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The Gist of Swedenborg   By: (1688-1772)

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First Page:

THE GIST OF SWEDENBORG

Compiled by

JULIAN K. SMYTH and WILLIAM F. WUNSCH

This Book Is Published by the Trustees of the Iungerich Publication Fund Swedenborg Foundation, Inc. New York

1920

FOREWORD

The reason for a compilation such as is here presented should be obvious. Swedenborg's theological writings comprise some thirty or more substantial volumes, the result of the most concentrated labor extending over a period of twenty seven years. To study these writings in their whole extent, to see them in their minute unfoldment out of the Word of God, is a work of years. It is doubtful if there is a phase of man's religious experience for which an interpretation is not here to be found. Notwithstanding this immense sweep of doctrine there are certain vital, fundamental truths on which it all rests: the Christ God, Man a spiritual being, the warfare of Regeneration, Marriage, the Sacred Scriptures, the Life of Charity and Faith, the Divine Providence, Death and the Future Life, the Church. We have endeavored to press within the small compass of this book passages which give the gist of Swedenborg's teachings on these subjects.

The compilers would gladly have made room for the interpretative and philosophical teachings which contribute so much to the content and form of Swedenborg's theology; but they have confined their effort to setting forth briefly and clearly the positive spiritual teachings, where these seemed most packed with religious meaning and moment.

The translation of the passages here brought together has been carefully revised.

JULIAN K. SMYTH.

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE

Emanuel Swedenborg was born at Stockholm, January 29, 1688.

A devout home (the father was a Lutheran clergyman, and afterwards Bishop of Skara) stimulated in the boy the nature which was to become so active in his culminating life work. A university education at Upsala, however, and studies for five years in England, France, Holland and Germany, brought other interests into play first. The earliest of these were mathematics and astronomy, in the pursuit of which he met Flamsteed and Halley. His gift for the detection and practical employment of general laws soon carried him much farther afield in the sciences. Metallurgy, geology, a varied field of invention, chemistry, as well as his duties as an Assessor on the Board of Mines and of a legislator in the Diet, all engaged him, with an immediate outcome in his work, and often with results in contributions to human knowledge which are gaining recognition only now. The Principia and two companion volumes, dedicated to his patron, the Duke of Brunswick, crowned his versatile productions in the physical sciences. Academies of science, at home and abroad, were electing him to membership.

Conspicuous in Swedenborg's thought all along was the premise that there is a God and the presupposition of that whole element in life which we call the spiritual. As he pushed his studies into the fields of physiology and psychology, this premised realm of the spirit became the express goal of his researches. Some of his most valuable and most startling discoveries came in these fields. Outstanding are a work on The Brain and two on the Animal Kingdom (kingdom of the anima , or soul). As his gaze sought the soul, however, in the light in which he had more and more successfully beheld all his subjects for fifty five years, she eluded direct knowledge. He was increasingly baffled, until a new light broke in on him. Then he was borne along, in a profound humiliation of his intellectual ambitions, by another way. For when the new light steadied, he had undergone a personal religious experience, the rich journals of which he himself never published. But what was of public concern, his consciousness was opened into the world of the spirit, so that he could observe its facts and laws as, for so long, he had observed those of the material world, and in its own world could receive a revelation of the doctrines of man's spiritual life... Continue reading book >>




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