Biography of Emanuel Swedenborg


EMANUEL SWEDENBORG, a man of science, a philosopher, a theologian, and a seer, was born at Stockholm, Sweden, January 29th 1688, and died in London March 29th, 1772. He was educated at the university of Upsala, where he graduated at the age of twenty-one. He then travelled for four years in England, Holland, France and Germany. He had an ardent love of mathematics and mechanics, in which branches he was especially proficient. On his return to Sweden he was appointed by Charles XII to an assessorship in the College of Mines. All this time his mind was busy with various scientific subjects, upon which he published pamphlets from time to time. In 1724, he was offered the professorship of mathematics at Upsala, which he declined. He now remained silent for eleven years; but the result appeared at Leipsic in 1734, in the massive folios, beautifully illustrated, entitled "Opera Philosophica et Mineralia." The first volume, called "Principia, or the First Principles of Natural Things, being new attempts toward a Philosophical Explanation of the Elementary World," is an elaborate deduction of matter from "points of pure notion produced immediately from the Infinite." This was followed in 1734, by a treatise on "The Infinite, and the Final Cause of Creation." The other two volumes describe the manufacture of copper, iron, and brass, and contain an exhaustive record of the best methods in use in the last century. His investigations at this period were pursued with the expressed determination to discover the soul itself, and indeed to penetrate the whole realm of final causes. With this end he studied Anatomy and Physiology, and thereupon published in 1742 two volumes entitled "Economia Regni Animalis," and in 1744-5, three volumes entitled "Regnum Animale." The character, number, and variety of these works serve to show the character, attainments, and purposes of the man, and to render still more striking his subsequent career.

Suddenly his scientific labors ceased, and in all his works afterwards published, he scarcely so much as alluded to them. He soon resigned his assessorship, and devoted himself exclusively to the labor which has since rendered him so celebrated. To give his own account of this transition, the Lord appeared to him in an unexpected manner, by the opening of his spiritual senses, and commissioned him to be the herald of a New Dispensation, or of the New Church, signified by the New Jerusalem in the Revelation. As such his office was to interpret the Word of God according to its true significance; to set forth a true system of religious doctrine; and finally, by daily intercourse with the spiritual world for twenty-seven years, to reveal its nature, its order, and the constant relation of all men to it. The result of all this was the publication in Latin of a series of theological works, more voluminous than even his previous scientific productions.

Since his death, organizations have been formed of those who believe his theological writings to be the Lord's second coming as Spiritual Truth.