The Law of Correspondences I
If the Word is Divine, it must have a deeper sense than what appears in the letter. If the Word has for its Creator the Divine Mind, then what we see in the external letter must be very superficial compared to what it contains in its bosom, in its deeper meaning. And if it is Divine, we cannot conceive that the Divine Mind would write the apparently trivial things which are found in some portions of the Word. If it is Divine, and if it has an internal meaning, the question is what is to prevent people from being merely capricious and finding an inner meaning to the Word that suits themselves, in which case the inner meaning of the Word, or the spiritual sense, or the internal sense of the Word, would be of no real value.
We must therefore clearly realize that the law which is developed by Swedenborg in his Writings, whereby the spiritual or internal sense of the Word can be drawn out of the Word, is a law that follows with perfect order, just like Newton's laws of gravity which describe the behavior of falling bodies. The law, according to which the Sacred Scripture was written, is Divine. Unless we see the general scheme according to which the world originated, we cannot see how the letter of the Bible that talks about earthly things, about water and turning water into wine, about battles, and about liberation from Egypt, and so forthcan lead the mind, by degrees or steps, up to the contemplation of heaven itself. According to our belief, the Divine that was the soul of the Lord Jesus Christ is Infinite, and in Him the Infinite God that we worship Infinite things are distinctly One. And therefore the first origin of everything that exists is in the Divine Mind before man was created.
There is just one God, one Divine Person, but in that one God are infinite things and they are the infinite prototypes of all things created.
Man was thus created in God's image. Below man there are the animals that reflect all of man's affections, and below the animal is the vegetable kingdom which corresponds to the uses of all things, and finally the mineral kingdom in which we also can see the reflection, although somewhat distantly, of these Divine qualities.
There are two primary attributes in God. There is Divine love, which is the prototype of all human emotions; and there is Divine wisdom, which is the prototype and cause of all human understanding. Because God knows everything, man can know something. From His wisdom we derive our little human bit of wisdom, and because of His vast love, we have all the loves that we have. Therefore, when it says that God created man into His image and into His likeness, we see a first rudiment of the spiritual sense of the Word. Man is the image of God because he has the ability to think and to reason, and we reflect God as in a mirror because we are capable of having wisdom, thoughts, reason, the ability to figure things out. That is what makes us "images" of God. The other great faculty with which man is endowed by God is the ability to love or to will, which is the source of human freedom. If we did not have the ability to love, and the ability to will, we could not have the appearance of self-life. We could not act as though we were independent beings. This is our "likeness" to God. He has all freedom, all power, and we have human freedom because we are created into His likeness. And as He can create on His vast scale, so correspondentially man can in a manner create in his little field. Whatever uses he performs are, as it were, his creations. Man can create in his small sphere because he is in the likeness of God who creates in His great sphere.
From His love and wisdom God is omnipotent, which means that He can do everything that He wants to do. Man can do anything that he wants to do and knows how to do. If I want to play the violin, and know how to play the violin, I can play it; but if I want to play the saxophone and do not know how to play the saxophone, I cannot play the saxophone, no matter how much I want to do so. Take, for example, women who bake cakes. They have to want to bake the cake and they
have to know how to bake the cake, and those two elements have to be joined together before any cake can be made. So it is with absolutely everything that we do, from the making of a locomotive to the writing of a sermon. There has to be the will and the know-how. In God, the "want-to" is the Divine love which knows no limits. There is nothing good that Divine love does not want to do and it operates by means of God's Divine wisdom which knows everything, knows all of the answers. So we say that God is all-powerful because He has total will and total wisdom; that is, He is omnipotent.
Those two faculties in God are reflected in the whole universe and ultimately in the Word. And so, if the Word can be written in such a way that it treats of things that absolutely are stepped up in the logical steps until we get eventually to the love and wisdom of God, we can see that what Swedenborg calls correspondence is not a game, not something where values arbitrarily are assigned to different things, but it is in an outgrowth from God Himself and it began with His creating man in His image and into His likeness.
Swedenborg tells that there is a spiritual world, and the spiritual world has spiritual substance which answers to man's spirit as natural substance answers to his body. We shall take up later the subject of the spiritual world and the life after death, but suffice it to say now that man's spiritual eyes see spiritual things as man's natural eyes see natural things and his spiritual ears hear spiritual sounds as man's natural ears bear natural sounds; in fact, all of the spiritual senses can touch and feel and hear and see spiritual objects in such a similar way. They are not the same but they are so similar that as far as the consciousness of man goes, when he wakes up in the spiritual world, he does not know that he is there because it seems exactly like the natural world at first. But the laws of it are different, as I shall show later. In this spiritual world, the Lord created a sun which is said to be His first proceeding. That sun looks like the natural sun. But the natural sun, as we know, is a ball of fire, while the sun of the spiritual world is the Lord's love. That is what shines before the angels. In the spiritual world the light from the sun of heaven is the light of truth. That is the light that we see in our own minds.
In teaching a boy algebra, I might show him that if x equals 4 and y equals 6 then x plus y equal 10. He does not see it at all at first, and then all of a sudden he says, "I see it," and his face lights up and I can tell from his eyes that he really sees it, that he sees it in his mind, and he sees it in the light of truth. The light of truth is what comes from the sun of heaven and it is what illumines the minds of the angels. A man in this world is a spirit clothed with a body. The real "I" is the internal man, the mind. Here we are spirits clothed with bodies, and the light of truth can also flow down to us and we can think from its light, that is, from the sun of heaven.
Because the spiritual world is the world of causes, the Lord next created a natural sun which should correspond to the sun of the spiritual world, and which should have fire, corresponding to the love of the sun of the spiritual world; and should have light going forth from it, corresponding to the truth which emanates from the sun of the spiritual world.
We will observe that the duality of these two things, love and wisdom in God, which gave birth to the universe, became the cause of a duality in all things of creation. God created man male and female. Why did He do that? He did it because the two should be able to correspondthe woman to love and affection and the man to wisdom; and together they should be able to be the source of new creations, just as love and wisdom in God were the cause of the birth of the universe and just as love and wisdom in the mind of any one man are the cause of any use that he performs. He must love it and he must know how. And so we have woman corresponding to love and man corresponding to wisdom. This correspondence is seen all through the Word. Wherever father or mother are mentioned in the Word, it is not by accident, but because father represents generating wisdom and mother represents generating love. And you have brothers and sisters: brothers being truths born of love and wisdom, and sisters being affections born of love and wisdom and so on.
The relationships of the human family, stepped up one degree to things of the mind, represent that marvelous family life of thoughts and affections that every man has within his own mind; and so it becomes easy for us to see why the Lord said, "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:26) It is a terrible thought to apply that in the literal sense, because the Lord plainly commands, "Honor thy father and thy mother that thy days may be long upon the land that the Lord thy God giveth thee." (Exodus 20:12) But if we think of the things which are the father and the mother of man's hereditary evils, which man must shun if he is to regenerate, then we can see why man must hate his father and mother (not his literal parents, but the things that are the origin of evil and false things within himself). And so the Lord said of marriage that man must leave father and mother and cleave to his wife alone. This again represents leaving the father and mother of one's selfish worldly life and cleaving to this new love which shall build within his heart the New Jerusalem, the New Church, a new order of things in his own life. This duality may be recognized also with animals. We have the sex element in all the animals. We can even see it in the vegetable kingdom where mother earth provides the great womb wherein the seeds of flowers are received and brought forth.
Even in the realm of the mineral kingdom we behold duality. In chemistry, for instance, we know that all manner of salts are formed from the union of acids with bases. When the two are joined together, an offspring is produced which is like the fruit of a marriage. Likewise in the realm of electricity you have positive and negative poles. Duality is universal and runs through the whole gamut of creation and can be seen in the mineral kingdom, the vegetable kingdom, the animal kingdom and in human beings, and all of this owes its origin to the great duality in God which is His Divine love, and His Divine wisdom.
If it is true that there is an analogy between God and man created in His image and the animals, created in some resemblance to man, then it is conceivable that the Lord could inspire men to write a book which in the letter talked about nothing but worldly things and yet in its deeper sense contained as a soul a Divine meaning. With this law behind it, the science of correspondences becomes something that is fixed and dependable, which the ministers of the Church can study and can rely upon, and can teach; and it is not something that is fanciful, but is in fact part of the firm foundation of the New Jerusalem. Let me take first the human face. The face is purely natural, but the mind behind the face is spiritual. The Writings say, regarding correspondences, that the natural answers to the spiritual; therefore, the face and all the facial expressions correspond to the mental attitudes behind the facial expressions. A consummate hypocrite, by studying simulations through the years, can of course make his face appear deceptively different from his mind, but the ordinary person, a person who is guileless and not a hypocrite cannot do that, and his face instantly takes on the emotions of the mind. A child has very little difficulty in telling from the face of the parent whether the parent is angry or whether the parent is filled with love.
When man was in a more primitive state the face registered the emotions more clearly. Living in society, we more or less train our faces so that they do not show all of our emotions. If we go out and are entertained, although we might have been bored stiff, we try to put on at least a sickly smile when we say good-night to our hostess. We do not have to effuse too much about what a good time we had, but we are not called on to tell the hostess that we had a perfectly ghastly time. We have to make our faces behave to a certain extent. Nevertheless, it is interesting to watch people's faces when they are unaware of it. The face, the Writings declare, is the index of the mind. We have lots of expressions that have come into the English language which are pure correspondences. We say that a man has a heart of stone, meaning that no amount of pity could move him. But stone is purely a correspondential word he didn't really have a heart of stone. I have heard pupils say of a certain teacher, "Boy, didn't Mr. X get hot under the collar today." He really didn't get hot under the collar, but that was a very correspondential way of expressing it. The same is true of the words "fainthearted", "lion-hearted", "innocence of a lamb." We just naturally talk in correspondences.
The will and the understanding in the mind correspond to the heart and lungs in the body. The emotion of love is really a thing of man's will, but where do we feel it? Because the heart corresponds to the will and love of man, we feel the emotion of love in our heart. The will flows right into the heart, because the two correspond. On the other hand, the understanding, which is the thinking part of the brain, corresponds to the lungs and, therefore, as soon as the doctor pumps some gas into our lungs and our lungs become filled with this gas, our consciousness ceases. We no longer have any consciousness because the lungs in the body are the necessary basis of consciousness. In near drowning accidents, many people who have been resuscitated have described how the light went out when the lungs were filled with water. The light goes out, and if the water had not been pumped Out, the light would have stayed out. Furthermore, we know that a baby is not conscious until it breathes, and as soon as it breathes. it usually starts to cry as a sign that it is conscious. Before that it has motion, for the heart beats before birth; but it has nor consciousness.
The heart always corresponds to the will. It is when man's will dies, that he is tempted to commit suicide. Just as a man, when his heart stops beating, is dead as to his body, so he is dead spiritually when he has no loves. If he does not love anything, he becomes purposeless and is a spiritual nonentity. We have other correspondential expressions taken from the animal kingdom. For example, we say, "This man is foxy. He is a foxy man." The Lord called Herod an old fox, referring to those qualities of a fox which reflect and correspond to human traits that were in Herod. And we say, "This person is as gentle as a lamb." We speak of a vicious man as a viper.
There is a correspondence between birds and man's thoughts, and so we say "as keen-visioned as an eagle," meaning that as an eagle can see from great heights, a man with eagle vision is farsighted in business, in finance or in government. There is a law of correspondences. In the simplest terms it may be stated thus: That the spiritual will do for the mind what the natural thing to which it corresponds will do for the body.
That is the law, the spiritual quality which is represented by the thing we are talking about will do for the mind what the natural thing will do for the body. To illustrate: Water quenches the thirst. Water, the Writings say, corresponds to truth. On the plane of this world we have water. On the plane of the mind in which we think, we have truth to which water corresponds. Water quenches the thirst. Truth, then, to which water corresponds, will quench the thirst of the mind, that is, when we are told the truth our curiosity is satisfied. The truth of this can be seen with our children. They come to us filled with curiosity, and want to know the answers to the questions they ask. You satisfy their curiosity when you tell them the truth. That is what the Lord meant when He said, "For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward." (Mark 9:41)
Water has another great use, the use of cleansing. Water has the power to cleanse and so does truth. The Lord said, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free," (John 8:32) free from your evils. It will cleanse the spirit, and the man who lets truth course through his mind by reading the Word, cleanses and purifies his thoughts. When teaching that water corresponds to truth, frequently one of my pupils will say, "Ah, yes, Mr. Alden, but why does water drown people?" The answer is that truth may do the same as every minister knows, if he preaches too long, the people will go to sleep and they are just as good as drowned when they go to sleep. If the algebra teacher assigns too many problems, he will choke out the enthusiasm he will kill the love for his subject. There is nothing that water will do for the body that truth will not do for the mind, because the two correspond. Fire corresponds to love, Swedenborg says. Fire has two great uses that we all enjoy one is to warm our houses and make them comfortable and enjoyable. Some of you may remember back in war times when we were not allowed sufficient fuel to heat our houses. How chilly and desolate they would feel compared with a nice cozy house that is well heated. What the warmth of fire has done for the house the warmth of love does for the mind. You have doubtless met people who seem to have very little love for others. In my travels I once met a man on the train who appeared to love only himself. He was handsomely dressed and he looked like a powerful executive, but he had no friendliness in his disposition at all; and I was placed in the embarrassing situation of sitting opposite him in the diner, and having him look straight through me, not even recognizing me to the point of asking me to pass the salt or anything. There was no warmth in that man's nature and I was only glad that I did not have to live with that disposition all my life, for his mental house was very chilly. On the other hand, a few meals later, I met someone who was just the opposite. He exuded friendliness and kindness, consideration and the desire to make his table companion happy. It was a real source of pleasure to be in his presence.
It is in our own hearts that we feel the warmth of love or the cold of its absence. After all, when we bear grudges against people, we feel cold toward them. Our own mind becomes chilly and an uncomfortable place in which to live. From these illustrations we can see that the warmth of love does for our minds what the warmth of fire does for our bodies. The other use that fire performs for all of us is that it cooks our food and makes it palatable, and easy to digest. My wife and I once were invited to a meal. The hostess had a fadthat all vegetables should be eaten raw! The meal consisted of raw potatoes ground fine and white, raw peas a beautiful green, and raw carrots the color of gold. Everything looked attractive, but alas, it would not digest. Cooking makes food digestible, easy to assimilate.
Fire corresponds to love, and every teacher knows that if he can get his class to love his subject, it is no trouble at all to teach it to him. He assimilates it with ease, and it sticks with him. I took a ride down to Washington with some boys and they knew every car we passed from 1932 Buicks to 1947 Cadillacs. They knew not only the name of the car but the year it was made. They loved that, and they had no trouble at all in learning it because love made it easy to learn. Another boy I was with knew the number of the license tag of every car in Bryn Athyn and the person to whom it belonged. He could do this because he loved to. Just as soon as anyone loves something, that love makes that thing easy to learn and easy to digest, because love will do for the mind exactly what fire will do for the body.
A ship corresponds to doctrine. Perhaps that does not enlighten us too much, but doctrine is that by which a man lives. Whether he is an atheist, a New Church man, or a subscriber to some other religion, he has some set of principles which guide his actions. These principles are his ship of doctrine; that is what he sails on through life. The day after the Lord had fed the five thousand, He went up into a mountain to pray and the disciples took shipping without Him. The Sea of Galilee represents the truths that we have in our minds great volumes of them, all kinds of truths, natural and spiritual. The disciples had a doctrine of life represented by their little ship. But the Lord was not in that ship. They had gone twenty or thirty furlongs when a great storm arose. And soon the waves threatened to swamp their little ship which sailed without their Lord.
It is just as in our minds. We take in truths, we read the newspapers, we read magazines, we read the Word, we read the Writings. There are all sorts of truths in our memorylike water in the Sea of Galilee. If we get to thinking without having some firm conviction in God, we encounter all kinds of doubts. Look at all the poor people! How can they have a fair chance when many others are born rich? This person is born a cripple, and here is a spastic. We think of all sorts of strange and sad things and the first thing we know, our mind comes into such a turmoil that it threatens to engulf our ship of doctrine. We are driven toward the shipwreck of despair and denial.
That is what was represented by the disciples being tossed about in this storm. Then the Lord came walking up to themwalking on the water. It is plain what that means. There is no truth, whether it is a truth of science or a truth of religion that does not support the LordHe walks on the water and it supports Him. If we think that science contradicts religion, it is because we don't understand science or we don't understand religion, because nature and revelation are the two foundations of truth. And all of God's truth supports Him; so He came walking right over the water to the disciples and they took Him into their ship. It is just like the man who had been puzzled about God. There comes a time when he does see and understand the necessity for believing in God. Then it is that he takes God into his ship of doctrine; that is, into his thought, as the disciples took the Lord into their ship. And lo and behold, the ship was immediately at the shore where they were going. If we take the Lord into our thinking, then we will understand the purposes of life, will know where we are going and why.