« 上一頁繼續 »
Anecdotes. Of Swedenborg's external life, during the composition of the “Ar. cana Cælestia,” we know little. From his “Spiritual Diary," we incidentally learn that he was in Stockholm on the 23rd of July, 1756. A revolution had been attempted, and the leaders of the conspiracy, Count Brahe and Baron Horn, were executed on that day. Swedenborg writes of Brahe thus :- -“ Brahe was beheaded at ten o'clock in the morning, and spoke with me at ten at night ; that is to say, twelve hours after his execution. He was with me almost without interruption for several days. In two days' time, he began to return to his former life, which consisted in loving worldly things; and after three days, he became as he was before in the world, and was carried into the evils that he had made his own before he died.” S. Diary, 5099.
Robsahm, a friend of Swedenborg's, probably alludes to this circumstance, when he writes, “ one day as a criminal was led to the place of execution to be beheaded, I was by the side of Swedenborg, and asked him how such a person felt at the time of his execution. He answered, when a man lays his head on the block, he loses all sensation. When he first comes into the spiritual world, and finds that he is living, he is seized with the fear of his expected death, tries to escape, and is very much frightened. At such a moment no one thinks of anything but the happiness of heaven, or the misery of hell. Soon the good spirits come to him, and instruct him where he is, and he is then left to follow his own inclinations, which soon lead him to the place where he remains for ever." It appears that whatever happens at the hour of death, is carried into the other life, and the state is continued for some time. Thus we read in the “Spiritual Diary of a person who had been reduced by melancholy to despair, until being instigated by diabolical spirits, he destroyed himself, by thrusting a knife into his body. “ This spirit came to me,” writes Swedenborg, “complaining that he was miserably treated by evil spirits. He was seen by me, holding a knife in his hand, as though he would plunge it into his breast. With this knife he laboured very hard, as wishing rather to cast it from hiun, but in vain.”
It soon became widely known that Swedenborg had intercourse with spirits, and many and various were the demands made upon him, for information of one kind and another. The Queen of Sweden asked him whether his spiritual intercourse was a science or art that could be communicated to others. He said, “No, it is the gift of the Lord.” “Can you then," said she,“ speak with everyone deceased, or only with certain persons ?” He answered, “I cannot converse with all, but only with such as I have known in this world, with all royal and princely persons, with all renowned heroes, or great and learned men, whom I have known, either personally, or from their actions or writings ; consequently with all of whom I could form an idea ; for it may be supposed that a person whom I never knew, and of whom I could form no idea, I neither could or would wish to speak with."
The Prince of Prussia was brother to the Queen of Sweden, and shortly after his death, Swedenborg being at court, the Queen perceiving him, said, “Well, Mr Assessor, have you seen my brother ? " He answered, “No;” whereupon she replied, “ If you should see him, remember me to him.” In saying this, she did but jest. Eight days afterwards, Swedenborg came again to court, but so early that the Queen had not left her apartment called the white room, where she was conversing with her maids of honour, and other ladies of the conrt. Swedenborg did not wait for the Queen's coming out, but entered directly into her apartment, and whispered in her ear. The Queen, struck with astonishment, was taken ill, and did not recover for some time. After she was come to herself, she said to those about her, “there is only God and my brother who can know what he has just told me.” She owned that he had spoken of her last correspondence with the prince, the subject of which was known to themselves alone.
The following is narrated by J. H. Jung Stilling :-"About the year 1770, there was a merchant in Elberfeld with whom, during seven years of my residence there, I lived in close intimacy. He spoke little; but what he said was like golden fruit on a salver of silver. He would not have dared for all the world to have told a falsehood. His business requiring him to take a journey to Amsterdam, where Swedenborg at that time resided, and having heard and read much of this strange individual, he formed the intention of visiting him. He therefore called upon him, and found a very venerable looking, friendly old man, who received him politely, and requested him to be seated. Explaining his errand, and expressing his deep admiration of Swedenborg's writings, he desired that he would give him a proof of his intercourse with the unseen world. Swedenborg said Why not? Most willingly. The merchant then proceeded to tell that he had formerly a friend, who studied divinity at Duisburg, where he fell into a consumption, of which he died. Visiting this friend a short time before his decease, they conversed together on an important topic. The question he then put to Swedenborg, was, ' Can you learn from the student what was the subject of our discourse at that time.' Swedenborg replied, “We will see ; what was the name of your friend?' The merchant told his name, and Swedenborg then requested him to call in a few days. Some days after, the merchant went again to see Swedenborg, in anxious expectation. The old gentleman met him with a smile; and said, 'I have spoken with your friend; the subject of your discourse was the restitution of all things.' He then related to the merchant, with the greatest precision, what he, and what his deceased friend, had maintained. The merchant turned pale; for this proof was powerful and invincible. He inquired further, ' How fares it with my friend ? is he in a state of blessedness ? ' Swedenborg answered 'No, he is not in heaven ; he is still in the world of spirits, and torments himself continually with the idea of the restitution of all things.' He ejaculated, “My God ! What! in the other world ? Swedenborg replied,. Certainly; a man takes with him his favourite inclinations and opinions, and it is very difficult to be divested of them. We ought, therefore, to lay them aside here.' The merchant took his leave, perfectly convinced, and returned to Elberfeld.”
An ambassador from Holland, named Martville, died at Stockholm. After his death, a considerable sum of money was demanded of his widow in payment of a debt. She felt certain the debt had been paid, but was unable to find the receipt for the money. Being advised to consult Swedenborg, who, she was told, could converse with the dead whenever he pleased, she adopted the advice, more from curiosity than from a belief in his powers. The lady called on Swedenborg and told him her trouble, and he promised if he met her husband in the spiritual world, he would inquire of him about the matter. Eight days afterwards Martville appeared to his wife in a dream, and mentioned to her a private place in his cabinet, where she would not only find the receipt, but also a hair pin set with twenty brilliants, which had been given up as lost. This happened about two o'clock in the morning. Full of joy, she arose and found them in the place designated. She returned again to rest, and slept till nine o'clock. About eleven Swedenborg was announced. His first remark, before Madame had time to speak, was, that he had, during the preceding night, seen several spirits, and among others her late husband. He had wished to converse with him, but Martville excused himself on the ground that he must go to discover to his wife something of importance. This account, attested by the lady herself, was noised through all Stockholm. It may be added that Madame desired to make Swedenborg a handsome present for his services, which he, of course, declined.
Sometimes Swedenborg's announcements of the states of the departed alarmed his auditors. We read of a case of this kind which took place on a royage from Gottenburg to London.
The vessel staying at Oresound, the Swedish Consul invited the officers of the custom house, together with several of the first people of the town, all anxious to see and know Swedenborg, to dine with him at his house. Being all seated at table, and none of them taking the liberty of addressing Swedenborg, who likewise was silent, the Consul thought it incumbent on him to break silence, and asked Swedenborg, as he could see and speak with the dead, whether he had seen Christian VI., King of Denmark, after his decease. To this he replied in the affirmative, adding, that when he saw him the first time, he was accompanied by a bishop or other prelate, who humbly begged the King's pardon for the many errors into which he had led him by his counsels. A son of the deceased prelate happened to be present at the table : the Consul therefore fearing that Swedenborg might say something further to the disadvantage of the father, interrupted him, saying, “Sir, this is his son!” Swedenborg replied, “it may be, but what I am saying is true.”
Such anecdotes might be greatly multiplied, but space forbids. No one, perhaps, has a lower idea of the worth of these stories, as testimonies to Swedenborg's veracity, than the writer ; yet they could not well be omitted from an account of his life. Gossip spread them far and wide in his own day, as is evidenced by the various forms in which they have come down to us, and any biographer would fail in his duty did he not show how the common world of men dealt with, and regarded Swedenborg. These anecdotes, also in some degree manifest what a kind, affable, simple, and honest man Swedenborg was.
Having finished the “Arcana Cælestia,” Swedenborg's pen yet knew no rest. In 1758 he published in London the five following works : -1. An Account of the Last Judgment and the Destruction of Babylon; showing that all the predictions in the Apocalypse are at this day fulfilled ; being a relation of things heard and seen. 2. Concerning Heaven and its wonders, and concerning Hell, being a relation of things heard and seen. 3. On the White Horse mentioned in the Apocalypse. 4. On the Planets in our solar system, and on those in the Heavens; with an account of their inhabitants, and of their spirits and angels. 5. On the New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrines, as revealed from heaven. Let us now examine these works in order.
The Last Judgment. To the early reader of Swedenborg's writings, few of his declarations, at first sight, appear stranger than his affirmation that the Last Judgment is past, that it took place in 1757. Yet although startling at first, it is a doctrine which, on closer acquaintance, readily comes within the grasp of reason and common sense; and we discover that all its early strangeness was owing to our having looked at it through the thick mist of prejudice and preconceived opinion.
The treatise on the Last Judgment, (although, as to size, only a
pamphlet,) is a most effective and masterly exposition of the nature of the end of the church, the new heavens, and the new earth of the Apocalypse.
In the first place it is shown that the day of the Last Judgment does not mean the destruction of the world; for neither the visible heaven nor the habitable earth will perish, but both will remain for
The reason for this is, that the heaven of angels is formed from the human race; all angels having lived the life of men, and none having been so created ; and as the perfection of heaven increases to eternity with the influx of regenerate men from the world, it follows that the earth will never cease to exist, or men to live and be born upon it. The world is the seminary of heaven. Heaven depends upon the world for its growth, increase, and perfection. Heaven could not exist without worlds.
Heaven being formed from the human race, so likewise is Hell ; all devils and satans having at one time been men on this or some other earth. “That is not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural.”
These doctrines, it will be seen, militate against what are called orthodox opinions, which teach that angels were created before the world, -struck off, so to speak, instantaneously; and that no man can go to heaven or to hell before the time of the Last Judgment, when the souls of men having returned into their bodies, the visible world will be burned up; the sun and moon be quenched in nature's night; and the stars, each surrounded with its own system of worlds, having first fallen upon this speck of a globe, are to be wiped out of existence. These common but crude and unscriptural ideas have afforded the best subjects for scoffing at the Christian religion which the sceptic could desire. For he triumphantly asks, how can so vast a heaven, and so many stars, with sun and moon, be destroyed and dissipated ? and how can the stars fall from heaven upon the earth, when they are larger than the earth : How can men's bodies, eaten up by worms, consumed by putrefaction, scattered to all winds, absorbed by vegetation and again incorporated in other men's systems, be re-collected for their souls? What is this day of Judgment ? and has it not been expected for ages in vain ? together with many other such questions, all pertinent, but to which the church can give no rational answer.
And yet iguorance on such subjects cannot be excused, for men might have known from the Word that heaven and hell are from mankind, and that man is raised up and lives immediately after death. Information on these subjects might have been obtained from the Lord's words to the thief upon the cross, “Verily I say unto thee, To-day shalt thou be with me in Paradise.”—Luke 23. 43; and from those which he spoke concerning the rich man and Lazarus, that the