Page:A Compendium of the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg.djvu/35

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

friends supposed to be interested in the subjects of them. No special effort was made in his life-time to attract public attention to their contents. The press of the period seems scarcely to have known of their existence. Quietly, but steadily, however, they have gained readers, and their doctrines, converts, until now his disciples may be found in every Christian land; his works in the language of every civilized people; and his doctrines more or less leavening the pulpit teachings of every Christian sect. This growth and vitality of a comparatively modern system of religious instruction and Biblical interpretation is in many respects without a precedent. It would, I think, be difficult to name an instance of any other society organized expressly for the propagation and exposition of the teachings of an uninspired writer that has been maintained for any considerable fraction of such a period of time as has elapsed since the writings of Swedenborg were first submitted to the public. Of all the founders of schools of thought since the Apostles, I recall none to whom such homage has been paid.

This vitality seems to be the more exceptional and extraordinary from the fact that Swedenborg took no steps looking to the foundation of a sect. He not only disclaimed in the most explicit terms any such purpose, but he lived and died a communicant of the Lutheran Church, in which he was reared. To whatever conclusion, therefore, one may come in regard to his authority as a teacher of theology, it is clear that he belonged to an order of men very rare in the world, who brought extraordinary gifts to the study of the most important problems of human life; and that the wisest may learn much from his writings, while no one can afford to make light of his extraordinary influence, nor of the means by which he acquired it.



Emanuel Swedenborg was born at Stockholm, in Sweden, on the 29th day of January, 1688, and died on the 29th day of March, 1772, having attained the then