Swedenborg, Emanuel

, a Swedish enthusiast, and the founder of a well-known, although, we trust, declining sect, was born at Stockholm J.n. 29, 1689. His father was bishop of West Gothia, and it may be supposed that his education was good, since he published a volume of Latin poetry when he was only twenty years old. The title was, “Ludus Heliconius, sive Carmina Miscellanea, quie variis in locis cecinit.” The same year he began his travels; and having visited England, Holland, France, and Germany, returned in 1714 to Stockholm, where two years after, he was appointed by Charles XII. assessor of the metallic college. His studies during this part of his life, were chiefly devoted to mathematics and natural philosophy; and he was essentially useful to his king by enabling him to convey his heavy artillery by water, where they could not go by land. He published about this period, many scientih’cal and philosophical works; and succeeding to the favour of queen Ulrica Kleanora, after the death of Charles XI I. was by her ennobled in 171I>. In pursuance of his duty, as belonging to the metallic college, he travelled to view the mines, and then inspected aiso the manufactures of his country. In consequence of this, he published several tracts on subjects relating to the philosophy of the arts. He returned to Stockholm in 1722,;.nd divided his time between the duties of his ofiice and his | private studies. In 1733, he had completed his great work, entitled “Opera Philosophica et Mineralia,” which was printed under his direction in 1734, partly at Dresden, and partly at Leipsic. It forms 3 vols. folio, is illustrated hy plates, and is written with great strength of judgment. In 1720, he had been admitted into the society of sciences at Upsal; and between that and 1724, had received a similar honour from the royal academy at Stockholm, and that of Petersburgh. He corresponded also with many learned foreigners. But the time was now approaching when all the desire of baron Swedenborg, for literary or other worldly distinction, was to be absorbed in feelings of a sublimer nature. Whether too intense an application to study had disordered, or a natural tendency to enthusiasm had inflamed his mind, he conceived himself miraculously called to the office of revealing the most hidden arcana. “In the year 1743,” he says, in one of his works, “the Lord was graciously pleased to manifest himself to me, in a personal appearance; to open in me a sight of the spiritual world, and to enable me to converse with spirits and angels; and this privilege has continued with me to this day.” From this time, he devoted his very able pen to such subjects as this most extraordinary state of mind suggested. He published, “De cultu et Amore Dei,” Lond. 1745, 4to; “De telluribus in mundo nostro solari,1758De Equo albo in Apocalypsi,1758De nova Hierosolyma” “De Ccelo et Inferno” “Sapientia angelica de Divina Providentia,Amsterdam, 1764Vera Christiana religio,” Amst. 1771 and many other books. He particularly visited Amsterdam and London, where these extravagant works were published, and where they have since been translated by his admirers. One of his fancies about the spiritual world is, that it admits not of space: yet he tells us, that a man is so little changed after death, that he does not even know that he is not living in the present world; that he eats and drinks, and even enjoys conjugal delights, as in the present world; that the resemblance between the two worlds is so great, that in the spiritual there are cities, palaces, houses, books, merchandise, &c. &c. Universal Theology, vol. J. p. 734. This extraordinary man died in London, March 29, 1772; his remains lay in state, and were afterwards deposited in a vault in the Swedish church near Radcliff-highway.

Swedenborg was, in himself, a harmless, though a very | extravagant enthusiast. His sect does not appear to have made much progress during his life, but is now established in England, under the title of The New Jerusalem Church. It is a kind of Christianity, modified according to the whims of the author; acknowledging a Trinity, but not exactly in the sense of any other church, and an unity in a peculiar sense also; pretending that the spiritual sense of the Scriptures was never known till it was revealed to Swedenborg. The continued intercourse of spirits with men is one part of his doctrine; with many other reveries, which would hardly appear to deserve notice, were they not still considered by many as the result of inspiration. That these strange delusions should subsist in a time when true faith has wavered without reason, is extraordinary. To a reasonable person, the inspection of any one of his mystical books seems a sufficient preservative from the infection. Some of his followers have been bold enough to represent him as a man without enthusiasm. 1


His works paisim.—Encycl. Britan &.c. &c.