About Emanuel Swedenborg
Who was Swedenborg?
Emanuel Swedenborg was born on 29th January 1688. His father was the court chaplain in Stockholm, and later became professor of theology at the University of Uppsala. His mother was Sara Behm, the daughter of a wealthy mine owner. Swedenborg continued the family involvement in the mining industry by becoming an Assessor to the Board of Mines. This was a role he undertook for most of his adult life. He studied mathematics and natural sciences at Uppsala and graduated when he was 21.
Swedenborg travelled for five years in Europe with the purpose of widening and extending his education. On return to Stockholm, he published several of his own inventions, which show what a wide ranging, brilliant and ambitious imagination he had. His inventions included a submarine, a magazine gun to fire sixty or seventy shots without reloading and a flying machine (although he recognised that there was no suitable means of propulsion available at that time).
Over the next twenty years, he published books and articles on a wide variety of topics including chemistry, metallurgy, the origin of the universe, inflation, and calculating longitude.
Emanuel Swedenborg’s Spiritual Writings
In 1735, Swedenborg turned his attention to physiology, and began a “search for the soul”. During this time he travelled widely in Europe, and published a series of books exploring new areas of physiology relevant to his search. In 1745, after a series of visions in which the Lord spoke directly to him, Swedenborg realised that the soul was not part of the physical body. Through the visions, the Lord commissioned him to document the inner, spiritual meaning contained in the Bible. This inner meaning tells us about our spiritual development which Swedenborg called regeneration. The Lord also prompted Swedenborg to describe in detail the spiritual world – heaven and hell – for the benefit of the whole human race.
After three years of preparation, Swedenborg began a mammoth writing task, lasting twenty seven years. During this time, he wrote a whole series of theological books which set down in some detail spiritual principles, which were soon to be adopted as the doctrines of a new Christian Church. Most of the books were published anonymously, at his own expense, in London or Amsterdam. This involved him in more travel, which, in the 18th century was difficult, uncomfortable, and sometimes dangerous.
Emanuel Swedenborg died in London on 29th March 1772. He was buried in the Swedish Church in London, but in 1908 his remains were moved with ceremony to a final resting place in Uppsala Cathedral.
Find out more
The Library at Wellspring House holds a collection of Swedenborg’s writings and provides a rich source of material for theological students, writers and those seeking more information about this remarkable 18th Century visionary. Please contact Karen or Melanie to arrange a visit. Further details of Swedenborg’s theological books can be found Here
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