SWEDENBORG TRANSACTIONSSOCIETY (Ine.) Nomber FiveSwedenborgs PreparationAddress given bythe Right Rev. ALFRED ACTON, M.A.,...
lr
SWEDENBORGSPREPARATIONbyALFRED ACTON, M.A., D.Th.SWEDENBORG SOCIETY (INCORPORATED)SWEDENBORG HOUSEBLOOMSBURY WAY, LONDON, ...
An Address given at the Victoria Hall, London,on the occasion of the celebration of theTwo Hundredth Anniversary of the Pu...
Swedenborgs PreparationMR. CHAIRMAN AND FRIENDS OF THE AUDIENCE:As your Chairman has stated, we are met togetherto celebra...
caU before he put his pen to paper to write the first ofthose works that mark the Second Coming of the Lord.In those three...
Listen now ta what Swedenborg himself says on thissubject: "The things represented spiritually by the actsof life do not c...
stocks in the land of Sweden. His grandfather was aman of great enterprise, and his father a man ofvigorous health. Sweden...
yoke; and in Swedish history, the Dalecarlians haveever risen up in rebellion when their liberties werethreatened.1t was n...
It is also significant that Swedenborg came from amining family and began his studies with researchesinto the mineraI king...
" l have never had any liking for disputatious writings,but the utmost repugnance for them." His sermonswere always in sim...
alone, the great faith, will accomplish aIl. None shalltell them aught save that they are good Lutherans andChristians and...
advanced, give aIl their attention to teaching the under­standing; but that the will shall be broken, bent, heldin check, ...
Christ as the one Person in whom God is revealed,must have been deeply impressed on his mind. Signi­ficant then is the acc...
what he caHed " a revelation or vision-which it was(he says*), l know not "~in which he saw two housesconnected by a passa...
others in singing with a loud VOlce, "Holy, Holy,Holy "; and then he awoke.This dream or vision made a profound impression...
When he heard of supernatural experiences, he wasat pains to examine the evidence as to their reality. " Asl have always b...
assumed if we are ta account for a phenomenonexperienced by Swedenborg which is bath striking andunique. l refer ta the ta...
stances of the organic mind. Such a formation cannothe separated from heredity.Here are his own words, as written in his E...
breath when praying in the morning or evening . . .and also later, when 1 was writing in imagination, when1 observed that ...
In 1766, Swedenborg was asked by a Prelate ofGermany,* why, from a philosopher, he became atheologian. His answer was as f...
year 1710 when he was first " introduced by the Lordinto the natural sciences," is the fact that he came intoa land where ...
the spirit of dogmatic theology. And now, a youngman of impressionable age, he was in a country wherewas utter freedom of ...
which characterizes his philosophical writings and hispolitical activities in the Swedish Diet.On his return to Sweden in ...
University; had he not been appointed by Charles theTwelfth to be an Assistant to the great SwedishEngineer Polhem in the ...
of Mines, to which office Charles had appointed him in1716, though temporarily delegating him to assist theengineering wor...
seeds of those doctrines which were later developed in thePrincipia. He also issued a prospectus ofa work in severalvolume...
creation was not only from God but was actually thefiniting of Infinite Substance. Thus early was hismind formed for seein...
we must go beyond geometry; and since humanthought cannot envisage the existence of anything savein terms of three dimensi...
Divine Proceeding, and the teaching that existence isperpetuaI subsistence. The teaching of the Principiaso fully agrees w...
The first volume, the Principia, was a philosophicalinquiry into the mode in which the mineraI kingdomwas created by the I...
so accustomed to the doctrine of three atmospheres thatthey are apt not to reflect on the fact that this doctrineis entire...
Now cornes the application." And a little earlier in thesame volume* he writes: "lt is to be observed thataccording to an ...
while writing the Economy, Swedenborg experienced aremarkable enlightenment, which must be connectedwith that interior bre...
sign." What this sign was, we do not know, but fromlater statements made by Swedenborg, there can belittle doubt but that ...
In the Economy, moreover, Swedenborg brought outand elaborated the doctrine of degrees, a doctrinewithout which (he says*)...
world in which are spirits and angels, different from thenatural world."On his return to Stockholm in 1740, Swedenborgwrot...
While man has the power of forming his mind infreedom after the pattern of the Word of God, or afterthe pattern of the Pri...
seeing that man has a soul, and he laboured to investi-gate the operation of that soul in the body. He saw, forinstance, w...
of the organs will also cease.* But, he says, in conclu­sion: "When we ourselves live as souls, we shallperhaps laugh at o...
Therefore, when his spiritual eyes were opened, hesaid to sorne angels who asked for his thoughts oncreation, " 1 have lon...
dearly deduced because so many parts of the brain,nay, the uses of almost aU of them, are unknown.Unless, therefore, these...
Swedenborg to arrive at these conclusions when thematerial at his hand was comparatively scanty.Swedenborg was the first t...
the organs of the respiratory system. We haveSwedenborgs own statement that, during the writing ofthis work, lights appear...
of confirmation from love. By the divine mercy ofGod Messiah, such a Bame appeared to me so often andindeed in different s...
speeches in the time of morning, etc., until a spiritaddressed me in a few words."But Swedenborg also had times when doubt...
Then a little later* he wrote: "When the sciencesand things of the memory which are exceedinglylimited wished to carry the...
Listen to Swedenborgs own testimony in 1747:*" Take whatever you will in the kingdoms of the earth,the terrestrial, vegeta...
whatever that did not look to the kihgdom of GodMessiah, and refer itself thereto."Swedenborg worked by the analytical met...
may be formed in the mind by confirmation in thedenial of God, and by a life of evit Then the soulflows through these plan...
This incident gives us a clue to the better under­standing of what Swedenborg so often says in hisscientific works, namely...
instinct, indicating that the soul has relapsed into thegolden age of her infancy.When Swedenborgs preparation was complet...
from within. The nature of Swedenborgs inspirationwas perception-perception such as it was in theGolden Age when men, unde...
THE TRANSACTIONS OFTHE SWEDENBORG SOCIETYNo. I. Swedenborg and Modern Ideas of the Universeby HAROLD GARDINER, M.S., F.RC....
Alfred Acton-SWEDENBORG's-PREPARATION-The-Swedenborg-Society-London-1951
Alfred Acton-SWEDENBORG's-PREPARATION-The-Swedenborg-Society-London-1951
Alfred Acton-SWEDENBORG's-PREPARATION-The-Swedenborg-Society-London-1951
Alfred Acton-SWEDENBORG's-PREPARATION-The-Swedenborg-Society-London-1951
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in …5
×

Alfred Acton-SWEDENBORG's-PREPARATION-The-Swedenborg-Society-London-1951

315 views
246 views

Published on

Published in: Education, Spiritual
0 Comments
0 Likes
Statistics
Notes
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Views
Total views
315
On SlideShare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
2
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
2
Comments
0
Likes
0
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Alfred Acton-SWEDENBORG's-PREPARATION-The-Swedenborg-Society-London-1951

  1. 1. SWEDENBORG TRANSACTIONSSOCIETY (Ine.) Nomber FiveSwedenborgs PreparationAddress given bythe Right Rev. ALFRED ACTON, M.A., D.Th.,at 200th Anniversary Celebration ofthe Publication of Arcana CaeleBtia,Victoria Hall, London, June 21st,1949
  2. 2. lr
  3. 3. SWEDENBORGSPREPARATIONbyALFRED ACTON, M.A., D.Th.SWEDENBORG SOCIETY (INCORPORATED)SWEDENBORG HOUSEBLOOMSBURY WAY, LONDON, VV.C.19511
  4. 4. An Address given at the Victoria Hall, London,on the occasion of the celebration of theTwo Hundredth Anniversary of the Publicationof Arcana Caelestia, June 21st, 1949.
  5. 5. Swedenborgs PreparationMR. CHAIRMAN AND FRIENDS OF THE AUDIENCE:As your Chairman has stated, we are met togetherto celebrate the two hundredth anniversary of thepublication of the Arcana Caelestia. Swedenborg com­menced the writing of this work in November 1748, ata place not far distant from the very centre of this city,and it was published in the following summer. Thispublication was the culmination of an event which hadhappened three years before. In April 1745, the Lordappeared to Swedenborg and announced that he was tobe appointed the servant of the Lord to reveal to theChristian world the spiritual sense of the Word and thenature of the spiritual world, and that for this purposehe was to be admitted into the spiritual world at thesame time that he was present in the natural world.There have been many men who have claimed to berevelators, but most if not aIl of these men havereceived their revelat.i0n by a dictation of sorne sort, andhave at once proclaimed their mission and promulgatedtheir so-called revelation. In this respect Swedenborgwas unique-for it was three years from the time of his5
  6. 6. caU before he put his pen to paper to write the first ofthose works that mark the Second Coming of the Lord.In those three years he laboured; he wrote thousandsof pages of manuscript; he read the Bible through andthrough many times ; he wrote and indexed hisexperiences in the spiritual world, and he studied andmastered the Hebrew language. These three yearsconstitute the last stage of Swedenborgs preparation forhis mission as Revelator. Such preparation would nothave been necessary for a dictated revelation, but for arational revelation it was indispensable.As 1 have said, these three years of arduous studywere the last stage in Swedenborgs preparation. Butpreceding them were many years of preparation in thefield of science and philosophy; for the revelation nowgiven to the New Church is a revelation of spiritualtruths c10thed in rational language and confirmed byphilosophie and seientifie truths, and such a revelationcould not have been given save by means of a manwhose understanding had been formed by a true scienceand a rational philosophy.It is of this ear1ier preparation of Swedenborg,prior to the commission which he received from theLord in April 1745, that 1 wish to speak this evening.6
  7. 7. Listen now ta what Swedenborg himself says on thissubject: "The things represented spiritually by the actsof life do not come ta the knowledge of the men them­selves unless this be the good pleasure of Gad Messiah.Sometimes it occurs a long time afterward, as was alsothe case with me. . . . At the time l did not perceivewhat the acts of my life involved, but afterward 1 wasinstructed concerning sorne of them, nay, concerning anumber; and from trese 1 couId at last plainly see thatthe tenor of Divine Providence has ruled the acts of mylife from my very youth, and has sa governed them thatl might finally come ta the present end; that thus, bymeans of the knowledge of natural things, 1 might beable ta understand those things which lie more in­teriorly within the -Vord of Gad Messiah, and sa .might serve as an instrument for opening them."* Itis this preparation that 1 would dwell on.But first let me speak about his health. It was verynecessary for a man who was ta engage in the veryarduous work that occupied Swedenborg during thewhole of his life that he should enjoy good health. Hisfather lived ta the age_ of eighty-two, and he himself tathe age of eighty-four. He came of a sturdy stock, theDalecarlian, a mining stock, one of the most healthy• The Word Explained, n. 2532.7
  8. 8. stocks in the land of Sweden. His grandfather was aman of great enterprise, and his father a man ofvigorous health. Swedenborg could not possibly havedone his work nor could he have made the many weari­sorne journeys which he undertook unless he had beenin good health. During his whole life, only twosicknesses are recorded, one in Paris when he wastwenty-five, and the other in London shortly prior tohis death.Another characteristic that can be traced to hisDalecarlian ancestry is his independence of thought.The Dalecarlians have been noted in Swedish historyfor their vigorous independence. In the words of aSwedish author, "the cold skies under which theDalecarlian lives, the thankless earth which he ploughs,the hard rock from which he mines his living, havegiven him a free and strong soul, independence in hisbeing, seriousness of mind, and have made him a manfor himself, honourable in behaviour, fearless in deed,a stranger to fear, and unbendable in his opposition todespotic power."* It was Engelbrecht, the Dalecarlian,who, in the middle of the fifteenth century, led his peopleagainst Danish tyranny and shook off the Danish• Svensk. Konversations Lexicon, S.V., Dalarna.8
  9. 9. yoke; and in Swedish history, the Dalecarlians haveever risen up in rebellion when their liberties werethreatened.1t was necessary that Swedenborg should have thisinheritance of fearlessness and independence; forwhile in the beginning of his literary career he wasadmired by his contemporaries for his profound learn-ing, and his works were widely reviewed by the learnedjournals of Europe, yet, as he developed his doctrinesconcerning the soul and its operation in the body, withthe related doctrines of degrees and correspondences.his fame suffered. The reviewers, unable to under-stand him, characterized his doctrines as silly trifles.Swedenborg was fully aware of this decline in hisreputation as a learned man, for he read the reviews.Yet he continued to write· and publish; and in hiswritings he continued to develop those very doctrineswhich he knew would be viewed with disfavour andeven ridiculed. "1 know that 1 speak strange things(he writes in one of his unpublished works*), but whatdoes it matter since they are true." For a man ofSwedenborgs ambition thus to face the lessening of hisfame, required not only deep conviction but alsocourage and independence; and Swedenborg had both.* The Fibre, n. 520.9
  10. 10. It is also significant that Swedenborg came from amining family and began his studies with researchesinto the mineraI kingdom, the ultimate kingdom ofnature.Swedenborg came of a deeply religious family, andhis early years were passed in a home of true Christianpiety. His father was a pious man-not a pietist in anyfaIse sense of the word, but a pietist in the sense that hebelieved a truly Christian character depended onobedience to the Ten Commandments. He enjoyed bisglass of ale and his games, but above aIl he preachedand observed the doctrine of charity. He had nopatience with dogmatic theology, and viewed the Bibleand the Church as being solely for the cleansing of theheart. At a time when the Lutheran Church inSweden, in common with that Church in other lands,had become more and more formaI; when the clergyhad little regard for the good of life, and the learnedamong them gave their greatest thought to dogmatictheology; Bishop Swedbergs sermons and books weredevoted wholly to the teaching of obedience to theWord of God. "Verbal theology (he says in his Auto­biography*) has never been a pleasure to me, but realtheology "; and earlier in the same work,t he declares,• p. 396. t p. 115.10
  11. 11. " l have never had any liking for disputatious writings,but the utmost repugnance for them." His sermonswere always in simple, homely language and fiIled withteIling quotations from the Bible.When we consider the aversion which Swedenborgsfather had for " verbal theology," an aversion whichthe freely speaking Bishop was never tired of express­ing, we find some added significance in the wordswhich Swedenborg wrote, many years Iater, in a letterto Dr. Beyer:* "1 was forbidden to read writers ondogmatic theology before heaven was opened to me,because thereby unfounded opinions and inventionsmight easily have insinuated themselves which after­ward could have been removed only with difficulty."Bishop Swedberg was also a determined enemy tothe doctrine of faith alone, which he caIled hjernetro incontrast with hiertatrot-a playon the words hjerne,the brain, and hierta, the heart. "This damnable faith(he says!) now rules everywhere in Christendom,especiaIly with those who are caHed Lutherans." "Ifa man goes to church at set times in the year, partakes ofthe Holy Supper, and with aIl this lives in aIl kinds ofcorporeal sins, there is no need of aught else. Faith• Feb. 1767 (2 Doc. concern. Swedenborg, 260).t Brain faith and heart faith. t Lefvernes Beskrifv., p. 488.II
  12. 12. alone, the great faith, will accomplish aIl. None shalltell them aught save that they are good Lutherans andChristians and will without doubt be blessed. In alarge congregation are hundreds of Lutherans; in agreat city many thousands; in the whole Lutheranworld countless thousands. Go and ask any one ofthem, yes, indeed, each one, Do you feel yourselfsaved ? Certainly, 1 have faith."*Bishop Swedberg condemns Paul for introducingthe word " alone " in his translation " Man is justifiedby faith alone," and points out that the word " alone "is not in the Greek text. Its introduction by Paul (hecontinues)t " has raised up endless and heated verbalcontentions between us and the Papists." Swedenborgalso, in one of his works, pronounces the same con­demnation, saying,! " 1 believe that never in his life didLuther commit a greater sin than when from himselfhe added the word a/one."Bishop Swedberg was so interested in training theyoung in the Christian life, rather than in dogmatictheology, that he took a special interest in the educationof children, and especially in the training of their will."The schools• ibid., p. 89.t ibid., p. 368.(het Faithsays§),and Good Tboth elementary andVorks, n. 3 (in Psycho Trans., p. 12).§ Le/vernes Beskrijv., p. 223.12
  13. 13. advanced, give aIl their attention to teaching the under­standing; but that the will shall be broken, bent, heldin check, and directed from evil to good-Io, one careslittle for that."Moreover, he rejected the idea of three Persons­the idea namely, that there is one God in three distinctPersons. He writes: * " God decreed from eternitythat man should again be united with God, and Godwith man. God became Man, and the two natureswere so bound together that from them there becameone Person." Again he writes:t "Christ is God andMan in one Person." Here we find significance in thewords written by Swedenborg in the last work whichhe published:! "From my infancy l could notadmit into my mind any other idea than that of oneGod."Bishop Swedberg left Upsala in 1696, when his sonEmanuel was eight and a half years old, and for the nextten years, except for the holidays, the latter, pursuinghis studies in Upsala, lived in the home of his learnedbrother-in-Iaw Eric Benzelius. But during those earlyyears of childhood, when living in his fathers home,the idea of the life of charity and of the Lord Jesus• ibid., p. 480.t ibid., p. 492. t True Christian Religion, n. 16.13
  14. 14. Christ as the one Person in whom God is revealed,must have been deeply impressed on his mind. Signi­ficant then is the account of his " first youth " whichSwedenborg wrote in 1769, in a letter to Dr. Beyer.*These are his words: "From my fourth to my tenthyear l was constantly engaged in thought upon God,salvation, and the spiritual diseases of men, and severaltimes l revealed things at which my father and motherwondered, saying that angels must be speaking throughme. From my sixth to my twe1fth year l used todelight in conversing with clergymen about faith,saying that the life of faith is love to the neighbour. Atthat time Iknew nothing of that learned faith whichteaches that God the Father imputes the righteousnessof His Son to whomsoever and at such times as Hechooses, even to those who have not repented and havenot reformed their lives; and had l heard of such afaith, it would have been, as it is now, above mycomprehension."Significant also of the influence brought to bear onSwedenborgs mind when as a child he lived in hispaternal home is the fact that his father had implicitbelief in the reality of the spiritual world. One night,when Jesper Swedberg was thirteen years of age, he had• Nov. 14, 1769 (2 Doc., 279).
  15. 15. what he caHed " a revelation or vision-which it was(he says*), l know not "~in which he saw two housesconnected by a passage. Near the passage was a largetub fiHed with water. At its side stood the Saviour.Crowds came, sorne were washed by the Saviour andsent to His glorious room on the right. The others Hedrove to the room on the left. Jesper Swedberg stoodin fear and trembling and prayed that God would deemhim worthy. He was chosen, washed, and sent intothe room on the right. There he recognized many, andthere he heard things which no human tongue can utter.When aH had been judged, the Saviour took JesperSwedberg by the hand and led him to the house at theleft or west, where the devils were. In the murky lightof that horrible room, he saw men and women dancingwith lewd motions. In the middle of the room he sawa deep hole burning with fire and brimstone. Men,tortured by the Hames, were trying vainly to climb out,but were pushed back, making frightful screams. Inthe room was also a pulpit occupied by a man with alarge hat coming down to his ears, but Jesper did nothear what he was preaching, for the Saviour led himaway, saying, " Thank thy God that thou comest nothere." Coming to the heavenly house, he joined the• Lefv. Beskrifv., p. 47 seq.
  16. 16. others in singing with a loud VOlce, "Holy, Holy,Holy "; and then he awoke.This dream or vision made a profound impressionon the mind of the thirteen-year-old child, and it led tohis determination to study for the ministry.Seven years later, he was confirmed in this deter­mination in a singular way. It was in a large village.There, in the morning, he had entered into the workof the ministry by preaching his first sermon. In theevening, the church was closed, yet from it he heardthe sound of an organ and voices singing godly Psalms.This was heard, not only by Jesper himseIf but also byaIl the villagers; yet the church was empty and itcontained no organ.*Jesper Swedberg lived in a superstitious age, but hehimself was not superstitious. He had a firm belief inthe actuality of the spiritual world. He believed alsothat it may be possible at any time for the presence ofthe spiritual world to be manifested to men on earth.Certainly, the few visions of which he speaks didnot lead him into any visionary ecstasy. They didnot lead him to seek visions or even to desire them,but served only to confirm him in the truths of theWord.• ibid., p. 46.16
  17. 17. When he heard of supernatural experiences, he wasat pains to examine the evidence as to their reality. " Asl have always be1ieved in Gods clearly revealed Word(he writes in his Autobiography*), l have never askedfor any miracle; neither have lever been credulouswhen told that a miracle had taken place. Yet l havealways been of the opinion that when it pleased God toperform a miracle, one should not wholly reject it, whenone is sure that it is not something natural or somethingmade up, or the sport and deception of Satan."Now it is not surprising that the father of EmanuelSwedenborg not only should believe in the spiritualworld but should have sorne experience of the presenceof spirits. If it takes severa! generations to make agentleman, we should not be surprised at there beingan hereditary tendency which prepared Swedenborg tobe in both worlds at the same time.Swedenborgs spiritual experiences involve a latentability to abstract the mind from external surroundings ;and who shall say that this abi1ity was not the result ofhis pious Dalecarlian ancestry. Such ability, moreover,must rest on sorne special form induced on the finestorganic substances of the mind-a form that wouldcome by inheritance. Such an heredity must be• p. 538.17
  18. 18. assumed if we are ta account for a phenomenonexperienced by Swedenborg which is bath striking andunique. l refer ta the tacit breathing which heexperienced, even as a child, the breathing of the Iungsbeing almast suspended. We know that when thepassions of the animus are aroused, a mans breathingis stertorous and harsh; and, on the other hand, whena man thinks deeply, his breathing is quiet and peace­fuI. The reason of this is because, when the passionsof the animus or externai mind are aroused, thosepassions have their seat, and manifest their presence, inthe body itself, whereas, when the thought is profoundand abstracted, the passions of the animus are allayed,as it were, and the spirit itself breathes aimost apartfrom the body. This breathing of the spirit is not anabstract thing but is an actuai breathing; it is theanimation of the finest substances in the brain where isthe seat of the spirit.Swedenborg himself says that he couid not havethought profoundly uniess he had been able sa taseparate the breathing of the spirit from the breathingof the Iungs that the breathing of the Iungs was almasttacit; and, furthermore, that the ability ta do thisimplies sorne peculiar formation in the· inmost sub­18
  19. 19. stances of the organic mind. Such a formation cannothe separated from heredity.Here are his own words, as written in his Economyof the An-imal K-ingdom:* "To search out the causesof things from given phenomena is a peculiar gift intowhich the infants hrain is in a way inducted from itsfirst stem, and into which it is later imbued by manystages of use and cultivation."Later, when writing in his Memorabiliat concerningthe respiration of the men of the Most Ancient Church,he says that he could perceive and believe that thisrespiration was varied according to the state of theirfaith, " because my respiration has been so formed bythe Lord that l could breathe internaHy for somelength of time without the help of the external air, sothat the breathing was directeâ within and yet theexternat senses remained in their vigour and als_o theactions. This could not be the case save with those whohave been so formed by the Lord."" That the respiration is in correspondence with thethought (he goes on to say!), of this it was granted meto have much experience, before l spoke with spirits,as when, in infancy, l purposely wished to hold my• No. 19. t n. 3317. t ibid., n. 3320.19
  20. 20. breath when praying in the morning or evening . . .and also later, when 1 was writing in imagination, when1 observed that 1 held my breath; it was tacit, as itwere."A little later, in October 1748, thus a few weeksbefore commencing the Arcana Caelestia, he writes:*" 1was first accustomed to breathe in this way in infancywhen saying morning and evening prayers, and also attimes afterward when explaining the concordance ofthe lungs and the heart, and especially when, for manyyears, 1 was writing from my mind the works that havebeen published. 1 then observed frequently that therespiration was tacit, almost insensible. It was latergranted me to think and to write concerning this. Thus1 was introduced to such respiration throughout manyyears from infancy, and especial1y by intense specula­tion, in which the respiration became quiescent;otherwise, an intense speculation of truth is notpossible. Sufficient air was drawn in to enable me tothink. By this means it is granted me to be withspirits and angels."And now 1 turn to a phase of Swedenborgs life thatmust be peculiarly interesting to Englishmen, especial1yto Londoners. • ibid., n. 3464.20
  21. 21. In 1766, Swedenborg was asked by a Prelate ofGermany,* why, from a philosopher, he became atheologian. His answer was as follows: "The reasonis, in order that the spiritual things now being revealedmay be taught and understood naturally and rationally;for spiritual truths have a correspondence with naturaltruths. For this reason, 1 was introduced by the Lordfirst into the natural sciences and thus prepared, and,in fact, from the year 1710 to the year 1744 whenheaven was opened to me. The Lord has furthergranted me ta love truth in a spiritual manner."Note the years here mentioned, 1710 to 1744. Inthe year 1710, on the tenth day of May, Swedenborg,making his first voyage, landed in London. In 1744 hewas for the second time in London, and it was thenthat heaven was opened to him. In 1710 he wastwenty-two years of age. His previous years had allbeen spent in the university town of Upsala, under theguidance of professors. Here, naturally, he had notmuch opportunity for developing independence ofthought. And now, in 1710, he had come from a smalluniversity town of less than two thousand inhabitantsinto a great city of half a million inhabitants. But whatis most important in this his first visit to England in the• Oetinger; see 2 Doc. 256.21
  22. 22. year 1710 when he was first " introduced by the Lordinto the natural sciences," is the fact that he came intoa land where was freedom of speech and freedom of thepress. On his first arrivaI in London, this fact wasbrought to Swedenborgs attention in a very lively way;for the whole city was engaged in a heated discussion,by pamphlets and coffee-house discussion, concerningthe power of the crown over the subject, and the dutiesof the citizen to the crown.:)(; The young student mustcertainly have been amazed at the fact that, despite thebitter and public criticisms against the government, noone was arrested. Such political controversies wouldnever have been tolerated in Sweden, nor in anycountry on the Continent, except Holland. Englandand Holland were the only countries where there wasfreedom of the press and freedom of speech; but inHolland, that freedom was circumscribed by theCalvinism of the State Church.Swedenborg remained in England for nearly threeyears, but those years were the most formative years ofhis life. He had never previously been in a great city.His life had been spent in a university town wherethought and discussion were more or less dominated by• LetteTs and Memorials of Emalluel Swedenborg, p. 12.
  23. 23. the spirit of dogmatic theology. And now, a youngman of impressionable age, he was in a country wherewas utter freedom of thought and investigation. Hewas intimate with the Astronomer Royal, JohnFlamsteed. He visited Oxford and had learned dis­cussions with the Savillian Professor of Mathematicsand eminent Astronomer, Halley, and also with Dr.Hudson, the Bodleian Librarian. He attended meet­ings of the Philosophical Society, and visited many ofits members in their homes. He discussed mineralogywith the geologist, Dr. John Woodward; he hadfrequent talks with the publisher and publicist, JohnChamberlayne; he discussed mathematical instrumentswith the scientific inventor, Francis Hawksbee, and thefamous instrument maker, Marshall; he read thePhilosophical Transactions and other English writings.And all this, as l have said, at the most formativeperiod of his life. Truly we can say that, whiIe his bodywas born in Sweden and his inheritance was Swedish,his mind is also a child of England, that· is, of thefreedom of thought and discussion, and of the boldnessof investigation which characterized the English nation.l t was England that fostered in him that boldness ofthought, freed from the fetters of dogmatic theology,
  24. 24. which characterizes his philosophical writings and hispolitical activities in the Swedish Diet.On his return to Sweden in 1715, one of the firsteffects of his visit to England was his publication of aquarterly which he called the Daedalus Hyperboreus(the Daedalus of the North). The remarkable thingabout this paper was that, instead of being written inLatin, it was written in Swedish. His mind wasinspired by the example set by the Royal Society whosePhilosophical Transactions were published, not in Latinas was the universal custom in Europe in the case oflearned works, but in the native language. Swedenborgwas determined that the Swedes, including the ordinaryman who was ignorant of Latin, should have the sameopportunity of leaming the sciences as the English;that by the investigation of natural phenomena, thewhole nation should be aroused to think, and to take anactive interest in the conclusions drawn by the learned.But Swedenborg had to provide for his living. In1716, he thought of becoming a professor of physics,but one limitation to this, was the fact that hestammered. Nevertheless, he might have become aprofessor, or a director of a physical laboratory, for hewas highly thought of by the professors in Upsala
  25. 25. University; had he not been appointed by Charles theTwelfth to be an Assistant to the great SwedishEngineer Polhem in the building of a dry dock, in theconstruction of a canal, and, incidentally, in the trans­porting of large galleys overland to an inlet of the seawherefrom Charles the Twelfth could attack theNorwegians. These works were all engineering works,and l suppose, had Swedenborg lived at this day, hewould have been called a Civil Engineer. He describessorne of these works. For instance, the dry dock. Adock was to be blasted into a rocky cliff facing the sea,and for this purpose a circular dam had to be built inorder to afford a dry space for the blasting. Swedenborgwas charged with measuring the floor of the sea inorder to fit the bottom of the dam to its contours. Healso had sorne part in the building of the dam itself,which was built above the water and then lowered.These engineering works greatly interestedSwedenborg, but he was still more interested ininvestigating the phenomena of nature and the com­mitting of his thoughts to paper, especially with a viewto publishing them in his Daedalus Hyperboreus.When Charles the Twelfth died in 1719,Swedenborg took his seat as an Assessor in the College
  26. 26. of Mines, to which office Charles had appointed him in1716, though temporarily delegating him to assist theengineering works carried on by Polhem. In theCollege of Mines he devoted himself to the studyofmineraIogy and chemistry.His position as an Assessor in this College was avery important one. The Assessors of the College hadjudicial functions in aU matters concerning the miningand smelting industry in Sweden-Ieases, the quality ofthe iron produced, safety devices, disputes with work­men, etc. Every summer, Assessors were sent out tothe various mining districts to hear cases and taketestimony. This they reported to the full Collegewhere decisions were made by majority vote.Swedenborg was diligent in this work, but his realinterest lay in searching more deeply into the pheno­mena of nature. He delved deeply into the study ofchemistry, and, for the purpose of learning the opera­tion of the soul in the body, he entered upon the studyof anatomy, particularly the anatomy of the brain.In 1721 and 1722 he published, in Amsterdam andLeipzig, as the results of his studies, his Forerunner ofthe Principia (commonly called Chemistry) and hisMiscellaneous Observations, in which works we see the
  27. 27. seeds of those doctrines which were later developed in thePrincipia. He also issued a prospectus ofa work in severalvolumes which was to treat of the various mineraIs.The fol1owing years were occupied in the prepara­tion of these volumes, and in 1734 he went to Leipzigand there published the fruits of his studies, in threefolio volumes, entitled Opera Mineralia.This work is special1y remarkable in that, while thesecond and third volumes deal with Iron and Copper ina purely scientific way, the first volume, entitled thePrincipia, commences with a philosophical considerationof how the finite was created by the Infinite.So far as 1 know, no man in literature has everventured to try to solve the problem of how the finitewas created by the Infinite. St. Augustine toyed withthe idea that God created the world from His ownSubstance, but he concluded that this would involvepantheism-that matter was God; therefore he pro­pounded the doctrine which has ever since prevailedamong Christian theologians, that the world wascreated from nothing.*Swedenborg was not satisfied with this. Knowingthat from nothing, nothing cornes, he concluded that• See A Philosophers Note Book, pp. 27, 138, 252.27
  28. 28. creation was not only from God but was actually thefiniting of Infinite Substance. Thus early was hismind formed for seeing in clear light the teaching ofRevelation,* that God created the world by " finitingHis Infinity by means of substances emitted fromHimself."The Writings say nothing as to how Godfinited HisInfinity, but in the Principia, Swedenborg essays totake up this problem, and his solution is not only inagreement with the teaching of Revelation, but itgreatly enlightens our understanding of that teaching.Swedenborgs reasoning is similar to that of Euclidwhen teaching of the origin of geometry. That origin,says Euclid, is a point without length, breadth, andthickness. The point moved in one direction makes aline which has length but no breadth or thickness. Theline moved in one direction rnakes an area havinglength and breadth but no thickness. An area movedin one direction makes a body having length, breadth,and thickness, and thus comprehensible to the humanmind. But the objection is made. If the point hasneither length, breadth, nor thickness, it is nothing;and how can something come from nothing? to whichEuclid rnight answer: If we seek the origin of geometry,* True Christian Religion, n. 33.28
  29. 29. we must go beyond geometry; and since humanthought cannot envisage the existence of anything savein terms of three dimensions, therefore the origin ofgeometry must be above the comprehension of humanthought. In other words, reason can see that it is butnot what it is.So Swedenborg defines the beginning of creation aspure and total motion in the Infinite, that is, a motionwithout any finite thing being moved-a motion whichcan he conceived of rationally but not geometrically.*Now, of course, such a motion is beyond our compre-hension. Yet human reason can see that it is, eventhough it cannot see what it is, Moreover, reason cansee that creation commences with the Divine Will, andthat this Will goes forth or proceeds as creative motion,that is to say, as Divine Truth. So all human creationbegins with will, and this will flows into the body ascreative motion. In the Principia, Swedenborg showsthat the first natural point or creative motion pervadesthe universe and continually sustains the universe, sothat should it cease, the created universe would at oncecease to be.By the doctrine of the Principia, we can see moreclearly the teaching of the Writings concerning the" Principia J, ii, s. 12.
  30. 30. Divine Proceeding, and the teaching that existence isperpetuaI subsistence. The teaching of the Principiaso fully agrees with the more general teaching of theWritings concerning creation that there can be hardlya doubt that by it Swedenborgs mind was prepared toreceive the spiritual truths concerning creation in hisunderstanding.*The Opera Mzneralia brought Swedenborg highrenown. It received long and highly flattering reviewsin the learned journals of Europe, and on the basis of it,Swedenborg was invited by the Royal Academy ofSciences of St. Petersburg to enter into correspondencewith that body." New Churchmen have thought that the statement in Divine Providence n. 6,which condemns those who hold that the first substance is likened .. to a point wbichis of no dimension, and that the fonns of extension existed from an infinitude of suchpoints"; and the statement in True Christian Religion n. 20, condemning the doctrineof the origin of substance" from forms, and geometrical hnes which are of no dimen­sion"; constitute a condemnation of the whole doctrine of the Principia; but in thisthey fail to see the difference between the goemetrical point of Euclid and the firstnatural point. Vhat is condemned are the monads of Wolff. The first natural pointis the proceeding of the Infinite; it is the creative motion of the Divine Love, andcontains within itself aIl that will subsequently be created.It has also been held that the repudiation of the Principia doctrine is involved inSwedenborgs statement in True Christian Religion n. 76, that he had .. long meditatedconcerning creation but in vain" until he knew that there were two worlds and twosuns. This would seem to mean nothing more than that without revelation thePrincipia doctrine would be a mere hypothesis; for it may be noted that heaven wasopened to Swedenborg in 1744, and it was later in the same year that he wrote in hiswork on the Senses, n. 262: "According to an admonition of the night, I ought tobetake myself to my philosophical Principia . . . and it was said that then it would begiven me to fly wheresoever I wilL" Moreover, six months after he had receivcd hiscommission as revelator, in April 1745, he wrote in his History of Creation n. 10, thathe was " amazed at the agreement" of his doctrine of creation and the Mosaic account.
  31. 31. The first volume, the Principia, was a philosophicalinquiry into the mode in which the mineraI kingdomwas created by the Infinite. It was indeed intended asthe introduction to a long series of works on the variousmineraIs, but Swedenborgs underlying reason forwriting it was his desire to search into the soul and itscommerce with the body. This is indicated by the factthat, while the Opera Mineralia was being printed,Swedenborg wrote his Forerunner of a ReasoningPhz1osophy concerning the Infinite and the final cause ofCreation, in which he treats at length of the Mechanismof the Operation of Soul and Body. He was inspired tothe writing of this work by the desire to search into theultimate and spiritual causes underlying the phenomenaof nature. He wished to show that the soul was not anaerial something but was a real substance; that it wasthe means by which God willed to form a heaven fromthe human race; and that its connection with the bodywas a real organic connection.It was with this in mind that Swedenborg developedhis Principia doctrine of the atmospheres-one universalatmosphere above the sun of the natural world, andthree atmospheres below that sun, two of which em­bodied the supreme atmosphere. New Churchmen are31
  32. 32. so accustomed to the doctrine of three atmospheres thatthey are apt not to reflect on the fact that this doctrineis entirely alien to the scientific world, both ofSwedenborgs day and of our own. But Swedenborgsaw that nothing can be transmitted through a vacuum;that, if the ear hears, there must be an atmosphere tocarry the sound waves to its organ; that if the eye cansee a bell swinging in a receptacle exhausted of air,while the ear cannot hear the ringing of the bell, theremust be a superior atmosphere conveying light wavesto the eye; that the corporeal life conveyed to theanimal soul must be transmitted by the mechanism ofa still superior natural atmosphere, and that thespiritual life conveyed to the human soul came througha supreme atmosphere above the sun of the naturalworld.That in the Principia, Swedenborg had in mind hissearch of the soul is clearlY indicated by a statementwhich he makes in The Five Senses,* written in 1744when his spiritual eyes were opened. He there says:" These [the doctrines of order, forms, and influx] aregiven in my Philosophical Principia where the forms ofthe parts of each atmosphere are set Forth anddelineated. This was done for the present purpose.• No. 267.32
  33. 33. Now cornes the application." And a little earlier in thesame volume* he writes: "lt is to be observed thataccording to an admonition of the night, 1 ought to goback to my Philosophical Principia. . . and it was saidthat then it would be granted me to fly whithersoever1 would."Swedenborg soon realized that for the study of thesoul it would be necessary to have a thorough know­ledge of the body in which she dwells. For thispurpose, he spent eighteen months (1736-1738) in ananatomical school in Paris, where he took up the workof dissection, particularly of animaIs living both on landand in the water, in order to study the relation of thebrain to the lungs.It was at the beginning of these studies (1736) thatSwedenborg began to have significant dreams, andthese continued until he received his commission in1745. Moreover, he began to learn the signification ofthese dreams,t and was thus initiated into the doctrineof correspondences; we find his first references to thatdoctrinet in the Economy of the Animal Kingdom,§which was finished in December 1739.~ Moreover,* No. 262. tThe Word Explained, n. 1894.:1: See Psychological Transactions pp. 195 seq., where are given ail Swedenborgsreferences in his philosophical works to the doctrine of correspondences.§ l, nos. 625-6,648-9. If 3 Doc. 924.33
  34. 34. while writing the Economy, Swedenborg experienced aremarkable enlightenment, which must be connectedwith that interior breathing to which 1 have previouslyalluded; for in that work,* when speaking of truephilosophers, he writes: "As soon as they light uponthe truth, aftèr a long course of reasoning, straightwaythere is a certain cheering light and joyful flash whichbrings confirmation, and which bathes the sphere oftheir mind. There is also a certain mysterious radiation-1 know not whence it springs-that darts throughsorne sacred temple of the brain. Thus a kind ofrational instinct displays itself and indicates, as it were,that at that moment the soul has relapsed, as it were,into the golden age of her infancy."Clearly these words indicate a more interior openingof Swedenborgs understanding preparatory to theopening of his spiritual eyes to see the phenomena of thespiritual world. Without such interior opening, theseeing of those phenomena would have been of little use.While volume 1 of the Economy was being printed,Swedenborg jotted down sorne notes in which heapplies his Prinâpia theory to the souls of men,animaIs, and insects. At the end of these Notes hewrote: "These things are true because 1 have the* No. 19.34
  35. 35. sign." What this sign was, we do not know, but fromlater statements made by Swedenborg, there can belittle doubt but that it consisted in the seeing of lightsand Bames with the eyes of his spirit. In other words,Swedenborgs thought was so interior that he not onlyfelt himself enlightened but actually saw spiritual lightwith his spiritual eyes.It is not surprising, therefore, that when writing thesecond volume of his Economy of the Animal Kingdomwhich he now commenced, Swedenborg is led by hisdeep thought to see that there is a spiritual sun. "Asthe [natural] sun is the fountain of life (he writes*), sothe Deity is the Sun of life and of all wisdom." Buthe adds,t " l confess, however, that while lingering onthis threshold, which conducts me almost beyond thebounds of nature, l fee! a holy tremor stealing over meand warning me to pause; for the mind thinks it seeswhat it does not see, and sees where no intuition canpenetrate. And what increases this awe is a love oftruth which, that it may hold in my mind the supremeplace is the end of all my endeavours. This alone lperceive, that the order of nature exists for the sake ofends which Bow through universal nature to return tothefirst end; and thatworshippersof nature are insane."• E,A..K. II, n. 255. t ibid., n. 259.35
  36. 36. In the Economy, moreover, Swedenborg brought outand elaborated the doctrine of degrees, a doctrinewithout which (he says*) there can be no entering intothe inner secrets of nature. The doctrine was entirelyunknown to the learned world, and the contemporaryreviews of Swedenborgs work show that the reviewershad little comprehension of it.Swedenborg doubtless had this in mind when, manyyears later, he wrote in the Divine Love and Wùdom:" 1 do not know whether anything has hitherto beenknown about discrete degrees, and yet without thisknowledge nothing of causes can be known " (n. 188).Nothing concerning this doctrine was known in thelearned world; but the doctrine was not only known toSwedenborg but it formed the key to his penetrationinto new regions of truth; and when his spiritual eyeswere opened, enabled him to understand the relationbetween the spiritual world and the natural.In the same workt he speaks in a similar way con­cerning knowledge of the Spiritual Sun. "That thereis a sun other than the natural sun has hitherto beenunknown, because mans spiritual has so greatly passedover into his natural that he does not know what thespiritual is, nor, consequently, that there is a spiritual• ibid., l, n. 632, II, n. 210. t D.L.W., n. 85.36
  37. 37. world in which are spirits and angels, different from thenatural world."On his return to Stockholm in 1740, Swedenborgwrote his work on The Fibre. Here he demonstratedthat man has three discretely different foods: the foodwhich he eats three times a day, the food he imbibesthrough the nostrils, and an ethereal food that goes tothe finest parts of the brain, the organic seat of the willand understanding. He saw that during his life onearth, man forms his character. He saw also that manscharacter must have an actual basis in that which is oftime and space. In other words, our character consistsin the order and arrangement of the parts of the organicseat of the mind, just as the character of a pianistshands consists in the order and arrangement of thefibres of that hand.Swedenborg saw that if the character of a man is anorganic form, that form must be nourished by foodswhich shaH fix and maintain it; just as in the case ofthe pianists hand. The hand must be formed bypractice, but the forro can be made firm only bynourishing food. Swedenborg recognized that thebuilding up and fixation of the organic vessel of thernind required a food finer than the food of the body.37
  38. 38. While man has the power of forming his mind infreedom after the pattern of the Word of God, or afterthe pattern of the Prince of the world, nature, by meansof this finel or ethereai food, fixes and hardens theform. Therefore, as we become oider, we find in ourown experience how difficult it is to change ourcharacter, although it can aiways be changed so long aswe live on earth.Here we have the basis for the later teaching of theWritings, that the blood of an evii man receives differentnourishment than the blood of a good man,* and of theteaching concerning the limbus-those finest things ofnature which man retains after death, as the organicbasis of his character.Swedenborg then wrote that very remarkable work,the Rational Psychology. 1 have read works onpsychology, and 1 understand that now on the radio youare receiving lectures, or have received lectures, on thatsubject; but my experience is that the psychology asnow taught is almost purely empiricaI, purely experi­mental. Modern psychology knows nothing of themind of man, of what the will and understanding are, orwhat the memory. 1t even laises the question as towhether man has a soul. But Swedenborg began by• D.L.TV., nos. 420 seq.
  39. 39. seeing that man has a soul, and he laboured to investi-gate the operation of that soul in the body. He saw, forinstance, what we can readily acknowledge, that manhas two minds; but, instead of regarding those mindsas abstract qualities, he shows that they must each beorganized forms. We all know that we can look downon our own lusts, and can condemn them and fightagainst them. The organ that looks down and theorgan that is fought are both organic. But what doesmodern pyschology know of this? I am now engagedin translating Swedenborgs work on Rational Psycho-logy, and the more I enter into its contents, the more Iam amazed at the wonderful insight of the man whowrote it, an insight which reveals truths that the mindat once acknowledges; but the mind wonders at thegenius of the man who laid them bare.In his Rational Psychology, Swedenborg has muchto say concerning the life of the soul after the death ofthe body. He shows that heaven consists of manysocieties, and that the angels of heaven are all engagedin the performance of uses. He conjectures that afterdeath the soul will not have the form of the humanbody. The organs of the terrestriaI body are adaptedto earthly uses, and when the use ceases, the necessity39
  40. 40. of the organs will also cease.* But, he says, in conclu­sion: "When we ourselves live as souls, we shallperhaps laugh at ourselves at having conjectured sochildishly " (Rat. Psycho n. 524).This is not an expression of doubt as to the truth ofhis conjecture. Swedenborg was fully convinced of itstruth; nor did he laugh at it when his spiritual eyeswere fuUy opened; on the contrary, he confirmed it.But he realized that it was a conjecture-a conjecturebased on sound philosophical principles, but still aconjecture awaiting the confirmation of experience. Hisattitude is expressed in what he had written two yearsearlier in the preface to his Economy of the AnimalKingdom: True philosophers (he says), "the moreprofoundly they penetrate, the less do they confide intheir imaginative faculty. In the absence of experience,they fear to extend the claim of their reason beyond thenearest link, and should they extend it somewhat further,then, so long as experience is lacking, they class theirconclusions as among hypotheses " (E.A.K. n. 19).The like can be said of his theory of creation as setforth in his Principia. It was a theory, and he himselfconfessed that it lacked the confirmation of experience.• See New Philo$ophy, Jan., 1948, pp. 138-39.
  41. 41. Therefore, when his spiritual eyes were opened, hesaid to sorne angels who asked for his thoughts oncreation, " 1 have long meditated concerning creationbut in vain. But after 1 was admitted by the Lord intoyour world, 1 perceived that it was vain to make anyconclusion respecting the creation of the universeunless it first be known that there are two worlds andtwo suns" (T.C.R. 75). Swedenborg did know thatthere are two worlds and two suns, and it was on thisknowledge that he based his theory in the Principia.That theory was an hypothesis, yet Swedenborg foundthat it was in agreement with the truth as given inDivine Love and Wisdom.*After the Rational Psychology, Swedenborg devotedhimself to an extensive work on the Brain and theNerves. How necessary this study was for his prepara­tion is shown in a passage from The Word Explained:t" In the brain, the idea of all things is so clearlyevident that he who beholds its interior parts knowstherefrom the nature of the universe itself with itssidereal systems; and also how heaven operates,besides many other things which will be in the kingdomof the Messiah. But these knowledges cannot beli Confer His/ory of Crea/I:on, nos. 9, 10. t n. 1071.
  42. 42. dearly deduced because so many parts of the brain,nay, the uses of almost aU of them, are unknown.Unless, therefore, these be first evolved, the thingswhich are brought forward will appear obscure; andyet, in themselves, they are so clear to those whounderstand these things that in the brain such personsalmost behold heaven in an image, and thus the natureof the state of the heavenly kingdom."Do not be surprised at this; for the brain is thescene where aIl our thoughts, aIl our loves and affectionshave their play, and, with a good man, those thoughtsand loves and affections are an image of heaven. Thebrain itself is then an image of the Divine Love andWisdom in its inner aspect, just as the body is anultimate image of God. Swedenborg understood to aremarkable degree the uses of the brain, and thisknowledge enabled him in after years to " behold inthat organ, heaven in an image."In his work on the Brain, Swedenborg has revealedso many things that are new that anatomists skilled inthe science have held up their hands in amazement andwondered how it was possible for him to arrive at con­clusions which modern anatomists have arrived at onlywithin the past few years-how it was possible for
  43. 43. Swedenborg to arrive at these conclusions when thematerial at his hand was comparatively scanty.Swedenborg was the first to demonstrate that the greymatter of the brain is the seat of the mind; the firstto demonstrate that the mid-brain has charge of allhabituaI action, and this to the end that we mayperform these actions, may walk and talk and use ourmuscles, and yet leave the rational brain free to think.These discoveries are comparatively superficial, andthey are now universally recognized. But his doctrineof discrete degrees as shown in the Brain, his doctrineof the relation between the soul and the body-theseare not recognized in the world. There is indeedrecognition of sorne of his remarkable discoveries, butthe process of thought by which he made those dis­coveries, the principles on which they are based­these are not acknowledged. They are not evenconsidered, because they cannot be demonstratedexperimentally.Following the Brain, Swedenborg took up theAnimal Kingdom, a work in which he investigates theultimate organs of the human body. Commencingwith the mouth, he takes up the organs of the alimen­tary system, and then, commencing with the nostrils,43
  44. 44. the organs of the respiratory system. We haveSwedenborgs own statement that, during the writing ofthis work, lights appeared to him almost every day, andthat this was to him a confirmation of the truth of whathe was writing. Now do not be amazed at this state­ment. We ourselves sometimes say" A light dawnedupon me," or " 1 saw the thing in a new or clearerlight." Actually the spirit does see the thing in clearlight. Swedenborgs thought was so abstract, so deep,that when a light appeared to him that gave himillumination, he sometimes actually saw it as a light,and it was in fact a light. When you and 1 say" Alight dawns upon us," if our eyes were opened to see inthe spiritual world, we wouldfind a light had actuallydawned upon us.Swedenborg saw light, both in the sense that theeyes of his spirit were opened to see spiritual truths,and in the sense that there was also a beginning of theopening of his sight to see the phenomena of thespiritual world; and this seeing confirmed him in thetruth of what he was writing.Listen to his own words,* written in 1747, three orfour years after writing the Anzmal Kingdom. "Whatis weIl pleasing is confirmed by a Bame which is a sign• In W.E. nos. 6904-5.44
  45. 45. of confirmation from love. By the divine mercy ofGod Messiah, such a Bame appeared to me so often andindeed in different sizes with a diversity of colour andsplendour that, during sorne months when l waswriting a certain work [the Animal Kingdom] , hardly aday passed in which a Bame did not appear as vividly asthe Bame of a household hearth. It was then a sign ofapproval, and this was prior to the time when spiritsbegan to speak with me viva voce."These experiences did indeed give Swedenborgconfirmation and assurance, but at the time he did notfully perceive their significance. Listen further to hiswords on this subject,* written in August 1748: "Formany years previous to the time when my mind wasopened so that l could speak with spirits, such proofexisted with me that l now wonder that l had not thencome into persuasion concerning the Lords govern­ment by means of spirits. Not only were there dreamsfor sorne years, informing me concerning the thingsthat were being written, but there were also changes ofstate while 1 was writing; an extraordinary light onthe things that were being written. Later there werealso many visions when my eyes were closed and alight miraculously given; fiery lights were seen,• ln S.D. n. 2951.45
  46. 46. speeches in the time of morning, etc., until a spiritaddressed me in a few words."But Swedenborg also had times when doubts cameto his mind. In fact, there can be no rational mind thathas not experienced doubts. But to doubt is to investi­gate, and to investigate with a sincere mind, with theacknowledgment of God and the acknowledgment ofthe soul, is the means by which man can arrive at truth.Swedenborg had doubts about things stated in theWord; he wondered about the miracles wrought byPharaohs magicians; and also about other matters.But when he thought interiorly from principles,the doubts were removed, even if the questionswere not settled.* 80 with us; we may havedoubts, but if we think, not from the doubts, butfrom principles that are clear to us, then, even if thedoubts are not settled, they are removed from troublingthe mind.Here are Swedenborgs own words on this subject:t" Whenever l have desired to consult the understandingin those things which are heavenly, l seemed to myselfto faU backward ... and unless, by the divine mercy ofGod Messiah, l had been at once returned to the way,l would quickly have faUen backward."• See Journal of Dreams 50. t W.E. n. 2973.46
  47. 47. Then a little later* he wrote: "When the sciencesand things of the memory which are exceedinglylimited wished to carry themselves into things spiritual,and to build these up, as it were, 1 at once fell intodoubts, and unless by His infinite mercy these doubtshad been taken away by Gad Messiah, 1 would havefallen headlong into the mast dense darkness and intodoubts and denials."The secret of Swedenborgs success was that hethought from the truth. He approached nature fromthe acknowledgment of Gad. He did not do, what samany now are inclined ta do, investigate as ta whetherthere is a God, or whether there is a soul. He sawclearly in rational light that God does exist, and thatthe whole of nature is a witness to the Divine Love andWisdom. He saw at once, without doubt, withoutargument, that man has a rational soul, and that thissoul is the dwelling-place of Gad. It was from theacknowledgment of God that he investigated nature;from the acknowledgment of the soul that he investi­gated the body; and it was this acknowledgment that ledhim ta see those marvellous things at whic4 sorne present­day scientists wonder, and those still more marvellousdoctrines of which modern learning knows nothing.• ibid., n. 8212.47
  48. 48. Listen to Swedenborgs own testimony in 1747:*" Take whatever you will in the kingdoms of the earth,the terrestrial, vegetable, and animal; take whatsoeveryou will in man; and, considering them rightly, youwill be contempla6ng the kingdom of God. 1 confessthat 1 have considered them in great number, and havenot as yet been able to meet with a single one that doesnot look to the kingdom of God Messiah and to thatconjugial love which exists between the Messiah andthe Church."The last of Swedenborgs purely philosophicalwritings was the uncompleted work on the Worship andLove of God, Parts 1 and 2 of which were published afew weeks prior to April 1745 when Swedenborgreceived his commission as Revelator. In this work heconcentrates aIl the principles set forth in his formerwritings, to present in a universal way the whole ofnature as the Kingdom of God. It is to this work thathe undoubtedly refers when he writes four years later :t" When contemplating aIl things in the universe whichit was granted me to run through, in order that 1 mightreduce them to one supreme universal into which theyshould one and an concentrate, and so to which theyshould refer themse1ves, there was found nothing• In W.E., n. 5266. t In ibid., n. 5783.48
  49. 49. whatever that did not look to the kihgdom of GodMessiah, and refer itself thereto."Swedenborg worked by the analytical method. Hebegan by adducing the facts, and foIlowed this by hisinductions. But no analytical thought is possiblewithout synthetic thought. You hear men say theyexamine facts impartiaIly, but such a thing is impos-sible. No man can examine impartiaIly. Every manwill examine in the light of the principles that are in hismind. Thus aIl analytical thought is accompanied bysomething of the synthetic. Swedenborg thoughtanalyticaIly. He would not come to a conclusion apartfrom the testimony of facts, but his conclusions were aIlguided by the acknowledgment of God, the spiritualworld, the sou!.And this leads me to consider the nature ofSwedenborgs inspiration. The soul flows into thebody. With a little infant there are no planes whichpervert this influx, and we see the presence of the soulin the body as something delightful, something beauti-fuI, something heavenly. But soon the child begins toform a plane in the mind, and the life of the soul flowinginto this plane is manifested as the love of self, and thechild begins to lose its first innocence. Further planes49
  50. 50. may be formed in the mind by confirmation in thedenial of God, and by a life of evit Then the soulflows through these planes as through chinks andcrannies, and reveals itse1f in the faculties of libertyand rationality; but otherwise the man is nothing but abeast, with his bestiality covered over by a fair external.With Swedenborg, planes of truth were formed inhis mind, and we have the evidence of his life, that heshunned evils as sins against God.Swedenborg was an ambitious man; he wished forthe glory of the world. He could not but know that hehad a genius superior to that of most men. He wishedto be one of the leading lights of Europe, and herecognized the evil within the wish. He recognizedthat, while his work might be of service to mankind, hehimself was in danger of being consumed by the love ofself. He was tempted to exalt himself above others.On one occasion, in 1744, he saw a book in abooksellers window which was not the book that hehad just published ; and the first thought that came tohis mind was that his book was more worthy of beingdisplayed. But that thought was immediate1y followedby a sense of humiliation and the reflection that theLord had many means of teaching men.5°
  51. 51. This incident gives us a clue to the better under­standing of what Swedenborg so often says in hisscientific works, namely, that no man can be a truephilosopher unless he shuns the fires of the love of self.We can understand the temptations that Swedenborgwent through; how he conquered the love of self, andhow it was this conquering that enabled him to be agreat philosopher.Here we have revealed to us the nature ofSwedenborgs inspiration. It was not dictation. Inthe course of his life he had shunned the fires of thelove of self. By his philosophy based on the worshipand love of God, he had formed more and moreinterior planes in his mind for the perceptive receptionof the soul-planes to which the inflowing soul couldgive perception and inspiration. Swedenborg experi­enced more and more of this inspiration, even duringthe years of his preparation. He is clearly speakingfrom his own experience when, as 1 have alreadymentioned, he speaks of " a certain cheering light andjoyful flash which brings confirmation and bathes thesphere of their mind," and of " a mysterious radiation,1 know not whence it springs, that darts through sornesacred temple of the brain," and which brings a rational
  52. 52. instinct, indicating that the soul has relapsed into thegolden age of her infancy.When Swedenborgs preparation was completed;when he had formed his mind, not only by a truephilosophy but by the study of the phenomena of thespiritual world; the planes of that mind were formedfor the full reception of the soul, and he was inspiredfrom within. Listen to what is said on this subject inthe Arcana Caelestia:* "Divine Revelation is madeeither by angels through whom the Lord speaks, or by,perception. The former is externai revelation such aswas given through the Prophets; the latter is aninternaI revelation which affects the intellectual prin­ciple spiritually, and perceptibly Ieads it to think of asubject as it really is, with an internaI assent, one knowsnot whence. One thinks that it is within him and fiowsfrom the connection of things, but it is a dictate fromthe Lord fiowing through heaven into the interiors ofthe thought."The Writings were not dictated to Swedenborg.The Lord did not dictate to him as He dictated to theProphets of the Oid Testament. The revealed truthsdid not come to him in the form of words andsentences. They came to him in the form of inspiration• No. 5121.
  53. 53. from within. The nature of Swedenborgs inspirationwas perception-perception such as it was in theGolden Age when men, undefiled by the evils of theproprium, perceived the presence of God in thekingdom of nature. Swedenborg wrote the words ofour Revelation as of himself, but he wrote from Divineinspiration. That inspiration, however, differed fromthe inspiration of the men of the Golden Age, inthat the perception of spiritual and ce1estial truthswhich he had from inspiration could c10the itself withcorresponding philosophical, rational, and scientifictruths.The theology of the Christian world today is con­stantly retreating before the assaults of science; andwhen it has retreated to a safe distance, it finds it muststill further retreat because it cannot meet the assaultsof ever advancing science. But in the Revelation nowgiven, we have a theology c10thed with rational truth,a theology to which science must bow; a theology ofwhich it can justly be said, that by it "it is nowpermitted intellectually to enter into the mysteries offaith."53
  54. 54. THE TRANSACTIONS OFTHE SWEDENBORG SOCIETYNo. I. Swedenborg and Modern Ideas of the Universeby HAROLD GARDINER, M.S., F.RC.S. Priee IS.No. 2. Swedenborgs Search for the Soulby HAROLD GARDINER, M.S., F.RC.S. Pnee IS.No. 3. Ultimate Realityby the REY. L. F. HITE Priee IS.No. 4. Swedenborg as a Physical Scientistby PROF. HERBERT DINGLE, D.Sc., A.RC.S. Priee IS.No. 5. Swedenborgs Preparationby the RIGHT REY. ALFRED ACTON, M.A., D.Th. Priee Is.6d.Full catalogue of Swedenborgs works sent free on request toSWEDENBORG SOCIETY (INC.)20, BLOOMSBURY WAYLONDON, W.C.IPrinud ln GreaI Briluin by The Camllfield Press. St. Albans

×