Page:A Compendium of the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg.djvu/53

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HIS MISSION EXPLAINED.

"In your gracious letter you ask how I came to have intercourse with angels and spirits, and whether this state could be imparted by one to another. Please accept the following reply:

"The Lord our Saviour foretold that he would come again into the world, and institute a New Church. He predicted this in Revelation XXI. and XXII., and also in several places in the Gospels. 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 doctrines of that church in his understanding, but should also publish it by the press; and as the Lord had prepared me for this from my childhood, He manifested Himself in person before me, His servant, and sent me to do this work. This took place in the year 1743; and afterwards He opened the sight of my spirit, and thus introduced me into the spiritual world, granting me to see the heavens, and many wonderful things there, and also the hells, and to talk with angels and spirits,—and this continually for twenty-seven years. This took place with me on account of the church which I mention above, the doctrine of which is contained in my books. The gift of conversing with spirits and angels cannot be transferred from one person to another; as in my case, the Lord Himself opens the sight of the person. It is sometimes granted to a spirit to enter and communicate with a man; but leave is not given the man to speak with him mouth to mouth."

But there is no more remarkable nor more satisfactory explanation of his special fitness for his mission, if his own allegations may be accepted in all their length and breadth, than the peculiar and strange competence of his respiratory functions. We are not aware that the faculty of conscious internal as distinct from external respiration, which Swedenborg attributed to himself, was ever before possessed by any man. In a diary of his spiritual experiences, which Swedenborg was accustomed to keep after "the opening of his spiritual vision," occur the following passages:

"I also conversed with them respecting the nature of their speech; and in order that I might perceive it, the