The Gist of Swedenborg

Emanuel Swedenborg
The Gist of Swedenborg

The Project Gutenberg eBook, The Gist of Swedenborg, by Emanuel
Swedenborg, Edited by Julian K. Smyth and William F. Wunsch
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Title: The Gist of Swedenborg
Author: Emanuel Swedenborg
Editor: Julian K. Smyth and William F. Wunsch
Release Date: May 5, 2005 [eBook #15768]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-646-US (US-ASCII)
E-text prepared by Marilynda Fraser-Cunliffe, Diane Monico, and the
Project Gutenberg Online Distributed Proofreading Team

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

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

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.
It was now, for the first time, too, that he gave a deep consideration to
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