The general design of the following pages is to illustrate the divine declaration of Jesus Christ to his disciples, where he says, The words that I speak unto you are spirit, and are life, John vi. 63, by pointing out more distinctly what is to be understood by the spirit and life which replenish and constitute the words of the great saviour, and by thus endeavouring to supply the reader with a just idea of the proper discriminate marks and characters of those two grand essentials of divine inspiration and revelation, called Spirit and Life,
In connection with this general design is also a particular one, resulting from the above declaration of the incarnate God, respecting the constituent principles of his most Holy words, and resolving itself into these three several points,—
1st, To demonstrate the sanctity and divinity of the inspired writings, and in what that sanctity and divinity consist, as manifested in the above divine declaration, The words that I speak unto you are spirit and are life.
2dly, To prove the high authority stamped on the theological writings of the Hon. E. Swedenborg, in consequence of their bearing so faithful and luminous a testimony to that sanctity and divinity so manifested; and
3dly, To exhibit the sublimity, purity, and edifying tendency of that rule of doctrine and of life, which will be found in the extracts from the above theological writings as collected in the following work.
In regard to the first of these points, viz. the demonstration of the sanctity and divinity of the inspired writings, and in what that sanctity and divinity consist, as manifested in the above declaration, the Words thatI Speak unto You are Spirit, and are Life, it may be observed, that the divine declaration extends, not only to the words spoken by Jesus Christ in the New Testament, but likewise to what is recorded in the Old, since both Testaments are acknowledged to be alike the word, or speech of the most high, and consequently both must be alike replenished with the same divine principles, called by the great saviour Spirit and Life. The grand question then is, what are these principles, and in what do they consist? What is this Spirit, and what this Life, which constitute the very soul and essence of all the words of God ? But who can give a serious and satisfactory answer to this question, without being forcibly struck with the conviction, that when a divine speaker declares, The words that I speak are spirit and are life, he must of necessity mean by the terms spirit and life a divine spirit and a divine life, since it is impossible to suppose that any other spirit and life, except what is divine, can influence the words of a divine speaker, so as to constitute their essential properties? Who again can give a serious and satisfactory answer to the above question, without being struck as forcibly with another conviction, that the terms spirit and life, when applied by a divine speaker, involve in them distinct divine principles, so that spirit is to be understood as expressive of one divine principle, and life as expressive of another, otherwise the two terms would be a useless tautology, altogether unworthy of a divine speaker? Again, who can give a serious and satisfactory answer to the above question, without discerning, as by a noon-day light, that spirit and life, according to their distinct signification, and as distinctly applied by a divine speaker, must of necessity mean the same things as divine wisdom and divine love, or divine truth and divine good, since the Godhead, we are assured, is both, and may therefore be called the divine union of both in their infinity and eternity? The conclusion then from the above premises is, (and a more important conclusion cannot be conceived by man,) that every part of the revealed Word, both of the Old and New Testament, is filled with the divine wisdom and the divine love, or with the divine truth and divine good, of the most high God, in indissoluble union, this being its very inmost soul and hidden essence, whilst the letter or history is merely its external body and manifested existence.
From the above consideration then may be clearly discovered the sanctity and divinity of the inspired writings, and in what that sanctity and divinity principally consist. For if the divine wisdom and divine love, or the divine truth and divine good, are the very essential spirit and life of those writings, conjoined with them as soul is conjoined with body, or as human thought and affection are conjoined with human speech, then how plain is it to see that God himself, who is the very union itself of divine wisdom and love, or of divine truth and divine good, is one with those writings, and so incorporated in them, (if we may use the expression,) that it is impossible to put them asunder! But if the great and Holy God be thus incorporated in his written Word, so that the letter or history of that Word is only the body, the husk, or shell, of which he himself is the living soul, the vital seed or kernel, then what language can sufficiently express, or what idea fully conceive, the sanctity and divinity of the inspired records? Then how ought we to bow down in humiliation and devout reverence before the sacred volume, as before the Most high God himself, who is present in it! Then how ought we to exclaim with the patriarch of old, Surely the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not; this is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven! Gen. xxviii. 16, 17. And then too, observing how the letter or history is only as a kind of casket, to contain the jewels and treasures of the divine love and wisdom deposited and concealed within, how cautious ought we to be, either of mistaking the casket for its rich contents, or of fixing our eyes so intently on its beauty and its lustre, as to overlook and become blind to what gives it all its value, viz. the divine presence, will, wisdom, intelligence, and operation of the most high and Holy God!
From the above view then of the sanctity and divinity of the sacred Scriptures, it will be manifest to every considerate mind that they carry along with them their own internal testimony, or a full and satisfactory evidence of their divine original. For as when the sun of this world shineth in his strength, enlightening the eyes of men with his cheering light, and enlivening their bodies with his quickening and reviving heat, no other proof can be wanting either of the sun's existence, or of the properties and qualities by which that grand luminary is distinguished from all other objects, so it is likewise in regard to the revealed word. No other proof can be wanting of its sanctity and divinity, or that it is indeed the living word of the most high, but the blessed effects which it is calculated to produce in every well-disposed mind. For doth the light of the sun, when enlightening the eye of the beholder, convince him most effectually, and beyond the force of any other argument, that it is the sun? In like manner, the light of divine truth, shining forth from that glorious being, who at once hides and manifests his divine countenance in his Holy word, convinces the simple and sincere that it is divine truth, so that no other argument can be wanting to confirm their faith. Doth again the sun's reviving warmth confirm the proof of his existence and astonishing properties, by exciting combined wonder, adoration, and delight in all who are made sensible of the power of his quickening beams? In like manner, and for the same reason, there is a warmth of heavenly love and charity, issuing from the bosom of the father of mercies, and dispensed to his humble and teachable children through the quickening beams of his most Holy word, which brings along with it such an addition and powerful conviction of its sanctity and divinity, that all doubt and uncertainty vanish, whilst wonder, adoration, and joy announce the presence, and prove to a demonstration, the mercy, love, and benevolence of the divine being, whose sacred residence it is, whose instructive language it speaks, and whose manifold divine blessings it is the medium of communicating to his penitent and believing children.
To exhibit then this eternal evidence of the sanctity and divinity of the sacred scriptures, is the first particular object aimed at in the following pages. And since this evidence is principally derived from the numerous extracts selected from the theological writings of the Hon. E. Swedenborg, by which extracts it is made clear to demonstration, that under the letter and history of the inspired volume, there is contained an internal or spiritual sense, which constitutes the very spirit and life of the Holy Book, therefore a second particular object is to demonstrate the high authority stamped on those writings, as resulting from this their sacred and edifying testimony.
To say all that might be said on this subject, would require a volume, which is now become the less necessary, since so many volumes have already been written upon it, all of them carrying with them a fulness of conviction to the serious and well-disposed mind. But there is one feature of note and excellence in the character of the enlightened author under consideration, which perhaps has not heretofore been sufficiently insisted on, and which, as being more immediately connected with his general interpretation of the sacred Scriptures, and especially with his particular comments on the following Gospel, it may not be improper here to advert to, and dwell on. The feature alluded to is the author's grand discovery of the distinction existing between the two eternal principles, which he calls the good and the true, together with the eternal relationship of those principles to each other; their perfect and everlasting union in the divine mind, and also in the divine Word; their conjunction likewise in the heavens, or in the minds of the heavenly inhabitants; their conjunction too in every created subject in the world of nature, together with their proposed conjunction in the minds and lives of men, with a view to render them also capable of heavenly and eternal association and bliss; and lastly, their manifestation in the distinct natures and qualities of the two sexes, from which result the nature, necessity, sanctity and bliss of married life.
If then it be a fact that the above eternal distinction between the good and the true was never before noted, or at least never before insisted on, by any human writer; if it be a fact also that the distinction, as it is extended and elucidated by the enlightened author of the following Extracts, involves in it lessons of the deepest and most important wisdom, by opening the intellectual mind to the true knowledge of the most high God; by proving, with irresistible and heretofore unknown evidence, the divinity and sanctity of his revealed word; by manifesting the heavenly principles, their distinctness, and yet their conjunction, which constitute the holiness and bliss of angelic life ; by conducting man to a more intimate acquaintance with himself, as created to he the receiver of those principles conjointly, thus as gifted with a will for the reception of heavenly good, and with an understanding for the reception of heavenly truth ; by thus further instructing him in the full measure of his religious duties, all which have relation to the formation of those principles, and to their perfect conjunction in his mind and life; by exhibiting a clearer view of the wonderful works of the great creator in this lower world, in which even every grain of sand is stamped with the divine marks and characters of the conjunction of the above divine principles; and lastly, by demonstrating the divine origin and sanctity of married life, the partners of which stand, each of them, in a distinct relationship to those principles, and thus in the blessed capacity of being fully united with each other according to such Holy relationship; — if all this, it is contended, be true, (and who but a stranger to our enlightened author can dispute the truth?) then what further argument can be wanted in favour of the high authority by which his pen was directed, and thus of that divine and merciful providence which gifted him with the extraordinary powers, first, of discovering the above wonderful distinction, so as to discern and comprehend it clearly in his own mind, and secondly, of unfolding, for the edification of others, all its most interesting and edifying results, applications, uses, and benefits?
Doth the reader still doubt and dispute the above authority? Then, in the spirit of humble and devout prayer to the father of mercies, and with a mind divested of all worldly and selfish prejudices, let him peruse attentively and seriously the extracts from the theological writings of the enlightened author, which are contained in this volume. Let him in this spirit view their testimony, first, as a spiritual telegraph, announcing blessed tidings from afar respecting the divine mind and the angelic kingdom, or (to change the allusion) as a grand panorama, in which may be seen all the wonders and beauties of creating, preserving, redeeming, and regenerating wisdom and love. Let him next examine it as a mental kaleidoscope, in which the apparent incoherencies, Contradictions, and scattered senses of the letter of the Sacred Scriptures, are presented to the delighted eye in all the symmetry, order and harmony of the most affecting and beautiful arrangement. Let him lastly regard it as a golden wedding ring, intended for the finger of the Bride, the lamb's Wife, as a symbol of her eternal and happy conjunction in life and love with her divine husband, and not only so, but as a representative figure of the conjunction of his divine love and divine wisdom in all the subjects of creation, whether great or small. Let him then ask himself the following questions, and answer them, in the sanctuary of conscience. Is it possible for any mortal of himself, to invent and fabricate such wonderful instruments? For can any mortal, of himself, remove the face of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations? (Isaiah xxv. 7.) Can any mortal, of himself, be found worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof, (Rev. v. 2.) so as to present it to the view of his fellow-mortals, in its transfiguration glory, full of light, full of power, and of consolation? Can any mortal, of himself, thus enable the blind to see, the deaf to hear, the lame to walk, and the dead to rise? (Matt. xi. 5.) Let then the above impossibilities decide the question of authority in the present case, by conducting the reader to its divine source, until all doubt, all dispute, all uncertainty on the occasion, be lost in the animating confession of the Holy one of old, this is the Lord's doing, it is marvellous in our eyes. This is the day which the Lord hath made, we will be glad and rejoice in it, (Psalm cxviii. 23. 24.)
But should any fluctuation still remain in the reader's mind concerning the testimony in question, it is humbly hoped that it will be entirely appeased by a view of the sublimity, purity, and edifying tendency of that rule of doctrine and of life, which will be found in the following extracts, and which is the third point of consideration intended to be insisted on in the present publication.
This rule of doctrine and of life results from the distinction between the two principles of the good and the true above adverted to, and is in continual connection with it, As a rule of doctrine therefore it teaches, first and principally, that the Lord and saviour Jesus Christ, in his glorified or divine humanity, is the supreme and only God, since when this saviour saith, My words are spirit, and are life ; and again, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, (John xiv. 6.) he must of necessity be understood to mean that he is the supreme good and supreme truth in indissoluble union. For that he is the supreme truth, is evident from his own words, and that he is also the supreme good, is equally evident from his calling his words Life, and himself the Life, inasmuch as the life, on this occasion, as applied by the incarnate, God, must of course involve in it all that is good, merciful, compassionate and benevolent in the divine mind. But if Jesus Christ be indeed the supreme good and supreme truth in indissoluble union, then it must follow as a sure and indisputable conclusion, that he is the great and only God, otherwise it must be maintained that two divine Beings exist, who are each of them the supreme good and supreme truth, which is the same thing as to insist that there are two independent Gods ; for what is God, but the supreme good and supreme truth?
Having thus then established this essential point of Christian doctrine, and this by an evidence as manifold as it is incontrovertible, which no sophistry of man can elude, because grounded in and confirmed by the sure testimony of the inspired oracles throughout, the enlightened author of the Extracts next proceeds to shew, from the same distinction between the good and the true, what that rule of life is, which is obligatory on all Christians, as being alone conducive to purification, regeneration, and final salvation. Nothing can exceed the simplicity and consistency of this rule, except its admirable adaptation to the Being for whose use it is intended. For what shall we say is this being, and what is his proper quality and character? Is he is not born into evil and error of every kind, loving himself and the world more than God and his neighbour, and calling nothing good or true but what tends to confirm him in such polluted love? How then is such a being to be reformed, purified, and finally saved? In other words, how is such a being to be made a lover of God and of his neighbour? How, (saith the enlightened author of the Extracts) but by first receiving heavenly truth from the Word of God in his understanding, and by next suffering the light of this truth to conduct him to the purity of heavenly good in his will, that so he also, like his divine Lord, may attain, in his measure, the conjunction of those two divine principles in his mind and life, and may thus become a living image and likeness of his great creator, as by creation he was intended to be?
Behold here then the short, but sure and infallible rule of life, pointed out in the following extracts, as the direct path to holiness and to bliss! Man, it is there insisted on, can never become either Holy or happy, but by conjunction of life and love with the adorable fountain of life and love, the Lord and saviour Jesus Christ. But conjunction of life and love with Jesus Christ implies, first, that man knows what is good and true ; and secondly, that he loves it; and thirdly, that from knowledge and love conjoined he performs, or practises it. It is necessary then that every man, who is desirous of attaining that blessed conjunction, should in the first place read diligently the Word of God, until his understanding be enlightened by the light of the Eternal Truth, and in the next place should suffer that truth to enter into his will or love, where it changes its name, and becomes the Supreme Good. But with this blessed view it is essentially necessary that he should suffer the truth to make manifest his natural evils, and when they are manifested, that he should enter manfully into the combat against them, otherwise the truth remaineth alone and unproductive, not being conjoined with its good, inasmuch as good cannot enter, until evil be first removed. It is further necessary that he should acknowledge, humbly and gratefully, that all truth and good are from Jesus Christ alone, and given to man for the blessed purpose of effecting eternal conjunction with that Great and Holy God. And lastly it is necessary, that he should give full and free operation to those heavenly principles, by fulfilling all the duties of his station in life, according to their just and reasonable acquirements. Thus it will be seen, that man's justification and salvation are not of himself but of the Great Saviour, because they are not of faith alone, nor of charity alone, nor of good works alone, but of all united, and not of all united, unless they are also united with Jesus Christ, by the humble and grateful acknowledgment, that all faith, which is of truth, and all charity which is of good, and all good works which, are the operation of faith and charity united, are from him alone, whilst man is merely a receiver of his Divine Spirit and Life, or of his Divine Truth and Good, and co-operates with him in the formation and fruitfulness of those heavenly principles, by ceasing to do evil, and learning to do good. Thus too it will be further seen how groundless, and therefore how dangerous, is the modern doctrine of salvation by faith alone, which is the same thing as salvation by knowledge alone without the life of knowledge, or by light in the understanding whilst the will, or love, remains unchanged, and consequently defiled with every uncleanness and abomination.
Having thus then pointed out the design of the following pages both generally and particularly, it only remains for the translator to make a few remarks on his new translation of the Gospel from the original Greek, and also on the internal sense as it is given in a series.
And first, in regard to the translation, the translator thinks it proper here to repeat what he some years ago observed concerning his translation of the Gospel according to Matthew, viz. "that he has endeavoured to make it as literal as possible, consistent with the different idioms of the two languages, and therefore the English reader will not be surprised at finding some deviations in this respect from the common version, especially where a regard to the internal sense made it necessary to adhere closely to the letter of the original. Nevertheless, the translator must still lament the imperfection of his translation, arising in some cases from the want of English terms to express the Greek ones, and in other cases from the undefined and indistinct sense of the English terms, which on that account are inadequate to express the distinct ideas suggested in the original Greek."
Secondly, as to the internal sense in a series, the translator perhaps is bound to make some apology for obtruding it on the public attention, especially as he has been informed, that a few respectable individuals of the New Church regarded such obtrusion as presumptuous, when it first made its appearance in the publication of the Gospel according to Matthew. The translator has not forgotten this charge, nor been unaffected by it, insomuch that he had nearly made up his mind never to incur it again, in any future translation of any of the other Gospels. This purpose however has been over-ruled by the opinion of several judicious friends, and particularly of the printing society in Manchester, whose sentiments were requested on the subject and who were unanimous in their wishes that the internal sense might be given in a series in the present volume, since it was their full conviction that many readers had derived very essential benefit from a similar series in the Gospel according to Matthew. The translator therefore has only to add on the occasion, that in giving the internal sense in the present translation, he has thought it his duty to be guided by the enlightened author of the Extracts, so far as his particular views were immediately discoverable, and in every other case to be directed by his general mode of interpreting the sacred Scriptures. Trusting therefore that he shall no longer be charged with presumption for doing what appears to him a duty, it now only remains for him to offer up his most devout prayers to the God of the church, that he will be pleased to give his divine blessing to every part of the following publication, that so it may tend to the building of the walls of his New Jerusalem, and adding to the number of its blessed inhabitants, by announcing that the Lord Jesus Christ, in his divine humanity, is the true bridegroom and husband of the church, the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last, and that blessed are all they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. Rev. xxii. 13, 14.— AMEN.
this editionhas been carefully revised, and many additional Extracts have been inserted.
Manchester, February 1838.
Of abbreviated titles of the Works of Emanuel Swedenborg, from which the Extracts are made in the following Exposition :—
Ap. Exp. or A. E.
Ap. Rev. or A. R.
T. C. R.
True Christian Religion.
Treatise concerning Heaven and Hell.
N. J. H. or Heav. Doct.
Heavenly Doctrine of the New Jerusalem.
D. L. W.
Angelic Wisdom concerning Divine Love and Wisdom.
Angelic Wisdom concerning Divine Providence.
Last Judgment, or Babylon Destroyed.
Doctrine of the New Jerusalem concerning the Lord
Doctrine of the New Jerusalem concerning the Sacred Scripture.
Doctrine of Life for the New Jerusalem.
Doctrine of the New Jerusalem concerning Faith.
Delights of Wisdom concerning Conjugial Love, &c.
Treatise concerning Influx.