At the end of June 1759, Swedenborg left England to return to Sweden. Though he had done this frequently, this time it would demonstrate his unique psychic powers. Up until now he had published his extraordinary theological works anonymously. Though widely distributed, few people knew that he was the author and for fifteen years had been living a double life as a citizen of two worlds. Now a series of incidents, which demonstrated his remarkable powers, focused public attention on him. The first occurrence was at the port of Gothenburg on the west coast of Sweden, 300 miles from Stockholm, on July 19th when Swedenborg and fifteen others were dinner guests of William Castel, a leading merchant of that city. The following account of that dinner is that of the philosopher Immanuel Kant, who thoroughly researched the incident, as contained in a letter to Charlotte von Knobloch written in 1763:
"The following occurrence appears to me to have the greatest weight of proof, and to place the assertion respecting Swedenborg's extraordinary gift beyond all possible doubt. In the year 1759 toward the end of July, on Saturday, at 4 o'clock pm. Swedenborg arrived at Gothenburg from England, when Mr. William Castel invited him to his house to gather with a party of 15 persons. About 6 o'clock Swedenborg went out, and returned to the company quite pale and alarmed. He said that a dangerous fire had just broken out in Stockholm, at the Sodermalm (Gothenburg is 300 miles from Stockholm), and that it was spreading very fast. He was restless and went out often. He said that the house of one of his friends, whom he named, was already in ashes, and that his own was in danger. At 8 o'clock, after he had been out again, he joyfully exclaimed, "Thank God! The fire is extinguished, the third door from my house." The news occasioned great commotion throughout the whole city, but particularly among the company in which he was. It was announced to the governor the same evening. On Sunday morning Swedenborg was summoned to the Governor who questioned him about the disaster.
Swedenborg described the fire precisely, how it had begun, in what manner it had stopped and how long it had continued. On the same day the news spread through the city, and the Governor had thought it worthy of attention, the consternation was considerably increased because many were troubled on account of their friends and property, which might have been involved in the disaster.
On Monday evening a messenger dispatched by the Board of Trade during the time of the fire arrived at Gothenburg. In the letters brought by him the fire was described precisely in the manner stated by Swedenborg.
On Tuesday morning the royal courier arrived at the Governor's with the melancholy intelligence of the fire, of the loss which it had occasioned, and of the houses it had damaged and ruined, not in the least differing from what Swedenborg had given at the very time it happened, for the fire was extinguished at eight o'clock."
News of Swedenborg's vision of the fire soon reached the capital arousing public curiosity. People were astonished to learn that the famous Swedenborg, of all people, the noted scientist, member of the Board of Mines, respected statesman of the House of Lords, possessed the strange power of knowing what was happening so far away! Soon the whole town was talking about him; everyone was amazed. At the same time a single copy of his work Heaven and Hell had turned up in Stockholm during the winter and come into the hands of Count Gustaf Bonde. He seems to have been the first person to guess, or find out, that Swedenborg was the author of these amazing books. After writing to several of his friends, the secret was out. Much sensation was caused in the capital that spring when the news of Swedenborg's communication with spirits spread. But public knowledge finally came through a further series of incidents. Immanuel Kant's well-researched investigations of these follows:
"Madame Marteville, the widow of the Dutch ambassador, sometime after the death of her husband was called upon by Croon, a goldsmith, to pay for a silver service which her husband had purchased from him. The widow was convinced that her late husband had been much too precise and orderly not to have paid this debt, yet she was unable to find the receipt. In her sorrow and because the amount was considerable, she requested Mr. Swedenborg to call at her house. After apologizing to him for troubling him, she said that if, as all people say, he possessed the extraordinary gift of conversing with the souls of the departed, he would perhaps have the kindness to ask her husband how it was about the silver service. Swedenborg did not at all object to comply with her request. Three days afterwards the said lady had company at her house for coffee. Swedenborg called, and in his cool way informed her that he had talked with her husband, the debt had been paid seven months before his decease, and the receipt was in a bureau in the room upstairs. The lady replied that the bureau had been quite cleared out, and that the receipt was not found among the papers. Swedenborg said that her husband had described to him, how after pulling out the left hand draw a board would appear which could be drawn out, whereupon a secret compartment would be disclosed containing his private Dutch correspondence as well as the receipt.
Upon hearing this description the whole company rose and accompanied the lady into the room upstairs. The bureau was opened. They did as they were directed and the compartment was found, of which no one had ever known before. To the great astonishment of all the receipt was discovered there in accordance with Swedenborg's description."
Count Anders J. von Hopken records perhaps the strongest story about Swedenborg’s psychic power - “The Queen’s Secret,”, although its accuracy is attested to by other reliable, people including Jung-Stilling and Immanuel Kant.
"Swedenborg was one day at a court reception. Her majesty asked him about different things in the other life, and lastly whether he had seen or talked with her brother, the prince royal of Prussia. He answered that he had not. Her majesty then requested him to ask after him, and to give him her greeting, which Swedenborg promised to do. It is doubtful whether the Queen meant anything serious by this.
At the next reception, Swedenborg again appeared at court. The queen was in the white room, surrounded by her ladies of honour. He came boldly in and approached her majesty, who no longer remembered the commission she had given him a week ago. Swedenborg not only greeted her from her brother, but also gave her brother's apologies for not having answered her last letter, which he wished to do so now through Swedenborg, who proceeded to do so. The queen was greatly overcome, and said, "no one, except God, knows this secret."
The reason why she had never alluded to this before was that she did not wish anyone in Sweden to believe that during the war with Prussia she had carried on a correspondence with the enemy."
Another account says that the queen nearly fainted, and Count von Schwerin, seeing distress, bitterly reproached Swedenborg for his conduct, at the same time trying to elicit the nature of the secret. The incident became known and many were anxious to know the truth of the matter. "The wife of Swedenborg's gardener," C.F. Nordenskold says, "related to us that for days following the occurrence carriages stopped before her master's door from which the first gentlemen in the kingdom alighted, desiring to know the secret of which the queen was so greatly alarmed, but that her master, faithful to his promise, refused to tell."
Jung-Stilling records the following story in his memorandum book for 1809 on the testimony of a certain beloved friend:
"In the year 1762, on the very day when the emperor Peter the third of Russia died, Swedenborg was present with me at a party in Amsterdam. In the middle of the conversation his countenance changed, and it was obvious that his soul was no longer present in him. As soon as he recovered he was asked what had happened. At first he would not speak out, but after repeatedly urged, he said, "Now, at this very hour the Emperor Peter the third has died in prison," explaining the nature of his death. "Gentlemen, will you please make note of this day, in order that you may compare with the announcement of his death which will appear in the newspapers?" The papers soon after announced the death of the emperor which had taken place on that very same day. Such is the account of my friend. If anyone doubts this statement is proof that he has no sense of what is called historical faith and its grounds, and that he believes only what he himself sees and hears."
Many others have testified to the truth of the messages Swedenborg brought them from their deceased friends. If Swedenborg had been a charlatan, he might have achieved wealth and fame by exploiting his extraordinary powers. Far from making a public show of these, he seldom referred to them unless the occasion called for it; most certainly he refused to confirm his mission by means of them. Remarkable as the revelations were, Swedenborg did not regard them as in any way miraculous. To him they were simply proofs of the reality of his communication with the spiritual world:
"These must by no means be regarded as miracles. They are simply testimonies that I have been introduced by the Lord into the spiritual world, and have communication and converse with angels and spirits, in order that the church, which hitherto has remained in ignorance about that world, may know that heaven and hell really exists, and that thus every man lives after death as a person as before, and that thus no more doubts may flow into his mind in regard to his immortality."