Page:A Compendium of the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg.djvu/54

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peculiarity of their breathing was shown to me, and I was informed that the breathing of the lungs varies successively, according to the state of their faith. This was unknown to me before, and yet I can perceive and believe it, because my breathing has been so formed by the Lord that for a considerable time I could breathe inwardly, without the aid of the external air, and yet the external senses continue in their vigor. This faculty cannot be possessed by any but those who are so formed by the Lord, and, it is said, not otherwise than miraculously. I was informed also that my breathing is so directed, without my knowledge, in order that I may be with spirits and speak with them. . . I was accustomed to breathe in this way first in my childhood, when praying my morning and evening prayers; sometimes also afterwards, when I was exploring the concordance of the lungs and the heart; and especially when I was writing from my mind the things which have been published for many years. I observed, constantly, that there was a tacit breathing, hardly sensible,—about which it was afterwards given me to think, and then to write. Thus was I introduced into such breathings from infancy onward through many years; and afterwards, when heaven was opened to me, so that I might converse with spirits, I scarcely inhaled at all for more than an hour,—only just enough air to enable me to think. So I was introduced into interior respiration by the Lord."

If, as Swedenborg asserts, this faculty of internal respiration for a time without the aid of the external air, can only be possessed by those who are so formed by the Lord, and, as he was told,—he does not aver the fact of his own knowledge,—miraculously, it is a matter which human science necessarily has difficulty in taking jurisdiction of. It has, however, provoked some very interesting and striking reflections from Dr. Wilkinson, an eminent physician of London, author of an eloquent biography of Swedenborg, and translator of some of his most important scientific works.

"As we breathe," he says, "so we are. Inward thoughts have inward breaths, and purer spiritual thoughts have spiritual breaths hardly mixed with material. Death is breath-