International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
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History of Vegetarianism - Europe: The Middle Ages to the 18th Century
Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772)


 

Emanuel Swedenborg, 75, holding the manuscript of Apocalypsis Revelata (1766)
Swedish, original surname Svendberg. Swedish scientist and theologian whose mystical ideas became the basis of a religious movement.
Swedenborgianism or Swedenborgism, the system of philosophical and religious doctrines of Emanual Swedenborg, emphasising the spiritual structure of the universe, the possibility of direct contact with spirits, and the divinity of Christ. This provided the basis for the New Jerusalem Church (or New Church) founded by Swedenborg's followers.

Eating the flesh of animals, considered in itself, is somewhat profane; for in the most ancient times they never ate the flesh of any beast or bird, but only grain . . .especially bread made of wheat . . . the fruits of trees, vegetables, milks and such things as are made from them, as butter, etc. To kill animals and eat their flesh was to them unlawful, being regarded as something bestial. They only took from them uses and services, as is evident from Genesis 1, 29-30. But in the course of tiume, when mankind became cruel like wild beasts, yea more cruel, then first they began to kill animals and eat their flesh. And because man had acquired such a nature, the killing and eating of animals was permitted and is permitted at the present day. - Heavenly Arcana

A relation to man in each and all things of the animal kingdom is plain from these considerations; Animals of every kind have limbs by which they move, organs by which they feel, and viscera by which these are put in motion. These they have in common with man. They have also appetites and affections similar to those natural to man. At birth they jave knowledge, corresponding to their affections, in some of which appears something like the spritual. This is more or less plain to the eye in the case of beasts, birds, bees, silkworm, ants, etc. From these facts it is that altogether natural men assert that living creatures of this kingdom are like them, apart from speech.
- Angelic Wisdom Concerning The Divine Love and The Divine Wisdom (short title: Divine Love and Wisdom), trans. from Latin by H.Goyder Smith from the author's original edition published Amsterdam 1763. Swedenborg Society 1937

Note: the later influence of Swedenborgianism on vegetarianism can be seen in the Bible Christian Church founded in 1809

  • Swedenborg - from The Ethics of Diet by Howard Williams, 1883
  • Emanuel Swedenborg : a biography (link to archive.org) by James Wilkinson, Boston, 1849. p.238: He writes on the subject in his Arcana as follows: " Considered apart, eating the flesh of animals is somewhat profane...."