Letters (Acton) n. 1

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1. [Letter to Count Bonde, August 11, 1760]

Your High Countship's Excellency:*

I am grateful for the honor of your Excellency's letter, and for the most kind invitation to Hesleby. As to the accompanying letter from Herr Baron Hatzel of Rotterdam, I ought to answer it in accordance with his desire, but since it concerns the Writings which hast came out in London, on which my name is not printed, I must not let myself into any literary correspondence with any one in foreign lands, and so myself give my name as the author.** But not so within my own country.*** Yet those who are in foreign lands can be answered through others, and I humbly beg that your Excellency will be so good as to convey my greetings to him and ask him to excuse my not being able to give him a written answer; yet assure him that it was a great pleasure to me that he found enjoyment and light in the reading of the Writings, this being a sign that he had enlightenment from heaven, for without enlightenment, no one can understand the things written therein since they pertain not to the outer understanding but to the inner. As regards the question whether there are any verses in the Books of Moses which have the property and power to bring one into commerce or conversation with spirits, I know of no verses in the Scripture which have this property above other verses; but I know that when man reads it with affection and attention, spirits and angels have part therein, and adjoin themselves to the man; for God's Word is so written that it makes a bond between heaven and earth (what is written hereon can be seen in the treatise concerning Heaven and Hell, nos. 305-310). Yet the Lord so disposes that spirits and men seldom come so close together that they talk with each other reciprocally;**** for by such close commerce with spirits, the man can soon come into peril of soul, and into danger of his life.***** I will therefore advise against all desire therefor. The Lord Himself has been pleased to introduce me into conversation and a common life with spirits and angels for the sake of the things which are mentioned in the Writings. Therefore the Lord Himself protects me against the many and crafty attempts and threats of evil spirits. Spirits and men are held apart from each other by the fact that spirits are in spiritual thought and speech, and men in natural thought and speech. This separates them from each other, and they make one only by correspondences - an arrangement which likewise has been written of. Therefore, so long as spirits are in a spiritual state, and men in a natural state, they do not come together so as to converse. Yet they are together in their affections. But when spirits talk with man, they are outside their spiritual state, and in a natural state like the man, and then they are able to lead the man into danger of his soul and of his life, as previously stated. For this reason, they must be held apart so that the spirits know nothing from man, and man knows nothing from them, though they are always together; for man cannot live unless there are spirits with him, it being through them that he has connection with heaven and with hell, and by this connection he has his life. I make bold humbly to request that your Excellency, when writing to Baron Hatzel, convey my respectful greetings and excuse, and as answer, if this is agreeable to your Excellency, give something of that which is now stated; for it is of this that he writes to me in his letter, and he desires information. I remain, with all reverence and respect, Your high Countship Excellency's most humble servant, Em. Swedenborg

Stockholm, Aug. 11, 1760

* Count Gustaf Bonde (1682-1764) was a descendant of one of the most ancient noble families of Sweden. When in 1727 he became a member of the Privy Council, he was the twentieth member of his family in direct line from father to son who had filled that office. He was a supporter of Horn's policy of peace, and when the Hats came into power, he was forced to resign (March 1740). During the next twenty-one years he retired to his estates and spent his time in study and writing, though during the earlier of these years he continued his office as Chancellor of Upsala University, where he introduced many important educational reforms. He had been elected Chancellor in 1737. In 1761, when the Caps came into power, he again became a Privy Councillor and remained such until his death. Among his papers are some comments on Heaven and Hell and the Last Judgment, which indicate that he did not accept Swedenborg's teaching. ** In his first draft, as copied by Bengt Bergius, Swedenborg here adds: "The bookseller who has these writings for sale has also been forbidden to make my name known." (2 Doc. 397-98, 401) *** This distinction is strictly in accordance with Swedenborg's practice. He was called upon in March by Baron Tilas, and in March and June by Count Tessin; and to both these men he talked of his spiritual experiences without the slightest reservation. **** In his draft, Swedenborg here adds: "for this more dangerous than men suppose" (2 Doc. 232 note). ***** In his draft, Swedenborg here adds: "Unless the Lord Himself bring them into this condition and take them under His care and protect them specially, as is the case with me."

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