By Alfred Regamy
I. Swedenborg's Intellectual Qualities.
In his Representative Men Ralph Waldo Emerson refers to Swedenborg as "one of the Missourium and mastodons of literature." Indeed, nothing could better characterize the impression which Swedenborg makes on all who have studied him at all closely or who have had the opportunity of examining the voluminous manuscripts which he has bequeathed to posterity and the numerous works he published during his lifetime.
Swedenborg was an indefatigable worker! He immersed himself successively in one field of science after another and dedicated his entire life to writing down and publishing the results of his researches. Having acquired his doctorate in philosophy at the University of Upsala, he wrote immediately to his brother-in-law Eric Benzelius asking for letters of introduction to the leading scholars of England. He announced his intention to visit that country without delay to advance his studies in mathematical sciences, in which he was particularly interested at that time. He expressed particular interest in classifying the fields of mathematics so far developed and searching out possible new applications. To the very end of his life Swedenborg displayed an eminently practical interest in all physical sciences and continuously dedicated himself to improve on or develop new inventions with the purpose of contributing to the advancement and progress of sciences through the publication of his researches.
In 1869-1870 the attention of the cultural world was attracted by something entirely new. For the first time in history an important collection of manuscripts of one single author, comprising a total of ten thick volumes in folio, made up of 500 pages each, were reproduced in toto by photolithographic procedure. This author was Swedenborg some of whose principal manuscripts were published under the direction of Dr. Rudolf Tafel of London. To this first collection a second one, comprising 18 volumes of the same format and the same number of pages each were similarly reproduced, the photolithographic of this section was completed in 1918. Meanwhile this procedure of manuscript reproduction became generalized and considerably simplified by photo-offset process with excellent results.
It must also be taken into account that in the case of certain works published by Swedenborg during his lifetime we have no manuscript at all, neither draft nor clean copy, and in the case of certain other treatises the existence of which is attested by indices which the author himself was accustomed to maintain and which have come down to us, we have neither the manuscript nor the published work.
To give one or two examples of this circumstances the initial pages of his Diarium, or Spiritual Diary, (Nos. 1 - 148) have never been found. Nevertheless, the index of this interesting work is complete and refers many times to these first numbers. Furthermore another index refers to an Opus primum de Amore Conjugiali, (first treatise on Marital Love), this work which must have included more an 2,000 paragraphs might indeed have served as first outline for the work which Swedenborg published in 1768 under the title Delights of Wisdom About Conjugial Love. So only one who is aware of all these documents is in a position to form an approximate idea of the prodigious work which Swedenborg accomplished.
Among members of the New Church few are acquainted with more than the theological works of this author, and particularly those which Swedenborg published during his lifetime, and even less, perhaps excepting the Apocalypse Explained and the Doctrine of Charity, aware of the fact that he left to the state manuscript which were only published after his death. That is indeed regrettable, for these latter, although it is true that they are often no more than outlines, plans, or unfinished drafts of works later revised and published, are of considerable value because they help us the better to understand the others which Swedenborg published himself.
No one was better qualified than Swedenborg to fulfill the mission entrusted to him as herald of the Second Coming of the Lord, since he was not only endowed with a rare intellect and possessed a broad general culture, but he also displayed those spiritual qualities indispensable to the accomplishment of the great mission reserved for him. I refer to precision, minuteness, accuracy, a truly remarkable capacity of observing every phenomena down to its least details and talent for clearly recording the results of his observations and research. That is hardly unimportant for once his spiritual sight was activated and he was permitted to observe the marvels of the heavenly environment Swedenborg applied the same methods in reporting them. He examined everything he was permitted to see with the greatest of care, inquired into everything most minutely and made note of the smallest details of the observations he had made, fully warranting the subtitle "According to Things Heard and Seen" to the works which he published.
It is, moreover, not only in his scientific and theological works that such qualities are observed. Equivalent meticulousness is noted, for example, in his records for the year 1770 where we find the date he planted a carnation, the date it bloomed, and the number of seeds he eventually collected therefrom.
I. Working Methods.
Complementing the qualities referred to in the preceding chapter Swedenborg also possessed those of the trained mathematician: logic, order, clarity of expression, extraordinary powers of deduction, along with the methodical and systematic mentality: characteristics which are repeatedly displayed in his writings and perhaps particularly in his doctrinal treatises. In these each chapter begins with a series of propositions which the author briefly analyzes and which he breaks down into a now series of propositions which are successively developed. I see no point in citing many examples. This method, which never fails to impress all who are familiar with our author, is still more evident in some of his posthumous works where, in many cases, and precisely because they represent first drafts or unfinished projects, the text is limited to a long enumeration of propositions or axioms arranged in a certain order in which some are logically deduced from others." One only needs to look at The Canons of the New Church to find a good example. We note in passing that this little work (composed of a series of notes which the author left unfinished) is perhaps no more than a preliminary outline of a work which Swedenborg published shortly before his death under the title of True Christian Religion. We consider this hypo, thesis warranted by the fact that these notes were written in 1769, only a year before Swedenborg published this final work, and also because on one of the two copies made of the original manuscript of these notes - the manuscript itself having been lost appears the following notation:
Reverting to the Canons of the New Church in the first pages and particularly those of part one entitled "Concerning God" we find it beginning with a summary formed of ten propositions. Consider the first four: I. There is only one God. II. This one God is Being (esse) itself which is called Jehovah. III. This God is from all eternity and consequently is eternity itself. IV. Since God is Being itself and because He is from all eternity He is the creator of the Universe. The fourth proposition is obviously a logical deduction from the two preceding, that is why, moreover, the word "since" and the word "because" are used. And what is still more noteworthy, each of these affirmations will in its turn become the title of a chapter in the work. Let us consider one of these chapters the first, for example, which corresponds to the first proposition and which deals with the unity of God or an only God. What do we see there? A new series of 10 propositions on this topic of the unity of God comprising a corresponding number of concomitants by means of which Swedenborg confirms or tries to prove such unity. We admire the geometrical construction of his arguments, after a general observation on the importance of the doctrine of the unity of God, which is according to him "the principal and sumo most important doctrine of the Church" Swedenborg assembles his arguments and advances different methods of demonstration.
"There is a universal influx from God and from the angelic heaven into the soul of man, influx by means of which he can feel that there is a God and that this God is One." (Proposition 5.)
"On the basis of many things in the natural world human reason can acknowledge, if it so desires, that there is one God and that this God is One." (Proposition 6.)
The letter of the Holy Scriptures man teachings of the Church:
"It is the teaching of the Holy Scriptures and consequently that of the Christian Church that there is only one God." (Proposition 8.)
Without over looking in his argument a reduction to, the absurd:
"If there were not a God how would the Universe have been created and how would it be preserved?" (Proposition 2.)
Now if we compare these various propositions with the last topics dealt with in the first chapter of True Christian Religion we observe that these, after all, are no more than a development of the same arguments, if not in the same order at least under the same headings. Thus they serve to confirm opinion we have expressed regarding the relation between these two works. The Canons are no more than a preparatory outline, a kind of preliminary plan for the composition of the True Christian Religion. Such an assumption is not unimportant because it helps us to understand how Swedenborg worked to prepare his treatises, the pains he took in first formulating a detailed plan, carefully studied, and in which he listed with order and method under a certain number of headings and sub-titles all that he had the intention of discussing.
All we have observed with regard to the Canons, and True Christian Religion could be repeated with regard to other works. Take for example the little treatise De Domino the manuscript of which only comprises 7 pages and which appears upon examination to be a resume of a systematic work on the Lord the Redeemer. Could it be the first outline of the Doctrine of the Lord published several years later? It hardly seems doubtful. In its rudimentary form it contains a series of solid arguments on the nature of the Divine-Human of the Lord, arguments drawn:
We have just mentioned the Athanasian Creed. We observe that Swedenborg left among his manuscripts a little work rather several sheets of detached notes, since a number of sentences are incomplete - on this topic, and that they plausibly form a rudimentary outline of work which he proposed to publish under that title. The first words we find there suffice to indicate how far the plan had been developed, "To enumerate here all that the Lord said in Matthew concerning the last state of the Church. The words ought to be quoted and successively explained as in #1 of the work on Heaven and Hell."
Another brief manuscript written about the same time and which is doubtless a collection of notes for the Doctrine of Life published shortly afterwards, is entitled Precepts of the Decalogue. It remained in more or less the same state of development as the preceding one.
It begins: "When the last judgment was accomplished a New Church was promised, which, is called in the Apocalypse the New Jerusalem. 1. Explain the entire Chapter XXI and Chapter XXII verses 1-5. 2. Demonstrate by means of other verses from the Word that by Jerusalem the Church must be understood, as in the following passages: (There follow among many others not less than 48 quotations from Isaiah.) 3. Discuss the things which precede in the Apocalypse, particularly regarding the dragon, the scarlet beast and their destruction. 4. Regarding the Last Judgment. This Judgment has already been described but additional details adduced."
The foregoing adequately supports our first points Swedenborg never wrote a treatise, or at least a doctrinal work, without first preparing a detailed outline, noting the ideas which he wished to develop successively and carefully marshalling all the arguments that he could find in their favor. Once having outlined the plan, he then undertook a first effort at composition, a slow and arduous work which acquired a great deal of patience, and of which it is not always easy for the reader to become aware of if he only sees the final result, the published work. In many cases Swedenborg was not satisfied with his first composition and as indicated above, for the greater part of the works which he published, he made a new clean copy of manuscript for the printer. In doing this he occasionally made rearrangements, substitution of words in the interest of greater clarity and lighter style.
At times he even proceeded to make a complete rearrangement, discarding a number of points which he at first intended to develop and replacing them with new ones. Let us refer for example to the manuscript of the Adversaria (The Word explained), no. 289. We find there two successive paragraphs bearing the same number. The first is struck out and replaced by a second in which he deals with a matter entirely different from that treated in the deleted paragraph.
In general it is evident that the final copies showed very few erasures or corrections, a circumstance which has misled many to affirm their divine inspiration - as though the divine character of the writings of a religious author resided in such detail!
Such persons were furthermore confirmed in this opinion by the fact that the editor of the photolithographic reproductions (1870-71) - the only ones accessible to them as a basis for such an opinion - had been careful to eliminate such defects in the manuscript before photographing them. This point of view is certainly not shared by those who have been able to examine the drafts and the first manuscripts, and no more can faith be attributed to the allegations of Pernetty, the first translator of Heaven and Hell in French (Berlin 1782) who notes in the biographical preface to this work, dedicated to Swedenborg, on page 78: "His Excellency the Councellor Sandel on visiting Swedenborg, and observing a number of manuscripts without corrections or erasures, on the table where he wrote, inquired whether he took the trouble to make clean copies.
Resuming study of the changes noted between first drafts and final copies, it is interesting to compare the index of the first part of Conjugial Love and that of Delights of Wisdom Concerning Conjugial Love. We observe that a number of topics listed for discussion in the former do not figure in the latter, and vice versa. It sometimes even happens that our author is not satisfied with the treatise as rewritten - a clean copy delivered to the printer - and abandons the initial intention to have it published. Such was the case with Apocalypse Explained two manuscripts of which are at hand. The earlier one ending with no. 1232 has been reproduced in the phototype series, of which it forms vol. XV to XVII, and the second, which closes with no. 1229 and comprises the volumes IX and X of the photolithographic series. In both cases the commentary on the Apocalypse ends abruptly at verse X of Chapter XIX, and Swedenborg never finished this work, for which we nevertheless have two manuscripts. This appears to warrant the conclusion that our author did not expect to have it completed for recopying, but probably, in order to vary his work, wrote both manuscripts simultaneously. It would be difficult to say why Swedenborg never finished the Apocalypse Explained and abandoned its publication.
In this connection the hypothesis of Dr. R. L. Tafel in his "Documents Concerning Swedenborg" is interesting. He says: The great distinction which one can make between Apocalypse Explained and Apocalypse Revealed consists in the following: While the doctrine of the internal sense is applied to the Universal Church in the first of these works, the second deals exclusively with the Church of the New Jerusalem and the position which the latter holds in relation to the old Christian Church. That is why the author, once he had grasped the more special significance of the last book of the Bible, suddenly dropped his work on Apocalypse Explained so that the treatise ends on verse 10 of Chapter XIX. This example demonstrates how Swedenborg, in the middle of a treatise, was at times moved to write another on the same subject but from a more particular point of view." (Document 313, page 1000-1001.)
The foregoing is recited - and we have dwelt on the details intentionally - in the desire to make more understandable that patience with which Swedenborg worked in the preparation of his writings. He would never have sent a manuscript to the printer before having reviewed it carefully and found it entirely satisfactory.
And that is indeed the topic dealt with in the Word Explained (Adversaria). In this new work find no longer a literal study of Holy Scripture but an interpretation of its content in its relationship of the progress of the Kingdom of God in the bosom of humanity in general and of the Jewish nation in particular. To this typo of interpretation we ordinarily apply the term 'internal historical sense.' This step marked the beginning of Swedenborg's advance into the spiritual understanding of Holy Scripture. As his spirit gradually opened to the light of heaven he penetrated its more profound significance. He saw clearly that beneath the letter a mote interior significance lay hidden. Refer, for example, to no. 23 of the Adversaria. "It is clear to every intelligent man," he writes, "that in the history of creation as reported by Moses the words have a double meaning throughout, that is a spiritual along with the natural sense...
III. Swedenborg's preparation For His Mission, Study of the Word
We have asserted above that no one was better qualified than Swedenborg to fulfill the mission to which he had been called by the Lord, and we have tried to demonstrate that by his studies he had indeed acquired the aptitudes and the mental conditioning, all the endowments and qualities needed for the accomplishment of his task. In addition, however, he needed specialized preparation treatise natural as well as from the spiritual point of view. First of all, in ardor to read and subject to careful study the Old Testament in its original tongue he had to add a thorough knowledge of Hebrew to his previous scholastic achievements. This involved familiarizing himself with the various styles in which these books are written and with the spiritual import of each word appearing therein, On this point we quote the following extract which Swedenborg himself wrote to his friend, Dr. Beyer, in February 1767:
"That is why, once heaven opened to no, I had first to study Hebrew and the correspondences in accordance to which the whole Bible is composed, which caused we to read the Word several times." I recall my personal astonishment when I opened Swedenborg's Diary for the first, time my eyes tell on section 192 and 193 where a series of Hebrew words was conjugated. I wondered then what this had to 40 with the rest of the book and if it were not an error imputable to the publisher of the work.
"To date no one sees anything else in the Word than its purely literal sense, because humanity wallows in such materialism that it entirely disregards anything spiritual. There are indeed translators of Holy Scriptures who have confirmed themselves in such a state of obscurantism that they attach little importance to the exact translation of the words themselves in accordance with the original source such as Smidius has done. They rather seek a certain elegance of style such as affected by many translators of ordinary literature, They have thereby altered the meaning of words to such an extent that one no longer attached to the text of Holy Scripture more than a historical importance thereby depriving themselves of all the light which radiates from the actual words of the Lord."
A long list - too long to be included here - of documents and manuscripts in our possession demonstrate the painstaking and assiduous study Swedenborg dedicated to the sacred books which he read and often reread, whether for a strictly specific purpose or fox his own edification. To demonstrate his reading of the Word for his own edification we can do no better than recall the first of his Rule of Life which is s to often read and meditate on the Word of God." Regarding his studies of the Bible for a particular purpose we likewise refer to one of his own affirmations, selected from among several. This is found in no. 37 of the Doctrine of the Lord: "I may first mention the fact that I have been permitted to study all the prophets and the Psalms of David, examine each verse and to learn what each one deals with, and I have observed that the only subjects dealt with ace: the Church which is established and which will be established by the Lords the coming of the Lord His struggles, His glorification, His redemption, His salvation, etc," This was perhaps following the study to which Swedenborg refers here when he wrote his little treatise bearing the title Summary Exposition of the Internal Sense of the Prophets and the Psalms.
We can mention yet another occasion when Swedenborg read the Bible with a specific purpose in views this was when he was engaged in composing the True Christian Religion and he collected for that purpose all the passages of the Holy Scriptures supporting the doctrines he presents, recurring also in this cane to passages selected from the Pauline Epistles.
IV. Index Compilation and Marginal Notes
One of the strongest proofs we have of the assiduity which Swedenborg applied in his study of the Bible is the voluminous index which he left and which, in part, comprises what we would call today a Biblical Concordance, this difference however, that instead of limiting himself to the simple enumeration of passages containing a designated word - the usual practice for this type of concordance - Swedenborg occasionally adds commentary or explanations illustrating the spiritual correspondence. In addition there are numerous annotations that ha left on the margins of most of the pages of his Bible. This volume, preserved in the Library of the Royal Academy of sciences in Stockholm, was photolithographed in 1869-70 by Dr. R. Tafel concurrently with a number of manuscripts already mentioned. On some of the pages of that Bible the notes are so numerous that they completely surround the printed text. They are particularly abundant on Genesis, Exodus and the Prophets and reflect the work of Swedenborg during the years 1746-47 when, as he tolls us himself in the above mentioned letter to Dr. Beyer recalling his frequent rereading of the Word of God. During that period Swedenborg was fully absorbed in his study of the significance and correspondence of each word, and with the aid of his concordance he particularly sought out in the books of the Bible words repeatedly used in order to elucidate and apply their spiritual meaning. As this research progressed and his spiritual understanding broadened he then noted on the margins the Arcana revealed to him.
These marginal notes were a source of constant documentation for Swedenborg, he made frequent use of them. Repeatedly, in the Word Explained for example, we find these words: "See marginal notations regarding this," or "See marginal note relative to this passage," Swedenborg transcribed a great number of these in his Biblical Index, which thus served at once as a concordance and as a dictionary of correspondences. He was very fond of compiling such references and this type of compilation formed an integral part of his daily work.
In general these indexes of Swedenborg may be classified in two categories one, comprising entries following the numerical order of the paragraphs of the book, for example "word and Subject Index of Arcana Coelestia," and on the other hand, those in which the topics are methodically arranged and the subject includes a number of sub-divisions, for example "The Index of Apocalypse Revealed." It is probable that Swedenborg intended this last type of index for the public to be used in connection with the books and that he had the intention at least at one time, of proceeding with their publication.
Regarding the index following the numerical order of a volume we are inclined to believe that Swedenborg was accustomed to compile it progressively as he proceeded with the composition of his work. He constantly used these indices as very helpful adjuncts to his labors. Indeed, thanks to this methodical and continual compilation he was able, with remarkable precision and without loss of time, to rater the reader of his works back to preceding paragraphs in the same work or other works previously published dealing with the topic which he was developing at greater length, For this reason one also finds cited in such an index a number referring to a treatise published later on. For example: the reference in the Index to the Arcana Coelestia (apparently compiled between 1749 and 1756), under Soul and Tooth, to numbers in the Apocalypse Explained (written 1757-1759). Similarly a number in the Apocalypse Revealed (1766) figures in the Index under Babel, and a number in Conjugial Love, (1766) under GOOD. For additional examples refer to the preface of the French translator (St. Amand 1858) of l'Index des Mots et des choses contenus dans les "Arcanes Celestes."
Reverting to Swedenborg's custom of making notes on leaf margins, we may say that this did not begin merely from the time when he made particularly close studies of the sacred books (1747-47), now confirmation, take the example of his De Cultu et Amore Dei, (1745), now in the possession of the Royal Academy of Sciences in Stockholm.
Another interesting and noteworthy case is the following, around 1420 a first edition of Arcana Coelestia, presumed to have been a part of Swedenborg's own personal library collection, was discovered in the Library of Harvard University. This was subsequently deposited with the Library of the New Church Theological School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The margins of the later volumes dealing with Exodus are replete with annotations regarding inhabitants of other plants, apparently by the hand of the author himself. All points to the conclusion that it comprises the original outline of Swedenborg's project for his treatise on the Earths in the Universe, published in 1758, several years after Arcana Coelestia and which cowers practically the same material dealt with more fully in the later treatise.
One thing is certain: Swedenborg repeats himself often and in his writings ha deals many times with the saws topic, albeit in differing perspectives. The Arcana Coelestia, and the Apocalypse Explained together are the two principal theological works providing the source for a large part of the material developed in his shorter treatises.
V Gradual Opening of His Spiritual Eyes
So far we have dealt with Swedenborg's mental qualities and special aptitudes for the task to which he was called. We have tried, in brief references to manuscripts which he did not publish, to familiarize the reader with some of his working methods, from which he never departed and of which we want to speak in more detail in the interest of clarity: his habit of adding marginal notes to the sheets on which he was working; preparation of detailed plans or schedules in which he summarized the principal ideas he intended to develop; progressive elaboration of indices and classifications as he advanced in the composition of his works. We have also mentioned his initial preparation when, abandoning the specialised study of natural sciences and philosophy in order to dedicate himself to theology, he undertook the study of Hebrew, the Holy Scriptures and the symbolic language of correspondences.
But it is still another aspect of his preparation, regarding which we have as yet said but little, to which we now turn, because it is highly important for an adequate understanding of our subject. It is what might be called his special preparation, as a revelator, for his role as a seer, prior to his awakening to the light of heaven, before it became possible for him to report to mankind the details of the "world beyond" ex Auditis et visis (from things heard and seen).
This preparation was certainly not the work of a day; at the beginning Swedenborg could not reach up to the higher regions of the spiritual world; some years were necessary for him to attain to its full light and to equip him to converse with spirits and angels. "It has been nearly three years," he writes in his Diarium in August 1747, "since I began to sense and observe the activities of spirits, not through any gift of internal sight but by way of a sensation accompanied by an obscure perception. I thus became conscious of their presence, their approaches and their departures, and many other things." We have already mentioned the matter of gradual and progressive revelation in commenting on the diverse interpretations which Swedenborg gave successively to a single chapter of Genesis, as he advanced into brighter light, and experienced changes of state in himself.
There is moreover another means of assuring ourselves of this "interior" preparation taking place with Swedenborg. That is to study in the works he published towards the end of his life all he tells us of the circumstances which spirits must necessarily experience before being admitted to the higher spheres of heaven, and apply these to his own ease; for we are convinced that such conditions are integral components of the laws of order, and that they cannot be ignored even in the case of Swedenborg.
VI INTERNAL RESPIRATION
Another interesting passage is found in AC 805, whore Swedenborg speaks of internal respiration among antediluvians (Ge 7:21, 22). He adds: "After these tines internal respiration ceased, and with it communication with heaven and thus celestial perception, and external respiration ensued." It is accordingly clear that communication with heaven and angels is impossible unless man's spiritual lungs are accustomed to this spiritual breathing and external respiration be suspended, at least as long as such communication persists. We recur to Swedenborg himself for further particulars. First, in the Spiritual Diary 3317, after emphasizing that breathing varies according to the quality of a person's faith, he wrote: "I can understand and believe it because my own respiration was so developed by the Lord so that I could breathe internally for an extended period, without the help of external air. In fact my breathing was controlled internally so that my physical senses, nevertheless, conserved their full vigor and my active life continued unaltered. However this can only be granted and prepared by the Lord." (See also Spiritual Diary, 3320 and AC 9281).
We draw on No. 143 of the second part of the Adversaria for another reference to internal breathing. We reads "From my earliest youth I accustomed myself to this kind of breathing. When I said my morning and evening prayers, and later when I studied the marvelous interplay of the lungs and hear, and especially when I found myself deeply preoccupied in writing the works which I published over the years, I was able to observe a tacit respiration, barely perceptible, and I meditated about it frequently... Accordingly I have been accustomed for many years, since my infancy, to such respiration, particularly when absorbed in deep speculations, during which my external breathing ceased almost completely, the more so since all profound study is almost impossible otherwise. Later when the heavens were opened to me and I was able to converse with spirits I barely breathed, at times for nearly an hour, inhaling hardly enough air to maintain thought processes. Is such a manner was I initiated by the Lord into internal respiration." There can hardly be a more categorical affirmation than that. Swedenborg was, from his tenderest years habituated to this type of tacit breathing, and a certain period was a necessary for him to accustom his organism to the spiritual atmosphere in which he was called to live in a state of full consciousness.
VII DOCUMENTS, 1743-47
The best way to form an idea of the special preparation Swedenborg had to undergo before he could be admitted to the light of heaven is to undertake a study in depth of the years 1743-47, during which he became a theologian, supplementing the scholar and philosopher. What he wrote during that period becomes highly useful to us because it is self-evident that the mental processes of the author and changes of state he experienced must needs find reflection in the works he wrote. During these years Swedenborg published no more than two manuscripts. One was The Animal Kingdom and the other On the Worship and Love of God. What suggestive titles they are! And how well they reflect the author's dominant moods! Indeed, was he not deeply interested in exploring the human organism in his search for its of soul? And was not his strongest desire that of leading his fellow man to worship the Lord and to convince them of His love? These titles alone suffice to demonstrate that no one was more deeply desirous than he of fulfilling the task entrusted to him by the Lord who chose him as the instrument for revelation of hitherto unsuspected verities concerning man as a spiritual being and his life beyond the grave.
Swedenborg carefully noted all these things in his private journal, with many details, as a conscientious scholar consigns to paper each new observation and insight granted him for the purpose of better confirmation and formulation of eventually meaningful conclusions. Indeed, I know of no more valuable documents for a psychological study of Swedenborg than the manuscripts of these "years of internal crisis." I feel sure that no one who takes the trouble to subject them to impartial and objective study could thereafter classify his as a mystic or insane as he has so frequently been referred to. No one has over approached spiritual problems in such a methodically scientific spirit as Swedenborg did, and it is precisely that approach which puts Swedenborg's revelations in a different category from those of other seers.
VIII SANCTIFICATION AND PURIFICATION
It is quite evident that Swedenborg had to undergo a number of ordeals to completely subdue the evil remaining in his nature since "Spirits are not permitted to converse with a man whose thoughts are centered on worldly things and matter; indeed such things attract his spiritual thoughts and hold them captive (SD 1166)." Moreover "to the extent that anyone is without the love of self he has the capacity to be wise in Divine things. It is that love (of self) that closes up the interiors against the Lord and heaven" (HH 272). These are pass-ages worthy of close attention. They emphasize that no communication with heaven or with angels is possible for a can whose thoughts are filled with corporeal and mundane preoccupations, nor any spiritual progress for who remains in the love of self. The man seeking regeneration should consequently start by emptying his heart and mind of all egoism and look humbly to the Lord, acknowledging that to Him only can be attributed the wisdom and intelligence capable of instructing him. Swedenborg had to experience that. It was indispensable that he thoroughly humbled himself, not that he was particularly prone to prideful thought, but because his social and intellectual environment tended to encourage such characteristics. We thus find ourselves in the company of a highly trained scientist who had achieved world renown on his own works and discoveries, suddenly called by the Lord to become His humble servant.
IX THE JOURNAL OF DREAMS
Since there is no such thing as regeneration or spirituality from struggle it is evident that Swedenborg had to undergo temptations: some severe ones. The dreams he had during this period, an account of which he recorded in his Journal of Dreams testify to this. Swedenborg attached considerable significance to them and sought a rational explanation.
We mention here several along with the interpretation he gave them. Rather than extended commentary, he outlines certain aspects of the temptations to which he was subjected in anticipation of his assigned mission.
First, in a dream he had during the night of April 2-3, 1744, he wrote "I saw two persons enter a house which, although completely built, was as yet unfurnished. They inspected it thoroughly but were not favorably impressed. I felt considerable fear because one of them approached me and said they had decided to punish me severely unless I went elsewhere. However, I did not find an exit. He said he would direct me. Then I awoke. This signified to me that I had invited the All-Highest into a dirty and disorderly habitation, therefore meriting punishment. But the Lord nevertheless deigned to show me the way to escape his displeasure."
But one such experience was not enough to free Swedenborg from his self love and pride. Several days later, the night of April 8-9, he had another highly significant dream. He found himself seated with a black dog in his lap, and which, to his great astonishment, was able to talk. The dog asked him about his former owner (named Schwab), and licked his face. Swedenborg interpreted this as a hint that he was still susceptible to flattery and prone to strive for the high esteem of others. His understanding, tinctured with a certain smugness, risked misleading him, a possibility to which his attention was called several times by dreams of riding on a black charger; but his mount, somewhat mettlesome, left the good road and went astray into thickets from which he was forced to turn back. Hs felt he still had to learn to humble himself before the Lord and confess his profound ignorance. That is what other dreams tended to impress upon him. We refer to two of these. In the first (night of April 24-25), he found himself in the company of King Charles XII who addressed him in broken French. To his stupefaction Swedenborg could not understand him. "This means", he wrote, "That God speaks to me but that I only get the vaguest intimation of what He tells me because he speaks by representations (parables) regarding which know but little as yet."
Other dreams, in which he was attacked by savage dogs, winged dragons or hostile men, permit us better to understand the internal struggles he had to meet. He notes once during the night of April 23-24, when he was in Leyden, Holland, "I dreamed that I was pursued by a woman to the very shore of the sea, into which I waded. I was nevertheless able to grasp her by the head and strike her smartly with a piece of driftwood whereupon she gave up. This symbolizes the infestations and struggles with my thoughts which I finally succeeded in controlling. I then seemed to hear pronounced the words: interiorescit (he becomes internal) and intecratur (he becomes integral, his renewal is operating), which signifies that I was being internally cleansed by these infestations."
Several days previously he had spoken of this cleansing in these terms: "Night of April 14-15...
Finally, the following dream (October 25-27) is also an interesting one of its type, as showing the preponderant role of his daily occupations in his dreams. Ha saw himself in his work-room receiving a visit from a friend or relative. Wanting to give him the impression that he possessed handsomer and more spacious quarters than he really had he invited them to accompany him into neighboring rooms he had routed especially for the occasion. Together they crossed several rooms to reach the parlor. On opening the door of the latter they found themselves looking out into a large market square. Everything there was exhibited for sale, notably beautiful pottery resembling porcelain. This dream, he said, deals with a treatise he proposed to write (On the Worship and Love of God). His own little office represented the things properly belonging, to himself. The rented rooms and the objects displayed in the market place symbolized the concepts and theories of others which be should not include in his treatise. "May God lead no in the right way", he added.
This resistance to let himself be influenced by the writings of other thinkers in composing his theological works finds confirmation in the following fragment extracted from a letter which Swedenborg addressed to Dr. Beyer in February 1767, already mentioned above: "You enquire my opinion on the works of Boehme and aw. I have never read them. I was moreover forbidden to read dogmatic treatises and systematic theology before heaven was opened to me. The reason is that I could easily have been influenced by conjectures or erroneous opinions, from which I might subsequently have difficulty in freeing my mind."
X OTHER METHODS OF INSTRUCTION
With regard to the dreams referred to in the preceding chapter one can well conclude that, in a certain sense, they are exceptional experiences of an equally exceptional individual. Besides, they did not last long; those mentioned all being dated during the year 1744. But already before that time Swedenborg had experienced certain precursory indications of his supra-normal aptitudes and gifts as a seer. In his Spiritual
Diary (2951) noted in August 1748, we find his own comment on this: "Before my spirit was opened and it became possible for me to converse with spirits and thus become pursuaded by experience. I had such confirmations that it surprises me to reflect that I was not sooner convinced that the Lord governs all things through them. For not only did I have dreams dealing with the subjects under study but also certain changes of state occurred within me as I wrote. The things I wrote of seemed particularly luminous to me. In closing my eyes I had visions and a miraculous light was granted me. I was conscious of the influx of spirits, in a manner equally as manifest as sensorial perceptions. Strange things were perceived. I was tempted and felt myself surrounded by evil spirits. Then when I had written certain things antagonistic to what they thought I was obsessed to the point of succumbing in horror.
It would be highly interesting, should we want to prolong this essay, to dwell more at length on this topic and collate the numerous paragraphs of manuscript written during this period dealing with the manifold kinds of illustration to which Swedenborg alludes in this section of his Diary. While this would carry us beyond the limit set for our study we cannot resist the urge to call the reader's attention to the experience recorded by Swedenborg during which he saw "flames of fire" and which deals with the period when he was composing his work On the Worship and Love of God. Regarding this he noted in his Book of D, "I. have received new intimations regarding this treatise; it is a divine book." In Nos. 7011 and 7012 in part 3 of The Word Explained (Adversaria) in which he explains that the flames symbolise the confirmation that what he has written is true. He cites in support of this interpretation the foot that hardly a day passed while composing a certain treatise that he failed to see a luminous flame. For him these were signs from heaven approving what he wrote; and this before spirits had begun to converse with him or that he could bear their voices.
In this respect it is interesting to find here and there in his writings the following characteristic phrase: "This must be true because I saw the sign" (Haec vera sunt quia signum habeo).
XI SEER AND REVELATOR
Those dreams and changes of state as he wrote, visions with eyes closed, perceptions, at first vague, then becoming distinct, of the presence of spirits and their inflowing, infestations, and fiery flames, continued for but a few years, years during which the philosopher gradually turned into a theologian. This preparation, both internal and external drew to a close, He now sees, hears and converses distinctly. Then, conscious of the mission to which he felt summoned by the Lord as herald of the Second Coming, and overwhelmed by the grandeur of his task, he writes the king to request release from his functions as assessor to the College of Mines on June 2, 1747. From then until his death in 1772 Swedenborg dedicated himself exclusively to his mission as revelator and prophet. He labored with continually renewed ardor on the composition of his theological works and undertook numerous trips abroad to publish them. "The sole reason for my recent trip abroad," he wrote in 1769 to Dr. Hartley," has been the desire to be of service in publishing the bidden things which have been entrusted to me." It is not easy to form an adequate idea of the intense activity displayed by our author during this latter period of his life.