Swedenborg Study.com

Online works based on the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg


Previous: Chapter First Up: The Science of Correspondency Next: Chapter Third

Chapter Second

We propose to pursue the subject of correspondency, first, in its most general relations, and afterwards to enter into the investigation of the particulars connected therewith. This method of pursuing our inquiries will obviously be the most convenient and advantageous, because it is that which the mind intuitively pursues in the course of its own instruction, and in the instruction of the senses. For what is it we spontaneously do, when some beautiful and extensive prospect is presented to the sight? The mind first rapidly surveys and embraces the whole; afterwards, fixes its attention on the leading features of the picture, and lastly traces out the particular forms that enter into its composition.. But, at every stage of the investigation, it stops to associate the knowledge it has acquired ; and then, at every fresh combination of its various forms into an harmonious whole, the landscape rises in beauty, because it is seen more completely, and thus imparts increased delight. The same course is commonly pursued in the scientific arrangements of natural history.

It is customary to give first the most general division of natural forms, and to classify all bodies in space by the leading distinctions of organic or inorganic. Then each of these classes is divided and subdivided by their characteristic properties, and associated by common resemblances, until at length we are presented with a system of natural history.

Without this systematic arrangement, the whole would be a confused mass of facts, an intellectual chaos, from which little or nothing useful could be gained. Whereas by such a system the whole is easily comprehended and retained; and fresh facts, so far from embarrassing us, add to the entireness of the intellectual prospect by being associated with the rest; and thus we are continually adding to the beauty and harmony of the whole. Having found the advantage of this method in every branch of science, it should also be pursued in acquiring the knowledge of correspondencies, which, so far as the understanding is concerned, is strictly a science, and to be studied as .a science, although, from its universality, it is eminently superior to every other: not that we should allow it to rest in the understanding as a mere science, for it is given to us for the far nobler, and far better purpose, that it may, by the application of the truths which it unfolds, influence the will, and so really connect us with the Heavenly Source of all Truth and Goodness.

First, then, the two most general conditions which belong to all the signs, or objects of nature, are space and time, and the two most general conditions of the thing signified, namely the mind, are the will and the intellect. All the objects of nature are comprehended by space and time, for their simultaneous presence is in space, or rather is space, and their successive variation is in time, or rather is time; and all the many faculties of the mind must be classed generally under the will and the intellect, for the various affections of the mind are in the will, and the thoughts of the mind are in the understanding, or, properly speaking, the affections and thoughts of the mind collectively are the will and the understanding. But . the will of man, which is the same thing as his loft?, is; the esse, or inmost ground of his life, and the intellect is the existere, or the manifested form of the will, or love ; and therefore there is a correspondency between the two. Again, the manifested condition of the will is represented by space, and the changes in the state of the will, which are exhibited in the thoughts of the intellect, by time. If we open any part of the Holy Scripture, we shall find the correspondency between the natural and spiritual senses to resolve itself into the general form of the condition of the will and the intellect, and the relations of space and time. Take any example that may first occur, as in the sixth verse of the second Psalm it is said, " I have set my king upon my holy hill of Zion." This, in the natural sense, relates to the establishment of David upon the throne of Israel; but, in the spiritual sense, it has no relation by any figure of speech to the land of Canaan, nor specifically to the space occupied by the holy hill of Zion, nor to the time when David reigned, but wholly relates to the state of the will and the intellect under the government of the Divine Truth (see Apocalypse Explained, n. 850).

Next to space and time, we may consider the general properties of heat and light, and their correspondency.

Now of these two sensuous properties, heat is the esse, and light its existere, or manifested form. But the Lord alone is Esse, for He alone Is, being the inmost cause of all that exists, and the Esse of the Divine Life is Love. Therefore the Sun of heaven, in its quickening warmth, corresponds to the Divine Love, ..and in its light to the Divine Wisdom. The sun of mature also, so far as it is connected in us with the Sun .of heaven, corresponds to that Love and Wisdom; tout disconnected, it represents the love of self, and the folly and insanity which are its effects. Heat and light, without which nothing in nature could exist, are leading correspondencies. Heat is a property which belongs to the touch, and light a property which belongs to the sight; the touch therefore, considered generally, corresponds to the will; and the sight to the understanding. But, of all the senses, the sight is that by which we principally obtain our knowledge of space, its relations, and its changes; hence it corresponds to the intellect in its functions of manifesting the affections of the will and their changes; and Swedenborg shows that the touch, to which different degrees of warmth are indispensable, corresponds to the will, and the different states of its affections.

But the intensity of the sun's heat is accompanied by a proportional intensity of light, and these conditions represent the Divine Love and Wisdom in the quality of its reception. The separation of light from heat in the winter, and of heat from light at night, correspond to the natural state of the will and of the intellect, and the separation between the Divine Goodness and the Divine Truth in man, and the consequent winter and night of the human mind.

What then, it may here be asked, is the cause and reason of the twofold signification of things, as of the sun of nature with its heat and light. This twofold correspondency exists neither in heaven nor in hell; for in heaven all things correspond to, and therefore represent, the purity of their love and the brightness of their wisdom, and in hell all things represent the defilement of their wills and the darkness of their intellects ; but in this natural state, man, who, by freedom of choice, has to. determine his own eternal happiness or misery, is placed in a spiritual equilibrium between the two, and therefore the objects of his senses bear a twofold signification, determined by their use or their abuse, which use or abuse will depend upon the state of the will, operating by means of the intellect. ^ This spiritual equilibrium is preserved by the Lord in order that man, so long as he continue in this world, may be in such a condition as to be capable, if he be disposed, of being reformed and regenerated. Even the Holy Scriptures themselves, considered as a general exposition of Divine Truth, have their twofold signification. In itself the Word, of God is the very throne of truth, and yet under what a false aspect is it seen by those who separate its letter from its spirit, or whose internal state is such as to shut out all revelation of its spiritual or living sense. Here, it is the use or the abuse, that is, it is the state of the will and the intellect, which. determines the representative signification of the Word in its literal sense; since to him who connects it with the Divine Life, it is in itself Divine and holy, but to him who separates it, it is neither Divine nor holy, but, like nature, when separated from its spiritual life, abounds with fallacies; and then the literal sense of the Word corresponds to the darkened state of him who so misunderstands it; but where the Lord's words are seen by the Divine Light which is constantly entering our inner world, to be spirit and to be life, then the literal sense corresponds to the order and harmony that reign in the intellect by the reception of truth, in the will by the love of it, and in the whole man by the practice of it.

As man is the medium for the creation of this natural world, it is therefore the representative form, because it is the effect of the general condition, of the church ; while in each country, and in every portion of a country, there is a like consistency of representation. Therefore it is said of the. Lord in the Holy Scripture, that "He turneth the rivers into a wilderness, and the water-springs into dry ground ; a fruitful land into barrenness, for the wickedness of them that dwell, therein" (Psalm cvii. 33, 34). Now, though we may; not be able to trace, except generally, in the condition of :a country, the moral and intellectual cultivation, or want of cultivation, of its inhabitants; and though we may not be able to trace to ourselves the correspondencies of all things with which we are cognizant by the senses, as they who lived in the most ancient times were accustomed to do, nevertheless the production and constitution of nature is in no respect changed, but is as much as ever a theatre , representative of the Lord's kingdom, or of the government of the Divine Truth within man.

Previous: Chapter First Up: The Science of Correspondency Next: Chapter Third


Webmaster: IJT@swedenborgstudy.com