Emanuel Swedenborg 1688 – 1772 was a Swedish scientist, philosopher, mystic, and theologian.
James John Garth Wilkinson 1812 – 1899 was one of the first translators of Emanuel Swedenborg’s writings (from Latin to English), and it is due to his extensive work on this subject that Emanuel Swedenborg’s ideas took root in America. James John Garth Wilkinson 1812 – 1899 was a British orthodox doctor who converted to homeopathy on the advice of his friend Henry James Senior, and the insistence of his beloved wife Emma Anne Marsh Wilkinson.
James John Garth Wilkinson dedicated this book to Per Eik Svedbom 1811 – 1857, Librarian to the Royal Academy of Sciences Sweden at the University of Upsal, and Head Master of The New School in Stockholm.
Emanuel Swedenborg wrote his tracts from 1721 to 1772 to the detriment of his good reputation as a practical scientist, as his mind unfolded into that of a visionary. As a result, he became a ghost and was forgotten in his day and to history for nearly a century.
In the early 19th Century, his name was again whispered as the Herald of a New Church, though he remained unknown to most people. A few admirers kept referring to his works, and in this new age of liberty of thought, this proved to be an ‘organic course of events’.
Emanuel Swedbord was born, nurtured and educated at the University of Upsal, where he graduated as a Doctor of Philosophy. After his degree, he travelled to London in 1710 and spent a year in in London and Oxford, and then three years travelling in Europe, where he wrote Camena Borea: cum heroum et heroidum factis ludens (demonstrating a full knowledge of mythology), and a book of poetry, Ludus Heliconius: sive carmina miscellanea.
Back in Sweden by 1715, Swedenborg enjoyed Court patronage due to his well connected family, and he began work in mining, smelting and mechanical engineering (he was brought up on Sweden’s ‘Copper Mountain’, with connections to the University of Upsal.
He edited Daedealus Hyperboreus (a journal 0f mathematics and mechanics) between 1716 – 1718, and through his friend Christopher Polheim 1661 – 1751, he met Charles XII and obtained Royal patronage, and was appointed Assessor of the Board of Mines where he worked on environmental and military projects.
Swedenborg also became a close friend of Erik Benzelius 1675 – 1743 at this time.
Swedenborg fell in love with Emerentia Polheim, the daughter of Christopher Polheim, but she rejected him, and he remained a bachelor for the rest of his life.
In 1718, Swedenborg published Regel-Konsten. Författad i tijo böcker (The Art of the Rules) (on algebra) and Attempts to find the Longitude of Places by Lunar Observations, and his family was enobled by Ulrica Eleanora, and entitled to use the name Swedenborg.
In 1719, Swedenborg wrote Förslag til wårt mynts och måls indelning, så at rekningen kan lettas och alt bråk afskaffas (A Proposal for the Decimal System of Money and Measures – reprinted 1795), A Treatise on the Motion and Position of the Earth and the Planets, Om Wattnens Hoegd, och foerra Werldens starka Ebb och Flod; Bewis utur Swerige (Proofs Derived from appearances in Sweden, of the depths of the sea, and the greater force of the tides, in the ancient world), On Docks, Sluices and Salt Works,
In 1720, his mother died.
In 1721, he was contributing articles to The Literary Transactions of Sweden, and in the same year, he travelled to Holland and Leipsig (travelling with John Hessel), where he published Some Specimens of a Work on the Principles of Natural Philosophy, comprising New Attempts to explain the Phenomena of Chemistry and Physics by Geometry, New Observations and Discoveries respecting iron and fire, and particularly respecting the Elemental Nature of Fire; together with a new construction of stoves, A New Method of finding the Longitude of Places, on land or at Sea, by Lunar Observations, A New Mechanical Plan of Constructing Docks and Dykes, A Mode of Discovering the Powers of Vessels by the Application of Mechanical Principles.
In 1722, he published Miscellaneous Observations connected with the Physical Sciences, in Leipsig, and dedicated to Louise Rudolph Duke of Brunswick 1671 – 1735, who financed this trip abroad. At this time, Swedenborg was studying geology, mathematics, geometry and chemistry, researching the antiquity of the Earth in the search for ‘subtle matter‘ or the ‘latent dynamic principle‘.
James John Garth Wilkinson postulated that Swedenborg was researching the mechanical basis of nature, suspecting already that truth had a mechanical base, all led by mind, belief and faith. James John Garth Wilkinson writes that Jean Baptiste Andre Dumas 1800 – 1884 believes Swedenborg to the the origin of crystallography, a view repeated by William Hyde Wollaston 1766 – 1828.
In 1722, Swedenborg was back in Sweden, where he published On the Depreciation and Rise of Swedish Currency (reprinted 1771), and he then settled down to eleven years of industry for the Royal Board of Mines. In 1724, he was offered the Professorship of Pure Mathematics at the University of Upsal, but he declined this. In 1729, he became a Member of the Academy of Sciences in Stockholm, and in 1729, his publications were reviewed in The Transactions of the Learned in Liepsig.
In 1733, he travelled abroad with Count Carl Gyllenborg 1679 – 1746, Chancellor of the University of Upsal, where he published Principia: or, The first principles of natural things, being new attempts towards a philosophical explanation of the elementary world, in 3 volumes (Volume 1 on mining, volume 2 on iron, volume 3 on copper and brass) in Liepsig (republiished in Europe in 1739 and 1762), and funded by Louise Rudolph Duke of Brunswick and dedicated to him.
James John Garth Wilkinson explains that this work contains the metallurgical links to chemistry, and via Swedenborg’s ‘Practical Man’, links are also made to antiquity and to the deluge.
Principia: or, The first principles of natural things, being new attempts towards a philosophical explanation of the elementary world – volume 1 describes a ‘System of the World’ and describes how motion tends to ‘ a spiral figure’ which is ‘vortical’ (quoted by James John Garth Wilkinson from the preface by Augustus Clissold 1797 – 1882).
Principia: or, The first principles of natural things, being new attempts towards a philosophical explanation of the elementary world – volume 2 describes how ‘vortical motion’ creates magnetism.
Principia: or, The first principles of natural things, being new attempts towards a philosophical explanation of the elementary world – volume 3 describes how this affects cosmology via geometry.
Taken as a whole, James John Garth Wilkinson calls this work a ‘Theory of Vortices‘.
In 1734, Swedenborg published Outlines of Philosophical Argument on the Infinite and the final cause of creation and on the intercourse between the soul and the body in Leipsig, dedicated to his brother in law Erik Benzelius 1675 – 1743 Archbishop of Uppsala (who directed his attention to this topic), as a supplement to the Principia: or, The first principles of natural things, being new attempts towards a philosophical explanation of the elementary world. Principia: or, The first principles of natural things, being new attempts towards a philosophical explanation of the elementary world.
In 1739, the Vatican prohibited the Principia: or, The first principles of natural things, being new attempts towards a philosophical explanation of the elementary world.
In 1734, Swedenborg travelled across Europe visiting mines. James John Garth Wilkinson mentions that there is some speculation that he visited Austria and Hungary, though Swedenborg never mentions this, saying that he went to Cassel, Gotha, Brunswick, Hamburg and James John Garth Wilkinson says he was in Prague. In this same year, he was awarded membership of the Imperial Academy of Sciences in St. Petersberg.
He was a friend of Christian Wolff 1679 – 1754 at this time.
Between 1734 and 1736, Swedenborg was back in Sweden, and in 1735, his father died, and Swedenborg inherited some wealth.
In 1736, he travelled abroad for 3-4 years, visiting Denmark, Germany and Holland (where he remarks how free the Dutch were), Paris and Italy.
James John Garth Wilkinson explains that Swedenborg has now switched his studies to politics and the organisation of States and Natons, and he studies the Roman Catholic Church and notices their ‘fat priests’. He published The Economy of the Animal Kingdom in Amsterdam in 1740 or 1741.
James John Garth Wilkinson explains that this work regards the links between chemistry, astronomy and man. In Miscellaneous Observations connected with the Physical Sciences (1722), Swedenborg had made observations of the circulation of the blood, and in The Economy of the Animal Kingdom, James John Garth Wilkinson explains that he now developed the Law of Membranes and Fluid, which ‘beats in time with the Universe‘, and the idea that man is a ‘machine harmonised with God’.
In 1740 to 1744, he was back in Sweden where he became a Member of the Royal Academy of Science in Stockholm, and wrote On Inlaid Work in marbles for tables and for ornamental purposes generally (published in 1763).
In 1744, Swedenborg travelled to Holland and he was in England in 1745. Between 1741 and 1744, he made extensive studies of human anatomy, reading the works of famous anatomists, attending the lectures of Herman Boerhaave 1668 – 1738 and Alexander Monro (Primus) 1697 – 1767, and using dissecting rooms for his own studies.
In 1744-5, he published The Animal Kingdom Considered Anatomically, Physically and Philosophically in the Hague, and for the third time in his biography, James John Garth Wilkinson admits that Swedenborg’s whereabouts are unknown in detail (James John Garth Wilkinson notes that in 1734 there were rumours he was in Austria and Hungary on page 34, and on page 39, he queries whether Swedenborg was in Rome in 1740 as his journal terminates abruptly in Genoa on 17.3.1739).
James John Garth Wilkinson explains that The Economy of the Animal Kingdom deals with the blood and the organs, and that The Animal Kingdom Considered Anatomically, Physically and Philosophically deals with specific organs – in the abdomen, chest and the skin). Swedenborg’s aim was to lead sceptics to God via the study of nature.
James John Garth Wilkinson explains that Swedenborg expounds the Law of Nature:
- nature moves in rows (regiments)
- nature moves in ranks (degrees)
- nature moves in association (friends)
- nature moves in forms (spiral vortices)
- nature moves in influence (power)
- nature moves in correspondences (fitness, unity, truth)
- nature moves in modification (vibrations ‘air’)
The Law of Nature tends to the interests of the whole.
James John Garth Wilkinson comments on Swedenborg’s ‘measured tread’ in his studies, and notes his ‘formal music’ and his ‘absence of passion’.
James John Garth Wilkinson explains that Swedenborg is searching for knowledge of the soul in the mind, using an analytical method, and through ‘affectations’ of the Rational Mind, where he concludes that body linked to soul equals the Concordance of Systems. He intended to ‘… traverse the universal animal kingdom to the soul… I shall open all the doors that lead to her, and at length contemplate the soul herself…’
In The Economy of the Animal Kingdom deals with the blood and the organs, and that The Animal Kingdom Considered Anatomically, Physically and Philosophically, Swedenborg analyses his ‘Rational Psychology’ and describes:
- The Doctrine of Forms
- The Doctrine of Order and Degrees
- The Doctrine of Series and Society
- The Doctrine of Influx
- The Doctrine of Correspondence and Representation
- The Doctrine of Modification
James John Garth Wilkinson points of that Swedenborg is ‘dissecting a live body’ without vivisection or dissection, and that Swedenborg sees all parts of the body as ‘Partial men’.
James John Garth Wilkinson points out that Swedenborg accepted that this technique did not reveal the soul. James John Garth Wilkinson comments that this is ‘an impossible quest’, and explains that Swedenborg did not have a ‘Doctrine of Life’ at this stage, though he does found a ‘Living Anatomy’, embedded in Society, Spirituality, in the World, from the highest to the lowest.
James John Garth Wilkinson directs us to observe that Swedenborg’s Doctrine of Respiration illustrates that the ‘Whole Man’ breathes (heaves) with the Universe, and to note how thoughts beat (heave) with the body mass and directly corresponds to respiration. James John Garth Wilkinson asks us to try thinking in long stretches whilst breathing in fits and to observe how the ‘chopping of the lungs minces your thoughts’. James John Garth Wilkinson continues that Swedenborg explains that thoughts and emotions correspond exactly, they are united, and they are the tie between the body and the soul.
James John Garth Wilkinson calls Swedenborg a ‘Philosophical Anatomist’, and that his Law of Series has recently been expanded by Francois Marie Charles Fourier 1772 – 1837 and by Lorenz Oken 1779 – 1851.
James John Garth Wilkinson also reviews how Swedenborg’s works had been received by The Transactions of the Learned in Leipsig, his Chemical Specimens was well reviewed in 1722, his Outlines of Philosophical Argument on the Infinite and the final cause of creation and on the intercourse between the soul and the body was criticised for being ‘materialist’ in 1734, and his The Animal Kingdom Considered Anatomically, Physically and Philosophically received a derisive review in 1747.
In 1745, Swedenborg published The Worship and Love of God in London, where he was living at this time. James John Garth Wilkinson again points out that he cannot identify Swedenborg’s whereabouts, having to rely instead on his publication places and dates for this information.
James John Garth Wilkinson explains that this book describes Swedenborg’s ‘scientific narrative of the Creation of the Solar System’, and launches his Theory of Spontaneous Generation. James John Garth Wilkinson comments that the first part of this book is a ‘bold genesis on a logical pavement’, but that the second part of the book is ‘inferior’, ‘didactic’ and ‘occasionally dubious’, but with surprising philosophical narrative – in short ‘great literature’ describing an ‘unripe theology’ but ‘crowded with significance’.
James John Garth Wilkinson compares the The Worship and Love of God with the ‘formal eloquence’ of the Principia: or, The first principles of natural things, being new attempts towards a philosophical explanation of the elementary world, and explains Swedenborg is exposing ancient mythology to a scientific process, revealing how the generations of the gods are embedded with hints about the origin of the World.
James John Garth Wilkinson explains that the Outlines of Philosophical Argument on the Infinite and the final cause of creation and on the intercourse between the soul and the body is similar to the Principia: or, The first principles of natural things, being new attempts towards a philosophical explanation of the elementary world, but less elaborate, being more ’round and liberal’.
James John Garth Wilkinson explains that The Economy of the Animal Kingdom is masterful and occupies a new ground of excellence, and that it contradicts predecessors ‘point blank’. On the Human Soul brought praise from Samuel Taylor Coleridge 1772 – 1834.
James John Garth Wilkinson explains that The Animal Kingdom Considered Anatomically, Physically and Philosophically is riper and rounder and more free, more intimately methodical and better constructed. The Treatises on the Organs are ‘like stately songs of science dying into poetry’.
James John Garth Wilkinson explains that Swedenborg’s works ‘become more intense and ornamental’, a ‘rare phenomenon in literature’ as if his ‘imagination was kindled at the torch of his reason’ and ‘never flamed forth freely until the soberness of his maturity had set it on fire’.
James John Garth Wilkinson explains that Swedenborg began in a religious childhood and carried science beyond the limits, ‘a philosophic miner brought forth the human frame from the Colleges of Medicine, and conferred the right to know it upon all who study Universal Knowledge’.
This ‘marriage of scholasticism and common sense, with the sciences of his age’ ‘incorporates the formulas of the Old Philosophy, making them no longer abstractions, but the life and order of these sciences’. Swedenborg has linked the ancient with today, ‘breathing for us amongst the lost truths of the past, and perpetuating them in unnoticed forms along the stream of the future’.
James John Garth Wilkinson explains that the 19th Century is ‘the era of the Public Mind and the Public Sciences’, and that the ‘unity of the World is beginning to be recognised as the basis of teaching’ a ‘universality of phenomena’.
James John Garth Wilkinson asks how Swedenborg would have handled the 19th Century? He describes Swedenborg as ‘the schoolmaster of the Nations’, spreading ‘Universal Education’ as a ‘new kind of intelligence’, which is ‘not just class sciences’ but ‘Truths like dawn and sunset’, in essence a ‘scientific theory of the soul’.
In 1769, Swedenborg wrote that in 1743 he had ‘been called to a Holy Office by the Lord Himself, who most graciously manifested himself in person to me… when he opened my sight to the view of the spirit world, and granted me the privilege of conversing with spirits and angels, which I enjoy to this day…’
James John Garth Wilkinson explains that Swedenborg’s Revelations began in London in 1743, and that from that date Swedenborg gave up all worldly learning. James John Garth Wilkinson explains that although Swedenborg dates his Revelations to 1743, this was the result of ‘operations extended over several years’, a state ‘brought on by degrees’.
James John Garth Wilkinson explains that Swedenborg practiced ‘inward breathing’, and that ‘so obedient had his breathing become, and so correspondent with all spheres, that he obtained thereby the range of the higher world…’ James John Garth Wilkinson compares this to yogic states and to hypnotism, ‘take away or suspend that which draws you to this world and the spirit by its own lightness floats upwards…’
James John Garth Wilkinson explains that in his posthumous Adversaria in libros veteris testamenti, Swedenborg explains that Flames = Truth, and that the Golden Key opens the door to spiritual things.
James John Garth Wilkinson explains that the manuscript of Swedenborg’s Dreams, written between 1736 and 1740 have been retained by his family and are not available, though Swedenborg does refer to them in his writings.
James John Garth Wilkinson explains that Swedenborg’s Doctrine of Universal Correspondence proves that bodies are the generation and the expression of the soul. Such ‘Fishermen’ are ‘investigators of spiritual truths’, and that Swedenborg learnt Hebrew specifically so he could study the Bible.
James John Garth Wilkinson explains again that Swedenborg’s whereabouts are hard to determine at this time. In 1745, he was in London with Brockmer (his landlord in Fetter Lane), and he travelled to Sweden in 1746. In 1747, he retired from the Swedish Board of Mines with a pension equivalent to his usual annual salary.
In 1747, he was back in London and he published Arcana Celestia volume I in 1747, (the publisher was his friend John Lewis in Paternoster Row), Arcana Celestia was subsequently published in Sweden in 1750.
In 1751, his old friend Christopher Polheim died.
James John Garth Wilkinson explains that the Arcana Celestia was published in 8 volumes between 1749 and 1756 in London, and that these works are a spiritual exposition of Genesis and Exodus, ‘dictated by God’ and published anonymously. Swedenborg donated all monies to the propogation of the Bible, with the result that these books were very cheap for the public at large.
James John Garth Wilkinson explains that the Arcana Celestia comprised two parts, scriptural interpretations, and a narrative of the actual texts which includes a description of the ‘other life’ via the Doctrine of Correspondences, detailing the relations between all the different spheres which keep their soul meaning wherever it operates. The Word is God, and this operates everywhere, its actions pertain individually to each sphere, making a Divine equation. Symbols in language make ‘Bodies of Thought’ and teaches Truth to the Spiritual Man.
James John Garth Wilkinson explains that Swedenborg says the spiritual world looks exactly like the material world, but subject to Spiritual Laws, and the spiritual world is full of quasi natural objects which are fluid and not fixed. The centre of the spiritual world is not the sun, but the Divinity/Divine Love – to the east reside souls who reciprocate love the most, in the south reside souls who receive Divine Wisdom, the west contains souls who do not love self punishment, and the north contains those souls who do not receive wisdom and life in ‘self imprisonment’ – Love sifts ‘like to like’.
James John Garth Wilkinson explains that an ass = scientific truth, the horse = intellectual truth, and that the Rule of Three governs all – for example – body, word, soul or world, word, heaven. Birth into the spiritual world is better attended and each soul is received and cared for. Resurrection occurs after three days.
In 1756, Swedenborg is in Stockholm, and in 1758, he is back in London, where he publishes 5 works:
James John Garth Wilkinson explains that in The Last Judgment and Babylon Destroyed. All the Predictions in the Apocalypse are at This Day Fulfilled, Swedenborg describes how Earth is a seminary for man en route to the spiritual world, that angels arise from the natural world according to their desert, that the World will not be destroyed on the Day of Judgment, and that there is no substantial intermediate between man and the Divine. If this world pours good people into spirit, the spirit world thrives and vice versa.
James John Garth Wilkinson explains that in The Last Judgment and Babylon Destroyed. All the Predictions in the Apocalypse are at This Day Fulfilled, Swedenborg describes how our innermost minds depend upon our entire past, and if the spiritual world is crowded with unworthy ages, the Divine Word cannot reach man in the natural world, or travel through malignant and false natures, which could mean the extinction of the human race, so this requires Divine interposition to restore such broken order, resulting in the Flood, in the incarnation of Jesus Christ, and in Swedenborg’s revelations.
James John Garth Wilkinson explains that in The Last Judgment and Babylon Destroyed. All the Predictions in the Apocalypse are at This Day Fulfilled, Swedenborg describes how the history of the orthodox church is declining, resulting in a terrible history of wars and love of power and the spread of atheism.
James John Garth Wilkinson says of Concerning Heaven and its wonders, and concerning Hell, being a relation of things heard and seen, that this is a ‘new literature’, ‘you can neither praise nor blame it’, as ‘it will not answer’ such that Swedenborg’s works have ended up ignored. This work outlines the Laws of Heaven and Hell.
James John Garth Wilkinson explains that in Concerning Heaven and its wonders, and concerning Hell, being a relation of things heard and seen, Swedenborg describes how no natural man is judged, rather spiritual man is judged in the spiritual world ‘where he is known as he really is’. No soul returns to Earth, and Nations are judged in spirit. Divine judgment occurs all the time, here and in spirit. False spirits radiate darkness on the Earth, resulting in spiritual upheavals. Dragons are ‘those who are cast down’ and resurrections occur all the time.
The spirit world contained Earthly landscapes, but plastic and minutely and changefully answering to mind, determined by Love and Wisdom. The Law of Love is attraction or like attracts like, Love is harmony. Hatred is opposition and discord, and equals hell, with no sun, instead hell is ‘lit by fires’. Hell is a ‘hideous unity’. Man has shaped spirit in ‘his own image’, and all unity comes from the Divine Word (sun).
Some souls are in the province of the brain, some in the province of the lungs, some in the province of the heart, etc. Thus we all make the Grand Man, and no one can intervene to break this contiguity. Good and bad attend all men via thoughts and emotions. The balance between is where our freedom lies. The Word moderates this conflict and preserves equilibrium. This, the Doctrine of Consequence means that life choices determine your spiritual company, where every thought becomes real, and free will determines where we go – Heaven or Hell.
James John Garth Wilkinson explains that in On the White Horse mentioned in the Apocalypse, and in On the Earths in the Universe, Swedenborg describes that The Grand Man is immense, and that all the peoples of the Earth nourish ‘but a patch in the skin of Universal Humanity’. The stars are therefore full of people, and spiritual states are thoughts, which means that travel is thought. Most stars are in touch with one another, but Earth is not in touch with anyone.
James John Garth Wilkinson explains that in On the White Horse mentioned in the Apocalypse, and On the Earths in the Universe, Swedenborg details how he visited several worlds, and also that man was meant to live in this world, but also in spirit, and that communication both ways was intended. Swedenborg describes the spirits of Mercury as travelers who service a province of memory in The Grand Man. The spirits of the Moon are dwarves who keep air in their abdomen and service the cartilage at the bottom of the breast bone of The Great Man.
James John Garth Wilkinson explains that in The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine, Swedenborg describes spiritual ethics and states that ‘love and affection is all ‘our very life”. He expounds the law of the Power of Love.
Yet again, James John Garth Wilkinson complains that he cannot determine Swedenborg’s whereabouts, and he believes he was in London between 18=747 and 1758. His friends at this time were John Lewis (his publisher) and Mr. Hart (his printer).
In 1759, Swedenborg is in Gottenberg, where he met Immanuel Kant 1724 – 1804, who witnessed Swedenborg’s psychic vision of a fire in Stockholm that nearly destroyed his home, and who subsequently criticised him in 1768 in his Dreams of a Spirit Seer. Swedenborg was a close friend of William Castel at this time.
Swedenborg explains in his The Animal Kingdom Considered Anatomically, Physically and Philosophically how seers can operate, and the events of 1759 spread and added to his reputation as ‘odd’ and thus Swedenborg became cautious.
In 1760, and back in Sweden, the Clergy noticed his absence at Church, and Swedenborg found himself at odds with the Church, and he took the Sacrament at this time.
By 1761, he was often sought out for answers to psychic queries, by the widow of Louis von Marteville, to discover some money. Swedenborg was successful in discovering this for her and his notoriety spread throughout Stockholm. In the same year, he was invited to Court as Louise Ulrica wanted to speak to her dead brother. Swedenborg was successful in this discourse, mentioning a private issue between the two siblings.
In 1761, Swedenborg was active in the Swedish Diet (Parliament), and a Member of the Secret Commission of the Diet, with a seat in the House of Nobles, though he rarely attended the latter.
In 1762, he was in Amsterdam, where he ‘saw’ that Emperor Peter III had died, and in 1763, he published 6 works.
James John Garth Wilkinson explains that in The Heavenly Doctrine of the Lord, Swedenborg describes the Trinity is focused in Christ, The Infinite Man. When man breaks contact with the spirit world, an incarnation is necessary, such that peoples live in expectation of a Messiah. Swedenborg explains there have been a succession of Churches on Earth:
- The Adamic Church or Eden, which ended with the Flood (suffocation) as mankind was no longer breathing the ‘highest atmosphere’ and all ‘higher perceptions ceased’, such that those that ‘breathe’ survived to people a ‘new dry land’ or church.
- The Jewish Church saw the Love and Conscience of the Adamic Church replaced by obedience, and when this was broken an incarnation was necessary, hence Jesus was born.
- The Christian Church represented a new contract, whereby each man must subdue his own sensuality and evil and unite his outward and his inward mind and become a Spiritual Man.
Thus Jesus is the ‘new name of God’ and the Trinity is the father (old god), Jesus (new God) and the Holy Spirit (the Word).
James John Garth Wilkinson explains that in Divine Love and Wisdom, Swedenborg describes the Divine Attributes, and man must think of God as a man, from his own experience. God is the Infinite Man and the Universe. Man is the Finite Man, and the Universe ‘tends to man’, and both are connected via the System of Correspondences via a personal god, which is a ‘vibration’ of the Infinite Man.
To break this connection, or to remove from the centre of this system, the fact that God is man, will result in the unintelligibility we struggle with currently, as all communication has broken down and ‘the beginning of their knowledge is darkness’ and ‘their love falls into a void’, because ‘there is no correspondence between the Creator and any creature’.
The way God passes into nature is by ‘separate steps of forms or substances’ via ‘the measured walk of the creative forces’. This is the Doctrine of Degrees where ‘the whole becomes actively one’.
James John Garth Wilkinson explains that in The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem concerning the Sacred Scripture, Swedenborg describes the Law of Divine Order or the Book of God ‘the deep has called unto deep’. The Word creates all things, and there are many such books, the Bible is one of them, the Great Tartary is another (the previous Bible), which when viewed as books are ‘dead like other books’. The Active Mind is influenced by ‘dead books’ as it deserves. The Devout Mind or ‘little children’ read ‘angel haunted’ books, such that ‘the veil is rent’.
James John Garth Wilkinson explains that ‘no man ever claims his inspired moments’, and that writers are just ‘mere tools’. Swedenborg dismisses many or the authors of the Bible as they are ‘dogmatic’ and many parts are ‘not written in the style of the Word’ – he prefers the prophets as ‘the style of the Word consists throughout in Correspondences’, which means ‘ immediate communication with Heaven’. However, Swedenborg sees that due to the practical and political requirements of their times, the Bible writers still produced ‘good books of the church’.
Swedenborg explains that the Doctrine of the Faith is an ‘inward acknowledgment of the Truth’, and that the Doctrine of Life means ‘shunning evil and doing good’.
In 1764, Swedenborg was in Amsterdam where he published Angelic Wisdom Concerning Divine Providence, describing the ‘formation of an Angelic Heaven out of the human race’, and outlining the Laws of Divine Providence which determine that man has freedom of choice, we can choose good or evil, and that all are predestined to go to Heaven, but that our actions determine our final destination.
Swedenborg’s posthumous Diary, ‘a day book’ written in English, was begun in 1747 and kept up for 17 years, comprises 6000 paragraphs (the first 148 are missing), with bits crossed out as they were published in various books.
Edited by Johann Friedrich Immanuel Tafel 1796 – 1863, Professor of Philosophy and Librarian of Tubingen, they include conversations with famous deceased people from Moses to various Kings and all the spectra in between.
James John Garth Wilkinson explains that the Diary reads like a police report, and that most of these famous people are no better nor any worse than we are – death is no real change – we take our problems with us and still have to solve them. Some Earthly souls haunt old remembered places due to ‘deluded thoughts’, and that the worst of this Earth is recreated in spirit. Evil is ‘compressed’ into a mineral state, though souls remain in association with like company.
James John Garth Wilkinson notes that Swedenborg’s private writings are in full accord with his published writings.
In 1762 – 1764 Swedenborg was living in Amsterdam, with many visits to London and Sweden, where he worked on Apocalypse Explained (published posthumously in 4 volumes), and he was in Gottenberg in 1765, where he met Dr. Beyer, Professor of Greek Consistory of Gottenberg (who became a devoted student, despite persecution, for the rest of his life), and Dr. Rosen and Mr. Wenngren.
In 1766, Swedenborg was travelling between London and Amsterdam, where he published Apocalypse Revealed, and many copies of this book were given away across Europe.
James John Garth Wilkinson explains that in Apocalypse Revealed, Swedenborg analyses the ‘interpretation of Revelations using his principles of Arcana’, and describes the end of the Church and the establishment of its successor in the spiritual world. The Last Judgment equals the Revelations of Jesus Christ and The Dragon of the established church’s ‘descent from Heaven’ and from the ‘New Jerusalem’.
In 1766, Swedenborg republishes his Attempts to find the Longitude of Places by Lunar Observations (last published 1718), and then departs for England where he meets his friend Mr. Springer, the Swedish Consul in London, who witnessed Swedenborg in trance.
In 1767, Swedenborg returned to Sweden, where he erected a summer house at his home to house his numerous visitors and his library, indeed, 3 such summerhouses were built at his home in Sudermalm, and a labyrinth in his garden for his friends and their children. He was again sought out for psychic readings but he often refused these requests.
His friends at this time included Bishop Hallenius, and the Rev. Nicholas Collin, Immanuel Kant wrote to him at this time, to which Swedenborg planned a book in answer this letter, and he was planning a trip to London at this time. Gabriel Henry Porthan 1739 – 1804 Professor in Abo, visited and witnessed Swedenborg conversing in Latin with Virgil (or so Swedenborg informed him later).
Swedenborg visited Elsinore at this time and met his friends Robsahm, Rahling and General Tuxen (a disciple of Swedenborg’s) there.
In 1768, Swedenborg left for London and Amsterdam, where he published The Delights of Wisdom Concerning Conjugal Love.
James John Garth Wilkinson explains that in The Delights of Wisdom Concerning Conjugal Love, Swedenborg describes the Divine Marriage (mind and will entered by God), to soul, to church, and to sex. Sex is never excluded, and no one goes to heaven but those that are already in heaven. Swedenborg says there is no marriage in Heaven as they are are already in a Divine Marriage, and that sex is more intimate, bodies are more perfect and more plastic.
Spiritual births (fullness and Wisdom) occur inside spirits and relate to a progression of souls which are born again from state to state. Generation on Earth is equal to regeneration in spirit. Swedenborg says he visited all previous ages to study sex, and one man to one woman is the Law of Union, and that polygamy is a sign and cause of a broken religion. Divine marriage is indissoluble.
James John Garth Wilkinson explains that in The Delights of Wisdom Concerning Conjugal Love, abuses and misfortunes of sexual relations are left out, and that certain temperaments need different solutions which tend towards Divine Marriage, and that separation is legitimate.
James John Garth Wilkinson suggests that our World has much to sort out here, and that interested parties should read this book for themselves.’Until then, an unhappy conscience from lese societe must attend them’, even though they be dictated by the Spiritual Man, and that as a biographer, James John Garth Wilkinson could not omit any account of Swedenborg’s work on this subject, ‘never a pleasing one to the reader’, ‘moreover, the age demands the discussion of the question’.
James John Garth Wilkinson describes Swedenborg as a ‘studious old bachelor’ who analysed the male and female soul and laid down a science to examine its love and jealousies, and the jealousies of the state, and the love of children. Childless himself, Swedenborg discussed this all with the ‘wives of Heaven’, who answer his questions according to permission given by a White Dove (?angel).
In 1768-9, Swedenborg is again in Amsterdam, where he published A Brief Exposition of the Doctrine of the New Church, causing an immediate objection from Dr. Ekebom, the Dean of the Theological Faculty in Gottenberg, who claimed the book was heretical.
James John Garth Wilkinson explains that in A Brief Exposition of the Doctrine of the New Church, Swedenborg elucidated the errors of existing doctrines of the Church.
In 1769, Swedenborg is in Paris in secret to publish On the Intercourse Between the Soul and the Body, which he submitted to M. Chevreuil (the Censor Royal) who gave him permission to publish, but in London or in Amsterdam. Swedenborg refused, so the book was not published at this time.
James John Garth Wilkinson reports a rumor that Swedenborg had been ordered to quit Paris, and that he was suspected of being an Illumines, an order of Freemasonry who wished to overturn society and foster revolution.James John Garth Wilkinson says he has found no suspicion of this in his researches, but ‘there is generally a grain of truth in even the most preposterous lies’ and that he will keep an eye out for any evidence of this.
In 1769, Swedenborg was in London and staying with his friend and landlord Shearsmith in Cold Bath Fields, where he finally published On the Intercourse Between the Soul and the Body.
His friend Dr. Messiter sent copies of all Swedenborg’s works to Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen, and his friend Dr. Hampe, who had been Preceptor to George I, republished A Brief Exposition of the Doctrine of the New Church, which also contained some criticism of the orthodox church, especially pertaining to original sin, which Swedenborg’s New Church rejected, though he agreed on the Trinity, as all Churches fall if the Trinity falls, and the heresies of all ages spring from this doctrine.
James John Garth Wilkinson remarks that he feels Swedenborg uses some ‘destructive logic’ in A Brief Exposition of the Doctrine of the New Church , whereas in previous works his logic is ‘unequalled’, and that he fails to address the denial of the mind by both churches which ‘is as yet unstormed by our author’s artillery’, and that if the laity remains separated from the Clergy, ‘convulsions will destroy the Church’ and ‘science will claim the World’.
On On the Intercourse Between the Soul and the Body, James John Garth Wilkinson notes that Swedenborg maintains that those who maintain’ the faith of the Dragon’ all form together in the semblance of a Dragon, many thousands of them ‘beset by falsities’.
Swedenborg returns to the problem of ‘what is soul?’, as in this World it does not appear or even exist, and he decided on ‘spiritual influx’ as his final definition of soul. His solution was in seeing the soul as man, and the problem was seeing the soul as indeterminate, with no defined description or definition. The soul is the Complete Man and the body is its natural garment.
James John Garth Wilkinson explains that Swedenborg believed that the man that can see the soul has done with philosophy, but that as long as the spiritual is the province of philosophers, their addition of such an abstract idea into the World is ‘destruction of thought’. This silliness has caused ‘civil war between the soul and the body’, ‘discord between the two Worlds’ and denies that the soul is the ‘essential human body’. Divine Unity is the still small voice of God. ‘The intercourse of the soul with the body, and of spirit with nature, lies then in the similarity of each with each’, and is the Doctrine of the Spheres.
James John Garth Wilkinson explains that Swedenborg asserts that ‘nothing in the Worlds is naked’ as everything from man to planets have ‘a peculiar space around it’, ‘filled with emanations’, a space ‘which it cultivates and in which is oscillates and exists’. These spheres all vibrate to the Word in their various degrees, and to deny this is to shut us up ‘within the cordon of our own skin’.
James John Garth Wilkinson explains that Swedenborg asserts that these spheres allow communication to exist in the World via the Doctrine of Modification (page 45), and he points out tidal effects in both.
Every spirit belongs to a province of the Grand Man, and Swedenborg explains that he could feel the approach of a ‘liver spirit’ in his own liver, thus he could sense the quality of such a spirit, similarly if an ‘eye man’ or a ‘heart man’ approached him, and thus he could know when an evil spirit approached him as a ‘disease’, explaining that ‘the cosmology of the spiritual world is human’.
James John Garth Wilkinson reports that his friend Dr. Hartley was concerned that Swedenborg was not safe in Sweden and possibly pressed for money, but Swedenborg denied this, explaining that he was well connected back home, even to Royalty.
In 1769, Swedenborg returned to Sweden, where he was warmly received and dined with Royalty and with the Senators of the Diet and with the Bishops. If he was subject to persecution in Sweden, the puzzle is how did he get away for so long with criticising the Church?
James John Garth Wilkinson wonders if it was due to the fact that Sweden’s Academies did not use Latin, and as all his works were published abroad, it is possible they were not familiar with them (and they were all published anonymously).
Also, he was protected as Beyer and Rosen, both eminent Swedish academics, and others ‘high in the Church’ became disciples and propagators of his works, but eventually the Clergy did sit up and take notice when Dr. Ekebom, Dean of the Theological faculty in Gottenberg, initiated a complaint at the Swedish Diet to put Swedenborg on trial, declare him insane and consign him to a madhouse.
Unfortunately, Dr. Ekebom had an ally in Bishop Filenius, President of the House of Clergy and Swedenborg’s own nephew, though Count Hopken discovered the plot and warned Swedenborg to quit Sweden. Typically, Swedenborg sought angelic advice which advised him to do nothing.
The Diet rejected the calls to prosecute Swedenborg due to his relationship to many noble and Royal families and friends. Swedenborg was cross with his nephew Bishop Filenius and called him ‘Judas’ and proceeded to distribute copies of The Delights of Wisdom Concerning Conjugal Love to all eminent persons and Royalty. Bishop Filenius responded by impounding copies of The Delights of Wisdom Concerning Conjugal Love wherever he could find them.
The Diet was happy to announce that Bishop Filenius had acted alone and his actions were ignored. However Bishop Filenius did manage to advise the King Adolf Frederick in Council of the troubles in Gottenberg via the Chancellor of Justice, hoping to get censure on Beyer and Rosen and ultimately on Swedenborg.
Swedenborg spoke to Adolf Frederick directly (who was a friend and fully aware of Swedenborg’s works), reminding him of a dinner wherein his works were fully expounded in front of Count de Tessin, Count Bonde and Count Hopken, and that he had similarly expounded his views in England, Holland, Germany, Denmark, and Paris, to kings, princes and other particular persons, as well as to many in Sweden.
Swedenborg attested that he had always upheld Jesus Christ, and maintained that all prayer should be addressed to Him, which was at the core of this controversy. Everyone decided in Swedenborg’s favour and agreed that if he was prosecuted, it might amount to a prohibition from the Clergy against people praying to Jesus, which no one intended.
Adolf Frederick directed Gottenberg to drop the case and Beyer declared in Swedenborg’s favour, and provided him with a personal Testimony and Declaration in his favour.
Swedenborg travelled abroad with Adolf Frederick who congratulated him and reassured him the matter was closed. His friends Wenngren and Beyer wrote to eminent people in Gottenberg and Stockholm, and Swedenborg himself wrote to the Universities of Upsal, Lund and Abo, recommending that they establish their own Consistory to lessen the power of Gottenberg.
In 1771, Swedenborg discovered that his adversaries had succeeded in banning importation of his works into Sweden, so Swedenborg sent a formal complaint to the States General office, though the outcome of this procedure is not known. He also wrote to the Royal Academy of Sciences in Stockholm outlining his Science of Correspondences and the Wisdom of the Ancients (published as an appendix to On the White Horse mentioned in the Apocalypse), and offering to unfold and publish Egyptian hieroglyphics to support his claim and he also recommended that they read his Apocalypse Revealed.
In 1770, Swedenborg lodged a protest with M Robsahm, the Director of the Bank of Sweden, against any judicial examinations of his writings.
In 1770, Swedenborg left for Amsterdam where he published True Christian Religion containing the Universal Theology of the New Church, not anonymously as with his previous works, but under his own name.
In Amsterdam, many friends witnessed him in trance, including his friend Jung Stilling, a Merchant of Elberfeld (and a friend of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe), and David Paulus ab Indagine, to whom Swedenborg explained that a person’s spirit is not always with them, but can appear in the world of spirits and which looks exactly like the material body. Swedenborg was also a friend of the Landgrave of Hesse Darm Stadt at this time.
Swedenborg talked often and at length about such phenomena in every company, James John Garth Wilkinson mentions that he did have detractors, but ‘not a single person even thought of laughing’. David Paulus ab Indagine described Swedenborg as in no way reserved or recluse, but open hearted and accessible to all, and that he regularly visits upon invitation people he did not know, where he met people from all places and races without distinction.
James John Garth Wilkinson explains that True Christian Religion containing the Universal Theology of the New Church, a body of Divinity, sums up the whole of Swedenborg’s life’s work, and is more plain and comprehensible than any of his other works. True Christian Religion containing the Universal Theology of the New Church contains a digest which is a polemic against the errors of Churches and against evil lives.
James John Garth Wilkinson says the True Christian Religion containing the Universal Theology of the New Church is an ‘unrivaled’ and ‘masterful’ vast scope of work, and that Swedenborg is a ‘Great Pen’ rather than a ‘Great Man’, and notes that his active mental power had increased throughout his life. His books become more imaginative as his mind matures, and he begins with the seeds of philosophy and allows them to flower.
In 1771, Swedenborg is in London staying with his landlord Shearsmith, a Peruke Maker at 26 Great Bath Street, Coldbath Fields, Clerkenwell, and writing a supplement to True Christian Religion containing the Universal Theology of the New Church, discussing all the various churches, a work he never completed.
In 1771, he suffered a stroke and had no speech for three weeks, but he did not appear to have sought any medical attention at this time, though he did see his friends Dr. Hartley, Dr. Messiter and Mr. Cookworthy, and Rev. Francis Oakley visited him in the Autumn of 1771, and Mr. Bergstrom, the landlord of the King’s Arms tavern also visited him at this time, noting that Swedenborg had lost the use of his arm and that his body was ‘useless’. Swedenborg also saw Rev. Arvid Ferelius, a Minister at the Swedish Church in London, and took the final Sacrament.
In 1772, in February, his friend the Rev. John Wesley 1703 – 1791 received a note from Swedenborg asking to see him before 29.3.1772 when he would die. They did not meet. In March, he had a visit from Mr. Springer, the Swedish Consul in London, and Swedenborg told him he was ‘spiritually blind’ which caused him great distress, but he did eventually recover this faculty.
On 29.3.1772, Swedenborg died at 5pm, with clear faculties, and he was buried by Rev. Arvid Ferelius, and his Eulogy was read in the Swedish House of Nobles by M Sandel. (his body was repatriated to Sweden in 1785).
In summary, James John Garth Wilkinson quotes testimonials from Count Hopken, who had known Swedenborg for 42 years, and also those of his friends Sandel, Robsahm, Hartley, Ferelius, Brockmer (his landlord at Fetter Lane), Bergstrom, Springer, Shearsmith and his maidservant, and Mrs. Hart (his printer’s wife). James John Garth Wilkinson quotes testimonials from Captain Harrison, Captain Browell and Captain Hodson, English sea captains who Swedenborg had sailed with, and also many instances of meetings with many other persons taken from his letters and diaries and from the letters of his many friends.
James John Garth Wilkinson reviews Swedenborg’s life from the perspective of his friend’s comments in their letters and ends with a general discussion of his background (page 234), his character (page 235), his diet (pages 236-7), his habits (page 239), his impediment of speech (page 239), his command of languages (page 239), his church attendances (page 241), his physical appearance (page 241-2), his manners (page 243), his finances (page 242), his method of working (page 244), his view on England (pages 244-5), his patriotism (page 245), his family ties (page 245), his friends (page 245), his openness in disseminating his ideas (page 245) and his lack of followers (page 246).
James John Garth Wilkinson calls Swedenborg a ‘hero in the new campaign of peace’, and a ‘leader of the World’s free thought and free press’, and a ‘Captain of the heroes of the writing desk’.
James John Garth Wilkinson especially mentions that he always answered children’s questions, and that ‘simple and innocent folk understood him best’. Swedenborg was the best at comforting little ones about loss through death, about praising marriage, and for discussing real events in people’s lives, indeed ‘he answered none but children’s questions’, and ‘penetrates into the nursery’ and becomes ‘part of the mother’s tale’, meeting the ‘first pure wants of knowledge’, believing that ‘until these were met, no questions had been answered’.
James John Garth Wilkinson says that Swedenborg was ‘coherent from first to last’, and that ‘he saw coherence where others miss it’. He was indeed a ‘threefold philosopher’, a seer, a philosopher and a subject of revelation.
James John Garth Wilkinson says that Swedenborg was a fresh link between God and man, and that now this space is full of communication, ‘shamefully lost’ and now ‘logically restored’.
Swedenborg has joined the Worlds together, and was a ‘man who lived in two Worlds at once’. He condemned the ‘illegitimate offspring of divorced soul and body’ which ‘precluded the Book of Life’, and now the Harmonic Man emerges, all religions become one and all peoples become equal.
James John Garth Wilkinson reflects that ‘the men of facts are afraid of a large number of important facts’, denouncing spiritual facts 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’.
‘As the matter stands… there is no class that so little follows its own rules of uncaring experiment and induction, or has so little respect for facts, as the hard headed scientific men’.
‘Science, in this, neglects its mission’. Swedenborg ‘has made ghosts themselves into a science’.
Swedenborg links historical and unhistorical ages, and the Science of Correspondences has opened the path to these ancient realms. He links poetry with science, divorced for 1000 years ‘a disastrous quarrel’, and Swedenborg’s works emancipate both poetry and science.
Nothing can save science but ‘attention to spiritual experiences’.