Page:A Compendium of the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg.djvu/12

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Some word of apology may be due to the reader who shall make his first acquaintance with the writings of Swedenborg through this volume, for the use of certain unfamiliar terms. The present condition of mankind being such that internal things are but dimly and generally perceived, the mind does not take cognizance of their plurality. It sees as an individual thing what in reality is very multiple. And therefore we have in common use in language only singular terms for many internal things. Thus we commonly speak of good, happiness, etc., which are of the will, and internal, only in the singular number; while to corresponding things that are more external, delights, joys, pleasures, enjoyments, etc., we ascribe plurality,—because we perceive their plurality. This is the reason why, to the unaccustomed mind, there appears a certain oddity of expression in the writings of Swedenborg, where internal things are the constant theme, and are described as they really are, and as they are discerned in heaven,—and, with less fulness, by some on earth. To modify the author's language in order to escape the oddity of unfamiliar expressions, would be to shut out from the reader's mind a large and most valuable part of the spiritual philosophy his writings contain; and would at least endanger his falling into great misapprehensions. The importance of rendering the author into pleasant and popular English as far as practicable has, however, not been out of mind; but the translator has not felt at liberty knowingly to sacrifice any shade of the author's meaning on account of it. The writings of Swedenborg embody a system of most profound philosophy, spiritual and natural; and, as with most philosophical writings, and perhaps more than most, it requires for exact expression language in some degree its own; which cannot be changed for more popular and current phraseology without, as was said, the loss of some part of the author's meaning, and while seeming to favour, really hindering the actual apprehension of the profound subjects treated of. What would be thought of the editor of any of the treatises on which systems of speculative philosophy are founded, if he