The Excellency of the Word


Preached in Parkdale, 31st May, 1891, published in New Church Tidings, no 89, May 1892

“O Jehovah, our LORD, how magnificent is Thy Name in all the earth.”—Psalm viii. 1.

By Name is understood quality. By the LORD’S Name, therefore, is understood His quality. This being infinite, many names are necessary in order to convey to man any adequate idea thereof. The LORD alone can reveal His own Divine quality, His Divine Name. Divine Revelation is indeed nothing else but Revelation of the LORD’S Divine quality. As the quality of the Infinite, as it is in itself, is above all human comprehension, therefore it is concerning the LORD’S quality, as it is shown in His relation to man, in His work for man’s Redemption and Salvation, that Divine Revelation treats. That which comes forth from the mind of any one, that is, any man’s word, so far as it is not hypocritical, reveals the quality of the mind from which it comes forth. But in such cases the words are at best but imperfect expressions of imperfect thought. Only of the LORD’S Word can it be said that it is a perfect expression of His Infinite Love and Wisdom, as manifested towards man. His Word, therefore, is a perfect expression or manifestation of His quality—only from His Word can we really learn His Name and behold how magnificent it is in all the earth. Not only, therefore, is the LORD called by many names in the Word, but the Word Itself is the LORD’S Name. All Revelation is given for the purpose of enabling us to know the LORD’S Quality or Name. Only in proportion as we study Divine Revelation in humility of spirit, can we form any true idea of what the LORD’S Name spiritually is. Such an idea, also, can only be an approxi­mate one at best; capable, indeed, of becoming more approximate to all eternity, but always infinitely removed from any absolute comprehension of the Infinite. If, therefore, one would really approach the LORD, it is neces­sary that we endeavour to continually approach Him, by forming, from a study of the Writings, a truer idea con­cerning Him; by gathering therefrom more and more of those particulars which will enable us to spiritually know the LORD’S Name more perfectly, and thus to pray and act more fully in His Name. Just in proportion as we do this, are we approaching the LORD, spiritually drawing nearer to Him, and coming into clearer perception of the magnificence of His Name, and of the excellence of the Revelation which spiritually reveals that Name to those who are willing to receive it. If we have some more or less remote idea of the LORD’S Name, it is necessary that we thus live in the endeavour of constantly perfecting that idea. Such is the continual endeavour of the Angels. Such must be our continual endeavour, if we would really prepare for the life of heaven.

“By the Name of the LORD in the Word are understood all things of love and of faith by which He is worshipped.”—(A. E. 102).

“That by the Name of Jehovah or of the LORD is not understood the Name itself, but all things of love and of faith, derives it’s cause from the spiritual world. There, the names which are in the earths are not enunciated; but the names of the persons concerning whom they speak are formed from the idea of all the things which are known concerning them, which are put together into one word. Such is the enunciation of names in the spiritual world; whence it is that also names there are, like all other things, spiritual. The name LORD and the name ‘Jesus Christ’ are not enunciated there as in the earths, but for those names a name is formed from the idea of all the things which are known and believed concerning Him, which idea is from all things of love and of faith into Him.

The cause is, that these in complex are the LORD with them, for the LORD is with each one in the goods of love and faith which are from Him.”—(A. E. 102).

It is therefore of the greatest importance that we should know whence it is that we can learn to spiritually know the LORD’S Name. Only from the LORD Himself, speaking to us through His written Word, can His Name be learned in any true sense. From the Word of the Old Testament we learn such ideas concerning the LORD as it is necessary to receive on the corporeal plane of the mind—thus we learn thence to corporeally name the LORD. From the Word of the New Testament we learn such ideas concern­ing the LORD as are adequate for reception on the sensual plane of our minds—thus we learn thence to sensually name the LORD. But if we would learn rational and spiritual ideas concerning the LORD in any degree of ful­ness, we must go to that Revelation of Himself which the LORD has effected in His New Advent. From the Word of the Old and New Testament the simple can indeed receive some vague and general foreshadowing of the LORD’S spiritual Name; but only from the Writings can we learn distinctively to name the LORD rationally and spiritually. The Writings are, indeed, the LORD’S Name, or, what is the same, His Word, as rationally presented to us by the LORD Himself. Only from that source can we learn to rationally grasp how magnificent is the LORD’S :Name in all the earth.

“The Word of the LORD everywhere involves spiritual and celestial things, that is, the Word of the Loan is spiritual and celestial. If the Ark, with its bitumination, dimension, and construction, as also the deluge, did not signify more than the letter sounds, there would be alto­gether nothing spiritual and celestial, but only something historical, which would not be of more use to the human race, than what is similar, which is described by profane (writers). But because the Word of the LORD everywhere in its bosom or recess contains and involves spiritual and celestial things, it clearly appears, that by the ark and by all things which are said concerning the ark, are signified arcana not yet disclosed. Similarly also elsewhere, as by the little ark in which Moses was hidden, and which was placed in the sedge next to the bank of the river ; and still more sublime by the holy ark in the desert, which was con­structed according to the type shown to Moses in Mount Sinai ; in which, unless all and single things had been representative of the LORD and of His Kingdom, there would have been no other than a certain idol, and idolatrous worship ; similarly the Temple of Solomon, which was never holy from itself, or from the gold, silver, cedar and stone there, but from the single things which were repre­sented by them ; similarly . . . unless the Ark and its construction with the single things signified some arcanum of the Church, the Word would not be the Word of the LORD, but a certain dead letter, as with some profane writer.”—(A. C. 639).

Hence the Word is the Word because it involves spiritual and celestial things, the arcana of the Church. These are all of the LORD, and derive their quality from Him alone, for only the Divine of the LORD can make. Heaven or the Church. These things, the things which cause the Word to be the Word, though they are within in every manifesta­tion of the Word, are most openly evident in the Revelation of the Word given to the New Church. There, most of all, does the manifestation of the LORD’S Name appear. The Word is Divine in all and single things from inmosts even to the extremes thereof ; but in the Writings the Divine, as it is in the Heavens, is made more manifest than has ever been the case before—they, indeed, constitute the Name of the LORD as He appears in His New Advent, for they teach His Quality both more interiorly and more openly than any previous Revelation of the Word has done. In His Name, as thus spiritually understood, and not in any mere name, is the New Church to be established. For the New Church can exist with us from no other source, than from the re­ception of that quality of the LORD which is revealed in the Writings. Only thence can the Name of Him that sitteth upon the White Horse be written on our foreheads.

“But they who do not know how the matter has itself, can suppose, that the Word as to the literal sense is thus annihilated, from the cause that it is not attended to in Heaven. But it is to be known, that the literal sense of the Word is never annihilated by that, but rather it is confirmed, and that the single words have weight, and are holy from the spiritual sense which is therein, since the literal sense is the basis and fulcrum, on which the spiritual sense rests, and with which it most conjointly coheres, even to that degree, that there is not even an iota or apex, or little horn in the letter of the Word, which does not con­tain in itself the *holy Divine ; according to the LORD’S words in Matthew ‘Amen, I say to you, even until Heaven pass, one iota, or one little horn shall not pass from the Law until all things take place’—v. 18 : and in Luke ‘It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than one apex of the Law to fall’—xvi. 17; the Law is the Word. Therefore also from the Divine Providence of the LORD it has been made, that the Word as to every iota and apex has been preserved from the time in which it was written, especially the Word of the Old Testament. It was also shown from Heaven, that in the Word not only every expression, but also each syl­lable in the Original Tongue involves what is holy, which is made perceptible to the angels of the inmost heaven. That thus it is I can asseverate, but I know that it trans­cends faith. Hence it is evident, that indeed, the External Rituals of the Church, which represented the LORD and the Internals of Heaven and the Church, concerning which in the Word of the Old Testament, as to the most part have been abrogated, but that still the Word remains in its Divine Holiness, since, as has been said, all and single things there, still involve holy Divine things which are perceived in Heaven when that Word is read. For there is internal holiness in the single things, which is its inter­nal sense, or celestial and Divine sense.

This sense is the soul of the Word, and is the very Divine Truth proceeding from the LORD, thus it is the LORD Himself.” —(A. C. 9349).

It is from the soul that all life enters it ; without the soul it is necessarily dead. It is from the soul that the life is breathed into the external forms of the Word : with­out the soul it could not therefore be inspired. To have such a soul is what causes Revelation to be Divine Revela­tion, and also what causes the written forms of Divine Revelation to be Sacred Writing or Scripture. It is be­cause they exist from such Divine Inspiration that they set forth the LORD’S quality, and are thus the LORD’S Name. But an altogether perverted view of inspiration has pre­vailed in the Old Church, and thence has infested the New.

“Hitherto even the learned world has thought that the Historicals of the Word are nothing but Historicals, and involve nothing deeper. And although they said that each iota was Divinely inspired, still by that they under­stood nothing other than that they were disclosed, and that something dogmatic applicable to the doctrine of faith could be deduced thence, and be of use to teachers and learners, and that therefore, because Divinely inspired, they may have Divine force in minds and, beyond every other history, operate good. But historicals regarded in them­selves do little for the emendation of man, neither any­thing for eternal life, for in the other life historicals are given to oblivion. For there, what would there be thence if they knew concerning Hagar the handmaid, that she was given to Abram by Sarai? if concerning Ishmael? yea, if they knew concerning Abram?

Nothing beyond the things which are of the LORD, and which are from the LORD, are necessary to souls, that they may enter into Heaven, and realize joy, that is, eternal life. On account of these the Word is, and these are the things which are con­tained in its interiors.”—(A. C. 1886).

These things therefore are the soul of the Word; these are the things which are actually inspired thence into the external forms of Divine Revelation. From such inspira­tion the Word is the Word. But are not these the very things which are openly revealed in the Writings of the New Church? Do not we invariably find as we penetrate by study more into the interiors of that Revelation, that just such things abound therein more and more? Such things, “of the LORD, and from the LORD),” as never were known nor could be known from any other source but those Sacred Writings—how came they there, how could they come there except from Divine Inspiration Being necessarily from Divine Inspiration, those Writings have in them the Divine quality and are thus the LORD’S Word, the LORD’S Name. For it is indisputable that they contain innumerable things that could never have been learned from the Word of the Old Testament, nor from the Word of the New, although they are involved in each of those forms of the Word. If then they are not, as they profess to be immediate Revelation from the LORD, they can be of no reliable authority whatever, and must be altogether useless for the work of establishing the New Church in man But once we recognize that they are indeed the LORD Himself, as He has come to establish, the New Church with all who are willing thus to receive His Name, then we are enabled daily to exclaim with deeper meaning, “O Jehovah, our LORD, how magnificent is Thy Name in all the earth.”

By “the earth” is understood the Church. Only in the Church can the magnificence of the LORD’S Name be per­ceived. “The Church specifically is where the Word is, and by it the LORD known, and Divine Truths revealed.” (H.D. 255). “But they are not therefore of the Church who are born where the Word is, and by it the LORD known, but they who through truths from the Word are regenerated by the LORD, who are those who live according to the truths there, thus who live the life of love and faith.” —(H. D. 255). Such are they who are able to see some­thing of how magnificent the LORD’S Name is. No others can perceive that magnificence, not even in that Revela­tion where, above all others, the LORD’S Name is made known in its heavenly magnificence. In order to rejoice in the perception of that magnificence, we must receive something of the Church, which we can do only as we renounce self-leading and submit to be led by the LORD.

“That the Word is holy Divine from inmosts to extremes, is not evident to the man who leads himself, but to the man whom the LORD leads. For the man who leads him­self does not see other than the external of the Word, and he judges concerning it from the style. But the man whom the LORD leads judges concerning the external o the Word from the holy which is therein. The Word is like a garden which is to be called a heavenly paradise, in which are delicacies and delights of every kind, delicacies from the fruits and delights from the flowers; in the midst of which are the trees of life, next to which are the fountains of living water; but round about are forest trees, next to which are rivers. The man who leads himself judges concerning that paradise, which is the Word, from its circumference where are forest trees. But the man whom the LORD leads judges from the midst of it where are the trees of life. The man whom the LORD leads actually is in the midst of it and looks to the LORD. But the man who leads himself actually sits in the circumference of it and looks hither to the world. The Word is like fruit in which within is nourishing flesh, and in the midst of it the sheath of seeds, in which inmostly is the prolific which germinates good in the earth. And the Word is like a most beautiful infant involved round about, except the face, with bands upon bands. The infant itself is in the inmost heaven, and the bands in the inferior heavens, and the common covering of the bands in the earth. Because the Word is such, it is wholly Divine from inmosts to externals.”—(A. E. 1072).

To the New Church the Word has come without the grossest of these coverings, so that even in this world, we can, with some knowledge thence of its heavenly quality, say, “O Jehovah, our LORD, how magnificent is Thy Name in all the earth.” For the magnificence of the Word, like its power, and like its glory, is from the spiritual sense, and therefore in that form of the Word in which the spiritual sense is most openly manifested, there, of necessity, is also the glory, the magnificence, yea, all the excellency of the Word most openly manifest. It is the privilege of the New Church thus to behold the LORD in His glory, thus to see the Word revealed in its excellency, thus to perceive, as was never possible before His New Advent, the magnificence of the LORD’S Name in all the earth.

The Word of the LORD is perfect. Every form of His Word is a Divinely accommodated expression of the LORD’S Name, as adapted to some special need of the human mind. Each of such accommodations, because it is the Loan’s, is perfect. The Word of the Old Testament is the most perfect expression of the LORD’S Name that can be received on the lowest or foundation plane of the mind in this world. But because it is only to the rational plane of the mind that the perfection of the excellency of the Word can be made manifest; and because it is only to the rational plane of the mind that the full magnificence of the LORD’S Name can be made evident; therefore that form of the Word which the LORD has given in accommodation to the rational mind, is called the most excellent of all Revelations, and is the most open manifestation of the magnificence of the LORD’S Name that has ever been made. In that form of the Word, the Writings, we can, if we will, see the Revelation of that NEW WRITTEN NAME, “which no man knoweth save he that receiveth.”-(Rev. ii. 17).

Notwithstanding the glory in which the LORD has effected His New Advent ; notwithstanding the magnificence of the New Name under which He has now manifested Himself ; but few are willing to receive Him, and therefore few are able to know that Name. The Revelation of it, without which we could have no rational idea of the real excellence of any form of the Word, is either ignored or rejected, or if ostensibly received, it is mostly received as something other than the Word, or Name, of the LORD. And yet it can be known to all who are willing to receive the new quality of life there revealed, that it is the LORD’S New Name, which the genuine New Church receives, as a Bride receiving the Name of her Husband.

About David Millar

My passion revolves around supporting people to engage with the Lord's Word, or Divine truths in the form of sacred texts, to cultivate an intentional spiritual practice. Through the works penned by Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) we find that the Biblical texts contain a deeper meaning that, once understood, enables them to be applied in ways that open the human mind to the realisation of its spiritual potential. The goal of the Divine Life is to free each and every human being from the pain of self centred living and bring them into the experience of all that is heavenly through the promotion of what is genuinely good and true. The material shared here is offered in the pursuit of that aim.
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