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The casual reader may find Swedenborg's theological writings to be somewhat overpowering. The standard American edition, published and distributed by the Swedenborg Foundation of New York City, encompasses thirty volumes. The longest volume contains some 754 pages and the shortest 293 pages. Most of the volumes are over 500 pages and average more than a quarter of a million words per volume. This collection contains more than forty titles which vary in size from fragments and short pamphlets to multivolume studies. These works are set off from Swedenborg's earlier writings by identification with his theological period, characterized by his accounts of transcendent spiritual experiences.
(1) Arcana Coelestia: Or Heavenly Mysteries, 1747-1758, 12 vols.
This study makes up more than a third of the total bulk of Swedenborg's theological writings. The books of Genesis and Exodus receive detailed phrase-by-phrase commentary, but reference is frequently made to many other books of both the Old and New Testaments. Swedenborg asserts that he expounds the internal sense of the Bible accounts. The familiar Bible stories of the origin and early development of man reveal, through what Swedenborg describes as the language of correspondences, basic divine teachings on such subjects as the life after death, relationships between the spiritual and natural worlds, human nature, marriage, regeneration, and religion. The historical accounts of the Old Testament have long proved to be difficult subjects for biblical scholars. They are obviously representative in nature but what do they represent? Swedenborg unfolds an impressive picture of a divine consistency through the entire sweep of Bible history.
(2) Heaven and Hell, 1757-1758, 455 pp.
This three-part work has probably attracted more attention than any other single volume from Swedenborg's pen. The middle section which should, perhaps, be read first, treats of the world of spirits which is a transitory state between heaven and hell. The human soul awakes in the world of spirits after death and there prepares for final entrance into either heaven or hell depending upon the quality of the life which the man lived in the natural world. Each individual determines his own fate by the free choices he makes during his natural life.
The first part of Heaven and Hell describes the life of angels in heaven. Swedenborg's presentation contains much detail regarding the structure, organization, form and nature of heaven, as well as the heavenly mode of life. This emerges not as an ethereal existence of clouds and harps, but a life of use between real persons motivated by similar loves.
The last section of the book describes hell as the perfect perversion of heaven and heavenly life. Yet, as revolting as are some of the descriptions, Swedenborg states that spirits who go there do so because their selfish loves, formed during their life on earth, cause them to find the unselfish love of heaven oppressive. They are, furthermore, as adjusted in their life in hell as it is possible for them to be and perform uses there although from compulsion rather than from desire.
(3) White Horse, 1757-1758, 26 pp.
This work deals largely with the subject of divine revelation and man's need for it. Its title comes from Chapter 19 of the Book of Revelation, the internal sense of which is discussed.
(4) New Jerusalem and Its Heavenly Doctrine, 1757-1758, 205 pp.
In this commentary, Swedenborg presents summaries of a number of doctrines developed in greater length in other theological writings. Many references to numbers in the Arcana make this a work to be used in connection with the twelve-volume study.
(5) Earths in the Universe, 1756-1758, 105 pp.
Science still debates the question of life on other worlds but Swedenborg had no doubts that the human race was endlessly varied. He says that all terrestrial bodies were created to support human life of some kind and describes the life of spirits from a number of planets other than earth. He believes that the most characteristic aspect of divine creation - infinite variety - is carried out in the varieties of human existence. Each individual soul and earth is distinct from all others and each has a proper place in the plan of creation.
(6) Last Judgment, 1757-1758, 83 pp.
This book speaks against the concept of a divine judgment during some future rising of the dead. Instead, each individual after death, goes through a personal last judgment in the world of spirits. In addition, the entire world of spirits, according to Swedenborg's account, underwent a last judgment in the year 1757. Both spiritual and natural reorderings resulted.
(7) Doctrine of the Lord, 1761-1763, pp.
This important study presents teachings on the nature of the Lord. It explains the workings of the divine trinity. It sets forth the fundamental Swedenborgian doctrine of God as a divinely human person, who ministers to the human race as both revealer and redeemer.
(8) Doctrine of the Sacred Scripture, 1761-1763, 94 pp.
In this work Swedenborg supplies support for the idea that the Christian Bible presents the word of God on earth, that it has an internal or spiritual sense, and that its teachings are necessary to maintain human life.
(9) Doctrine of Life, 1761-1763, 58 pp.
Doctrine of Life is the first of several basic studies on the proper relationship between men on earth. This work emphasizes the view that man can evolve toward a spiritual life after death only from the Lord, although the man acts as if of himself. Swedenborg argues for a correct understanding of the teachings of the Decalogue. As man shuns the evils listed in the Decalogue he comes into the opposite goods and thus turns himself toward heaven.
(10) Doctrine of Faith, 1761-1763, 58 pp.
Contrary to the common concept, "faith" to Swedenborg does not mean believing that which is not understood. Genuine faith is presented as an internal acknowledgment or perception of truth which, in the stream of providence, cannot properly be separated from charity. Faith alone and salvation by faith are pointedly rejected.
(11) Continuation Concerning the Last Judgment, 1763, 43 pp.
This is a further exposition of the nature of the spiritual world and the judgment effected there in 1757. It restates some of the material in the larger work titled Last Judgment noted above.
(12) Divine Love and Wisdom, 1763, 292 pp.
In this work Swedenborg discusses the process of Creation. There are five basic subjects, the nature of God, the creation of the universe, the relationship between the spiritual and natural worlds, the discrete and continuous degrees through which the two worlds function, and the form of the human mind. Thus the work may properly be termed the metaphysics of Swedenborg's theological writings.
(13) Divine Providence, 1763-1764, 376 pp.
This study picks up the basic themes of Divine Love and Wisdom and relates them to the human individual as the highest end of creation. The Lord governs his creation through divine providence. To be in full harmony with divine providence, the human will and the human understanding must be in accord with the order of creation. Providence looks to the preservation of this order although human free will may violate it. Students of Swedenborg's theology believe that Divine Love and Wisdom and Divine Providence are interrelated works which should be read consecutively.
(14) Apocalypse Revealed, 1764-1766, 2 vols.
This commentary also supplies a consecutive exposition of the internal meaning of the book of Revelation. However, it is much shorter, while covering the full length of Revelation including the final three chapters which the longer work does not treat. Apocalypse Explained seems to be an uncompleted, earlier rendition of the teachings presented in more concise form in Apocalypse Revealed. Apocalypse Revealed places stress on the effects of divine influx for the establishment of a new Christian church on earth.
(15) Conjugial Love, 1767-1768, 525 pp.
The full title of this unusual work is The Delights of Wisdom Pertaining to Conjugial Love after Which Follow the Pleasures of Insanity Pertaining to Scortatory Love. The book treats of marriage and sex-morality and also of various perversions of marriage. Swedenborg asserts that true Conjugial love descends from the Lord into all humans. The male and female receive and apply this love differently, the two receptions complementing each other. In a proper marriage husband and wife together learn the fullness of love through looking to the Lord and shunning selfishness. The delights of marriage are presented as the height of human delight These delights include raising children by which means the race is continued and heaven peopled.
Conjugial Love is a high-minded work, but not an abstruse one. Many practical matters of the relationship between the sexes such as courtship, betrothal, jealousy, temptation, disaffection, sensuality, prudence, and courtesy are dealt with. This is a book of guidelines for spiritual living with much rational appeal. Eternal ideas are advocated as the only proper starting point for a happy marriage life, although problems posed by the power of the sensual are not ignored. The family, as the basic unit of society, receives stress in Conjugial Love.
(16) Summary Exposition, 1768-1769, 103 pp.
This work is sometimes printed with the title 'Brief Exposition.' It contrasts the teachings of Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, and Swedenborgianism. The contrast underscores basic differences and argues for the establishment of a new faith. The work may be more important in Swedenborgian theology than is sometimes realized. According to Swedenborg, the Lord commanded him to inscribe the book with the words "This Book is the [Second] Advent of the Lord."
(17) Intercourse of the Soul and the Body, 1769, 38pp.
This metaphysical tract discusses the relationship between the spiritual and the natural and the means by which they are interconnected. Spiritual influx from the Lord interconnects the human soul and body. The work also attempts to make the discrete differences between the spiritual and natural worlds understandable.
(18) True Christian Religion, 1769-1771, 2 vols.
This study culminated Swedenborg's many theological inquiries. Its subtitle, "Universal Theology of the New Heaven and the New Church,' summarizes the Swedenborgian teaching that the Lord has again vivified His church through newly revealed truths which have reestablished harmony in the spiritual world and engendered a new faith on earth. Aspects of theology, philosophy, and religious ethics are all included in True Christian Religion.
|1||Spiritual Diary, 1747-1765, 5vols.|
|2||Apocalypse Explained, 1757-1759, 6 vols.|
|3||Summary Exposition of the Prophets and Psalms, 1759-1760, 311 pp.|
|4||The Lord, 1760, 11 pp.|
|5||Athanasian Creed, 1760, 63 pp.|
|6||Word of the Lord From Experience, 1761, 59 pp.|
|7||Last Judgment (Posthumous), 1762, 102 pp.|
|8||On the Spiritual World, 1762, 36 pp.|
|9||Precepts of the Decalogue, 1762, 4 pp.|
|10||Divine Love, 1762-1763, 36 pp.|
|11||Divine Wisdom, 1763, 76 pp.|
|12||Doctrine of Charity, 1764,70 pp.|
|13||Conversations With Angels, 1766, 4 pp.|
|14||Five Memorable Relations, 1766, 10 pp.|
|15||Concerning Marriage, 1767, 33 pp.|
|16||Indices of a Work on Conjugial Love, 1767, 5 pp.|
|17||Canons of the New Church, 1769, 58 pp.|
|18||Egyptian Hieroglyphics, 1769, 5 pp.|
|19||Sketch of the Doctrine of the New Church, 1769, 6 pp.|
|20||Memorabilia for the True Christian Religion, 1770, 22 pp.|
|21||Coronis, 1771, 83 pp.|
|22||A Sketch of the Ecclesiastical History of the New Church, 1771, 2 pp.|
|23||Nine Questions [on the Trinity], 1771, 6 pp.;|
|24||Consummation of the Age, 1771, 7 pp.|
|25||Invitation to the New Church, 1771, 22 pp.|
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