Page images
PDF
EPUB

then all this is “ a land of darkness, and of the shadow of death, without any order, and where the light is as darkness." Job, x. 22.

His observations on heaven, hell, and the spirit-world, of their forms and space, of the spirits, of angels and devils, with whom he often conversed of hidden things, which endeavouring to express figuratively and intelligibly to our senses he described as bodily, material, and wholly contrary to the current opinions, without once remembering (in order to prevent misconception) to remind the reader that these must be spiritually understood. These observations have drawn upon him the great majority of his opponents and mortal enemies. It is not my concern to treat these observations either as dreams or pictures of the imagination, or as deep visions, and at the same time there is a probability or truth in them, a matured philosophy and true magic, which I feel bound to bring forward, in order thence to extract knowledge for us the living, and to award to the dead the honour to which he is justly entitled.

But as I cannot go very far into these matters, I will extract some passages from the book before mentioned, and from its chapters on God, on Creation, on Man and his life on the earth; and the rest of Swedenborg's works which may be studied with advantage, are the following :-1st. Dædalus Hyperboreus, or inquiries and observations on mathematical and physical subjects. 2nd. Prodromus principiorum rerum naturalium, etc., 1721. 3rd. Opera philosoph. et mineralia, 3 tom. in-folio, 1734. 4th. Prodromus philos. ratiocinantes, de infinito, de causa creationis, et de mechanicismo operationis animæ et corporis, 1733. 5th. Regnum animale, 1745. 6th. Arcana cælestia, 8 tom. 7th. De telluribus in mundo solari, London, 1758. 8th. De commercio animæ et corporis, 1769. 9th. De miraculis divinis et magicis, etc. 10th. Then his many works on the spiritual world, de cultu et amore Dei, de cælo et inferno, de nova Hierosolyma, deliciæ sapientiæ, etc., nearly all of which were published in London. The more modern works on Swedenborg's writings which may be recommended are principally, The Spirit of Emanuel Swedenborg's Philosophy, with a catechetical review, and a complete register of contents, published by Dr. Vorherr. Munich, 1832.

Ludwig Hofacker has already published various excellent translations of Swedenborg's writings, as, 1st. Heaven and its wonderful phenomena, and Hell, as seen and heard. Tübingen, 1830. 2nd. The Intercourse between the Soul and the Body. 3rd. The New Church of the Lord, according to intelligence out of Heaven. Both of the same year. And Swedenborg's Divine Revelations, by Dr. F. Imman. Tafel of Tübingen; already since 1823 seven volumes.

FROM THE CHAPTER ON GOD AND THE

CREATION.

a

“There is only one God, who, as uncreated and infinite, can alone say of himself— I am he who is.' God is man. To the angels he appears only in human form; and men on earth bear his image; therefore he said-'Let us make man in our own image.' Properly, the Lord only is man; and amongst all those that he has created those are especially men who retain his divine influence. God is wisdom and love. In heaven the divine love and wisdom reveal themselves in the form of a spiritual sun, which is not God, but an emanation of the godhead. The warmth of this sun is love, and its light is wisdom. Wisdom is the breath of the divine power, and a ray of the glory of the Almighty.

“God, as Love, does not stand alone, because love does not embrace itself, but others ; therefore he made creatures. From love he created the world by his wisdom ; immediately through the spiritual sun, and mediately through the natural sun, which is the instrument of the first.

“The spiritual alone is the living; the natural is dead; consequently the one must be created, the other uncreated. The spiritual sun has its spiritual atmosphere, which is the receptacle of the divine light. Through the medium of this atmosphere the spiritual sun produces spiritual circumstances. The outward circles of this atmosphere produced our natural sun, which in like manner has its atmosphere. These atmospheres, or active natures, decrease by degrees in activity and power of conception, and at last constitute masses, the parts of which are held together by pressure. This, then, is that which on earth we call inatter.

“ All substances bear the impress of the infinite. Matter has, though it comes from God, nothing divine, but it probably has from the spirit-sun, that which in it is divine, and has retained it in the transference, namely, life, or a striving after reproduction. It strives towards this good -it strives from habit; and the habit passes once into form through a continuous series of operations. The habit of creation or of the created consists also in forms; and these represent an image of divine creation. Of these forms there are three kinds—minerals, plants, and animals.

“ In these forms three steps are observable, which represent creations; for the sun mediately, through warmth and light, produces masses known under the name of minerals, and gives to each its distinguishing form. This progression is observed in plants, as the seed by development produces a stalk, which bears fruit.

“ The forms of the animal world are produced in the same manner. The seed is the cause in the mother, or the egg, which here supplies the place of the earth. The seed in the case of the fætus is the root, and the animal produced from the egg is, at the time of its capability of reproducing, comparable to the growth of the plant at the period when it begins to bear fruit.

“This progression is observable also in the organic form of man. These living and producing actions of the three kingdoms do not proceed from natural warmth, the natural light and atmosphere, for these are dead, but from those of the spiritual world. But from these actions we recognise the unity and similarity of the laws of all being. This natural creation is a mere correspondence, a copy, a symbol of the spiritual creation, as the only true one. The first is only present to remind us of the second.

" All these are intended to place before us the infinite wisdom and love of God; they are meant to show us that the objects he has created are the immeasurable incalculable forms of his thoughts and representations.

“God knows no succession of time. His power, his works, all that is and can be, according to the divine order

ing, is constantly present to him; and we can form no idea

; of the creation of the world till we withdraw ourselves from the ideas of time and space. If we do this, then we comprehend that the greatest and smallest part of space are by no means different to each other, and the representation of the creation of the world will be like that which we have of the creation of each individual creature.

“ The unconfined, the infinite, has its seat in the spiritual sun, as in its first emanation; so that these things exist in unlimited number in the created world. And it thence comes that in the world we scarcely find two creatures

for God is infinite, and contains an infinite number of things in himself. From this proceeds the natural sun, the fire-sea, which has the spiritual sun for its prototype; and, still more, the vast variety of material existences in this world, and of spiritual beings in the spiritual world.

alike;

FROM THE CHAPTER ON MAN.

“ As the being of God consists of love, it follows that love is the life of men, and wisdom the nature or the existence of this love. Love is the soul, life is the spirit, or the inner man, who consists of two powers—understanding and will. The life of man consists in his love; and as his love is constituted so is his life.

“ The body is a provided covering; for the spiritual strives to clothe itself with the natural as with a garb. The body, which is merely the obeying portion, constitutes the outward, natural or physical man. The bodily life of man consists in the agreement of the will with the heart, and of the understanding with the lungs; in fact, thought, as the action of the understanding, puts in motion the organs of speech. The outer man, or the body, is the instrument or means by which the soul in this world feels in a physical

There are consequently two men-a spiritual and à natural or an inward and outward ; but both are united by mutual agreement. Man was so made that he

to can by means of his inward being be in the spirit-world, and by means of his outward being in the natural world.

manner.

“Spiritual light and spiritual warmth proceed from God into the soul of man, and thence into the bodily senses, into word and deed. The susceptibility to this influence is always in proportion to the amount of love and wisdom in man, and proceeds by degrees or gradations.

“ In the spirit of man there are three gradations—the heavenly, the spiritual, and the natural ; love, wisdom, and the application of the same; will, understanding, and action. The three grades of the human spirit harmonize with each other through agreement, and open themselves through the influence of heaven from the first to the last; that is, as soon as a man begins to do good, he opeus to it the body, the next step opens the second, and the third which receives the influence of the Lord.

“Man steps by his birth into the natural grade, which he runs through. The first grade does not, indeed, open to him the second, but it prepares him for it through the acquisition of knowledge, with which the love of applying it germinates; that is, the love of your neighbour, the knowledge of our mutual necessities, etc. This spiritual grade increases by the knowledge of the true and good, conducts to the heavenly love of application, to a practical love of God, which opens the third grade.

“The natural spirit embraces and contains the two higher grades of the human soul, and reacts upon them when these grades are not opened. The outer man resists the inner; the flesh, says Paul, strives against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh. By means of the natural grade the natural man can lift up the power of his understanding to the heavenly light, and recognise perfectly spiritual things. But he can only so far lift up his will or his love to God, as he uses that which reason prescribes to him, because the two higher grades are contained in the application.

“ Man is not man on account of his body and his countenance, but because he has will and reason, and through them the power of intercourse with God. The perfect man is spiritual; for him, body, sense, and the world, are but guide-posts, which direct him back to the originator. His action consists in the active love which a man exercises ;

for he does what he loves; his speech is the expression of his wisdom, the children and forms of love. His work is the

« PreviousContinue »