As the most advantageous mode of pursuing our inquiries, let us now consider the signification of the most universal properties of nature, and apply them to various passages of the Holy Scripture where those properties, the objects of our inquiry, are mentioned.
And to begin with the sensation of light. Light, in all its modifications, is, in common with every other property of nature, an effect from a spiritual cause. The spiritual cause to which it corresponds is truth, which is the light of the intellect, and pre-eminently the Divine Truth. Hence it is customary, in the familiar discourse of so many languages, to speak of the light of the mind, and of seeing an intellectual or scientific truth, as if it were an object of the senses; and therefore the eye, which is the organ of sight, corresponds to the intellect, which is a form for the reception of truth and its modifications. Put though, from analogy, the correspondency between light and truth, the eye and the intellect, may readily be admitted, their real correspondency is not so easily understood, because it is not so obvious that the light, which, in its modifications, constitutes our objects of sight, is from within, and could have no existence independent of the mind; since, without the mind, it would want the very ground or cause for its production, and where there is no cause, there can be no effect. But this will form the proper subject of our future inquiries; at present we must endeavour to show their correspondency by the accumulative proof of examples drawn from the Holy Scripture.
Genesis i. 3. " And God said, Let there be light; and there was light." The verse immediately preceding this describes a state of spiritual death in the human will, signified by the earth being without form and void; and of obscurity in the intellect, signified by the darkness on the face of the deep ; from which states the celestial church, described in this chapter, arose, and from which every celestial man must at all times arise by regeneration. That which discovers the mental disorder and darkness of our unregenerate state is the Divine Truth, signified by the light which is first called forth into being. The most ancient people wrote the account of the progressive states of the church in such a manner that those, who could receive the spiritual sense, would regard that sense as the end for which the literal account was written; while the latter was perfectly well adapted to the various wants of those who were .unable, because they were unwilling, to see further. Swedenborg says that the first chapter of Genesis does not relate to the creation of the visible universe, but is a description both of the progressive stages through which man must pass in the course of his regeneration, and of his condition preceding it. Indeed the writers of the times in which the first chapters of Genesis were written, from their profound intuition into the causes of things, were little likely to think, as is commonly done at the present day, that God created the universe of worlds before He created man, because they must have known, that for everything to represent the state of the church in man, and to be an effect of it, it must be created through him, and that as there is neither the progression of time, nor the extension of space, in the Lord Jehovah, nor present before Him, creation can only commence with the perceptive consciousness of the finite creature. The outward world is created whenever a human being, by the development of sensual life, becomes conscious of its presence.
In the first chapter of St. John's Gospel, the Lord is identified with the Word in whom was life, which " life was the light of men." He is called the Word and the light of men because He is the Divine Truth, which Divine Truth, as it is the form under which the Divine Esse or Jehovah manifests Himself to man, is therefore called the light of men; but as the Divine Truth is in itself one with the Divine Goodness, it is also said of the "Word, or the Lord, that in Him was life, that is, the Essential Life, because He is the Essential Love, for there is no other underived Life save that of the Divine Love. But of this light it is also said that it "shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not," marking, as in the first chapter of Genesis, the state of the human mind previous to its regeneration, or before a new church is formed in man, and interiorly established by the Lord; and also pointing out the interior or spiritual cause in man for the outward or representative rejection of Him in time and space ; time and space, and all that is comprehended by them, being effects derived from their spiritual causes in man.
Genesis i. 4. " And God saw the light, that it was good." The light is said to be good when the Divine Truth produces its effect in opening the mind to a knowledge of its defiled and debased condition, which is the end for which it is revealed.
Exodus x. 23. " They saw not one another, neither rose any from his place for three days; but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings." The children of Israel represent the spiritual man, who is about to be delivered from the bondage under which he is held by the natural man ; the three days denote the complete darkness of those natural states of mind which are opposed to the government of the Lord. But the children of Israel had light in their dwellings; for to insure man's spiritual deliverance, the Divine Truth must be received in the will, signified by their dwellings.
Psalm iv. 6. "Lord, lift Thou up the light of Thy countenance upon us." The light signifies the Divine Truth manifesting the Lord's Love. When the Lord was transfigured in the presence of Peter, James, and John, who represent in the sense abstracted from person, faith, charity, and their union in those good works, which are the products of faith and charity, "His raiment was white as the light," which spiritually corresponded to, because it was an effect of, the internal perception of the Divine Truth by those who so beheld Him.
Psalm xxvii. i. " The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?" The Lord, or Jehovah, is called my light, when I receive His Divine Truth into my mind, and He is called my salvation, when I am spiritually receptive of His Divine Love, for by such a conjoint reception, the will is rescued from the power of hell, and this is salvation.
Psalm xxxviii. 10. "As for the light of mine eyes, it also is gone from me." The eye, being the representative form of the understanding, the light of the eye is the truth of the understanding, which is said to be gone when it is darkened or deprived of its life.
Psalm xlix. 19. "He shall go to the generation of his fathers, they shall never see light." Man is said to go to the generation of his fathers, when both in his thoughts and his desires he becomes merely natural. It is therefore added, they shall not see light, to denote that the falsehood which is the effect of the evils to which we are naturally prone, extinguishes the perception of truth.
Psalm civ. 2. " Who coverest Thyself with light as with a garment." As garments invest the body, so do the truths of the intellect invest the affections of the will; and it is to be observed that, at the same time that they clothe, they also serve to manifest the condition of the form within. The reason why the inner garment of the Lord was not torn by the soldiers at the crucifixion, as they did the outer robe, was, because it corresponded, as an effect, to interior or spiritual truth, which, being beyond the reach of the merely natural man, he does not destroy. The outer garment they divided, because that corresponded, as an effect, to exterior or natural truth, which is the truth of the literal sense of the Word. This they could profane in their minds, and by profaning destroy it.
Isaiah v. 20. " Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil: that put darkness for light, and light for darkness : thai put bitter for sweet, and. sweet for bitter." The whole of this passage relates, it is evident, to a perverted condition of the mind, when the understanding assents to the selfish and sensual propensities of the will, or calls evil good, and good evil; and when it is itself receptive, not of the light of truth, but of the darkness of falsehood, and when the delights man are as perverted as the mind is in which they originate, that is, when he spiritually puts bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter. The taste, being the lowest in the order of sensual life, corresponds to the delights of the natural man, in which the voluntary and intellectual faculties terminate.
Isaiah viii. 20. " If they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them." Here too, light evidently means the light of truth; in the absence of which there is no perception of the Word, or Divine Truth.
Isaiah ix. 2. " The people that walk in darkness have seen a great light; they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined." This verse is generally admitted to be a prophecy of the Lord's advent, and in its spiritual sense it is of universal application; for the people that walk in darkness are all those who have no truth to guide them in their path through life ; and the light shining upon those that dwell in the land of the shadow of death is the manifestation to their intellects of the miserable condition of their minds. Their want of all true faith and charity,.which the light of truth in their understandings manifests, is signified by the land of the shadow of death. It is the discovery, both of our natural propensity to love ourselves better than others and to indulge our evil passions, and of the naturally darkened state of our intellects, which first dawning on our minds by the presence of the Lord, that is, of His Divine Truth, is the living evidence of His spiritual advent to man. This passage is applied in Matthew iv. 16, upon the Lord's leaving Nazareth and dwelling "in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim;" which occurrence was the representative form of the corresponding changes of state in man.
Isaiah x. 16, 17. " Under His [that is, the Lord's] glory, He shall kindle a burning like the burning of a fire ; and the Light of Israel shall be for a fire, and His holy One for a flame" The Lord's glory is the glory of the Divine Love and Wisdom united, or such as He is seen in heaven; under that glory is His manifestation to the natural man, which is His advent in nature. He is called the Light of Israel, because as the natural Divine Truth, or Divine Truth in relation to the natural mind and bodily senses, the land is spiritually lightened with His glory.
Isaiah xiii. 9-11. "Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate; and He shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it. For the stars, and the constellations thereof, shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine. And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity, and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible." These verses describe the advent of the Lord, and the manner in which He was spiritually received. That day, which signifies that state,for man's day corresponds to his state,is said to be one of wrath and fierce anger; and that because of the hatred and opposition of the unregenerated mind to the Influx of Love and Mercy. The laying of the land desolate signifies the destruction of man by his natural lusts. The stars of heaven and the constellations do not spiritually give their light, when man has lost even the knowledge of what is good and true. The spiritual sun is darkened when all love and charity are extinguished; and the moon does not cause her light to shine, when there is an utter want of all true faith. These changes, although they take place in the human mind, man cannot perceive until his further progress in spiritual life enables him to look back upon his former condition.
Isaiah lix. 8-10. " They have made them crooked paths; whosoever goeth therein shall not know peace. Therefore is judgment far from us, neither doth justice overtake us: we wait for light, but behold obscurity ; for brightness, but we walk in darkness. We grope for the- wall like the blind." The whole of this passage, in its. spiritual sense, is descriptive of the end, or consummation of the church, when men no longer live as the Divine Truth directs, which is signified by their making for themselves crooked paths. The peace, which they who make these crooked paths for themselves, shall not know, is, in "the spiritual sense, not the ease and. comfort which result from worldly prosperity, the enjoyment of health, and the absence of reflexion,, but is the heavenly peace which accompanies a perfect resignation to the Divine Will, the love of others in preference to ourselves, and the faithful discharge of our duties. It is said that judgment, which spiritually is the Divine Truth, is far from us, when we have removed ourselves from its influence and protection ; and justice, which spiritually is the Lord's Divine Love, does not overtake us, when we cease to love Him above all things, and our neighbour as ourselves. In such a state as this, what should be an affection for truth, is, in its natural form, turned into a delight in the fallacies of the senses ; while the brightness of interior or rational truth is turned into the darkness of falsehood, by the love and practice of evil. The wall, for which they are said to grope like the blind, is the Word in its literal sense, which, having been written according to the appearances of truth, is adapted to the natural man, who, in such a state of mental blindness, requires those appearances for his direction.
Jeremiah iv. 23. " I beheld the earth" [or more properly "the land" that is, of Canaan], " and lo, it was without form and void; and the heavens, and they had no light." The prophet here describes man's unregenerated state, which, both as to his natural and rational mind, signified by the land and the heavens, has neither the light of truth, nor the warmth of charity.
Jeremiah xxv. 10. "Moreover I -will take from them the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones, and the light of the candle." The bridegroom and the bride are the intellect and the will in their capacity to receive truth and goodness, or faith .and charity, and so to be spiritually united. But their voice is said to be taken from them, which is the case when man has no longer any delight in the reception of goodness and truth, and when there is no heavenly marriage of the will and the intellect. The sound of millstones is spiritually heard when natural truth is used as the basis for the preparation of spiritual food. The light of the candle represents the light of the mind necessary for the discovery of truth.
Matthew xvii. 2. " And He was transfigured before them, and His face did shine as the sun, and His raiment was white as the light." His face was shining, and His raiment was white as the light, because He was seen by Peter, James, and John, when their minds were unitedly receptive of His love and wisdom.
Luke ii. 32. " A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel." The Lord is called a light, because the Gentiles signify those who do not possess, but yet are desirous of receiving the Divine Truth. He is called, the glory of Thy people Israel, because Israel represents the spiritual man, and glory in relation to the Lord is the union of the Divine Truth with the Divine Goodness, and in relation to man, is his regeneration.
Luke viii. 16. "No man, when he hath lighted a candle, covereth it with a vessel, or putteth it under a bed: but setteth it on a candlestick, that they which enter in may see the light." A candle, or rather a lamp, signifies the truth of man's reason, and to cover it with a vessel represents the extinction of truth by the fallacies of the intellect, and to put it under a bed is the extinction of it by the defilements of the natural will. Entering in to see the light relates both to the will in its tendency towards the truth, and to the reason in its examination and acquisition of it.
John i. 7-9. " The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the light, that all men through Him might believe. He was not that light, but was sent to bear witness of that light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that comcth into the world." John the Baptist, in every instance of spiritual birth, must be the forerunner of the Lord, for he represents that repentance, through which alone we become capable of receiving the Divine Truth, here called the True Light, who lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
John iii. 19. "And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather that light, because their deeds were evil." It is a necessary consequence, that salvation or condemnation is proportional to the measure of truth imparted, and this again is proportional to the reception or rejection of it.
John viii. 12. " Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world; he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." The light of the world signifies the Divine Truth in relation to the natural man. Following Me, signifies a state of the will desirous of possessing the Divine Truth. But. to desire the Divine Truth is to desire to be reformed and regenerated by its living influence. It is added concerning him who follows the Lord, that he shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life, signifying that he shall no longer be spiritually separated from the Lord by the falsehood of evil, but be conjoined with Him by the truth which has its origin in goodness, or by the Divine Truth that exhibits the Divine Goodness.
John xi. 9, 10. "Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not; because he seeth the light of this world. But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him." The twelve hours of the day are all man's states of spiritual life, in the path of which, the pure and bright light of the Divine Presence makes every mental object, every affection and thought, together with their ends and uses, known. The states of man's natural life are represented by his walking in the night, and the evil of his will by his stumbling or falling, because there is no light in him, which is spiritually the light of truth.
Revelation xviii. 23. " And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee: and the voice of the bridegroom, and of the bride, shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived." It is said of Babylon, which represents a state of profanation, "the light of a lamp shall shine no more at all in thee," which signifies that the light of reason shall no longer rule in the natural intellect; and if the light of reason be not used in discovering and correcting the fallacies of natural truth, then neither can there be any perception of spiritual truth. The "voice of the bridegroom, and of the bride, shall no more he heard in thee," are spiritually those, whose doctrines and lives being profane, that is, being inwardly false and wicked, though outwardly pure and holy, have no delight in goodness and truth and their heavenly marriage, which marriage constitutes the church in man.
Exodus xiii. 21. "And the Lord went before them, by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way ; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light: to go by day and night." The passage of the children of Israel through the wilderness represents, in the several natural trials which they underwent, the temptations which are necessary for the reformation of the human mind. The pillar of a cloud by day, and of fire by night, by which they were led, is the Lord's presence with man, varying in His appearance according to the state of mental illustration or obscurity under which He is beheld. "The day," during man's passage through his spiritual wilderness, is a state of intellectual illustration, which can reach no higher than the appearances of truth, and these are the pillar of a cloud. The appearances of truth are such truths as are to be found in the literal sense of the Holy Scripture, which, during man's passage to the Canaan of his spiritual birth, are best suited to direct and guide him. "The night" is a state of intellectual obscurity, which is tempered by the good affections of the will, and by the light which flows forth from them, signified by the pillar of fire. The pillar of a cloud and the pillar of fire were not two pillars, but one ; for that same pillar which appeared as fire by night, had the appearance of a cloud by day: and this by a universal law of the spiritual world, that the Lord is either a sun or the darkness of night, according to the state of mind in which he is beheld.