De Verbo (Rogers) n. 13

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13. How Much Better a Mediated Revelation Effected Through the Word is than a Direct Revelation Effected Through Spirits

People suppose they would be more enlightened and wiser if they had a direct revelation through speech with spirits and angels, but the opposite is the case. Enlightenment by means of the Word comes by an inner path, while enlightenment by direct revelation comes by a path from without. The inner path is through the will into the intellect. The outer path is through the hearing into the intellect. A person is enlightened by the Lord by means of the Word to the degree that his will is intent on good. Granted, a person may be instructed and seemingly enlightened through the hearing even if his will is intent on evil, yet instruction that enters the intellect of a person whose will is intent on evil is not within him but remains as something apart. It is a matter solely of the memory, and not of his life. And what remains apart from a person and is not a matter of his life, gradually fades away, after death if not before. For a will intent on evil either rejects the instruction, or stifles it, or falsifies and profanes, it.

The fact is that a person's will constitutes his life, and his will continually acts upon his intellect. Whatever enters the intellect from the memory, therefore, the will regards as alien. On the other hand, the intellect does not act upon the will, but only informs It how it should act. Consequently, if a person were to know from heaven everything that angels ever know, or if he were to know everything in the Word, and everything taught in the doctrines of the church, and in addition to this what the church fathers wrote and the councils pronounced-if he were to know all this and yet have a will intent on evil, after death he would still be regarded as one who knew nothing, because he would not will what he knew. And because evil hates truth, the person himself would then reject those things and in their stead adopt falsities in harmony with the evil of his will.

[2] Besides this, no spirit or angel is allowed to instruct anyone on this earth in Divine truths. Rather, the Lord Himself instructs everyone by means of the Word, and He instructs a person to the degree that the person receives goodness from the Lord in his will, which in turn depends on the degree to which he abstains from evils because they are sins.

Moreover, every person is in the company of spirits in respect to his affections and the thoughts resulting from those affections. He is in this company as a member of it. If spirits speak with a person, therefore, they do so on the basis of his affections and in accordance with them. Nor can a person speak with any others until the companies with which he is already associated are first removed. This does not happen except by a reformation of his will. Because everyone is in the company of spirits who are of the same religion as he is, therefore if spirits speak with him, they affirm everything that the person has made a matter of his own religion. Thus fanatic spirits support everything that is a part of a person's fanaticism, Quaker spirits everything that is a part of his Quakerism, Moravian spirits everything that is a part of his Moravianism, and so on. The result is confirmations of falsity that can never be eradicated.

It is apparent from this that a mediated revelation effected through the Word is better than a direct revelation effected through spirits. As for myself, I have not been permitted to take anything from the testimony of any spirit, nor from the testimony of any angel, but from the testimony of the Lord alone.

This page is part of the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg

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