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Abstract Of Swedenborgianism
by [?]

Mr. Swedenborg divides his visions into three kinds, of which the first consists in being liberated from the body–an intermediate state between waking and sleeping, in which he saw–heard–and felt spirits. This kind he has experienced three or four times. The second consists in being carried away by spirits, whilst he continues to walk the streets (suppose) without losing his way; meantime in spirit he is in quite other regions, and sees distinctly houses, men, forests, etc. and all this for some hours long, until he suddenly finds himself again in his true place. This has happened to him two or three times. The third or ordinary kind of visions is that which he has daily when wide awake; and from this class his narrations are chiefly taken. All men, according to Swedenborg, stand in an intimate connection with the spiritual world; only they are not aware of it; and the difference between himself and others consists simply in this–that his innermost nature is laid open, of which gift he always speaks with the most devout spirit of gratitude (Datum mihi est ex divina Domini misericordia). From the context it is apparent that this gift consists in the consciousness of those obscure representations which the soul receives through its continual connection with the spiritual world. Accordingly he distinguishes in men between the external and the internal memory. The former he enjoys as a person who belongs to the visible world, but the latter in virtue of his intercourse with the spiritual world. Upon this distinction is grounded also the distinction between the outer and inner man; and Swedenborg’s prerogative consists in this–that he stands already in this life in the society of spirits, and is recognised by them as possessing such a prerogative. In the inner memory is retained whatsoever has vanished from the outer; and of all which is presented to the consciousness of man nothing is ever lost. After death the remembrance of all which ever entered his soul, and even all that had perished to himself, constitutes the entire book of his life. The presence of spirits, it is true, strikes only upon his inner sense. Nevertheless this is able to excite an apparition of these spirits external to himself, and even to invest them with a human figure. The language of spirits is an immediate and unsymbolic communication of ideas; notwithstanding which it is always clothed in the semblance of that language which Swedenborg himself speaks, and is represented as external to him. One spirit reads in the memory of another spirit all the representations, whether images or ideas, which it contains. Thus the spirits see in Swedenborg all the representations which he has of this world; and with so clear an intuition that they often deceive themselves and fancy that they see the objects themselves immediately–which however is impossible, since no pure spirit has the slightest perception of the material universe: nay they cannot gain any idea of it through intercourse with the souls of other living men, because their inner nature is not opened–i. e. their inner sense contains none but obscure representations. Hence it arises that Mr. Swedenborg is the true oracle of spirits, which are not at all less curious to read in him the present condition of the world, than he is to view in their memory, as in a mirror, the marvels of the spiritual world. Although these spirits stand in like manner closely connected with all other souls of living men, by a reciprocal commerce of action and passion, yet they are as little aware of this as men are aware of it. Spirits therefore ascribe to themselves as the product of their own minds what in fact results from the action of human souls upon them; just as men during their lives imagine that all their thoughts, and the motions of the will which take place within them, arise from themselves, although in fact they oftentimes take their origin in the spiritual world. Meantime every human soul, even in this life, has its place and station in this spiritual world, and belongs to a certain society which is always adapted to its inner condition of truth and goodness,–that is, to the condition of the understanding and the will. But the places of souls in relation to each other have nothing in common with the material world; and therefore the soul of a man in India is often in respect to spiritual situation next neighbour to the soul of another man in Europe; as on the contrary very often those, who dwell corporeally under the same roof, are with respect to their spiritual relations far enough asunder. If a man dies, his soul does not on that account change its place; but simply feels itself in that place which in regard to other spirits it already held in this life. For the rest, although the relation of spirits to each other is no true relation of space, yet has it to them the appearance of space; and their affinities or attractions for each other assume the semblance of proximities, as their repulsions do of distances; just as spirits themselves are not actually extended, but yet present the appearance to each other of a human figure. In this imaginary space there is an undisturbed intercourse of spiritual natures. Mr. Swedenborg converses with departed souls whenever he chooses, and reads in their memory (he means to say in their representative faculty) that very condition in which they contemplate themselves; and this he sees as clearly as with his bodily eyes. Moreover the enormous distance of the rational inhabitants of the world is to be accounted as nothing in relation to the spiritual universe; and to talk with an inhabitant of Saturn is just as easy to him as to speak with a departed human soul. All depends upon the relation of their inner condition in reference to their agreement in truth and goodness: but those spirits, which have weak affinities for each other, can readily come into intercourse through the inter-agency of others. On this account it is not necessary that a man should actually have dwelt on all the other heavenly bodies in order to know them together with all their wonders.