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of laughing. Whilst he is speaking, it is as though every person who hears him were charmed, and compelled to believe him. He is by no means reserved and recluse, but open-hearted and accessible to all.”
After the publication of the True Christian Religion at Amsterdam, Swedenborg again proceeded to London, and took lodgings in the house of Shearsmith, a peruke-maker, 26 Great Bath Street, Coldbath Fields. On Christmas Eve 1771, he was attacked with a stroke of apoplexy; and on the partial recovery of his speech and health Dr. Hartley and Dr. Messiter visited him, and a besought him to declare whether all that he had written was strictly true, or whether any part or parts were to be excepted.” “I have written,” he replied warmly, "nothing but the truth.” Two months afterwards, John Wesley, being then in company with a number of other ministers, had the following note put into his hand : “Sir, -I have been informed in the world of spirits that you have a strong desire to converse with me. I shall be happy to see you, if you will favour me with a visit. I am, &c. EMANUEL SWEDENBORG.” Wesley acknowledged to his companions, to whom he communicated the note, that he had entertained such a desire; and, indeed, it strikes us, though it does not seem to have occurred to Wesley or Dr. Wilkinson, that Swedenborg could scarcely have required a message from the spiritual world to inform him that such a wish was almost sure to have existed in the mind of a contemporary innovator in religious matters. Wesley wrote, in reply, that he was preparing for a six months' journey, but would visit him on his return to London. Swedenborg again wrote to say that it would be too late, as he should die on the 29th of the following month. As his death approached, he was asked by his friends if he wished to receive the sacrament. He replied that, as a member of the spiritual world, he did not need it; but would yet take it "in order to show the connection and union between the church in heaven and the church on earth.” The Swedish clergyman, the Rev. Arvid Ferelius, who officiated, asked whether he believed himself to be a sinner. “Certainly," he replied, “so long as I carry
” about with me this sinful body.” Ferelius furthermore suggested to him that," as many persons thought that he had endeavoured only to make himself a name by his new theological system, he would do well now to publish the truth to the world, and to recant either the whole or part of what he had advanced, since he had now nothing more to expect from the world, which he was so soon about to leave for ever.” Swedenborg rose up in bed, and said “with great zeal and emphasis," "As true as you see me before
you, so true is every thing that I have written. I could have said more, had I been permitted. When you come
into eternity, you will see all things as I have stated and described them.” On the 29th of March 1772 he died, as he had predicted to many witnesses.
Swedenborg was buried in the vault of the Swedish church, in Prince's Square, Ratcliffe Highway. In the October following, M. Sandel, Counsellor of the Board of Mines in Sweden, delivered an academical eulogium upon him in the hall of the House of Nobles. This eulogium was in the name of the Academy of Sciences, and it therefore enables us to determine the sort of esteem in which he was held by the best intellects of that time in his own country:
“If there are some countenances,” said Sandel, “ of which, as the painters assure us, it is extremely difficult to give an exact likeness, how difficult must it be to delineate that of a vast and sublime genius, who never knew either repose or fatigue ; who, occupied with sciences the most profound, was long engaged with researches into the secrets of nature, and who, in his later years, applied all his efforts to unveil the greatest mysteries ; . . . who, being endowed with a strength of faculty truly extraordinary in the decline of his age, boldly elevated his thoughts still further, and soared to the greatest heights to which the intellectual faculty can rise ; and who, finally, has given occasion for the formation respecting him of a multitude of opinions, differing as much from each other as do the minds of the different men by whom they are formed !"
To this “multitude of opinions” we shall abstain from adding a new one. To have read much of the writings of Swedenborg, and not to have acquired a profound respect for the grandeur and simplicity of his intellect, is to have read without in any way appreciating them. This we trust that we have not done; and the sense which we entertain of what is due to his powers makes us willingly decline any discussion of what, at first sight, assuredly bears the semblance of a sad mental defect. With this
a exception, cvery thing in Swedenborg had an air of the superhuman. His prodigious knowledge, which forced his modern opponent, the vicar of Froome-Selwood, to admit that he was “a man more eminent, perhaps, than any other in the acquirements of human learning and philosophy;" his no less prodigious labour in the dissemination of his views; his wonderful health of body and unalterable serenity of mind up to the last hours of an age rarely attained by man; his spirit, which knew no old age, but which enabled him, when past his eightieth year, to pen the finest work ever written upon conjugal love; his quite unparalleled faculty of retaining, throughout a life full of worldly business, a more than childlike simplicity and integrity of intellect and of conduct; but, more than all, his capacity of observing and describing the subtlest facts and phenomena of the human
spirit,--a capacity which seemed to differ not only in degree but in kind from that of any other man ;-all these qualities, taken together and estimated with the greatest drawbacks consistent with the existence of those qualities, make up an image which renders it at least comprehensible that one of the highest intellects, if not the highest intellect of recent times, should have designated him the man of ten centuries.”
“ The testimonies of personal friends,—who were not, however, “Swedenborgians,"--concerning such a man cannot but be interesting to those of our readers who have accompanied us thus far. Sandel says: “He never allowed himself to have recourse to dissimulation. A sincere friend of mankind, in his examination of the character of others he was particularly desirous to discover in them this virtue, which he regarded as an infallible proof of the presence of many more. He was cheerful and agreeable in society. He knew how to check opportunely, and with great address, that species of wit which would indulge itself at the expense of serious things. As a public functionary, he was upright and just; he discharged his duties with great exactness, and neglected nothing but his own advancement. He lived under the reigns of many of our sovereigns, and enjoyed the particular favour and kindness of all.” The prime minister, Count Höpken, who knew Swedenborg intimately for two-and-forty years, says: “I do not recollect to have known any man of more uniformly virtuous character. ... He possessed a sound judgment upon all occasions, saw clearly, and expressed himself well on every subject. . . . He was certainly a pattern of sincerity, virtue, and piety; and at the same time, in my opinion, the most learned man in this kingdom.” “He affects no honour," says Hartley, “but declines it; and is so far from the ambition of heading a sect, that wherever he resides on his travels he is a mere solitary. ... He was a man of uncommon humility. He was of a catholic spirit, and loved all good men of every church."
” Ferelius testifies that “he never mentioned his own writings or doctrines but when he was asked some question about them, when he always spoke as freely as he had written.” The people at whose houses he had lodged all spoke of him like Mr. Shearsmith, who said that “he always conducted himself in the most rational, prudent, pious, and christian-like manner.” Shearsmith's maid-servant declared that "he was a good-natured man, a blessing to the house; and while he stayed there, they had harmony and good business.” Mrs. Hart, the wife of his printer, records that “he was of such a nature that he could impose on no one; that he always spoke the truth on every little matter, and would not have made an evasion though his life had been at stake."
It is proper to testify that Dr. Wilkinson's biography of Swedenborg, from which we have mainly drawn our facts, is abundant in writing which deserves praise on its own account. Notwithstanding here and there a piece of, to us, quite incomprehensible weakness of thought and bombast in language, Dr. Wilkinson is capable of producing, apparently with facility, passages remarkable for beauty, wit, and eloquence. The following paragraph, in explanation of the little general interest which Swedenborg has created, will give our readers a good idea of Dr. Wilkinson's average manner of thought and expression :
“Nothing is more evident to-day than that the men of facts are afraid of a large number of important facts. All the spiritual facts, of which there are plenty in every age, are denounced as superstition. The best-attested spirit stories are not well received by that scientific courtesy which takes off its grave hat to a new beetle, or a fresh vegetable alkaloid. Large-wigged science behaves worse to our ancestors than to our vermin. Evidence on spiritual subjects is regarded as an impertinence by the learned ; so timorous are they, and so morbidly fearful of ghosts. If they were not afraid, they would investigate; but nature is to them a churchyard, in which they must whistle their dry tunes to keep up their courage. They should come to Swedenborg, who has made ghosts themselves into a science. As the matter stands, we are bold to say, that there is no class so little follows its own rules of uncaring experiment and induction, or has so little respect for facts, as the hard-headed scientific men. They are attentive enough to a class of facts that nobody values,—to beetles, spiders, and fossils,but as to those dear facts that common men and women, in all time and place, have found full of interest, wonder, or importance, they show them a deaf ear and a callous heart. Science in this neglects its mission, which is, to give us in knowledge a transcript of the world, and primarily of that in the world which is nearest and dearest to the soul.”
We do not propose in this article to give any account of Swedenborg's theological system. We will state, however, that it does not, in important points of doctrine, differ more from other Christian sects than these differ among themselves. The salient peculiarities of his writings consist chiefly in thorough developments of the doctrines that men are ultimately judged by their works, and that they continue after death to exist with the bodily form and functions. His views of the nature of punishment and rewards, as being necessarily involved in wrong and right action, are in accordance with the views of the profoundest theologians of all times; and no one, we imagine, could read the Heaven and Hell without being impressed with the height and vigour of the imagination which follows out that doctrine into consequences which, to say the least of them, have, like the representations of Dante, the strongest poetic verisimilitude. It
is in these views of a future life that Swedenborg shows his highest and most peculiar power; and, since it is possible to illustrate these without trespassing upon ground which in the commencement of this article we resolved to avoid, we proceed to string together a few passages which may suffice to give our readers a taste of the quality of our author.
The following passage is one of a thousand in which Swedenborg illustrates by “things heard and seen” his doctrine, that in the next life every one obtains exactly the position and kind of delight of which, by his habits in this life, he has rendered himself capable :
“ Whoever ascends from an inferior to a superior heaven is seized with painful anxiety, nor can he see those who dwell there, and still less can he converse with them ; while he who descends from a superior to an inferior heaven is deprived of his wisdom, stammers in his speech, and is filled with despair. Some angels of the lowest heaven,
. who were not as yet instructed that heaven consists in the interiors of the angels, believed that they should come into superior heavenly happiness if they were introduced into a heaven of superior angels, and therefore they were permitted to enter : but when they were there they saw no one, notwithstanding their searching about, and although a great multitude was present ; for the interiors of the strangers were not opened in the same degree as the interiors of the angels who inhabited that heaven, and consequently neither was their sight. In a short time after their entrance they were seized with anguish of heart so intense, that they scarcely knew whether they were alive or not; and therefore they speedily returned to the heaven from which they came, rejoicing that they were returned again to their own associates, and promising that they would no longer desire higher things than were in agreement with their life.”
In the heaven of Swedenborg there are "many mansions,” differing as much in the quality as in the degree of their happi
“All who have acquired intelligence and wisdom in the world, are accepted in heaven and become angels, every one according to the quality and quantity of his intelligence and wisdom ; for whatever a man acquires in the world, remains and is carried with him after death, when also it is increased and becomes full : but this increase and fullness does not exceed the degree of bis affection and desire of truth and its good. They who have had little of the affection and desire of trutlı and its good, receive little increase and fullness, but still they receive as much as they are able to receive within the degree of their affection and desire; and they who bave had much of that affection and desire receive much."
And so it is with hell. There is something unspeakably more terrible in Swedenborg's view of the infernal state, as being