The Creation of Grass, Herbs, and Fruit Trees.
Gen. i. 9-13.
It was the purpose in previous lectures to show that these early chapters of Genesis do not depend
upon traditions handed down to Moses from the earliest times, nor upon what Moses himself may have understood by them, but that they were in fact the Divine Word of the Lord to an ancient Church and people, and that they were written in the style of pure correspondences which was then well understood and constituted the universal language of that age. It was also shown that while that ancient Word was constructed in the apparent form of a natural history of the creation of mans body and the material world in which his body was to act, it was in fact so constructed as correspondentially to be a perfect history of the spiritual creation or regeneration of mans mind and the spiritual realities of the world of mind into which men were to be introduced to live forever after their brief sojourn here It was also shown that the days of creation de scribe the spiritual states of the Church and of mens minds in the process of regeneration, and that the work of the successive day marks the progression from one state to another in this process. It was also shown that the heavens, the earth, the water, the sea, and the light, said to be the works of the first day, signify the internal and the external of man and the Church, the knowledges of all kinds acquired, the general memory where all this knowledge was stored, and the perception which first comes when men begin to think seriously of their state and their duty, of the difference between what the truth requires and the appetites demand. It was also shown that the work of the second day, the making of the firmament and the dividing of the waters by means of it, was the further reception of Divine truth in the mind, enabling it to distinguish between truth only seen and truth obeyed and to form resolutions for reformation and a better life.
The first day, therefore, or state of light, was when the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters; that is, when the Divine care awakened a regard for the literal requirements of the commandments, thus causing light” in the mind. This was the morning, and, with the preceding state of obscurity and doubt,—the evening,—constituted the first “day.”
I have had frequent occasion during these lectures to refer to the New Church classification of the faculties of man into two groups, called the will and the understanding; meaning by the will all of his affections or love, and by the understanding all of his reasoning or intellectual powers. We all know from experience, if we will but reflect,—and it bears witness to the truth of the doctrine,—that men can see the truth without loving it; or, in other words, that the light of truth may be in the understanding without being at all in the will. The light of the first day or state, therefore, is simply an intellectual recognition of a truth without any affection for it. The second day or state, is when man sees this distinction and perceives that the truths which commend themselves to his understanding ought to be loved or cherished by the will or affections. This is the dividing of the waters from the waters by the firmament, or the distinguishing of the truths which are in the understanding only, and which are the waters under the firmament, from those which are also in the will or are loved, which are the waters above the firmament.
And now we come to the work of the third “day or state. And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called He Seas: and God saw that it was good. It will be observed that it is only the waters that are under the firmament that are here gathered together and called seas. The waters under the firmament are such truths as are simply seen by the understanding or intellect, and are thus held in the natural memory, while the waters above the firmament are those truths which are in the will, or loved for the sake of the uses they perform in directing us in the duties of life, and thus have a place in the spiritual memory.
In the present inverted state of the Church the common belief is that the understanding or intellect is the highest and noblest part of man. But this is a great mistake. As was shown in our last lecture, that which is inmost in simultaneous order is highest in successive order. And the real, essential character of a man is in the state of the will or the affections. The virtue or vice of our actions resides in the motives from which we act. And these motives have their home, as we all know, in the desires or affections. The intellect is but a servant of the affections. It may see the truth, but unless the will embraces it and loves to do what the truth requires, it will be unproductive in our lives.
These waters under the firmament having been collected together the dry land appears, which God calls Earth, and He bids this earth to bring forth grass, herbs, and fruit-trees.
It was shown in our last lecture that the form of expression, God said, Let such and such things be done, does not mean that He was talking to or counseling with some other person as to the natural things to be created, but that it means the mental process in mans mind by which he sees duty in a higher degree and superior light than before. And as all illumination in spiritual things comes from God through His Divine Word, or by influx through mans internal degree of life, it is represented correspondentially as God saying, Let it be done.
Here then, by Gods saying, Let the earth bring forth, is meant that man, by the light already received and the progress made in the first two days or states of the regenerate life, is prepared to take an advanced step, and determine to do what he had only before seen it was his duty to do.
This will be evident if we carefully consider the change in the form of expression from that used in reference to the work of the previous days. In the first day God did everything. He made the heaven and the earth, and divided the light from the darkness. In the second day he made the firmament and divided the waters with it. But now it is not said that God made the things named as the work of the third day, but that He said, Let the earth bring them forth; and it is added, And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after its kind : and God saw that it was good. That is, the understanding now sees that the truths which have only been admired for their beauty ought to be loved for their use in leading to a good life, and the further resolution is formed to regulate the life and conduct more in accordance with these truths. But it is the earth, or external man, that is treated of; and we all know from our experience that our first resolves to lead better lives, and more in conformity with the requirements of the Word, are not prompted by the highest motives. Something of selfishness mingles with them. The old idea that God is angry and must be appeased, that there is a terrible hell into which we are in danger of being cast at death which may take place at any moment, and other like thoughts, prompt us to look through our fears for our personal safety, and we resolve to do a great deal better than formerly. But we resolve to do it in our own strength. We look over our past lives and see many things that cause regret, if not shame, and something of alarm. Here we have been unjust in our judgment of others, and there we have hardly been strictly honest in trade. Here we see a departure from truth, and there the gratification of some impure passion. So a thousand things are brought into review. But while we condemn them, yet we half excuse and extenuate them by the reflection that we are no worse after all than our neighbors, and that if God should damn us, He will, to be consistent, damn them too; and we conclude that we shall fare no worse than they. Besides, we have some doubts whether, when it comes to the point, He will not let us off out of pity, as it could do Him no good to torment us forever. But lest there may be some uncertainty about it, we think it is best not to run the risk, and so we resolve to do much better for the future.
Now, I appeal to the consciousness of every one of you if such has not been at some period of your lives—if it is not now—your mental experience. It is right for us in this state, for it is all that we are yet prepared to do, and it is leading us in the right direction. While there is nothing of genuine spiritual life in the actions which flow from such motives, yet the external is being brought into order thereby, and being prepared for the next step in advance. And we do really make quite a change in outward life. We give the beggar fifty cents now instead of the ten cents we gave before, and take some credit for our charity. In a dispute with a neighbor our words are not so loud nor so harsh, and we credit ourselves with great magnanimity. In speaking of others we use kindlier words, and do not try to injure their reputation by innuendoes. At home the scene is quite improved. The wife sees that something a little extra shall grace the table, and that less frown and fret shall mingle with the meal; and the husband calls back something of the manner of the old courtship days; the children look with wondering delight at the change, and their very hearts throb at the increased affection with which they are treated. In short, the man becomes a better citizen and more useful in social life. But still it is the external man that is doing this, and he is doing it from external or selfish motives chiefly, because he thinks he must do it to escape hell torments hereafter, or at least to make his chances better, and not because he loves the commandments that he is trying to obey.
This is the earth bringing forth, according to the command, grass, herbs, and fruit-trees. There is nothing of life yet,—no animals are yet> produced, only inanimate things, because it is the earth that is producing them, and the earth is the external man, which, as was shown in our last lecture, may be cultivated in the highest degree in all natural sciences, and may see and even admire spiritual truths; but still it is the external or natural degree of life, and can never be developed into the spiritual. It is necessary that the natural or external degree should be so developed and brought into order before the internal or spiritual degree can be opened in it. And hence, although destitute of spirituality, being inanimate and relatively void of life, yet God saw that it was good, because it leads by orderly processes to the next higher state, which is described in the correspondential symbols of the fourth day.
The terms heaven and earth are used together in almost innumerable instances in the Word, and the common sensuous idea of most persons is that they refer to the starry sky over our heads and the material earth beneath our feet. But a little reflection and a more careful reading will convince any rational mind that this cannot be the only meaning of the terms.
I have already stated that by the term heaven is meant the internal of man and the Church, and by the earth the external; and I have in this and former lectures shown that such is the meaning of these terms here in these earliest records. Let us now refer to a very few of the many passages that might be quoted from other portions of the Word, and in them it will be seen that the same terms are used together, and always with the same meaning.
In the second verse of the first chapter of Isaiah we read, Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the Lord hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. It is added in the next verse, The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his masters crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider. The word Israel,” in the correspondential language of the Word, means the Lords Church, and not the descendants of Jacob alone. It is the Lords Church; not this or that organization, but all persons of all lands who live the life of religion according to the light they have. It is to and of this Church, which is the Lords kingdom on the earth, that He has been pleased to make a revelation. This Church in the Word is called heaven and earth; heaven in reference to the spiritual light and life received from the Lord, and earth in reference to the natural duties it is required to perform. And as this life and light are in the internal man of the Church, and these duties are to be performed in the outward acts of the external man of the Church, therefore the internal man is called heaven and the external man earth. Therefore, again, when the Lord through the prophet says, Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the Lord hath spoken, it is an appeal to all of mans faculties, or to the wills and understandings of men, and not to the dead earth and distant sky.
Now, if you will turn to the thirteenth verse of the forty-ninth chapter of Isaiah you will find it thus written: Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the Lord hath comforted His people. Surely it is not the starry heavens, or sky, that is here called upon to sing, or the dumb earth that is called upon to be joyful, or the natural mountains that are to break forth into song because the Lord comforts His people. The same explanation applies to the terms heaven and earth here that we have given to the same terms before quoted, and the explanation need not be repeated. But here are other terms introduced in connection with them. Singing and music is everywhere in the Word used to express gladness of heart for protection received, or for triumph over trouble and difficulty. And mountains, from their elevated positions and the purer atmosphere which surrounds their summits, correspond to, and everywhere in the Word represent and express, the higher and exalted states of the affections. Hence the natural terms here used to express the mental state of the Church or of the man of the Church. For when the Lord comforts His people, or when the Church, or the man in whom the Church is, comes into that state in which he can see the Lord in His Providence as his Heavenly Father and trust Him with undoubting confidence, then, indeed, does the internal man, or heaven, sing with gladness, the external man, or earth, have true joy and the highest and best affections, or mountains break forth into song.
Every one may know with certainty, if he will read with care and freed from merely natural ideas, that the heaven of which the Divine Word treats is a mental state of light, of love, of purity, and of goodness. None will or can enjoy its blessedness hereafter unless he is prepared in some measure for the enjoyment here of these things of which it consists. Our Lord says the kingdom of heaven is within. Hence it is that the term heaven is used in the Word to denote that spiritual state in man, and also the internal man in which that state is or may be developed, and also the spiritual life of the Church.
So also with the term earth, which is the correlative of heaven. For as the term heaven denotes the internal life of the Church and of man, so the term earth signifies the external life of the Church and man. Hence the almost constant coupling of these terms throughout the Word.
In the twenty-fourth chapter of Isaiah, from the eighteenth verse to the close, is a remarkable prediction of the consummation and passing away of a corrupted Church and the establishment of a new one. Without considering this remarkable passage in detail, all may see that the term earth as there so frequently used cannot mean the natural earth at all. I will quote a part of the passage, to which you can refer and read at your leisure. It reads thus: The windows from on high are open, and the foundations of the earth do shake. The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved, the earth is moved exceedingly. The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall and not rise again. And the chapter closes with these words; Then shall the moon be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the Lord of Hosts shall reign in Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before His ancients gloriously.
Let us look briefly at this prophecy in the light of correspondences and see how it blends in Divine harmony with all like expression throughout the Word, teaching lessons of wisdom and conveying instruction of the highest importance to every one who has ears to hear. The windows from on high are open. Windows are mediums for the transmission of light, and are put for light itself in this and many other passages in the Word. We read in many passages of the windows of heaven being open. But you will observe the peculiarity of the expression, which is not in the usual form, that the windows of heaven are open; but it is, The windows from on high.” A careless reader might think there was no difference in the two forms of expression, and without the light of the science of correspondences no difference could be seen. But the truth is, the Divine Word is written on the most absolutely exact and scientific basis, and this peculiar form of expression is not accidental. The term heaven, as we have seen, means the internal of man and the Church. Now, if the windows of this were open it would be in Divine order and would be full of light, and the calamities that follow to the earth, or external man and the Church, could not occur. But it was the windows from on high that were open. God alone is the high and lofty one who inhabiteth eternity. It was the windows from Him, or the Divine truths of His word, that caused the foundations of the earth to shake. The earth we have seen is the external of man and the Church. And what are the foundations of the Church? Manifestly they are the doctrines on which it rests. If these doctrines become falsified, then, indeed, would the opening of the windows from on high shake the foundations of this earth; the light of the genuine truths of the Word would show the unsettled and irrational dogmas upon which the consummated Church rests.
Not only are the foundations of the earth shaken, or the false doctrines of the Church exposed, by the opening of these windows, but the prophecy continues, The earth is utterly broken down. Now the natural earth, we know, is not and cannot be utterly broken down, but the Church whose foundations are so shaken may be. And does not the splitting of the Church into a thousand contending sects and factions bear witness to the truth of the prediction ? But it proceeds, The earth is clean dissolved. This we know cannot mean the natural earth; for the Lord is to reign in Jerusalem after all this has happened. But a consummated Church may be clean dissolved, and I need only ask you to open your eyes to be convinced of the fact. But the earth is moved exceedingly. This all may seem to apply to something more than the natural earth; and who can fail to see its perfect applicability to a fallen Church ? But again, The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard. It is a consummated Church whose foundations are shaking which thus reels to and fro, And, moreover, spiritual drunkenness is caused by the imbibing of false and injurious dogmas, as natural drunkenness by the imbibing of intoxicating liquids. And as all natural effects have their origin in spiritual causes, the drunkenness that curses the world is the outbirth of the spiritual intoxication of the mind of the age by the mental poison which it imbibes. But the chapter continues, The earth shall fall and not rise again. This prediction applies not to the natural earth, but to a Church that has falsified the truths of the Word, and has become drunk with the wine of spiritual fornication, which may well be said to fall not to rise again.
There have been several successive Churches or dispensations, and each of them in turn has falsified the truths and adulterated the goods given to it by the Lord, and has fallen not to rise again. I leave you to make your own application of the prediction of the prophet to our own day and times, if it fits them. The prophet adds, in conclusion, Then shall the moon be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the Lord of Hosts shall reign in Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before His ancients gloriously.
Much is said in the Word about the sun being darkened and the moon refusing to shine, the sun clothed in sackcloth and the moon turned into blood, and the like. It will be observed that the sun and moon are mentioned together, as are the heavens, and earth. Sometimes the sun, moon, and stars are mentioned together, as the heavens, earth, and sea are. We have seen that heaven means the internal of man and the Church, earth the external, and sea the general memory or receptacle of knowledge. And so the sun means the ruling love or affection of the Church, the moon its faith or doctrines, and the stars its knowledges of Divine truths. That this is the meaning of these terms is susceptible of abundant proof. But as they will form the prominent feature of the next lecture, being the things made on the fourth day, I shall not enter further into their exposition here.
It is when the Lord of Hosts reigns in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem and before His ancients that these wonders are to take place. Mount Zion and Jerusalem mean the Church; an apostate Church when the Lord of Hosts does not reign in it, and a glorious New Church when He does. But when He reigns in Mount Zion and Jerusalem, it is before His ancients. And who are His ancients? They are those wherever found who have the faith and charity of the ancient Church, described in the ancient Divine Word we have been trying to ex. pound. When the Lord thus reigns, the moon, or faith, of the consummated Church is indeed confounded and its ruling love, or sun, ashamed.
It is important that at least some spiritual truths should be known and acknowledged. For unless they are in some measure so known and acknowledged the heavens and the earth will pass away, as is so often predicted in the Word; which means that all the genuine good there is in the will or affections and all the genuine truths there are in the understanding or faith will die out and perish; so that the sun will become dark, the moon cease to give light, and the stars fall from the heavens.
I think it must now be clear from the considerations already adduced that if this is indeed a Divine revelation of Gods will to man, it must contain something more than the mere announcement that on the third day of creation God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, herbs, and fruit-trees, and that the earth brought them forth. Yet this is all the instruction that is derived from the literal sense. If it had been designed simply to inform us that God was the author of all things, that statement would have been far more satisfactory than the account as it stands. All admit that the information it gives, if meant for natural history only, is very meagre and unsatisfactory. If it was important to advise men at all of the process of the first production of grass, herbs, and fruit-trees, it would certainly have been interesting to know something more, as, for instance, how the earth produced them. For there is not the slightest intimation that there were any seeds or germs in the earth which had only emerged from the water that day, or that God did anything to produce them. It is simply said that the earth brought them forth; and this instead of giving us light in natural history simply leaves the mind in mystery.
Whatever is said, therefore, about heaven and earth in the Word is really said about the Church and what constitutes the Church in man. And this becomes more clearly evident as it is seen in the light of correspondences that the record does give a full, definite, precise, consistent, rational, profoundly philosophical, and infinitely important history of the mental processes of man, the eternal verities of his spiritual nature, and his immortal interests, applicable to him in all states, in all times, and in all worlds; a history the infinite wisdom of which will unfold with his development forever.
Because there is a trinity in God, and man is His image and likeness, there is a trinity in man. And as everything produced partakes in a measure of what produced it, there is, therefore, a trinity in everything that man does. There is the end for which he works, the means by which he works, and the product of these in the result. Accordingly here, as it is the earth,—which means man,—which is to do, there is hence a trinity or trine in the work to be done. The first thing to be produced is grass. This is the mere perception of truth in the understanding; that is, thought and growing intelligence in regard to uses. This alone has no practical effect upon the life and conduct. Hence the grass is not said to have any seed in itself, although it is useful in its degree. Next is the herb; which is a higher form of vegetation than grass. This is a more noble intelligence, not of the understanding merely, but leading to the resolution to do what the truth so seen requires. Being so far productive, it is said to yield seed. And the third thing is the fruit-tree, which is the highest form of vegetable life. This is the full intelligence, which not only sees truth of its kind in the understanding and cherishes it in the will, but ultimates it in the conduct and life. It yields fruit, which is said to have seed in itself, upon the earth.
And God saw that it was good. The work of reformation and regeneration has now progressed through three days or states. And although it will take three days more to bring man into the full image and likeness of God, yet incomplete as the work is, God sees that it is good.
The first day it is simply seen that there is such a thing as truth; the second day it is acknowledged to be of binding obligation; and the third day it becomes a matter of thought and of growing intelligence, and is even obeyed with some affection as a matter of duty. This brings the external man into outward order. He has natural faith in the truths he sees, has a natural charity or love for the right, and he performs the good works of use to his neighbors as he has opportunity. But it does not make him a spiritual man. He is a better man and citizen in all respects; is, in fact, a man developed in the natural degree until the spiritual degree is prepared to unfold. He could never become a spiritual man without passing through this process. For that is first which is natural, and afterwards that which is spiritual. The fourth day, to be studied in the next lecture, will unfold the spiritual degree.
And the evening and the morning were the third day. As before, the evening is the state of mental doubt and obscurity on the presentation of higher truths, which the mind is not yet prepared to receive, and morning dawns, when the mind receives them.