An Ecclesiastical History of the New Church #1

By Emanuel Swedenborg
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1. ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY OF THE NEW CHURCH

1. A new history of the Church must be written because now is the time of the Coming of the Lord foretold in Matthew 24.

2. The Church was different before the Council of Nicaea, when there was the Apostles' Creed, which may be written out, from what it was after the Council of Nicaea; and it was even more different after the Athanasian Creed was composed. The cardinal doctrine of the Church concerning the Triune God and the Lord was changed; especially concerning three persons from eternity.

3. Make a list of the books that have been written by the Lord through me from the beginning up to the present time.

4. They have been written in such a way that they shine before the very eyes of those who believe in the Lord and the new revelation; but they are darkness and of no importance for those who deny those things, and who, for various external reasons, are not inclined to accept them.

Experiences Proving that this is the style of writing within them:

(1) From the Dutch censors of books who had assembled in the spiritual world; one of them when he had read them, said that they were of the highest merit, above every other book with the exception of the Word; but another said that he saw nothing in them but matters of a trivial kind, mere fantasies, and thus that they mere to be rejected as being of no importance.

(2) Likewise in England the books which have been sent to the universities, for the clergy have rejected them;

(3) and by those in Gotenborg, Beyer, Rosen, and others; some have indeed seen those books as mighty works of God, some nothing but trickery, and others nothing whatsoever.

(4) In Sweden by Filenius, differently from others, who ought perhaps to be mentioned by name.

(5)... 1

(6) A similar thing has happened in Sweden with him who is writing a history of literature. 2

(7) And there are still more like him in other places.

5. Concerning Oetinger in Wurtemburg; from his letter.

6. Concerning Gottingen 3

7. When BRIEF EXPOSITION was published the angelic heaven, from east to west and from south to north, appeared purple coloured with the loveliest flowers; this happened before my very eyes and before those of the kings of Denmark, and others; on another occasion it appeared as if it were on fire, and beautiful.

8. 'The Coming of the Lord' was written on all the books in the spiritual world; by command I therefore wrote this in the same place in two copies in Holland.

Footnotes:

1. Swedenborg's handwriting is at this point extremely illegible and therefore the editor has been unable to provide a satisfactory transcription and translation.

2. Whom Swedenborg had in mind is by no means clear. The following are two possibilities:
(a) Johan Hinric Liden (1741-93), professor of history at Lund University and the author of the first recognised history of Swedish literature entitled Historiola Lifteraria Poetarum Suecanorum. Parts 1-3 were published in 1764-5, part 4 in 1773. In his diary and in his letters however Liden seems to ridicule Swedenborg and his works. See TD ii p. 1245, NCL 1916 pp. 424 f.
(b) Carl Christoffer Gjorwell (1731-1811), journalist and librarian. Though he did not publish a 'history of literature' Gjorwell wrote many articles and reviews of a literary nature. He was somewhat critical towards Swedenborg, but his generally tolerant and religious outlook may have disposed him to regard his works more sympathetically than Liden did. See TD ii pp 402 f, 1155.

3. No direct evidence has come down to us to indicate what Swedenborg intended here. Dr. Ernesti belonged to the scientific society at Gottingen and wrote for the Gottingische Anzeig von gelehrten Sachenr, but this does not have any apparent connection with his hostility to Swedenborg (see p. 197). Perhaps Swedenborg intended to refer to adverse reviews by other contributors to the Gottingische Anzeige in 1766 of Oetinger's Swedenborg und Andere Irrdische und Himmlische Philosophie and in 1768 of Clemm's Vollstandige Einleitung in die Religion. See TD ii p. 637.

  
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Thanks to the Swedenborg Society for the permission to use this translation.