To see a World in a Grain of Sand And a Heaven in a Wild Flower, Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand And Eternity in an hour(William Blake, Auguries of Innocence)Reuben P. Bell† No stranger to Emanuel Swedenborg’s spiritual-natural cosmology, William Blake saw the marvelous complexity in nature arising in a holographic way from the simplicity of divine influx into a world blos- soming with its infinite effects. He understood that “the whole visible universe is nothing else than a theater representative of the Lord’s king- dom, and this in turn is a theater representative of the Lord Himself” (AC 3483), and built his entire visionary system upon this principle.
On April 7, 1723 Emanuel Swedenborg was invited to take his seat on the Board of Mines. He had received his commission from King Karl XII on December 18, 1716. For seven years the gifted bishop’s son had struggled to have the board, Sweden’s most powerful economic institution, recognize the legitimacy of his extra-ordinary appointment. The decision to seat Swedenborg reflects well on both Swedenborg and the board. To understand why, it is necessary to explore the history, the structure, functions, and the personnel of the Board of Mines, as well as Swedenborg’s effort to develop competencies in areas related to the work of the board during his years in limbo.
We are in the possession of a great accumulation of physical observations, as is evident to all; but those who use them rightly for the confirmation and amplification of natural philosophy and a true theory of medicine, have been few in number. The highly learned author of the present work sets his name among this number, deeming it to be to the interest of all, that, from the accumulated heaps, we construct an edifice; that with the sickle we reap the harvest; and that we enjoy the dainty foods which have been prepared; that is to say, that we endeavor at last to gather wisdom from the experience with which we abound [§ 26]. He enters upon this path, and proceeds to search the animal economy, anatomically, physically, and philosophically.