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cannot but joy that here in this early dawn of a new morning, aspiration looked Eastward often and betimes to ask for the “ daily bread."
Whenever I have prayed the Lord's prayer, morning and evening," says he, “I have been raised into an interior sphere. So perceptible was it with its changes (nearly every time was different from the rest) that nothing could be plainer. This now for above two years. At such times there were insinuated, with manifold variety, unfoldings of the interiors of this prayer, and then when it was ended I was let into my ordinary sphere” (Spr. Diary, 258); so wrote Swedenborg two years later in an hour of happy retrospect. What contented allegiance! what unmistakeable ascension of state ! “The path of the just is as the shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day" (Prov. iv. 18).
It was now that while lying upon his bed, in a state of trance, two Jews, fellow-boarders probably, succeeded in stealing his watch. Swedenborg discovered the theft as soon as he awoke and immediately ordered the men to return the article. The Jews not only denied the charge, however, but added, “ that he himself, when in his trance, had risen
up, had walked into the street, and had thrown the watch into the gutter.” He rebuked them for their falsehood, and with his customary magnanimity allowed them to go their way. In vain did his friends suggest the constable; Swedenborg answered that it was not worth the trouble : “they have wronged themselves most," said he, “may the Lord have mercy on them.” 1 We can now see that if the constable had been called in, one bad thing would have been prevented: the Jews' falsehood would have been proved such, and would thus have died out, instead of reaching, as it subsequently did, the disgusting proportions it attained when uttered by the Lutheran opponent, Mathesius, long after, and at length was set into general circulation by the Rev. John Wesley at the end of thirty-seven years in the Armenian Magazine for 1781).
Swedenborg tells us that it was only after some time that he was brought into contact with spirits (Sp. Diary, 2951); and among his first experiences of angelic intercourse, the following may, no doubt, be placed ; not only because it bears the date of April 1745, but also from the fact of a double play of vision, an evident interblending of what was discerned in the spiritual world within, and of what stood
1 Benedict Chastanier relates this anecdote in a French work on the doctrines of the New Church (published in 1786), and gives the name of the Swedish Consul, C. Springer, as a guarantee of its trustworthiness.
forth in nature without; the images of both meeting and mingling into oneness on the disturbed nexus of the interior and physical visual planes. The circumstance has an additional interest from the fact that it involves those very peculiarities of dual sight which have to be assumed in order to clear up certain historical difficulties attending the crucifixion and the resurrection of our Saviour.
Swedenborg writes as follows: “At noon about meal-time an angel present with me said I was not to indulge my stomach too much at table. Immediately afterwards, and while still in his company, there appeared clearly before me something like a very distinct watery vapour, exuding from the pores of my body, and which, in falling on the carpet upon the floor collected together and changed into a number of small worms, which, gathering up beneath the table, flashed off with a noise. The sound and the sight of this fiery light led me to the conclusion that all the small worms ejected from my body, and which might have been produced by an immoderate meal, burnt off in this way, and that then I remained purified therefrom. Hence may be inferred what things luxuries and the like carry in their bosom ” (Sp. Diary, 397). The same curious circumstance is mentioned in the “ Adversaria” (par. i. vol. iv. 1956-7, thus about a year after its occurrence), and Swedenborg there states in explanation that unclean spirits ruling the externals of man, or the merely corporeal, often appear to the spiritual sight in those low and sensual forms of life which so aptly bepicture the luxuries pertaining to our senses.
"Such is the way of God Messiah, the way of truth, the way of goodness, by which He raises man towards Himself," writes Swedenborg a few months later, when musing over the divine teachings. “Man,” he adds, “is not brought by force and suddenly, but only by degrees, and in such a way that he may put on his peculiar character, and also become reminiscent of his former condition,-thus, in his new state of dominion know a higher blessedness, which latter is acquired but by its opposite, just as our sense of freedom comes from contrast with that of servitude” (Adv. p. i. vol. iii. 425). In this state of continual advance towards clearer truth Swedenborg accomplishes the work which led him to visit London.
Fain would we see the man as he appeared at this interesting period of his life. Two portraits of him remain, but the one shows him as he looked ten years before this time, the other twenty-five years after, from these, however, we may form some idea of the man in these early changes. Each portrait is a study, and fully justifies the regret of
Goethe's friend, Herder, that the father of phrenology-Dr. Gall—had not subsequently had the good fortune to get Swedenborg's cranium into his collection. “It would seem," he adds, “as if it had required whole years to bring up his impulse (Trieb) to the true pitch of readiness, and for the spiritual world to become manifest to him ; then nearly thirty years more for giving this impulse free exercise."1
He was right. You look at the Swedenborg of forty-five, and you find in those full and luminous eyes the secret of his mastery over language; the clue to his redundant, healthy and earnest style ; while the other perceptive faculties, large and well-rounded, curve in massive proportion from Form to Calculation beneath a brow wherein Causality and Comparison sit supreme, binding the whole brain into vigour and well-disciplined preparedness. You turn from this to the face of the octogenarian, and it is as if Intuition and Charity o’ercanopied his temples, raising the mental structure upward to higher proportions, forward in columned strength, heavenward in angelic scope. Light rests radiant upon the brow of the seer, like wisdom on his every thought. “ His stalwart presence,” says Emerson, “would flutter the gowns of an university."
And now it is the end of June 1745, and Swedenborg must leave London. We pause to look back a moment over the two preceding years, and we see that change followed change so gradually, that it is no wonder if Swedenborg in his old age, sometimes named 1743, sometimes 1744 as the year of his call to a new work and world. Both were right in one sense, just as day-break itself may be dated from a certain hour, or five or ten minutes later. Hence the 1744 is named in a letter written to a German admirer, Mr. Oettinger, in 1766 ; we give a few lines bearing upon the subject of this article:
“You ask me why from philosophy I have been chosen to this office ? I answer,—to the end that the spiritual knowledge which is revealed at this day might be reasonably learned and naturally understood ; because spiritual truths answer unto natural ones, inasmuch as these originate and flow from them, and serve as a foundation for the former. I was on this account, by the Lord, first introduced into the natural sciences, and thus prepared from the year 1710 to 1744, when heaven was opened unto me. Moreover the Lord has given unto me a love of spiritual truth, that is to say, not with a view to honour or profit, but merely for the sake of truth itself."'?
As, in imagination, we see Swedenborg going down to the vessel so silently, so obscurely, a certain contrast is vividly impressed upon our
1 See Cotta’s “Herder's Ausg. Werke," p. 1060.
Goyder's “IIistory of the New Jerusalem Church,” p. xxxiv.
mind. Measured by results, how little the simple parting of the Pilgrim Fathers a century before betokened the mighty effects ultimately to spring from the new idea they sailed forth to inaugurate ! Yet this departure of the unknown Swedenborg was to produce a result still more stupendous. They gave humanity a sphere wherein, after many generations, the dreamer might realize his social Utopias, the victim of tyranny regain the aura of freedom, slavery feel its manacles disappear, and courage find an outlet for its strength without having to forego its manliness,—yet all these advantages in themselves were but things of time; their end material prosperity. In the new teachings Swedenborg went forth finally to make known, the highest dream of Utopia was outmatched in that Utopia shown to be already existing,—an angelic confederation under the sole supremacy of Jesus, -a confederation to be derived by manhood from angelhood, and which—heedless of the limitations of mountain and sea- -should gradually take up into happiest fellowship and ultimate unity of worshipful allegiance to the one Divine Object of spiritual adoration, all faithfulness, all earnestness, all aspiration. Its philosophy, illumed by the sun of heaven and regarding effects in their causes, and these in the Lord, should make sociology for the first time a fact; its theology, in proceeding from essence to person, should take up all other theologies into itself, infill them to annihilate them in the plenitude of the divine truths substituted, suitable, peace-making, and sublime. The societarian compact should be the work, not of short-sighted man, but of the one omniscient King, and thus be eternal in his subjects. Thought should find diversity the law of the realm, yet the primal light be everywhere discernible in the beauty of a God-given proportion. Mine and Thine should become Our Father's; use be the new name for charity, and that at length found to be the true commonweal where the Lord's will only is done; that the true prosperity which holds the stretch of eternity within the scope of its every endeavour.
In 1745, however, Swedenborg himself was far from a clear perception of these things, and as he left our shores, wondering if ever he should again revisit them, he no doubt breathed forth in hopeful prayer the very words, which on the lips of the dying Goethe, were so instinct with doubt and pain, “ Light ! more light !” Of his journey homeward we know nothing, except that his visions ceased for the time (Adv. part i. vol. ii. 1003), a matter we cannot wonder at-a long seavoyage in the middle of the last century must necessarily have been too full of anxieties and general unrest for aught but fitful reflection.
Results show, however, that two important projects were meditated during the passage,-he would learn Hebrew; he would study God's Word methodically in the new and still-increasing light.1
ON THE ARTICLE “SWEDENBORGIANISM," IN THE DICTIONARY OF DOCTRINAL AND HISTORICAL THEOLOGY.
To the Editor of the Intellectual Repository. DEAR SIR-A work of considerable theological pretensions, and designed to supply a want long felt in the Church of England, has lately been edited by the Rev. J. H. Blunt, M.A., well known as the editor of “The Annotated Book of Common Prayer.” The title of the work referred to is a “Dictionary of Doctrinal and Historical Theology ;” and among its articles is one upon “Swedenborgianism.” As the Dictionary is intended to serve as a kind of theological library to clergymen who cannot afford a library upon a larger scale, and to be an ultimate authority upon those subjects of which it treats, it is not unlikely to have an extensive sale. But feeling assured that the article on “Swedenborgianism" is more calculated to injure ultimately the character of the “Dictionary" than that of Swedenborg's writings, I have written a letter to the editor to that effect, and beg to forward to you a copy, which it may be, for many reasons, desirable to insert. Yours very truly,
A. C. To the Rev. J. H. Blunt, Editor of the Dictionary of Doctrinal
and Historical Theology. REV. SIR,—Presuming that both the editor and publishers of the “Dictionary of Doctrinal and Historical Theology" are desirous that it should go forth to the public—especially to the clergy and candidates for Holy Orders--as an authority which may be safely relied upon, allow me to draw your attention to an article on a subject classed under the head of “ Errors, Heresies and Sects,” tending not a little to depreciate its value in this respect. I refer to the article entitled “Swedenborgianism."
1 In justice to Dr. Tafel, we ought to mention that the omission of the two significant lines in part iv. of the “ Animal Kingdom” was pointed out by himself, and the omitted portion given in the preface to part vi., published in the following year. (See page viii.)