7. Letter to Beyer, February 1767
Several questions have been put to me by your friend, to which the following will serve as an answer. 1
1 My opinion concerning the writings of Boehme and L... 2 I have never read them, and I was forbidden to read dogmatic and systematic books in theology before heaven was opened to me, and this for the reason that otherwise unfounded opinions and notions might easily have insinuated themselves, which afterwards could have been removed only with difficulty. When heaven was opened to me I had therefore first to learn the Hebrew language, and also the correspondences of which the whole Bible is composed, and this led me to read through the Word of God many times. And since the Word of God is the source from which all theology must be taken, I was thus enabled to receive instruction from the Lord, who is the Word.
2 How soon a New Church is to be expected. Answer: The Lord is now establishing a new heaven from those who believe in Him and acknowledge Him to be the true God of heaven and earth, and who also look to Him in their lives, which means the shunning of evil and the doing of good; for it is from this heaven that the New Jerusalem is to descend (see Revelation 21:2). Daily I see spirits and angels descending and ascending in numbers from 10 to 20,000 and being arranged in order. In so far as this heaven is formed the New Church will commence and grow. The universities of Christianity are now receiving instruction, and from them new priests will come; for the new heaven holds no sway with the old priests who regard themselves as learned in the justification by faith alone.
3 Concerning the promised transaction on the Infinite, Omnipotence, and Omnipresence. Answer: These subjects have been interspersed in ANGELIC WISDOM CONCERNING THE DIVINE PROVIDENCE n. 46-54, 157; and in ANGELIC WISDOM CONCERNING THE DIVINE LOVE AND WISDOM n. 4, 1-7, 19, 21, 44, 69, 72, 76, 106, 156, 318; and in the APOCALYPSE REVEALED n. 691; and there will be still more concerning them in the ARCANA OF ANGELIC WISDOM CONCERNING CONJUGIAL LOVE; for to write separately concerning the Divine attributes would be to raise the thoughts too high without the assistance of anything to support them. For this reason the subjects have been dealt with in series together with other things that fall within the understanding.
I have read through your New Attempts concerning the Gospels with pleasure. The interpretations of the text for the first Sunday in Advent are good. Let me here state the meaning of the manger, of John the Baptist, and of Elijah. The Manger meant instruction from the Word, because mules and horses meant the understanding of the Word, see Apocalypse Revealed n. 298, and their nourishment was in the manger. That there was no room in the inn meant that there was no place of instruction in Jerusalem, on which account it was said to the Shepherds, by whom was meant the Church to be, This shall be a sign to you, that you shall find the Babe lying in a manger, Luke 2:12.
The baptism of John prepared the heavens so that the Jewish people could survive, when God Himself came among them. And John meant every prophecy of the Old Testament concerning the Lord and His advent, as also did Elijah, he being the foremost of the prophets. Since men here are now beginning to think more of charity than before, believing firmly that faith and charity cannot be separated, therefore also faith alone is now also here beginning to be called Herrnhuter Faith. 3
the month of February 1767 4
1. At this time many were showing an interest in the writings of Boehme and therefore one of the group in Goteborg, probably Beyer's brother-in-law, Peter Hammarberg, wrote direct to Swedenborg asking, as Beyer had also done already, for his opinion concerning the German mystic. Having just received as well the first pages of the new sermon library, Swedenborg wrote one letter to Beyer dealing with both matters.
This document has been referred to variously as Pro Memoria (the heading of the original), Memorandum, Answers to Three Questions, and the 3rd, 4th, or 7th letter to Dr. Beyer.
2. Jacob Boehme, 1575-1625, the German mystic whose influence was preserved among Pietists; and, probably, William Law, 1686-1761, whose later works were influenced by Boehme.
3. The faith of the followers of Zinzendorf, called Moravians, or Herrnhuters (from their headquarters at Hermhut). See J. Post. 278-80, 282-4.
4. This date was inserted by Dr. Beyer.