Page:A Compendium of the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg.djvu/45

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xxxvii
LITERARY AND SCIENTIFIC LABORS.

mankind; and to the contemplation and service of which, when found, he consecrated the remainder of his life.[1]

The ability to treat such a variety of topics, and most of them, I may add upon the authority of perfectly competent testimony, as no other man of the time could have treated them, is due to qualities of mind and character which have scarcely received from his biographers the attention they merit. There was no kind of knowledge which could be made useful to his fellow creatures that he thought it beneath him to master, or which he neglected an opportunity of mastering. In one of his letters, dated July 18, 1709, he says:

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"During my stay here, I have acquired the manual art of binding books; for we have a book-binder with us; I have already displayed my skill upon two books, which I bound in half-morocco."

On March 6 following he writes that he had added another accomplishment to that of book-binding:

  1. From an admirable paper on "Swedenborg as a Scientist," by Rev. Chauncey Giles, we are tempted to quote the concluding paragraph:

    "In conclusion, I know of no element essential to a scientific mind of the highest order which he did not possess. He set out with the noblest ends, the discovery of truth for the glory of God. He pursued them with a patience that never wearied, and a strength that never failed. He planted every step upon the solid basis of experience and fact. He took mathematics, which by many is considered as the only demonstrative and absolute science, for his guide. He used both the methods of analysis and synthesis in every step he took, and by these means he continually rectified his conclusions. He was as docile as a child, and yet was too wise and sharp-sighted to be deceived by appearances. He was not credulous. 'Prove all things, and hold fast the true and good,' was his constant practice. His intellect was eminently constructive. He was ingenious and alert in discovering new methods and applying them. Temperate in his appetites, virtuous in his habits, deaf to applause, devoid of envy or ambition, indefatigable in effort; with an intellect cool and clear as his own sky, a courage that feared nothing but error, a judgment unbiased by opinion or favor and competent to weigh the value of every fact, he worked on with untiring perseverence for more than thirty years, hasting not, resting not in the examination of the material world and the organic forms of the material body. And thus in his life and by his deeds he demonstrated the truth that he possessed a scientific mind second to none and equal to the greatest in any age; and he laid the foundation broad and deep in the material world for his ascent into the higher realms of spiritual knowledge. To his native endowments of docility, intellectual integrity, and devotion to the truth, he added the culture, the strength, the alertness, the courage, and the skill necessary to bring the worlds of spirit and matter together, and in the forms of the lower reveal to man the existence, the reality, the presence, and the perfection of the higher."

    For a list of Swedenborg's Literary, Scientific, and Academic writings, see the Supplement, p. lxxix.