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but principally an opening of the spiritual sense of the Word, in which the Lord is present in his own divine light. These revelations are not miracles, because every man as to his spirit is in the spiritual world, without separation from his body in the natural world. As to myself, indeed, my presence in the spiritual world is attended with a certain separation, but only as to the intellectual part of my mind, not as to the will part. This manifestation of the Lord, and intromission into the spiritual world, is more excellent than all miracles: but it has not been granted to any one since the creation of the world, as it has been to me. The men of the golden age indeed conversed with angels; but it was not granted to them to be in any other light than what was natural. To me, however, it has been granted to be in both spiritual and natural light at the same time; and hereby I have been privileged to see the wonderful things of heaven, to be in company with angels, just as I am with men, and at the same time to pursue truths in the light of truth, and thus to perceive and be gifted with them, consequently to be led by the Lord.”
Intimately connected with the subject of Swedenborg's life at the period we are now treating of, is a letter written by him to the Duke of Hesse, a person to whom one volume of the Regnum Minerale is dedicated. It is dated at Amsterdam, 1771. A little of its contents is irrelevant to the subject, but we give it entire, believing it will be found interesting :
“On the reception of your obliging letter, I was uncertain whether it was signed by you, most Serene Duke, or by some other person. I communicated the subject of my uncertainty to M. Venator, your minister, on his calling on me, who removed my doubt. I have deferred replying to your letter till I had received from the press the work entitled “True Christian Religion, &c." of which I send your most Serene Prince two copies, by the stage which leaves this city every day for Germany. As to the work called " Arcana Cælestia,” it is not to be obtained any longer either in Holland or England, all the copies of it having been sold : but as I know that there are some in Sweden, I will write to the persons who have them to know whether they will sell them at any price. I shall communicate their answer to your highness as soon as I receive it.
In your gracious letter you ask, how I attained to be in society with angels and spirits, and whether that privilege can be communicated from one person to another. Deign then to receive favourably this answer:
The Lord our Saviour had foretold that he would come again into the world, and that he would establish there a New Church. He has given this prediction in the Apocalypse, chap. xxi. and xxii. and also in several places in the Evangelists. But as he
cannot come again into the world in person, it was necessary that he should do it by means of a man, who should not only receive the doctrine of this New Church in his understanding, but also publish it by printing; and as the Lord had prepared me for this office from my infancy, he has manifested himself in person before me, his servant, and sent me to fill it. This took place in the year 1743. He afterwards opened the sight of my spirit, and thus introduced me into the spiritual world, and granted me to see the heavens and many of their wonders, and also the hells, and to speak with angels and spirits, and this continually for 27 years: I declare in all truth that such is the fact. This favour of the Lord in regard to me has only taken place for the sake of the New Church which I have mentioned above, the doctrine of which is contained in my writings. The gift of conversing with spirits and angels cannot be transmitted from one person to another, unless the Lord himself open the spiritual sight of that per
It is sometimes permitted to a spirit to enter into a man and to communicate to him some truth, but it is not granted to the man to speak mouth to mouth with the spirit. It is even a very dangerous thing, because the spirit enters into the affection of man's self-love, which does not agree with the affections of heavenly love.
With respect to the man tormented by spirits, I have learnt from heaven that that has befallen him in consequence of the meditations to which he has devoted himself; but that nevertheless there is no danger from them to be apprehended for him, because the Lord protects him. The only method of cure for him is to convert himself, and to supplicate the Lord our Saviour Jesus Christ to succour him."
Swedenborg was once asked whether it might be possible for any one, but himself, to arrive at that degree of spirituality to which he had attained. His reply was, “Be watchful, for the natural man lays himself open to temptations, when by his own speculations he tries to find out celestial things that transcend his understanding.” He then alluded to the Lord's prayer, lead us not into temptation, “which means,” he said, “ that we ought not from our own power and knowledge to doubt of the divine truths revealed to us. I never thought," he continued, “I should have come into the spiritual state I am in ; but the Lord had prepared me for it, in order to reveal the spiritual sense of the Word, which he had promised in the prophets and the revelations.” And it has been stated by those who were personally acquainted with Swedenborg, that he never endedvoured to persuade any person to receive his opinions.
[To be continued.]
For the New Jerusalem Magazine.
REMARKS ON THE APOCALYPSE. Most writers, who have attempted to break the seals of this part of the Holy Word,
have applied its mystical language to the historical events of the Roman Empire. We do not mean to say that this language may not be applied to historical events, nor do we mean to deny that many of its passages may have had their fulfilment in the events of history. But if they have, it has not been because they were mainly alluded to in the prophetic vision; but because the connexion between natural and spiritual things is so close, that we cannot advert to the one, without, at the same time, regarding the other. And hence, while the Revelator is exhibiting, under various images, the successive changes which would take place in the internal state of the church, he must at the same time, in some measure describe the effects which would follow in the external state of the church, as consequent upon these changes. But it is not supposed that its connexion with events of a temporal nature is so immediate as with those of a spiritual nature; and it is believed that the design of the revelation contained in the Apocalypse, was rather to instruct us in spiritual states, than in natural and temporal ones.
And we are led to this conclusion from several considerations.
First, the application of the prophetic language of the Revelation to historical events merely, must always be uncertain, and we never can have any infallible evidence that it is properly applied. This is abundantly proved, not only from the mystical nature of the language, but also from the diversity which exists among the writers who have attempted to make this application; some referring its passages to one event and some to another; and in like manner ascribing its personal allusions to different men, according as the fancy of the writer enables him to discover some supposed analogy between these allusions and the characters of those to whom he applies them.
Secondly, the mutations of empires and kingdoms in the world, though events, like every other that occurs in the natural world, under the control and superintendence of Divine Providence, are yet not of such importance, when considered merely as the changes incident to human affairs, as to be made the subject of a special revelation. When it is said they are not of importance, it is meant, that the uses to be derived from such a revelation do not seem to afford a reasonable ground, from which to draw an argument in its favour, especially as every attempt, hitherto made to draw instruction from the pages of this portion of the Word, under such a view of it, has entirely failed of success.
cannot reasonably suppose, if such were the uses for which it was intended, but that some of these uses would have been apparent. When, however, we can see the influence which is exerted on the natural world, by the spiritual, and when we can see that all that has place in the natural world is dependent on, and has its origin in the states or condition to which men's minds are subject from their religious principles,—then we can see a reasonableness in the supposition, that any revelation for the benefit of mankind, would, of course, address itself immediately to those principles, rather than to their worldly states and conditions. It is on this principle, that in the New Jerusalem we ascribe to the Word, or Sacred Scriptures, a more interior sense or meaning than appears in the verbal or literal expressions; and that in our expositions of the Word, we are led to regard this meaning as having immediate application to the life of the soul in man, and as instructing him in those important truths
which tend to promote that life by leading him to obedience. These truths differ from literal truths only in this, that literal truths address themselves to our hopes and our sears, while spiritual truths, for so we may denominate those which are more interior, address themselves to our experience. From the literal sense of the Word we are led to hope for the enjoyment of heavenly felicity, if we render obedience to the commandments, and
to fear the punishment for disobedience if we neglect them. But from the Word in its spirit, or from the influence of its spirit upon us, we are led from experience to know the nature of heavenly happiness, and to feel the misery resulting from the want of this divine influence operating in us.
No one, we think, can object to a spiritual meaning in the Apocalypse, because the Apostle, at the time of writing it, expressly declares that he was in the spirit, and what he saw and heard was manifestly in vision. And indeed the whole tenor of the book plainly implies that its relations were never intended to have a literal application. The question occurs, then, what is the nature of this spiritual meaning? To answer this satisfactorily would perhaps require more labour than we have intended to bestow on this short article. And as a preliminary to it we will only invite the reader's attention to a work, as yet little known in this country, entitled “The Apocalypse Explained,” by Emanuel Swedenborg. We are aware that this name will excite many and strong prejudices, and will of itself be sufficient to deter many from an attention to the subject. But we hope there are others, who are more open to conviction, and who will not suffer the idle rumours of ignorance or prejudice to lull their minds into indifference to a very interesting and important inquiry. The many unsuccessful attempts which have been made to throw something like light on this part of divine revelation, so far from operating to the disadvantage of a new claim for a hearing, should rather perhaps be a reason why we should lend an ear to it. For if this be a divine revelation, it must of necessity have a distinct and important meaning; and if this has not yet been made out to the satisfaction of believers, and we are compelled to admit that it could not have been intended to be forever concealed, then, we cannot say, but by refusing to listen to an author who professes to give it, there is danger that we may miss the truth.
ILLUSTRATIONS OF SCRIPTURE.
APOCALYPSE, ii. 12–17. And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write, these things saith he, who hath the sharp two-edged sword.—By the angel of the church in Pergamos are signified those angels who minister unto such persons as are meant by the church in Pergamos; and by this church are signified those who are engaged in internal spiritual warfare; and therefore the Lord is represented in what is written to this church as having the sharp two-edged sword; for by sword is signified truth which is prepared and arranged for combat.
Wars and fightings are frequently described in the Word; which would not be the case unless they corresponded with spiritual wars by which man is regenerated and prepared for heaven; for without this correspondence a description of wars would be out of place in a book written expressly, wholly and solely, for the purpose of reforming and regenerating man.
The opposition, which the Lord met with and endured in the world, represents, in a general manner, the thousand and tens of thousand of particulars in that spiritual opposition, which he met with and endured spiritually in his mind. And he teaches his disciples that they also must expect persecution in the world. This is commonly understood as designed to prepare them for that kind of persecution which history informs us that they afterwards suffered. It is supposed to have been uttered as a prophetic warning that they might know what they were to expect, and that when these things should come to pass they might recollect that they had been foretold; and from the fact that they had been foretold, that they might draw confidence concerning the final result. And it is true that the prophecy comprehended all these things, and besides these a great many more.
The external or natural opposition, which the Lord suffered, corresponded to and represented the internal or spiritual. What he suffered from men corresponded to and represented what he suffered from evil spirits.