Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all things shall be added unto you (Matt. 6:33)



About Swedenborg in brief

From Swedenborg’s letter to Rev. Thomas Hartley

(Rev. Hartley asked: “”If, perchance… your writings should be the subject of discussion, and occasion should arise for defending you, their author, against some malignant slanderer, who may wish to injure your reputation by a web of falsehoods – as those are in the habit of doing who hate the truth – would it not be well for you, in order to repel such slanders, to leave with me some particulars respecting yourself, your degrees in the University, the public offices you filled, your friends and relations, the honours which, I am told, have been conferred upon you, and anything else that might be useful in establishing your good character, so that ill-conceived prejudices may be removed; for it is our duty to use all lawful means, lest the cause of truth should suffer injury.”

Swedenborg replied:

“After reflecting on this, I have been led to yield to your friendly advice, and will now communicate to you some particulars of my life, which are briefly as follows.

I was born at Stockholm, on the 29th of January in the year 1689. My father’s name was Jesper Swedberg; who was Bishop of West-Gothland, and a man of celebrity in his time. He was also elected and enrolled as a member of the English Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign parts; for he had been appointed by King Charles XII3 Bishop over the Swedish churches in Pennsylvania, and also over the church in London. In the year 1710 I went abroad. I proceeded first to England, and afterwards to Holland, France, and Germany, and returned home in the year 1714. In the year 1716, and also afterwards, I had many conversations with Charles XII, King of Sweden, who greatly favoured me, and the same year offered me an assessorship tin the College of Mines, which office I filled until the year 1747, which I resigned it, retaining, however, the official salary during my life. My sole object in tendering my resignation was, that I might have more leisure to devote to the new office to which the Lord had called me. A higher post of honour was then offered me, which I positively declined, lest my heart should be inspired with pride. In the year 1719, I was ennobled by Queen Ulrica Eleanora, and named Swedenborg; and from that time I have taken my seat among the nobles of the rank of knighthood, in the triennial Diet of the Realm. I am a Fellow and Member, by invitation, of the Royal Academy of Sciences in Stockholm; but I have never sought admission into any literary society in any other place, because I am in an angelic society, where such things as relate to heaven and the soul are the only subjects of discourse; while in literary societies the world and the body form the only subjects of discussion. In the year 1734, I published, at Leipsic, the Regnum Minerale, in three volumes, folio; and in 1738 I took a journey to Italy, and staid a year at Venice and Rome. With respect to my family connections, I had four sisters. One of them was married to Ericus Benzelius, who subsequently became the Archbishop of Upsal, and through him I became related to the two succeeding archbishops, who both belonged to the family of Benzelius, and were younger brothers of his. My second sister was married to Lars Benzelstierna who became a provincial governor; but these two are dead. Two bishops, however, who are related to me, are still living; one of them, whose name is Filenius, and who is Bishop of East-Gothland, officiates now as President of the House of the Clergy in the Diet at Stockholm, in place of the Archbishop, who is an invalid; he married my sister’s daughter: the other, named Benzelstierna,10 is Bishop of Westmanland and Dalecarlia; he is the son of my second sister. Not to mention others of my relations who occupy stations of honour. Moreover, all the bishops of my native country, who are ten in number, and also the sixteen senators, and the rest of those highest in office, entertain feelings of affection for me; from their affection they honour me, and I live with them on terms of familiarity, as a friend among friends; the reason of which is, that they know I am in company with angels. Even the King and the Queen,11 and the three princes, their sons, show me great favour: I was also invited once by the King and Queen to dine with them at their own table, which honour is generally accorded only to those who are highest in office; subsequently the Crown Prince12 granted me the same favour. They all desire me to return home; wherefore, I am far from apprehending, in my own country, that persecution, which you fear, and against which in your letter you desire in so friendly a manner to provide; and if they choose to persecute me elsewhere, it can do me no harm.
But all that I have thus far related, I consider of comparatively little importance; for it is far exceeded by the circumstance, that I have been called to a holy office by the Lord Himself, who most mercifully appeared before me, His servant, in the year 1743; when He opened my sight into the spiritual world, and enabled me to converse with spirits and angels, in which state I have continued up to the present clay. From that time I began to print and publish the various arcana that were seen by me or revealed to me, concerning Heaven and Hell, the state of man after death, the true worship of God, the spiritual sense of the Word, besides many other most important matters conducive to salvation and wisdom. The only reason of my journeys abroad has been the desire of making myself useful, and of making known the arcana that were entrusted to me. Moreover, I have as much of this world’s wealth as I need, and I neither seek nor wish for more. Your letter has induced me to write all these particulars, in order that as you say ‘ill-conceived prejudices may be removed.’…”

“From the Intercommunication of Soul and Body”

20. I was once asked how, from a philosopher, I became a theologian; and I answered, “In the same manner that fishermen were made disciples and apostles by the Lord: and that I also had from early youth been a spiritual fisherman.” On this, my questioner asked, “What is a spiritual fisherman?” I replied, “A fisherman, in the Word, in its spiritual sense, signifies a man who investigates and teaches natural truths, and afterwards spiritual truths, in a rational manner.”

[2] On his inquiring, “How is this demonstrated?” I said, “From these passages of the Word: ‘Then the waters shall fail from the sea, and the river shall be wasted and dried up. Therefore the fishers shall mourn, and all they that cast a hook into the sea shall be sad’ (Isa. 19:5, 8). In another place it is said: ‘On the river, the waters whereof were healed, stood fishers from Engedi; they were present at the spreading forth of nets; their fish was according to its kinds, as the fish of the great sea, exceeding many’ (Ezek. 47:10). And in another place: ‘Behold I will send for many fishers, saith Jehovah, and they shall fish the sons of Israel’ (Jer. 16:16). Hence it is evident why the Lord chose fishermen for His disciples, and said, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men’ (Matt. 4:18, 19; Mark 1:16, 17): and why He said to Peter, after he had caught the multitude of fishes, ‘Henceforth thou shalt catch men’ (Luke 5:9, 10).”

[3] I afterwards demonstrated the origin of this signification of fishermen from THE APOCALYPSE REVEALED: namely, that since water signifies natural truths (nos. 50, 932), as does also a river (nos. 409, 932), a fish signifies those who are in natural truths (no. 405); and thence that fishermen signify those who investigate and teach truths.

[4] On hearing this, my questioner raised his voice and said, “Now I can understand why the Lord called and chose fishermen to be His disciples; and therefore I do not wonder that He has also chosen you, since, as you have observed, you were from early youth a fisherman in a spiritual sense, that is, an investigator of natural truths: and the reason that you are now become an investigator of spiritual truths is because these are founded on the former.” To this he added, being a man of reason, that “the Lord alone knows who is the proper person to apprehend and teach those things which belong to His New Church; whether one of the Primates, or one of their domestic servants.” “Besides,” he continued, “what Christian theologian does not study philosophy in the schools, before he graduates as a theologian? From what other source has he intelligence?”

[5] At length he said, “Since you are become a theologian, explain what is your theology?” I answered, “These are its two principles, THERE IS ONE GOD, and THERE IS A CONJUNCTION OF CHARITY AND FAITH.” To which he replied, “Who denies these principles?” I rejoined, “The theology of the present day, when interiorly examined.” (Intercommunication of Soul and Body
n. 20)

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