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in the possession of the late Mr. Christopher Walton, of Highgate, who, before his death, presented them, together with his unique collection of books and MSS. relating to mystical topics, including the translations made by the present writer, to Dr. Williams' Library, London, for public benefit. William Law, the learned English divine, who had the use of these MSS., is his greatest English commentator; his “ Appeal,” “Way to Divine Knowledge,” “Spirit of Prayer," and “Spirit of Love," show how well he had seized the leading ideas of Böhme's system.
Böhme died in 1624, his last words being, “Now I am going into paradise. 253. The Philadelphians.-Böhme himself never founded
He was too much wrapt up in his glorious visions to think of gathering disciples and perpetuating his name by such means: like the sun, he shed his light abroad, because it was his nature to do so, unheedful whether it fell on rich or barren ground, leaving it to fructify according to its own inherent qualities. And the fruit is to come yet. For the society of the “Philadelphians,” founded towards the close of the seventeenth century by Jane Lead, whose vain visions undoubtedly were the result of her study of the work of Böhme, never led to any results, spiritual or scientific. The society, in fact, only existed about seven years, and its members had but vague and imperfect notions of the meaning and tendency of the writings of their great master.
254. Emanuel Swedenborg.—A mystic, who as yet has made much more noise in the world, though totally unworthy of being compared with Jacob Böhme-for this latter has left to the world solid and positive scientific knowledge, founded on an extraordinary insight into Nature and her operations ; whilst the former has left it nothing but some poetical ideas, with a farrago of nonsensical rubbish, such as hundreds of confessed madmen have written-is Emanuel Swedenborg. Still he was a man of great parts. In him were combined the opposite qualities of scientist, poet, and visionary. The desire of knowledge made him master the whole cycle of the sciences of his age, and when twenty-eight years old he was one of the most learned men of his country. In 1716 he visited the English, Dutch, French, and German universities. In 1718 he transported for Charles XII. a number of vessels over land from one coast to another. In 1721 he visited the mines of Europe, and wrote a description of them in his great work “ Dædalus Hyperboreus.” Then he gave himself up to theology, and unexpectedly turned to mysticism, often the denial of theology. He was fifty-five years old when he began to look within himself and to discover the wonders of the ideal world; after the mines of the earth, he explored the depths of the soul, and in this later exploration he forgot science. His pretended revelations drew upon him the hatred of the clergy, but he enjoyed such consideration in his own country that they could not injure him. At the Diet of 1751 Count Hopken declared that the most valuable writings on finance proceeded from the pen of Swedenborg. A mystical financier was what the world had never seen, and perhaps will never see again. He died in London. There is an English society which prints and circulates his works, filling
1 Yet in the late Mr. Laurence Oliphant it again saw a character closely resembling that of Swedenborg—the sharp, shrewd man of business and of the world, and the mystic. History repeats itself.
about fifty large volumes; and he has many followers in this country. He moreover made many discoveries in astronomy, chemistry, and medicine, and was the forerunner of Gall in phrenology.
255. His Writings and Theories.—Much in his writings is no doubt absurd; but still we think a sense, not at once apparent, but which turns nonsense into sense, may be discovered therein. Whoso attentively reads the “New Jerusalem,” or the “Journey to the Astral Worlds," must see that there is a hidden meaning in his abstruse language. It cannot be assumed that a man who had shown so much vigour of mind in his numerous works on poetry, philosophy, mathematics, and natural history-a man who constantly spoke of “correspondences," wherein he attributed to the least thing a hidden sense—a man whose learning was unbounded and acute—that such a man wrote without attaching
me real meaning to his illusory language. The religion he professes is philanthropy, and consequently he gives to the abstract idea of the perfect man the name of Man-God, or Jesus Christ; those who aspire to it are angels and spirits; their union becomes heaven, and the opposite, hell.
256. Rationale of Swedenborg's Writings.-From the most remote antiquity we meet with institutions—as the foregoing pages have sufficiently shown—ever aiming at political, religious, and intellectual reform, but expressing their ideas by speaking allegorically of the other world and the life to come, of God and angels, or using architectural terms. This practice, which is permanent, and permeates all secret societies, aims at morality in conduct, justice in government, general happiness and progress, but aims at all these according to certain philosophical ideas, viz., that all men are free and equal; but understanding that these ideas, in the various conditions of actual society, in its different classes, and in the heads of government and worship, would meet with powerful opponents, it takes its phraseology from an imaginary world successfully to carry out its objects. Therefore its external worship resembles ours, but by the science of correspondences it becomes something different, which is thus expressed by Swedenborg: “There is in heaven a divine cultus outwardly similar to ours, but inwardly different. I was permitted to enter into the celestial temple (perhaps the lodge), where are shown the harmonised divinity and the deified humanity.
257. The New Jerusalem.—One of the chief conceptions of Swedenborg, as expounded in the “New Jerusalem," is the divine in the heart of every man, interpreted by humanity,