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world of spirits, hell and heaven, were convincingly opened to me, where I found many persons of my acquaintance of all conditions. From that day forth I gave up all worldly learning, and laboured only in spiritual things, according to what the Lord commanded me to write. Thereafter the Lord daily opened the eyes of my spirit, to see in perfect wakefulness what was going on in the other world, and to converse, broad awake, with angels and spirits."
He refers probably to the same event in the following passage of his diary
:“ A vision in the day time: of those who are devoted to conviviality in eating, and indulge their appetites.
“ 397. In the middle of the day at dinner an angel spoke to me, and told me not to eat too much at table. Whilst he was with me, there plainly appeared to me a kind of vapour steaming from the pores of the body. It was a most visible watery vapour, and fell downwards to the ground on the carpet, where it collected, and turned into divers vermin, which were gathered together under the table, and in a moment went off with a pop or noise. A fiery light appeared within them, and a sound was heard, pronouncing that all the vermin that could possibly be generated by unseemly appetite were thus cast out of my body, and burnt up, and that I was now cleansed from them. Hence we may know what luxury and the like have for their bosom contents. 1745. April."'*
This impression, however produced, took so strong a hold of Swedenborg's mind, that it became thenceforth the actuating principle of his life. In the first months of his change, he says somewhere,t if he could have fallen back into his previous state, he might have taken it all for delusion : but the impression deepened the older he grew, and with the exception of a short interval (not long before his death) which again passed away, it furnished him for the rest of his days, with as firm and constant a belief as other men have of the reality of an external world. He now solicited release from his post at the Board of Mines, with a request that he might be allowed to retain half his salary, and be spared any further elevation of rank. The king graciously conceded to him the whole of his salary.
• Harrington, the author of the Oceana, was visited with a similar hallucination in the latter part of his life. He fancied, that small flies were emitted from all parts of his body, and would sometimes ask his friends, if they did not perceive them.
+ We have mislaid the reference, but are certain of the fact.
Retiring from public life, he built himself a small commodious house, with a spacious garden attached, in the southern suburb of Stockholm, where an aged gardener and his wife were his only domestics. The remainder of his life he divided almost equally between Stockholm and London, with occasional excursions into Holland and France. But while his works and his Diary make us quite familiar with his mental history, it is not always easy to trace his course or assign his dwelling in the world of men. A sort of mysterious obscurity envelops the outward life of his latter years, like that of St. Simon. Whenever he does emerge into view, we still find in him the external bearing of the scholar and the gentleman. In his own country he retained his early friendships, occasionally took his place and sometimes spoke in the sitting of the nobles, and was honourably noticed by different members of the royal family.
Of his theology as a system, and its extraordinary pretensions, we shall speak presently. We simply notice here, as the sole incidents to mark the last seven-and-twenty years of his life, the different publications in which he propounded his peculiar views, and by which his name is principally known to the world. They were exclusively of à theological character, and are very numerous. The principal of them need alone be mentioned. Between 1749 and 1756 appeared at London, in successive volumes, his great work, the Arcana Cælestia. It amounted, at its close, to eight volumes 4to. It is an elaborate commentary on the Books of Genesis and Exodus, in which, by the aid of certain fixed correspondences between the things of heaven and the things of earth, he extracted the natural, the spiritual, and the celestial Senses of the Divine Word. From the constant references to this work in his subsequent publications, we conclude, that he regarded it as the basis of his whole system. In 1758, besides many smaller treatises, he published, also at London, a work
Concerning Heaven and its Wonders, and concerning Hell: being a relation of Things heard and seen,'-and the most fanciful of all his productions, ‘On the Earths in the Solar System, and in the Starry Heavens; with an Account of their Inhabitants, and of the Spirits and Angels there. This last, issuing from any other pen,
CHRISTIAN TEACHER.- No. 48.
might have been taken for a jeu d'esprit, but it is written in sober earnestness, and is quite in harmony with Swedenborg's general strain of thought. It is as bold in its fancies as the lively conversations of Fontenelle on the same subject; but it is even less scientific, and is not relieved by the sprightly sallies of wit and gallantry which make the Frenchman's speculations so entertaining. The planetary and stellar scenery of Swedenborg is somewhat heavy and monotonous. His views were further developed in a large volume, entitled “The Apocalypse Revealed,' which appeared at Amsterdam in 1766. This was followed in 1768 by another publication at Amsterdam, The Delights of Wisdom concerning Conjugal Love, and the Pleasures of Insanity concerning Scortatory Love. In this work he declared his views on the relations of the sexes. Insisting with extreme earnestness on the sanctity and inviolability of the nuptial tie, he allowed a freedom on some other points beyond the received morality of the world.* His last treatise, in which he gathered up the results of previous separate publications in one comprehensive summary, was the True Christian Religion, containing the Universal Theology of the New Church. It is an elaborate Body of Divinity, in which the positions of the different sections are illustrated and supported by Memorable Relations of what he had seen and heard in the Spiritual World. It was originally printed in Latin at Amsterdam in 1771, the year before his death. When it is remembered that the author was now in his 84th year, it must be considered an extraordinary performance.
In England and France, Swedenborg experienced no annoyance, in consequence of his strange opinions. In the latter country, the philosophic literati seemed rather disposed to look on his writings with a friendly curiosity. In England, John Wesley-as might be expected from his own tendencies—felt much interest in Swedenborg's reported communications with the spiritual world, and expressed a wish to see him--but declared his own belief, that he was a lunatic.t In his own country, owing to the impression that he had made on some persons in the
• Wilkinson's Biography,' pp. 165-174.
higher and learned classes, he began to excite the jealousy of the clergy, and attempts were made to suppress his writings. Among the most active of his enemies, was his own nephew, bishop Filenius. But the innocence and simplicity of his life, his intimate relations with some of the most distinguished personages in the state, and perhaps a kind of undefinable awe investing his character-preserved him from actual persecution, and enabled him to end his days in peace. On more than one occasion, shortly before his death, he was asked by his friends, whether he still persisted in his pretensions, or had anything to retract. He replied with some warmth to the Rev. Dr. Hartley and to Dr. Messiter, that "he had written nothing but the truth.” His answer to the Rev. Arvid Ferelius, a Swedish clergyman, who attended him in his last illness, was still more emphatic and decisive. The old man raised himself half upright in bed, and placing his hand on his breast, said with uncommon fervour, “ As true as you see me here, so true is everything that I have written. I could have said more had I been permitted. When you come into eternity, you will see all things as I have stated and described them, and we shall have much to discourse about them with each other.”
He died in London on the 29th of March 1772, and on the 5th of April was buried according to the Lutheran rites, in a vault beneath the Swedish Church, Ratcliffe Highway, where his remains still repose. “To this day," says Mr. Wilkinson, “not a stone or an inscription commemorates the dust of the wonderful Norseman.”
The theological system and the peculiar religious character of Swedenborg-both a development of the age -were intimately related to the studies and aspirations of his early life. His aim for years had been to apprehend the Infinite in its vital nexus with the Finite; and towards this object he had laboriously worked his way through the details of human physiology.—The end and the means throw some light, we conceive, on the ultimate constitution of his belief and his opinions. These influences were further strengthened by his intense disgust at the general infidelity of his time, which had lost all faith in a living, personal God, and substituted in place of Him the vague abstraction of nature.
His works abound in bitter com
plaint of this wide-spread spirit of Naturalism.- We must keep in mind, then, that he made his approach to the realization of the idea of God through human anatomy, for both his works on the Animal Kingdom treated exclusively of this subject; and the anthropomorphic tendency thus engendered, was confirmed by his profound reverence for the letter of Scripture. At the end of the series of second causes traced upward, he reached an opening towards the Infinite; and the devotional appetency of his mind found relief in the conviction, that the Divine Influx entered at this point the system of the Universe, and pervaded it throughout as its motive and conservative force. His conception of the relation of God to the Universe is expressed in two words-Influx and Receptacle.*_In accordance with his doctrine that the forms of causes are manifested in their effects, he took the human receptacle of life and intelligence--that highest effort of creation-as the measure of the invisible powers which acted through it, and reasoned up from it to the form of the Divine energy. We must not be deceived by his use of the word, Form. It did not necessarily express what could only be the object of our gross corporeal senses. He seems often to ha understood by it, nothing more than what subjected energy to fixed laws, and determined it to particular manifestations -in one word, what made existence definite. In this sense, he declared there could be no real belief in anything, apart from some conception of its form. He affirmed, for example, that the soul had a form, corresponding to the body which it animated, and which was in truth but a visible expression of it; and that they who spoke of it as a breath, an aura, a mere power, a vague, unbounded principle, used words without significance. It is from this point of view, that we must judge his doctrine, else so startling and offensive, that the Deity exists in a human form—the Grand Archetypal Man; and that the successive emanations of his creative power repeat this form through the descending scale of things, in the Heavens, the Spiritual World, the Visible Universe, down to human societies
* “ Vita est unica, et hæc non creabilis est, sed summopere influxibilis in formas organice adaptatas ad receptionem ; tales formæ sunt omnia et singula in Universo creato.”—De Commercio Animæ et Corporis : 1769. Denuo edidit J. F. I. Tafel: Tubingæ, 1843, p. 14.