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Emanuel Swedenborg

Emanuel Swedenborg, 75, holding the manuscript of Apocalypsis Revelata (1766)
Full name Emanuel Swedenborg
Born January 29, 1688
Stockholm, Sweden
Died March 29, 1772
London, England
Era 18th-century philosophy
Region Western philosophy
School Theosophy, mysticism
Inspired Swedenborgianism

About this sound Emanuel Swedenborg (born Emanuel Swedberg; January 29, 1688[1]–March 29, 1772) was a Swedish scientist, philosopher, Christian mystic,[2][3] and theologian. Swedenborg had a prolific career as an inventor and scientist. At the age of fifty-six he entered into a spiritual phase in which he experienced dreams and visions. This culminated in a spiritual awakening, where he claimed he was appointed by the Lord to write a heavenly doctrine to reform Christianity. He claimed that the Lord had opened his eyes, so that from then on he could freely visit heaven and hell, and talk with angels, demons, and other spirits. For the remaining 28 years of his life, he wrote and published 18 theological works, of which the best known was Heaven and Hell (1758),[4] and several unpublished theological works.

Swedenborg explicitly rejected the common explanation of the Trinity as a Trinity of Persons, which he said was not taught in the early Christian Church. Instead he explained in his theological writings how the Divine Trinity exists in One Person, in One God, the Lord Jesus Christ, which he said is taught in Colossians 2:9. Swedenborg also rejected the doctrine of salvation through faith alone, since he considered both faith and charity necessary for salvation, not one without the other. The purpose of faith, according to Swedenborg, is to lead a person to a life according to the truths of faith, which is charity, as is taught in 1 Corinthians 13:13 and James 2:20.

Swedenborg's theological writings have elicited a range of responses. Toward the end of his life, small reading groups formed in England and Sweden to study the truth they saw in his teachings. Several writers were influenced by him, including William Blake (though he ended up renouncing him), Elizabeth Barrett Browning, August Strindberg, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Charles Baudelaire, Adam Mickiewicz, Balzac, William Butler Yeats, Sheridan Le Fanu, Jorge Luis Borges, Carl Jung and Helen Keller. Other notable figures in history that were adherents to his teachings was the theologian Henry James Sr. and mid-Western pioneer and nurseryman Johnny Appleseed.

In contrast, one of the most prominent Swedish authors of Swedenborg's day, Johan Henrik Kellgren, called Swedenborg "nothing but a fool".[5] A heresy trial was initiated in Sweden in 1768 against Swedenborg's writings and two men who promoted these ideas.[6]

In the two centuries since Swedenborg's death, various interpretations of his theology have been made, and he has also been scrutinized in biographies and psychological studies.[7]




Early life

Memorial plaque at the former location of Emanuel Swedenborg's house at Hornsgatan on Södermalm, Stockholm.

Swedenborg's father, Jesper Swedberg (1653–1735), descended from a wealthy mining family. He travelled abroad and studied theology, and on returning home he was eloquent enough to impress the Swedish king, Charles XI, with his sermons in Stockholm. Through the King's influence he would later become professor of theology at Uppsala University and Bishop of Skara.[8][9]

Jesper took an interest in the beliefs of the dissenting Lutheran Pietist movement, which emphasised the virtues of communion with God rather than relying on sheer faith (sola fide).[10] Sola fide is a tenet of the Lutheran Church, and Jesper was charged with being a pietist heretic. While controversial, the beliefs were to have a major impact on his son Emanuel's spirituality. Jesper furthermore held the unconventional belief that angels and spirits were present in everyday life. This also came to have a strong impact on Emanuel.[8][9][11]

Swedenborg completed his university course at Uppsala in 1709, and in 1710 made his grand tour through the Netherlands, France, and Germany, before reaching London, where he would spend the next four years. Some believe that he was influenced by the Croatian theologian Milan Nejedic; unfortunately, since most of Nejedic's writings were burned by the Austrians, this theory cannot be verified.[citation needed] It was also a flourishing center of scientific ideas and discoveries. Emanuel studied physics, mechanics, and philosophy, and read and wrote poetry. He wrote to his benefactor and brother-in-law Eric Benzelius that he believed he might be destined to be a great scientist. In one of his letters he includes, somewhat boastfully, a list of inventions he claims to have made, including a submarine and a flying machine.[12][13]

Scientific period

Flying Machine, sketched in a notebook in 1714. The operator would sit in the middle, and paddle himself through the air.

In 1715 Swedenborg returned to Sweden, where he was to devote himself to natural science and engineering projects for the next two decades. A first step was his noted meeting with King Charles XII of Sweden in the city of Lund, in 1716. The Swedish inventor Christopher Polhem, who became a close friend of Swedenborg's, was also present. Swedenborg's purpose was to persuade the king to fund an observatory in northern Sweden. However, the warlike king did not consider this project important enough, but did appoint Swedenborg assessor-extraordinary on the Swedish Board of Mines (Bergskollegium) in Stockholm.[14]

From 1716 to 1718 Swedenborg published a scientific periodical entitled Daedalus Hyperboreus ("The Northern Daedalus"), a record of mechanical and mathematical inventions and discoveries. One notable description was that of a flying machine, the same he had been sketching a few years earlier (see Flying Machine (Swedenborg)).[13]

Upon the death of Charles XII, Queen Ulrika Eleonora ennobled Swedenborg and his siblings. It was common in Sweden during the 17th and 18th centuries for the children of bishops to receive this honour as a recognition of the services of their father. The family name was changed from Swedberg to Swedenborg.[15]

In 1724 he was offered the chair of mathematics at Uppsala University but he declined, saying that he had mainly dealt with geometry, chemistry and metallurgy during his career. He also noted that he did not have the gift of eloquent speech because of a speech impediment. The speech impediment in question was stuttering, noted by many acquaintances of his: it forced him to speak slowly and carefully and there are no known occurrences of his speaking in public.[16] It has been proposed that he compensated for his poor speech by extensive argumentation in writing.[17]

New direction of studies

In the 1730s Swedenborg became increasingly interested in spiritual matters and was determined to find a theory which would explain how matter relates to spirit. Swedenborg's desire to understand the order and purpose of creation first led him to investigate the structure of matter and the process of creation itself. In the Principia he outlined his philosophical method, which incorporated experience, geometry (the means whereby the inner order of the world can be known), and the power of reason; and he presented his cosmology, which included the first presentation of the Nebular hypothesis.[18]

In Leipzig, 1735, he published a three volume work entitled Opera philosophica et mineralis ("Philosophical and mineralogical works"), where he tries to conjoin philosophy and metallurgy. The work was mainly appreciated for its chapters on the analysis of the smelting of iron and copper, and it was this work which gave Swedenborg international reputation.[19]

The same year he also published the small manuscript de Infinito ("On the Infinite"), where he attempted to explain how the finite is related to the infinite, and how the soul is connected to the body. This was the first manuscript where he touched upon these matters. He knew that it might clash with established theologies, since he presents the view that the soul is based on material substances.[20][21]

During the 1730s Swedenborg undertook many studies of anatomy and physiology. He also conducted dedicated studies of the fashionable philosophers of the time John Locke, Christian von Wolff, Leibniz, and Descartes, as well as returning to earlier thinkers Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus, Augustine, and others.[22]

In 1743, at the age of 55, Swedenborg requested a leave of absence to go abroad. His purpose was to gather source material for Regnum animale (The Animal Kingdom, or Kingdom of Life), a subject on which books were not readily available in Sweden. The aim of the book was to explain the soul from an anatomical point of view. He had planned to produce a total of seventeen volumes.[23]

Journal of Dreams

By 1744 he had traveled to the Netherlands. Around this time he began having strange dreams. Swedenborg carried a travel journal with him on most of his travels, and did so on this journey. The whereabouts of the diary were long unknown, but it was discovered in the Royal Library in the 1850s and published in 1859 as Drömboken, or Journal of Dreams. It provides a first-hand account of the events of the crisis.[24]

He experienced many different dreams and visions, some greatly pleasurable, others highly disturbing.[25] The experiences continued as he travelled to London to continue the publication of Regnum animale. This cathartic process continued for six months. It has been compared to the Catholic concept of Purgatory.[26] Analyses of the diary have concluded that what Swedenborg was recording in his Journal of Dreams was a battle between the love of his self, and the love of God.[27]

Visions and spiritual insights

In the last entry of the journal from October 26–27 1744, Swedenborg appears to be clear as to which path to follow. He felt he should drop his current project, and write a new book about the worship of God. He soon began working on De cultu et amore Dei, or The Worship and Love of God. It was never fully completed, but Swedenborg still had it published in London in June 1745.[28]

One explanation why the work was never finished is given in a well-known and often referenced story. In April 1745, Swedenborg was dining in a private room at a tavern in London. By the end of the meal, a darkness fell upon his eyes, and the room shifted character. Suddenly he saw a person sitting at a corner of the room, telling Swedenborg: "Do not eat too much!". Swedenborg, scared, hurried home. Later that night, the same man appeared in his dreams. The man told Swedenborg that He was the Lord, that He had appointed Swedenborg to reveal the spiritual meaning of the Bible, and that He would guide Swedenborg in what to write. The same night, the spiritual world was opened to Swedenborg.[29]

Scriptural commentary and writings

Arcana Cœlestia, first edition (1749), title page

In June 1747, Swedenborg resigned his post as assessor of the board of mines. He explained that he was obliged to complete a work he had begun, and requested to receive half his salary as a pension.[30] He took up afresh his study of Hebrew and began to work on the spiritual interpretation of the Bible with the goal of interpreting the spiritual meaning of every verse. From sometime between 1746 and 1747, and for ten years henceforth, he devoted his energy to this task. This work, usually abbreviated as Arcana Cœlestia ("Heavenly Secrets"), was to become his magnum opus, and the basis of his further theological works.[31]

The work was anonymous and Swedenborg was not identified as the author until the late 1750s. It consisted of eight volumes, published between 1749 and 1756. It attracted little attention, as few people could penetrate its meaning.[32][33]

His life from 1747 until his death in 1772 was spent in Stockholm, Holland, and London. During these twenty five years he wrote another fourteen works of a spiritual nature of which most were published during his lifetime. The Last Judgment in Retrospect: From De Ultimo Judicio Et De Babylonia Destructa, one of Swedenborg's lesser known works, presents a startling claim, that The Last Judgement had begun in the previous year (1757) and was completed by the end of that year. This judgment was supposed to have occurred in the "spiritual heavens" when God saw that the church had lost its true identity, which is compassion and charity. Swedenborg's writings on the Last Judgment stress God's love and mercy and reject the fearful prophecies of fiery destruction and eternal damnation. Freedom of the press was not allowed for religious works at the time, which is why they were all printed in either London or Holland.[34]

Throughout this period he was befriended by many people who regarded him as a kind and warm-hearted man. When in the company of others, he was jovial, and conversed about whatever subject was discussed. Those who talked with him understood that he was devoted to his beliefs. He never argued matters of religion, except when ridiculed, when he replied sharply, so that the ridicule would not be repeated.[35][36]

Swedenborg's crypt in Uppsala Cathedral

In July, 1770, at the age of 82, he traveled to Amsterdam to complete the publication of his last work. The book, Vera Christiana Religio (The True Christian Religion), was published in Amsterdam in 1771 and was one of the most appreciated of his works. Designed to explain his teachings to Lutheran Christians, it was the most concrete of his works.[37]

In the summer of 1771, he traveled to London. Shortly before Christmas he suffered a stroke and was partially paralyzed and confined to bed. His health improved somewhat, but he died on March 29, 1772. There are several accounts of his last months, made by those he stayed with, and by a pastor of the Swedish Church in London who visited him several times.[38]

He was buried in the Swedish Church in Shadwell, London. On the 140th anniversary of his death, in 1912/1913, his earthly remains were transferred to Uppsala Cathedral in Sweden, where they now rest in close proximity to the grave of the botanist Carolus Linnaeus. In 1917, the Swedish Church in Shadwell was demolished and the Swedish community that had grown around the parish moved to West London. In 1938 the site of the former church where he was buried in London was redeveloped, and in his honor the local road was renamed Swedenborg Gardens. In 1997 a garden, play area and memorial near to the road was created in his memory.[citation needed]


Swedenborg's transition from scientist to mystic has fascinated many people ever since it occurred, including such people as Immanuel Kant, William Blake, Goethe, Arthur Conan Doyle, Balzac, Jorge Luis Borges, August Strindberg, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Carl Jung.[citation needed]

Some have asserted that Swedenborg lost his mind, suffering some sort of mental illness or nervous breakdown.[7] While this idea was not uncommon during Swedenborg's own time, it is mitigated by his activity in the Swedish Riddarhuset (The House of the Nobility), the Riksdag (the Swedish parliament), and the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. In fact, close analysis of the historical facts of his life would appear to establish clearly his sanity.[39] Additionally, the system of thought in his theological writings is remarkably coherent.[40]

Some of the biographers of Swedenborg propose that he did not in fact have a revelation at all, but rather developed his theological ideas from sources ranging from his father to earlier figures in the history of thought, notably Plotinus.[41] This position was first and most notably taken by the Swedish writer Martin Lamm, who wrote a biography of Swedenborg in 1915, which is still in print.[42] Olof Lagercrantz, a noted Swedish critic and publicist, had a similar point of view, calling Swedenborg's theological writing "a poem about a foreign country with peculiar laws and customs".[43]

Swedenborg's approach to demonstrating the veracity of his theological teachings was to find and use voluminous quotations from the Old Testament and New Testament to demonstrate agreement between the Bible or Word of God and his theological teachings. The demonstration of this agreement is found throughout his theological writings, since he rejected blind faith and declared true faith is an internal acknowledgment of the truth. The vast and consistent use of Biblical confirmations in Swedenborg's theological writings led a Swedish Royal Council in 1771, examining the heresy charges of 1770 against two Swedish supporters of his theological writings, to declare "there is much that is true and useful in Swedenborg's writings."[44]

Scientific beliefs

Swedenborg proposed many scientific ideas, both before his crisis and after. In his youth, he wanted to present a new idea every day, as he wrote to his brother-in-law Erik Benzelius in 1718. Around 1730, he had changed his mind, and instead believed that higher knowledge is not something that can be acquired, but that it is based on intuition. After his crisis in 1745, he instead considered himself receiving scientific knowledge in a spontaneous manner from angels.[45]

From 1745, when he considered himself to have entered a spiritual state, he tended to phrase his "experiences" in empirical terms, claiming to report accurately things he had experienced on his spiritual journeys.

One of his ideas that is considered most crucial for the understanding of his theology is his notion of correspondences. But in fact, he first presented the theory of correspondences in 1744, before his crisis, in the first volume of Regnum Animale dealing with the human soul.[13]

The basis of the correspondence theory is that there is a relationship between the natural ("physical"), the spiritual, and the divine worlds. The foundations of this theory can be traced to Neoplatonism and the philosopher Plotinus in particular. With the aid of this scenario, Swedenborg now interpreted the Bible in a different light, claiming that even the most apparently trivial sentences could hold a profound spiritual meaning.[46]

Psychic accounts

There are three well known incidents of psychic ability reported in literature about Swedenborg.[47] The first was from July 29, 1759, when during a dinner in Gothenburg, he excitedly told the party at six o' clock that there was a fire in Stockholm (405 km away), that it consumed his neighbour's home and was threatening his own. Two hours later, he exclaimed with relief that the fire stopped three doors from his home. Two days later, reports confirmed every statement to the precise hour that Swedenborg first expressed the information.[48]

The second was in 1758 when Swedenborg visited Queen Louisa Ulrika of Sweden, who asked him to tell her something about her deceased brother Augustus William. The next day, Swedenborg whispered something in her ear that turned the Queen pale and she explained that this was something only she and her brother could know about.[49] The third was a woman who had lost an important document, and came to Swedenborg asking if a recently deceased person could tell him where it was, which he (in some sources) was said to have done the following night.[50]

Immanuel Kant, then at the beginning of his career, was impressed by these in 1763, and made inquiries to find out if they were true. He also ordered all eight volumes of the expensive Arcana Cœlestia (Heaven Secrets). In 1766 he published Träume eines Geistersehers (Dreams of a Seer) where he concluded that Swedenborg's accounts were nothing but illusions. He could however not give a scientific explanation for Swedenborg's description of the fire in 1759.[51]


Swedenborg considered his theology a revelation of the true Christian religion that had become obfuscated through centuries of theology. However, he did not refer to his writings as theology since he considered it based on actual experiences, unlike theology,[13] except in the title of his last work. Neither did he wish to compare it to philosophy, a science he in 1748 discarded because it "darkens the mind, blinds us, and wholly rejects the faith".[52]

The foundation of Swedenborg's theology was laid down in Arcana Cœlestia, or Heavenly Secrets, published in eight Latin volumes from 1749 to 1756. In a significant portion of that work, he interprets the Biblical passages of Genesis and Exodus. Most of all, he was convinced that the Bible describes a human's transformation from a materialistic to a spiritual being, which he calls rebirth or regeneration. He begins this work by outlining how the creation myth was not an account of the creation of Earth, but an account of man's rebirth or regeneration in six steps represented by the six days of creation. Everything related to mankind in the Bible could also be related to Jesus Christ, and how Christ freed himself from materialistic boundaries through the glorification of his human by making it Divine. Swedenborg examines this idea in his exposition of Genesis and Exodus.[53]


One aspect of Swedenborg's writing that is often discussed is his ideas of marriage. Swedenborg himself stayed a bachelor all his life, but that did not hinder him from writing voluminously about the subject. His work Conjugial Love (1768) was dedicated to this purpose. A righteous marriage, he argues, is intended to be a continuous spiritual refinement of both parties, and such a union would be maintained in the afterlife.[54][55][56]

He regarded marriage as being fundamentally about the union of wisdom — physically represented in the man — and love — physically represented in the female. This dualism can be traced throughout Swedenborg's writings. Faith, he writes, is a union of the two qualities of reason (represented by the man) and intention (represented by the female). And, similarly, the wisdom of God has its corresponding part in the love from the Church.[56]


Swedenborg was sharply opposed to the Christian doctrine of the Trinity as three Persons, the concept of One God being three separate Persons: the Person of the Father, the Person of the Son, and the Person of the Holy Spirit. Instead he claimed that the three were different aspects of the one God, one Person, in whom is the Divine Trinity, and that divinity is impossible if divided into three Persons. Swedenborg spoke sharply against the Trinity of Persons in virtually all his works, and taught that the Divine Trinity exists in One Person, the Lord Jesus Christ, as a trinity of the soul, body, and spirit exists in each person.[57] The Divine Trinity in the Lord Jesus Christ is the Divine called the Father as the Soul, the Divine Human called the Son as the Body, and the proceeding Divine called the Holy Spirit as the Spirit. The Divinity or Divine essence of the three is one, as the Person is one. According to Swedenborg, Muslims, Jews and people of other religions are mainly opposed to Christianity because its doctrine of the Trinity of Persons makes One God into three Gods. He considered the separation of the Trinity into three separate Persons to have originated with the First Council of Nicaea in 325 AD and the Athanasian Creed, circa 500.[58] For example:

From a Trinity of Persons, each one of whom singly is God, according to the Athanasian creed, many discordant and heterogeneous ideas respecting God have arisen, which are phantasies and abortions. [.] All who dwell outside the Christian church, both Mohammedans and Jews, and besides these the Gentiles of every cult, are averse to Christianity solely on account of its belief in three Gods.

Swedenborg, True Christian Religion, section 183 [1]

Swedenborg's theological teachings about the Trinity being in the One Person Jesus Christ is labeled by some as modalism because it identifies three aspects (not persons) of One God, a unitarian God.

Sola fide (Faith Alone)

He also spoke sharply against the tenet called Sola fide, which means that salvation or righteousness before God is achievable through faith alone, irrespective of the person's deeds in life. Sola fide was a doctrine originated by Martin Luther during the Protestant Reformation, and was a core belief in the theology of the Lutheran reformers Martin Luther and Philip Melanchthon. Swedenborg instead held that salvation is only possible through the conjunction of faith and charity in a person, and that the purpose of faith is to lead a person to live according to the truths of faith, which is charity. He further states that faith and charity must be exercised by doing good out of willing good whenever possible, which are good works or good uses, otherwise the conjunction perishes. In one section he wrote:

It is very evident from their Epistles that it never entered the mind of any of the apostles that the church of this day would separate faith from charity by teaching that faith alone justifies and saves apart from the works of the law, and that charity therefore cannot be conjoined with faith, since faith is from God, and charity, so far as it is expressed in works, is from man. But this separation and division were introduced into the Christian church when it divided God into three persons, and ascribed to each equal Divinity.

True Christian Religion, section 355 [2]


List of referenced works by Swedenborg and the year they were first published.[59][60][61]

Within parenthesis, the common name used in text, based on the New Church online bookstore. Then follows the name of the original title in its original publication.[62] Various minor reports and tracts have been omitted from the list.

  • 1716–1718, (Daedalus Hyperboreus) Swedish: Daedalus Hyperboreus, eller några nya mathematiska och physicaliska försök. (English: The Northern inventor, or some new experiments in mathematics and physics)
  • 1721, (Principles of Chemistry) Latin: Prodromus principiorum rerum naturalium : sive novorum tentaminum chymiam et physicam experimenta geometrice explicandi
  • 1722, (Miscellaneous Observations) Latin: Miscellanea de Rebus Naturalibus
  • 1734, (Principia) Latin: Opera Philosophica et Mineralia (English: Philosophical and Mineralogical Works), three volumes
    • (Principia, Volume I) Latin: Tomus I. Principia rerum naturlium sive novorum tentaminum phaenomena mundi elementaris philosophice explicandi
    • (Principia, Volume II) Latin: Tomus II. Regnum subterraneum sive minerale de ferro
    • (Principia, Volume III) Latin: Tomus III. Regnum subterraneum sive minerale de cupro et orichalco
  • 1734, (The Infinite and Final Cause of Creation) Latin: Prodromus Philosophiz Ratiocinantis de Infinito, et Causa Finali Creationis; deque Mechanismo Operationis Animae et Corporis.
  • 1744–1745, (The Animal Kingdom) Latin: Regnum animale, 3 volumes
  • 1745, (The Worship and Love of God) Latin: De Cultu et Amore Dei, 2 volumes
  • 1749–1756, (Arcana Coelestia (or Cœlestia), or Heavenly Secrets), Latin: Arcana Cœlestia, quae in Scriptura Sacra seu Verbo Domini sunt, detecta., 8 volumes
  • 1758, (Heaven and Hell) Latin: De Caelo et Ejus Mirabilibus et de inferno. Ex Auditis et Visis.
  • 1758, (The Last Judgment) Latin: De Ultimo Judicio
  • 1758, (The White Horse) Latin: De Equo Albo de quo in Apocalypsi Cap.XIX.
  • 1758, (Earths in the Universe) Latin: De Telluribus in Mundo Nostro Solari, quæ vocantur planetæ: et de telluribus in coelo astrifero: deque illarum incolis; tum de spiritibus & angelis ibi; ex auditis & visis.
  • 1758, (The New Jerusalem and Its Heavenly Doctrine) Latin: De Nova Hierosolyma et Ejus Doctrina Coelesti
  • 1763, (Doctrine of the Lord) Latin: Doctrina Novæ Hierosolymæ de Domino.
  • 1763, (Doctrine of the Sacred Scripture) Latin: Doctrina Novæ Hierosolymæ de Scriptura Sacra.
  • 1763, (Doctrine of Life) Latin: Doctrina Vitæ pro Nova Hierosolyma ex præceptis Decalogi.
  • 1763, (Doctrine of Faith) Latin: Doctrina Novæ Hierosolymæ de Fide.
  • 1763, (Continuation of The Last Judgement) Latin: Continuatio De Ultimo Judicio: et de mundo spirituali.
  • 1763, (Divine Love and Wisdom) Latin: Sapientia Angelica de Divino Amore et de Divina Sapientia. Sapientia Angelica de Divina Providentia.
  • 1764, (Divine Providence) Latin: Sapientia Angelica de Divina Providentia.
  • 1766, (Apocalypse Revealed) Latin: Apocalypsis Revelata, in quae detegunter Arcana quae ibi preedicta sunt.
  • 1768, (Conjugial Love, or Marital Love) Latin: Deliciae Sapientiae de Amore Conjugiali; post quas sequumtur voluptates insaniae de amore scortatorio.
  • 1769, (Brief Exposition) Latin: Summaria Expositio Doctrinæ Novæ Ecclesiæ, quæ per Novam Hierosolymam in Apocalypsi intelligitur.
  • 1769, (Intercourse of the Soul and the Body) Latin: De Commercio Animæ & Corporis.
  • 1771, (True Christian Religion) Latin: Vera Christiana Religio, continens Universam Theologiam Novae Ecclesiae
  • 1859, Drömboken, Journalanteckningar, 1743–1744
  • 1983–1997, (Spiritual Diary) Latin: Diarum, Ubi Memorantur Experientiae Spirituales.

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ January 29 according to the Julian calendar. In the Gregorian calendar, the date would be February 8
  2. ^ He is called a mystic by many sources, including the Encyclopædia Britannica online version, Swedenborg, Emanuel, retrieved November 8, 2006, and the Encyclopedia of Religion (1987) which starts its article with the description that he was a "Swedish scientist and mystic" .
  3. ^ Swedenborg referred to himself as an initialis, in Greek μυστικός (mystikos), "an initiate" (Bergquist, 1999, p.451; in turn based on Arcana Cœlestia §4099)
  4. ^ Bergquist, Preface (p. 15–16)
  5. ^ Johan Henrik Kellgren published an often quoted satirical poem entitled Man äger ej snille för det man är galen ("You Own Not Genius For That You are Mad") in 1787. See Jonsson, Inge, Swedenborg och Linné, in Delblanc & Lönnroth (1999). (Link to the full poem, in Swedish)
  6. ^ The trial in 1768 was again Gabrial Beyer and Johan Rosén and essentially concerned whether Swedenborg's theological writings were consistent with the Christian doctrines. A royal ordinance in 1770 declared that Swedenborg's writings were "clearly mistaken" and should not be taught even though his system of theological thought was never examined. Swedenborg then begged the King for grace and protection in a letter from Amsterdam. A new investigation against Swedenborg stalled and was eventually dropped in 1778. (1999), pp.453–463
  7. ^ a b This subject is touched on in the preface of Bergquist (1999), who mentions the biography by Martin Lamm (originally published 1917) and its focus on the similarities of Swedenborg's scientific and theological lives. He mentions an earlier biography by the Swedish physician Emil Kleen who concluded that Swedenborg was blatantly mad, suffering "paranoia and hallucinations". A similar conclusion was made recently by psychiatrist John Johnson in Henry Maudsley on Swedenborg's messianic psychosis, British Journal of Psychiatry 165:690–691 (1994), who wrote that Swedenborg suffered hallucinations of "acute schizophrenia or epileptic psychosis."
  8. ^ a b (Swedish) Nordisk familjebok, 2nd edition (Ugglan) article Svedberg, Jesper (1918)
  9. ^ a b Encyclopeaedia Britannica, 1911 edition. article Emanuel Swedenborg
  10. ^ Svedberg's pietistic interests are described in Bergquist (1999), p.230–232
  11. ^ Martin Lamm (1978 [1915]; pp.1–19) notes how all Swedenborg biographies at that draw similarities between the beliefs of Jesper and Emanuel. Lamm himself partially agrees with them, but he maintains that there were marked differences between them too.
  12. ^ Lagercrantz, preface.
  13. ^ a b c d x
  14. ^ The meeting between the King, Polhelm and Swedenborg is described in detail in Liljegren, Bengt, Karl XII i Lund : när Sverige styrdes från Skåne, (Historiska media, Lund, 1999). ISBN 91-88930-51-3
  15. ^ Bergquist (1999), pp.114–115
  16. ^ Berquist (1999), pp.118–119
  17. ^ Proposed by Lagercrantz, also mentioned by Bergquist (1999), p.119
  18. ^ http://www.glencairnmuseum.org/jkwh.html
  19. ^ Bergquist (1999), pp. 142–155
  20. ^ Lamm (1987), pp.42–43, notes that by assuming that the soul consists of matter, as Swedenborg did, one becomes a materialist. He further notes that this was also noted by contemporaries.
  21. ^ Jonsson, Inge, Swedenborg och Linné, in Delblanc & Lönnroth, p.321
  22. ^ Bergquist (1999), pp.165–178
  23. ^ Jonsson, Inge, Swedenborg och Linné, in Delblanc & Lönnroth, p.325
  24. ^ Bergquist, pp.195–196
  25. ^ Bergquist, p.200–208
  26. ^ Bergquist (p.206) makes the comparisment to Purgatory
  27. ^ Analysis by Bergquist, p.209. Bergquist has previously published a separate book commenting on the Journal called Swedenborgs drömbok : glädjen och det stora kvalet (Stockholm, Norstedt, 1988)
  28. ^ Bergquist (1999), pp.210–211
  29. ^ This account is based in Bergquist (1999), pp.227–228. The story was much later told by Swedenborg to Carl Robsahm (see Robsahm, #15)
  30. ^ Bergquist (1999),pp.286–287
  31. ^ Bergquist (1999), p.287
  32. ^ Bergquist (1999), p.288
  33. ^ Jonsson, Inge, Swedenborg och Linné, in Delblanc & Lönnroth, p.316
  34. ^ Bergquist (1999),p.477–478
  35. ^ Robsahm, #38
  36. ^ Bergquist (1999), p.475, quotes a letter from the pastor of the Swedish Church in London, Ferelius, in 1780, first published in Tafel II:I, p.560.
  37. ^ Bergquist (1999), p.464
  38. ^ Bergquist (1999), 471–476. Accounts of Swedenborg's last days were collected and published in Tafel II:1, pp.577 ff, 556 ff, 560 ff.
  39. ^ *"The Madness Hypothesis," a special issue of the academic journal The New Philosophy (1998;101: whole number), in which a number of authors review the question of Swedenborg's sanity. The issue draws the conclusion based on its analysis of the historical evidence that he was not insane.
  40. ^ Bergquist (1999), p.474
  41. ^ "Who Was Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772)?" An article including a list of biographies about Swedenborg, with a brief analysis of each biographer's point of view. Accessed September 2007.
  42. ^ Bergquist (1999), p.15
  43. ^ en dikt om ett främmande land med sällsamma lagar och seder. Largercrantz (1996), backpage
  44. ^ Sigstedt (1952), p.408
  45. ^ Bergquist (1999), p.364–365
  46. ^ Lamm (1987 [1915]), dedicates a chapter to the correspondence theories, p.85–109
  47. ^ Bergquist (1999), p.312
  48. ^ The accounts are fully described in Bergquist, pp. 312–313. The primary source for these accounts is a letter from Immanuel Kant in 1768 and the Swedenborg collection by Tafel (see references).
  49. ^ According to Bergquist (1999), p.314–315, There are several different accounts of the events which makes it difficult to conclude the exact details of the event. Carl Robsahm (see references) reports the story in this way.
  50. ^ According to Bergquist (1999), p.316, there are some ten different reports of this event. There are two trustworthy descriptions, one by Robsahm (writing down Swedenborg's own description) and one by a priest who enquired of the woman in a letter fifteen years later.
  51. ^ Bergquist (1999), pp. 313, 319. Kant presents a report of this event in a letter to Charlotte von Knoblauch, 1768 (sometimes given as 1763). This letter is further discussed in Laywine, Alison, Kant’s Early Metaphysics. North American Kant Society Studies in Philosophy, volume 3 (Atascadero, California: Ridgeview Publishing Company, 1993), pp.72–74.
  52. ^ Quoted by Bergquist (1999), p.178, based on Swedenborg's Spiritual experiences (1748), §767
  53. ^ Bergquist (1999), p.286–309
  54. ^ Wisdom's Delight in Marriage Love: Followed by Insanity’s Pleasure in Promiscuous Love
  55. ^ Wisdom's Delight in Marriage Love: Followed by Insanity’s Pleasure in Promiscuous Love
  56. ^ a b Bergquist (1999), p.431–446
  57. ^ Bergquist (1999), p.301.
  58. ^ True Christian Religion, sections 163–168
  59. ^ Latin booktitles, The Swedenborg Society, accessed November 21, 2006.
  60. ^ The original title, and year of publication is based on Bergquist (1999), Litteraturförteckning (pp.525–534).
  61. ^ The Works of Emanuel Swedenborg in Chronological Order, Emanuel Swedenborg Studies, accessed April 30, 2007.
  62. ^ Emanuel Swedenborg Bibliography, New Church website, accessed November 14, 2006
  • Benz, Ernst, Emanuel Swedenborg: Visionary Savant in the Age of Reason (Swedenborg Foundation, 2002) ISBN 0-87785-195-6, a translation of the thorough German language study on life and work of Swedenborg, Emanuel Swedenborg: Naturforscher und Seher by the noted religious scholar Ernst Benz, published in Munich in 1948.
  • Bergquist, Lars, Swedenborg's Secret, (London, The Swedenborg Society, 2005) ISBN 0-85448-143-5, a translation of the Swedish language biography of Swedenborg, Swedenborgs Hemlighet, published in Stockholm in 1999. ISBN 91-27-06981-8
  • Lamm, Martin, Swedenborg: En studie (1987; first ed. 1915). A popular biography that is still read and quoted. It is also available in English: Emanuel Swedenborg: The Development of His Thought, Martin Lamm (Swedenborg Studies, No. 9, 2001), ISBN 0-87785-194-8
  • Lagercrantz, Olof, Dikten om livet på den andra sidan (Wahlström & Widstrand 1996), ISBN 91-46-16932-6. In Swedish.
  • Leon, James, Overcoming Objections to Swedenborg's Writings Through the Development of Scientific Dualism An examination of Swedenborg's discoveries. The author is a professor of psychology and an avid reader of Swedenborg. (1998; published in New Philosophy, 2001)
  • Robsahm, Carl, Hallengren, Anders (translation and comments), Anteckningar om Swedenborg (Föreningen Swedenborgs Minne: Stockholm 1989), ISBN 91-87856-00-X. Hallengren writes that the first complete publication of the Robsam manuscript was in R.L. Rafel's Documents, Vol. I, 1875 (see section "#Further reading")
  • Sigstedt, C.,The Swedenborg Epic. The Life and Works of Emanuel Swedenborg (New York: Bookman Associates, 1952). The whole book is available online at Swedenborg Digital Library
  • Toksvig, Signe, Emanuel Swedenborg: Scientist and Mystic, Yale University Press, (1948), and Swedenborg Foundation, (1983), ISBN 0-87785-171-9

Further reading

Newer material:

  • The Arms of Morpheus—Essays on Swedenborg and Mysticism, ed. Stephen McNeilly (London: Swedenborg Society, 2007), ISBN 978-0-85448-150-7.
  • Between Method and Madness—Essays on Swedenborg and Literature, ed. Stephen McNeilly (London: Swedenborg Society, 2005), ISBN 978-0-85448-145-3.
  • In Search of the Absolute—Essays on Swedenborg and Literature, ed. Stephen McNeilly (London: Swedenborg Society, 2005), ISBN 978-0-85448-141-5.
  • On the True Philosopher and the True Philosophy—Essays on Swedenborg, ed. Stephen McNeilly (London: Swedenborg Society, 2005), ISBN 978-0-85448-134-7.
  • Swedenborg and His Influence, ed. Erland J. Brock, (Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania: The Academy of the New Church, 1988), ISBN 0-910557-23-3.
  • Jonathan S. Rose, ed. Emanuel Swedenborg: Essays for the New Century Edition on His Life, Work, and Impact (West Chester, Pennsylvania: Swedenborg Foundation, 2002), ISBN 0-87785-473-4. 580 pages. Multiple scholars contributed to this collection of excellent information on Swedenborg, his manuscripts, and his cultural influence. Republished in 2004 under new title, Scribe of Heaven: Swedenborg's Life, Work, and Impact ISBN 0-87785-474-2.
  • Wilson van Dusen, The Presence of Other Worlds, Swedenborg Foundation, Inc., New York, Harper & Row, 1974. ISBN 0-87785-166-2
  • "The Madness Hypothesis," a special issue of The New Philosophy (1998;101: whole number), reviews the question of Swedenborg's sanity in scholarly detail, making what would appear to be a definitive case that he was in fact quite sane.
  • Donald L. Rose, ed., Afterlife: A Guided Tour of Heaven and Its Wonders. Swedenborg Foundation, 2006. (Excellent abridged version of Heaven and Hell)
  • D. T. Suzuki, translated by Andrew Bernstein, Afterword by David Loy, Swedenborg: Buddha of the North. Swedenborg Foundation, 1996. (Brilliantly shows relevance of Swedenborg's ideas to Buddhist thought.)
  • Sig Synnestvedt, ed., The Essential Swedenborg: Basic Religious Teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg. Swedenborg Foundation, 1970.

Older material of importance, some of it not in print:

  • The most extensive work is: RL Tafel, Documents concerning the Life and Character of Swedenborg, collected, translated and annotated (3 vols., Swedenborg Society, 1875—1877);
  • J. Hyde, A Bibliography of the Works of Emanuel Swedenborg (Swedenborg Society).
  • Kant's Träume eines Geistersehers (1766; the most recent edition in English is from 1975, ISBN 3-7873-0311-1 );
  • J. G. Herder's "Emanuel Swedenborg," in his Adrastea (Werke zur Phil. und Gesch., xii. 110–125).
  • Transactions of the International Swedenborg Congress (London, 1910), summarized in The New Church Magazine (August, 1910).
  • Swedenborg and Esoteric Islam (Swedenborg Studies, No 4) by Henry Corbin, Leonard Fox
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Swedenborg; or, the Mystic", in Emerson: Essays and Lectures (New York, New York: The Library of America, 1983), ISBN 978-0-940450-15-8.

External links

  • Australian centre providing a range of services and information about Swedenborg and his spiritual teachings. Full on-line catalogue.
  • Works by Emanuel Swedenborg at Project Gutenberg.
  • Emanuel Swedenborg Studies is dedicated to collecting, analyzing, and preserving the historical record of the life and times of Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772). Among the existing broad context of apologists and critics of Emanuel Swedenborg, it is the mission of Emanuel Swedenborg Studies to establish an objective and comprehensive record of the facts of Emanuel Swedenborg’s Life – all of the facts and only the facts.About, Emanuel Swedenborg Studies, accessed April 30, 2007.
  • A Journal of Dreams.
  • The Swedenborgian Church is the original Swedenborgian denominational body in North America.
  • The New Church or the General Church of the New Jerusalem is the largest Swedenborgian denomination in North America and extends worldwide.
  • The General Church in the United Kingdom.
  • The Lord's New Church Which Is Nova Hierosolyma is a North American and International Swedenborgian Church that accepts the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg as the Lord's Word, The Word of The Third Testament, Which Contains all the Divine Truth of the Lord's Divine Humanity.
  • Information Swedenborg Inc The mission of Information Swedenborg Inc. is to raise awareness of the life and work of Emanuel Swedenborg. Sells books by, about and related to Swedenborg, world wide but especially within Canada.
  • The Swedenborg Foundation is a non-profit publisher, book seller, and educational organization which publishes the theological works of Swedenborg, contemporary books and videos on spiritual growth, offers lectures and workshops, and maintains a library of Swedenborgian literature.
  • The Heavenly Doctrines, a searchable library of Swedenborg's "revelatory phase" theological writings.
  • Small Canon Search Swedenborg enumerated in his Arcana Coelestia #10,325 the books of the Bible that were, according to his revelation, Divinely inspired. In his True Christian Religion # 779 he indicated that books of his revelation that he published were also Divine revelation. This search engine, then, for the convenience of the reader, searches only the works thus inspired.
  • Emanuel Swedenborg Swicki, a collaborative community searching the World Wide Web for information about Emanuel Swedenborg.
  • The Swedenborg Project A 501(c)(3) non-profit organization incorporated in the state of Maryland for the purpose of disseminating the teachings of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, revealed through Swedenborg. The Project’s website provides an overview and reference information in keeping with that goal.
  • The Swedenborg Digital Library contains online full-text versions of books about Swedenborg and the Second Coming as well as access to the books of the Second Coming teachings that Swedenborg himself published.
  • First Translation of Swedenborg's theological writings: 16th Chapter of Genesis as explained in the Arcana Cœlestia (This translation from Latin into English was commissioned by Swedenborg himself and is a photocopy of a first edition copy: PDF - 12MB).
  • The Swedenborg Society The Swedenborg Society translates, prints and publishes works by the Swedish scientist, philosopher and visionary, Emanuel Swedenborg.

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

SWEDENBORG (or [[Swedberg), Emanuel]] (1688-1772), Swedish scientist, philosopher and mystic, was born at Stockholm on the 29th of January 1688. His father, Dr Jesper Swedberg, subsequently professor of theology at Upsala and bishop of Skara, was a pious and learned man, who did not escape the charge of heterodoxy, seeing that he placed more emphasis on the cardinal virtues of faith, love and communion with God than on the current dogmas of the Lutheran Church. Having completed his university course at Upsala, in 1710, Swedenborg undertook a European tour, visiting England, Holland, France and Germany, studying especially natural philosophy and writing Latin verses, a collection of which he published in 1710. In 1715 he returned to Upsala, and devoted himself to natural science and various engineering works. From 1716 to 1718 he published a scientific periodical, called Daedalus hyperboreus, a record of mechanical and mathematical inventions and discoveries. In 1716 he was introduced to Charles XII., who appointed him assessor-extraordinary on the Swedish board of mines. His reports on smelting and assaying were remarkable for their detail and for the comparisons drawn between Swedish and other methods. Two years later he distinguished himself at the king's siege of Frederikshall by the invention of machines for the transport of boats and galleys overland from Stromstadt to Iddefjord, a distance of 14 m. The same year he published various mathematical and mechanical works. At the death of Charles XII. Queen Ulrica elevated him and his family to the rank of nobility, by which his name was changed from Swedberg to Swedenborg, the "en" corresponding to the German "von." In the Swedish House of Nobles his contributions to political discussion had great influence, and he dealt with such subjects as the currency, the decimal system, the balance of trade and the liquor laws (where he was the pioneer of the Gothenburg system) with marked ability. He strongly opposed a bill for increasing the power of the crown. The next years were devoted to the duties and studies connected with his office, which involved the visitation of the Swedish, Saxon, Bohemian and Austrian mines. In 1724 he was offered the chair of mathematics in the university of Upsala, which he declined, on the ground that it was a mistake for mathematicians to be limited to theory. His inquiring and philosophical mind gradually led him to wider studies. As early as 1721 he was seeking to lay the foundation of a scientific explanation of the universe, when he published his Prodromus principiorum rerum naturalium, and had already written his Principia in its first form. In 1734 appeared in three volumes (Opera philosophica et mineralia, the first volume of which (his Principia) contained his view of the first principles of the universe, a curious mechanical and geometrical theory of the origin of things. The other volumes dealt with (a) iron and steel, (b) copper and brass, their smelting, conversion and assaying, and chemical experiments thereon.

There is no doubt that Swedenborg anticipated many scientific facts and positions that are usually regarded as of much more modern date. It was only towards the end of the 19th century that his voluminous writings began to be properly collected and examined, with the result of proving that there was hardly one department of scientific activity in which he was not far ahead of his time. His work on palaeontology shows him the predecessor of all the Scandinavian geologists, and his contributions in this field alone would have been sufficient to perpetuate his fame. He was also a great physicist and had arrived at the nebular hypothesis theory of the formation of the planets and the sun long before Kant and Laplace. His theory of light and theory of the cosmic atoms were equally astonishing. He wrote a lucid account of the phenomena of phosphorescence, and adduced a molecular magnetic theory which anticipated some of the chief features of the hypothesis of to-day. The great French chemist, Dumas, gives him the credit for the first attempt to establish a system of crystallography. He was the first to employ mercury for the air-pump, and devised a method of determining longitude at sea by observations of the moon among the stars. He suggested the use of experimental tanks for testing the powers of ship models, invented an ear-trumpet for the deaf, improved the common house-stove of his native land, cured smoky chimneys, took a lively interest in machine-guns and even sketched a flying machine.

This flying machine consisted of a light frame covered with strong canvas and provided with two large oars or wings moving on a horizontal axis, and so arranged that the upstroke met with no resistance while the downstroke provided the lifting power. Swedenborg knew that the machine would not fly, but suggested it as a start and was confident that the problem would be solved. He said "It seems easier to talk of such a machine than to put it into actuality, for it requires greater force and less weight than exists in a human body. The science of mechanics might perhaps suggest a means, namely, a strong spiral spring. If these advantages and requisites are observed, perhaps in time to come some one might know how better to utilize our sketch and cause some addition to be made so as to accomplish that which we can only suggest. Yet there are sufficient proofs and examples from nature that such flights can take place without danger, although when the first trials are made you may have to pay for the experience, and not mind an arm or leg." In 1734 he also published Prodromus philosophiae ratiocinantis de infinito et causa finali creationis, which treats of the relation of the finite to the infinite, and of the soul to the body, seeking to establish a nexus in each case as a means of overcoming the difficulty of their relation. From this time he applied himself to the problem of discovering the nature of soul and spirit by means of anatomical studies. In all his researches he acknowledged and contended for the existence and the supremacy of the spiritual and the divine. He travelled in Germany, France and Italy, in quest of the most eminent teachers and the best books dealing with the human frame, and published, as the results of his inquiries among other works, his Oeconomia regni animalis (London, 1740-1741) and Regnum animale (the Hague, 1744-1745; London, 1745). In no field were Swedenborg's researches more noteworthy than in those of physiological science. In 1901, Professor Max Neuberger of Vienna called attention to certain anticipations of modern views made by Swedenborg in relation to the functions of the brain. The university of Vienna appealed to the Royal Swedish Academy for a complete issue of the scientific treatises, and this resulted in the formation of a committee of experts who have been entrusted with the task. It is clear that Swedenborg showed (150 years before any other scientist) that the motion of the brain was synchronous with the respiration and not with the action of the heart and the circulation of the blood, a discovery the full bearings of which are still far from being realized. He had arrived at the modern conception of the activity of the brain as the combined activity of its individual cells. The cerebral cortex, and, more definitely, the cortical elements (nerve cells), formed the seat of the activity of the soul, and were ordered into departments according to various functions. His views as to the physiological functions of the spinal cord are also in agreement with recent research, and he anticipated many of the pre-eminent offices of the ductless glands which students of the present time are only beginning to discover.

Up to middle age Swedenborg's position was that of a scholar, a scientist, a practical administrator, a legislator, and a man of affairs. But a profound change was' coming over him, which led him to leave the domain of physical research for that of psychical and spiritual inquiry. Neither by geometrical, nor physical, nor metaphysical principles had he succeeded in reaching and grasping the infinite and the spiritual, or in elucidating their relation to man and man's organism, though he had caught glimpses of facts and methods which he thought only required confirmation and development. Late in life he wrote to Oetinger that "he was introduced by the Lord first into the natural sciences, and thus prepared, and, indeed, from the year 1710 to 1745, when heaven was opened to him." This latter great event is described by him in a letter to Thomas Hartley, rector of Winwick, as "the opening of his spiritual sight," "the manifestation of the Lord to him in person," "his introduction into the spiritual world." Before his illumination he had been instructed by dreams, and enjoyed extraordinary visions, and heard mysterious conversations. According to his own account, the Lord filled him with His spirit to teach the doctrines of the New Church by the word from Himself; He commissioned him to do this work, opened the sight of his spirit, and so let him into the spiritual world, permitting him to see the heavens and the hells, and to converse with angels and spirits for years; but he never received anything relating to the doctrines of the church from any angel but from the Lord alone while he was reading the word (True Christian Religion, No. 779). He elsewhere speaks of his office as principally an opening of the spiritual sense of the word. His friend Robsahm reports, from Swedenborg's own account to him, the circumstances of the first extraordinary revelation of the Lord, when He appeared to him and said, "I am God the Lord, the Creator and Redeemer of the world. I have chosen thee to unfold the spiritual sense of the Holy Scripture. I will Myself dictate to thee what thou shalt write." From that time he gave up all worldly learning and laboured solely to expound spiritual things. In the year 1 747, to the great regret of his colleagues, he resigned his post of assessor of the board of mines that he might devote himself to his higher vocation, requesting only to be allowed to receive as a pension the half of his salary. He took up afresh his study of Hebrew, and began his voluminous works on the interpretation of the Scriptures. His life from 1747 was spent alternately in Sweden, Holland and London, in the composition of his works and their publication, till his death, which took place in London on the 29th of March 1772. He was buried in the Swedish church in Princes Square, in the parish of St George's-in-theEast, and on the 7th of April 1908 his remains were removed at the request of the Swedish government to Stockholm.

Swedenborg was a man who won the respect, confidence and love of all who came into contact with him. Though people might disbelieve in his visions, they feared to ridicule them in his presence. Those who talked with him felt that he was truth itself. He never disputed on matters of religion, and if obliged to defend himself, did it with gentleness and in a few words. His manner of life was simple in the extreme; his diet consisted chiefly of bread and milk and large quantities of coffee. He paid no attention to the distinction of day and night, and sometimes lay for days together in a trance, while his servants were often disturbed at night by hearing what he called his conflicts with evil spirits. But his intercourse with spirits was often perfectly calm, in broad daylight, and with all his faculties awake. Three extraordinary instances are produced by his friends and followers in proof of his seership and admission into the unseen world. But there exists no account at first hand of the exact facts, and Swedenborg's own reference to one of these instances admits of another explanation than the supernatural one. Immanuel Kant was struck by them in 1763, but in 1765, after further inquiries, concluded that two of them had "no other foundation than common report (gemeine Sage)." See Kehrbach's edition of Kant's Traume eines Geistersehers (Leipzig, 1880).

As a theologian Swedenborg never attempted to preach or to found a sect. He believed that members of all the churches could belong to the New Church without forming a separate organization. His theological writings roughly fall into four groups: (1) books of spiritual philosophy, including The Divine Love and Wisdom, The Divine Providence, The Intercourse between the Soul and the Body, Conjugial Love; (2) Expository, including Arcana Celestia (giving the spiritual sense of Genesis and Exodus), The Apocalypse Revealed, The Apocalypse Explained; (3) Doctrinal, including The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrines, The Four Chief Doctrines, The Doctrine of Charity, The True Christian Religion, Canons of the New Church; (4) Eschatological, including Heaven and Hell, and The Last Judgment. About forty volumes are available in English, and many have been translated into most of the European languages as well as into Arabic, Hindi and Japanese.

Swedenborg's theosophic system is most briefly and comprehensively presented in his Divine Love and Wisdom. The point of view from which God must be regarded is that of His being the Divine Man. His esse is infinite love; His manifestation, form or body is infinite wisdom. Divine love is the self-subsisting life of the universe. From God emanates a divine sphere, which appears in the spiritual world as a sun, and from this spiritual sun again proceeds the sun of the natural world. The spiritual sun is the source of love and intelligence, or life, and the natural sun the source of nature or the receptacles of life; the first is alive, the second dead. The two worlds of nature and spirit are perfectly distinct, but they are intimately related by analogous substances, laws and forces. Each has its atmospheres, waters and earths, but in the one they are natural and in the other spiritual. In God there are three infinite and uncreated "degrees" of being, and in man and all things corresponding three degrees, finite and created. They are love, wisdom, use; or end, cause and effect. The final ends of all things are in the Divine Mind, the causes of all things in the spiritual world, and their effects in the natural world. By a love of each degree man comes into conjunction with them and the worlds of nature, spirit and God. The end of creation is that man may have this conjunction and become the image of his Creator and creation. In man are two receptacles for God - the will for divine love and the understanding for divine wisdom - that love and wisdom flowing into both so that they become human. Before the fall this influx was free and unhindered, and the conjunction of man with God and the creation complete, but from that time the connexion was interrupted and God had to interpose by successive dispensations. At last the power and influence of the spirits of darkness, with whom man associates himself by his sin, became so great that the existence of the human race was threatened, and Jehovah was necessitated to descend into nature to restore the connexion between Himself and man. He could not come in His unveiled divinity, for the "hells" would have then perished, whom he did not seek to destroy but only to subjugate. Another purpose of Jehovah's incarnation was the manifestation of His divine love more fully than ever before. Swedenborg wholly rejects the orthodox doctrine of atonement; and the unity of God, as opposed to his idea of the trinity of the church, is an essential feature of his teaching. Another distinctive feature is that Jehovah did not go back to heaven without leaving behind him a visible representative of Himself in the word of the Scripture. This word is an eternal incarnation, with its threefold sense - natural, spiritual, celestial. And Swedenborg is the divinely commissioned expounder of this threefold sense of the word, and so the founder of the New Church, the paraclete of the last dispensation. That he might perceive and understand the spiritual and the celestial senses of the word he enjoyed immediate revelation from the Lord, was admitted into the angelic world, and had committed to him the key of "correspondences" with which to unlock the divine treasures of wisdom. Swedenborg claimed also to have learnt by his admission into the spiritual world the true states of men in the next life, the scenery and occupations of heaven and hell, the true doctrine of Providence, the origin of evil, the sanctity and perpetuity of marriage and to have been a witness of the "last judgment," or the second coming of the Lord, which is a contemporary event. "All religion," he said, "has relation to life, and the life of religion is to do good." "The kingdom of Heaven is a kingdom of uses." He exercised a great influence over S. T. Coleridge, Robert and Elizabeth Browning, Coventry Patmore, Henry Ward Beecher and Thomas Carlyle. And the attention of modern psychologists is now being drawn to his doctrine of the relation of the elements of the universe to the membranes of the body.

Swedenborgianism, as professed by Swedenborg's. followers, is based on the belief of Swedenborg's claims to have witnessed the last judgment, or the second advent of the Lord, with the inauguration of the New Church, through the new system of doctrine promulgated by him and derived from the Scriptures, into the true sense of which he was the first to be introduced. The "doctrines" of the New Church as given in the Liturgy (which also contains the "Creed" and "Articles of Faith") are as follows: I. That there is one God, in whom there is a Divine Trinity; and that He is the Lord Jesus Christ.

2. That a saving faith is to believe on Him.

3. That evils are to be shunned, because they are of the devil and from the devil.

4. That good actions are to be done, because they are of God and from God.

5. That these are to be done by a man as from himself; but that it ought to be believed that they are done from the Lord with him and by him.

Swedenborgians now constitute a widely spread and considerable society, with a regularly constituted ecclesiastical organization and a zealous missionary activity (see NEW Jerusalem Church).

See R. L. Tafel, Documents concerning the Life and Character of Swedenborg, collected, translated and annotated (3 vols., Swedenborg Society, 1875-1877); J. Hyde, A Bibliography of the Works of Emanuel Swedenborg (743 pp., Swedenborg Society). Of English lives the principal are those by J. J. G. Wilkinson (London, 18 49); E. Paxton Hood (London, 1854); William White (1856, rewritten in 1867 and in 1868); G. Trobridge (London, 1907); also Emanuel Swedenborg, the Spiritual Columbus, a Sketch, by U. S. E. (2nd ed., London, 1877). Some of his writings, e.g. The Divine Providence and Heaven and Hell have been published in popular editions. A useful handbook of Swedenborg's theology is the Compendium of the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg by the Rev. Samuel Warren (London, 1885). Summaries of his system and writings are given in all the above biographies, also in Edmund Swift, Manual of the Doctrines of the New Church (London, 1885); and T. Parsons, Outlines of Swedenborg's Religion and Philosophy. Important critiques from independent points of view are "The Mystic," in R. W. Emerson's Representative Men (1850); Kant's Trriume eines Geistersehers (1766; the best edition by Kehrbach, Leipzig, 1880); J. G. Herder's "Emanuel Swedenborg," in his Adrastea (Werke zur Phil. and Gesch., xii. I 10-125); J. J. von Goerres's Emanuel Swedenborg, seine Visionen and sein Venceiltniss zur Kirche (1827); A. Dorner's Geschichte der protestantischen Theologie, pp. 662-667 (Munich, 1867). See also Transactions of the International Swedenborg Congress (London, 1910), summarized in The New Church Magazine (August, 1910). (A. J. G.)

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