.


SWEDENBORG AT WORK p. 51 With regard to the statement that he had riot a single line in reserve, this appears equally unlikely to us, since, according to his own declaration he had already finished writing the True Christian Religion prior to June 19, 1770. Consequently he must have been occupied in pre-paring a clean copy for the printer at the time Cuno wrote these letters (January-March, 1771): evidently from his earlier draft. Let it be understood, nevertheless, that I do not wish to indicate in any case that Swedenborg's revelation: may not have been dictated by angels, or were limited to any form of mechanical inspiration, since we have from hie own pen a positive assertion to the contrary, recorded towards the end of paragraph 459 of The Word Explained (Adversaria) and reproduced in the Index to Spiritual, Diary, under the word conjugium "These words, with those written above beginning with verse 41, were verbally dictated to me, and were almost stated by the infants who guided my hand." In no. 183 of part 2 of the same work we read: "I have had revelations the very words of which appeared written before my eyes and from which they were read."

On the other hand it is clearly evident, to judge from the many drafts and outlines of works which he published that Swedenborg was obliged to rewrite them himself and not without labor.


SWEDENBORG AT WORK p. 52 We have spoken enough of these outlines and drafts in the first part of our study to make it necessary to emphasize them here. What was revealed to him are the truths contained in his writings but the manner in which he should present them in the text of his works depended, at least in general, on his own personality and talents. Were such not the case why was the long preparation, to which Swedenborg often alluded, necessary? "I perceived that I had been granted a talent for serving the advancement of the Glory of God. I saw that my whole life had contributed and to that end-that the spirit had been with me since my earliest youth for that purpose (Drommer 110)."

It seems to we, then, we should give to the words previously quoted and attributed to Swedenborg by Cuno: He asserted that his angel dictates to him..." and those reported by Pennetty: "I am only a secretary who writes according to the dictates of my spirit," a less specific interpretation than one may be tempted to ascribe to them at first glance. Unless they concern specific oases of verbal dictation, such as those already noted, they simply meant that Swedenborg received all instruction from heaven, which guided his work. It was to the Lord and his angels to whom he looked to receive from them alone the truths he felt called upon to reveal. It was on this higher plane that the scientist pursued his research and made the remarkable observations faithfully recorded in his Diarium.


SWEDENBORG AT WORK p. 53 There he inscribed resumes of interviews or conversations with angels and spirits, things seen and heard, what bad bean told him. Later he utilized the pages of this journal to compose his published works which thus justified their subtitles ex auditis visis, indicating that they dealt with angelic wisdom regarding the matters discussed. The words "Angelic Wisdom" are those frequently the first ones appearing in the titles he gave his works. In this sense one may well may that "angels dictated to him;" not as an executive dictates to his secretary, but rather as a political leader briefs reporters on his program or his views on some matter of interest. The latter proceed to write the report of the interview in their own style. It is in this manner, it seems to me, that we are warranted in inter. prating the inspiration of the writers of the Old and New Testaments, except perhaps in certain special cases which are readily recognizable, we may assert without hesitation that each one wrote, in their own particular vocabulary, and according to their own understanding the things revealed to them. Who would venture to assume that the particular genius or personality of each of these writers was of no importance and that Moses, the Lawgiver, could have written the Psalms instead of David, or that the latter could have written the Books of the Law.




Similar considerations apply to Swedenborg; it he was chosen by the Lord as Herald of the Second Coming it was because he, more than anyone else possessed the qualities and the moral and intellectual aptitudes moot perfectly responding to the requirements of this mandate. We say "mandate" designedly, for it should not be overlooked that Swedenborg never wished to be considered as the founder of a new religious system; nor did he claim the authorship of the doctrines he expounded in his writings. The only classification he sought was as a "Servant of the Lord Jesus Christ." Those are the words which follow his name on the works he signed. He spoke of his mission as follows:

"Since the Lord cannot show himself in person, but nevertheless predicted that he would cuss and found a New Church, which is that of the "'New Jerusalem,' it follows that he would accomplish this through a man who could not only receive the doctrines of this Church through his understanding but also publish them. That the Lord made Himself manifest to me, his servant, and charged me with that task, and thereafter opened the eyes of my spirit, introduced me into the spiritual world, allowed me to see the heavens and the hells and to speak with angels and spirits, continuously over many years and up to the present time, I attest in truth.


SWEDENBORG AT WORK p. 55 I also attest that from the first day of this call I have received nothing from any angel concerning the doctrines of that Church but everything from the Lord alone while reading his Word." (TCR 779).

That is an assertion leaving no room for doubt. Swedenborg declared himself to be a mere servant, a revelator in the Lord's service. Etymologically the word "reveal" means to lift the veil in order to permit the things hidden to be seen." It was the Lord alone who lifted the veil. It was He who permitted one whom He had providentially prepared for that purpose - a man whose mind was equipped to understand the lesson of his Second Coming - to see into the invisible world and thereafter publish what had been imparted to him.




Swedenborg saw and heard many more things that those he recorded in his books. He only published what he was allowed to make known. What other significance can we attribute to the numerous passages in which he observes: "In this respect I might write more were I permitted to do so," or this characteristic extract from Adversaria, 943-the manuscript for which, just as it was left by the author and obviously not destined for publication without further revision - : "Videatur num haec inserare liceat, cum tempus venit imprimendi) "(Ascertain whether I may insert these things when the time comes to print).

This was a principle which Swedenborg never violated: to reveal only what he was permitted.       He could cite numerous examples confirming that he was the most faithful and obedient of servants, adhering scrupulously to his orders from on high.       We shell only refer to three which strike us as particularly interesting. The first is the instruction he was given to write the Apocalypse Explained. This is found in Marital Love 522 where we read: "Then I heard a voice from heaven, 'Enter in to your chamber and shut the door, and give yourself to the work begun on the Apocalypse, and prosecute it to a conclusion within two years.'" Those words are inscribed at the end of a Memorable Relation dated at the time of the Last Judgment (1757).


SWEDENBORG AT WORK p. 57 Now the title page of the manuscript for the Apocalypse       Explained which Swedenborg prepared for publication (although he abandoned the project at the last moment - see explanation of Dr. Tafel on page 15) bears the date 1759. It is thus evident that the injunction was faithfully followed.

A second example is recorded in the preface of the Doctrine of the New Jerusalem concerning the Lord where the author, after listing several books already published, adds "Now, by order of the Lord, who revealed Himself to me, the following treatises are to be presented to the public." There follows the list of those which Swedenborg eventually published.

Finally we recall the famous "Scriptum ex mandato" (written by command) which he added to two copies of his Summary Exposition of the Doctrine of the New Church, in Holland, accompanied by the additional words "Adventus Domini" (The Lord's Advent). If it was to heaven that Swedenborg turned for the inspiration required for his task and for the commands of which he was only the executor, it was from the same authority that he sought approval of what he had written. We have already spoken of the luminous flames which appeared before his eyes (page 43). We refer here to another example relating to his treatise Summary Exposition just mentioned.


SWEDENBORG AT WORK p. 58 "When this was published", we read in The Ecclesiastical History of the New Church No. 7, "the angelic heaven from east to west and north to south appeared a scarlet red and overspread with the most beautiful of flowers. This I witnessed with the late King and Queen of Denmark and others." Referring to this same vision in a letter to Count Hoepken dated Nov. 17, 1769 he adds that the flowers were roses and that "all those present with me in the world of spirits were astonished. It was a sign of approval and pleasure from the new heaven because of what I had written."

Still more curious is another type of confirmation which Swedenborg, in his desire for clarity on a troubling question, obtained from heaven. This is referred to in his Intercourse, between Soul and Body, No. 19: In the preceding pages the author discussed three forms of influx: the physical into the spiritual, the spiritual into the physical, and that of preestablished harmony. He conversed in the spiritual world with disciples of Aristotle, Decartes and Leibnitz, respectively the champions and defenders of the three theses. Each maintained the arguments favoring his point of view. This created a certain confusion in their ideas and caused them to exclaim in chorus: "Neither our soul nor body knows what part to take, wherefore let us decide this dispute by lot and we will adhere to the lot which is first drawn."


SWEDENBORG AT WORK p. 59 They took three pieces of paper and wrote on one of them "Physical Influx", and on another "Spiritual Influx", and on the third "Preestablished harmony" and put them in a hat. . . One was chosen to draw and drew the one on which "Spiritual Influx" was written. . . An angel appeared and said "Do not believe that the paper. . . was drawn by chance, but that by providence. . . the truth presented itself to the hand that drew."

It may be objected that Swedenborg asserts elsewhere that he received all from the Lord alone and from no other, even the highest angels. We have already referred to this on page 55. We observe, indeed, that this is asserted when speaking of the doctrines of the New Church: "I attest that from the first day of call I have received from no angel (contrary to Cuno's quotation of Swedenborg) anything about the doctrines of this church but from the Lord alone while reading the Word." These four final words are of the greatest significance. The doctrines of the Now Church were revealed to Swedenborg while studying the Word, in other words, by means of the Word. It was in Holy Scripture that the Lord's servant sought the doctrines of the New Dispensation." The doctrine of the Church must be drawn from the sense of the letter of the Word. It is in this sense that the Lord is present with man, which enlightens and teaches him the truths of the Church. (DES 53).


SWEDENBORG AT WORK p. 60 It is noteworthy, in this connection that each of the       specifically doctrinal treatises which he published appeared after several years devoted to a particularly profound study of the Bible. (See above p. 24). Thus The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrines was written after Arcana Coelestia, the Four Doctrines after The Apocalypse Explained, The True Christian       after The Apocalypse Revealed and the compilation of notes published posthumously entitled Dicta Probantia.




Certain "Memorable Relations" cast a bright light on the way Swedenborg was instructed by the Lord as he read the Word, and particularly on the manner in which the spiritual sense was unveiled for him.

It appears that, on certain occasions at least, ha must have undergone personal experience of the diabolical accounts he was called upon to explain. Some pertinent memorabilia in the Apocalypse Revealed, reproduced in Nos. 114 and 118 of the Summary Exposition, described his experiences when he was occupied with the interpretation of chapters XI and XX of the Apocalypse. In 114 he tells of having relived the experience of one of the two witnesses lying in the public way referred to in Chapter 71.

He was suddenly seized with an illness almost deadly. His head felt "weighed down heavily". A pestilential miasma from the great city spiritually symbolizing Sodom and Egypt (Apoc. 11:8) envelopes him. "I was half dead with severe pain; I expected the end. I lay thus in my bed for three days and a half. And then I heard around me the voices of them that said: "Behold, he who preached repentance for the remission of sins, and the Man Christ alone lies dead in the streets of our city."



After further details he adds; "In truth this happened to me when this chapter of the Apocalypse (XI) was being explained."

In no, 118 a similar incident is described. It begins: "When I was upon the explanation of Chapter XX... and was meditating about the dragon, the beast and the false prophet, a certain one appeared to me and asked, 'What are you meditating upon?' I said it was upon the false prophet. He then said to me 'I will lead you to the place where they are who are meant by the false prophet. He said that they were the same as are meant in Chapter XIII by the beast out of the earth which had two horns like a lamb and spoke as a dragon. I followed him ... etc... "

These two passages we have purposely translated as particularly interesting because they help understand how the Lord revealed the internal sense of the Word to his servant. Others could be cited but we refrain in order not to prolong this study. It is already time to close it. However in the interest of complete coverage we should speak briefly at least of the living conditions in which Swedenborg worked, hie living habits and daily routine. All these details can be found in one or other of the biographies written about him. Besides, although he worked methodically in an orderly manner, on the other hand he observed no regularity in his working hours. To those who inquired when he ever retired to his bed he replied that he did so whenever he felt fatigued.


SWEDENBORG AT WORK p. 63 Each morning he arose whenever he awakened, stirred up his banked fire in winter, and after ablution and a few swallows of coffee proceeded immediately to his work where it had been interrupted several hours previously. As soon as one of his manuscripts neared completion he promptly left for one of the foreign countries where there was freedom of the press. There he completed his final draft for the printers.

An indefatigable worker, he even continued to work while traveling, as witnessed by scribbled words on a blank page of his "Biblical Index", reminders of things still to be done before leaving and the articles of personal use he wanted to take with him. At the head of such a list appears the manuscript of Arcana Coelestia because he proposed to work on it en route. Such a list follows:

Needed: cotton hose - nose shield - Ex. Sp. (Spiritual Explanation) place on top - buy fasteners - my most important books - snuff - tea, knife, pens, shirts, neckwear, handkerchiefs, night cap, dressing gown, Hebrew Dictionary.

Small case - small books - money socks - silk suit - wig case - see Tailor re fur coat - cheek sailing hour - interview owner - tobacco box - pencils and note book - glasses - seal ring etc.



We also know that on the occasion of his last Stockholm - Amsterdam crossing in July 1770 Swedenborg left on board ship a certain number of papers which upon examination were found to be first drafts of certain memorabilia which appeared at the end of True Christian Religion.

Again, such details can be found in the various biographies available. My desire is merely to call to your attention particularly his posthumous works and unedited manuscripts, certain of his working methods and his preparation, both spiritual and natural, for the carrying out of his mission. If I have succeeded in awakening your interest in these matters I shall consider my objective achieved.




1. Swedenborg was a theologian of the highest rank. His writings reflect deeply spiritual qualities, mathematical precision, detail and exactitude, vigorous power of observation, deduction, order and clarity of thought.

2. No other man has possessed aptitudes so appropriate to the accomplishment of the mission entrusted to him. Endowed with a rare intelligence and vast culture he moreover embodied confidence inspiring moral characteristics proper to a servant of the Lord.

3. It is worth while to study with the greatest care his posthumous works and manuscripts, left as uncompleted drafts.

Such study brings to light not only valuable indications of the circumstances which underlay his decision to write the treatises which he published, but also familiarize us with his working habits.

4. Swedenborg never wrote treatise before working out a carefully elaborated plan of presentation. With infinite patience he assembled the material needed to support his theses, copiously annotating the margins of pages of bibliographical sources and compiling indices to facilitate eventual references. He often composed several versions before settling on the final one.



5. Consciousness of these facts are very useful to the student. It can encourage him to greater perseverance in an effort to work more methodically and continuously.

6. His preparation for the role of theologian and revelator was not a hasty one. An examination of all his writings in chronological order - including both those published and those left unfinished - provides illuminating evidence of the measured pace of his mental evolution and development of his teachings.       In his early scientific works one distinguishes the germs of the principle concepts of his religious system.

7. The development of Swedenborg's spiritual consciousness was also a gradual phenomenon and required special preparation before full achievement. He had to learn Hebrew, study the bible methodically and continuously, and the system of correspondences underlying its letter. Internally he had to undergo the struggles and temptations inherent to all refinement and purification: he had to humble his selfhood and overcome all its evil tendencies.



8. All he wrote from 1743 to 1747 constitutes a source of documentation of the highest importance to understand the "internal crisis" he experienced. So material of greater value is available to the psychologist who wants to study Swedenborg.

9. Anther means of understanding the most particular preparation Swedenborg had to go through before enjoying full spiritual light, is to examine all he himself wrote in the works published toward the close of his life, regarding visissitudes which all spirits must necessarily experience before feeling at home in the higher atmosphere of heaven, and applying those to his own case.

10. It is desirable that criticisms of Swedenborg's works be published. Each should contain a preface giving details and bibliography of pertinent importance regarding the origin and development of the treatise and the circumstances under which it was written. A preface should reproduce also, as completely as practicable, the drafts and plans leading to the composition. Footnotes should be utilized to indicate variations from and among preliminary drafts. The series of photolithographs and phototypes should be used to facilitate such preparations.


SWEDENBORG AT WORK p. 68 Marginal notes would refer the critic to other works of the author on the same topic or repeating the same paragraphs. The incontestable utility of such studies cannot be too strongly emphasized.