It is by abstracting our thoughts from space and time, that is, by reversing the appearances of truth, that the spiritual sense is to be drawn or extracted from the letter of the Holy Scripture. And here it may be useful again to impress upon our minds the impossibility of reaching those interior truths, which are pre-eminently the doctrines of Christianity, except we use the literal sense as the basis for their development. This is equally true of the spiritual sense of nature, or of those interior truths which reveal to us the causes of natural phenomena. By no other way can they be elicited. This is a universal law of the Divine order for the communication of truth from its one Supreme Source; and the same mode must be adopted of beginning with the plane of the natural sense, if yet higher degrees of truth shall hereafter be unfolded to the regenerated mind, for those degrees of truth will not be continuous, but discriminated from one another, each will be more pure and perfect than that which has served for its development, and spiritually approximate that Divine Truth, which, being infinite, is unmixed with the shadows of finite appearances.
If it be here asked, whether a different, as well as more correct view of the creation of the universe than that contained in the first chapters of Genesis would not be given by the opening of its spiritual sense, we answer, that, whatever may hereafter be revealed in the spiritual sense of the book of Genesis, a natural view of the creation, such as that presented in the literal sense, is only the appearance of truth, adapted to the natural man; for it explains the production of time and space by those effects themselves, and not .by state which is their cause. Now, it is obvious that to explain the production of nature by the conditions which belong to nature, is not to solve the difficulty, but only to remove it a little further off. It is the same with the doctrine of the Lord, in relation to His sufferings and death. This doctrine, as it has been commonly understood by those who mingle and confound the truth of the spiritual sense, with the appearances of truth that belong to the letter, is, to a sound reason, full of difficulties and contradictions, from the attempt to find the explanation of the facts in the facts themselves. Thus they do not seem ever to have considered the sufferings and death of the Lord to have been, as effects in nature, representative of the state of the Jewish church, and that "this is what is meant, when it is said of the Lord that He sustained the most grievous temptations." They never seem to have thought that when He is said to have hungered and thirsted, " natural appetite, hunger and thirst are not at all to be understood, but spiritual ;" that "His thirst is a thirst for Divine Goodness and Truth in the church; and that their scourging Him, spitting in His face and smiting Him with a reed, their putting a crown of thorns upon His head, their giving Him vinegar to drink, their dividing His garments, and finally their crucifying Him, were all," as well as His death, " representative effects of the state of that church." To this, the very master key to the whole doctrine, they seem never to have turned their attention, and therefore they have never thought of connecting those representative facts with their medi- atory causes in the Jews. Hence they have been driven to the necessity of supposing the Lord Jehovah to have clothed Himself with a humanity, and that when in this humanity, He was in every respect similar to a man in nature, having lost both His Omniscience and His Omnipresence; so that whenever He, Jehovah, the infinite and eternal God, thought in that humanity, He had a consciousness distinct from the Divinity, that is, from Himself; He could be tempted to sin, could suffer, be crucified and die; and all these with an impression to Himself that He was not the I AM who is before Abraham was; and that, though the Divinity and Humanity actually were one, being like soul and body, they did not appear to be one to the Humanity or Body in its suffering. This mysterious tenet, which is happily to the full as unintelligible as it is erroneous, has sprung from the same source as the attempt to explain the creation of the universe from the space and time of the representative sense. But all such attempts must ever prove abortive. It is the spiritual sense alone which discovers the causes of all natural phenomena, both in relation to the appearance or manifestation of the Lord Jehovah in nature, and to the creation of the natural universe of space and time through the states of the percipient being. To suppose of the Lord Jehovah that in His Humanity He actually had a separate consciousness, and not that the appearance of distinction was the representative form of the separation, in the church, of the Divine Truth, called the Son, from the Divine Goodness, called the Father, is to suppose the Lord Jehovah, when in His Humanity, to have been more imperfect than the finite creatures whom He creates. But let us not be drawn aside from the true spiritual doctrine of the church by such delusions. The literal sense, with its distinctions of Father and Son, consists of the appearances of truth adapted to the natural man, which represent, not any actual distinction between them, or between the soul and the body of the Lord, but the Divine Truth relatively to the fallen state of the church, or as separated from the Divine Goodness.
The more fully therefore we investigate the science of correspondencies, both in respect to its grounds, or reason, and its practical application to the Holy Scripture, the more clearly shall we be able to see the correctness of the universal truth, which we have had occasion so often to repeat, that the whole of nature, considered in all its complexities and changes, is a theatre, on which those states of the human mind, which constitute either the kingdom of the Lord, or the opposite kingdom in man, are represented. The whole of nature, so representing, is comprised in our objects of sensation.
When it is said that representative nature is an outbirth of the spiritual world, let us not suppose, as some persons most erroneously do, that the spiritual world is a world of space giving birth to one of grosser composition, and that each natural body has a spiritual body enclosed within it. Such phantastic dreams may satisfy those who know not what is meant by the spiritual world, nor how space . and time, with the objects of sensation, arc produced in that interior state of life, nor consequently what nature is. nor how its space and time arc produced, nor what correspondency is : and who least of all understand the rational basis on which it is founded. But such sensual views are not fitted for those who have learnt from Swedenborg, that "the two properties of nature, space and time, are not in heaven, but states (of life) instead of them" (Arcana Coelestia, n. 6983), and that " man has in himself both a spiritual and a natural world; the interior states of his mind, which belong to his intellect and his will, being his spiritual world, and the exterior states of his body, which belong to his senses and his actions, his natural world. Whatsoever, therefore, in his natural world, that is, in his body, its senses and actions, exists from his spiritual world, that is, his mind, its intellect and its will, is called a correspondent" (Heaven and Hell, n. 90). For "the influx of the Lord is into the internal man, where man's heaven is, and through his internal into his external man, where his world is;" and "because heaven is in the internal man, it follows that when this is opened, man is in heaven, for heaven is not in a place, but in his interior states (of life)" (Arcana Coelestia, n. 10,367). He who knows and understands these truths, will never be led astray into the delusion of supposing that there is an outward spiritual world, existing independent of spiritual beings, and that this, by some curious chemistry, is enclosed within the natural world, which is equally extraneous to man, and independent of him. No! from such passages as the above, and there arc hundreds of a similar character in the writings of Swedenborg, he will rise to a higher and a clearer, as well as a correcter view of the constitution of created things; for he will have learnt, that, in the spiritual world, all the phenomena of sensual life, whether they be the objects of sight, of hearing, of smell, of taste, or of touch, impart, in their simultaneous presentation to the mind, the appearance of space, and, in their successive mutation, the appearance of time, and that, notwithstanding they are perceived, by an interior light from the Divine Fount of "Wisdom, to be nothing more than effects within the circle of the conscious being, representing the interior states of love and truth in which they originate, still are the phenomena of the senses most clearly and vividly presented, and have as much the appearance of outness, or of being extraneous to the percipient being, as the objects of the senses in the natural world. This is the condition of those whose stream of thought flows above the fallacies that are incidental to man's natural condition, and who can look down from their elevated intellectual state, and trace the order of creation from its source in the Lord's Divine Human Essence, producing, according to the state of mind in which His Love and Wisdom are received, the appearance of an outward world of effects, that represent, in every particular, their interior causes.
Nor let us imagine, because these forms are perceived to be effects within the circle of the conscious being, produced by spiritual affinities with other minds, that therefore there must be some striking dissimilitude of appearance between their world and our own. In their objectivity there is not the slightest difference between them. All the difference lies in the manner of accounting for the sensuous phenomena which are equally and similarly present to both. Neither will this seem strange to us, if we will but indraw ourselves a little from the fallacies of the senses, and consider what that really is which we call our world'. So long as we think from the dictates of our senses, we refer the objects of nature to a space- out of, or beyond ourselves, and suppose that we actually see and feel natural bodies in the spaces which they occupy; that is, we suppose, in the infancy of our minds, that we have some power of going out of, or beyond ourselves, and of seeing and hearing by a sort of emanation from the eye and ear. The impression is, not that we are seeing and hearing within ourselves, but beyond ourselves; and this impression is so strong and permanent, that however we may be able mentally, by the light of science, to correct the fallacy, and to understand the true nature of sensuous phenomena, still the impression remains as perfect and as vivid as ever; for who is there that thinks, when he beholds with delight some magnificent or beautiful landscape spread before his feet, that he is not actually seeing an extensive prospect, but only a minute picture within the globe of the eye, produced by the refraction and concentration of the sun's rays? We may venture to say, No one. Our sensuous impressions stand in direct opposition to the conclusions which we are enabled to reach by the light of science. Science teaches us that we do not go beyond ourselves, but are in truth acquainted with nothing more than the images of natural bodies, which are thought to be conveyed by different media to the senses of the conscious being, and from them carried up by the nerves of sensation into the brain. This is the usual way in which we are taught to account for the production of all the natural images which arc the objects of our senses. But these images or natural qualities must have a cause, and this cause is supposed, by naturalists, to be the substratum which they call matter. Matter in space, with them, gives support to those natural images, or qualities, which, by the medium of various subtle fluids, are communicated to the sentient being. But the material bodies themselves, which are assumed to exist independently in space, are neither visible, nor tangible, nor are they directly communicable to any of the senses, but only indirectly by their images. Matter therefore, as it is not, nor ever can be an object of the senses, must be a pure hypothesis, which the mind adopts to account for the production of sensuous images. But let us suppose this hypothetical substratum removed, and another, a spiritual support, or cause for the objects of our senses, substituted instead ; our outward world would remain as before, communicating by the simultaneous presentation of natural images, the appearance of space, and by their successive changes the appearance of time, and this is precisely what happens to spiritual beings. They have no hypothetical substratum of matter, and yet they have the appearance of an outward world, just the same as our- \selves, for both worlds are images within the circle of the conscious being, seen after a natural manner, and accounted for naturally by him who thinks in space and time, and in the fallacies of the senses ; and seen, not by any effort of the reason, but intuitively and spontaneously, after a spiritual manner, by those who think above the fallacies of sensual life. To account for the production of sensuous objects in a natural manner is to give them all natural causes, independent of the percipient being, and extraneous to him, and therefore, according to this view, they cannot be effects which represent his state of mind; but to account for the production of sensuous images in a spiritual manner, is to give them all, with the space in which they appear to be, spiritual causes, which causes are within the percipient being, and not extraneous to him, and therefore the objects of the senses, being also within the conscious being, represent those states of mind which are the media for their production. But choose which way we will of accounting for the phenomena of the senses, it can make no difference in their objectivity; for the supposition for a natural substratum can add nothing to the objects themselves, nor can they loose anything by being traced to their causes in the mind. There is this advantage however in knowing and perceiving that they have all spiritual causes, or that "time and space are outbirths of the thought;" for then the truth and reality of correspondency become apparent; whereas, had the natural world an existence before man, and independent of him, it could not be an effect representing, in all its minutest particulars, the various states which are nowhere but in the human mind.
Spiritual beings have all the phenomena of an outward world equally with ourselves, but more perfectly and fully presented to their senses, and there is as much the appearance of outness in their presentation; but they, unlike ourselves, who are accustomed to refer our phenomena to causes which are independent of the condition of our minds, intuitively and spontaneously perceive that all their phenomena are effects of spiritual affinities of state, or of the interior communication of minds with one another, and that the various appearances of space and time are the corresponding effects of the interior relationships of their love and wisdom. They, more wisely than ourselves, attribute the- creation of space and time, and all the phenomena which belong to them, to a spiritual influx of the Divine Life within them, and not to the physical influx of natural images, conveyed to the mind from without ; and they also perceive, by the Divine Light, which reveals the truth to their understandings, that the phenomenon of space, which imparts the appearance of distinction and of separation, is produced in the representative plane of sensual life by their finite or imperfect reception of the Lord's Omnipresent Love, which in itself is devoid of all space; and that the appearance of time or progression is produced by their finite or imperfect reception of His Divine Wisdom, which in itself is devoid of all progression, because it is Perfect, and therefore unchangeable.
These are a few of the spiritual truths which are wrapt, as it were, within the literal sense of Scripture. We are well aware that as presented by us they are but of trifling value, compared with such as might have been given by minds better instructed than our own. Such however, as they are, they are offered, along with the other contents of this little volume, to the candid and impartial consideration of the reader, in the earnest hope that their publication may be attended by beneficial effects, in correcting errors, as well as eliciting the truth, with respect to the momentous questions upon which we have touched. This is our earnest prayer to the one only God and Saviour Jesus Christ, to whose service we desire to dedicate these our humble labours.