Legend 1: the Time of Death

October 23, 2016 § 2 Comments

Kurt Simmons does not consider the unpublished theological works of Swedenborg to be authoritative. He says: 

The unpublished works have long been a source of incorrect teaching (see, for instance, the teachings listed in “Swedenborgian Legends.”).(http://swedenborgdigitallibrary.org/contets/books.html)

 His first so-called “Swedenborgian Legend” is this: 

1. The teachings about the determinants of the time of death in Spiritual Diary/Spiritual Experiences 5002, 5003.(http://www.swedenborgproject.org/2009/01/29/swedenborgian-legends/)

 Let us quote the passages in full so that we can see what we are discussing: 

SD 5002. CONCERNING THE DURATIONS OF THE LIFE OF MEN: WHY SOME LIVE LONG, AND SOME NOT LONG. The life of every man is foreseen by the Lord, as to how long he will live, and in what manner; wherefore he is directed from earliest infancy with a regard to a life to eternity. The Providence of the Lord, therefore, commences from earliest infancy.

SD 5003. The reasons why some die boys, some youths, some adults, some old men, are:

  • 1st, on account of use in the world to men;
  • 2nd, on account of use, while he is in the world, to spirits and angels; for man, as to his interiors, is with spirits; and he is there as long as he is in the world, in which all things in the spiritual world terminate;
  • 3rd, on account of use to himself in the world, either that he may be regenerated, or that he may be let into his evils lest they lie dormant and afterwards break out, which would result in his eternal ruin;
  • 4th, therefore, on account of use afterwards in the other life, after death, to eternity; for everyone who will be in heaven has his place in the Grand Man, or, on the other hand, he has his place in hell: wherever forces fail they are balanced, and, of the Providence of the Lord, men are brought thither.

Thus also, the kingdom of the Lord is cared for, the welfare of which is universal Providence.

 Mr. Simmons is quite correct. This teaching about the “determinants of the time of death” does not occur anywhere else in either the published or the unpublished works. This, however, does not automatically mean that the teaching is false, untrue, or incorrect. There is no statement anywhere in the published or unpublished works that say that these four uses do not determine the time of death.

 The heading for these two passages (SD 5002 & 5003) states their purpose, namely that they are going to explain why some people live longer than others.

 The rest of SD 5002 gives us the general principles from which the specifics in SD 5003 are derived. The general principles mentioned in SD 5002 are taught in DP 333 and other passages:

The operation of the Divine Providence for the salvation of man is said to begin at his birth and to continue right on to the end of his life. In order to understand this it should be known that the Lord sees what the nature of a man is, and foresees what he desires to be, and thus what he will be; and in order that he may be a man and therefore immortal, the freedom of his will cannot be taken away, as has been shown above in many places. Therefore the Lord foresees man’s state after death and provides for it from his birth right on to the end of his life. With the wicked the Lord provides by permitting and continually withdrawing them from evils; while with the good He provides by leading them to good. Thus the Divine Providence is unceasing in the work of saving man. (DP 333)

 SD 5003 lists four reasons or uses that determine when a person dies. These reasons or uses follow logically from the general principles in SD 5002. The Lord’s Divine providence is unceasingly working to save us (DP 333). “The Lord foresees and sees all things both in general and in particular” (AC 1755). All of a person’s states and their changes are disposed by means spirits and angels and are thus directed by the Lord to ends which the Lord alone foresees (AC 2796). These things being true, how could the Lord not foresee and provide that a person’s death be according to the four reasons or uses listed in SD 5003?

 If one or more of these reasons or uses is incorrect, it means that the Lord could not foresee that use! But the Lord foresees everything. It would mean that the Lord could not provide for that use! Yet the Lord is unceasingly seeking to bring about that use.

 Perhaps the Spiritual Diary is not authoritative in the same manner as the published works, but the teachings in SD 5002 and 5003 are compatible with the teachings concerning Divine foresight and Divine Providence in the Writings (however defined). And if those teachings in SD 5002 and 5003 are incorrect, then they render they nullify the truth of teachings concerning Divine foresight and Divine Providence in the published works. So, however, authoritative the Spiritual Diary may or may not be, the teachings found in SD 5002 and 5003 are true, and can not be “incorrect.”









§ 2 Responses to Legend 1: the Time of Death

  • Sharon says:

    Thanks for clarifying that, Bill. The older I get, the more I understand (in glimpses) the Lord’s mercy with regard to everything in our lives!

  • And the more we thank Him, the more glimpses we see. There are certainly spiritual advantages to getting older. Somewhat related is a favorite quote of mine: “peace has in it confidence in the Lord, that He directs all things, and provides all things, and that He leads to a good end” (AC 8455).

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