Swedenborg, Emmanuel (16881772)

Swedenborg, Emmanuel, a mystic of the mystics, founder of the “New Church,” born at Stockholm, son of a bishop, a boy of extraordinary gifts and natural seriousness of mind; carefully educated under his father, attended the university of Upsala and took his degree in philosophy in 1709; in eager quest of knowledge visited England, Holland, France, and Germany; on his return, after four years, was at 28 appointed by Charles XII. assessor of the Royal College of Mines; in 1721 went to examine the mines and smelting-works of Europe; from 1716 spent 30 years in the composition and publication of scientific works, when of a sudden he threw himself into theology; in 1743 his period of illumination began, and the publication of voluminous theological treatises; the Swedish clergy interfered a little with the publication of his works, but he kept the friendship of people in power. He was never married, his habits were simple, lived on bread, milk, and vegetables, occupied a house situated in a large garden; visited England several times, but attracted no special attention; died in London of apoplexy in his eighty-fifth year. “He is described, in London, as a man of quiet, clerical habit, not averse to tea and coffee, and kind to children. He wore a sword when in full velvet dress, and whenever he walked out carried a gold-headed cane.” This is Emerson's account in brief of his outer man, but for a glimpse or two of his ways of thinking and his views the reader is referred to Emerson's “Representative Men.” The man was a seer; what he saw only himself could tell, and only those could see, he would say, who had the power of transporting themselves into the same spiritual centre; to him the only real world was the spirit-world and the world of sense only in so far as it reflected to the soul the great invisible (16881772).

Definition taken from The Nuttall Encyclopædia, edited by the Reverend James Wood (1907)

Sweden * Swedenborgians
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