The Science of Correspondency
and other Spiritual Doctrines of Holy Scripture
With Illustrative Spiritual Expositions
Charles Augustus Tulk
Edited by Charles Pooley
James Speirs, 36 Bloomsbury Street, London
Too much to say that the system of morals herein inculcated, which are those of the New Church, when properly understood, stands unequalled, since its principles are founded on the unerring law of Divine order. It is a system which searches the utmost depths of the human heart, and reveals to the mental perception the secret springs of its action. At the same time it furnishes the only means for acquiring newness of life, namely, by absolute obedience to the Divine precepts, spiritually discerned.
As reference is frequently made to the "Lord's Prayer," I have added its spiritual exposition by Mr. Tulk in order that the reader may see its fulness, beauty, and perfection, and the consistency of its interpretation with the doctrines taught in this work.
As it is impossible in the short space of a preface to do full justice to the rich endowments of the author, it is with deference I submit this volume to the candid consideration of Church readers, assured that there will be found in its pages a faithful elucidation of those Divine Truths which in their aggregate constitute the Lord's Church in man—the Church of the New Jerusalem. And should I succeed in inspiring a more general desire to become acquainted with the spiritual sense of the letter of Scripture, my labour will not have been in vain.
THE SCIENCE OF CORRESPONDENCY
Chapter SecondChapter Fourth
Chapter SixthChapter Seventh Chapter Eighth Chapter Ninth
The Lord's Prayer
We cannot send forth this little book into the world without a few explanatory remarks concerning the principles on which it is written, and which it is designed to illustrate. This is the more necessary, as our religious and philosophical system is but little known, and less understood; and the title of our work, might, without explanation, lead many people to think that we meant nothing more by "spiritual doctrines" than such as usually pass by that name in the Christian world.
Our views of the Holy Scripture are of a peculiar kind. We hold that the spiritual doctrines of Christianity, which we have found to be identical with the highest and the noblest philosophy, are not discoverable in its literal and obvious text, but only in a certain interior, or spiritual sense, which is wholly distinct from that of the letter. The science, which enables us to reach this interior sense, is of a strictly philosophical kind, being founded upon an accurate and intimate acquaintance with the spiritual structure of the human mind, the manner in which its faculties are formed, and are connected with the phenomena of nature.
The Holy Scripture we believe to have been Divinely inspired, and to have been especially and providentially preserved, not because it contains a curious, though no very pleasing, account, of a corrupt and grossly sensual people, who, from their unintellectual character, required a display of outward miracles to keep them to the observance of their religious rites; but because, within the historical relation of events, and Prophecies, and Psalms, truths of a far purer kind lie hidden, which, as they arc wholly abstracted from all natural events, may not improperly be called the spiritual truths of reason. The laws that bring these, which are also the pure truths of religion, to light, have been deduced by their original promulgator, the incomparable Swedenborg, from a profound insight into the connection of all outward objects and events with their first Cause, and into the means by which their development is effected. These laws, comprehended in a science, which the author has called the science of correspondencies, he has applied to the spiritual interpretation of the books of Genesis and Exodus in the Old Testament, and of the Apocalypse in the New, and the result is a philosophical system of religion superior to anything which the Christian world at present possesses.
Our reason for calling the doctrines of this interior sense spiritual, is that they relate in an especial manner to the human spirit or mind, and have nothing whatever to do with the past or present condition of man in nature. So entirely are they abstracted from the historical records of the Old and New Testaments, that there is not the trace of a single circumstance which has happened in this natural world to be found in them, but they reveal instead the various states or conditions of human minds, as they were imaged or represented in those events. The science of correspondencies, therefore, enables us to ascend from the mere relation of facts to the spiritual region of causes and of ends, which are limited neither by space nor time, but are universally applicable to Humanity in its most comprehensive meaning. The doctrines, which are presented to the mind by the unfolding of the Scriptures, are called spiritual, in contradistinction to those which, having been taken from the literal text, and abounding in the fallacies and errors which belong to a natural view of religion, have but little title to that name. For the Old Testament was written for the use of a very barbarous and unenlightened people; its religion was of an earthly, and not of a heavenly kind, and the views which it presents of Jehovah God were only suited to their very sensual conceptions. Their God was a God who partook of the nature of bodies in space, and, though assumed to be almighty, was at times debased by the like infirmities with ourselves. Thus we find Him represented as descending and ascending through the atmosphere, just as if He were a finite being who had the power of traversing free space at pleasure ; He comes down from an atmospheric heaven upon Mount Sinai to deliver the two tables of the covenant to Moses, after having written the ten commandments upon them with His finger; He rides upon cherubs, cr upon clouds, and does a number of other things, which are only compatible with the nature of a finite being. Then with respect to the supposed qualities of the Divine Mind, He is occasionally represented in the Old Testament as instigated to anger and as burning with wrath, as revengeful and as a destroyer. These supposed qualities, which would profane the name of a good man were they to be attributed to him, have been handed down, and form a part even of the ordinary Christian belief; for still Jehovah is represented as the stern avenging God, whose anger could only be appeased by the sacrifice of His Son; that Son who mercifully took upon Himself the curse, and so averted the condemnation with which all mankind was threatened. But when Jehovah God is seen in the spiritual sense of the Word of God, it is neither as descending nor ascending in space, nor as writing with His finger upon stone, not as riding through the atmosphere upon cherubs, nor as flying upon the wings of the wind, but as wholly devoid of all the properties which belong to space and time. In that sense, so far from being wrathful, and requiring a sacrifice to appease His offended justice, He is seen to be the most perfect Love and the most perfect Wisdom, into whose Being nothing can enter of the changes and imperfections which more or less characterize all finite creatures. But not only does the spiritual sense reveal the power and glory, and the unity also of God, but it explains the reason for the clouds by which the splendour of the Divine Truth is dimmed in the literal sense. It accounts, in short, for all the anomalies and contradictions that are to be found in the Scriptures, at the same time that it removes them, and introduces the harmony and connection of purely spiritual truths, instead of the defective theology and philosophy of the letter. The mystery of the Trinity, when rescued from the darkness and confusion of a doctrine which has been taken directly from the natural sense, is a mystery no longer; and therefore the spiritual doctrine of the Trinity, being addressed to the reason of man, is unfitted to be the test of their faith, who make it a merit to believe in that which it is impossible to comprehend.
But the Word of God in its spiritual sense unfolds to us the whole mystery of our being. It lifts up the veil which has until now hidden from us that eternal world of happiness for which we are all created, and that other world of misery, for which we prepare ourselves, by a life opposed to the Divine Laws of wisdom, of innocence, and of love. Both these worlds, as they are usually called, are shown to be not any places, either near to us, or at a distance from us, but to be states or conditions of the human spirit or mind ; and death itself to be nothing more than the immediate transition of the conscious being from one state of life into another, and not, as it is commonly supposed to be, an extinction of consciousness, until the reunion of soul and body at the day of judgment.
These, and a multitude of other subjects, which will be found as inexhaustible as the Divine Fountain of the Word of God from which they all flow, comprehending the principles of true religion and philosophy, and even of science and of art, are to be found in the spiritual sense of the Holy Scripture. When this is opened to our delighted minds, and when we love and practise the exalted truths which are then revealed to us, we may be said really to nter the paths of wisdom and intelligence, and to be spiritually restored to Eden, the garden of God. In that garden we are in the presence of the Lord, and Saviour, and Creator of all; not divided into three Persons, with different characters and offices, but seen intellectually to be one Person, and that one Person the glorified Form which was displayed even to the senses of the three disciples on the Mount of His transfiguration.
Put if it be true that the Holy Scripture contains this interior sense, how is it, it may be asked, that it was not sooner revealed; or, if it was revealed, where are the traces of it to be found in the writings of the Apostles, and of the Fathers of the church? Our answer is, that the Apostles knew that the Holy Scripture had an interior meaning, and they transmitted this knowledge to their disciples: and that the Fathers, in the early ages of Christianity, endeavoured, and in many instances successfully endeavoured to bring it to light. Neither the Apostles, nor their successors, treated the Bible as if it were an ordinary book. The Apostles had learnt from their Lord and Master, that the Old Testament in a peculiar manner referred to Him, so that, when interpreted, they too, as He had done, might begin with Moses and the Prophets, and expound, in all the Scriptures, the truths which related to Him.
They knew from the same Divine Source, that His words were not confined to the dead letter, but were spirit, and were life. Paul, therefore, typifies the passage of the Israelites through the wilderness, when he says to the Corinthians, "I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and did all eat the same spiritual meat, and did all drink the same spiritual drink; for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ." And he adds, "Now these things were our ensamples (or types, tipoi), to the intent that we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted." This spiritual mode of interpreting the Scriptures was handed down by the Apostles to their immediate successors, and we have the testimony of Clemens of Alexandria, who lived in the second century, that it was especially derived from the three disciples, Peter, lames, and John, who had beheld the Lord in His glory; and this sight of Him when He was transfigured before them on the mount, he rightly connected with the interior revelation of Him to the three Apostles as the Word or Divine Truth in the glory of its spiritual sense. When to this we add those remarkable declarations which the Lord made to the two disciples while they were at a loss to believe the report, which they had received from the women, of His resurrection, "O fools (or devoid of reason) and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken; ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory? and beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded unto them, in all the Scriptures, the things concerning Himself;" and when we find too, that after this, to the Apostles generally, He said, "these are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the Law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms concerning Me:" and then "opened He their understandings that they might understand the Scriptures we might reasonably expect to find from all these declarations, that a spiritual mode of interpretation would be adopted by the early Fathers of the church ; and this is true to such an extent that they actually teem, and labour to bring these mysteries of the kingdom of God to light; and under the impression that a spiritual interpretation was of far greater value to the Christian, than that sense which does not require to have the understanding opened to be rightly understood, they appear at times to treat the letter lightly, and even with disrespect. But we will now prove by passages taken from their writings, that they actually were convinced of the existence of a spiritual sense; that they thought little of the natural sense when compared with it, and that, not unfrequently, they were able to unfold its true spiritual meaning.
Origen says of himself, "I, who believe the words of my Lord Jesus Christ, hold that there is not one jot, nor one tittle of the law and the prophets, which has not its mysteries, and that not one of these can pass away until all be fulfilled."* "They who find fault with the allegorical exposition of the Scripture, and maintain that it has no other sense than that which the text shows, take away the key of knowledge." + Speaking of the rites and ordinances of the Mosaic Law, he observes that "unless they be all of them taken in another sense than the literal, when they are recited in the church, as we have frequently declared, they are a greater stumbling-block, and tend more to the subversion of the Christian religion, than to its advancement and edification.++ In another part of the same commentary on Leviticus, he says, "the laws of the sacrifices, which are given in this book of the Law, are to be fulfilled according to their spiritual meaning; for no man, having a right or sound reason, can admit that rams, and goats, and calves are fit offerings for an immortal and incorporeal God." Ignatius says, "the Law of God is spiritual, and they have not the true Law, who do not take it spiritually."||
* In Exod. cap. i. + In Matth. cap. xxiii. ++ In I.evit. cap. vii. In Levit. cap. iii. || In Psalm, cxviii. sect. 26.
Again Origen says, that "there is an interior sense to the events which are recorded in the Evangelists;"* and that "whatsoever Jesus did in the flesh was, as to every particular, a similitude and type of what he will do hereafter ;"+ and also that "the true miracles of Christ, and the healing of the sick, are of a spiritual kind." ++ To show that he understood well what is meant by the spiritual sense of these outward signs, which manifested the Lord's omnipresent power, the following passage will, to any one acquainted with that sense, appear conclusive. "The works which Jesus then did, were the symbols of those things, which He by His power is always doing." In the eighth book of his work against Celsus, he says, that "the Prophets veiled their secret and sublime truths from vulgar comprehension under obscure figures, enigmas, allegories, proverbs, and parables;" and in the first book of the same work, he declares, that "true Christianity consists in the interpretation and unfolding of prophetical enigmas, and of the parables given in the Prophets, and of the other figures which are contained in the Scriptures, and of the facts therein recorded." Augustine also tells us, that "the five books of Moses preach nothing else but Christ, as He Himself says, 'If ye believe in Moses, believe also in Me, for he wrote of Me.'"||In Matth. cap. xiv. + In Esaiam, cap. vi. + In Matth. cap. xxv. >$ In Matth. cap. xv. || quaest 64, Diversrae Quaest.
We will now turn to what they say of the literal sense, that we may see in what estimation they held it when compared with the spiritual. Jerome says, " they who follow the obscurity of the letter are wise only in earthly things and Origen, " they who follow the letter of the Law run into errors, superstitions, and infidelity."! In his Commentary on Matthew he observes, that "all those who literally expound the Law (of Moses) are vain preachers; and "they especially are idiots, who understand not the tropologies and analogies of the Scriptures, but are simple enough to believe in the literal sense only, and defend it." In another work he says, "they truly make the Law an Old Testament, who desire to understand it after a carnal manner; but to us, who understand and expound it spiritually, and in its evangelical sense, it is always New."|| "If any one will hear and understand this history according to the letter only, he ought to be accounted a Jew rather than a Christian. But if he would be a Christian and a disciple of Paul, let him hearken to the declaration of Paul, that the Law is spiritual." "Woe unto you, Scribes, is said to every one who knows nothing of any sense but the literal." Again Augustine declares, that " they who take the writings of Moses according to the literal sense, do not desire to be learned in the kingdom of heaven, neither do they pass over to Christ, that He might remove the veil (which is on their hearts);'' and he compares the condition of the merely literal expositor with that of " the unbelieving Jews, who, when they read the books of Moses, have the veil upon their hearts, and as this is not removed, they do not understand the Law." Again Origen observes, "there is a greater and a truer reason in the spiritual understanding of the Holy Scriptures, than is discoverable in the text of the letter."! Irenaeus declares, in speaking of the Lord's miraculous cure of the sick, that "if there had been nothing more than a temporal use to be gained by it, then did He nothing of great importance to those who were healed by Him."} Augustine says of the cursing of the fig tree, that " unless it be taken figuratively, it has no sense in it." Jerome in reference to Mount Zion says, that "it is a foolish thing to call an irrational and insensible mountain holy, or to believe it to be so."|| And Origen goes so far as to assert, that "there are some things inserted in the historical parts of the Scripture,
+ In Lib. Jos. cap. vi. Sermon. 77, sect. 7.
which were never done at all, or which could never have been effected, and other things again, which might by possibility have been done, but which were not." Augustine asks his reader, " Do you believe that the waters of Bethesda were wont to be troubled by the might of an angel, and that there is no mystery signified by it?"f And lastly Jerome declares, that "Christ is the true Stone which is found in the letter of the law, but which is rejected by those who rest in the letter."\
We will next proceed to show that the Fathers gave, in many instances, a correct explanation of the Scriptures in the spiritual sense; and this will be evident, from the following examples, to every one who has been accustomed to interpret them by the laws of correspondency. Eucherius observes of the prophecy concerning the Lord, 'I will open My mouth in parables,' that " it admonishes us that the Holy Scripture of the Old, as well as the New Testament, is to be interpreted in an allegorical sense." Jerome says, that "whatsoever is promised to the Israelites carnally, we show will, at one time or other, be fulfilled. in us spiritually ;"|| and that " whatever denunciations are in the history uttered 'against Jerusalem, relate to the church."* Origen says, that "he is a high priest unto God, who holds the (spiritual) science of the Law, and understands the reasons of every mystery, and who is acquainted with the Law both in its spiritual and its literal sense. They are to be accounted kings and princes (unto God) who can remove the earth of the letter, which covers the well of life, and draw forth the spiritual senses, like living waters, from that interior rock where Christ is." In another work he says, "the names of the kings (of Judah and Israel) are not given historically in the Divine Scripture, but for spiritual causes and things. They do not so much relate to kings, as to vices which bear rule in man." Jerome, giving the meaning of the bitter waters,, says, that " they signify the Law in its literal sense."?! Origen, speaking of the battle between Israel and the Amalekites, observes, " I would here pause a little,, and ask those who are not willing to understand this relation spiritually, but only according to the letter, whether they can possibly think that the Almighty God could have regarded the hands of Moses in giving the victory either to Israel or to Amalek, as they were raised up or let fall ? I would ask such persons whether they think this worthy of
* In Jerem. cap. xxxi. + In I,cvit. cap. xii. ct in Num. cap. xxi.
J In Num. cap. xxxi. In Kzecliiel, cap. xlvii.
having been uttered by the Holy Spirit ?" And Barnabas, in his explanation of the miracles, says, " the lifting up of the hands of Moses signifies the application of the Law in its highest meaning, but the letting down of his hands signifies a low, an earthly, and a-literal exposition."!
Many of their explanations of the New Testament are even still more striking. Augustine looked for another appearance of Elias, and that of an interior or spiritual kind; for he says, that " when Elias shall come to expound the spiritual law, he shall turn the hearts of the fathers to the children." + Of the two advents of the Lord, Origen observes, " One advent of Christ was fulfilled in humility ; we hope for the second in glory. The first coming was in the flesh, and therefore, by a mystic mode of expression, it is called, in the Holy Scripture, a shadow." Augustine says, that " according to the authority of all the Scriptures, there are two births of Christ (a spiritual and a natural)." || "Do we not see," he asks in another of his discourses, " in the figure of Mary, a type of the holy church, which He (the Lord) found a harlot, and made a virgin ? Mary brought forth, and was a virgin, and thus too does
t De Vita Mosis.. 5; In Jesu Nave. cap. viii.
the church bring forth Christ, and is a virgin."* Again Jerome says, " We interpret the virgin to mean that human heart which has a conscience void of sin, and which produces from itself Immanuel, or God with us, that is, the Word of God, which is present to it, is born of this soul. According to tropology (or spiritual interpretation) the Word of God is conceived of the Holy Spirit in the virginal soul, when it is not spotted with sin." f And Augustine observes, that " to this (virgin church) the Holy Spirit came down, and the Power of the Most High overshadowed it." \ Speaking of the marriages that are mentioned in the Old Testament, Origen says, " Since the Law is a shadow of the good things which are to come, and contains an account of marriages, and of husbands and wives, we are not to understand it as of marriages according to the flesh, but as relating to the spiritual marriage between Christ and His Church. Thus, in the instance of Abraham and his two sons, we ought not to confine our thoughts to carnal marriages, and their offspring, but to extend them to the mysteries which are signified by them. And there arc nearly a thousand other passages in Scripture about marriages, but in every place, by a moral exposition, there is a Divine
* In Serm. 215. + In Jesaiam, cap. viii. J In Append. .Serin. 125, sec. 5.
and mystical sense.. Whosoever therefore, when he reads in the Scriptures about marriages, understands no more by them than carnal marriages, he errs, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God."* Having seen what Origen thought of the general signification of the marriages mentioned in the Old Testament, we will now show what the Fathers thought of the marriage in Cana of Galilee, and of the miracle which the Lord wrought there. "Wine, in many passages," Augustine says, " is put by us for the Holy Scriptures, which contain within them the purest force of heavenly wisdom, by which the understandings of men are warmed and their affections inebriated. While Christ wrought in Cana of Galilee they wanted wine, and wine is produced for them ; that is, the shadows (of the letter) are removed, and the truth is presented to view. The good wine is the Old Testament, but this (good wine) does not appear, unless in the letter it be spiritually understood."f Theophilus of Antioch says, that " by this marriage the conjunction of Christ and His Church is to be understood ; Christ is the bridegroom, Moses is the steward (or governor) of the feast." 1 " Shall we say nothing," Augustine asks, " of the signification of the water pots, of the water turned into wine, of the steward (or governor) of the feast, of the signification of the Bridegroom, and what in the mystery is meant by the mother of Jesus, and by the marriage itself?" And in the same book he adds, " let us knock, and He will open, and give us to drink of the invisible wine until we be inebriated."
* In Matth. Tractat. f Appendix in Serm. xc. J In locum Johan.
With respect to the Lord's miraculous cure of diseases, Origen says, " the different kinds of sickness and disease existing at that time among the people, which the Saviour cured, relate to the spiritual infirmities of human souls."! And Augustine rightly declares, that " He is at this day performing those still greater cures, on account of which He condescended to exhibit those lesser miracles and that "our Lord intended that those cures which He performed bodily should be also understood spiritually."^ Hilary, in his Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, says, "Although these works of Jesus were done at this time, we should consider well what their signification is in relation to future times for "the then present acts (of the Lord) declare the form of the future."|| John of Jerusalem says of the Lord's restoring the blind to sight, " the cures which Jesus wrought upon the blind, were indeed great, but unless He daily do as mighty works, to us
t In Matth. cap. xvii. S Sermonum xcviii. sect. 3.
they are not great." * Chrysostom, struck by the extraordinary means used by the Lord in effecting the cure of the man who was blind from his birth, exclaims, " What a strange mode of cure is this ! But what shall we say is the signification of this mystery? These things were not simply nor inconsiderately done, but describe what will hereafter happen to us, as in an image and by a figure; or else, with all the power of faith, it would give offence to the minds of many people, so incredible and strange is the whole relation!" Cyril, in his commentary on the same passage of John, says, " what could be the reason, it may be asked, for Jesus having used His spittle mixed with clay in the cure of the blind man, when, without any trouble, and by merely speaking the word, He could have cured him ? Certainly the force of this miracle must have a certain mystic reason." Eusebius Gallicanus says, "our Saviour plainly shows that His miracles have an (interior) signification, because, in performing them He does something or other which has no reason in it. In the instance of the blind man, unless it had a (spiritual) signification, where was the necessity, for the restoring of his sight, that the Lord should make clay with His spittle to anoint his eyes, when with a word He could have cured him ? Let us search for the signification of this blind man."* And he adds, in the same book, "that blindness is not a blindness of the body, but of the soul." Augustine says, " that blind man is the human race;"f and Cyril, that the blind man is he who is destitute of the Divine Light." % Last comes John of Jerusalem, who interprets the blind man to mean "one who is blind in the letter (of the Scriptures), and who, so long as he remain in that state, cannot be cured."
+ In loc. Joluui.
Augustine says of the woman " who was cured of the issue of blood, that she is a figure of the church among the Gentiles ;"|| and that the whole human race are, like this woman, bowed down to the earth. The devil and his angels bow the souls of men down to the earth, that being bent to those things which are earthly, they may not seek those things which are above." John of Jerusalem-says, that "it was not the hem of Jesus' garment, but the thought of Him in her mind, which wrought the cure." **
Augustine says, that "the soul may be understood by the sick of the palsy, when there is a loosening of its members, that is, of good works; "ft and Eusebius Gallicanus, with singular sagacity, observes, that "when our Saviour says, Thy sins be forgiven thee, He points to the inner man, and shows that there was a palsy of the spirit. Had He looked only to the infirmity of the body, He would not have so expressed Himself."
Augustine says of the withering of the fig-tree, " if this miracle had been only a thing to be admired, and not a prophetic figure, the Lord had more worthily shown His clemency and mercy by causing a withered tree to bud forth and flourish, in like manner as He had healed the sick. But, on the contrary, in this instance He seems to act against the ordinary rule of His mercy : for He finds a green tree, which, at an unwonted time, had no fruit upon it, but not refusing to yield its fruit to the husbandman, and this He causes to wither." f John of Jerusalem says, " it had leaves, but no fruit, the words but not the sense, the Scriptures but not the understanding of the Scriptures ;" I and Hilary explains the fig-tree as signifying the Jewish church. Speaking in reference to the fig-tree, Origen says, " in the righteous, Jesus is always a hungered, being desirous to eat the fruit of the Holy Spirit in them || and in the same treatise, " far be it from us, that when Jesus comes to us, and desires to eat of the fruit of the fig-tree, he find not fruit upon it."
John of Jerusalem, giving the spiritual sense of the Lord's glorification, says " He who follows the letter of the Scripture, and remains exclusively in the valley, cannot see Jesus clothed in white raiment; but he who follows the Word of God up the mountain, that is, he who ascends the sublime sense of the Law, to him Jesus is transfigured. So long as we follow the obscurity of the letter, Moses and Elias do not talk with Jesus ; but if we understand it spiritually, then straightway Moses and Elias, that is, the Law and the Prophets, come and converse with the Gospel."* Origen gives the same spiritual meaning to the Lord's glorification ; for "Moses and Elias," he says, "appeared in glory when they talked with Jesus, and in this fact the Law and the Prophets arc shown to agree with the Gospels, and to be resplendent with the same glory, when spiritually understood." f " He (the Lord) ascended the mountain to teach thee, that thou seek for Him nowhere else but in the mountains of the Law and the Prophets." 1 In the seventeenth chapter of his Commentary on Matthew he says,
* Homil. xxxii. t I" Kpist. ml Romanos, cap. i. + In Cantic. Cnntic. Homil. iii.
" if any one understand how the spiritual law agrees with the discourses of Jesus, and comprehend in the Prophets the wisdom that is hidden in mystery, such a person beholds Moses and Elias in glory with Jesus." In another work he says, " unless thou ascend the mountain of God, and there meet with Moses : unless thou ascend the lofty sense of the Law; unless thou reach the height of spiritual intelligence, thy mouth is not opened by God. If thou abide in the low plain of the letter, and do no more than make Jewish narratives of the historical text, thou hast not met Moses on the mount of God, neither hath God opened thy mouth, nor taught thee what thou oughtest to say:''* and "they are unthankful heretics," he declares, " who do not know how the New Scriptures of the Gospel agree entirely with the Old." t
* In Exod. cap. iv. + In Jos. cap. i.w
Augustine, speaking of our Lord's miracle of raising to life the son of the widow of Nain, observes, " there are some who stand amazed at the bodily miracles of Jesus, who know not how to behold His still greater (spiritual) miracles. Others there are, who hear indeed of His bodily miracles, but have a greater admiration for those which He wrought in human minds. For our Lord Jesus Christ intended that those miracles which He wrought on the bodies of men, should also be understood spiritually; for He did not perform miracles for the sake of miracles, but that those things which He did perform might appear wonderful to those who beheld them, and true to those who understood them. Such ought we to be in the school of Christ, as both to admire His works, and to follow that which is to be understood by them." (In Serm. xcviii.) "The three dead persons," he says in the same discourse, "whom Christ raised to life, are three different kinds of sinners, whom at this day He raises (to spiritual life). First, there are those who have conceived sin in their hearts, but have not brought it forth into act, and these are figured in the daughter of the ruler of the synagogue. The consent to iniquity is condemned, but she is restored to salvation and' righteousness. Though dead in the house of her father, she is raised ; the heart becomes alive in the secret chamber of the thought; the resurrection of the dead soul takes place within the recesses of the conscience, as it were within the house of her father. Another class consists of those who, after consent, pass into actual sin, and these, like the young man, are borne out dead, that that which lay hidden in secret may openly appear. Was it not said to this young man, ' I say unto thee, arise,' and was he not restored to his mother? Such a person, who has so acted, if happily he be admonished by the Word of Truth, rises at the voice of Christ, and is restored to the church alive. But they who commit sin, and moreover bind themselves to it by long habit, such persons, oppressed by malignant custom, are as it were buried, and in such sort buried, that like Lazarus they stink." Theophilus of Antioch observes, that " our resurrection is figured in the resurrection of Lazarus. The cave or sepulchre of Lazarus designates the shadowy letter of the Law ;"*and in commenting on the relation as given in John, he says, that "the stone rolled away from the sepulchre of Lazarus signifies the hardness of unbelief removed from the heart of man."
Pursuing the same mode of spiritually interpreting the condemnation and death of the Lord, John of Jerusalem says, " Do not suppose that it was only in former times Christ was betrayed by the Priests, condemned by them, and by them delivered over to be crucified; but even now He is betrayed, and condemned to death. For Christ is the Word of Truth, and they who falsely interpret the Word of Truth, betray Him to be mocked and crucified."! Andreas Caesariensis says, that "an earthquake, when mentioned in the Holy Scriptures, always signifies a change of things for the better;" Jerome, that "the veil of the temple was rent, and all the sacred mysteries of the Law, which were before covered, were made known, and passed over to the Gentiles." And, prophetically of the second advent, Jerome declares, that "when that shall come which is perfect, then shall the inner veil of the temple be rent asunder, that we may see the mysteries of the house of God, which are now hidden from us."f Lastly, Origen explains the sepulchre of Christ to mean the Divine Scripture, in which the mystery of His Divinity and Humanity is closed .up by the density of the letter, as it were by a stone."}
On the early times of Christianity the mind rests with satisfaction; for then religion flourished, not in dead creeds, but in the brotherly affection, the simple piety, and humility of its members. But that bright scene was quickly changed when the priesthood was invested with temporal power, and Christianity became the religion of the state. From that time, unhappily, the ministers of religion became more distinguished for their worldly-mindedness, bigotry, and intolerance, than, as they had before been, for their charity, their meekness, and humility. A general corruption of life and a deterioration of faith from spiritual to merely natural views of the Holy Scripture spread themselves over the Christian world. Wars, masked under the name of religion, and persecutions for His sake, who had enjoined His disciples to return blessings for curses, and prayers for despiteful usage, were among the bitter fruits of man's disobedience to the gentle and loving spirit of the Gospel.* From the days of Constantine to the present, it has been the endeavour of the rulers of the church generally to keep man's reason in servile obedience to a blind faith ; and having but little to offer him on which an enlightened mind could rest satisfied, to make a merit of necessity, and turn the very fallacies of " the letter, which killeth," to account, by offering them as tests and trials of his faith. But now, happily for the world, a different spirit has arisen. Men are disposed to require a reason for the faith that is in them ; and the time seems to be approaching when " the many things," which the Lord said He had to tell His disciples, but which they were not able then to bear, will be revealed by Him ; for, as it appears to us, the human mind is at length so far emancipated, as to be able both to bear them, and to profit by the instruction. Those " many things " which the disciples at the Lord's first advent were not able to bear, we believe to be contained in the spiritual sense of the Holy Scripture, and we believe also that the opening of the mind to a perception of its interior truths is meant by the second or spiritual advent of the Lord "with power and great glory." If this be true, then is a brighter day about to dawn upon the world. Though possibly not in this age, the living Christianity, which consists in pure intentions, disinterested kindness, and preference of others to ourselves both in thought and action, we feel assured must eventually prevail, and restore man, spiritually as well as naturally, to the paradise of his primeval state.
All instruction, and especially religious instruction, we should ever remember, ought to minister to the cultivation of mutual kindness and good-will. Without these, speculations, however elevated their character, and worthy of rational beings, present, not the light of true wisdom, but only a false glare, serving no other purpose than to hide our true conditions from ourselves. Experience teaches how easy it is to talk about charity, and humility, and mutual forbearance, and how apt we are to fancy ourselves in possession of these virtues when we are no more than intellectually impressed with their value and importance.
The subjects which we have dealt with in the course of our inquiries, have been, If we may be allowed to say so, of interest and importance ; and having found how useful these investigations were to ourselves, we have thought that they may not prove altogether useless or uninteresting to others.
At the commencement of our undertaking it will first of all be necessary for us to define what is to be understood by the Spiritual Sense of the Holy Scripture, that we may know with clearness and exactitude in what respect it differs from the literal sense. Without a clear definition before us, it is indeed more than probable that we shall, in some instances, mistake the one for the other, and at times think we had got at the internal meaning, when we had obtained nothing more than a refined natural sense, by an ingenious explanation of some eastern allegory or metaphor.
The spiritual sense of the Word of God we must ever remember does not in the least relate to any event or circumstance in this natural world; it has no relation whatever to the condition of man as a natural being, nor to any of the properties which belong to the objects of our senses. Seeing, from this part of our definition, what the spiritual sense is not, if, in any future explanations, either by ourselves or others, we should detect anything which relates to the personal condition of man, to outward events, or to any of the properties of nature, we may be sure that we have not arrived at a dear conception of the limits of the two senses, but have been confounding them together.
The spiritual sense is exclusively confined to man's spiritual condition, embracing within its circuit every possible state of the human mind, both in that arrangement and subordination of its powers to the Divine Will which are to fit man for the kingdom of heaven, and in that disarrangement and insubordination of the mind by the love of evil, which are the sure and only sources of his eternal misery. The spiritual sense of the Holy Scripture is a history of the indefinitely various states of the human mind ; consisting of a series of truths, universal, as all truths are, which are abstracted from space and time, and therefore applicable to all mankind in all ages of the world. These conditions of the mind, that is of the will and the intellect, are called the states of the church, or of the kingdom of God, in man.
In the course of our present work we shall have occasion to extend our inquiries into the grounds or reason of the relationship between the spiritual and ' natural senses; for the present we must proceed in the study of these correspondencies in the same way as by experience it has been found best in the acquirement of any other branch of knowledge : first, let us see, and be convinced of its practical utility in eliciting a 'beautiful and harmonious sense of the highest value, which we may do by a thoughtful reading of any portion of the "Word spiritually explained by the application of correspondencies, as for instance are the Psalms; appended to the present volume; and let us afterwards, examine the reason of the correspondency between spirit and nature, which is said to be grounded in the very constitution of created things. We shall thus be better prepared for the inquiry, and be able more correctly and fully to understand the explanation.
Our first step however must be to have it well impressed upon our minds, that the natural sense relates, generally speaking, to the circumstances,, conditions, and duties of man externally, or in nature,, and also to the different forms, properties, and relations which belong to the objects of nature; and that the spiritual sense relates to the various states of man's spirit, that is, of his will in the quality of the love which animates it, and of his intellect in the quality of its knowledge.
On account of the relation which the Science of Correspondencies bears to the Divine Word as the key by which we may unlock its spiritual or internal meaning, and disclose the heavenly doctrines of the New Jerusalem, it is more useful for us to first .investigate that science rather than any other of the doctrines however important contained in the theological writings of Emanuel Swedenborg; and to make ourselves intimately acquainted with the many advantages which may result from a knowledge of this science, both in respect to its principles and practical application.
It is indeed impossible for any doctrines to surpass in purity and excellence those contained in the writings mentioned above. In all that concerns the distinct and clear knowledge which man should possess of the One Divine Object of his worship,and without a knowledge of Him and His holy attributes He can neither be really loved nor rightly served;in the full and satisfactory revelation which they contain of our future state of existence, and of our close connexion with that spiritual world, to which this life is the preparatory stage; in the profound and yet clear exposition which they give of the human mind, its origin, its various powers, with their distinct uses; in their pure and elevated system of morale; and, as respects the author "himself, in the deep reverence which he constantly : shows for the Divine origin of all truth, by keeping himself almost entirely from the reader's sight, and .directing him to the Lord God as the only source of all instruction; in . these, and in much more, the writings of the New Church stand pre-eminent. But these heavenly doctrines are themselves the Word of God in its spiritual sense, which can be drawn or extracted from its literal sense in no other way than by the science of correspondencies. To see therefore clearly, and to be convinced of their truth, it is necessary, as we have already said, to investigate the science by which they have been unfolded and on which they depend.
But not only does this science serve to unloose the seals of the holy volume, and to discover the universal truths of its spiritual sense, but it is equally applicable to the book of nature, which to most men is as much a sealed book as the Word of God itself. For who among philosophers, or men of science at the present day, is able, or even attempts, to connect natural effects with their spiritual causes ? Or rather, how few are there that attribute a spiritual cause to any natural effect, and who do not exclusively search in matter, and not in mind, for the causes of all natural phenomena? And yet nature, with the various objects of its three kingdoms and their connection, is nothing else from beginning to end but a scries of effects from spiritual causes. It is true that, at times, the simple-minded catch some glimpses of a connection between the two worlds, but then it is as if it were seen through the minute fissures of a closed door; the wonderful reality can burst upon the sight in its glory, only when that door is thrown open, and the humble searcher after truth, by the science of correspondencies, can' perceive and acknowledge the Divine inspiration of the Holy Book; and, in the creation and preservation of all nature, a continuation of the same law, the law of correspondency between the spiritual and the natural worlds. Indeed, there can be no termination to the discoveries of truth, both in the "Word of God and in the book of nature, to be made by means of this Divine science and yet every step we take in it will but convince us more and more of the necessity of improving our lives by the interior truths which it unfolds, and of submitting ourselves in all things humbly to the Divine Will. So universally does the law of correspondencies prevail throughout creation, that there is not a single event, nor any connected series of events, which can occur to any one - of us, that is not the representative form of some spiritual cause within us, although, from the obscurity and darkness in which the human mind is plunged, the correspondency between them cannot easily be detected. With respect both to the Word of God and to natural phenomena, Swedenborg has gone as far in disclosing their internal or spiritual sense as appears to be necessary for the present wants of mankind; and yet we have every reason to believe, from the universality of correspondencies, that we are but on the threshold of the science, and that, as men become better, by giving up their own selfish wills, both in intention and practice, to the Lord's will, and His will is, that, for our own sakes and for our everlasting happiness, we love Him above all things and our neighbour as ourselves, we have good reason to believe that truths will be revealed of a kind which would be utterly incomprehensible to us in our present state of ignorance.
But, as a foundation for spiritual truth, natural knowledge is absolutely indispensable. An accurate acquaintance with the- general arrangement, and specific forms, functions, and uses of the various objects of nature, is the basis on which the superstructure of all spiritual truth must rest. We have therefore the noblest and most powerful inducement to interest us in every branch of natural knowledge. For instead of being confined to the mere detail of facts, which but too frequently indispose the mind to the truths of religion, the science of correspondencies will enable us to link together the natural effect, which, disconnected, is but the appearance of truth, with its spiritual cause, so that it may be in reality a truth ; and at last to connect all with the Divine Truth; from which they are produced. So far is the science from dispensing with natural knowledge, such knowledge is in fact quite as indispensable for the right comprehension of spiritual truth, as are the words of language for the communication of our thoughts.
The science of correspondencies further teaches us to distinguish between that which is really true and that which only appears to be so, or between the spiritual and the natural senses of the Holy Scripture. Not but that the imperfect form of the literal sense is highly useful, and indeed necessary; for we must be instructed by the appearances of truth before we are in a condition to comprehend the truth itself, and also because, when we are sufficiently prepared, the very discordances of the letter will be as stumbling- blocks, to awaken our attention, and dispose us to receive an explanation which reconciles all difficulties, at the same time that it satisfies the utmost requirements of human reason. This is shown in the petition of the Lord's prayer, "Lead us not into temptation," when spiritually explained. But nature itself, or more correctly speaking, a merely natural view of this world, presents nothing else but the appearances of truth, although it is considered by most persons actually to be such as it appears to be, and as the very cause and origin of all the emotions of the will and the thoughts of the intellect.
The common opinions concerning insanity might be here adduced as striking examples of such false conclusions. For the cause of madness is generally conceived to be some bodily disorder, which produces its effects by its action on the mind. Such indeed Goodness is manifested ; and even in the prayer itself, not a separate consciousness, nor anything like. a separate consciousness or division of identity, but the representative form of such a separation of the Divine Goodness from the Divine Truth at the consummation of the Church, that the latter could no longer bring the Divine Goodness or the Divine Love forth to view, and was consequently rejected and destroyed. This spiritual rejection and destruction of the Divine Truth was represented and signified by the rejection of the Son of Man and His crucifixion. In this way does the science of correspondencies explain to us the reason for the apparent distinction between the Father and the Son, at the same time that it reveals to us the perfect unity of the Divine Being in the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who was the Divine Truth in its ultimate or natural form.
But when the grounds, of correspondencies are unfolded, it will serve at the same time to explain the doctrine of influx; for the influx of the Divine Life, through the discriminated degrees of which the human mind is composed, is the same thing as correspondency. This correspondency begins where first the ratio or relationship commences between God and man. But there can be no ratio between two beings so unlike in kind, that one of the two, namely man, can form no conception: of, and therefore cannot rationally perceive, the other,that other being the Infinite God, or Jehovah such as He is in Himself. The correspondency therefore commences where the infinite is in conception so far finited as to become a Divine Object, who can be perceived, loved, and worshipped. This Infinite finited, in contradistinction to the Infinite as it is in itself, is called by Swedenborg the Lord's Divine-Human Essence, and in relationship to man in nature is the Lord Jesus Christ.
Of the order of influx, in connexion with the doctrine and degrees of correspondency, it may be remarked, that each spiritual plane is as a mirror, in which the state of the plane immediately above it, is represented, while all are represented in the last plane, which is the external human form and the other objects of the natural world. Nature, whether considered in its most extended sense, as applicable to all natural forms and their respective uses, or limited to the human body, which is a little world in the connexion and uses of its various parts, is the mirror in which are represented both the Lord's kingdom of love and truth within man, and also the contrary kingdom of spiritual darkness and death.
Again, the intellect, in its thoughts, is a mirror which represents the state of the will, and according to the state of the will and intellect, such will be the mirror in which the Lord, with His Divine Love and Wisdom, is represented, or such will He be in relation to man. This generally is the order of discriminated degrees, or the influx of the Divine Life into man according to reception.
How necessary is it then for our future improvement in this Divine science, that we guard against the admission of that which we do not clearly understand. Our reason was given to us in order that, being enlightened by the Lord, we might admit of no other authority but the rational perception of truth, which nothing else but His living presence in us can communicate. That faith, the reason of which we cannot clearly perceive, Swedenborg rightly calls the persuasive faith of authority, under the influence of which we are more likely to wander into the paths of error than to reach the temple of truth.
As to the difference between the two kinds of degrees which Swedenborg calls "continuous" and "discriminated or discrete," it is to be observed that all differences in the forms which belong to the same degree, whether spiritual or natural, arc called continuous, and the connection between them a connection by continuity; whereas the forms which belong to different degrees, are called discriminated or discrete, and their connection, a connection by correspondency. We have even known those who are in some measure acquainted with the Writings of the New Church, to mistake the analogy or likeness which exists between the different orders of the three kingdoms of nature for the discriminated degrees of correspondency; but this arose from their not having accurately examined and comprehended the explanations of the author. The analogy, which can be traced through the various forms of nature, is a display of the harmony which reigns throughout its continuous degrees; but the correspondency of discriminated degrees is the relationship subsisting between the spiritual efficient cause and its natural effect. The following passages from Swedenborg will show that this relationship is a real correspondency between the cause and its effect.
"Throughout nature there is not a single thing which can exist unless it have a correspondency with the spiritual world, for without it, it would want a cause for its existence, and consequently for its subsistence also. For .all things in nature are nothing else but effects, the causes of which are in the spiritual world, and the causes of these, which are ends, in the interior heaven. The effect cannot subsist unless the cause be continually in it, for the cause ceasing, the effect must cease also. The effect, considered in itself, is nothing else but the cause, but so extrinsically clothed as to be subservient to the cause by enabling it to act in a lower sphere. What is here said of the effect in relation to its cause is equally true of the cause in relation to its end. For a cause is nothing unless it exist from its cause, which is the end; for without an end, it is a cause devoid of order, and without order nothing can be effected" (Ibid. n. 5711).
To be convinced therefore of the reality of the science of correspondencies, it will be necessary to understand the grounds or reason on which it rests; for without a perception of the mode in which these efficient causes, which are purely spiritual, can produce, by an influx of the Divine Life, the forms of nature, correspondency might be mistaken for; an arbitrary system of symbols or metaphors. But when the grounds of the system are discovered, then the reason of man is satisfied, and the science of correspondencies is hailed as a revelation, from the Lord Himself, of the order and constitution of His universe.
In the consideration of this subject, it may be urged that physical causes, however, cannot be altogether excluded. The frequent production of insanity by cerebral disease, and the varied state of the disorder, arising, it would seem, from physical causes, appear to point to a different conclusion from the one we have already advanced. But we contend that it is nothing more than a fallacy to suppose the events in nature to be anything else but a series of effects from the spiritual causes which they represent; although the mind by an inverted view may consider many of them, and even the whole of them, to be causes. If it be asked, To what are we to attribute the order and connexion of circumstances in the theatre of this world, which look so like the relations of cause and effect? The answer is, that, in these effects, the harmony and connexion displayed, which most people mistake for a series of causes and effects, are consequences of the order, connexion, and succession of their spiritual causes, and of the Divine order reigning throughout the whole.
With this view we shall be enabled to see all things in the beauty of their spiritual connexion with the Supreme Cause, and not as disconnected from ourselves, but as effects depending upon our own condition, and as real outbirths of the Divine Life within us. In this consists the reality of correspondencies, or the relationship subsisting between a spiritual cause and its natural effect. Philosophers, however, are not only indisposed to admit of a spiritual cause to any natural phenomenon, but, generally speaking, reverse the true order, by attributing the operations of the mind to the functions of the brain, and in some instances considering mind itself to be nothing more than a physical secretion. On the other hand it may be urged, that, for the production of an echo a physical cause is necessary; but we answer, that the echo, and all the phenomena that accompany its production, are effects, depending, for their continuity and connexion, upon causes discriminated from them in their characteristic properties, but actually necessary to their existence. If there be a real correspondentas there is between the two worlds of spirit and of matter, it must be universal, and admit of no exception, nor contradiction in its laws. Correspondency does not consist in the arbitrary affixing of certain meanings to certain objects, nor in the tracing a metaphorical resemblance between a certain state of the mind, and any .event or events in nature; but it is the link which connects the internal or spiritual plane with the natural, according to which the states of the human will and understanding are represented in the sensible appearances of space and time. To deny this, the connexion of cause and effect between mind and matter, is to deny the reality of the latter, and to disconnect it from the One Divine Cause of all, who is pre-eminently and essentially real, and who, not being in space and time, creates them both, by the medium of the spiritual world, or through man.
Correspondency, we have said, exists between different, or discriminated, degrees or planes, that is, between the natural degree or plane, and the spiritual. In the one degree or plane are intellectual objects, which are either truths or the perversions of truth ; and in the other, the various objects of the senses. But the former, namely, the truths or fallacies of the intellect, have their causes also, which are called causes of causes or ends, consisting of the good, or the evil, affections of the will. This is the order that prevails throughout creation, and is in no instance whatever actually reversed, although it may appear to the natural man, who thinks in the fallacies of effects, and not from the truth of causes, to be so.
We must not suffer the unreal semblance of physical causes to obscure our mental sight; for from physical causes there is but one step to the belief in accidental causes, or in the existence of a cause without an end. But he, whose eye is spiritually enlightened, will see that, from the universality of the Divine Providence operating from ends through causes in effects, there can be no such thing as accidents; for those events which are falsely considered accidental, with all their consequences, have their causes as much in the spiritual world of state, as the words of language have their causes in the thoughts which they indicate ; or as the expression of the countenance is an effect which unfolds, and represents, the state of the affections. But we are unfortunately too much accustomed to reverse the true order of things, and relying upon our senses, not only for information, but for instruction also, we are continually making the most serious mistakes, setting our natural knowledge at variance with our religion, instead of connecting them, as the two worlds are connected in creation. The first step towards removing the film, that obscures the vision of the natural man, will be to abstain from confirming those fallacious appearances which belong to the literal or the natural sense of things : for by confirming these, the fair form of truth will be buried in the dust, and in that situation we shall but blind ourselves the more, the more we strive to discover her lifeless form.
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.
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.
We shall now proceed to examine the next general property of nature, namely, heat. As the sensuous property of light corresponds to the understanding of truth, or its opposite, the sensuous property of heat corresponds to a state of goodness in the will, or its opposite. And first, to begin with the proofs which examples taken from the Holy Scripture afford.
Genesis viii. 22. "While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease." To determine the meaning of the correspondencies contained in this verse, we should know that Noah represented a new church, which sprung from the ruins of the old. The regeneration of that church was represented by his going forth from the ark. Having left the ark, after the subsidence of the waters, he is then said to have built an altar to Jehovah, and to have offered upon it of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, signifying that the worship of that church consisted in an Offering to the Lord of all pure affections, and all holy thoughts. After this the promise is made that, "while the earth remaineth, seed-time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter and day and night shall not cease;" which words in their spiritual sense, reveal to man what must be his future progressive steps towards regeneration, and also his condition when regenerated. The earth signifies the natural man, and "so long as it remaineth " signifies while there is a capacity for its spiritual culture, this shall be its progress. First come seed-time before harvest, cold before heat, to mark, in the order of the words, that before he is spiritually born again, and while he is only advancing towards it, he will alternate between the insemination of truth in the intellect, and the increase which springs from the love or reception of it, and between the want of charity in the will, the cold that precedes, and a certain measure of charity, the spiritual heat or warmth that follows. For man commences with the insemination of truth, when the earth or natural mind is prepared to receive it, but the will at this time is cold as to all heavenly love and charity, for he himself is the chief object of his own love, and this is wholly incompatible with the disinterested love of others. But to these states succeed the spiritual harvest and the heat of his spiritual summer, and these interior alternations take place until the man is born again of the Lord. But when he actually is regenerated, then a different order is established, for then the summer precedes the winter, and the day the night. When he is born anew of the Lord, neither his winter nor his night are like the cold and darkness of his former state ; for he is, as to his spirit, in the paradise of an equatorial region, in which love is esteemed before light, and in which, though there must be alternations, for without alternations there could be no improvement, the love of self becomes more and more subdued, and thereby made serviceable to the heavenly love which he feels towards the Lord and his neighbour; while the appearances of truth have less and less hold upon the mind by the fuller reception of the heavenly light which disperses those appearances. In such a state there is a continual approximation to the beauty of a perpetual spring, and twilight takes the place of night. Swedenborg, in his incomparable poem, "The Worship and Love of God," describes the paradise of the earliest times as produced by the comparative nearness of the earth to the sun, and the quickness of its revolutions; " for then," he says, " the four seasons, though distinct, by the rapid influx of one into another, were blended into one season, resembling a perpetual spring;" and he illustrates this by the experiment of a thermometer, made to revolve before a hot fire, in a season of intense cold, at various distances, and with a varied velocity. While it is kept at a moderate distance, and turned round with moderate velocity, the fluid in the tube will neither ascend very high, nor sink very low, but will indicate a medium temperature of the atmosphere; for the heat will not be able to raise it, nor the cold to depress it; the elevation and depression being determined by distance and velocity, or by space and time. In heaven therefore, where, spiritually, their circuit is nearer the Heavenly Sun of Love and Wisdom, they have neither winter nor night, but the agreeable alternations of a sweet autumn succeeding to spring and summer, and a placid twilight to morning and mid-day. These are the outward representative effects of their reception of the Lord's Love and Wisdom, by the victory gained over self-love, and the fallacies and delights of the senses. And should not our endeavours be directed to the same Eternal End ? If we really have a desire to live for ever happy, not a day should be lost in forming a little heaven within ourselves by the love and practice of all that is right and pure and good, denying ourselves every gratification which may tend to wound the peace and happiness of another, and in all things doing unto others as we would they should do unto us.
Genesis xviii. 1. "And the Lord appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre : and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day." Abraham, to whom Jehovah appeared, represents the celestial man; Isaac the spiritually-rational, and Jacob the natural. The confirmation in a celestial state of mind is signified by Abraham's sitting. A tent signifies a holy state of worship, for in the early ages of the world, they celebrated their worship in tents. The ark was therefore placed in a tabernacle or tent. Abraham is said to have seen Jehovah as he was sitting at the door of his tent in the heat of the day ; for the heat of the day is when the sun's rays are most powerful, and the sensations of heat and light are the strongest; and this, in the case of Abraham, represents the marriage union of goodness and truth in the celestial man. In this state of mind the Lord appears. But he appears as three men, and these three men are, by those who take the literal account as the foundation of their doctrines, supposed to have been the personal Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who are still addressed, on account of their mysterious union, in the singular number, as Jehovah; but in the spiritual sense all distinction of Person vanishes, and we have instead the fulness of the Lord's manifestation according to the state which Abraham represented.
We find, then, by the examination of various passages, that this, as well as every other natural property, or object of the senses, has a twofold meaning. It has a heavenly signification when it corresponds to heavenly love or charity, but it has an opposite signification when it represents the love of the natural man, which is a corruption of the Divine Love in him, that love being concentred in himself, instead of flowing forth and manifesting itself in the love of others. Heat then, or warmth, represents the condition of the will, as light docs that of the intellect; or, tracing these effects to their spiritual causes, light, which, in its various modifications and refractions, constitutes our objects of sight, represents the state of the natural intellect, in its connection with the heavenly light of the Divine Wisdom, or in its separation from it; and heat, or warmth, which, in its various modifications, communicates those properties which belong to the sense of touch, represents the state of the natural will in its connexion with the Divine Life, the life of love and charity, or in its separation from it by the lusts of evil.
To see clearly the connexion between natural effects and spiritual causes, it will be necessary at first to take our example from those early records which are to be found in the Holy Scripture. There is no real difference, indeed, between the facts that daily occur to us, and those that happened ages ago to the Jews in Palestine; for nature is as much a representative theatre of effects now, as it was then. There has been no alteration of the mode in which nature is produced, but at this day, just as much as ever, " the natural world becomes extant and perpetually exists, that is, subsists, through the spiritual world "not of space, but of state"from the Divine Essence" (Arcana Coelestia, n. 10196). It is not therefore actually necessary for us to go back to distant ages, but we might, supposing that we were sufficiently enlightened, take any recent events, as the wars which have been waged between nations in our own times, and trace their signification; for we know that "all wars, although they are themselves of a civil nature, are in heaven the representatives of. the states of the church, and correspond to them. Such were the wars, described in the Word, which the children of Israel waged with various nations, and such too are all wars at the present day " (The Divine Providence, n. 251). But though nature, and the events in nature, are as much created through man now, as when the Israelites went out of Egypt, or received the two tables of the covenant by the hand of Moses, or entered the promised land, it is much easier to see the signification of facts long past, than those with which we are ourselves intimately connected, and, as it were, closely surrounded. It would appear as if the objects required intellectually to be removed to some little distance from ourselves, before we can readily understand their true bearings and proportions.
Taking then, as an example of the signification of heat, or warmth, the miracle performed by Elisha on the Shunammite's son, we find in the fourth chapter of the Second Book of Kings, that, when the prophet raised the Shunammite's son to life, "he went up, and shut the door upon them twain, and prayed to the Lord. And he went up, and lay upon the child, and put his mouth upon his mouth, and his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands, and he stretched himself upon the child, and the flesh of the child waxed warm. Then he returned, and walked in the house to and fro, and went up and stretched himself upon him, and the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes."
Before we shall be able to comprehend the spiritual meaning of this miracle, it will be necessary for us to go over briefly a few of the circumstances which preceded the actual restoration of the child to life. The Shunammite woman and her husband represent the will and the intellect of the natural man, and the circumstances which occurred to them in their intercourse with Elisha previous to the birth of their son, represent the changes which the natural mind undergoes preparatory to the formation of the spiritual man by the birth of interior truth. The frequent journeys of Elisha past their door, represent the revelation of the Divine Truth in different, but progressive states of life, before it is received and makes its abode in the natural mind. Elisha is called by the Shunammite "a holy man of God," and the name God, which in the original language is a word expressive of power, signifies the Divine Truth, and "a holy man of God," that condition of the mind which is receptive of the Divine Truth, and therefore fitted to display its power in the ultimate or representative form. . On this account Elisha preeminently signifies the Divine Truth.
Several circumstances are related of the kindness of the Shunammite to the prophet, which represent the gradual increase of affection for the Divine Truth. At length she says to her husband, " Behold now, I perceive that this is a holy man of God," which signifies that the natural mind was beginning to acknowledge the Divine origin of that Truth, which was about to be received both by the intellect and the will. The Shunammite then proposes to her husband that they should build a little chamber for him on the wall, and to this he assents; and the proposal and assent represent the first spiritual marriage union of the will and the intellect, by their concurrent reception of the Divine Truth. But as vet it is only an external reception, for the chamber was constructed on the wall of their house, and it is not a full reception, for it is called a little chamber.
The consequence of this kindness shown to Elisha is the birth of a son, signifying the production from such a marriage of the will and intellect, of interior or spiritual truth. But in the course of time, "when the child is grown," he goes out to his father into a field where they are reaping, and while there he is struck by the heat of the sun, and, being carried home, dies on his mother's knees. Without stopping to investigate the interior meaning of the many circumstances which happened before the child was restored to life, all of which, when spiritually interpreted, are of exceeding beauty and interest, it may be sufficient to mention here that the child's death, evidently supposed to be by a stroke of the sun, while he was in the field along with his father, represents the perception communicated to the natural mind, of the death of spiritual truth, and of the cause of its extinction. Spiritual truth becomes extinct when it is applied merely to the formation of a doctrine, and not to the purposes of life; or when it serves the intellect of the natural man, instead of elevating and purifying the affections; or when it spiritually goes. forth to the father in the field, instead of remaining with its mother at home.
On the arrival of Elisha, with his servant Gehazi and the Shunammite, it is said that the dead child was laid upon Elisha's bed, and his bed signifies that state of the natural mind which is receptive of the Divine Truth, and which by its communication -with the Essential Life, becomes the means of communicating the life of heavenly love to interior truth. The manner, in which this spiritual resurrection is effected, is then described. He first prays to Jehovah, or the Lord, which signifies the uniting of the Divine Truth, represented by Elisha, with the Divine Goodness signified by Jehovah. He then lies upon the child, representing the influx, from the Divine Love, into that Truth which was about spiritually to live. He puts his mouth upon the child's mouth, his eyes upon the child's eyes, and his hands upon the child's hands, and stretches himself upon him; which, spiritually interpreted, represent the influx, by means of the Divine Truth, of that love .which, by reception, communicates life to the spiritual man; for the child, when it is restored to life by Elisha, represents the goodness as well as the truth, the charity as well as the faith of the spiritual mind or man. When he had done this, the flesh of the child waxed warm ; and here the warmth, or heat, has an opposite signification to that solar heat, which, as it was destructive to spiritual truth, signified the fire of self- love, with the lusts of evil; this warmth, imparted by Elisha, represented the influx and the reception of the Lord's Life, the Life of Love and Charity. But not as yet is the child restored to consciousness. To be spiritually conscious of that Infinite Mercy, which by regeneration raises us to life, it must be seen and manifested to the intellect. To effect this, Elisha must representatively return, and walk in the house to and fro, and again ascend and stretch himself upon the child ; for the walking of the prophet in the house of the Shunammite and her husband, represents a further change in the life of the natural man, produced by the Presence of the Divine Truth ; and his re-ascent to the chamber a further elevation of the mind by the union of the intellect with the will, and by the consequent manifestation to the former of the interior changes which had been produced in the latter by its reception of Heavenly Love.
But as the natural consciousness is restored when Elisha the second time stretches himself upon him, therefore the lungs resume their functions, for the child sneezes seven times, and sneezing is a violent action of the muscles of the thorax, which, in this instance, appears to have expelled the unwholesome air with which the cells were loaded, and to have admitted a fresh supply for the purifying of the blood, and for the restoration and continuance of pulmonic action. These natural phenomena were effects corresponding to the awakened consciousness of the intellect. But the child sneezes seven times, which signifies a holy state of the intellect, or the completion of its heavenly union with the regenerated will; and last of all, the child opens its eyes, and the opening of the eyes signifies the opening of the spiritual sight to a perception of Divine Truth itself, which imparts to him, who is born again, the life and happiness of heaven.
The order in which the animals are generally named in Scripture, as in their creation in Genesis i., is, it may be noted, the same as that adopted from the relative perfection of their organization by naturalists of the present day. Thus natural truth is found to harmonize with spiritual truth, when the different tribes and orders of the animal kingdom are accurately examined, and classified according to the development of their structure, and their uses, and not by some external peculiarity of a trivial nature. In the animal creation, the mammalia, or those animals that suckle their young, are, from the perfection of their development, properly placed at the head. Both in their internal organization and their outward structure they approach nearest to man. Next in order are the birds, and both these classes are warm-blooded animals, that is, they have lungs and a heart formed for the perfect decarbonizing, or purifying, of the blood. But a fish, from the imperfect circulation of its blood, and from the circumstance of its not being wholly freed from its impurities in its passage through the gills, is coldblooded ; and these imperfections of structure and function are still more strikingly displayed in other animals lower in the scale of existence, "which pass through the paths of the seas."
The animals of the class Mammalia represent the various interior good affections or evil propensities of the natural mind, and in their habits the likeness may be traced between them and man considered as to his animal nature; and if that nature could be separated from the influence of his reason, he would in every respect be nothing more than a mere animal. But the class of birds represents the various conditions of the natural intellect; reptiles the sensual states of the natural will; and fishes the scientific states of the intellect. But the still lower classes of animals represent the merely external delights of the intellect and. the senses.
When, as in the description given in the spiritual sense of Psalm viii. (for which see the end of the volume), the Divine Influx is received in a well-ordered mind and life, that is, in an inmost state of innocence, from which it flows down and regulates even the lowest states which belong to the life of the senses, then is the spiritual structure complete, and the dominion of the Lord is for ever established; and then too there is a- concurrent re-ascent of all the faculties, and the circle- ends where it began, with "O Jehovah our Lord, how excellent is Thy name in all the land!"
The faith in the Lord, which accompanies such a heavenly ordination of man's life, is neither a blind, nor a dead faith, but is a reliance on His love, from a living perception of His Divine qualities, and a living obedience to His Divine law. For we can have no true faith, unless our minds be stored with the interior truths of heaven, or such as instruct us in our spiritual as well as natural duties to God and to our neighbour, and unless they actually control and subdue the evil determinations of our will. Until then we are spiritually dead, and what we call our faith is either spurious or hypocritical, and therefore utterly unworthy of the name. But when the Lord, by the conquest over our natural propensities to evil, creates a new will in us, which is formed of heavenly love, and every gentle and sweet affection, our real life begins, our spiritual morning dawns, and truths multiply according to our interior wants. The former state was represented by the disciples when they toiled all night in their ship and caught nothing ; but when their day dawned, and the Lord appeared to them, He directed them to cast their net on the right side of the ship, and then they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.
The spiritual reason for the Lord's commanding them to cast their net on the right side of the ship was, because the right side of the ship corresponds to the power of truth when it springs from charity ; and this was the state of their minds - or abstracted from person, this is the state of the mind - consequent upon the Divine Presence in man's spiritual morning. Then, being no longer involved in the spiritual night of a blind faith, - which consists in giving credence to things which cannot be understood because they are self-contradictory, and obeying the Lord's instructions to unite the light of truth with the warmth of charity, He will bless us with an abundance of scientific truths, according to our wants, signified by the fishes which they at length drew to land. Thus are we led, by the revelation of those internal changes, which were involved in the miracle, and which are called its spiritual sense, to see the proper uses of scientific truths, and that, though they are insufficient of themselves to regenerate us, or to bring us spiritually near the Lord, they are necessary means for the formation of His kingdom within us, as necessary as are the foundations of a house for its superstructure. It is an observation of our author, that no man, with a right use of reason, would build a house for the sake of its foundation ; but he lays a solid foundation for the sake of the walls, and he builds his walls for the protection of the rooms in which he designs to live. Scientific truths, of different orders, are the bases and the walls of our spiritual building, and these, when connected together, and made coherent by that right affection for truth which is free from all unworthy motives, are our safeguards against the injuries to which we should otherwise be exposed.
The science of correspondencies is beautiful, not only because it enables us to draw forth a pure and elevated doctrine from the events recorded in the Holy Scripture, but because it is universally truthful in its application to every circumstance and every form in nature. It spiritually numbers the very hairs of our heads, and connects the fall of a sparrow with our Father who is in the heavens within us. It makes the written Word of God a living Word, in which the various changes of state, which the human mind undergoes, are displayed to us when we are abstracted from the representative time and space of the natural sense,which consists in a great measure of nothing more valuable than so many curious historical facts, and when we are elevated into the region of their spiritual causes. In this way is the Divine Truth restored to life, when we see it in relation to our own states of mind, and when it unfolds to us, by a living influx, the universal as well as particular condition of the Divine Truth in man.
It is a striking fact that the earliest fathers of the church, though they had not such a distinct knowledge of the science of correspondencies in its practical application as would have enabled them to trace the order and coherence of the spiritual sense, yet seemed to be well aware that the Holy Scripture had universally such a sense, and in more than one instance it was asserted, by a profounder insight into the nature of things than we might be inclined to give them credit for, that all things would be fulfilled after a spiritual manner at the Lord's second advent, which took place naturally at His first. It is evident from this, and from the interior sense which they elicited from many parts of the Holy Scripture, that the science of correspondencies was upon the verge of being revealed to them; and we have good reason to think that, but for the general corruption both in life and in doctrine which had overspread the church at the time when the Council of Nice was held, it would have been revealed. But at that time the love and charity of the primitive Christian Church had become extinct; a blind faith had interposed its dark mantle to shroud the light of heavenly truth, and then their tenets became as gross and unintelligible as their views were selfish and earthly. Then first the maxim was broached and acted on, which is so commonly repeated at the present day, "You are free to use your reason in worldly concerns, but be careful to exclude it from all matters of faith." By excluding all rational judgment on the tenets of their faith, they closed their minds against the reception of Heavenly Light, and in the same proportion admitted the darkness of error which was directly opposed to it.
Respecting the signification of the quarters of the world, and the reason why the Lord is always associated with the east and is indeed called the East, it is to be observed, that spiritually the points of the compass are determined by His presence, and His presence by the state of the recipient mind. In heaven, which consists in a purely spiritual state of love and wisdom, or faith and charity, there is no fixed space or time, such as belongs to the phenomena of our natural condition ; but there is a real appearance of both, not only as fully and perfectly as here, but even much more so. But in that interior state all outward phenomena are living and plastic, because they are known, and intuitively perceived to owe their existence to the affections and thoughts of the angels to whom they are presented, and primitively to the Lord, by the finite reception of His infinite properties. As they are effects from the causes within them, they are entirely dependent on those causes for their existence. Unlike the mass of mankind, who ascribe the phenomena of the senses to causes extraneous and independent of the sentient being, and who, by such a false and irrational judgment, deaden and darken their perceptions of truth, angelic beings know, for they think spiritually, and not naturally, above space and time, and not in them, that similar phenomena, and those of the most exquisite beauty and variety, are presented to all who belong to the same society, because their wills are united by mutual love, and their thoughts are in harmony, and that these are the causes for the beautiful scenery, and the various lovely forms, with which they, like ourselves, appear to be surrounded. As space and time with them are the living effects of their states of mind, it is easy to account for their instantaneous presence to each other, when they think of one another from mutual affection. Their mutual presence is grounded in the harmony of their thoughts and their affections, and these have their origin in the omnipresence of the Divine Love and "Wisdom, of which they by mutual love are receptive.
Every object of the animal, vegetable, and mineral kingdoms, or nature considered as a whole, is actually produced by the medium of the human will and intellect, and varies according to the changes in the state of human affections and thoughts, that is, according to the state of the church universally and particularly; and therefore it is called a theatre in which the Lord's kingdom of love and light, or the opposite kingdom of wickedness and folly, is represented. The objects of the senses have no existence separate from the human mind, or otherwise an effect could exist separate from the cause of its existence. The world of space, and its successive changes, are outbirths of our worlds of affection and of thought, and they are so intimately connected, that the former could neither have existed before the latter, nor without it; and therefore Swedenborg most truly says, that all things are created through man, the percipient being. It is not, however, enough to be persuaded of this, we must be convinced of it by actual perception, before we can be said really to comprehend the science of correspondency. The enquiring mind cannot rest satisfied with the mere persuasion that there is a correspondency between the objects of nature and the states of the human mind; the mode must be shown in which the one produces the other, and this can only be done by investigating the grounds of the relationship between mind and matter. It is a truth of the highest order, that nature does not exist independent of man; and to trace the connection between the external and the internal worlds constitutes, in part, the intellectual exercise of angels. Thus, in the effects which are sensibly presented to any heavenly society, they are enabled to read the causes in which they originate, or the collected form of their minds, and every individual of the society, in the effects which are sensibly presented to him, sees the representative forms of his individual state. The majesty and beauty of these objects are, for the most part, beyond description, because scarcely any conception can be formed of the unity of life which reigns among them, and which is their cause; or of the pure and exalted wisdom which flows as a consequence from their mutual love. But this perception of correspondency which they enjoy, was also enjoyed, to a great extent, in the primitive ages of the world, and then there was an outward paradise corresponding as an effect with the paradise of heavenly love and wisdom within them. But in succeeding ages mankind, by preferring knowledge to the life of love and charity, lost the perception of this, and at length so completely as to reverse, in their false conceptions, the order of creative influx, and to attribute mind itself to the organization of matter, and not all the changes of matter to the living operations of the mind. To restore this perception, we must begin by restoring the Lord's likeness in ourselves ; and this can only be done by ceasing to love ourselves, and in our actions ceasing to prefer ourselves to others. When this heavenly course becomes the very staple of our lives, as well as our chief delight, then may the church expect to be restored to its garden of Eden, and with it to the full and intimate perception of the causes of all outward events, and of every object which can strike the senses.
When any place is mentioned in the Holy Scripture, that state to which the place corresponds must be substituted in the mind. It is said that in the secret places doth he murder the innocent, to denote the exceeding subtlety of those wicked spirits with whom man is naturally associated, and who, by various hidden ways, excite his evil passions and propensities, in order that they may be able to suffocate and destroy that innocence of spirit which he has received from the Lord. The secret places, taken literally, seem to refer to those dens or caverns which abounded in different parts of the land of Canaan, and which were, at the time of the Lord's manifestation, the resort of thieves and murderers. There are many of these caverns in the dreary pass which leads from Jerusalem to Jericho, and on that account it was the scene of the Lord's parable of the good Samaritan. Caves also formed the habitations of those barbarous tribes that are called Nomadic, and they were so, because they were the representative forms of their unsocial and uncivilized state. But in the progress of. civilization, still depending upon the gradual improvement of their minds, they formed themselves into societies, and, for mutual benefit and protection, built cities, and towns, and villages; and these, when collected under one government, were called a nation, or a kingdom. But the very government was a government of the Divine Truth in human minds, displayed, in a more or less perfect form, according to the measure of their mutual love, wisdom, intelligence, and science.
Each distinct place in the land of Canaan had its distinct signification in relation to the human mind and this is not only true of that land, but of every city, town, village, and house in every part of the world; for it is not only the land of Canaan which was a theatre representative of the Lord's kingdom in man, but all nature at all times, because it is, equally with that land, an effect flowing from spiritual causes, and therefore representing the Lord's kingdom, or its opposite. To know the science of correspondencies, something more is required than a mere acquaintance with the general signification of the land of Canaan ; every place, however seemingly insignificant, and its connexion with the events that are recorded in the Holy Scripture, must be traced to its internal source, and the human mind, with its various powers, and the different states of those powers accurately investigated. In this way, and above all by the practice of those exalted truths, to which the mind will be led in the course of its regeneration, the natural man will be brought into a heavenly order, and in proportion to this the Divine Influx will descend with greater power, opening a world of spiritual, rational, and natural truths, of which at present we have not the slightest knowledge. All this will hereafter be effected by the purifying and the ordinating of the natural plane, by which it will become fitted for the gradually increasing display of the Divine Influx. This interior act of purifying the natural mind is meant by the Lord's washing the disciples' feet; and when He cleanses the natural mind, of which the fact of His washing their feet was the representative image, then is man "clean every whit." Not that the natural thoughts, desires, and delights of the senses are to be destroyed, any more than the feet are to be cut off, but they are to be spiritually washed by an influx of that Divine Truth which, in its descent from the heaven that was opened within His disciples, appeared in a bodily form washing their feet; and teaching them by the example, to wash one another's feet. This purifying of the natural mind, by making it minister to spiritual uses, is described in the first chapter of Genesis by God's seeing everything that He had made on the sixth day, and " behold it was very good." When man can see and perceive all these interior changes in their correspondent natural forms, then is he really acquainted with the science of correspondencies, and the Word of the Most High is to him a truly living Word.
In the lowest faculties of the natural mind, that is, in the exercise of the senses, begins the consciousness of infant life. This is accompanied by its representative effect, the action of the lungs, and the purification of the blood by its passage through them ; before this the infant is unconscious, and its life is automatic. After the development of sensual power as a basis for the Divine Influx, the plane of science, or of the properties and relations of natural objects to one another, is formed; from this the plane in which the universal truths of reason are unfolded; and from this again the still higher plane which unfolds the heaven of love and charity, of love to that supreme Lord, who is the Beginning and the Ending, the Alpha and the Omega, of all our holy affections and thoughts, and of that disinterested charity towards others, which is but the effect of the Lord's love in us. When this love is reflected in every plane, even to the lowest, then the Lord's kingdom is established, and the man is regenerated or born again.
And in order to bring about this entire consecration of the human being, it is indispensable for us that we should have the Mediation of our Lord Jesus Christ, although not in the ordinary sense attached to that term. For, strictly speaking, and in Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ is not a distinct or different Being from the Lord Jehovah, and He does not mediate with the Father in the sense of one person interceding with another; but He is called the Mediator because He was the Divine Truth in its ultimate or representative form, and it is this which mediates between man, in this sensual condition, and that Divine Goodness which it brings forth to view in a manner adequate to man's natural comprehension. The Divine Truth in its representative form introduces us to the Divine Goodness, according to the state of our recipiency ; and therefore the Lord calls Himself " the Way, the Truth, and the Life and in this sense He is to be called the Mediator.
Such is the progress of the human mind that, in its conceptions of a Mediator in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, it begins by supposingand it is right it should so begin, for the literal sense of the Holy Scripture leads naturally to this conclusionthat the mediation is that of a distinct being from the Father, with whom He intercedes. Thus, the Father and the Son arc conceived to be two beings, and not one, and to have no other unity than a unity of purpose. In this first condition of the human mind, the Son is in a state of humiliation, and is not glorified, or does not manifest, or bring the Father forth to view. Therefore, as such was the condition of the Jews generally when the Word became flesh, or when the Divine Truth was displayed as an object of the senses, whenever the Lord attempted to reveal to them the unity of the Divine Being in that form, which came down from the heaven, not of place, but of state within man, they stoned, reviled, persecuted, and finally crucified Him; and preferred Barabbas, who, from the qualities of his mind, represented the falsehood which flowed from evil, to Him who, being the Divine Truth, exhibited, in its ultimate form, that Divine Goodness which is Himself and Jehovah. In the literal sense there is a distinction made between the Father and the Son, and this apparent distinction was grounded in their interior rejection of the Divine Truth, "the light" that came forth from their inner to their outer world, and which they separated from the Divine Goodness, or rejected from, their hearts, "because their deeds were evil." And yet it is said of the only begotten Son, even at the time when, in the outward representative form, He was to the Jews as a distinct being, that He was actually in the bosom of the Father, to denote the unity of the Divine Goodness with that form by which it was brought forth to view in the plane of nature, or as an object of the senses to the natural and sensual man. If, according to this, the spiritual view of the Holy Scripture, we consider the Lord Jesus Christ as the Divine Truth, revealing, under a natural form, that Divine Love or Goodness which, except under a form adequate to man's comprehension, is unapproachable and incomprehensible, and which by such a form spiritually conducts us to the Divine Goodness, we shall no longer be puzzled with the unintelligible mystery of the Divine and human natures being united in one person, which Divine and human natures are supposed, before their union, to have been so distinct, the one from the other, as to have been, in their separate consciousness, two beings, and not one. For there can be no unity of being where there is a double or divided consciousness. But "these are difficulties inherent in every natural view of the Lord and Saviour, and of His Word, which are wholly dispersed, like the shadows of the night, so soon as ever we know, and are able rationally to perceive, that the form under which the Lord Jehovah was presented to man in nature, came down from heaven, and was therefore in exact correspondence with the states of the church ; that the combats which He waged against the hells were spiritual combats carried on by means of the Divine Truth in man, and that the interior changes, produced by His omnipresence in their states of mind, were figured forth, or represented in all the circumstances connected with the Lord in space and time which are recorded in the Gospels. For only finite beings are susceptible of changes in space and time, and not the infinite Jehovah, and these embody forth the interior changes that belong to the human will and intellect; and hence the Infinity of the Lord, though in itself spaceless, must be presented by space, to those who think in space, and His Eternity, though devoid of progression, must be presented by time to those who think in time. At the first advent of the Lord, the church among the Jews,and there was not even the representative form of a church existing among any other people, had arrived at its close, that is, there was no longer any faith, nor any perceptive knowledge of truth, because there was no true charity remaining, and hence all their thoughts and desires were of a merely natural and sensual kind. This being the case, they had no spiritual perception of the One Divine Object of worship, for they had no interior communication with heaven, by which such a spiritual perception might have been mediately presented to their minds, and therefore it became necessary for the preservation of the human race, which, without either a mediate or immediate presentation of the Lord by receptivity on their parts, must have ceased to exist, that the Lord, or the Word, that is, the Divine Truth in the heavens, should become flesh, or manifest Himself in the lower sphere of the senses by all the conditions that belong to man in nature,of birth, increase in stature and in wisdom, and of death,and thus in a way suited to the sensual state of the human mind. This was done that He, the one only Lord God, might raise His creatures from their fallen condition, by means of that which at first was a very imperfect sensual conception of Him as the Son of the Universal Father, but in some mysterious manner participating in His Divinity, and therefore in some sort God; but now at His second advent, in the spiritual perception of the Divine Truth, as the very Father Himself, but who appeared as a distinct being, in consequence of the degraded" condition of man, who could not embrace a higher manifestation. Though the appearance of the Lord Jehovah in nature was an effect flowing from spiritual causes, it was not a deception or a fallacy of the senses, but a real presence in time and space corresponding with His Omnipresence in every individual of the church. For to separate in thought a natural effect, which is the representative form, from its spiritual essence, is, in any ordinary event, to make it a mere illusion; and this is pre-eminently the case, if we separate the Lord Jesus Christ, as an object of the senses, who was seen, and heard, and touched, from the Divine Essence in the heavens, or that Truth by which the Divine Goodness is exhibited to the angels. To suppose Him to have been actually distinct from the Father in the heavens, because He was so presented to the sensual man, is in fact to consider that presentation as unreal, that His words and actions contain no spiritual sense, and His miraculous cures involve no interior changes of mind, by the conquest of some specific evil to which the disease corresponded. But it is a property of the unenlightened natural mind, to attribute progressions, by changes of life, to the Divine Being, and therefore the Lord, who invariably presents Himself, to angels as well as men, according to the state of him to whom He manifests Himself, for in no other way can He become apparent, became an object of the senses to the sensual man; while all that He said, and did, and suffered was by the law of correspondency representative of the church at that time as well as now. It is true, we have no longer His presence in space and time, because man, by the knowledge of Christian Doctrine, has had an interior sight of Him ; but he has, at the present day, what is of far higher importance, the capacity for seeing the Lord come to him in the glory of His Father, or as revealing to his rational sight, by the spiritual truths of the Holy Scripture, not only that He is God, but that He is the only God of heaven and earth. To His disciples at that time this revelation of Himself could not be so full and perfect; but now, by the opening of the inner world of truth, which, by the extinction of the warmth of charity and the light of faith among Christians, has hitherto, like a chrysalis, remained torpid within the letter, he is enabled to perceive the identity of the Lord Jesus Christ with the Lord Jehovah, and that His birth, His life, His death, His resurrection and ascension involve a wonderful series of heavenly arcana, which reveal the state of the church in its relation to the Divine Truth. Thus the natural birth of the Lord is seen, in the internal sense, to have been the representative effect of the spiritual birth of the Divine Truth; the natural miracles were the representative effects of spiritual miracles; the doctrines which He taught are, in their essence, spiritual and Divine; His crucifixion and death were the representative effects of the rejection and extinction of the Divine Truth in all but His true disciples, who lamented that death, and to whom therefore, but not to those who rejoice in it, He rose again, and ascended into heaven.
It is evident, from this view, how different is the doctrine of the New Church, in relation to the Lord Jesus Christ, from that of the ancient sect of Manicheans, who denied the reality of His natural appearance, and treated it altogether as a fiction, or a delusion of the senses. We, on the contrary, hold that He was to the full as much an object of all the senses as ourselves, and that there is no more reason to doubt the testimony of those who saw, and heard, and touched Him, than we have to doubt their testimony that they beheld one another. But then it is necessary to understand and bear in mind, that the Lord must first be thought of from state, in order to comprehend His natural presence. By so doing, we see Him in His Omnipresence as Jehovah, manifesting Himself as the Divine Truth, first in the spiritual region of causes, and thence in the natural region of effects, or in accordance with man's natural comprehension. But in proportion as the disciples, by the progressive changes of their interior states, could see Him, not in His infirm human form, but glorified, and raised above the condition of the natural man, then He appeared in the midst of them, when they were assembled together and the door was shut. That the changes in the appearance of the Lord depended upon the interior condition of those who beheld Him, is evident, for He was transfigured only to Peter, James, and John, and that when they together followed Him up to the top of the mountain. At that time, in consequence of the spiritual changes wrought in them, of which these were the representative effects, He appeared outwardly as an object of the senses in His glory, His face did shine as the sun, and His garment was white as the light ; but when they descended into the plain, which was also an effect from a spiritual cause, He became again like an ordinary man, or appeared in His infirm human form to the Jews, as well as to the three disciples who, on the mount, had beheld Him in His glory; and yet in Himself, or essentially, there was no change whatever. The only rational explanation of these remarkable phenomena is, that all changes in the appearance of Him who is pre-eminently the Unchangeable, are referable to the changes wrought in those to whom His external, was a consequence of His internal presence ; and that, as He can in no other way appear to each individual than according to the state of each, to the sensual and natural man He can only appear after a sensual and natural manner, or in an infirm human form, as the son of Mary, and even of Joseph; but to the spiritually-rational man, He appears in His glorified human form, as the Son of God, and finally as Jehovah, the only God of earth as well as heaven, of the natural as well as of the spiritual man. This the spiritual sense of the Word clearly teaches ; for in that sense there is not a trace to be found of the relationship of Father and Son, or of a Human Principle having a distinct consciousness from the Divine Principle. In that sense we can discover nothing more than the separation or the union of the Divine Truth and the Divine Goodness, and the reasons for the appearance of distinct personality in the plane of nature. When these are separated, then is the Lord in His state of humiliation ; but as He conquers the hells in man. they are progressively united, and then the Divine Truth exhibits, or brings forth to view, the Divine Love or Goodness, and the Lord is seen in His glory. By the separation of the Divine Truth from the Divine Love, He is accused, condemned, is crucified, and dies; and these are the representative effects of that interior separation, and therefore they are said to signify it. But to this, the consummation of one church, another, of a higher and a purer kind, succeeds; and to those who constitute this church, and to them only, He rises again, and He rises again in consequence of their regeneration.
How much more beautiful as well as satisfactory is he mental light which is given by a spiritual comprehension of this Divine doctrine, over a merely natural and fallacious view of the subject; and how grateful should we be to the one Source of all intelligence, for revealing to us the mysteries of His heavenly kingdom, and for preserving entire that natural form of truth, on which, as on a foundation, all our spiritual perceptions rest. These two senses, though connected by correspondency, should be kept entirely distinct in the conceptions of the mind, and not be mixed together; for by so doing we shall induce over the doctrines a host of mysterious difficulties, with which we shall not be able successfully to contend ; and besides this we shall bring great discredit on the spiritual sense of the Holy Scripture, from our inability to point out to others that superior clearness and consistency which otherwise might be justly claimed for it. It is written in Genesis, that the waters above the firmament or expanse were divided, or rather distinguished from the waters beneath it; and this, in its spiritual sense, relates to the distinction which is made in the course of man's regeneration between the eternal and external conceptions of truth, or between the spiritual and the natural senses of the Word of God. To mix these two senses together, one of which consists almost exclusively of the appearances of truth, brought down to the level of him who thinks in space and time, and whose conclusions are all drawn from the properties and relations of nature, while the other has nothing in common with the fallacies of time and space, is to bring down the pure dews of heaven to mingle them with the smoke and impure exhalations of the earth. By such a mixture our mental eye will be darkened to the perception of spiritual truth, until at length we shall not know what the spirit of man is, nor in what other way it is distinguishable from his natural body, except as being something composed of more pure and perfect materials. But it should never be forgotten, for the right understanding of this, and many other subjects of a similar kind, that the literal sense, which presents the distinction of Persons, is nothing more than an appearance of truth ; the reason for which can only be known from the universal truths of the spiritual sense, all of which relate to the condition of the mind, or, as it is usually termed, the state of the church. It is indeed difficult always to have this distinction before us; and, in this respect, our condition is not unlike that of a person whose sight has become enfeebled by being continually in some dark cave, and to whom the splendour of day is actually painful; who would rather turn his back to the light and see the shadows of the objects without, dimly figured on the walls of his habitation, than gradually accustom his eye to behold the forms themselves in their living beauty and distinctness. To accomplish this nothing more is necessary than to have an earnest and sincere desire to know the truth, not from any selfish or worldly motives, but that, by purifying our hearts from all base passions and propensities, it may conduct us into the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Divine Love and the Divine Wisdom, in whose sight and under whose secure protection we may live for evermore.
Every part of the land of Canaan, both in relation to the different nations which occupied it previous to its conquest by the Israelites, and to the tribes that replaced them in their several positions, had its distinct signification. This signification was given it, not arbitrarily, or symbolically, but by its real correspondency, as a phenomenon, with the state of those to whom it was presented and through whom it was produced. Thus, in the division of the land on the other side of the river Jordan, the southern portion was given to Reuben, the middle to Gad, and the northern to one half of the tribe of Manasseh. These replaced the Moabites, and Ammonites, and the Amorites. But they replaced them for no natural reasons or from no natural causes, but because the country beyond the Jordan, as to all the external objects that belonged to it and the productions which distinguished it from other countries, were outbirths from their spiritual states. Hence it was that, when the children of Reuben and of Gad, who had a great multitude of cattle, saw that the land on the other side of the Jordan, which had been conquered by the Israelites, was well fitted for the pasturing of their flocks and herds, they requested of Moses that they might have it in possession, and not be obliged to settle within the boundaries of the river. Now he who thinks of this narrative after a natural manner, and not spiritually, who thinks in the time and space of nature, and not above them; in other words, he who thinks that the course and connection of natural events are a series of causes and effects, and not that they are all of them nothing more, as phenomena of the senses, than effects, depending for their existence and subsistence upon their respective spiritual causes, which causes are neither extraneous to man, nor independent of him, but are actually within him, such a person will conclude that the cause of their request was the outward aspect of the country, and not that the rich appearance of pasture land and their delight in pastoral employments were effects of their interior states, which determined them to a permanence in the place which represented the state. The grounds of correspondencies are briefly included in this position, that space and time, with every object of the natural world, are the perpetual creations of the Lord, who is Himself devoid of space and time, by the imperfect medium of man's natural mind; for they are effects of the Divine Influx, which correspond to the states of the church in man, because they exist and subsist from the spiritual world, which is not a world of space, but of state, the state, namely, of the human will and intellect. "For every man," as our author shows, "has both his spiritual and his natural world. His internal man is his spiritual world, and his external man, his natural world. Those states, which inflow from his spiritual world, and are exhibited in his natural world, are, taken generally, representatives, and, So far as they agree together, correspondencies" (Arcana Coelestia, n. 2890), for it is nothing more than "the states of the thought which give birth to spaces and times" (Ibid. n. 9581). Well, therefore, has it been said, in explaining the origin and constitution of this world of natural objects, and events, which appear to the unenlightened mind so distinct, and indeed so disconnected from ourselves, " that the whole of nature is a theatre which represents the Lord's kingdom, and it is a theatre which does so represent, because the natural world becomes extant, and perpetually exists, that is, subsists, through the spiritual world " and the spiritual world is not a world of space, but of the state of the will and intellect"from the Divine Essence" (Ibid. n. 10196, 6948, 8325).
Let us now endeavour to apply these truths, which give us some insight into the constitution of the natural world, to the division of the conquered land, on the other side of the river Jordan, among the tribes of Reuben and Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh. For this purpose we must consider what these tribes signified, and also what we mean by the word to signify. We will begin with the meaning of the word itself. When we say that any object in nature, or which, being extant to the senses, is recognized by the conditions which belong to space, and undergoes those successive changes, which are called its time, when we say that such a natural object signifies such a state of the mind, we mean that it is its representative sign. But the representative sign is the effect of that which it represents; for their relationship is neither accidental, nor arbitrary, but is a necessary relationship subsisting between the cause and its effect; and therefore we mean by its signifying, that it owes its birth to the peculiar mental condition of those to whom it is presented . as an object of their senses. Having thus defined our meaning of the word to signify, and guarded against the application of it in the sense of standing for such a condition of the mind, as a fanciful, or even a metaphorical symbol, by showing that it implies a real and intimate relationship, so real and so intimate that the very progressions which bring a variety of natural objects into our view, are nothing else, in their origin, but interior changes in the states of the mind, we will now turn our attention to the signification of Reuben and Simeon and the half tribe of Manasseh. The tribe of Reuben signified, or was the representative sign of faith in the understanding, or the truth of doctrine, by which there is a possibility of man's attaining to purity of life. The tribe of Simeon signified that disposition of the will to be obedient to the truth, which is the medium for the production of charity towards our neighbour. And the tribe of Manasseh, as their allotment was both within the land of Canaan, properly so called, as well as out of it, signified that state which formed the connecting link between the internal or spiritual man, which was represented by the tribes on this side of the river, and the external or natural man, represented by the tribes on the other side of the river. The portion of Manasseh which was on the other side of the river signified a new or spiritual will in the natural mind, consisting not like the old will of the evils which spring from self-love and the love of the world, but of charity, or love towards our neighbour. The tribes of Reuben, and Simeon, and the half tribe of Manasseh signified, because they represented in the external form, these conditions of their minds, and in every one, in whom the interior states, which were represented by their natural condition, were opened and formed, they corresponded to those states; but in all those, who had no heavenly state opened within them, they represented opposite states of the mind. Thus Reuben represented an understanding receptive of the darkness of falsehood, and not the light of truth, without which light there is no possibility of attaining to purity of life; Simeon a state of the will not obedient to the truth, from which disobedience a legion of evil lusts and passions arise to obsess man; and Manasseh the evil itself of the natural will before man is regenerated or born again of the Lord.
They who look not beyond the surface of things are not aware of any other connection, which associates men together, than that which, they suppose, results from natural consanguinity, or affinity, personal love and friendship, or interest. But this is an apparent, and not a real truth. There is an interior ground of association, which, in every instance, is the cause of the apparent natural connexion or relationship. Human minds are associated together by harmony of form, and the form of the mind is the fitness of its powers for the accomplishment of specific uses. This interior ground of association is seen represented in various natural effects. It is seen in that general similitude which is commonly called the national character; it is seen in family likeness, and in the successive production of the members of the same family; for these are nothing more than the representative effects of the spiritual consanguinities of human minds and the mode of their production ; and it is seen also in the similar presentation of outward phenomena to different individuals in the same representative places, and in the succession of similar events, as objects of the senses. But man, in the common current of his thoughts, is a natural being, that is, his thought is determined to the objects of his senses; he thinks in them, and is but rarely elevated to the causes of those objects ; and so thinking, he cannot see the spiritual sense of any natural occurrence. To him nature is everything ; and instead of being, as it truly is, an effect depending for its existence upon the interior consanguinities and affinities of human minds in their natural state, it is considered to be the very cause and origin of every thought, and, by reaction, of all the emotions and propensities of the will. It is this natural mode of thinking and feeling which distinguishes natural men from heavenly beings, whose thoughts are raised above mere sensuous phenomena, into the region of their causes, and it is this, connected with the state of the will, and its affections, which constitutes the difference between the two states of life commonly called the spiritual and the natural worlds, a difference which interposes a thick veil between their respective objects of the senses; so that we, in our ordinary con- dition, cannot behold angelic beings, nor they us, except by the abstraction of our minds from space and time.
Recurring then to the settlement of the two tribes of Reuben and Simeon and the half tribe of Manasseh on the other side of the Jordan, we must bear in mind that they replaced the Ammonites, the Moabites, and the Amorites, because the first two, from their interior states, signified the utter profanation of truth and goodness by the natural man, and the last the evils which are included in the love of self and of the world. To these, when there were no longer any remains of a church among them, even in its external form, succeeded those tribes which, by obedience to the literal or natural sense of the Divine Law, could be, though not a church in its strict sense, the outward or representative form of a church. Therefore they conquered those nations, and therefore also similar outward phenomena of pasture ground and vast forests of oak were presented to them, and they were delighted with both, because they agreed with their interior states, being actually effects of those states.
In this way are those sensuous qualities, which collectively are called nature, to be connected with our minds, that is, with the states of our natural wills and intellects. Thus, will the science of correspondency be rescued from the condition of a mere art, learnt by rote, without any perception of its reason, and raised to its regal dignity of queen and mistress of all natural sciences, whose authority begins when their power ends. For the science of correspondency, by explaining the manner in which all natural things are brought forth into existence, actually does that which no natura1 science could ever accomplish. Natural science can conduct us to a certain point in the chain, as it is erroneously called, of causes and effects, where it stops, and substitutes words for things. Thus, in the motion of the heavenly bodies, it conducts us not to the ultimate causes of their motions, but to a few words, which explain nothing, although they are supposed to mean a great deal, and these are the centripetal and centrifugal forces. To account for the phenomena in the chemical combination and separation of the supposed invisible atoms of matter, we are again presented with the two words attraction and repulsion, which mean nothing more than that bodies are seen to be attracted and repelled. Pursue any combination of matter until you think you have got it in its simplest or primitive form, and you are still, though in the midst of pure oxygen, hydrogen, or nitrogen, as far off as ever from their spiritual causes ; for nature, in however subtle a form it may appear, does not pass by continuity into spirit, but is as much discriminated from that mental " truth which is its spiritual cause " (Arcana Coelestia, n. 2993) as any of the grosser phenomena of the senses.
The accounts of the Lord's resurrection, which are given in the Gospels, are not to be considered as a series of natural images serving to suggest to the mind a series of spiritual truths, with, which the events themselves are arbitrarily, though ingeniously connected ; but they actually are representative effects, and therefore necessarily connected with their spiritual causes. They are not conventional symbols, which are made to stand for spiritual ideas, but they are outbirths of spiritual states of mind, which they signify and represent, and from which they cannot be disconnected, without losing their reality, and becoming mere fictions, or shadows of the imagination. In the views of Swedenborg, correspondency is the relationship between a cause in the mind and an effect which is presented to the senses. Taking this rule as our guide, we will endeavour to interpret the facts which immediately preceded and accompanied the Lord's resurrection, as they are given in the Gospel according to Matthew. But before we attempt this, it is important for the reader to understand, and never for a moment to lose sight of this truth, that the Lord Jesus Christ was in Himself never any other than the Lord Jehovah; that crucified, dead, and buried, considered essentially, He was as much Jehovah as at His resurrection and ascension, and as when He said to Philip, "He who seeth Me seeth the Father;" notwithstanding that He appeared to those who did not really, because they did not spiritually, see Him, as another being, with distinct consciousness, and with finite powers of will, intellect, and bodily life. As He was Jehovah, He was the inmost ground of the life of every one, and was therefore omnipresent in every one, with the whole of His Divine Love and Wisdom, or with the whole of His Divine Life. As He, therefore, who has ears to hear cannot fail to hear the Divine Truth itself, in all that the Lord Jesus Christ has uttered, even in those parts where the most marked distinction is made between the Father and the Son, even so will he see, if he have eyes to see, the same Lord Jehovah, as much in His crucifixion, death, and burial, as in His glorification and ascension. But then he must hear with spiritual ears, he must see with spiritual eyes. Let the following example show how this may be done.
The narrative begins by saying that it was "in the end of the Sabbath;" so that we have first of all to, consider and determine what is signified by the Sabbath, and what by the end of it; or, what could have been, and therefore what still continues to be the spiritual cause, of which "the end of the Sabbath " was, and is, the effect. For we must bear in mind that time and the divisions of time, are natural effects representing their spiritual causes, and that their spiritual causes are the various states of the human intellect, which embody forth the intentions and propensities of the will. For time as well as space are the representative effects of mental states; time and its progressions, of states of the intellect; space and its extension, of states of the will; and therefore natural events in space and time correspond to the states of the church in man; or, all nature, that is, the natural world with its objects in space, and their changes in time, is a theatre which represents the Lord's spiritual kingdom of mental state. What then could have been that Sabbath during which the Lord was dead and buried ? The question can only be satisfactorily answered by knowing the spiritual cause of which His death and burial were the representative effects. To crucify the Lord signifies to deny Him ; in other words, the spiritual denial of Him was represented in the natural crucifixion. To deny Him is not to acknowledge Him to be the Divine Truth, and the Divine Truth is the manifested form of the Divine Goodness or Jehovah. But the denial is not confined to a denial of the intellect, to which the Divine Truth is manifested, but is a consequence of the rejection of the Divine Truth by the will; for the Lord said, " the Light is come into the world," that is, spiritually, the Divine Truth is manifested to the intellect of the natural man, "but men loved the darkness rather than the Light, because their deeds were evil;" and their deeds were evil, because they had rejected all charity and mutual kindness and forbearance from their wills, and therefore the darkness of falsehood was more delightful to them than the light of the Divine Truth. The death of the Lord was a representative effect of the total extinction and annihilation on their parts of His life in them, and His burial was a representative effect of the concurrence of the intellect in confirming that extinction.
Now during the Jewish Sabbath He lay dead and buried, and early in the morning of the Christian Sabbath He rose again, and His resurrection was the representative effect of such a change in the church, that is, in the love and faith of His true disciples, that from being natural, in preferring themselves and the world to the Lord and their neighbour, they became, by admitting a heavenly light to influence their minds, spiritual. Now the spiritual Sabbath, or the Sabbath of the regenerated, is a holy state of peace, and heavenly rest from worldly anxieties and troubles, in consequence of the Lord's Presence being perceived, communicating to man a perfect confidence in His Providence, and resignation to His Will. The Sabbath of His death and burial must therefore represent a contrary, or natural state of the will and intellect, in which evil is preferred to goodness, and falsehood to truth; for it is this state which interiorly crucifies, kills, and buries the Lord. The end then of this Sabbath signifies the consummation of this natural state in the minds of all those, to whom the Lord rises again in the course of their regeneration.
There are two descriptions of persons in whom the Lord is spiritually crucified ; the one consists of those, who in the progress of their reformation see and lament His death, and who, by the presence of the Divine Truth in them, are enabled to explore the evils to which they are prone, and the falsities which obscure their intellects. These are represented by the women and the disciples to whom the Lord appeared at His resurrection. The others consist of those who rejoice, and delight in His crucifixion, His death and burial, because they delight in the evil and falsehood which spiritually destroy the Divine Truth in them, and these are imaged in the Priests and Scribes, who sealed the stone which closed up the sepulchre, and set a watch to guard it. To the latter description of persons the Lord did not appear at His resurrection, nor could He appear, because He did not spiritually rise by their regeneration, this having been the cause of the natural phenomenon; and therefore it is nowhere said that He appeared to the Jews, but only to His disciples, and no others were His disciples but those who from Him received both charity and faith. But to be interiorly receptive of these heavenly virtues, they must go to see, and even enter the sepulchre in which the Lord is buried; that is, spiritually, they must explore the evil and falsehood of their natural minds, by which the Divine Truth has been destroyed.
This, however, could only be done when it began to dawn towards the beginning of the week, for this commencement of the dawn signified the commencement of a new or spiritual state, in which the Lord rises in man, and begins to live. But the dawn was just appearing, because the commencement of the twilight was an effect, that corresponded to the first obscure presentation to their understandings of heavenly light, that light which, as it advanced, was to reveal the living form of the Divine Truth, no longer buried in the cave of their selfish and sensual desires and thoughts, but risen, and going before them into Galilee.
All these natural phenomena were, like every other appearance in nature, effects, which represented their spiritual causes in those to whom the dawn of the morning was accompanied by a new or spiritual state of mind, and in whom the beginning of the week represented the beginning of the Lord's spiritual resurrection.
The first who came to see the sepulchre were "Mary Magdalene and the other Mary," and they came together, because the hearts of both, though not with the same strength of affection, were turned to that Divine Form of Truth which had brought the Divine Goodness forth to view, and which was now about to rise and live in them. Mary Magdalene, out of whom the Lord is said to have cast seven devils, signified that interior or spiritual affection for the Divine Truth, which springs from repentance, and the other Mary, the exterior or natural affection. Their approach to the sepulchre was the sign or representative effect of their love to the Lord, and their grief that he should still lie buried in the death and darkness of the natural mind. But this new-born affection for the Divine Truth, this sorrow for its death, produced in the region of the senses, the whole scene of the garden and the cave, in which, the stone being not yet rolled away, they conceived the dead body of the Lord to be deposited. Next follows the effect of a still further change, manifested in the region of the senses by a great earthquake, and the appearance of an angel, who is called the angel of the Lord, descending and rolling away the stone from the door of the sepulchre, and sitting upon it. And of what spiritual causes were these phenomena the natural effects? The earthquake was the representation of an interior change in the natural mind, in consequence of the Divine Truth in the heavens descending and spiritually rolling away the stone from the door of the sepulchre, that is, removing the falsities, which, being the appearances of truth confirmed, close up and darken the cave of the natural mind, in which cave, before this change, the Lord lies dead and buried. The whole of this phenomenon was a representative effect of corresponding changes in the minds of those who witnessed it. But the angel, when he had rolled away the stone, "sat upon it;" and the spiritual reason for this is, that the Lord, by the removal of the stone, had actually risen, and then natural truth, or the truth of the literal sense of the Word, is no longer falsified by being separated from its interior sense, but becomes the basis on which the living truth of the spiritual sense, which was represented by the angel of the Lord from heaven, rests. That spiritual Divine Truth, which reveals to man the resurrection of his Saviour, at the same time that it is the mediatory cause of that resurrection, is thus described. " His countenance was like lightning, and His raiment was white as snow;" and it was so represented in the region of the senses, because the bright light of interior truth, signified by the brightness of His countenance, reveals the tenderness of the Divine Love, and the doctrine of the Word in its spiritual sense, which was the cause for the appearance of His raiment, is not fallacious, like the doctrine of the literal sense, but pure and holy.
We cannot conclude this explanation, without calling attention to the remarkable fact, that though the women must have felt the earthquake, and have seen the angel descend from heaven, and roll away the stone from the door of the sepulchre and sit upon itfor he tells them, when the guards became as dead with fear, that they had no occasion to be afraidthey yet did not see the Lord come out of the sepulchre; nay, more, the angel told them that He had actually risen, and gone before them into Galilee, though he had just before removed the stone which closed up the entrance of the cave. It is not anywhere said by either of the Evangelists, that the women or the disciples witnessed the resurrection of the Lord from the sepulchre itself.
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.
This Psalm commences with the word "Blessed." Blessing, considered in its natural sense, relates to worldly prosperity, and to whatever contributes to its attainment. These are promised to the natural man, because they are most congenial to his wishes, and are therefore best adapted to secure the performance of his duties. He is threatened also with the loss of worldly comforts and enjoyments in case he offend against the Divine Law; for he, who is naturally and sensually minded, can be influenced only by the hope of reward, or by the fear of punishment. But spiritual blessing, or blessing in its spiritual sense, is conjunction of life with the Lord, when the will is receptive of the goodness which He communicates to it, and the understanding is receptive of His truth, uninfluenced either by the expectation of reward, or by the fear of punishment; and when the truth which is known, and the goodness which is loved, are unitedly applied to the duties of his life.
Verse i. "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful." In this verse there are three conditions of the body mentioned, walking, standing; and sitting; and each of them has a corresponding meaning in relation to the human mind. Man cannot walk without changing the space which his body occupies; and as the space of nature corresponds to mental state, bodily motion in space corresponds to change of state. The application of this instance of correspondency is to be found in common discourse, though few of those who make use of it are aware of its spiritual origin ; for how customary is it to apply the word walk in the sense of living, and to speak of the duration of life as of a journey.
Man is a human being strictly from the condition of his affections ; but all changes in their state are presented visibly, as it were, in the intellect. Without this internal or intellectual sight, we could have no perception of those changes ; and therefore walking corresponds to the progressive changes of thought in the intellect, derived from, and representing the intentions of the will. Standing, which is a cessation from bodily motion, corresponds to the intentions of the will manifested in the delights they communicate, and to a continuance of the state which produces the delight. Sitting, which is a position of more perfect rest, corresponds to a confirmed and permanent state of the affections, whether they be good or evil. As the ungodly are, in the above passage, connected with walking, to walk in the counsel of the ungodly corresponds to the life of evil intentions shown in the progressive falsification of truth by the intellect; and as sinners are connected with standing, and to stand with sinners relates to the will in the manifestation of its evil: and as the scornful are connected with sitting, and sitting with the scornful corresponds to a confirmation of the mind in its evil affections by the falsification of truth, therefore they follow in the above order, which order, in the spiritual sense, points out the progressive states through which the human mind passes, first, from the life of falsehood, or the falsification of truth ; next, to the manifestation of evil intentions, and a delight in them ; and last of all, to such an appropriation of them by the mind, that they become the fixed and ruling love of man's life. This last state is one of confirmed hatred to all goodness and truth.
It is here worthy of remark, that in the description of those who are "blessed," or spiritually conjoined to the Lord by love and faith, the progress of man's reformation and regeneration is described, or the change from a natural state of life to a spiritual, and at the same time the means are given by which this change must be brought about. For, first, we are instructed, not in that which we are required to do by the Divine Law, but in that which we must abstain from doing : we must not walk in the counsel of the ungodly; we must not stand in the way of sinners; we must not sit in the seat of the scornful : and this abstaining from evil affections and thoughts, with their delights, and, as a necessary consequence, from the sinful actions which flow from them, is the first step in the progress of our reformation. We must "cease to do evil," before we can "learn to do well:" for we "cannot at the same time serve God and mammon." When this happy change is effected, then has our regeneration commenced, for then we can feel delight in the law of the Lord, which spiritually signifies that our wills are then in a state to receive the Divine instruction ; while our intellects, both in their clear spiritual perceptions and in the obscurity which at times comes over us, are still in a measure receptive of the Divine Wisdom, which is signified by meditating in His law day and night. For having the Divine light within, the appearances of truth in the literal sense of the Word, which are adapted to the obscurity of our natural conditions, will, at the dawning of our mental day, be seen in the purity and brightness of their spiritual meaning, and that in proportion as we make truth our own by loving and practising it.
Verse 3. " He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water." Rivers of water are the representative images of truth. Water signifies specifically natural truth, and therefore the Lord Jesus Christ, at the marriage of Cana in Galilee, turned the water into wine ; and interiorly at every heavenly marriage of the human will and understanding, to which every true natural marriage corresponds, and which it represents, He who is the Divine Love and Wisdom is interiorly present, and turns the merely natural perception of truth, which is signified by the water, into the spiritual perception 'of truth, which is the wine. By the rivers of water the tree is planted, for the roots signify the natural mind, and natural truths, signified by the moisture communicated from the river, are its food. But when taken up into the system, or when appropriated, the truth then becomes living, and this is represented by the circulating juices of the tree ; and then too fruits are produced, of a quality determined by the state of man's recipiency. The leaves of a tree are in their functions analogous to the lungs in man, and both correspond to the understanding, in its powers of perceiving, by means of truth, the state or condition of the will and its affections, and of purifying them, as the blood is purified by passing through the lungs, from their natural corruptions. The withering of the leaf sig- nifies the destruction of the intellect by the perversion and falsification of truth. The fruit of a tree, though applied in the Holy Scripture analogically to good works, spiritually signifies the state of the will ; for if it be good fruit which the tree produces, it corresponds to the love and charity of the will determined to their representative forms. "Whatsoever he doeth shall prosper," signifies the spiritual prosperity of the entire man, when, in consequence of his regeneration, his will is brought into obedience to the Divine Will by love to the Lord and to his neighbour, and when his intellect is capable of receiving the spiritual truths of the Holy Scripture.
The two following verses, which, in the natural sense, describe the lot of the wicked, recall to memory, in the spiritual sense, what has been the natural condition of every man before he was regenerated or born again of the Lord. He is "chaff," because he is merely external, and devoid of the Divine Life, which is the life of love and charity; and then hell, by falsities of various kinds, signified by "the wind," has power over him, and he is spiritually destroyed.
Verse 5. " Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous." "Judgment" corresponds to truth, and he perception of it, as " righteousness" does to goodness and the delight experienced in its reception; for it is by means of truth that man judges of the righteousness or unrighteousness of his affections and desires ; and therefore judgment relates to truth, and righteousness to goodness. Hence it is said in the New Testament, that the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son ; for the Father and the Son, in the spiritual sense of the Word, are not two persons, but one and the same Divine Being, the Father signifying the Divine Goodness of that one being, and the Son His Divine Truth ; and hence all judgment is said to be given to the Son, or to the Divine Truth. The judgment is for eternal happiness when the Divine Goodness and Truth are unitedly received, but for eternal misery when truth is separated from goodness, or faith from charity, and the Divine Goodness from the Divine Truth.
Verse 6. " For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish." The Lord is said to "know the way of the righteous," which spiritually signifies the perception communicated to the regenerate, of the progressive states of happiness to which a life of love and charity conducts; but the way of the ungodly is said to perish, because a life of falsehood and wickedness is spiritual death, and spiritual death is everlasting misery.
This first Psalm is an epitome of all the states of the human mind which are unfolded at large in the spiritual sense of the following Psalms. It embraces summarily the condition of man, both in his regenerated or spiritual state, and in his unregenerated or natural state. From the darkness and death of the latter, he rises, by means of the Divine Truth, to the light and life of the former ; and from this elevation he is enabled to see his previous misconception of fallacious appearances for the truth itself, and being no longer enveloped by that dark mist, which the rising Sun of Righteousness within him has dispersed, he willingly and joyfully permits the Lord, who is ever with him, to bring his external or natural man into a useful and cheerful obedience to the internal or spiritual man.
Verse 1. " Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing" The heathen or nations are mentioned in the first verse of this Psalm, as in many other parts of the Holy Scripture, in connection with people ; and the former here signify states of evil in the will, and the latter, states of falsehood in the intellect.
Verse 4. " He who sitteth in the heavens shall laugh, the Lord shall have them in derision." The heavens signify the heavenly states of the internal or spiritual man, by means of which the Lord rules the raging of the heathen, or the lusts of evil in the natural will, and the vain imaginings of the people, or the false delusions of the understanding. It is said that He who sitteth in the heavens shall laugh, the Lord shall have them in derision ; and this laughter of the Lord, and this derision, are but the appearances of truth, as they are presented to the natural man, in agreement with his own state, and in consequence of that state ; but in the spiritual sense, which is adapted to the spiritual man, they mark the contrariety which, before regeneration, is ever found, in the intellect and will, to the Lord and His Divine government.
The whole of this Psalm is, in its spiritual sense, descriptive of the struggles that arise in the mind of every one to whom the Divine Truth is manifested for his regeneration. It is therefore prophetic of the Lord's advent, not only to the church generally, but to every individual, in order to conquer the powers of darkness, and to raise up in him a new church of heavenly love and faith. The Son, who is to be kissed, lest He be angry, is the Divine Truth, or manifested form of the Divine Goodness, and to kiss Him is to be spiritually conjoined to the Lord by loving Him.
This was a Psalm of David when he fled from Absalom his son. Inquiry therefore must first be made concerning the spiritual meaning of Absalom, before whom his father David fled ; and as David represented and signified the Lord, his fleeing before Absalom his son signifies the Divine Truth in a state of humiliation. Absalom his son therefore represents a perverted state of the church, before which the Divine Truth is said to flee, because it is rejected. Solomon, on the contrary, as a son, who never rebelled against his father, represents the spiritual church, and, as a king, the Divine Truth ruling in the spiritual man. The various circumstances connected with the fate of Absalom ; his being caught by the hair in the branches of a tree, and his being afterwards pierced with a sword and slain, represent the condition of the church when brought to its close and destroyed by the falsification of truth and the adulteration of goodness. His being suspended by the hair in the branches of an oak, represents a merely sensual state, both of the will and of the intellect; his long hair denoting a merely sensual state of the will, and the branches of the oak, a scientific and sensual state of the understanding, and these together are the means by which the perverted church is destroyed. The sword of Joab, by which Absalom was slain, signifies the utter falsification of truth by the natural man, and its piercing his heart, the adulteration of all goodness. This is spiritual death.
As David represents, in the supreme sense, Divine Truth, by which the Divine Goodness is manifested to man, therefore, in a subordinate sense, he represents the church which is receptive of Divine Truth. But before it can be fully received, or before its dominion can be established in the human mind, many internal combats must be waged and rebellions subdued, which have been excited by those of our own spiritual household and blood. In states of straitness and despair, when David flees before Absalom, he calls upon God for assistance and protection, and he is assisted and protected in proportion to his confidence in the Divine power. In a condition like this, when he feels and is sensible of his own misery, the Lord becomes not only a shield to him, but "his glory, and the lifter up of his head." But for the Lord to protect him, man must himself wear the shield, that is, spiritually, he must make the truth, which the Lord gives him for his protection, his own, by loving and confiding in it. Though for a time Absalom, or the falsehood which is the offspring of evil, may seem to prevail over David, or the spiritual man, yet, whenever the latter flees from the former, which, in the internal sense, signifies the separation from it and the rejection of it; then the Lord hears man "from His holy hill," or is conjoined to him by charity and faith in his internal man, and then too " he lies down and sleeps," that is, the external or natural man, both in his will and his understanding, is brought into a state of tranquillity and rest, for he feels secure in the Divine protection. Thus secure, he is " not afraid of ten thousands of people that have set themselves against him round about," that is, the multitude of falsities, which spring from evil, have no power to make him loose his hold, that they might lead him from th
e path of duty.
The title of this and the following two Psalms are strikingly illustrative of their contents. This Psalm describes a state of repentance, in which the necessity of a power beyond our own, to elevate us from our distress, is, happily, both seen and felt. The suggestions, formerly listened to with delight, are now perceived to spring from a state of opposition to the Divine Will, and that they turn the "glory" of the Lord " into shame." As the temptations, to which we are exposed in the course of our repentance, have their seat in the natural mind, therefore it is said, "Stand in awe, and sin not; commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still ;" for a bed signifies the natural man or mind. The suggestions to evil, which tend to make us lose our confidence in God, are signified by " the many which say, who will show us any good?" and the reformation of the natural man, by the light of that truth which reveals the love and mercy of the Lord, is signified by " Lord, lift Thou up the light of Thy countenance upon us."
This Psalm being, in its spiritual sense, descriptive of man's repentance and the reformation of his life, or of the beginning of that interior change which is called his regeneration, or spiritual birth, therefore it is said in the title to have been played upon "Neginoth," which, from its derivation, appears to have been a stringed instrument, and stringed instruments, when played on, represent the delight which man experiences from repentance and from the reformation of his life.
Verse 2. " O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn My glory into shame ?" "Glory" is here predicated of the spiritual man, and its opposite, "shame," of the natural; and it is said that the glory is turned into shame by " the sons of men," that is, spiritually, by the falsehood of evil, or all those formsnot of words only, which is the literal meaning of falsehood, but also of thoughts and of actionsthat exhibit or bring the lurking evil forth to view. Shame is produced when spiritually the sons of men separate the Divine Truth from the Divine Goodness in themselves, for by so doing they rob the Divine Glory of its life, and turn it into the darkness of spiritual death. There is but one way of effectually guarding against such an assault, and that is to approach the Lord with faith and love, that under His guidance we may search out narrowly, so as to perceive clearly, whatever in ourselves stands in opposition to His Divine Will, and then from our hearts utterly to reject it. When we do this, the Lord is said "to lift up the light of His countenance upon us," and the light of His countenance is the revelation of His Infinite Love and Mercy, which, before our affections and thoughts are raised, signified by the lifting up of the Lord's countenance, could neither be .seen nor acknowledged. This it is which enables us to repel the false suggestions of the natural mind, signified by the " many who say, who will show us any good?" suggestions that incline us first to doubt, and then to deny the Providence and power of the Most High. But when the Lord's countenance is lifted up upon us, we can then interiorly rejoice, and feel a greater delight under the Divine Protection, than we did during the time that "their corn and their wine increased," or when, spiritually speaking, evil affections prevailed, and the thoughts by which they were strengthened and confirmed. When this is perceived and felt, then follows the reformation of the natural man, " I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep : for Thou, O Lord, only makest me dwell in safety;" words that spiritually mark the external tranquillity and security which reign in the natural mind, in consequence of the Divine state of peace within, when lusts and falsities are removed. For when the will assents to the truths which are presented to the intellect, and loves them, which is meant by the conjunction of the will and understanding, or the heavenly marriage, and when both unite in bringing them into practice, the anxiety and uneasiness about worldly concerns, that torment the natural man, and are the fruit as well as proof of his opposition to the order and the life of heaven, subside. He no longer places any reliance upon himself and his own powers, for the Lord's presence is his haven of rest. He looks up to heaven, and the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches no longer distract or embarrass him. He is besides continually thinking of the Lord, and that not in the ordinary, but in the true, the spiritual sense of the word ; for he is ever intent upon his duty, and delighting to make others happy by the faithful performance of it. It is this, the heavenly thought of him, which spiritually brings down our loving Parent to His children, that He may dwell in the midst of them, the willing recipients of His Divine instruction.
This Psalm, we are informed, was to be played upon "Nehiloth," which, being derived from a word signifying to perforate, appears to have been a wind instrument ; and this also agrees with the character of the Psalm ; for the breath, that inflates the instrument, corresponds to a celestial state of the affections and thoughts, and the instrument, when played on, its accompanying delights. The whole Psalm describes a new state of interior illustration," My voice shalt Thou hear in the morning, in the morning will I direct my prayer unto Thee, and will look up," when the warmth of the Divine Love and the light of the Divine Wisdom are no longer resisted by the cold unfruitful earth of our selfish nature, but penetrate deep, and warm and fertilise the ground which has been broken up by the sorrows and troubles accompanying the change.
This Psalm represents the struggle as past. Man is now so far regenerated, or born again, as to have learnt to reject the evil tendencies of his will, and the erroneous impressions of his intellect. And therefore it is said in the third verse, " My voice shalt Thou hear in the morning," for the morning, signifies a state of spiritual illustration, in consequence of a new or spiritual will being formed in man by love to the Lord and to his neighbour. "In the morning will I direct my prayer unto Thee, and will look up." Here the directing of his prayer to the Lord signifies the spiritual conjunction of the will with Him, and his looking up, the spiritual elevation of the understanding.
Verses 4, 5, and 6. "For Thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness; neither shall evil dwell with Thee. The foolish shall not stand in Thy sight: Thou hatest all workers of iniquity. Thou shalt destroy theni that speak leasing: the Lord will abhor the bloody and deceitful man." The spiritual sense of these show, that from his regenerated state man is enabled to perceive his former or natural condition, that it is one of opposition and hatred to the Lord's Divine Providence, and to have been self-destructive. With this perception and conviction, he can go into the "Lord's house in the multitude of His mercy," and in his fear can. "worship towards His holy temple." In this state of spiritual conjunction with his Divine Regenerator, he can place his whole confidence in Him, and utterly condemn and cast from himself the evils and falsities of his selfish nature, signified by "Lead me, O Lord, in Thy righteousness; because of mine enemies, make Thy ways straight before my face. For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part is very wickedness ; their throat is an open sepulchre; they flatter with their tongue. Destroy Thou them, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions; for they have rebelled against Thee.'' With this steadfast reliance on the Lord to guard him against the spiritual enemies that he sees within himself and condemns, " blessing," or conjunction of life with his Divine Redeemer, is promised him ; and it is added, that the Lord will "compass him as with a shield," to show him by this instrument of war that the Divine strength is given him not to encourage listlessness, but that he may be ever prepared to resist, in the Lord's strength, whensoever his enemies assail.
This Psalm, as well as the fourth, was to he played on "Neginoth," again marking the delights which flow from repentance, and from the resistance to evil ; there is this difference, however, between the two, that the instrument in the title of the latter Psalm is also called " Shemminith," that is, an octochord, or an instrument with eight strings, and the number eight signifies the completion of a former state and the beginning of a new one. For man. so long as he is in this world, cannot properly be said to be regenerated, but rather to be in the course of regeneration, and therefore he is continually liable to a recurrence of temptations. But every time they recur, though they come under a more insidious and seductive form, he has a greater measure of Divine Light enabling him to detect their true character, and of the Divine Strength to subdue them. Man passes through similar alternations of state in the life of eternity, but with this difference, that there the alternations are not between good and evil, truth and falsehood, but between a purer good and one less pure, between truth interior and exterior ; and by these successive changes their love, their wisdom, their inward happiness, and external joys, become more and more full and perfect.
As the present is always the parent of the future, and as upon each step of the heavenly ladder, fresh strength is imparted to us that we may mount still higher, so in this Psalm we find a recurrence of temptation described, in order that, by a more full and perfect admission of the Divine Life into the will and understanding, our joys and happiness may be indefinitely multiplied and increased. During our sojourn in this world, we are never secure against the recurrence of temptation, in some form or other, turning us from love to the Lord and our neighbour to the love of ourselves and the intoxicating pleasures of the world ; and if we have not our Heavenly Father "on our side when men" spiritually " rise up against us," we fall in the temptation. But in heaven both the struggle and the pain of the struggle are past, for angelic life consists in a series of victories over self, in the most varied and exquisite delights accompanying each conquest, and in increasing humility and gratitude to the Divine Conqueror. In consequence of this succession of heavenly victories, there is no external night in heaven, for nothing more than a spiritual twilight is necessary to keep up that progression of life which is essential to the happiness of angels.
The first seven verses of this Psalm describe a state of profound self-abasement and repentance. The intensity of the sorrow is great, and because it is so, "the Lord on high is mightier than many waters." If we find that we cannot prevail, but fall under the temptation, we may then be sure that we are relying upon ourselves, and our own strength. For He, who alone is Power, can have nothing to resist the ardency of His love, and the omnipotence of His protection, but what arises from ourselves and our own repugnancy to His operation. In the eighth verse the change is described which is produced by the Divine-Power, putting an end to the opposition of the natural mind, and restoring man to happiness and peace. "Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity ; for the Lord hath heard the voice of my weeping." The Lord is said to hear the voice of my weeping, when, by the obedience of love, I reject from my will the false suggestions which tempt me to sin. Weeping corresponds here to repentance, or the rejection of the falsehood which leads to evil. The night of sorrow being past, when the spiritual morning dawns, the Lord is said to hear man's voice; for he has then become obedient to the dictates of Divine Truth. In the last verse, his enemies are told to "return," or turn back, "and to be ashamed," signifying, in the spiritual sense, that man no longer delights in evil, but holds it in aversion, and has acquired a conscience to direct him aright. The conscience of what is right is a plane for the reception of the Divine Influx, and therefore the shame, which is grounded in conscience, has at all times been held to indicate that the germs of right conduct are not destroyed. To crush these germs is to destroy the heavenly seed, which, if it grow not in this life, cannot be raised in another.
Towards the close of this Psalm, that heavenly consolation is announced which is seen to follow the sorrows of spiritual temptation. To him who finds himself wounded in the way, who is left stript of his raiment and half dead, the blessed Samaritan is present, binding up his wounds, and pouring in the oil of His Divine Love, and the wine of His Divine Wisdom, that when He comes again He may find him restored to health.
In the fifth verse of this Psalm, we have one proof, among many others, that, previous to the Babylonish captivity, the Jews had no knowledge of a future life; or, if any, so trifling and indistinct as scarcely to deserve the name. And therefore the Sadducees, at the time of the Lord's manifestation, not holding the tradition of the elders, but confining their belief to the books of the written law, denied the resurrection.
But, though nothing can be gained from the literal sense but that which shows the sensual character of the Jews at the time this Psalm was written, the spiritual sense of the verse before us elicits an important truth. The death of the body corresponds to a state of evil in the will, and the grave, being a receptacle for the dead body, corresponds to the intellect, when it takes the form of, or manifests the evil of, the will. "In death there is no remembrance of the Lord," which signifies that He is not present, because there is no affection for His presence in the will; and in the grave, or in the understanding which is the form of such a will, no thanks can be given, signifying that no truth can be received which can serve to display the Divine Mercy.
The title of the seventh Psalm is "Shiggaion" probably derived from a word signifying sorrow, and in its spiritual sense the Psalm is descriptive of the sorrows of temptation.
Verses 1, 2. "Save me from all them that persecute me, and deliver me ; lest he tear my soul like a lion, rending it in pieces, while there is none to deliver." The functions of the intellect are represented by the inspiration and expiration of the breath, and the changes which take place in the blood by the decarbonizing of it in the lungs. The primitive meaning of the original word, which is here translated the soul, is the breath ; but it is more frequently rendered by the words soul or life. The conscious life of man depends upon the exercise of the understanding so completely, that, under any suspension of the intellectual functions, all consciousness ceases. The lion that rends the soul in pieces is spiritually some form of falsehood in the understanding, which is the effect of evil in the natural will, and this it is that "rends in pieces," or destroys the perception of truth, by means of which perception the affections of the will are exalted and purified.
The system of the human body corresponds, in the functions of all its parts, to the spiritual system of the human mind, that is, all the phenomena of the body represent and signify, because they are, as phenomena, effects of the peculiar form of the mind, and its form is its adaptation to specific uses. In the vascular system of the body, we have the heart and lungs, with the arteries, veins, and absorbent vessels. The functions of the lungs may for a time be suspended, and yet natural life shall not become extinct, so long as the heart can continue its systolic and diastolic motions, or propel the blood to all parts of the body; but the rational consciousness of existence returns only when the lungs recommence their functions of purifying the blood. This phenomenon is a real correspondency, which represents, because it is an effect of, the conditions of the human will and intellect ; for the return of consciousness does not depend upon the restoration of the lungs to their purifying functions, as its cause, the natural phenomenon being nothing more than an effect, which represents the united action of the will and understanding, and man's restoration to a state of rational consciousness.
Verse 3. "O Lord my God, if I have done this, if there be any iniquity in my hands." The hands correspond to the. power of truth in its ultimate form. The eastern custom of washing the hands from blood- guiltiness, as Pilate did when the Divine Truth was rejected or condemned by the Jews, was derived from its spiritual cause by a knowledge, then lost, of the correspondency of the hands, and the washing of them. " I am innocent of the blood of this just person," he said to the Jews, when he washed his hands before them, and this action was the representative form that, even down to the ultimate or lowest states of the understanding, there was no concurrence in the condemnation and rejection of the Divine Light, which was in them by the possession of the Word, but which the Gentile state, represented by Pilate, had not.
Verse 4. " If I have rewarded evil unto him that was at peace with me." He who is at peace with me, is the Lord, who is the Prince of Peace : and to reward evil unto him, is to destroy the Divine Goodness by the evil lusts of the natural man, cutting off the influx of the Divine Life, the life of love and charity, which can only inflow through the internal or spiritual man. For there can be no true charity and faith in us unless our actions and our worship spring from pure and honest motives, that is, unless we receive our love and faith from the Lord ; but when we receive them from Him, then our love of others and our perception of truth spring from His Love and His Wisdom in us.
Verse 5. " Let the enemy persecute my soul and take it; yea, let him tread down my life upon the earth, and lay mine honour in the dust." In the spiritual sense, man is here described as perceiving the consequences of having iniquity in his hands, and of rewarding evil unto him that was at peace .with him. To tread down man's life upon the earth is to debase the Lord's life of love and charity by the depravities and disorders of the natural will, which is signified by the earth. To lay mine honour in the dust, is to obscure and falsify the interior knowledge of truth by bringing truth down to the sterile dust of the natural intellect. For the natural will consists of nothing else but of those debased and debasing propensities to evil, all of which centre in the loves of self and of the world, and the natural intellect, in the fallacious or sensual appearances of truth which agree with his selfish propensities. When man, by the spiritual light of the Divine Truth within him, becomes conscious of his degraded state, then the Lord is called on in his "anger," signifying man's opposition to the Divine Presence, then first felt by him, which arises from the evil desires of the will, and the nocturnal habits of his intellect.
Verse 7. " So shall the congregation of the people compass Thee about; for their sakes therefore return Thou on high" It is the love of self which destroys all but the hypocritical appearance of being swayed by good affections; but according to the measure in which self-love is subdued, " the congregation of the people compass the Lord about," or, spiritually speaking, the truths of our intellects are so arranged and governed by Him, as to minister to still further changes in the affections of our wills. For their sakes therefore "He returns on high," or is glorified, when man is elevated from a natural to a spiritual state of mind, the only heaven in which his Redeemer sits enthroned, when He has spiritually subdued the nations under His feet, and has brought all the states of man's life, even down to the selfish propensities of his sensual nature, into order, and the whole man into a willing submission to His Divine government. It was for this purpose that He came upon earth, that is, in its spiritual sense, presented Himself as the Divine Truth in its lowest form, or in relation to the natural mind and correspondently to the bodily senses.
Verse 9. " For the righteous God trieth the hearts and reins." Righteous has relation to the Divine Goodness and God to the Divine Truth, and the righteous God to the unity of both in the Lord ; and therefore the righteous God is here said to try the heart and reins, for the former in its natural functions, represents the will, and the latter, in their functions, represent the intellect in its power of separating the impurities with which the natural life is contaminated.
Verse 15. " He made a fit and digged it, and is fallen into the ditch which he made." The ditch and pit are, in the original, expressed by the same word. This verse spiritually describes the condemnation of evil by its rejection, and the interior conviction that it necessarily involves, and brings upon itself its own punishment.
Verse 16. " His mischief shall return upon his own head, and his violent dealing shall come down on his own pate." The mischief here signifies the evil of intention, and the violent dealing the evil of manifestation. The one therefore relates to the will, and the other to the understanding, in which all evil intentions manifest themselves, and by means of which they are brought into, effect.
The word "Gittith," in the title of this Psalm, is : supposed by some commentators to mean a harp brought from Gath; by others, a wine-press, and by others a song sung at the vintage. Either of these meanings is spiritually applicable to this Psalm, which describes the blessed state of internal peace and outward tranquillity, which man enjoys when he is regenerated, or spiritually born again of the Lord. At the beginning therefore, and at the end of the Psalm, the Lord's name is said to be excellent, or magnificent, in all the earth; for then spiritually speaking, the Divine Truth, or all those Divine-Human Qualities by which alone the Lord can be worshipped, and which are signified, because they are suggested to the mind, by His name, Jesus Christ, then that Divine Truth reigns from first to last, or as the Alpha and the Omega, through all the faculties of man.
Verse 1. "O Jehovah our Lord, how excellent is Thy name in all the earth." The word which here, and in other places, is rendered "earth," ought correctly to be rendered "land." For the land of Canaan was in an especial manner referred to by the writers of the Old Testament when they spoke of the land, and not the terraqueous globe, which is the usual acceptation of the word "earth" Of the terraqueous globe they knew nothing, but conceived of those countries which they did know, that they consisted of one vast plain, circumscribed by a supposed horizon.
"Who hast set Thy glory above the heavens."The glory which the Lord sets above the heavens, is the union of the Divine Truth with the Divine Goodness, which union is the only source of that state of heavenly love and light,"the heavens" of the spiritual sense, from which man is enabled to behold the Divine Glory. The glory is above the heavens, when man is brought to a sense of his own nothingness, when he claims no power to himself of acquiring truth, or of becoming good. but ascribes all his gifts to the Lord, by the subduing of the hells in him, and the glorification of the Divine Truth in its ultimate or representative form. Hence the more spiritually-minded a man becomes, by a pure and disinterested love to the Lord and to his neighbour, he is the better able to see and acknowledge the Divine Super-eminence, for the glory of the Divine Presence is in proportion to the humility of the recipient.
Verse 2. " Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings Thou hast ordained strength, because of Thine enemies ; that Thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger."
And the whole of this Psalm is descriptive of the order into which the human mind is brought by regeneration, therefore, in the very form in which it is written, it marks the descent of the Divine Influx through the discriminated degrees of which the mind is composed, beginning with the celestial, or inmost state of innocence, of love, and of wisdom, which, in respect to the condition of the will, is called "a .babe," and in respect to the intellect, in the nourishment of it by heavenly truth, "a suckling." This state of purity and happiness, which is the inmost condition of the regenerated mind, is attained when we love with our whole heart the Lord's will, to the utter renunciation of all selfish motives and worldly considerations, and when we desire to be instructed .from His Word in that will, that we may be led, like little children, by our Heavenly Father. Then, whichever way we spiritually turn or direct our minds, we shall have the Lord's glory above us and before our eyes. It is by this innocence of the mind that the Lord has power in man to still His spiritual "enemy and avenger," or to rule over and to eternity keep in subjection, the love of ourselves, and the false delusions of the intellect by which that love is strengthened and confirmed. For it is by profound self-abasement that man co-operates with the Lord in successfully conquering the evils to which he is prone, or, more correctly speaking, the Lord is a conqueror when man does not resist the blessed influences of His love.
Verse 3. " When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained." Next, after the description of the celestial man, follows a description of man's spiritual or rational state, which flows from the Lord through the celestial, as an effect through the efficient cause. This state is signified by the work of the fingers of Jehovah, and the moon and the stars, which He has ordained. Man is said to behold them, and the sight of the eye corresponds to a perceptive state of the reason. The heavens are spiritually all states of heavenly charity which form the life of the spiritual man, and these are said to be the work of the Lord's fingers, because they are effects produced by a reception of the Divine Truth in the ultimate plane of the rational mind. It is in relation to this plane that it is said to be the work of His fingers ; for His fingers spiritually signify the Divine Truth in operation, and the operation is felt and perceived only when it comes forth into its ultimate form. "The moon " corresponds to a state of faith, or the perceptive acknowledgment of truth; and "the stars" correspond to the knowledge of goodness and truth of all kinds, in and by which he is able to trace the order and harmony which reign throughout the voluntary and intellectual system of His universe.
When man interiorly beholds this, the operation of the Divine Love and Mercy, he looks down upon his natural condition with deep humility and self- abasement : he sees that all the natural propensities of his will are nothing but evil, and the natural condition of his intellect prone to embrace the darkness of falsehood, rather than comprehend the light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He is convinced that he owes everything to his Saviour and Redeemer, and nothing to himself. This humility, which is the effect of his interiorly beholding the Lord's heavens, the work of His fingers, and the moon and the stars, which He has ordained, is signified in this verse by the inquiry, " What is man, that Thou art mindful of him," which, in its spiritual signification, relates to the natural will; " or the son of man, that Thou visitest him," which spiritually signifies the natural intellect in connection with such a will. Abstracted from person, the will of man is signified by man, for he is a human being preeminently by the capacity of his will; and the son of man, abstracted from person, is the intellect, or product, of such a will.
Verse 5. "For Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour." In this humility and subordination consists the regeneration of the natural man, or the crowning him with glory and honour. All his natural thoughts and delights, even down to the very senses, are brought into submission, so as to serve the interior truths of the spiritual man, which is signified by his being made by the Lord "a little lower than the angels," and by such a free-will service he is crowned with glory and honour. The glory and honour with which the natural man is crowned, are the wisdom of the celestial man, signified by glory, and the rational perception of the spiritual man, which is signified by honour. This then is the effect produced by the subordination of the natural man to the celestial and spiritual, and when these three degrees of life are submitted to the Lord.
In the next verse follows a more particular description of the happiness and tranquillity which man, even in his natural condition, enjoys under the government of the Divine Love and Wisdom. "Thou hast made him to have dominion over all the works of Thy hands ; Thou hast put all things under his feet." Here the power, which man exercises, of correcting his naturally fallacious impressions, and of controlling his natural propensities and the delights of his senses, is ascribed to the Lord as their source. The correction of the former is called the work of His hands, and the control over the latter, the putting all things under man's feet.
Verse 7. "All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field" The natural affections, both interior and exterior, are here described by their representative forms, and these are brought under his feet when they are made to minister to heavenly motives and perceptions, to heavenly love and wisdom, and first and chief of all to the Lord Himself. Nay, the very beast is a beast of the field, for it is domesticated, or, spiritually, it is serviceable to the church in man.
Verse 8. "The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas." When man is spiritually reborn, or when his spiritual Canaan is a land flowing with milk and honey, and everything which he does, in the true sense of the word, prospers, then his natural propensities and delights, being hallowed and purified, precede, in the order of the description, both the fowl of the air, which represent the truths of faith, and the fish of the sea, which represent scientific truth, or truth in the memory, together with the life of the" sensual man, which is signified by that which passeth through the paths of the seas.
This Psalm, in its literal sense appears to relate to the many vexations which David endured by the rebellions of the original inhabitants of the land of Canaan, before he brought them into subjection. Upon these nations, who were never wholly extirpated, as they disturbed him in the peaceful enjoyment of his kingdom, he calls clown the severest imprecations. In the spiritual interpretation of this Psalm, though the outward condition of the person be used as a basis, our observation should be exclusively directed to certain states of the human mind, as they are represented in the various circumstances, and natural impulses and modes of thinking, which belong to the natural man in time and space. David here represents the spiritual man, and pre-eminently the Lord's Divine Truth in relation to the spiritual man; and the enemies who so frequently disturbed his government, represent the evil propensities of the natural man, which, by rising up in rebellion, obstruct the power of the Divine Influx, and then, uncontrolled by the Divine Truth, the external man gives free vent to the disorderly passions and grovelling desires which are congenial to his nature.
Verse 1. " Why standest Thou afar off, O Lord? why hidest Thou Thyself in times of trouble? " Such expressions as these, with which the Holy Scripture abounds, are adapted to the natural and sensual mode in which man is accustomed to think of the Divine Being in relation to himself. Thus the common supposition is, that occasionally He withdraws Himself from man : and, in this passage, that his troubles are a consequence of God's being afar off, and hidden from sight. From these erroneous suppositions he concludes that, whenever he is in distress, his grievances are visitations and punishments from the Divine Being, who. in consequence of the transgressions of His creatures, withdraws from them His protection. Such are the appearances of truth which are common to the literal sense : but the spiritual sense of this verse describes the perception which is imparted to man of the opposition in his natural state of mind to the Divine Influx. The estrangement of the will is represented by the Lord's standing afar off and the alienation of the understanding, by His hiding Himself. This perception of an aversion to the Divine Influx, on the part of the natural man, serves to awaken, and increase the vigilance of the spiritual man, who suffers the Lord, by means of His Divine Truth, to wage war internally against the evils and falsities which rise up against him ; and for this purpose he implores His assistance. As the assistance depends upon the desire of man to he assisted, and to hold all evils, whether of intention or of act, to be sins against God, it is man who, by reciprocation, determines the measure of the Lord's presence, and the conquest of the hells in him. The various modes by which this conquest is achieved may be learnt from the internal sense of the miracles wrought by the Lord at His temporal advent, which corresponds in every respect to His spiritual advent. For there is a like variety in the spiritual reception of the Lord now as at the time of His natural manifestation; and now, as formerly, He is an object of love to one who, by the reformation of his life, desires His presence; but of aversion and of horror to him who, being devoted to the love of himself, rejects the mercy of his Saviour. His advent is confined neither to a specific place nor to a specific time, but He is always "coming" to heal our spiritual diseases, and to raise us from spiritual death. Now these states, being as -various in kind as human minds are, we may conceive how all-comprehensive that Holy Book must be, which includes in its spiritual sense every possible variety. The Word of God, when spiritually perceived, displays, but according to the measure and degree of the perception, the indefinite variety of states which contribute to the formation of the church in man.
Verse 2. "The wicked, in his pride doth persecute the poor: let them be taken in the devices that they have imagined." However contrary to the spirit of charity this may appear in the literal sense, the spiritual sense which shows us that the root of evil, and even of the persecutions to which we are subjected, is in ourselves, leads us, in proportion as we condemn ourselves, to be charitable to others; not supposing that the misfortunes of our enemies are judgments inflicted upon them by God in consequence of their enmity to us, but holding their salvation to be equally the object of the Divine Mercy as our own. The wicked, spiritually, are the wicked desires of the natural man, which are condemned and rejected, on account of their opposition to that humility of spirit, which acknowledges its own poverty, and ascribes all things to the Lord.
Verse 4. "The wicked through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God; God is not in all his thoughts." In this, and in the following verses, we find many expressions adapted to the natural man, for they are condemnatory of others ; nor do they indicate in the least that the source of the persecution complained of is in self. The instruction, however, conveyed by the natural sense, is well fitted for man in his natural condition, who must begin with the condemnation of evil in others, before he can rise to a spiritual perception of the evil in himself. He must see, and even feel, how destructive it is to all happiness by the examples before him and by his own experience, before he can turn his thoughts inward to investigate the secret principles which influence his own conduct, and before he can be struck with the awful similarity between that state of mind which he has been prone to condemn in others, and that which he at length discovers in himself. How noble, how truly human is the end to which he then attains! How admirable are the progressive means given him for its attainment! For are not the means, which are instilled into his mind, the natural and the spiritual perceptions of truth, by the former of which he sees the true nature and miserable consequences of wickedness in others, and by the latter of which he is led jealously and unsparingly to scrutinize the motives of his own actions? And is not love and charity the end, which dispose man to be ever kind and lenient in his judgment upon others, and to find out a possible good motive even for a mistaken action, or at least an excuse for it in the darkness which naturally overspreads the human mind.
Verses 3 and 4 might more correctly be rendered, "For the wicked boasteth of his hearts desire, and the covetous esteem themselves blessed. The wicked abhorreth the Lord : through the pride of his countenance he will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts."
Verse 8. "He sitteth in the lurking places of the villages (or of the courts), in the secret places doth he murder the innocent." To be innocently minded is to desire to be led by our Heavenly Father in all things, just as though we were little children ; every thought, every wish, being submitted to the guidance of His Love and His Wisdom. To murder the innocent is the reverse of this. It is to desire in all things to go our own way, that is, to follow the insane dictates of our own selfish desires, and to become the companions of infernal spirits, with whom we are leagued by such desires, instead of being the happy and enlightened associates of heavenly beings.
Verse 9. " He lieth in wait secretly as a lion in his den ; he lieth in wait to catch the poor; he doth catch the poor, when he draweth him into his net" The philosophy of the New Church teaches that all the forms of nature are effects of the condition of the human will and intellect, and therefore they correspond. The lion signifies the falsehood of evil, that is, the form of some particular evil of the will by which it is manifested. The den of the lion signifies the natural mind; and the poor, they who are spiritually poor, or, abstracted from person, that spiritual poverty of the mind which the Lord, in His sermon on the mount, calls "Blessed." Let us not erroneously suppose that the lion and the den are mere verbal correspondencies. No, the forms themselves, whensoever and wheresoever they are presented to the sight, correspond to the state of the church, for they have their origin in man, and through him they exist.
The spiritual sense of the thirteenth Psalm throughout is a description of the trials to which man is by the laws of his condition subjected, and the remorse and anguish of mind which he at times endures in the course of his reformation. These sufferings are consequences of the contrariety that exists in him, between the spiritual or heavenly states then first opened to his mind, and his natural propensities to evil.
Verse 1. It is said in this verse, "How long wilt Thou forget me, O Lord? for ever?" and this is a mode of expression which could only have arisen from a sensual, and therefore from a very erroneous conception of the Divine attributes. But the spiritual sense, in which the seeming imperfections of the Lord are transferred, because they are seen to belong, to the real imperfections of His creatures, and to be a consequence of them, shows the natural condition of the human intellect in its forgetfulness of the Divine Mercy. It is added, " How long wilt Thou hide Thy face from me?" and as nothing can really hide the Lord's face from man but the love of evil, it spiritually marks the state of his will, before he has ceased to love himself and the world better than the Lord and his neighbour.
Verse 2. " How long shall I take counsel in my soul?" spiritually signifies the instruction of the understanding in the truths of religion, at a time when the will is not wholly obedient to the Divine laws. The sorrow, which is daily in the heart, is a consequence of such a state of the will. " How long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?" The enemy, naturally speaking, is some opponent to man's worldly and selfish projects and desires; but the enemy, which a spiritual perception of the truth brings to light, is either the love of self, or of the world. When the perception can be communicated to man that these destructive sources of every kind of evil are his enemies, and when he feels them really to be so, then has the reformation of his mind commenced; and especially when, from a sense of his own weakness, he prays to his Heavenly Father for assistance, at the same time that he endeavours, as of himself, to be set free from his spiritual yoke.
Verse 3. " Consider, and hear me, O Lord my God; lighten my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death." To lighten the eyes is, in the spiritual sense, to instruct the intellect, so that, by a rational or interior perception of truth, it may be able to disperse the mist of fallacy which belongs to its natural condition. These are the means provided by the Lord for redeeming man from " the sleep of death." The sleep of death is the spiritual sleep of the intellect, and the spiritual death of the will.
The natural man, when he reads, as in this passage, of the sleep of death, thinks immediately of the supposed extinction of consciousness in the grave ; but he who thinks spiritually knows this to be a fallacy, there being no actual extinction of consciousness when the bodily form is representatively laid in the grave. To him the sleep of death is the condition of the spirit, that is, of the mind, when it is at once devoid of the warmth of charity and of the light of truth. This state of the mind is truly the sleep of death, for it is directly opposed to the wakeful energy and vividness of heavenly love. In the minds of those who, though apparently alive in all that concerns their selfish and sensual gratifications, are really wrapt in the sleep of death, because they are spiritually dead, there is no ennobling and expansive elevation of the rational being, but only the debasing and contracted subtlety of the animal. In the disordered activity of their sensual powers they resemble brutes rather than men ; and as the animal kingdom, throughout its genera and species, is the representative form of the generic and specific differences in the propensities of the natural man, being actually produced in all its phenomena by the medium of the natural mind, therefore it is that we so frequently trace the resemblance between that mind, when unregenerated, and the savage and disgusting propensities and forms of the animal kingdom. We may behold it, as in a mirror, in the brutal sensuality of the baboon, in the filthy gluttony of the hog, in the intense barbarity of the ferret, in the wanton cruelty of the cat. These, and many other distinguishing qualities, which may be discovered in the habits, and even in the structures and outward forms of animals, are the representative images of the natural man. In agreement with this fact, we may observe a sensual acuteness in such persons, similar to the brute propensities, which distinguish in so remarkable a manner different species of animals. The epicure, whose perceptions are debased by being determined to the faculties of smell and taste, has, so long as his bodily health and animal vigour remain, an accuracy and a delight in the discrimination of flavours, of which he, who has raised his mind above this base sensual propensity is unconscious ; while, on the other hand, an accurate judgment in the discrimination of truth from error, which the latter will probably possess by the elevation of his mind above the fascinating control of the senses, will be as much lost to the former, as the objects of sight seem to be to the nocturnal animal in the broad light of day. But this ascendency of the sensual man, in one form or other, is common to every one previous to the reformation of his life. All his faculties are at first in an inverted order. Those, which should be highest, are last in his estimation, and he holds those to be most precious, which afford him most delight, and which he sees displayed in the representative forms of the animal kingdom.
In the sixth verse, it is said by David that he would sing unto the Lord, because He had dealt bountifully with him ; and this is one among a multitude of proofs, which the Scriptures afford, of their general adaptation to the ways of thinking, and motives for gratitude, which influence the natural man. He will sing unto the Lord because He has been bountiful to him; but he would not be inclined to praise Him, if he had not experienced that bounty; and still less, if he had encountered any opposition to his worldly desires and interests, or had experienced in his own person some calamity which he falsely attributes to the Divine wrath. But let him meet with success in his selfish projects, and he can then call his good fortune a mark of the Divine favour, and that too as mistakenly; for to experience truly the Divine favour, we must be in a state to receive the Lord's Love and Mercy, and no one can receive that Love and Mercy who does not give up his own selfish, sensual projects for the good of others. The spiritually minded know that the bounty of the Lord flows in a constant stream from the bosom of the Divine Love at all times equally, and alike to all His children ; and if they do not all equally partake of that bounty, it is that they are not all equally in a condition to receive it. When the heavenly influx is received both in our intellects and our wills, and when we delight to practise those holy truths that we know, and to communicate those holy affections that we cherish in our hearts, then can we spiritually sing to the Lord, or can sensibly feel, with the deepest humility and gratitude, that we owe everything of happiness, of joy, of peace, and of tranquillity, to Him. But His bountiful dealing can never be known and felt until we have successfully struggled against the legion of our spiritual enemies. Then we may be assured that, though sorrow will endure for a night, joy cometh with our spiritual morning.
Verse 7. " Oh that the Salvation of Israel were come out of Zion! when the Lord bringeth back the captivity of His people, Jacob shall rejoice and Israel shall be glad." Zion pre-eminently signifies the Lord's Divine Love, and from this love, as an effect of it, the Salvation of Israel, or the Divine Truth, comes forth for the salvation of the church. But this coming forth was His manifestation to the natural mind, and representatively to the bodily senses. Hence Zion, in its subordinate sense, signifies love to the Lord, and from this love He must come forth, or else He cannot be the Salvation of Israel. Without the life of love there can be no light of truth except merely as science in the memory; and hence, with those whose deeds, that is, spiritually speaking, whose intentions were evil, there could be no love for that Light which brought the Divine Goodness forth to view. Let us be careful not to think that the Divine Truth, in its representative form, existed separate from human minds, but always bear in our recollections this definition of it, that it is the Divine Human Form under which the Infinite Esse, in Himself incomprehensible and therefore unapproachable, because He is Infinite, appears to the finite mind ; and that, in consequence of the various degrees and states of finite recipiency, "the Divine Truth is various, though the Divine Goodness is one." That same Divine Truth, which, while it appeared to man in nature, was the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, was presented in a form, and by circumstances, which represented all the states of the church, that is, of their wills and intellects, relatively to the Divine Truth. He came down from heaven, the heaven of state, into the natural mind, and so into the region of sensual life ; and therefore the Jews treated Him in a way which exactly represented their interior rejection of the Divine Truth, because it was an outbirth from it. To separate the outward form from the interior essence would be to make all the events of the Lord's life, recorded in the Gospels, a mere illusion, instead of being real by connection with their spiritual causes.
Verse 1. Lord, who shall abide in Thy tabernacle! who shall dwell in Thy holy hill?" The tabernacle, spiritually, is the inmost state of the mind, in which the living truths of the Word are deposited : it therefore signifies the will of man, when it is receptive of love to the Lord ; and the holy hill on which the tabernacle was placed, is, spiritually, charity towards our neighbour. The temple, as well as the tabernacle, was placed upon a hill; for we can have no love for the Lord unless it be founded upon charity. Charity indeed is the Lord's love received, and communicated, as it always must be if it be really received, to others. Hence the tabernacle represents the inmost state, and the holy hill, an interior state of the will. To attain a holy state of charity, or spiritually to dwell in it, we must endeavour, in our intentions, our thoughts, and actions, to prefer others to ourselves; to search out our own defects, that we may correct them, and our neighbour's good qualities, that we may love and imitate them; to be faithful and zealous in the discharge of all our duties, regarding the public good first, and our own good last, and then only as it may serve to contribute to the welfare .and happiness of others; to act on all occasions with perfect honour and sincerity; to feel more delight in serving and submitting, than in ruling and commanding; to shun, not only every evil act, because it must be injurious to others, but every evil propensity and desire, because they are destructive of the Lord's likeness in ourselves. To attain a holy state of love towards the Lord, or to abide in His tabernacle, we must submit our minds entirely to His guidance, and give ourselves up wholly to His will; we must endeavour to trace the Divine Love in our temporal calamities, and rejoice finding in it, as much as in our temporal comforts, from the conviction that they equally involve, and are intended to minister to, our eternal salvation; we must attribute all that we have, and all that we are by the reformation and regeneration of our lives, to the Lord, and not anything to ourselves ; and last, but chief of all, we must with our whole hearts abhor even the intention of committing evil because the intention is a sin against Him.
While the ark of the testimony was in the wilderness, during the journeys of the children of Israel, before their settlement in the promised land, it was placed in a tabernacle, or tent, in the centre of their encampment. By the veil of the temple, within which the ark was afterwards placed, they preserved the image of the original tent, which concealed it from the view of the people. The rending of the veil of the temple at the Lord's crucifixion, was a representative effect of the end of the old or Jewish Church, and the beginning of the new Christian Church. For the veil of the temple signified the appearances of truth, such as belong to the Holy Scripture in its literal sense, and by rejecting this, signified by its being rent in twain from top to bottom, the Jews had no longer even the representative form of a church. But in relation to His disciples, who constituted His new Christian Church, the rending it asunder was the opening of the veil of the letter, by the intromission of their minds into an interior light. This rending of the veil took place at the moment when the Lord " yielded up the ghost;" because His death was the representative effect of the utter rejection of the Divine Truth by the Jews, for this is His spiritual death in them ; while to the disciples His crucifixion and death signify the revelation to them, when they had spiritually forsaken and fled from the Lord, of the intense evil and falsehood which overspread the church by the utter rejection and extinction of the Divine Truth. Therefore it represented the end of their old or natural state, and the beginning of a new or spiritual state of mind, to which the Lord could appear representatively to rise again, and to ascend into heaven. But to the Jews generally the Divine Truth was still spiritually dead and buried, and therefore the representative facts that occurred after His resurrection were witnessed by ho others but His disciples; for in no others was the Divine Truth glorified or united with the Divine Goodness, or in the sight of no others did He ascend, as it is expressed in the natural sense of the Word, into heaven, to sit on the right hand of God.
Verse 5. " He that doeth these things shall never be moved." Never to be moved is, spiritually, never to fall from the heavenly state of mind signified by the different external acts which the member of the Jewish church was commanded to observe, that he might be entitled to abide in the Lord's tabernacle and dwell in His holy hill.
This psalm is called "Michtam," or a golden Psalm of David. It may have had this title from the beauty of the natural thoughts and images which it suggests, and from its excellence in point of composition. But spiritually it is called golden, because gold signifies celestial love in its lowest form, which is the basis that comprehends within itself all higher forms of love. The various objects of the mineral kingdom correspond to some condition of the mind, but in its lowest sensual and scientific form, and not in the living forms of the will and intellect to which the animal and vegetable kingdom correspond. "All nature is a theatre," and in the innumerable objects which it contains, the Lord's kingdoms of life and light, or the opposite kingdom of death and darkness, is represented ; and the three degrees, which constitute each of these kingdoms, are figured in the animal, the vegetable, and the mineral worlds. But in the ultimate forms of nature the Divine Truth is in its representative fixedness as well as in its fullness; and therefore we have, in the geological structure of the crust of the earth, with the order of its strata, and the fossil forms of animals and plants, the fullest and most perfect history of the human mind, as it is successively developed through those states which correspond to the mineral, the vegetable, and animal kingdoms, and before the truly human or heavenly form of the mind is produced.
Verse 4. " Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another god." In the spiritual sense of this passage we have the origin of all the troubles and cares to which man is subjected in the course of his reformation. To hasten after another God is, in its spiritual sense, to multiply our sorrows; for to hasten is expressive of the determination of the will, and to hasten after another God is, in the internal sense of the words, spiritual idolatry, and spiritual idolatry consists in the love of self, the love of the world, and the love of sensual pleasures. These are the origins of that natural idolatry, to which the Jews, above all other nations, were prone. If the unregenerated man be checked in the free enjoyment of these, he feels a torment proportioned to the resistance offered to his insane and filthy delights, and thus are his sorrows multiplied. But the sorrows of him who is in some measure influenced by goodness and truth, are holy sorrows ; for they flow from repentance, and grief of mind that his evil passions and propensities should have prevailed over the light of the Divine Truth within him, conducting him in the paths of purity and peace.
Verses 5 and 6. " The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup Thou maintainest my lot. The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places : yea, I have a goodly heritage." The Lord is spiritually the portion of man's inheritance and of his cup when he is conjoined with Him by love and by the life of faith. The lines, it is said, are fallen unto me in pleasant places : yea, I have a goodly heritage: a declaration which either literally refers to the beauty and fertility of that allotment of the land which had fallen to the writer's share, or metaphorically to the prosperity of his natural condition.
Verse 8. "I have set the Lord always before me ; because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved." The Lord is always spiritually before us, when our affections are turned towards Him. To love ourselves is spiritually to turn our backs upon Him, and in a subordinate sense upon our neighbour also. From this spiritual cause is derived the natural effect of turning the face towards those we love, and our backs upon those whom we dislike. To be at the right hand of the Lord is to possess, in consequence of our having Him always spiritually before us, the Divine power of subduing our wicked propensities and desires. To have our hearts ever turned towards Him is the same thing as to be receptive of His Love, and to possess from Him the Divine power of conquering our evils is the same thing as to be receptive of His Wisdom, and to receive His Love and Wisdom is spiritually to be in heaven, for it is this His spiritual presence in man, which communicates the fullness of heavenly joy ; and to be at His right hand is to possess an eternity of heavenly delights in consequence of the Divine protection. In the Gospel according to Mark it is said, that after the Lord had spoken to His disciples, "He was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God." Here the literal sense plainly indicates a distinction of Persons between the Father and the Son. To sit on the right hand of any one can never mean, in the obvious sense of the words, that they are one and the same person. It may be fairly concluded then, that if the literal sense is to supply the materials for our belief respecting the Saviour, and if such passages as the above are to be allowed any weight, our creed will certainly include more than one Divine Person in the Godhead. But, though this must be the inevitable consequence of seeking for a true doctrine among the appearances of truth, instead of drawing or extracting it from them by the science of correspondencies, we are not therefore to attribute the errors, in which the Christian world has been for so many hundred years involved, to the imperfection of the literal sense, and not to the corruptions of Christian men. Had a purer revelation of truth been given, the gross error of believing in three Divine Persons might perhaps have been avoided, but then it would have been by the substitution of a worse error in its 'place. A purer revelation would not have been received at all. For the Lord, as the Divine Truth, comes to every man with power and great glory, whensoever the heavens are opened within him ; but He cannot come in the power and glory of of the Father, except by the opening of a heavenly state of charity and faith ; nor can He come at all, except it be in the clouds of heaven, which clouds are spiritually the appearances of truth, such as belong to the literal sense of the Holy Scripture. Had the early Christian church remained steadfast to that simplicity of character, that mutual kindness, and brotherly love, which distinguished its earliest members, there can be no doubt but that their minds must have been opened to a perception of the interior sense of the Word of God. The writings of the early Fathers of the church point to this conclusion. The direction of their thoughts was evidently of a spiritual kind, and in some instances their spiritual sense of parts of the Holy Scripture was the true one. But neither the Apostles, nor their successors, had anything like a clear and correct view of the Trinity; they could not see the identity of Jesus Christ with Jehovah, because they did not rationally comprehend the science of correspondencies, and could not explain, by that science, the spiritual reason for the broad distinction, which is so frequently made between the Father and the Son, nor for the seeming unconsciousness, which the Lord at times displays of His being Himself the I AM, who is before Abraham was. Not knowing that what He appeared to be, and what He declared Himself to be, had its spiritual sense as well as what He appeared to do, and that the natural sense of the historical account is in itself nothing more than the appearance of truth, which represents, because it is an effect of the condition of the natural man in relation to the Divine Truth ; not knowing that those happy beings to whom the purely spiritual truths of the Word of God are presented, are entirely ignorant of every outward circumstance connected with the Lord, whether it be His natural birth, His growth in stature and in wisdom, His outward miracles, His apparent want of perception that He was the Omniscient God, His sufferings on the cross, His despair at being forsaken by Jehovah in His extremity, and His death; and not knowing that the real truth of these, as distinguished from the apparent truth, can only be found in their .spiritual sense, they could not but come to the conclusion, that the Father and the Son, though united in some mysterious manner, had a distinctly conscious Personality, and that in the heaven into which the Lord was taken up in the sight of His Apostles, He actually sits at the right hand of Jehovah, to mediate for those who have faith in His merits. But it is no more a spiritual or real truth, that the Lord sits at the right hand of the Father, than that He who declared Himself to be the I AM, actually despaired upon the cross and died. These events were effects in nature, representing their spiritual mediatory causes in man, and their spiritual causes were all comprehended in the interior rejection of the Divine Truth by the Jews, in consequence of its separation from the Divine Goodness. Therefore "their scourging Him, their spitting in His face, smiting Him with a reed, and putting a crown of thorns upon His head, their giving Him vinegar to drink, their dividing His garments, and their finally crucifying Him, were all representative (effects) of the state of that church. It is this which is signified by His bearing, or carrying their iniquities, and also His sustaining the severest temptations " (Apocalypse Explained, n. 805). Neither is anything else meant by their piercing the Lord, than the destroying of the Divine Truth (Apocalypse Revealed, n. 27). Nor by His death than the utter rejection of it. For He is said to have been dead, and actually so appeared, when the church had no longer any perception of the Divine Truth, nor any love for it ; therefore representatively carrying their iniquities, He died, and was buried, and by the same law of representation He was seen to rise again and ascend into heaven by no others but His regenerated disciples.
Verse 2. " For Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt Thou suffer Thy Holy One to see corruption."' This passage, which appears to have been originally applied by David to himself, has been commonly applied by Christian commentators, as a prophecy, to the Lord. It is He who is supposed to say to Jehovah, Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt Thou suffer Thy Holy One to see corruption; and as, from the literal sense, He is supposed to have descended into hell, and to have risen again from the dead, the facts are appealed to, as a fulfilment of the prophecy. But the prophecy is not to be interpreted literally, nor are the facts to be literally understood. His death and His burial are, as well as His resurrection and ascension, to be understood spiritually, or in relation to the Divine Truth, in its state of extinction by separation from the Divine Goodness. Were it possible ;to find the true doctrine respecting the Lord in the literal sense of the Word, we have, just as good reason for taking His declaration to Mary Magdalene after His resurrection,"Touch Me not, for I am not yet ascended to My father and your father, to My God and your God," as well as that of the Evangelist, "that He sits on the right hand of God," for the groundwork of our faith, as any of those passages which unite Him with the Father, and from which exclusively,, a doctrine of a different, though of an equally incomprehensible kind has been framed. For, to suppose the Lord Jesus Christ to have been at times conscious, and at times unconscious that, as to His own soul, He was Jehovah, is only to substitute one mystery for another, not a jot less objectionable, but equally opposed to the light of reason, and the spiritual sense of the Word of God.
The Lord's Prayer
The spiritual sense of this Divine prayer relates to the regeneration of the human mind or spirit. Each of the petitions corresponds to some renovated condition of the mind, and the order in which they are arranged represents the succession of states through which it passes in the progress of its spiritual renovation.
Before the regeneration of the mind is commenced, man does not really pray; for the life of prayer is in the perceptive acknowledgment of spiritual truth, and in the love of goodness. Until his mind be receptive of new thoughts and new affections, all within him is spiritually dark and dead, and in such a state he does not pray, but merely repeats his prayers. For this reason, the germ of a new intellect and a new will is the beginning of prayer, the Lord's living prayer" in us.
So soon as a man begins to appreciate the truth, which points out to him higher motives of action than those by which he is naturally swayed, and nobler objects than those in which he naturally takes delight, a new intellect is formed within him. This is man's spiritual intellect, and being composed of heavenly thoughts, is collectively the heavens in which the Lord is present.
From the affection with which these thoughts are welcomed, the germ of a new will is produced, by the growth of which the evils of the natural mind are to be subdued. All states of heavenly love and truth are the Lord's Name, and as these are increased and multiplied, that Name is hallowed, and He Himself is worshipped.
While the heaven of a spiritual state is being formed, the Lord descends, with His light of truth, and His life of love, to chasten and subdue the falsehood and the evil of the natural mind, that by these spiritual victories, the power of His truth and goodness may be seen and felt by the natural man, even as it is by the spiritual. Heaven corresponds to the spiritual man, and the earth to the natural.
The Lord comes into the world of man's natural thoughts and affections that He may instruct him in the truths of heaven. The knowledge of heavenly truth and goodness is the bread which He daily gives for our support. This is "the bread that cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die."
To have our debts forgiven by the Lord, as we forgive our debtors, is, in its spiritual sense, to have the love of the world brought into subjection to the love of our neighbour. To love the world is to love riches for the sake of power, or for the sake of distinction, or of sensual pleasures, or for the mere love of possessing them. This kind of love is opposed to the love of our neighbour. But the Lord descends, as our daily bread, that He may overcome the world ; not by annihilating our external gratifications and delights, but by subordinating them to the heavenly love of our neighbour. As the love of the world is subdued, it harmonizes and co-operates with the love of others. The harmony and co-operation between the two are signified by "forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors."
This petition represents the difficult and painful struggle for mastery between the life of the Divine Truth and the evils of the love of self.
From the pain of so severe a combat the natural man recoils, and prays that the Lord would not lead him into the temptation. But this is the prayer of the natural mind only, in which neither the spiritual prayer, nor the spiritual sense of the prayer concurs. The Lord leads not any one into temptation, in the natural meaning of the words. The resistance which self-love offers to the Divine Truth in its descent is felt as temptation, into which of himself he is unwilling to be led. But through these temptations he must pass, that by successive victories over his selfish nature, and the evils that spring from it, his regeneration may be made complete.
This petition represents the crowning victory of the Lord's Divine Truth, in which the opposing lusts of evil are subdued, and man, as to the lowest faculties of his mind, is brought within the peaceful and all-protective sphere of heaven. Thenceforward, the grounds of temptation being removed, all is happiness and joy ; and the love of self, instead of opposing the influx of the Divine Love, is made to minister to the good of others. Man being thus spiritually born of God, or of the Divine Truth, no longer regards others for the sake of himself, but himself solely for the sake of others.
Having achieved for man the victory, or rather a succession of victories, over the love of self, the Lord rises from the natural kingdom, which He has made His own, with spiritual power and glory. This He does in proportion to the self-abasement of the regenerated mind, and to the perception on the part of man, that though of himself he is nothing else but evil, he has the power, by the gifts of freedom and of reason, of consenting to those spiritual changes which have ended in the blessings of eternal life.
The ages of man's natural life are made up of the images of nature, and the thoughts which they convey. The ages of his spiritual life are the progressive states of his regeneration, which is commenced in this world, to be continued for ever in the heaven of truth and love, for which he is created.
The Lord's Prayer, in its inmost spiritual sense, is the actual concurrence of man's volition with the Divine Love. The confirmation of this, which is true prayer, by the intellect, is signified by the concluding word, Amen. The meaning of the word is "Truth," and as it is the perception of truth which serves to confirm the goodness of the will, therefore by the law of heavenly order, which pervades this prayer even to the ultimate representative form, it is the closing word: for the living perception of heavenly truth is the basis on which the Divine Influx rests. From the spiritual explanation of the Lord's Prayer it may be seen that it is in itself a little gospel. For the descending series of its petitions represents the descent of the Lord, Who is the light as well as life of men, from heaven, and His advent into the world ; that by the conquest of hell, the hell of every evil passion, He may rise from the dead, and re-ascend into heaven, with power and glory.
This Prayer being, even as to its minutest particulars, a representative image of the Lord's kingdom within us, it is of importance to preserve in the translation, as far as possible, the same verbal arrangement as in the original.
In agreement with this rule it should be "Father of us," and not " Our Father," and in that petition which represents the Divine life of truth in its descent from the spiritual to the natural mind, it should be, "as it is in heaven, even so upon the earth," and not "in earth, as it is in heaven;" for the one, even in the arrangement of the words, gives the true order of the influx, whereas the other reverses it. by placing the natural man before the spiritual.
To unfold the meaning of the words in this prayer is to unfold the meaning of the things, of which the words are the literal signs only.
"To-day" represents our present state of internal life, or of the light of our mind, and in deference to "the bread for our support" which is prayed for, that state of mind in which man has an affection for the heavenly knowledge, which is to make him wise unto salvation. As the Lord is always giving the heavenly bread, but we on our parts have not always the appetite to receive it, the prayer for it marks the affection with which it is sought for, or the state of mind which is meet for its reception.
"Evil" is the love of self, the only source whence springs that legion of infernal lusts which lay waste the earth. The deliverance from evil is. the deliverance from its power. Then man, as to his spirit, can "sit, clothed and in his right mind." The ascent of the Lord, from the restored kingdom of the natural mind into the heavens of omnipotence and love, closes this gospel of His Advent.
"Thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory." The regeneration of the mind, in which He rises again, is signified by the fact which is recorded, that " He lifted up His hands and blessed His disciples; and that it came to pass while He blessed them, He was parted from them, and carried up into heaven."