Testimony of Genesis to the Inspiration of the Bible
by T.A. Plantz
Gen. i. 1.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John i. 1.
No one who has observed the tendency of the popular literature of the day and its influence on the public mind, can have failed to note the widespread doubt that everywhere prevails as to the plenary inspiration and absolute divinity of the Scriptures. This doubt is much more extensive even than appears in our literature. It pervades the various divisions of the Church much more than is readily perceived or willingly acknowledged. It does not take the form of the gross assaults of the sceptics and atheists of the last century, nor is it confined to the vulgar and naturally vicious. Men in all the walks and ranks of life alike feel and express these doubts. Men of the highest culture and the purest lives have fallen into the current and swell the stream, not because the Scriptures seem to stand in the way of their sensual indulgences, but because they do not see them to be true.
The development of the natural sciences during the present and the latter half of the past centuries, which has been without a parallel in the history of the race, has had an important influence in causing this state of doubt. Astronomy, looking out upon and tracing the movements of the heavenly bodies, has declared that the account given in the earliest records of the Bible, assuming them to refer to the creation of the material universe, cannot possibly be true. Geology, a science of later birth, reading the records of the rocks, repeats the conclusions of her elder sister, and says, The Bible record as a history of natural creation cannot possibly be true. The opening insight into man himself, the developing science of psychology, repeats the verdict, and calmly but firmly steps to the side of her witnessing sisters, and, adding her testimony to theirs, says, The Bible record, as it has been interpreted, is not and cannot possibly be true.
The very natural result has followed. Men could not reject the demonstrated truths of the natural sciences. And taking for granted that the Bible record assumed to teach natural truths upon the same plane as science, they found a direct conflict between them, and could not accept them both as true. With demonstration on the one side and what seemed but vague and often illogical statements on the other, it is not wonderful that they should cling to that which compelled their assent by reason of its certainty, and give way to doubts as to that which simply demanded their belief on its asserted supernatural authority.
At every step of this scientific development, devout believers in the Bible, or in their own accepted interpretation of it, fearing for the foundations of their faith, have opposed the science itself as a new attack of infidelity, and denounced its advocates as the enemies of religion and virtue. But, to the credit of their sincerity of belief, when the truth of the science has been absolutely established, they have, by a modification of their interpretation, earnestly endeavored to reconcile it with the demonstrated operations of natural laws. Thus, when astronomy demonstrated that the earth was not the centre of the universe, and that it could not have been made before the sun, which is the centre of our solar system, and upon which it depends, commentators sought a reconciliation of the natural truth with the record in Genesis by the honestly-adopted but hopelessly unsatisfactory theory that, while the sun, moon, and stars were really made before the earth, yet their light did not appear until the fourth day after the earth was made, and that the writer of the record wrote as if they were only made on the day when their light first appeared.
So, too, when geologists announced that the six thousand years assigned as the age of the earth was utterly irreconcilable with the story inscribed upon its strata; that it, in fact, existed incalculable ages before man had or could have an existence upon it, they, too, were denounced as infidels, and the science itself was proclaimed to be but a new form of infidelity striking at the foundations of all truth and religion. But the geologists delved and discovered and classified and generalized until they compelled the lithographed hieroglyphics of the everlasting rocks to give up their secrets and demonstrate the truth of the science. When the truth of the science could no longer be denied or put aside, the commentators modified their interpretation to meet, as well as they could, the new exigency. But they still clung to the preconceived idea that the writer of Genesis intended his record to be a veritable history of the natural creation, and, as the only mode of reconciliation which they saw, they adopted the theory that the days of creation as given by Moses might well be interpreted to mean not literal days, but indefinite geological periods of hundreds, or thousands, or millions of ages, as the necessities of the case might require. This was dearly a giving up in fact of the literal meaning of the record, and ought to have led them to suspect that the theory itself was an error, and to seek a more rational interpretation ; but, unfortunately, it did not. They still contended that it was a history of the natural creation, but with a figurative meaning of the word day.
The motives inducing this revised exposition are to be admired, whatever may be thought of its success as meeting the difficulties of the case. It was doubtless a well-meant effort. And, utterly unsatisfactory as it was, it is freely admitted that it was the best that could be done without a relinquishment of the cherished theory that the record was simply a history of the natural creation. But the new gloss never fully satisfied one of the thousands who have advocated and defended it. All the arguments in all the countless volumes that fill the shelves of theological libraries never dispelled the doubts of a single inquiring mind. They silenced the expression of the doubts of thousands who acquiesced in it as the best solution attainable, and it doubtless saved multitudes from an open rejection of the Bible. But there, among the days, which were now interpreted to mean geological periods of incalculable duration, stood, and still stands, the Sabbath with the reason assigned for its institution,--namely, that God, having worked six days in making the natural world, rested on the seventh. Was the Sabbath a geological period too? Natures laws, which are but Gods method of operating, are laws of order. If the Bible is from Him it will be found, when rightly understood, to be as orderly as are His natural laws. But here is confusion, with vacuity and emptiness and darkness impenetrable resting upon the abyss ! No effort of the literalist, however learned and honest he may be, will ever bring harmony out of the chaos.
I might go through the whole circle of the sciences with the same dreary result. The consequence is that a sincere and rational belief in the plenary inspiration and absolute divinity of the Bible has virtually died out of the Church. Hundreds of its professed ministers deny it any degree of Divine inspiration at all, while those who do not go so far as this only claim for it such a degree of Divine supervision and influence over its writers as enabled them to relate with substantial accuracy and in literal terms the events recorded in it; and in the same literal terms and with a like accuracy the religious doctrines and duties which it teaches and inculcates, together with prophecies which either have been or yet will be literally fulfilled on the natural theatre of this world. I need not stop to prove that this is the present state of belief in the Church, for very few of its members would claim that their estimate of the divinity and inspiration of the Bible was even so high as I have credited them with.
I do not propose at present to enter upon a dis-mission of the seeming conflict between science and revelation. In the course of these lectures I shall endeavor to show that the conflict is only apparent, arising from a total misapprehension of the structure of these records and their design and purpose. But believing, as I do, that the material universe and the Sacred Scriptures are both alike out-births from the same infinite Divine Mind, and that a key has been given in the science of correspondences that will open the seals from both and unite philosophy and religion in an everlasting marriage, I have thought that some yearning souls might be helped to a more satisfactory resting-place by a presentation of the New Church views on the subject, without making an uncharitable assault upon the old.
Man finds himself in a world of mysteries, in the midst of which he is himself the greatest mystery of all. He looks around upon a scene of ever-changing phenomena, the causes and operating forces of which lie beyond his perceptions or his powers of investigation. The earth he inhabits is, he sees, composed of various minerals, seemingly a conglomerate of chaotic substances brought together he knows not when, collected he knows not where, combined he knows not how, and for final purposes he knows not what. He sees it permeated with springs and checkered with rivers, and separated by oceans teeming with myriad forms of life. Its surface is covered with growths of inconceivable varieties reproducing themselves from which are but Gods method of operating, are laws of order. If the Bible is from Him it will be found, when rightly understood, to be as orderly as are His natural laws. But here is confusion, with vacuity and emptiness and darkness impenetrable resting upon the abyss ! No effort of the literalist, however learned and honest he may be, will ever bring harmony out of the chaos.
I might go through the whole circle of the sciences with the same dreary result. The consequence is that a sincere and rational belief in the plenary inspiration and absolute divinity of the Bible has virtually died out of the Church. Hundreds of its professed ministers deny it any degree of Divine inspiration at all, while those who do not go so far as this only claim for it such a degree of Divine supervision and influence over its writers as enabled them to relate with substantial accuracy and in literal terms the events recorded in it; and in the same literal terms and with a like accuracy the religious doctrines and duties which it teaches and inculcates, together with prophecies which either have been or yet will be literally fulfilled on the natural theatre of this world. I need not stop to prove that this is the present state of belief in the Church, for very few of its members would claim that their estimate of the divinity and inspiration of the Bible was even so high as I have credited them with.
I do not propose at present to enter upon a dis-mission of the seeming conflict between science and revelation. In the course of these lectures I shall endeavor to show that the conflict is only apparent, arising from a total misapprehension of the structure of these records and their design and purpose. But believing, as I do, that the material universe and the Sacred Scriptures are both alike out-births from the same infinite Divine Mind, and that a key has been given in the science of correspondences that will open the seals from both and unite philosophy and religion in an everlasting marriage, I have thought that some yearning souls might be helped to a more satisfactory resting-place by a presentation of the New Church views on the subject, without making an uncharitable assault upon the old.
Man finds himself in a world of mysteries, in the midst of which he is himself the greatest mystery of all. He looks around upon a scene of ever-changing phenomena, the causes and operating forces of which lie beyond his perceptions or his powers of investigation. The earth he inhabits is, he sees, composed of various minerals, seemingly a conglomerate of chaotic substances brought together he knows not when, collected he knows not where, combined he knows not how, and for final purposes he knows not what. He sees it permeated with springs and checkered with rivers, and separated by oceans teeming with myriad forms of life. Its surface is covered with growths of inconceivable varieties reproducing themselves from seeds each true to its kind. It is surrounded and bathed in an atmosphere the invisible but omnipresent medium of communicating sight and sound and odors to his senses. The seasons pass over the scene, and change succeeds change like the moving pictures in a panorama. Spring comes with gentle showers and genial warmth and bud and leaf and flower expand, and all animated nature pulsates in unison. Summer comes, and the bright deep green of spring sobers into the russet brown of maturing harvests. The flowers fade only to give place to the more useful clusters of fruits, to waving wheat-fields, to the golden corn, to the brown and blue and purple grass. Autumn comes with new forms, new combinations, new colors, a new but fading glory. On this sober ground of decaying life she embroiders all the richest and deepest colors of the spring and summer flowers. So brilliant and varied are the hues of the autumn woods that poets have pictured them as beautiful fairies dressed in rain bows and summer sunbeams, who, tired with their gambols, had gone to sleep upon the forest leaves. Winter comes and all this glory changes, and the whole scene is wrapped in a pure soft mantle of snow, of which every fibre is a crystal and every knot a gem. He looks aloft and sees the sun by day and the moon and stars by night shed down their glory until his soul thrills with unutterable longings to comprehend the wondrous scene so far beyond his reach.
He asks, Who made all this? and only receives for answer the echo of his own perplexed thought in the repeated inquiry, Who? Who clothed the earth with all this varied beauty? Who wove the exquisite texture of the flowers ? Who touched their petals with their delicate shades of light? Who painted the lilies and perfumed the rose and spread the carpeting grass and stored the rich juices in the Mushing fruits, and brought to man his daily bread in the golden beauty of the ripened corn? Alas, no answer comes in response to these questionings. No solution to these mysteries that does not involve profounder mysteries, until in some form revelation reaches him, that it is all the work of God, his infinite and divine Father. God! He cannot comprehend God. No. The lesser cannot contain the greater. The finite cannot comprehend the Infinite. Who by searching can find out God ? What shall we do then? Shall we say in our hearts that there is no God ? That will not remove the difficulty. It will only cast us back into the abyss rendered tenfold darker by the ray of light which penetrated it when the announcement was made that God created all these things. Without a revelation we could not know and could not find the cause of all things. When revelation, in whatever form it comes to us, tells of the great First Cause, shall we reject the message because we cannot comprehend God ?
Let us see if we can fully comprehend the simplest thing that surrounds us. Can we comprehend how the plant is contained in the germ of the seed, and how it grows to put forth leaves and flowers and seed again to reproduce itself forever? Can we comprehend how the bird is in the egg like the plant in the seed and reproduces itself in a perpetual circle? Can we fully comprehend the functions of the heart, the lungs, the brain, and all the varied parts of our own bodies ? Can we fully comprehend our own mental constitution, and trace with certainty affection and thought to their sources? Can we, in short, absolutely comprehend anything in its last analysis? If we cannot, then let us acknowledge that we are simply limited; not alone in our knowledge but our capacity to know; that while study and development will increase our knowledge forever and enlarge our capacity to eternity, they cannot transcend the limits of the finite, or enable us wholly to grasp what the finite cannot contain. The finite mind will never fully comprehend God with the back-lying questions as to how He came to be, the mode of His existence, when He began to create, and the thousand others that sometimes press upon it with such strange persistence for answers that will never come.
In every process of reasoning some starting-point must of necessity be taken as true. It is so in the exact sciences. It is so in everything. In these lectures I assume as true, and as the starting-point of all that follows, that there is an Infinite Divine Being who is the creator and preserver of all things. I do not propose to prove the existence of such a Being, nor even to attempt such proof. The knowledge of such a Being could come to man only by means of a revelation in some form from that Being Himself. But when once so revealed, the know ledge may be handed down by instruction from generation to generation with more or less clearness and accuracy. And the fact once announced and admitted, everything in nature may be made to add its testimony to and confirm the truth of the revelation. In fact, all our knowledge, beyond the merest animal sensations, comes to us through instruction which is to us as a revelation. The child, if it were possible for it to live at all without the care and instruction of parents or others, would be more absolutely ignorant and vile than any animal. Living wholly in the sphere of the senses, it could never rise to the idea of God, or of supersensual things. The truth of this proposition needs no demonstration. But, as a matter of fact, men have ideas of God and of spiritual things, however inadequate these ideas may be. I therefore assume further, that at some time in the existence of the race a revelation was made to man, which has, in various forms and with great corruptions, been handed down by tradition through all times and among all peoples: even the most savage and degraded retaining traces of it in their most irrational forms of idolatry and superstition. That this revelation from God to man finally took the form in which we have it in the volume of our Sacred Scriptures is the proposition which I propose to discuss in these lectures.
But I do not propose to prove by historic evidence that Moses and Elias, Peter and John, and the other prophets and apostles are the authors of the books which bear their names; that they performed miracles, and that, therefore, whatever they wrote must necessarily be true. That, I know, is the process of theologians; but that kind of reasoning was never satisfactory to my mind, and I do not suppose it is to any one who is at all troubled with doubts. There is a much higher species of evidence which makes the record itself the incontestable proof of its Divine character. The validity of this evidence in no manner rests upon the character of its real or supposed writers; whether they were good men or bad men; whether they wrought miracles or not; whether their narratives are true as to the natural events which they appear to narrate or not; whether they had or had not a correct understanding of what they wrote; or whether such men as the reputed writers ever even existed or not. If the Bible be indeed a revelation of the will of God to man, then those through whom it was given were in no sense its authors. It would be just as rational to reject the gift of a precious gem because you have no absolute evidence of the pecuniary responsibility or legal incorporation of the express company that brought it to you, as to reject the Bible as the Word of God because of doubts concerning the identity or intelligence of the instruments of communicating it. We do not look to the post-boy for the meaning of the letter he brings, but to the contents of the letter itself. For the same reason we should not look to the writers of the Bible for its interpretation, but to the book itself. If anything at all of the writers entered into its composition, then it is not the Word of God, but of Moses, or John, and it is not Divine. If it is like any other book it must have had a like origin, for a book is the transcript of the thoughts of its author, and will contain his wisdom. A human composition can contain only human wisdom. If God should write or dictate a book, it could contain nothing less than His infinite, Divine wisdom, and it would be as different from any human composition as any of His works is from mans. If, then, the Bible be indeed the divine Word of God, it must contain within itself the evidence of its origin.
Every one projects himself more or less perfectly in his works. The whole of man may be summed up in two faculties, which, in the rather technical terms used in the New Church, are called the will and the understanding, meaning by the will all of his affections, and by the understanding all of his intellectual or thinking power, or, in still other words, his love and wisdom. Take from man all affection and all thought and you see at once that there would be nothing of the human left. It is the manifestation of affection and thought that constitutes language. Every possible manifestation of these is a word in that language. It may be conveyed by gesture, by vocal sound, by written sign, by pictured hieroglyph, by painting, by statuary, by architecture, or any of the thousand other methods employed for the purpose. But in whatever method, affection flows through thought to the outward manifestation, which is the word, and there rests. Consequently, as affection and thought constitute the man, and as each of his works is an embodiment of these, he is, in a sense, in his works. Whatever man does, therefore, is done by his word, and is his word, and in this, by his affection and thought, which constitute himself, he dwells. The same must be true of the Infinite Creator, with the difference that exists between Him and His finite creature. His love, through His wisdom, is manifested in the works of His creation. But love and wisdom or affection and thought manifested are language. Every created thing in the universe, therefore, is and must be a word in a Divine language infilled with the Divine love and wisdom. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things were made by Him, and without Him [the Word] was not anything made that was made.
As a starting-point we assumed the existence of a Creator. We know there is a creation, of which we form a part. It must, therefore, embody the affection and thought, or the love and wisdom, of the Creator. But affection and thought manifested, as before shown, constitute language. Therefore, as before stated, all nature is a Divine language, symbolizing the Divine ideas, as mans works represent his ideas. The difference is seen in their respective works. The artist manifests his idea in a beautiful statue. In form and proportion it may be more perfect than any single human body. But it is all external, and when you have studied its outward form you have the full idea of its maker. It has no internal organization, no spirit, no life. But the real man, the workmanship of God, embodies the ideas of his Maker. Who can exhaust the wisdom contained in the Divine work ? In external form and proportion the man may not equal the statue. But science may employ itself forever without perfectly mastering the wonders of the mere physical part of man, much less the indwelling spirit that gives it life. The real man, with all the mysteries of his wondrous being, is internal. So it is with all the works of God and Man. The one is all external and dead, the other internal and vivid with life. The one embodies finite affection and thought, the other infinite love and wisdom.
Now if man, instead of manifesting his ideas in mechanical structures, in imitation of the works of God, should put them in a book by means of written words, the book will be a transcript of his affection and thought, for it can be nothing else. The ideas will be as finite as the author. Like the statue, their meaning will be on the surface; it will be literal and can be fully comprehended by other men. But should God, in His dealings with His children and for their instruction in Divine things, dictate a book to be written, although in external form it might not seem to equal some of the masterpieces of human composition, it must, of necessity, contain Divine ideas, it must embody the Divine affection and thought, the love and wisdom of its Author. The real divinity and inspiration of such a book must lie concealed within the letter, just as the real man lies concealed within the outward form. Such a Word must be Divine in every iota. Its very jots and tittles must pulsate with interior love and wisdom as the finest fibres and tissues of man throb with the indwelling life. The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.
Just such a book we hold the Bible to be, and the science of correspondences is the key that opens the letter and reveals the exhaustless treasures that lie within. If this can be demonstrated to the rational mind, thus placing the book as high above all human compositions as a living man is above a statue; if it can be further demonstrated by the application of this science, that no finite intelligence could have produced it, the proposition that it is a book of plenary inspiration and absolutely Divine will have been established. The blade, the ear, and the full corn in the ear, need no labored historical research into their origin to prove that they are not of human production. The evidence is embodied in themselves. So, too, if the Bible is from the same author it will contain within itself the like evidence. The science of correspondences is given to elicit this proof.
What then is the science of correspondences? It is so all-embracing that men and angels will draw their wisdom from it forever without exhausting it. And yet it comes to the rational mind of man in such clear light that it removes all doubt and uncertainty so far as he becomes acquainted with it. It is so absolutely definite and certain that no two minds can differ about it any more than they can about mathematical truths, for it is founded upon the everlasting verity of things, being the relation that exists between causes and their effects. That the outward or natural world with all its phenomena is a world of effects is manifest. That the causes which produced them, back even to the first cause of all, are in the spiritual world can only be denied by that naked atheism that denies a creator and deifies chance. The effect here corresponds to the cause there, and represents it. As this science is the relation between cause and effect, it necessarily includes all possible true sciences. As natural things correspond to and represent the spiritual principles from which they sprung, just so far as we become acquainted with these relations, the sight or name of anything in nature will carry the mind over to the spiritual principle which it represents. And as all nature is and must be a clothing of the Divine ideas of the Creator in material forms, each and every created thing is and must be a representative of a Divine idea and constitute a word in a Divine language.
Man, as a finite image of God, has aggregated in him, as the perfection and head of creation, all the principles of all below him. Every least thing in nature, therefore, represents some constituent of man as well as some idea of the love and wisdom of his Maker. Man is so made that while here he is an inhabitant of two worlds. His body with its senses lives in the natural world on the plane of effects, while his soul or spirit, which is the real man, lives at the same time in the spiritual world which is the sphere of causes. His affection and thought belong to the spirit, they are spiritual and are the causes of all that he does. What he does to manifest these are effects flowing from the causes, and are natural. We can only reach the spiritual processes of the mind through the natural operations of the body ; and we can only do this because the outward bears the relation of effect to the inward, and represents it. If man, therefore, without dissimulation, acted out his interior purposes, we could read, as in a book, his exact spiritual state by his actions and surroundings. We are told, in the writings of the New Church, that the most ancient people or church, called Adam, in the Bible, were of this genius, and had no other than this natural language, which was then universal. By it they understood not only the affections and thoughts of each other by corresponding changes of the face and body, but, understanding as well what the objects of nature around them represented, they used those objects themselves, or pictures of them, to express their thoughts on all mental and spiritual subjects. And it is manifest that this was the origin of all language. The roots of every language must have been in natural things. The science of correspondences being lost, language has become, to a large extent, artificial and arbitrary. But it still contains abundant traces of its origin. The sense of taste conveys to us peculiar bodily sensations, and we say the substance is sweet, or sour, or bitter, as the case may be. And we use the same terms to express mental or spiritual states,--as a sweet disposition, a sour temper, a bitter feeling, and the like. When these terms are applied to mental operations the real meaning is not at all in the literal sense of words, but in the spiritual sense contained within the letter.
Now it is evident that a book might be written in the form of history, biography, poetry, prophecy, by so using the objects of nature with their various qualities and relations as to contain a most perfect record of all possible mental processes and spiritual verities without having a word of literal truth in it, and yet to those ignorant of the structure of the work, and of the spiritual life, and not well informed in natural sciences, nothing at all but natural ideas would appear. In fact we have examples of a kind of writing somewhat similar to this in such works as the Pilgrims Progress. Here a whole volume is so constructed as to convey the authors idea of a full religious development under the similitude of a journey from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City. Children read it as a real history. It so appears to them and they derive no other idea from it until they are instructed in its true purpose by being further instructed in the popular theology of the day which it was written to teach. Yet there is not a single sentence of literal history in the book.
Now suppose the English language should become lost, all contemporary literature that could throw light upon it obliterated for centuries, and the whole face of society with its customs, culture, civilization, and religious rites and ceremonies changed. Suppose, further, that the Pilgrims Progress,” or a part of it, should be found and translated into the then languages of men, and be taken as a real literal history, what could be made of it? Would not the commentators differ as much about the location of the City of Destruction, the Delectable Mountains, and the Celestial City, and other places named as our commentators have about the location of the Garden of Eden, Mount Ararat, the Land of Nod, and the city that Cain built in the name of his son Enoch? And so with every other particular mentioned in it. This has been the precise difficulty with the Bible. It is a book— portions of which have come down from the most ancient times—o which other portions have been added from century to century for some thousands of years, the most modern being now nearly two thousand years old. The languages in which it was written have long ceased to be spoken. The whole aspects of human society have been radically changed, and the habits of thought are altogether different. There is no literature contemporary with it extant to throw certain light upon it. And the wonderful mistake has been made of assuming it to be a literal history of creation and the other events seemingly related in it. The mistake is infinitely greater than would be the one I have supposed in the case of the Pilgrims Progress.
Of course there is no real analogy between the Pilgrims Progress and the Bible, the one being written as an allegory merely, and with only one indefinite and general meaning, while the other, if written according to the immutable law of correspondences, must have, in every single word and sentence and expression, a precise, definite, and scientific meaning that can never be interpreted differently by those who understand that science any more than the problems in geometry can be differently understood by those who have made it their study.
It is admitted that if the Bible really does contain an internal sense which treats wholly of spiritual things it could never have been discovered without the science of correspondences, while many of its precepts are so plain that the merely natural man may understand them, and, regulating his life by them, may reap the blessings which result from obedience to their teachings. And while the state of mankind was such that they could only be influenced by external motives, and so long as they could accept it as a Divine revelation, either upon authority or on external evidence, it had a powerful restraining effect upon their conduct, leading them to better lives and to heaven. But men had sunk so low into mere naturalism that they could not even conceive of what was spiritual. A revelation to them, therefore, in language speaking only about spiritual things would have been wholly incomprehensible, and must have been rejected by them as the ravings of insanity. It was therefore given in such terms of natural language and accompanied with such manifestations that it could appeal to the merely natural hopes and fears of the natural mind, while it contained within these natural terms all spiritual and Divine wisdom to meet the wants of every possible development of men and angels forever.
But as men progressed in the natural sciences they began to find discrepancies between the natural laws and the supposed teachings of the Bible. And as some, at least, were being prepared to receive its higher—or interior and spiritual—meaning, the science of correspondences was restored for their use. Such persons can receive and be benefited by it.
The world is evidently preparing to receive this new development, but its spread will hardly be very rapid. The natural mind cannot receive the things of the spirit, for they are spiritually discerned. It is true that the understanding may be elevated into the light for a time, so as to see the beauties of this inner glory; but it is married to the will, and must go back to its mate unless the will goes with it. The intellect serves and permanently accepts precisely what the affections demand of it. This is so true that it has passed into the proverb of our common speech, The wish is father to the thought. It is s) in all things. The wish is always the father of the thought. The craving desire inspires the thought and drives the intellect as a servant to procure its gratification. Unless there is a wish, therefore,a longing desire for a higher and more rational interpretation of the Bible,—there will be no interest felt on this subject, and it will be treated as visionary and phantastic.
But there must be, and there are, here and there some who have not become wholly sunk in materialism ; who have not confirmed themselves in a denial of God and the Bible; who would gladly accept the Scriptures as a Divine revelation if they could be rationally enabled to see their Divine character and consistency with other known truths, but who are troubled with doubts which no evidence that they have seen has been able wholly to remove. It is this class, be it larger or smaller, for whom these lectures are designed, and they are given with the sincere hope that, if they do not remove the difficulties, they will at least point them to the source from which such help may be obtained.
But the science of correspondences will be more clearly seen by its effect in the opening of otherwise obscure passages in the Bible. It will thus be seen to be a key to open the whole Scriptures, giving a definite, consistent, rational, and supremely important signification to even the most uncomprehended portions of it, and making it all practically applicable to the every-day life and duty of every one, in all time and in eternity.
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep, and the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
And God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.” Gen. i. 1-5.
In the words I have read we have what has generally been understood, and what, in fact, seems at first view to be, an account of the creation of the natural heaven, the earth, and light; and the separation of light from darkness; and that this was the work of a natural day. And our catechisms have taught us that these and all other things were made out of nothing, somewhat less than six thousand years ago.
It is not proposed to criticise too closely this materialistic view of the subject. For after the degeneracy of mankind from their primeval state and the loss 6f the science of correspondences, there were many centuries in which the whole race was shrouded in deep spiritual darkness. Not only in spiritual things were the people of that age ignorant, but likewise in the natural sciences. They were profoundly ignorant of the sciences of astronomy, geology, chemistry, and the operations of physical as well as of spiritual laws. While they remained in this state the literal sense of the account of the creation was adapted to their wants. They could not comprehend spiritual truth, for they had become wholly natural. But it was good for them to read and believe it, and reverence it even in the letter, as they thereby acknowledged the Lord in His divinity as the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, and could therein regard Him as their heavenly Father. This was what they needed, and was all that they could receive.
But men were not always to remain in this state of ignorance, for they were constituted for a higher life than the natural; and the Divine Providence was ever striving to elevate man again to that better state from which he had receded. But the Divine order is, first that which is natural, and afterwards that which is spiritual. It is doubtless for this reason that mans existence must commence in a material world, through which alone he can pass to, and become a resident in, that which is spiritual. For the same reason, spiritual ideas can only be reached through the material symbols that represent them. Before men could advance then to spiritual knowledge, the foundation had to be laid in nature itself. And as men investigated nature and saw therein certain uniform processes, they began to perceive the laws by which the phenomena that surrounded them were produced. In this way our natural sciences, so far as our knowledge has progressed, grew up. As the knowledge of these sciences and the operations of natural laws became understood, men relied upon them with absolute confidence, for they saw that they were without variableness or shadow of changing. Thus arose the fierce and fruitless conflicts between the disciples of science and those who held literally to the truths of revelation.
But in the midst of this conflict a strange sweet voice is beginning to be heard by both parties. It says, Science and revelation are alike Gods own books.
Men of science catch a glimpse of the light of correspondence and, behold, the truths of the Word beam with a Divine radiance through its symbolic language, and they see that both books are true. And some from the theological side of the controversy, cautiously and with many misgivings, hear and read and ponder, and as the science of correspondences unfolds to them, they, too, are relieved of their doubts and difficulties, and are compelled to exclaim that nature and revelation have met together; that science and theology have kissed each other; that both books are true.
In these first chapters of Genesis is handed down to us a sacred narrative from the most ancient times. Whose hand first put these chapters into writing perhaps we may never know. Nor is it of the least possible consequence for us to know. It is the wisdom contained in these ancient writings that should really interest us, and not at all who wrote them, or in what age they were written.
Controversies arise even in our own day as to who first made certain discoveries in science, philosophy, and the arts. Even the authorship of modern books is disputed. These controversies are interesting no doubt to the ambitions of those immediately concerned, and may be matters of curious speculation to a few others; but the real questions which interest us and society are not, who made the discovery or invented the machine, but, is the supposed discovery an advance in scientific knowledge, and the machine of any practical utility in the affairs of life? These practical questions answered in the affirmative, it is well to give honor to whom honor is due, but the resulting benefits in no case need to depend upon our knowledge or our ignorance of those through whom the benefits were conferred. The operations of the law of gravitation, the circulation of the blood, the effects of vaccination, the steam-engine, the telegraph, and the sewing-machine, would be just as true and as useful to the world if the names of Newton, Harvey, Jenner, Watt, Morse, and Howe were forgotten forever. The truth of their theories and the utility of their inventions are proved and accepted upon their practical working alone.
It is the same with these ancient records. Their truth and practical value in no possible degree depend upon our knowledge or ignorance of the persons who placed them upon record, or the date of their first recording. They must be judged by what they are, by the power which is in them to uplift and strengthen, and by the wisdom which the science of correspondences discloses in their pages. It is supposed that Moses wrote the account of the creation, as we now have it in these earliest records, and there is no doubt that this was among the rolls or books that he left. But the truth or value of it in no degree depends upon his authority. Indeed, if anything at all proper to him attaches to them, then they are the words of Moses and not at all the Divine Word of the Lord. If the record is the proper work of Moses, then indeed may it have been intended to convey what he supposed to be the order and process of the natural creation, but which time and culture have proved to be a mistake throughout. But if it be indeed the Divine Word of the Lord it must be like everything else emanating from Him, infilled with His infinite love and wisdom. Treating of spiritual and eternal verities, yet clothed in natural language, it is suited to mans spiritual nature, which is clothed like the Word in a natural form.
If this narrative was recorded as a part of the law by Moses, and if it is in its origin the Word of God, it is interesting to inquire how it was transmitted to the writer. That Moses did not receive it by direct revelation from God is clearly to be inferred from the total absence of any claim that it was so received; while from the time of his call at the burning bush while acting the shepherd in the land of the Midianites all his writings profess to be a record of communications from God, and of events guided and controlled by the manifest and open interposition of Providence with him and his people. Up to that time in the history there is not the slightest intimation that any revelations were made to him, or that he received a knowledge of what preceded his own day by revelation.
A more reasonable view, and the one which is confirmed by the teachings of the New Church, is that this narrative was copied by Moses from a more ancient Word. The art of writing was familiar in the days of Moses; indeed, the art was then a very old acquirement. In the very nature of things the first writings must have been purely pictorial. And although specimens of that primitive style no doubt existed in very ancient documents, or in copies of them, yet the language even then had been changed into the alphabetic style. How long this style of writing had been in existence we do not, of course, know, but there is nothing to indicate that it had not existed for indefinite ages. The truth is, the supposed chronology of these ancient records no more describes literal years than the days of creation mean days of twenty-four hours each. Without at all doing violence to these ancient records, therefore, the astronomer, the geologist, the chronologist, and the ethnologist may safely make their deductions from the records of the stars, the rocks, the fossils, and the varieties of the races of men, even if it should carry them back incalculable ages, even beyond the real or pretended eras of the sacred books of the Hindus. They may be assured that no true deduction drawn from any fact or process of nature can ever contradict or conflict with any true interpretation of the Divine Word. Writings then existed of very ancient date in the times of Moses. And among those which had come down to his day, if such a thing ever existed in primitive times, was, no doubt, the Divine Word of the ancient Church; and there can be no church without a Divine revelation. Such a Word would of necessity have been written in the style of pure correspondences, for we have seen in a former lecture that the people of that golden age had, and could have, no other language, the roots of all language being in nature, and there being no other way to express mental ideas than by the names, qualities, actions, relations, and circumstances of natural things. In these all mental processes and spiritual verities would be symbolized in natural terms.
That there did exist such an ancient Word we have several intimations in our present Scriptures. References are made to the Book of Jasher, the Book of Enunciations, the Book of the Wars of Jehovah, the Book of Enoch, and perhaps others, which are lost, at least to us for the present. But that they once existed seems to be beyond a doubt. And that Moses, either by Divine prompting or because he acknowledged it, as we do our Scriptures, to be of Divine authority, copied these first chapters of Genesis from it, is not difficult to believe. And in this it need not be assumed that Moses understood it to be anything more than a literal history of creation. Probably he did not. The science of correspondences was even then lost. And although the writings of Moses and the prophets are in accordance with that science, it is be-cause what they wrote is the Divine Word of the Lord through them, and not in any sense their own production. That Moses copied from these older records Ave have this further and confirmatory testimony. Swedenborg tells us that men who had passed into the spiritual world from the interior of China assured him there that they possessed on earth a Divine Word written wholly in symbols; and he says that on reading to them from our Word they declared that Genesis, down to the call of Abraham, was identical with their ancient Word, was, in fact, an exact copy of it. They further told him that that ancient Word was still extant somewhere in the interior of that country; but probably it is not understood by the people of this age.
That relics of the ancient knowledge of correspondences did exist in the time of Moses, but that the true understanding of their meaning had been lost, is illustrated by the fact and the universality of idol-worship in that day; for mankind, with rare exceptions, so far as we have any account, were then idolaters. But how they came to be so is the unsolved mystery of theologians and philosophers alike. No one ever gave a rational account of the origin of idol-worship, and until the science of correspondences was restored no one could account for it. That men could have conceived the idea of worshipping idols as an original thought or impulse is so absurd that it is only made more so by every attempt to explain it as so originating.
If you will think clearly you will see that what is evil and false could not emanate from God; could not, in fact, exist at all but as a perversion by man of that which is good and true. The sun forever sends out its heat and light to all things alike, and they affect all substances according to their forms and qualities. Cold and darkness are negative terms only, not expressing things that actually exist, but the absence of heat and light, and these are caused wholly by the relative position of objects with reference to the sun. The same heat and light that paints the lily and perfumes the rose and ripens the fruit and grain distils the poison in the cells of the nightshade, exhales the miasma of the marsh, and returns to putrefaction and decay all organic substances. The different effects are produced by the difference of the forms into which the heat and light flow.
So the Lord, who is the sun of the spiritual world, is ever giving out His love and wisdom, or His goodness and truth, which are spiritual heat and light, to all with a Divine impartiality. But each one will receive them according to his spiritual state, some to grow into the beauty of angels and some into the deformity of fiends. And this, because man could not have been made man without that spiritual freedom which gives him a power over his recipient forms which minerals, vegetables, and animals have not.
Evil and falsehood, therefore, like cold and darkness, are not emanations from God, but are the perversions of the good and the true by men. The good and the true must, therefore, have first existed before the evil and the false could have place, and these only as man degenerated from true order. False systems of religion and idol-worship could only come in as men became ignorant and degraded, as perversions of a true religion and the worship of the true God.
By the law of creation everything in nature symbolized a divine idea, and the people of the golden age, or of the most ancient Church, called Adam, pictured the objects of nature, arranging them in the form of seeming natural history, but so as to convey by correspondence mental processes and spiritual development; the divine influx or inspiration in their unperverted state, giving them an intuitive perception of the relations that exist between the natural object and the spiritual idea which it symbolizes. Therefore, when natural things were seen or named, or natural processes described, the spiritual principles to which these corresponded were at once understood. And no doubt the homes, the gardens, the groves, and the temples of this primitive people were adorned with pictured symbols in great variety. We know in fact that the ruins of all very ancient cities as well as tombs of Egypt are full of strange statuary and paintings which are known to be symbolical. These all add their unimpeachable testimony to the fact that at some remote period in the history of the race a long-forgotten language of symbols existed. Idol-worship unquestionably arose gradually and only as mankind degenerated, and, forgetting the meaning of the symbols, at last came to worship them as gods. And as everything in nature was necessarily a symbol of some spiritual principle or mental process, so everything in nature became an object of worship. The classic Greeks in the days of their greatest culture had classified deities until it is said their altars numbered thirty thousand, one doubtless for every significant word in their language, and, not yet fully satisfied, an altar was erected To the unknown God.
We have, then, in these first chapters of Genesis not the theory of Moses or any other man as to the time when, or the manner and order in which, the natural universe was made, but the Divine Word of the Lord, in which is enshrined in the simplicity of the seeming natural history of the letter, His Divine love and wisdom as revealed to the ancient Church for its spiritual instruction, and for the instruction of the Church in all times.
It is, therefore, unnecessary to my purpose to repeat or to refute the many conflicting theories that have been advanced by late writers in their attempts to defend their theological dogmas from destruction by the deductions of modern science, or so to modify their theology as to reconcile it in some measure with such scientific truths as could neither be ignored nor denied. The simple truth is, that the narrative in Genesis was not given to teach men natural science. Its message is spiritual and was so understood by those who first received it, and it tells of natural things at all only because there is the relation of correspondence between spiritual phenomena and those of nature.
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. Whatever view we may take of the subject, it is equally evident that God created whatever is signified by the terms used, as He is the only Creator. And in the beginning not only means the original creation of material things, but the first motion to any process is in the beginning in reference to that subject. It applies in spiritual affairs to the commencement of mans regeneration, which everywhere in the Word is called a creation or a new creation, and is the real subject treated of in these ancient documents, as well as in innumerable passages throughout the Scriptures. If you will turn to the seventh verse of the forty-third chapter of Isaiah, you will find it written as the declaration of the Lord by the prophet, Every one that is called by my name, I have created him for my glory; I have formed him; yea, I have made him. This evidently does not mean physical creation, but regeneration, for to be called by the name of the Lord is to be recognized as imbued with His qualities, name in the Word everywhere meaning the qualities of the thing named; and man is created, formed, and made into the Divine likeness or quality only by the process of regeneration. The heaven and the earth so created does not mean the starry universe and the natural earth, but the internal and the external of man. This is susceptible of abundant and satisfactory proof from the Word, but I can only cite a very few of the passages. The human mind, as we have demonstrated in a former lecture, is the world in miniature, the whole universe and each portion of it corresponding to things or principles within the mind. The heaven and the earth, therefore, in the aggregate mean the human mind in the aggregate, the heavens the internal or spiritual man, and the earth the external or natural. Man is so constituted that in true order his internal or spiritual part holds communion with spiritual things, while his external holds like communion with natural things. But the earth here was without form and void. To be without form is to be destitute of truths, and to be void is to be destitute of good or charity, and this is the state of man before regeneration commences. The steps which follow in this and the next chapter, as we hope to show in other lectures, are the steps of the Divine process of creating this mental heaven and earth and what is in them until man arrives to the image and likeness of his Creator. It is this image and likeness or the Divine good and truth with man which constitute the kingdom of heaven within, and which constitute him a member of the Lords true Church, which is the Lords kingdom of heaven upon the earth. Because the heavens and the earth signify the human mind, and consequently the church and heaven; and because the Word in its internal sense treats not of natural things, but of men's minds, the Church, and spiritual things, and heaven; therefore the same phrase so often occurs in the Word, and always with the same meaning. Thus the Lord says, through the prophet Isaiah, Behold I create a new heaven and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered nor come into mind. There is much said in various parts of the Word, of the creation of a new heaven and a new earth. Those who have been wholly unable to elevate their thoughts above merely sensuous ideas have supposed that the natural earth and the starry heavens or universe were to be destroyed and new ones to be created in their stead. But this childish idea is happily dying out of the Church. But if it does not mean this, what can it mean but a new state or condition of the human mind, or man restored again to the lost image and likeness of his Creator ? For the prophet, as the medium of the Lords declaration, immediately adds, Behold I create Jerusalem a rejoicing and her people a joy. By Jerusalem is not meant the city of that name nor its natural inhabitants, but the Lords true Church, which is symbolized by Jerusalem, and was to be created a rejoicing, and her people a joy. There is joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth; and repentance is the first step towards the ever-open gates of the new Jerusalem.
Again, the Lord says, through another prophet, I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form and void; and the heavens, and they had no light. I beheld, and, lo, there was no man, and all the birds of heaven were fled. It is plain that this does not refer primarily to the natural things named, but, like the same expressions in our text, it refers to that state of man and the Church in which the internal man, or heaven, had no truth or spiritual light, and the external no good or charity, and all the birds of heaven, or pure thoughts, had left men's minds. In this sad state it might well be added, as it is, I beheld, and, lo, there was no man, for true manhood is in the image and likeness of God.
In this state of mind the mental earth is not only without form and void, but, in very truth, darkness rests upon the face of the deep. By the deep, or sea, here, as in other places, is meant the knowledges in the human mind or the general memory. By water everywhere is signified truth or its perversion, which is falsehood. As the deep, or sea, is the general reservoir into which all waters are collected, and thence drawn up by evaporation to be by the clouds distributed over the earth to beautify, adorn, and make it fruitful, and to be again returned to the sea, so the faculty of the memory is the general reservoir for the reception and storing up of all the truths, or their perversions, which men acquire from every source, and from which they draw what serves them in the prosecution of their purposes. But when the things that the mind has so acquired and stored away are only evil and false, or chiefly so, then, indeed, spiritual darkness rests upon this sea or deep. For truth is spiritual light, and good or charity is spiritual heat; and when these are absent then indeed is this mental earth without form and void, the mental heaven without light, and the mental deep or sea, covered with darkness.
But even in this sad state the spirit of God moves upon the face of the waters. All may see that it is upon something of mans mind that the spirit of God moves lovingly to and fro, and that something is the simple truths and states of charity that are mingled with the evils and falses in the mass of waters, or his memory. For in the most abandoned and wicked there have been some faint perceptions of some forms of truth, and at least some states of kindness or charity. All these have gone into the sea, or general memory, and remain there, although they may have been apparently forgotten or denied in after-life. Were it not for this, regeneration would be wholly impossible, for out of absolute evil nothing good can ever be evolved. Unless there were some seeds of the good and the true in man his reformation could not begin. Whatever truths had been learned in infancy, childhood, and youth, and whatever states of kindness and affection had been then felt, are never wholly lost in this life. These are called tenths, tithes, remnants, and remains in the Word, and form a feature as prominent as the subject is interesting and important. But there is not time to go into the subject now. Simply, it is upon these “waters that the spirit of God moves or hovers, as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings. So that in the darkest hour and most desperate deed that man commits, there sometimes comes up to his recollection the remembrance of one of these early truths or innocent states, and arrests his attention he knows not how. If he yields to the silent monitor and refrains from the evil deed, then God says, Let there be light, and there is light.
Man first sees light when he begins to perceive that goodness and truth are of a superior nature. In his natural state whatever he loves is to him good, and whatever favors the gratification of his loves is to him true. But he is in inverted order, and, as the prophet expresses it, he puts darkness for light and light for darkness, and evil for good and good for evil. In this state, although the light shineth, the darkness comprehendeth it not, and he loves darkness because his deeds are evil. But when these remains are called back to his consciousness he begins to see his evils, and this truth is light.
And God saw the light, that it was good. It is good, because it is from the Lord who alone is good. He is the way, the truth, and the light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
And God divided the light from the darkness. This means that by the teaching of the Divine Word God enables man to begin to distinguish between these states of good, or charity, and the faint glimmerings of genuine truths which are in him as remains, and the self-love and sensuous lusts in which they are immersed and almost smothered. This perception of the higher nature of the good and true, this dividing of the light from the darkness, is the beginning of progress in the regenerate life.
And God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. Yes; and He so calls them throughout His Divine Word. In it, by the term day, is nowhere meant merely the portion of time occupied by a revolution of the earth, nor has the term night merely a literal meaning in the Word. Both terms mean, not only here but throughout the Word, states of the minds of men and of the Church. Truth is light and light is day, while error is darkness and darkness is night. Hence, those who are imbued with truths are, as the Lord says, children of light and of the day, while those imbued with falses are the children of darkness and of the night.
And the evening and the morning were the first day. The evening always precedes the morning in spiritual processes, and because the Divine Word treats of spiritual processes and not primarily of natural things, therefore, throughout the Word, evening always precedes the morning. The reason is that evening symbolizes, and therefore in the Word means, a state of mental obscurity, of doubt, of darkness in spiritual things, just as the shadows of the natural evening obscure the natural vision and shut out the view of natural things. Whenever additional truths are received and accepted then it is morning to the mind. But the first state or evening necessarily continues until the opening of the next, and hence it requires the evening and the morning to constitute a full day, or to complete a spiritual state.
In this Divine composition are described the several states through which man passes in the regenerate life. I have tried as I could in a single lecture to give you a faint idea of the beauty and rationality of the internal meaning of the work of the first day of creation. But I am fully conscious of my inability to present it in a very clear light. It is so full, so infinite in its correspondences, that were whole volumes devoted to it the subject would still be like the stars in the heaven, which ever increase in numbers as the powers of the telescope are multiplied. And if the most sustained thought of the astronomer should start where the revelations of his telescope end, it must still come back wearied with the vain effort to reach the limits of the boundless universe of our Father in the heavens. So it is here. Man may bring all his resources of intellect, study, and culture to the elucidation of the text, and angels take up the theme where mans advancement terminates and pursue it to eternity, and like the starry heavens which symbolize it, its Divine wisdom would never be exhausted, and for the reason that it is Divine.
Gen. i. 6-8.
Our last lecture attempted to set forth the fact that the early chapters of Genesis, down to the call of Abraham, were the Divine Word of the Lord to an ancient people and Church; that they were written in the style of pure correspondences using natural terms and in the form of apparent natural history, but so arranged as to describe with the exactitude of absolute Divine wisdom the process by which the primitive people before the fall were developed from ignorance to wisdom, and from natural to spiritual and celestial men and women ; that the same process is now necessary for the regeneration of men, and that the wisdom taught in these ancient records to these primitive people, coming from our infinite Father and theirs, is of universal application, and is as profitable to us and to people of all ages as it was to them.
It was also shown that the days named as indicating the progress of the creation refer to the regeneration or spiritual creation of man, and that each day there named means, as it does throughout the Word, a full state in the progress of this transforming work.
The subject of our present lecture being the work of the second day, the same principles of explanation are applicable to it as to the first, for each is but a step in the same great work. We must therefore still look inward to the minds of men, and not outward to the starry heavens and the things of the natural earth, for a true and rational explanation.
If we could become imbued with the great truth that there are two worlds,-one natural, where all things are material, temporary, transient, in perpetual change, and tending to decay and death, and the other spiritual, where all things are immaterial, incorruptible, and immortal; that man is fitted for both these worlds; that his abode in the natural is as temporary as the things that surround him, while the spiritual is to be his eternal home, it would not require arguments to prove that his paramount interests centre in that other land to which he will be so soon transferred, and which is to be the scene of his eternal activities. And if these truths were clearly perceived, it would be as apparent as intuition itself that a revelation from God to man to be in accordance with the fitness of things would be addressed as to its essential purpose to his spiritual nature and his immortal interests. Mans observation, experience, and progress in the study of the natural things that surround him and with which he comes in contact are sufficient to guide him in the necessary affairs of his mere physical life while sojourning here. But as he is to pass out of this mode of life so very soon into another that will never end, and as the senses cannot apprehend that other mode of life, it seems but rational to suppose that his heavenly Father, if giving him a revelation at all, would not make it to consist of a brief, imperfect, and utterly unsatisfactory account of the original creation of natural things, but would speak in it of his higher nature, of his immortal life, and of the laws and conditions under which he would be when transferred to his permanent home.
The fact is in perfect accordance with this rational inference. The Divine Word, from its beginning to its close, has primary reference to man as a spiritual and immortal being; to spiritual and eternal verities ; to good ; to heaven; to the life and conditions of the immortal state. Keeping in mind then that it is mans spiritual and eternal interests that are treated of in the Divine Word, let us see what instruction we can draw from the record of the creation of this second day. The record itself is very brief.
And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
The creation of the visible firmament and the separation of material waters are here described rather according to the appearance than with scientific truth. But the record, as we have seen, was never given to teach the facts of natural science or to describe the natural creation, but to teach by correspondences spiritual lessons of infinite wisdom and importance to man.
Let us then turn our mental eyes inward and see if we cannot there behold, by the light of correspondences, the firmament and the waters which it divides, and see how the one is made and the other divided, and why it is the work of the second day. And happy will it be for us if we find in ourselves that the first days work has been completed, and that of the second is in progress.
We saw in our lecture on the first day” that heaven there, and consequently throughout the Word, means the internal of man, and earth his external; that water means truths, or their perversions by man, which perversions he still calls truths, and that the deep, or sea, means his general memory where all his truths and falses are alike collected as all natural waters are collected in the sea; that the spirit of God, moving upon this deep” or sea, quickens into life, or calls to the recollection the smallest remains of good and truth therein; and that the perception and acknowledgment by the man in this state that he is in evils and falses is the light that was then created and separated from the darkness, or false persuasion in which he before was, that whatever he delighted in was to him good; and that this light or first clear perception and acknowledgment of this truth was the morning which succeeded his former dark or evening state, and constituted the first day or stage in the work of regeneration, which we showed from the Word of the prophets is everywhere called a creation.
And now the Divine work of this creation proceeds to another state, or to the second day. And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. Man, while wholly occupied about worldly things, and until his attention is directed from them to spiritual things, scarcely perceives any difference between them if he has, in fact, any perception at all beyond the natural. All the waters, or the truths and falses, are alike to him until he sees the difference in the light of the first day. When this light is created in the mind, then, and not until then, can the Lord say Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters to divide the waters from the waters. This dividing firmament God called heaven. But what is heaven ? Our Lord says the kingdom of heaven is within. And this kingdom of heaven that is within, consists primarily of goods and truths in the mind as it can consist of nothing material. But in our common speech, as well as in the Word, the vessel, or thing containing, is put for the thing contained in it, as when the Lord took the cup and gave it with His blessing to the disciples, the cup is put for and means what was contained in it. Thus, because the goods and truths within the mind constitute heaven within, therefore the mind that contains them is called heaven. But these things are in the internal man; and therefore by the term heaven here is meant the internal man. For a similar reason, because the external of man is filled with or contains earthly knowledges, or the knowledge of earthly things, it is called earth. And further, as we have seen, all that rests in mans memory as truth, whether really true or false, is called water. If man had never fallen, and was wholly imbued with the good and the true, there would still be the need of separation by clear discernment between natural things and spiritual. But now man has partaken of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; he is no longer in that state of innocence, but his natural mind is filled with evils and falses. The need is the more apparent of distinguishing between the perverted natural and the spiritual; of dividing the waters from the waters. This can only be effected by the firmament which God called heaven, and heaven, as we have seen, means the internal man; for it is only the internal that can perceive spiritual things; as the apostle declares, the natural man cannot discern the things of the spirit because they are spiritually discerned.
Thus far it only reads that God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. But now we read that God made the firmament and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament. And it was so. These words are not a repetition of those which preceded, nor are they as they seem merely a statement of the accomplishment of that which was before determined to be done. They describe the further development of the work of regeneration, or spiritualization of man.
We must divest ourselves of the gross idea that God was talking to or counselling with Himself, or some other equal being, as to what they would do, or that He was working like a mechanic in the making of material things. Such an idea is consistent only with the strange and irrational doctrine of a tripersonal God which was invented to satisfy the sensuous ideas that men drew from the Word in the absence of any perception of its spirituality, and to perfect what they call a scheme of salvation.
The New Church sees in Gods works only a Divine emanation from Himself, and that in a Divine order. It sees salvation to consist not in an arbitrary pardon from hell, but in the purification of the affections and the elevation of the thought, until man sees the truth and loves the good and finds his happiness and his heaven in the activity of all his faculties for unselfish purposes; and the New Church can offer no scheme, but to follow the Lord in the regeneration, which is as orderly a work as is the growth of a tree or of the human body, with the only difference that the one is spiritual and the other natural. We do not understand therefore, when we read of Gods saying Let us make a firmament, that He was talking or consulting with other Divine persons, or that He was talking to man with an audible voice. It is that still small voice that comes by spiritual influx and is heard in calmer and serener states of the soul as intuitive impulses to, and perceptions of, what is true and good. And His making the firmament and other things named which are pronounced good, is the orderly growth in the mind of the heavenly principles to which the firmament and other created things correspond.
The waters we have seen are things of the memory, whether true or false, spiritual or natural; and until he has the light of the first day or state, man does not see or distinguish between them. But when this light” breaks in upon him, he reasons and reflects occasionally, and finds that there are two forces operating within him. He feels an impulse to do certain things, and at the same time an opposite impulse to refrain from doing them. Or, as the apostle expresses it, when he would do good evil is present with him. When he tries to think of something pure and good, or of the better states of his past life, immediately other and evil thoughts and the recollection of evil states come from the reservoir of his memory. He perceives that all his states, good and evil, all truth and falsehood, all of his knowledge of spiritual and natural, or religious and worldly, things are as a deep or sea, an indistinguishable mass of water. But the light has enabled him to see that there is a difference, and he resolves to look a little closer to his conduct. This is Gods voice within him saying, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. As yet there is no firmament. And until man co-operates God cannot make one, for man must work out his own salvation, while God works in him of His own good pleasure. With mans consent God can now, as He could not before, make the firmament, and with it He can divide the waters that are below from those which are above it.
Above and below are terms equivalent to internal and external, and these again to spiritual and natural. That which is above rests upon that which is below as a basis, as that which is internal is enveloped and embraced in that which is external, like a centre in its circumference, and as that which is spiritual infills the natural as its life or soul. But it is impossible to give or to receive a perfectly clear perception of this relation with its application to our subject, spiritual growth, or regeneration, without some understanding of the doctrine of degrees and orders, which is far too profound to be compressed into the limits of a lecture.
If I had fully mastered this most profound philosophy, I could only impart the most general idea of it to others, and must refer you to the work on the Divine Love and Wisdom, by Swedenborg, where you may learn just so much of it as you have the desire to receive. But, happily, it is not necessary to our every-day life and duty that we should study and understand astronomy, or to our spiritual progress and well-being that we should study and be able to grasp in all its magnitude the profound philosophy of degrees and orders as the mind of Swedenborg could comprehend it. Enough of both can easily be comprehended for all practical need. It is sufficient for the present purpose to say that in every created thing there are three degrees, originating in and corresponding to the trinity of love, wisdom, and power in the Divine Creator. We would not presume, even with utmost reverence, to analyze the infinite Creator, but we may, without presumption, turn to His finite image and likeness, which is to be found in His creatures and especially in man, and there we find these degrees and these orders. Man has an inmost or celestial degree, which, when developed, is the recipient of the Divine love, and is his will faculty, or sphere of purposes or motives. He has also an internal or spiritual degree which, when developed, is a recipient of the Divine wisdom, and is the faculty of the understanding or intellect, and is the sphere of means in man. And he has the external or natural degree which takes cognizance of the Divine power. It lies next to mans natural senses, and is the sphere of effects. The Divine order is first that which is natural and afterwards that which is spiritual, according to the declaration of the apostle, as well as according to the law of development. The external or natural degree of mans life is opened and developed by the exercise of the senses and natural science, so that he may become a highly cultivated natural man without having his internal or spiritual degree of life opened at all, thus without having any perception of spiritual things. In this state he acts wholly with reference to self or to some personal interest. The internal or spiritual degree is opened by the exercise of the faculties of that degree upon spiritual things. In this case the spiritual and natural act in harmony as one, and he is a spiritual man acting not wholly from worldly motives but from a sense of duty and obedience to the truth as he sees it. The inmost or celestial degree is opened by the exercise of the faculties of that degree. Then the celestial, spiritual, and natural degrees, or the inmost, internal, and external act together in harmony as one, impelled by affection or love. In the natural state a man acts from selfish views, and is a slave to his senses. In the spiritual state he acts from motives of duty, and is the Lords servant under obedience to the truth. In the celestial state he acts from the pure impulse of love for the good and the true, in which case the Lord says that He no longer calls him a servant but a friend.
The first or natural degree is necessarily opened in all men, and it is in this plane of effects that the natural life in this world is spent. But it is the purpose of all revelation and all religion by regeneration to open within this natural life the spiritual and celestial life. With some the first degree only is active; with some the second degree is opened within, and with some the third, in this life, and each will find in the many mansions of the Fathers house in the life to come a home precisely suited to his state.
I am aware of the obscurity that must accompany my imperfect presentation of this subject. But reflection will reveal its order and beauty and confirm its truth to those minds which have a desire to find the path that they may walk in it. Because it is the order of mans creation, as well as of regeneration, it is repeated in the infinite forms of all things below him, and of all things that proceed from him. Perhaps I may make the subject a little clearer by an illustration from nature.
Go into the garden and observe the swelling bud upon the tree. You see nothing but the external bud which is really a leaf, and may be compared to the natural degree in man, and it is really so called in the Word. But observe it in its orderly development, and presently the internal of the leafy bud unfolds into the beauty and fragrance of a flower, which may be compared to the opening of the spiritual degree in man, and is so called in the language of correspondences in the Word. Again observe it, and in the embrace of the flower and as the inmost of the bud behold the developing germ of the fruit, which corresponds to the celestial degree in man, and is so called in the correspondences of the Word. Our Lord says the kingdom of heaven is as if a man should sow seed in his field, and as it grows there appears first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.
Thus it is throughout all nature, and it is so because everything in nature corresponds to and in some measure is an image of man if we would but see it, as man is an image of his own and natures Divine Creator.
The same idea may possibly be made plainer to those to whom it is wholly new by a further illustration taken from mans own work. Take, for instance, a telescope, or even the case of a common pocket pencil in three sliding sections. When these sections are closed you see but one, which is external But you know that simultaneously the second section is in the first as an internal, and the third section in the second as its inmost, just as the flower is in the leafy bud as its internal, and the fruit within the flower as its inmost; and as the spiritual is in the natural as the internal, and the celestial in the spiritual as the inmost in man. In all these cases the degrees are within each other simultaneously, which is called simultaneous order;” but we take the closed pencil to represent the condition in which only the external is developed into active existence. Now, if you draw out the second section of the case it will come into view or be developed, and what was the external section in which the others were enclosed now becomes the lowest, or the base upon which what was before internal now rests. This second section, which was the internal of the first in simultaneous order, is now the middle or higher in this successive order, which is the developing of one thing from another successively. Just so the flower, which was the internal of the bud in simultaneous order, is the middle or higher in successive order, and as the spiritual which was the internal of man in simultaneous order becomes the middle or higher degree in successive order, and rests upon the natural as its base. Again, if you draw out the third section of the case it, which was the inmost in simultaneous order, is now the highest in successive order, resting upon the second, as that does upon the first, as its base. Again, it is analogous to the fruit which in simultaneous order was the inmost of the bud, but which becomes the highest in successive order, and to the celestial degree in man which is his inmost in simultaneous order, but which, as it is developed by regeneration as the fruit is by growth, becomes his highest degree of life in successive order.
I have used the word development, and it is perhaps necessary to explain that it is not used in the sense in which materialists use it, who hold that men are merely developed animals, as the animals are but developments of still lower forms of life, down to the lowest of all. It will be seen from our illustrations that the external of the pencil-case was not developed into the internal or the inmost, but that the internal and inmost were developed from the external, leaving it as perfect as it was before and quite as useful. And so, too, the leafy bud did not develop into the flower and fruit, but the flower and fruit were successively developed from within the bud. And as God always works in perfect consistency, it is so with the regeneration of man. The natural degree may be highly developed, but it can never be developed into that which is spiritual. But the spiritual degree may be so developed from within the natural as to rise above it as the flower from the bud. And so with the celestial degree, in which case that which was the inmost becomes the highest, and that which was internal becomes the middle or higher, while that which was external is the lowest, upon which the others rest.
The heavens, like the individual, are so arranged. Paul tells us that he was once caught up to the third heaven, and there heard things that were unutterable. And each one will be in that heaven hereafter which corresponds to the degree of life that has been opened in him, for the Lord says the kingdom of heaven is within.
The Divine Word is in very truth the Lords infinite wisdom for the use of men on the earth and of those who have become angels in the heavens. It is therefore written in perfect accordance with the nature of men on the earth and of angels in the heavens. It therefore has a natural or literal sense adapted to mans natural degree of life. And as man in this degree acts only from natural motives, or with a view either nearer or remoter to his self-interest, therefore, the Word in the literal sense appeals almost wholly to the natural hopes and fears of the natural man. Throughout the Old Testament there is but little said in the letter about the future life, because those to whom it was first given—the Jews—were an extremely natural people, and could only be restrained from gross idolatry and other enormities by the fear of external evil and the hope of external good. Hence all the promises and threats to them were of a temporal nature. They were to be blessed with fruitful fields and prolific hocks, with plenty of corn and wine, with success over their enemies in war, with long life and abounding health and honored old age if they would obey the commandments, while fearful curses threatened, of rain withheld, and parched fields, and famishing cattle, of blighted figs and blasted grapes and mildewed harvests, of war, pestilence, and famine, of slaughter by their enemies in battle, of captivity and slavery in heathen lands, and all imaginable calamities if they were not obedient. And as it was good for men in their state to be so restrained, and as they could not comprehend anything higher, this literal sense was adapted to their wants. But he is a Jew, the apostle tells us, who is one inwardly, that is, who is like a Jew, and not alone the descendants of Jacob. Therefore that sense is adapted to the wants and needs of all natural men. It is good for them to pray even for rain and fruitful seasons and other mere temporal blessings, as in doing so they acknowledge the Lord in His omnipotence and feel some dependence upon Him.
But as man by creation has an internal or spiritual degree of life that may be opened and developed out of the natural, therefore the Word was written wholly in correspondences that it might have an internal or spiritual sense suited to the wants of this internal degree of mans life when he should come into it. He comes into this degree by ceasing to do evil and learning to do well,beginning even from natural or selfish motives, which were all that could influence him. And this is as orderly a process as the opening of the blossom from the bud. When he comes into this state, and perceives this internal sense within the letter, he thrills with its infinite beauty as if he were in the Garden of Eden itself, inhaling the fragrance of a world in bloom; and he now sees the Lord in it not only as a being of omnipotence, but also of infinite wisdom. And this higher state leads again, by the like orderly process, to the highest or celestial state, when the Word opens its celestial or inmost meaning, in which the omnipotence of the natural and the infinite wisdom of the spiritual are transfigured and glorified in the Divine love of the celestial sense. It is this Divine love, wisdom, and power, called in the Word the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, incarnated in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ and revealed in His Divine Word, that the New Church worships.
If I have at all succeeded in my effort to convey the idea as it is in my own mind, you will hardly fail to see that when the Divine Word speaks of heaven, the earth, the waters, the firmament, and the dividing of the waters from the waters by the firmament, it does not refer primarily to the natural things named, but to the mental world in man, and the spiritual things of the mind to which these natural things correspond. And you will see not only the fact, but in some measure the reason that when the terms above and below” are mentioned here, as well as elsewhere in the Word, they refer to the degrees of mans life in successive order, meaning the same as the terms internal and external in simultaneous order. Both classes of terms refer to mans mental constitution and the process of his development from natural to spiritual, or to his regeneration through these orders and degrees.
It is the opening of the internal or second degree of mans life, therefore, or his reception of some truths from the Lord, through His Word, with the emotions of charity or good resulting from a regard to these truths, that constitutes the firmament, or heaven in him, or which makes his internal to be a firmament or heaven. With this firmament, or knowledge of the good and true, he is able to distinguish the fallacies of the senses and lusts of the lower degree of the mind from the rational truths and better affections of the higher degree. It is thus that the waters which are under the firmament are divided from the waters which are above the firmament.
And it was so. Yes! it was so with the people of the ancient church, it was so with the Jewish Church, it was so with the Christian Church, it is so with us to-day, and will be most distinctly so with the Church of the New Jerusalem, and with all men and women, in all times and forever. For Gods love and wisdom and power, which will thus divide the waters from the waters, are within the reach of men in His Divine Word.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God; the world was made by Him [the Word] and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. But alas! the light shineth in darkness and the darkness comprehendeth it not.
And the evening and the morning were the second day. Here, as at the close of the first days creation, evening signifies that state of mental obscurity and doubt that is always in the mind on the first presentation to it of new and higher truths, which it is not yet prepared to receive ; the morning dawns when the mind is able to receive them. The state of obscurity and doubt must remain until it is removed by the reception of the higher truths; therefore it requires both the evening and the following morning to constitute a full state, which is called Day.
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.
Gen. i. 14-19.
In our lectures on the first three days of the creation we have traced the process of regeneration, which is the real subject treated of in these early records, through the three states represented by the three days, and through the mental processes represented by the creations of those days.
In these lectures we have seen that the earth means the external degree of man and the church, and the firmament or heaven his internal degree. We have also seen that the grass, herbs, and fruit-trees, which the earth produced, as well as all that is said about the earth, correspond to and mean the progressive states of the regeneration of the natural degree. Here begins the embellishment of the firmament or internal degree with the setting therein of the sun, moon, and stars. These, of course, like all the other natural things named, are named for some other purpose than to teach us of their natural creation. What, then, is meant by the sun, moon, and stars as symbols ? and what by their being set in the firmament and giving light on the earth, and being for signs, and seasons, and days, and for years, and their dividing the day from the night ?
Because everything in nature is a clothing of a divine idea, it is a correspondent of that idea, and has therefore an absolute correspondence in reference to God. And because man was made in Gods image and likeness, and is a world in miniature, every created thing is likewise a correspondent of some principle in man, and represents his mental and spiritual states. But because man has perverted his faculties and brought them into disorder, thereby introducing evil into the world, the same natural object, in reference to man, has come to have a double correspondence, the one an orderly or good meaning, and the other an opposite or disorderly and evil meaning, according to his state. And because the Word treats of man in his evil and perverted states as well as in his good or orderly ones, the same terms are used to express either. The context will always show in which sense they are used.
The sun warms, enlightens, and vivifies the natural world, as the Lord does the spiritual world. It therefore, in its absolute correspondence, represents the Lord. But it represents the Lord in His relation to man only as man apprehends Him; and that is only in the degree in which man truly loves Him. Hence in the Word the sun is used to express mans love to the Lord. Mans true state is one in which he loves the Lord supremely. When this is the case, this ruling love stands in the midst of all his mental activities and, like the sun in the centre of its system, swings them around it as the centre of all their movements. This ruling love, or sun, gives to his affections all their warmth, and to his thoughts all their light; it is, in short, the sun of his little world.
But we have seen from the Word, in our former lectures, what indeed is manifest to reason and confirmed by experience, that such a state of interior regeneration is not entered upon by any spasmodic effort, but is the state reached only after a gradual, generally slow, and often a painful struggle. During this struggle it is manifest that many true and good things must have been created in man before the rule of the pure, unselfish love could be established. Hence it is that three days of labor and productiveness preceded making of the sun.
But when he has advanced to this fourth state or day, and this ruling love is established, then, and not until then, can the sun be set in the firmament.
This is the meaning of the sun used as a symbol in its good or orderly sense in reference to man. But I said that by reason of mans perversion of good into evil every symbol in reference to him has a double representation, one good, and its direct opposite, or evil. The sun when used as a symbol in reference to man means in every instance his ruling love, or that which is the supreme object of his desire. In the truly regenerate man this object is good. It is to be like the Lord doing good, exhaling a universal charity. But in the fallen, degenerate, depraved man the supreme affection is not turned to, but from, the Lord, and is fixed on himself, or some object or scheme that looks to self. He does not worship the Lord, but himself. He bows down, not in formal worship, but in intense devotion to some selfish purpose. This purpose, whether it be sensual pleasure, wealth, ambition, or any other object, holds supremacy over all other things in his mental world, and becomes as a sun therein. So that the wicked man as well as the good man has his sun; and in both cases it is the ruling love by which they are actuated. Hence, as we shall see presently, when the prophets describe the state of the church, or of a man of the church, they often do it under the symbol of the sun. When a true regard to the Lord exists the sun is said to shine, and when this love grows cold, or dies out, the sun is said to grow dark, go down, or disappear.
The moon as a symbol corresponds to, and in the Word represents, mans faith or belief, as the sun does his charity or love. It is known that all the light the moon has it receives from the sun, and it but reflects the light that it receives. I have had occasion during these lectures to demonstrate that the intellect or understanding in man is the servant of the affections or will, and reflects the qualities of the will. It may be known with certainty that mans powers of spiritual perception depend upon the state of his affections; that, in fact, the light in the understanding is a reflection of the spiritual state of the will, as the light of the moon is a reflection of the rays of the sun. Hence the sun and moon are made on the same day; or such as is the charity or love such also will be the faith, for day means state. Hence, again, the moon, as a symbol, is used in the Word, like the sun, in two opposite senses according to the states of those referred to, as will be seen by references to the moon in the Word.
As the sun and moon, as symbols, mean things of the mind, so do the stars, which are the third creation on this day. The stars are suns too distant to reveal their form, making themselves known only by their shafts of light. They represent not the glowing affection of the sun nor the intelligent faith of the moon, but rays of knowledge in regard to heavenly things. There is a beautiful analogy between the study of the science of astronomy, or of the stars, and of the heavenly truths of the Word. Until very recently all the stars that had been catalogued and that were believed to exist by astronomers were but a few thousands. Now, by more extended observation and the aid of telescopes, the number visible is estimated at seventy-five millions, while the deeper the heavenly vault is penetrated the more innumerable they become. And is it not so with the Word ? A few of its truths were formerly known, but recent investigation with the science of correspondences as the spiritual telescope has multiplied these truths to infinity, resolving the obscurest of the nebulae of former times into the glory of divine light.
The sun, then, means mans state as to charity, or his ruling love; the moon means his faith; and the stars, the truths or falsities on which his faith is built. I now invite your attention to a few illustrations of this meaning from other parts of the Word.
If you will turn to the thirty-fifth and thirty-sixth verses of the thirty-first chapter of the prophet Jeremiah, you will find it thus written: “Thus saith the Lord, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; the Lord of hosts is His name: if those ordinances depart from before me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel shall cease from being a nation before me forever. Here the sun, moon, and stars are mentioned in connection with Israel, in such a way as seems at first sight a promise that the Jews should remain a nation as long as the natural sun, moon, and stars should continue. For it reads: “If those ordinances depart from before me, . . . then the seed of Israel shall cease from being a nation before me forever. The seed of Israel has long ceased to be a nation, but the sun, moon, and stars remain. Is the declaration therefore untrue ? Not in the sense intended. Israel is a symbol of the church; and the language, which has been mistaken for a promise of earthly empire to the Jews, is, in fact, a spiritual warning to the church. For it is seen in the light of correspondences that whenever the church ceases to love God, which love is the sun, and corrupts its faith, which is the moon, and disregards the truths of the Word, which are the stars, then it ceases to be the Lords church, or a nation before Him.
If you will turn to the second chapter of Joel you will find it a graphic description of the consummated state of the Jewish Church under the symbols of invading armies, sacked cities, devastated countries, and external calamities, closing with these words: And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said.
Now Peter, on the day of Pentecost, quoted this prophecy, and declared it was then fulfilled. The prophecy is concerning a consummated church, specifically the Jewish Church at the time of the Lords advent, and of all churches and all men in a like state, for all are Jews, as Paul declares, who are in the state the Jews were in. The sun of the church is turned into darkness when the love of the Lord dies out of its affections. The moon of the church is turned into blood when violence is done to true faith or doctrine; and the stars fall from the heaven of the church when the genuine truths of the Word are perverted or disregarded.
But the Lord never leaves Himself without a true church upon earth, and that church is symbolized by Mount Zion and Jerusalem; its life or good by Mount Zion, and its faith or doctrine by Jerusalem. He always provides a new church when the old one comes to its end spiritually by the destruction of the sun, moon, and stars, or the dying out of those principles which the sun, moon, and stars represent. And that new church will consist of all those, by whatever name they may be called, who are imbued with the goods and the truths of the Word, which are Mount Zion and Jerusalem, as we have seen. And in these goods and truths there will always be deliverance, as the Lord hath said.
The twenty-ninth verse of the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew reads thus: Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken. Now, whatever these things may mean, they are to occur at the time of the second coming of the Lord. For it is added in the next verse, “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” This has seemed to many like a declaration of the Lord that lie would come a second time into the natural world in person, and that then the sun, moon, and stars—in short, the whole material universe—would be destroyed, and a new earth and a new natural heaven be created. And the church has been agitated from age to age with calculations when these things should occur. Even in our own day many think that the time is at hand, and a vague belief pervades the entire church that at some time in the future these things will surely take place. But the careful reader of the Word will see that the Lord comes when the church or dispensation has become perverted by falsification of His Word until it no longer serves as a medium for the regeneration of men; and that He then establishes a new church to supersede the old. As heaven, in the divine symbolism of the Word, means the internal of the church, the earth its external, the sun its love of the Lord or charity, the moon its faith or doctrine, and the stars its knowledge of divine truths, all may see that these symbols most perfectly portray the church. For when it has become perverted, then is the end, not of the natural world, but of that church. Then the heavens and the earth are destroyed, the sun is darkened, the moon ceases to shine, and the stars fall from heaven.
As this prediction of our Lord clearly refers to His second advent, and as the symbols used are precisely those used by the prophets to de-scribe His first advent, the rational conclusion is that they have a like signification; and as the natural universe was not destroyed at His first coming, the fair inference is that it will not be at His second. But we see that the predictions of this destruction were fulfilled at His first coining spiritually without a disturbance of the natural universe, and we therefore conclude that a like fulfilment will take place at His second coming.
Are not the predictions of the Lord in the passage quoted being as evidently fulfilled before our eyes to-day as were those of Joel when Peter preached his Pentecostal sermon ? Like the Jews, the church of to-day is looking up with natural eyes into the natural clouds to see the sign of the coming of the Lord in the theatre of nature, and is ready to be startled at the sound of a trumpet that shall not only electrify the living but raise the dead. And because He does not come in that way they reject Him as did the Jewish Church at His first coming.
But that the signs of the Lords coming are spiritual is very evident from consideration of the prophecy that the stars shall first fall to the earth.
Let us look at it rationally. As I have before said, astronomers estimate the number of stars within the reach of their telescopes at seventy-five millions, and imagination itself cannot fix a limit to their whole number. Every one of these is a sun like ours, and is the centre of a solar system like ours, with earths and satellites revolving around it. Reason deduces the fact from analogy that all these innumerable worlds are peopled with men substantially like ourselves. Now, is it conceivable that because men on this earth have sinned, God will destroy uncounted worlds, the whole grand universe that He has made, worlds beyond the reach of our telescopes, and whose inhabitants probably never conceived of the existence of us or our little world ?
And all these are to fall upon this earth, according to the common belief! According to this belief God made all these stars, together with the sun and moon, about six thousand years ago. And because men on this earth sinned, God is soon going to destroy all these suns and systems, by casting them down upon us, and then the Lord will appear in our natural clouds! The church is looking for this appearance. Suppose the grand display should begin this moment, it would take at least six hundred thousand years, according to the calculations of the celebrated astronomer Cassini, for the nearest of the stars to reach us, moving at the rate of a mile a second. And when they were all piled together, with this earth in the centre, where would be your natural clouds in which the Lord is to appear? It is evident that the Lords prediction here, as in the prophets, refers to states of the church, and the destruction in the church of the spiritual things which the sun, moon, and stars represent. And whenever this takes place in the church, then the Lord will appear. But He certainly will not appear in the manner that that church expects Him. For if the church had a right apprehension of Him and His Word there would be no need of His coming. It may therefore be taken for certain that when the Lord comes the church will reject Him, according to what is implied in His own question: When the Son of Man cometh shall He find faith on the earth ? The earth, we have seen, means the church.
The meaning, then, of the Lords prediction is briefly this, that after the tribulations of those days,—days meaning states of the church, as we have seen, and tribulation meaning the divisions and contentions of the church,—after these take place, the sun shall be darkened, which means that love to the Lord as the supreme affection will die out of the distracted church; and the moon shall not give her light,” which means that the faith of the church will become obscured; “and the stars shall fall from heaven, which means that true knowledge of spiritual truth will fall out of the minds of the church. And it is then that the Son of Man is to appear in the clouds of heaven. What is meant by this symbol ? I have not time to enter at large upon this subject, as I have limited this lecture chiefly to the sun, moon, and stars as symbols, but I will say here in brief, that by clouds is meant the literal sense of the Word, and by the Lord’s appearing in the clouds is meant the new revelation of Him by the perception of the spiritual sense of the Word within the letter.
That such predictions of destruction refer to the states of the church is further evident from the revelations given by the Lord to John, and contained in his Apocalyptic visions. These visions in the appropriate symbols depict the states of the Christian Church then just established until its consummation, and the establishment of a new church under the symbol of the New Jerusalem, which was seen descending from God out of heaven. The state of the former church is first described by the same symbols as were employed by the Lord and the prophets. Thus, in the twelfth verse of the sixth chapter, John says: I beheld, . . . and, lo, . . . the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; and the stars of heaven fell unto the earth. The sun becomes black in the church when love to the Lord is no longer her ruling impulse; the moon is turned into blood in the church when she does violence to the doctrines of a true faith by irrational dogmas; and the stars fall from the heaven of the church when she no longer sees the spiritual truths of the Word, and only looks to nature and natural things.
Again, in the tenth verse of the eighth chapter of the Revelation it is written: And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters; and the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.
The star is one of the symbols of this fourth days creation, and here, as in all other places, means the truths or falses in the mind of man and the church. By its being called a great star is signified that it is a fundamental dogma of the church. By its being called wormwood is meant that it is a false and evil principle, for that is the correspondence of wormwood. By its falling upon the rivers and fountains of waters is meant that it perverts and falsifies the truths of the Word, which we have seen is meant by waters. It is said a third part of the waters, because the number three, related as it is to the Divine Trinity in the Lord, and to the three degrees of life in man, means a full and perfect measure, or all there is of the thing to which it is applied, and one-third has a similar signification to three in the divine symbolism. The prediction is, in brief, that before the descent of the New Jerusalem the then existing church will have adopted as fundamental in her faith a heresy so irrational that it will turn in her all the rivers and fountains of water, or the truths of the Word, into wormwood or bitterness, so that men will die of spiritual thirst by reason of these poisoned waters. The star did not fall upon the earth or the sea, because, as we have seen, correspondentially the earth means the external church, and the sea, the general memory whether of truths or falses. And the church may continue for ages in its externals even after the rivers and fountains of water, or the truths of the Word, have been falsified in her.
The next verse of the same chapter employs again all the symbols of this day: And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as a third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.
It is not necessary to repeat here at length what has been said on the same symbols before quoted. There is much said in the Word, and particularly in the ceremonials of the Jewish Church, about the sounding of trumpets; and it everywhere means that revelations are being made. It manifestly has that meaning here, for successive revelations were being made of the spiritual state of the church. The prediction is that the love of the Lord, which is the sun of the church, will die out, a true faith, which is the moon, will become obscured, and the knowledge of spiritual truths, which are the stars, will he lost in the church. The third part of the day not shining means during all of that state, day meaning state; and the night, likewise, means that the church was wholly consummated and at its end, spiritually. Because it was so, the Lord then comes to establish a new church. This is described by the same symbols in different places, as you will see by turning to the twelfth chapter and first verse, where it reads: And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars. It would require more than one whole lecture to unfold even a small portion of the divine beatitudes embraced in this text But I have not space to enter upon the transporting theme. Suffice it to say, in brief, that the woman is the Lords New Church; her being clothed with the sun signifies that her charity or love envelops her as the heat and light does the sun, clothing her as with a garment; the moon under her feet signifies that she will stand on true doctrines, or a rational faith; and her being crowned with twelve stars means her endowment with the genuine truths of the Word; stars meaning truth and twelve meaning all.
As a final example of the meaning of stars in the symbolic language of the Word, was it not a most remarkable coincidence, if it was nothing more, that it was a star that led the wise men of the East to the worship of the infant Redeemer? There is nothing in the narrative of this event in the Gospel, or in any other history, that intimates that any one but the wise men saw the star. Indeed, it is most distinctly evident that others did not. Herod, we are told, inquired diligently of them what time the star appeared. And it is evident, too, that the wise men only saw it when they were in the East. For it is written: When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the East, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
The east is the quarter in which the sun rises to enlighten the earth, but only as the earth turns itself to the east. The east, therefore, everywhere in the Word means the Lord as the source of spiritual light to those who turn themselves to Him; and those only are called wise men in the Word who do so by loving Him, which love in man we have seen is the sun. And a star, we have seen, is the knowledge of divine truth in the mind. It is by the guidance of this truth that the mind is led to the Lord. Hence whoever desires to worship the Lord is spiritually in the East, and is wise. Such will see His star,—not indeed a natural star in the sky, but a far more brilliant one in the mind, which is the divine truth therein, symbolized by a star, and it will lead him directly to the Lord. He will be very diligently questioned by Herod on the way. For by a king is meant truth ruling, and in an opposite sense, as here, falsity, or truth perverted.
This Herod or the false dogmas of a consummated church will profess a desire to worship the Lord also, while the real purpose will be to destroy the true that the false may retain its sway in safety. The destruction by this falsity of all innocence and all spiritual truths is represented by the murder of the children of Bethlehem.
I have as briefly as possible explained the correspondence of the sun, moon, and stars, which are said to have been created on the fourth day, and endeavored to show that they contain a divinely instructive meaning which does not appear in the sense of the letter alone, but which is evolved out of the letter, as the flower is from the bud. I have also shown that this inner sense is unfolded by a law as fixed as creation itself, and with the exactitude of the most definite of all sciences. I have, by quotations from the Old and New Testaments, demonstrated that the several books, in whatever age, and by whomsoever written, however diverse in outward style, whether in the apparent form of history, biography, prophecy, songs, parables, statutes, or allegory, are all constructed on the same scientific basis, and that that basis is in the very laws of the mind and its relation to material things, and that the science of correspondences is the key that unlocks the casket and reveals the treasures within.
I now ask you as rational men and women, if you can conceive of any intelligence, less than the Infinite, producing such a book ? I do not ask yon to believe that Moses and Elijah, and others, thousands of years ago, wrought miracles, and therefore you must believe what they wrote. It is of no consequence at all in this matter whether they wrought miracles or not, or whether they understood what they wrote or not. No miracle ever conceived would equal this; that these writings were so composed that they can be opened by a science so absolutely exact as that of correspondences, and so profound as to embrace the worlds of matter and mind, and analyze them both in their very essences, forms, forces, and relations, showing every word and sentence to be in perfect accordance with that science, if there had been no higher intelligence than mans to dictate them. In the light of this science the Scriptures come to your highest reason, and ask your profoundest scrutiny into their structure, their perfect analysis of all mental processes, of all spiritual verities, of all the relations of mind to matter, of God to nature. They invite the scrutiny of all science, the severest application of all just criticism, the test of the highest rationality. They do not come to you in thunderings and lightnings and physical manifestations to compel an uncomprehending belief, as was necessary in an age of mere sensuous naturalism. They must now be received rationally and in freedom or not at all. So received, their truth shall make you free.
The Creation of Fowls and Fishes.
Gen. i. 20-23.
The first three days of the creation, as we saw in our lectures on those days, describe the development of the natural degree of mans life, which prepares him for the opening of the spiritual degree. In this process he had light, but it was not the direct light of the sun, moon, and stars. These were to be set in the firmament, or spiritual degree. And hence the next step in the process, or the fourth day, placed them there to give light upon the earth. In the process of spiritual development light, or truth, is seen and experienced under two distinct aspects. That which is seen in the earlier stages of a religious life is quite different from that which is experienced in more advanced states. In our earlier experience we think we see truths, and do good of ourselves. Hence nothing but inanimate things are produced. All truth and all good are from the Lord, who alone is truth and goodness; and it is only as we reach that state in which we can see and acknowledge that every good and perfect gift cometh down from Him that we can have true love for Him, a true faith in Him, and true ideas or intelligence in spiritual things. And these we saw in the lecture on the fourth day were symbolized by the sun, moon, and stars. This perception is in the internal man which is called the firmament of heaven ; and on this day, or state, these lights are said to be placed in the firmament. With these in the firmament, the earth is prepared for the productions of the fifth day, which we now proceed to consider.
And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly, the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. It will be observed that it is the waters that are commanded to bring forth the moving creature that hath life. It will be remembered that we have demonstrated in former lectures that by waters are signified religious truths in the mind, and by the sea, as the general receptacle of all waters, is signified the general memory as the receptacle of all such truths. It will be observed that it is not the sea, but the waters, which are to produce the living creatures. In confirmation of the proposition that by waters are meant, in the Word, religious truths, I will refer you, in addition to the demonstrations of former lectures, to the conversation of the Lord with the woman of Samaria in the fourteenth verse of the fourth chapter of John, where He says, Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. In this passage it is plain that natural water is not meant by the Lord, but the knowledge of religious truth which rises up in the mind from the acknowledgment of and faith in the Lord.
In the forty-seventh chapter of Ezekiel the prophet describes a vision of holy waters issuing from the sanctuary, which rose up first to his ankles, then to his knees, then to his loins, and became a river that could not be passed over, clearly indicating the successive increase of the knowledge of religious truth which proceeds from the sanctuary or Divine Word. For if you will refer to the chapter you will see at a glance that it is not natural water that is meant.
In the one hundred and fourth Psalm is a glorification of the Lord, in which it is said, Who layeth the beams of His chambers in the waters: who maketh the clouds His chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind: who maketh His angels spirits; His ministers a flaming fire. I cannot, of course, stop to unfold this sublimely beautiful text; but all can see that it is not alone in natural waters that God lays the beams of His chambers. His chambers signify the interior principles of His church, and the beams thereof signify their strength. These are laid in the waters because they rest and have their sure foundation only in the genuine truths of His Word, which waters symbolize. Hence also in the Revelation, the Word itself is described as a pure river of water of life.
The will-faculty in man, as we have seen in former lectures, embraces all of his affections and constitutes his internal, or heaven. When the sun, moon, and stars, which we have seen are love, faith, and a knowledge of religious truths, are set in this heaven, or the affections of the internal man, and begin to impart their light and warmth to the external man, enabling him to think and to act from these higher and purer principles, then all things of the external man begin to pulsate with spiritual life. He may not indeed change his outward conduct to the perception of others, for he may have lived an orderly moral life before, but the motives that move him to act will be wholly different. And it is the motive that gives character to the act as well as to the actor. A man may induce on himself the genuine character of, and in fact be spiritually, a murderer, a thief, an adulterer, or criminal of any other degree, without ever committing in outward act the deeds implied by these terms. The fear of the law may restrain him from taking life. But the Lord says that whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer. And so, also, Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. And so of all other evils. The same law obtains in the performance of the common charities and even the employments of life. A man may give largely to objects of benevolence, and yet may do it wholly from selfish motives, having no interior affection for the cause he so ostentatiously supports. Thus before these luminaries are set up in the affections, man regards the truths he learns and the good he does as the results of his own efforts, and there is a tinge of selfishness in them, because he does not refer them wholly to the Lord, who alone is the source of all spiritual light and life. This was the necessary result of his previous day, or state, and while that state lasted his knowledge of spiritual things could not bring forth that which is really alive. He could only bring forth grass, herbs, and fruit-trees, which, however good and useful, were still but inanimate things. But when he is enlightened by genuine love and faith, then his knowledges become the medium for the development of spiritual life, and he proceeds to bring forth from these knowledges, or waters, the living creatures that have life. Hence it is that the productions of his preceding states are indicated by things of the vegetable kingdom, and those of his succeeding and superior ones by objects of animated nature.
But he has not yet reached his highest state, and hence what is brought forth on this day are the moving things of the waters, which are fishes of various kinds, and the fowls of the air. Fishes, as is well known, are among the lowest orders of animated nature, and they represent the first moving of the affections after genuine good when warmed into spiritual life by the heat and light of this state or day. Waters, as we have seen, mean truths, and the sea the general memory in which are stored all the knowledges of the mind, whether true or false, and fishes are those knowledges vivified and made alive by the purified affections.
That fishes have this signification is susceptible of abundant proof from the Word. I will refer you to the remarkable vision of the prophet in the forty-seventh chapter of Ezekiel, a portion of which I shall quote. The quotation is a long one, but it is so remarkable as confirming the explanation I have been giving of the meaning of the waters, the sea, the fishes, and various other symbols that I am sure it must strike you with peculiar force and beauty. The prophet is in captivity beyond the Euphrates, and the vision is of the city of Jerusalem restored, which was shown to him by a man whose appearance was like the appearance of brass, who had a flaxen line in his hand and a measuring-reed. This strange man measured the city, and the prophet describes it, the description occupying some eight chapters. Afterward he brought me again unto the door of the house: and, behold, waters issued out from under the threshold of the house eastward : for the forefront of the house stood toward the east, and the waters came down from under the right side of the house, at the south side of the altar. Then brought he me out of the way of the gate northward, and led me about the way without unto the outer gate by the way that looketh eastward; and, behold, there ran out waters on the right side. And when the man that had the line in his hand went forth eastward, he measured a thousand cubits, and lie brought me through the waters; the waters were to the ankles. Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through the waters; the waters were to the knees. Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through ; the waters were to the loins. Afterward he measured a thousand; and it was a river that I could not pass over : for the waters were risen, waters to swim in, a river that could not be passed over. And he said unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen this? Then he brought me, and caused me to return to the brink of the river. Now when I had returned, behold, at the bank of the river were very many trees on the one side and on the other. Then said he unto me, These waters issue out toward the east country, and go down into the desert, and go into the sea: which being brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be healed. And it shall come to pass, that everything that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live: and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither: for they shall be healed; and everything shall live, whither the river cometh. And it shall come to pass, that the fishers shall stand upon it from Engedi even unto Eneglaim; they shall be a place to spread forth nets; their fish shall be according to their kinds, as the fish of the great sea, exceeding many. But the miry places thereof and the marshes thereof shall not be healed; they shall be given to salt. And by the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed : it shall bring forth new fruit according to his months, because their waters they issued out of the sanctuary: and the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine.
In the literal sense this passage teaches us absolutely nothing. And without the science of correspondences who could give even a plausible guess at its meaning? To call it figurative language serves but to embarrass the mind, for those who call it so have no clue to the meaning of the figures. But whole volumes would not suffice to unfold the infinite things contained in the spiritual sense. Every single word in it is a symbol with a meaning as exact as the terms of any natural science, and with a fulness that will unfold forever until it becomes in very deed a river that cannot be crossed over, for it is the Divine wisdom which can never be fully exhausted by finite minds. I can only refer, and that briefly, to the symbols of this fifth day of creation which we are considering.
The house from under whose threshold the waters issued is the Lords church, or the internal of the regenerating man in whom the church is. The sanctuary, or sanctified thing in the house, is the Divine Word. The waters that issued out are the truths of the Word. To measure anything is to know its quality. A thousand measures or cubits means all there is, for a thousand is a multiple of ten, and that is the signification of ten in the Word, as might be proved by a thousand quotations. Everything is in its fulness in its ultimates. The whole strength and force of the body is ultimated in the hands, and hence the hands mean power in the Word. But the hands themselves are ultimated in the ten fingers. We count therefore by tens. That is all there is of us. When we have counted ten we stop, and count until ten times ten makes a hundred, and ten times a hundred makes a thousand. But the essence or quality of a thing is the same in its least as in its greatest parts, and hence the signification of a number is the same in the multiples of that number. A thousand in the Word has the same signification as ten or a tenth, and ten means the fulness or completeness of the subject to which it refers. Hence there are ten commandments, embracing all the duties of man. Abraham gave tenths to Melchizedek, the priest of the most high God, in acknowledgment that he owed all to Him. The Jews were required to dedicate the tenth of all their products to the Lord for a like reason. There are ten beatitudes in the Lards sermon on the mount. The Lord says the kingdom of heaven is like ten virgins; and John saw ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands of the redeemed.
The measures recorded by Ezekiel and the resulting waters are, you will observe, the days of creation that we are considering. He measured a thousand and the waters were to the ankles. The feet and ankles are the lowest extreme of the body, and represent the lowest degree of the perception of the literal requirements of the Word, the faint light of the first day. He measured a second thousand and the waters rose to the knees. The knees being the means of conjoining the feet with the higher regions of the body, represent a nobler state: that state in which man feels that being free to choose he ought to do the things he sees to be right and obligatory upon him, which is the second day, or state. He measured a third thousand and the waters rose to the loins. As the ankles and the knees can effect nothing by way of progress until the loins put them in motion, the loins mean that state in which the truths seen on the first day, and acknowledged on the second, are put into practical use in the life on the third. And hence you will remember it was not until the third day that the Lord required the earth to do, or produce anything. On that day, however, the earth was required to bring forth grass, herbs, and fruit-trees. This it could not do until the waters rose to the loins. It marks the full development of the natural degree, and the preparation for the opening of the spiritual.
And now the prophet continues: Afterward he measured a thousand, and it was a river that I could not pass over: for the waters were risen, waters to swim in, a river that could not be passed over. This is the fourth day, or state, the state in which the spiritual degree of the mind is opened, and the sun, moon, and stars are set in the firmament. In this state the truth of the Word becomes indeed a river of waters that the mind may swim or bathe in but can never cross over, for they are the infinite love and wisdom of the Lord, which the finite mind can never exhaust.
And now follows the work of the fifth day. On this day is said in our text in Genesis, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. And the prophet continues in the passage I have read, Then said he unto me, These waters issue out toward the east country, and go down into the desert, and go into the sea: which being brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be healed. We have seen that these waters are the genuine truths of the Word, and the sea is the general memory or faculty of the mind where all its knowledges, whether true or false, are collected. These spiritual waters from this river, issuing out from the sanctuary, heal the waters of this sea when they enter into it, for the genuine truths of the Word, when seen and loved and obeyed, will correct whatever of error we may have imbibed from the appearances of things, and will sanctify all our knowledges, even of natural truths, signified by the sea. And when the sea is so healed by these waters it is prepared to obey the Divine command, and bring forth abundantly the things that have life. For the prophet continues, And it shall come to pass, that everything that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live: and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither: for they shall be healed; and everything shall live whither the river cometh. It is the moving creature that the waters are to bring forth.
I have not time further to illustrate this vision of the prophet. That the rivers seen by him are the same rivers that are described in Genesis as having their sources in the garden of Eden, and that John describes again in the Revelation as issuing from the throne of God in heaven, is manifest. And that the trees of the garden, and those which the prophet saw upon the banks of the river, and those described by John in the Revelation are the same is equally apparent. As it is plain that both the things seen by the prophet and those seen by John refer to spiritual waters and living creatures, it is equally clear that the things mentioned in Genesis have a like reference.
And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind : and God saw that it was good.
It will at once be seen that there is a difference between the fishes and birds, like that between the sea and the firmament; that fishes represent affections for literal, natural truth which points out the natural duties of man, and birds the more sensitive and nobler affections for spiritual truth, truth relating to spiritual life, to heaven, and to the Lord. The term whales includes many great sea-beasts, among them whales, which are the largest of all living creatures. They represent affections for general principles in the mind, as the smaller fishes on which they feed represent affections for particular truths therein. To these creatures of the sea we shall in this lecture give our attention.
It is said that God created, although the water brought the creatures forth, for although the mind, from the truths or facts in the memory or sea, forms the general principles of its life, yet as the power to do so comes from God alone He is said to create them. But as these principles may be either true or false, according to mans state, whales have, like everything else named in the Word, two significations, a good and an evil one. Hence when the mind is in true order the Psalmist says the whales praise God; and many such passages might be quoted. That whales mean general principles in the mind, either good or perverted to evil, may be clearly seen by turning to the second verse of the thirty-second chapter of Ezekiel, which reads: Son of man, take up a lamentation for Pharaoh king of Egypt, and say unto him, Thou art like a young lion of the nations, and thou art as a whale in the seas: and thou earnest forth with thy rivers, and troubledst the waters with thy feet, and fouledst their rivers. This is certainly a, very strange statement in the letter; but it would require volumes to unfold its signification, every word of which is a symbol referring to things in the mind and the church. Egypt everywhere in the Word represents the natural degree of man and the natural things or knowledges of the mind. Every people Come to have a peculiar genius or character. And as by the name of anything in the Word is meant the quality of the thing named, the name itself comes to stand for that quality. Egypt in its good sense signifies the natural degree of the mind regenerated and brought into order, while in the opposite sense it means the natural degree perverted and evil. Every place or country named in the Word has also a symbolical meaning in both senses. Thus Egypt, Assyria, and Israel are mentioned together in many instances, and in every case Egypt means the natural degree of the mind, Assyria the spiritual or rational degree, and Israel the celestial. I have not time to give the reasons for these significations. But that they have this meaning in both the good and evil sense I will quote, out of many, a single passage of each kind in confirmation.
If you will turn to the nineteenth chapter of Isaiah, where the prophet in vision is depicting the glories of a true church, you read: In that day shall there be a highway out of Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian shall come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians shall serve with the Assyrians. In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt, and with Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land: whom the Lord of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance. Day, as we have seen, means state, and when the church, or the regenerating man, comes into that state, then there will be a highway from Egypt into Assyria. Way, in the Word, means truth which guides, and the Lord is the way, and the truth. This highway will lead from the natural degree, which is Egypt, to the spiritual degree, which is Assyria, and the truths of both degrees will go into and serve the celestial degree, which is Israel, and the Lord will bless the mind or the church in this state, when Egypt will be His people, Assyria the work of His hands, and Israel His inheritance. This, in brief, is the correspondence of Egypt, Assyria, and Israel when the church is in its purity. That they have the same signification in an evil sense when the church is consummated will be seen by this quotation from the Revelation, where John is describing the state of the church in its apostasy, when it makes war upon and kills the two witnesses. He says: And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. Here Sodom, Egypt, and Jerusalem, the place of our Lords crucifixion, are connected in an evil sense, as Egypt, Assyria, and Israel were before by the prophet in a good sense. The meaning is that when the church, whose doctrines are symbolized by a great city, has killed the two witnesses, which are the spiritual and celestial senses of the Word, by denying them, their dead body, or the mere letter, lies in her streets; and she rejoices over the death of the witnesses whose testimony tormented her.
From this long digression we come back to the words of the prophet: Son of man, take up a lamentation for Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and say unto him, Thou art like a young lion of the nations.” We have seen that Egypt means the natural degree of the mind with all its natural or scientific acquirements. This is said to be like a young lion of the nations. Nations and peoples are often named together, nations meaning things of the will, and peoples, things of the understanding; and a lion means their strength. That a lion in the Word means strength is evident, for the Lord Himself is called the Lion of the tribe of Judah because He prevailed to open the book, which no one else in heaven or earth could do. And in an evil sense, or to show the strength of evil, the devil is called a roaring lion. The prophet continues, still addressing Pharaoh, or Egypt: “Thou art as a whale in the seas : and thou earnest forth with thy rivers, and troubledst the waters with thy feet, and fouledst their rivers.” Whales and other great creatures of the water, as we have seen, are affections for the general principles of the mind or church. This monster comes out of the rivers of Egypt, and is the ruling principle, therefore, of the natural degree of the mind. But that principle here being a false and evil one it troubles the waters of the sea with its feet. Feet represent the lowest degree of the merely natural mind, and when this forms its principles of life from the lowest of sensuous things, then indeed it troubles the waters of the sea with its feet Waters, we have seen, are the knowledges in the mind or memory, and the prophet, addressing this Egyptian monster, says: Thou earnest forth not out of, but with thy rivers . . . and fouledst their rivers.
That is to say, when the ruling principle of the mind is evil and sensual it will be a monster in the rivers, not only troubling the waters with its feet, or making what truths are in the mind obscure and filthy like muddy water, but will also foul the rivers of the nations; that is, it will pervert and defile the affections as well as the intellect.
For one other example of the spiritual meaning of the great sea-monsters, turn to the story of Jonah. This narrative we perhaps may never understand as a literal history, but it is full of spiritual instruction. A prophet is one who teaches Divine truth, and abstractly the truth itself. Thus, we speak of the prophets, meaning thereby the writings of the prophets, and more abstractly still, the Divine truths in those writings. By a prophet, therefore, in the Word is meant Divine truth; and as all symbols have reference to things in the mind, by a prophet is meant Divine truth in the mind. By a whale we have seen is meant a general principle in the mind, framed from the particular things therein, as all general principles are necessarily made up of particulars and control them. But this general and controlling principle may be either true or false. When it is false and swallows up for the time being all the particular things in the mind, even the truth that is there, then the whale swallows the prophet. And the prophet will remain in the whales belly just three days. For we have seen that day means state, and three a perfect measure, or all there is of the thing referred to. So that while the mind remains in that state in which the false principle controls it, the truth it may have had will be swallowed up in it. But Divine truth cannot be used by a false principle so as to become a part of its organic structure, nor can the truth perish. And, therefore, the whale, although it swallowed the prophet in the story, could not digest him nor could the prophet perish ; but it vomited him up, just as a false principle gives up whatever of Divine truth it may have seized upon, and lets it go, like the prophet, on its mission.
If you want to find proof of the truth of this story you need not search history, geography, or commentaries. You will not find it there. But you will find it in the internal sense of the Word. And as that treats of the internal states of the minds of men in all ages and countries, if you look within yourselves, and those around you, you will see, as a terrible fact, whales swallowing prophets here, and to-day.
This fifth day, then, produced great whales, and moving things of the sea that had life. We have seen what great whales mean both in a good and in an evil sense. Here they are meant in a good sense, because man is described as in the process of regeneration. And with them were created all the moving creatures of the sea; that is, all innocent affections for learning natural truth for the sake of use. They are moving creatures and have life, because they are animated by love and love is life.
And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. You have all observed, in reading the Word, that it is full of terms joined together that seem to have the same meaning. Many hundreds, if not thousands, of such instances occur. It would seem that to be fruitful and to multiply was tautology, but it is not so. Man has two faculties, as I have often had occasion to repeat,—the will and the understanding; and in every instance where two words are so connected one refers to things of the will or the affections, and the other to the understanding or the thoughts. Thus, you will find brother and companion, poor and needy, wilderness and desert, vacuity and emptiness, foe and enemy, sin and iniquity, anger and wrath, nation and people, joy and gladness, mourning and weeping, justice and judgment, image and likeness, devil and satan, and, in our text, Be fruitful, and multiply. In all the instances named the first word of the couplet is predicated of the will-faculty, and the good or evil affections therein, while the second term is predicated of the understanding and the truths or falses therein.
To be fruitful, therefore, is to develop more and more in the love of what is good, and to multiply is to increase in the knowledge of what is true; and to fill the waters in the sea and the earth also is to have both the will and the understanding imbued with the principles of goodness and truth. Such a mind the Lord will ever bless, not by pronouncing words of blessing, but by the influx of His Divine life. This He is ever giving to all, even to the evil and the unthankful, but it can only be enjoyed by those who receive it in true order. The whole work of redemption is the effort not to reconcile an angry God, but to restore disordered man to that state in which he can receive and enjoy the blessedness that God is ever willing to bestow; and regeneration is the only process by which man can be so restored.
As this world is the correspondent of the spiritual world, there is some process in it that corresponds to every process in the spiritual world. The sun, we have seen, represents in the natural world, the Lord in the spiritual world. The heat and light of the sun represent in the natural world the love and wisdom of the Lord in the spiritual; and mans bodily eye is adapted to the heat and light of the sun in the natural world, as his understanding is to the Lords Divine truth in the spiritual. When mans bodily eye is in health or order, the highest, blessing it can enjoy is light. But if the organization of the eye becomes affected by inflammation or otherwise, nothing can be more painful to it than light. It must hide itself from the light as from the source of its pain. But the physician would hardly be considered wise at this day who should declare that the trouble was in the sun, and that nothing could be done in the way of relief unless an absolute change could be effected in the sun itself, and should go to work by some kind of incantation to effect that change. A wise physician, it seems to me, would not employ his incantations to change the sun so as not to hurt the disordered eye, but would rather seek to restore the eye to that state in which it could again enjoy the light of the sun.
Applying the same reasoning in spiritual things, it seems to me irrational to suppose that God is fierce with anger and inflicts pain to gratify His wrath, and that to escape suffering a change must be effected in God by inducing Him in some way to cease torturing us. His tender mercies are over all His works. His Divine love and life, like the light of the sun, come alike to the evil and the good. But those who have perverted their faculties, which is in fact to derange their spiritual forms, are in a state of spiritual disease, and, like the diseased eye, cannot endure the Lords Divine influx. The only way to relieve them, therefore, is not to attempt by prayers or supplications to change the unchangeable Jehovah, or to appease His supposed wrath, but to come into that state of Divine order in which goodness and truth, or love and wisdom, which emanate from the Lord, will give happiness and not pain. The change that is to bring us into harmony with the Lords universal Providence and secure our eternal felicity must be wrought in us and not in God. This is the work of regeneration described in the days of creation.
I think it cannot fail to be seen that the terms used here, in what has been supposed to be an account of the natural creation, have the same spiritual significance that the like terms have in the prophets, the Psalms, and the New Testament, and that throughout the Word they refer primarily to the regeneration of man. This interpretation not only shows the Bible to be a book of inexhaustible wisdom, applicable to all men and all times, but it avoids all the insurmountable difficulties that beset those who seek to make of it a mere natural history.
On our principle of interpretation, as far as we become wise enough to understand it, the Bible is seen to be all clear, all rational, all profoundly philosophical, all instructive in the highest degree, all of universal application to all men, at all times, and in all worlds. There are no conflicting statements to reconcile, no inconsistencies to explain away, no unmeaning declarations to be evaded, no vague figures of speech to be guessed at, no mistakes in natural science to be apologized for. There is no fear of new discoveries in science coming in conflict with the Bible, for every possible development of true science is and forever must be a confirmation of its truth, for it is written according to the most exact of all sciences,the science of correspondences, which is the relation between causes and their effects. As there can be no effect without a producing cause, every possible advance in any science will widen our knowledge of the science of correspondences, and will, therefore, enable us to see still deeper wisdom in the Word. It does not demand an unreasoning belief on mere authority, but appeals to the highest exercise of reason. Is not the subject worthy of your investigation ? And is it not strange that those who accept the Bible as a Divine book, but who are embarrassed at almost every chapter they read, will not so far abate their prejudices as to give the subject even the slightest consideration? And is it not equally strange that those who, because of the irrationality of the interpretations that have prevailed have put the book aside as an imposture will voluntarily disinherit themselves rather than look into their Fathers will for themselves, and even deny that they have a Father, because what purports to be His will has been absurdly expounded by others? Here is a fountain opened that will satisfy the highest aspirations of the affections and the intellects of the most cultured, as well as of the humblest. And to its Divine beatitudes, the Spirit and the Bride say, Come; whoever has drunk of the fountains says, Come; and whosoever will, may come and partake freely.
nd over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them.
And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
And God saw everything that He had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the, morning were the sixth dag." Gen. i. 26-28, 31.
The passage I have read announces the work of the sixth day. As I have limited myself to a single lecture upon the record of each day, it will be quite impossible to take up each symbol, or even each verse, separately, as each in itself would be more than sufficient to occupy the time to the limit of your patience. Let it simply be stated that as the fishes and fowls created on the fifth day represent the first living affections for natural truth and for spiritual perception, the nobler animals of the sixth day represent the spiritual affections for embodying these truths in life, in the practical forms of gentleness, usefulness, courage, and other truly human qualities. Our thought in this lecture will be chiefly confined to the noblest human qualities, the gift of which is described as the creation of man in the image of God. You will observe that although it is said in the twenty-sixth verse, And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, yet in the next verse, wherein it is said that God made man, He only made him in His image, and not yet in His likeness. This is really the work of the seventh day, as we shall see in the next lecture. For it reads, So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them.
Of course, the same principle of interpretation applies to the work of this day as to that of all the preceding days. We must still look within to the mental processes of the mind, and not to the outward and physical creation of the body. The body is not the real man, any more than the clothes he wears are the real body. The real man is an immortal spirit, destined to live forever in a world where all things are spiritual like himself. His immortal interests centre in that other world. His body is material, fitted for the uses of the spirit in a material world, and is only designed for his temporary occupancy, and to be the instrument through which he comes to conscious rapport as it were with nature and natural things. The body of itself can neither hear, nor see, nor taste, nor feel. Much less can it think, and reason, and love, and hope of itself. It is the spirit that does all these things through the body. But neither can the spirit do anything in the sphere of nature without the body. It is only by and through the exquisite organization of the body that the spirit can come into conscious relations with natural things. Take the spirit from the body, and although its organization remains, it is as unconscious as the unorganized rock, or the dust unto which it returns. Strip the body from the spirit and the spirit is no longer in the sphere of nature, nor can it affect, or be affected by, material substances.
Because the spirit is the real man it is in the human form, with all the organs far more complete and perfect, and all the senses and faculties far more exquisite than the body, because composed of spiritual substances, which are purer by a discrete degree than any sublimation of matter.
I am quite aware that it is difficult to receive this proposition at first sight, for habits of thought are like all other habits, exceedingly difficult to acquire, and far more difficult to give up or change. We fall unconsciously into the habit of thought that prevails around us; and the prevailing thought of our day, as each one of you may verify by simply looking within himself, is a denial or doubt of the existence of a spiritual world as a substantial reality, or the existence of man as man in that world.
Most persons admit in words that there is a spiritual world into which people go when they die, but very few, in fact, really believe it. Let me demonstrate this to your consciousness by leading you into your own secret thoughts. Will you consent to accompany me there for a moment and bring back a true report of what you find ? I am not in these lectures, as you have no doubt discovered, attempting to force dogmas upon you by the authority of miracles or of great names. Happily, the yoke of mental as well as of bodily slavery is being removed from the people of our day, and they are beginning to exercise their freedom. But the habits acquired in a state of bondage, whether mental or physical, will not be thrown off at once. They will only be outgrown, and that gradually. And as true freedom can only exist in conformity to true law, many disorders must be expected to take place during the transition state. The slave, suddenly emancipated from physical bondage, is very liable to mistake license for liberty, and to despise all law that would hold him in restraint for his good. And so the mind that throws off the yoke of mere authority which it has discovered to be usurped and irrational, is in great danger of rejecting, without sufficient consideration, everything that bears the slightest semblance of that from which it has escaped. Is not this true in all history? And is it not equally true in the inmost consciousness of every one of you? I know it is. Hence it is that when men become satisfied that what has been taught to them as the veritable truth of God, their belief being demanded on His authority, is not, and cannot be true, the tendency is to reject, or neglect, if not openly to deny, all that claims to come from Him. Thus, when geology, astronomy, and other sciences demonstrate the common interpretation of the first chapters of Genesis to be wholly erroneous, the impulse is to reject the record itself as false. It is only by the exercise of the truly rational faculties that the mind can escape this tendency and avoid falling into the abyss of cold, blank negation, sinking into the mere plane of nature, a human animal without the conscious feeling of relationship to the heavenly Father, or the aspirations for a fitness for an eternal home in that Fathers house of many mansions.
I have said that taking our beliefs from the common thought of the day, as we almost unconsciously do, while there are but few who openly deny a spiritual world, in which men live after death, yet very few do, in fact, believe it. This may seem like a startling assertion. And it was for the purpose of demonstrating its truth that I invited you in all kindness to accompany me into your own inmost thoughts, and bravely face whatever witness you may find there, for I do not propose to introduce any others. Now be true to yourselves and for a moment analyze your secret thoughts; when you think of people do you not think chiefly of their bodies ? When you think of man and woman, do you not think almost exclusively of their physical form, rather than of higher and spiritual characteristics? When you read that God made man, do you not at once refer the statement to the creation of his body? And when you read of His taking a rib from the man and making it into a woman, do you ever think of anything beyond the formation of her body? And when you think of the soul or spirit, is not the idea so exceedingly vague and indefinite as to be a mere word without definite thought in it ? Do you not think of the spirit as some vital principle analogous to electricity, that somehow acts upon the brain and nerves and thus sets the machine in motion ? Is not that your secret thought, imbibed from the common thought of the age and the Church upon that subject? Do you ever think of the spirit as being the real man or woman, with a most perfect organization, and fitted for activities in a spiritual world as the body is in the natural world?
That this merely sensuous thought has taken the supreme place in the mind of the Church is clear from the fact that she has provided in her theology for a merely sensuous resurrection to take place at the end of the world. Because she practically denied that the real man was a spirit with all that constitutes him man, and only retained the vague idea that the soul was some vital principle without organization or form or functions, she could not clearly conceive of its living as a man after death. But as the Word as well as the aspirations of the mind itself pointed to a future and immortal life, and as such a life without the human form and functions was clearly irrational, she fell back upon the theory that God, by an effort of omnipotence, would, at the end of the world, resurrect or raise up out of their graves and sepulchres and tombs all the bodies of all the men and women that ever lived, and that when these bodies were ready, the souls, or animating principles, that had vitalized them when they lived thousands of years before would return, and entering these resurrected bodies, would again animate them, and that then they would live forever. This sensuous idea is by no means new in the world. It is the necessary theory of all ages and people that have lost the perception of spiritual things, and cannot elevate the thought above the sphere of nature. Thus, the Egyptians in the days of their spiritual decline seem to have lost their former knowledge of an immediate resurrection and a spiritual world, to have forgotten the origin of their custom of embalming, which probably was emblematic of eternal life, and to have associated it in their minds with a physical resurrection.
It is good for men to cherish even this sensuous belief of a mere sensuous resurrection when they have lost, or have not the capacity to receive, a more spiritual and rational faith; for it still enables them to have some conception, however vague, of a future life, which lifts them immeasurably above the cold negation that places man—who is destined to immortality—among the beasts that perish.
It is not in the purview of this lecture to discuss the doctrine of the resurrection; and I have merely referred to the common belief of it to call your attention to your own thought of what man really is, that you may the better comprehend what we understand by Gods creating him male and female in His image, as it is recorded in our text. The subject is one of the greatest importance at the present time, for the reason that it will soon be impossible for persons of reflection to retain any belief in the resurrection of material bodies. Some have been dissolved for thousands of years, and the substances which composed them have passed through a thousand vegetable, animal, and human forms, in their ever-changing mutations. A few years ago our country rocked beneath the tread of contending armies. A hundred battle-fields absorbed the life-blood of thousands of our fellow-men. Thousands of their bodies were laid in trenches on these bloody fields. The clangor of arms had scarcely ceased before vegetation grew rank upon these fields, organizing into vegetable forms the substances which had composed the bodies of our friends. What was the substance of their bodies thus becomes the substance of the vegetation that grows from them. The various animals feeding upon this vegetation transmute the substance of these bodies into animal-flesh. We in our turn consume the same substance in the meat we buy in the market, and they become for the time a part of our bodies. So the process will go on from age to age, until every particle of matter that ever entered into the composition of a human body will have entered again into the structure of other bodies, vegetable, animal, or human. This being so, it will in time be seen and acknowledged, and then the idea of the resurrection of the material bodies of the dead will be given up; and if there is no more rational and spiritual faith to take its place when the sun becomes dark and the moon ceases to shine and the stars fall from heaven, there will be an everlasting night; darkness covering the earth and gross darkness the people.
That the spirit is the real man, organized in all respects as the body is, but with infinitely greater perfection, may be seen, not with the natural eye, but with the eye of reason, in the very organism of the body. This ought to be seen clearly by the anatomist and physiologist, who have studied the human organization. But it can be seen, less clearly perhaps, even by those who have only the common knowledge on these subjects. The human body, which seems to the eye a simple, unitary machine, is, in fact, compounded of many human forms, ascending from grosser to the more refined, until the last even of the material forms eludes the knife of the dissector.
You have all seen either a human skeleton or the picture of one. It is the human form in a very coarse image, and is composed of hard, gross matter. But that human form can neither move nor feel nor think. It is too far removed from spiritual substances for the use of spiritual forces.
Over and united to this grossest and most imperfect form is another more perfect one, composed of the muscular system. This system may be separated from the bony skeleton, and if held up to view it will approach much nearer to the human form than the first. This form, although designed to act upon the skeleton, and cause its movements, still cannot move or feel or think of itself, and is still too far removed from the spirit for its use.
Again, in the systems of arteries and veins you have still more perfect human forms, and of finer substances, that go far towards filling out the deficiencies and angularities of the bony skeleton and the muscular system. But they are still too gross for the uses of the spirit.
Now, if you take the brain and nervous system you find it composed of still finer materials, and if, in thought if not in fact, you abstract from it all the other systems, still the human form will be complete and perfect, for this permeates and fills every minutest part of all the others, and is a perfect organization, and the nearest approach that matter can make towards spirit.
The human form, therefore, as we see it, is in fact a series of such forms, each clothing and supporting the lower forms, and successively moulding the body more nearly to the perfect human form. The skeleton, composed of solid matter, shows this form the least. The comparatively coarse muscular system shows it more, but only in the measure that it recedes from the solidity of the bones. The arterial and venous systems show the human form still more perfectly as they recede still farther, and when we come to the most complex, highly organized, and most fully vitalized of all the parts, the brain and nerves, they are capable of presenting the perfection of the human form.
But the nervous system, although inconceivably finer and more highly organized than those below it, is still material, and incapable of acting of itself, is, in fact, out the instrument through and by which the mind or spirit acts upon the lower systems, and through them holds intercourse with the external world of matter.
If you ask me for a sensuous proof of the existence of this spirit, to present it to the test of the natural senses, I frankly say to you, I cannot furnish the evidence. For if I should make the attempt, and succeed to your entire satisfaction, convincing you that you actually saw, and heard, and conversed with a spirit with your natural senses, the very success would be conclusive proof that we were mistaken. For the natural senses cannot by any possible sublimation come into this relation with the spiritual. The worlds of matter and spirit are separated by a discrete degree, and influx is not from the natural to the spiritual, but the reverse. This is clearly indicated in the order seen in the various systems of the body. Action therein does not begin with the bony structure and so proceed to the finer. But it begins with the highly organized brain and nervous system, and flows downward through those less and still less perfectly organized till it reaches the system which is least so. We do not know from revelation how this complicated thing, the human body, was first produced, for revelation does not teach us natural science. It was not given for that purpose, and would have prevented all the progress and growth of the reasoning faculties if it had been. But we do know that the body is now, like everything else, a growth,—the effect of a producing cause. It was I think demonstrated in a former lecture that the natural world, including our bodies, was a world of effects, the causes of which were in the spiritual world. And I assumed, without an attempt at proof, that there was a Divine, Spiritual Being who was and is the first cause of all things, in whom alone is life; that all created things are but recipients of life from Him, the infinite source of all life; and that this life is received and manifested according to the various forms and organizations of the recipients.
If this is indeed a world of effects, the causes of which are in the spiritual world, then the body has the human form, because the spirit which animates and fills and perfects it is pre-eminently in the human form, and has all the organs and members of the body, but composed of spiritual substances, as the body is of natural. Such a spirit, when separated from this material body, will be a man or a woman far more complete and perfect both in form and function than is the body.
This spiritual body is immortal not because it has life in itself any more than the body has, but because it is a form gifted not for a few years but forever with the power of receiving life. All life is from the Lord, who alone is life, and all things that live do so by reason of the influx of this life into their varied forms. Like the heat and light of the sun, this life is a perpetual emanation from its infinite fountain. The reason why vegetables and animals and men are not immortal in this world is not because the life that animates fails, but because the material forms which receive the life are gifted by the Lord with that power only for a time.
The sun of the natural world is the symbol and representative of the Lord in the spiritual world. Its heat and light and their influx into natural things are the correspondents and representatives of the love and wisdom, or the life from the Lord, and their influx into spiritual things. It is known, for instance, that vegetation needs for its growth the influx of the suns heat and light into its varied forms, and that, while the heat and light are unfailing in their source in the sun, and are given out with a Divine impartiality to all, each plant receives and uses them according to its peculiar form. The same natural elements flowing into one form distil the fragrance of the rose, and into another the poison of the nightshade, the difference being not in the light and heat, but in the recipient forms into which they flow.
If this be true, and every botanist will confirm its truth, then it is plain that if the substances which compose the rose were gifted with a constant and unfailing power to receive the life from heaven and the heat and light from the sun, the rose would be an immortal bloom, for the sources of its life are unfailing. The rose is mortal, and fades because, like all material things, the substances which compose it are enabled only for a time to receive the gift of life. Mans body is mortal for the same reason. When the forms of its exquisite organization so change that it can no longer serve as a recipient of life, it, like the rose, goes to decay. But mans spiritual body, which is the real man, organized with infinite perfection, so as to coincide with and act upon the brain and nervous system of the body, as that does upon the systems below it, is immortal because it is composed of living, spiritual substances gifted with the power of forever receiving and clothing the life from God. Because the source of life is eternal, and the spiritual body is gifted with this enduring power, man as to his spirit is immortal, and will live forever in a spiritual world when the material body no longer serves the uses of his spirit in this natural world. And he will live there a man, far more highly organized than he is here.
It is of this spirit, this real, this immortal man, his eternal interests and his eternal destiny, and not of his mortal body and his transient interests in the natural world, that revelation treats. But in order that man could enjoy the highest happiness and approach forever the infinite source of his being, it was necessary that in affection and thought he should be rational and free. Without this he might have been a perfectly moving machine, or a cunning animal, but he would not have been man, capable of the happiness that might result from his conscious conjunction and co-operation with the love and wisdom of his Divine Creator. But this freedom to progress and enjoy involved the possibility to retrograde and suffer. And having so retrograded and brought upon himself the consequences of a perversion of his faculties or forms until he could no longer receive the orderly inflow of life from its source, he sunk into ignorance and misery. And the record in Genesis which we have been considering, instead of being the history of the first formation of a single man, or pair, as to the body, is a Divine history of the development of mans spiritual faculties, and also of the process of recovery, or regeneration, or creation anew into the lost image of his Heavenly Father; the bringing of him back to that orderly state in which he can be in accord with the laws of Divine order and be happy forever. This is not a work that was once performed six thousand years ago, but it is the process through all time, and applicable to us and to all people.
Through the symbols of the five preceding days we have, in as many lectures, traced this process of regeneration, rising step by step, until the understanding has become enlightened with heavenly truths, and the will or affections purified to be the recipients of the Lords love or good. It is in this state only that man is truly man. And while the Lord has been working to this end through all the previous days or states, it was not until those several steps had been successively reached and passed that a true man could be made. The statement concerning his creation relates to a Divine work more important than the formation of mans material body. It tells of the attainment of that regenerate state in which he possesses in a high degree those spiritual excellencies to which the preceding steps of mental and moral development have contributed.
There are various ideas of what constitutes a man. In one view, the lowest and most sensuous, he is a man by reason of his form alone. In a rude state of society he is considered truly a man by reason of his superior physical power and courage. In our laws he is considered a man when he is twenty-one years of age. And so the standard and measure of manhood changes with the different aspects in which he is viewed. But throughout the Divine Word the term is only used approvingly to designate moral and spiritual excellence. Hence the Lord, speaking through the prophet Jeremiah, of the apostasy of the Church, says, I beheld, and lo, there was no man. And so, too, it is declared in the same prophet, in speaking of Jerusalem, or the Church, that if a man could be found therein she should be pardoned, or delivered. In these and other instances that might be referred to, it is evident that by man is meant interior excellence, and not the mere human being.
To produce this excellence is the creation of man, and when it is completed he is made in the image and likeness of God. To the careless reader the terms image and likeness seem to mean the same thing, and the expression is mere tautology. It would be so in a book of human composition written in ignorance of the science of correspondences. But there are no such defects in the language of the Divine Word. No doubt every reader of the Bible has been struck with the frequency with which terms that seem to mean the same thing are used together. In a previous lecture a number of such apparent tautologies were quoted, and it was then seen that in every instance one term of the couplet has reference to things of the will and the other to things of the understanding, or one to the celestial and the other to the spiritual degree in man.
Man is made in the image of God when from the knowledge of truths in the understanding he does the good which these truths make manifest to him that he ought to do. These truths teach him the duties which he owes to himself, his neighbor, his country, the Church, and to the Lord, and he does them because he sees that it is his duty to do so. And because the Lord is the giver or doer of good to all His creatures, man becomes an image or reflection of the Lord when he does in his finite degree what the Lord does in His infinite measure. When he has progressed so far in the regenerate life as to do good from an intellectual perception of the order and harmony of the Divine Providence, which he sees has universal good for its end, he is a spiritual man and is in the image of God. To this state the sixth day brings him. But it is only the image and not yet the likeness.
Man, as we have seen, has three degrees of life which may be successively developed, and he will be actuated by different motives in each degree. In his natural state or degree, as we all know from our necessary experience, we act wholly from natural, and although not always consciously, yet, in fact, from selfish motives. In this state we struggle for subsistence, for worldly possessions, for eminence and distinction among our fellows in whatever calling or pursuit we may be engaged. And this is perfectly legitimate and right if the rights of others are not infringed, as it is the spur that drives us on to all material improvement. But all can see that the motives that impel us are in their very nature selfish. The servant in the kitchen, the laborer at his toil, the mechanic in his shop, the farmer in his field, the merchant in his store, the banker in his office, the lawyer at the bar, the judge on the bench, the legislator in his hall, and the executive in his function, may each act honestly in the performance of his duty, simply because he sees it to be for his personal or pecuniary interest to do so. It is so evidently the interest of all to be honest, that the man or woman is morally insane who does not see it. But it is seen at once that while the temporal good of society may be advanced by this outward manifestation of honesty, the individual may be making no progress at all towards an interior spiritual excellence or elevation of character, while he is only outwardly honest from these selfish motives. Indeed, he may be inducing on himself all the time the permanent character of a great criminal. He may covet and desire the property of another until he would be willing to appropriate it to himself, if he could do so with absolute certainty that he would never be detected, and thus lose more than he would gain by the transaction. But every such thought or feeling cherished makes the man or the woman in permanent character as surely a thief as would the outward act of stealing, and it acts far more insidiously. The same is true of all other conceivable crimes.
But the Providence of God is such that, while men in this state work in their respective spheres only for themselves, yet they work at the same time unwillingly for the good of others. For instance, a company, for their self-interest so far as their motive is concerned, build a manufactory of some kind, as a nail-mill or salt-furnace. Their ruling incentive is to make money for their own benefit. And I do not suppose it is stating the case too strongly to say that this company, if they could sell a less costly and slightly inferior article at the same price as a superior one, and could thereby secure larger dividends without loss of credit, would be almost certain to do so. But happily the ring of inexorable necessity, or Providence if you will, so encircles them that in order to find a permanent market for the nails or the salt a good article must be produced. But if the disposition exists to throw on the public an inferior article, those who indulge it are in the eternal verities of spiritual life simply cheats, although for the sake of their pecuniary interests they do in fact furnish goods of the very best quality, and in this way the community is greatly benefited. This is but a faint picture of the natural degree of mans life. Hence the strifes, and envies, and rivalries, and hatreds that render necessary the restraints of law and the terror of its penalties to prevent society from manifesting in its outward form, as it does eternally the image and likeness of hell.
It is plain that man in this state has neither the image nor the likeness of God; for God does not work from these motives, nor does He cherish these feelings. Unless we can be raised out of this state we must be forever in conflict with His Providence, and forever slaves, doing unwillingly, and therefore repulsive, work.
But when man has become regenerated to the spiritual degree, he then acts from different motives. His outward conduct may not be changed at all, for he may have acted uprightly in his several relations from the most selfish motives. But he will now do the same things not wholly for his own self-interest, but because he sees and acknowledges that justice and right demand it, and that the interests of others will be promoted thereby. And while he is not in this state prepared to forget and ignore self, yet he is prepared to love others just as well as he does himself,that is, he will not engage in anything that he desires shall, or that he believes will, injure others to his benefit, or that will not, in his best judgment, promote the good of others as well as his own. And if a company of such men should build a mill or furnace, the single motive of self-interest would not be the controlling one. Doubtless they would, as in prudence they should, aim to make it remunerative. For it is the duty of every one to provide for himself and those dependent on him, that he may have the means to advance the interests of the Church and society that surround him. These are not selfish motives. And the company I have supposed will add to these motives the further one that by so employing their means they can furnish employment for many persons whom they could not otherwise benefit, and in this way be doing works of charity in a much higher degree than if they should give all their means to support the poor in idleness. They would also, as a part of their motive, have in view the mental culture and spiritual improvement of those they expected to employ, and would aim so to deal with and treat them that they might be led to better lives and to the Church and heaven. They would also have a view to the improvement of their country, which is the neighbor in a larger sense, and which every good man ought to love, and does love more than those who are simply near him, because the welfare of all is involved in the welfare of the country. Because the spiritual man acts from these higher motives he is the image of God, and is therefore a man. But as it required the processes of all the preceding days to bring him into this state, and as his regeneration has been a Divine work in which the man himself has only co-operated, it is said that God on this day made man in His image.
The Lords purpose is, as announced, to make him in His likeness also; for God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. To be made in the image of God is to be regenerated in the spiritual degree of life so as to be in that state that in all things man shall regard his neighbor as himself and act in obedience to the demands of the truth. To attain to the Lords likeness he must live a good life in heavenly freedom, that is from love for God and His ways. God is love; and from love nothing but good to others can emanate. What God does, therefore, is done from pure love, without a taint of selfishness. And to be like Him, or in His likeness, a man or angel must act from a like impulse. And this man cannot do until he comes into the celestial degree of life. In this state he will not act from selfish motives as the natural man, nor from mere obedience to truth, but because he is moved to eternal activity in promoting the welfare of others by the unerring attraction of love. He will be like God. That state will be the Sabbath, an eternal rest,not a rest from useful and beneficent activities, for angels, as the very name means, are the Lords messengers of mercy,but rest from that painful labor of overcoming evils which made life a struggle and a conflict.
We learn, therefore, in the creations of this sixth day how there are formed in man the genuine affections of good and useful life represented by the animals, and, finally, those noblest, peculiarly human faculties of rationality and freedom. These are the faculties which are called man. To them is given the dominion of all the subordinate affections, and the fruits of all the growths of intelligence. These are what make man to be man, and cause him to be in the image and likeness of his Maker. Each step in the formation of a truly human character the Lord saw and pronounced good, but of the work of this sixth day it is said, God saw everything that He had made, and, behold, it was very good.
Gen. ii. 1-3.
We have, in as many lectures, indicated the meaning of the six days of creation according to the science of correspondences as understood in the New Church. I say indicated, for nothing more was attempted or was possible in the time and space -which limited the elucidation of each day in the record to a single lecture. And I cannot but think that those who have given their attention so far will be ready to admit that whatever may be the difficulties in the way of an intelligent acceptance of the record as a history of the creation of the natural things named, it does, in fact, contain within the letter, in the correspondential significance of its terms, a most perfect history of the spiritual development of primitive man from natural to spiritual and celestial states, and of the regeneration of fallen man in all ages.
In these several days we have traced the successive steps in this process of development and regeneration, until man, from his natural state of ignorance and darkness, and from the state into which he fell,—a state in which the will and the understanding are perverted and again darkened by selfish and evil loves in the affections, and errors and fallacies in the intellect,—to that state of moral and spiritual excellency in which he became a spiritual man, a new creature, the image in his finite measure of his Infinite and Divine Creator.
But this did not complete the purpose of the divine love, which was not only to make man into His image, but also after His likeness. And this crowning glory is the work of the seventh day, or Sabbath. That the work was not completed in the six days is evident, for it reads : And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it He had rested from all His work which God created and made.
We have seen that the work described as done on the six days is not the creation of the natural universe, for of this the record was not given to be a history, but the regeneration of man; the making of him in the divine image. The six days of labor were the successive states in the process of this regeneration in which man is in combat with his evils; and when these evils are subdued and this combat ceases man comes into a state of peace and rest; not rest from the activities of a useful life, but from the internal warfare through which he has passed. And because it is God that has worked in man and enabled him to conquer, when man comes into that state it is said that God rested from all His work, and blessed, sanctified, and hallowed the seventh day. We have abundantly demonstrated that day in these records does not mean time, but state; and therefore it is this state to which the regenerate man has arrived,—a state of holy and loving accordance with the divine will and providence that God blesses; and it is from conflict which now ceases that he rests.
While the Christian Church still clings, in some sort, to the belief that the record is a history of the natural creation, it has so modified that belief, and endeavored to adapt its interpretation to the advance of science, as effectually to destroy it as a literal history, but without supplying its place with any rational interpretation. That God, about six thousand years ago, worked six literal days in making the natural universe, and then rested literally the seventh day, and for that reason hallowed it, is no longer believed by any person of any degree of rationality. I do not suppose that a minister or layman of any intelligence could be found in any sect of the Christian Church who would be willing, in the light of this day, to affirm a belief in the literal meaning of the record as it was held and understood even fifty years ago. But when the literal construction of the language is thus given up, the danger is apparent that the record itself will come to be neglected, and finally denied, unless it can be shown that it has a divinely true and important meaning of vital interest to all men, which was not seen by those who mistook it for a literal history in the times of darkness and ignorance of the natural sciences. And such is the fact to an extent that is alarming to the theologians of the day. Throughout all Europe the Bible, as a divine book, has practically lost its hold upon the educated classes. They do not, as a general thing, denounce it as the infidels of the last century did; they simply ignore it, as a thing in which they have no interest. They simply do not believe it, and therefore they do not investigate it. They see that the interpretation given to it forages is not only in conflict with natural science, but that its friends, by their new expositions, fully admit the fact. And when they look at the new interpretation they find that it not only departs from the literal meaning of the record, but is in itself hardly more satisfactory than the old.
And this statement is nearly as true of this country as it is of Europe. Take our own New England. How many of her ministers deny any divinity to the Bible! They preach its high moral precepts, and doubtless cultivate thereby a high state of natural refinement in society. But the same effects would follow if they took their texts from the maxims of Confucius or Plato. The whole tendency is to undermine the authority of the Bible as the absolute word and wisdom of God. But while this state of the public mind has some features to be deplored, yet it carries with it the promise and the prophecy of a glorious future. It is emancipating mens minds from the trammels of mere dogmatic authority, and many are seeking for a clearer light, and will not be satisfied with what does not meet the wants of their highest rationality. That want will eventually be supplied for such minds by the science of correspondences, which unites God with His creation, His Word with His works, and philosophy with religion in an everlasting marriage, and at the wedding-feast mans highest reason will be the most honored guest.
Because man, in the process of his regeneration, passes through six states of combat or spiritual labor before he reaches his highest state, in which, as a conqueror, all conflict ceases, and as this completes the work and makes him into the likeness of God, or holy, therefore the number six in the Word means combat, and seven what is full and perfect, and also what is holy. All numbers in the Word have a spiritual signification wherever they occur. And this signification always has a profoundly scientific basis, either in natural or spiritual processes. It was because of this spiritual process, and to symbolize it in outward life, that time was divided by the most ancient church or people into weeks of seven days, in which men engaged in natural labor for six days to represent this state of combat, and rested on the seventh, or Sabbath, to represent the state of peace and tranquillity of the regenerate state. For we know that the Sabbath was not an original institution with Moses, although enjoined upon the Jews by him. Like the whole of the Jewish economy and the ceremonials of their worship, it was selected from existing customs because of its ability to represent spiritual things. They were too natural a people to constitute a spiritual church, or even to comprehend in any degree spiritual things. They did not, therefore, know anything of the real significance of their gorgeous ceremonials. But they could, from that very fact, be formed into a most perfect representative of a true church, observing with the most exact particularity external forms and ceremonies which served the purpose of correspondences for containing the spiritual principles which these forms symbolized. They thus furnished a basis for the Divine Word, that it might be written according to correspondences for the use of men when they should arrive at a state of spiritual development in which they could receive its spiritual sense; the Word, in the mean time, from its internal sanctity and divinity, serving to conjoin the spiritual and natural worlds by correspondence, although men were not in a state to perceive it.
Because the number six, for the reasons given, means combat, and because the number ten, with its multiples, as a hundred and a thousand, means all there is of the subject referred to, and because the multiplication of two numbers gives in the product the combined meaning of both, as was stated in former lectures, therefore it is recorded that Noah was six hundred years old when he entered the ark. The story of the flood, as the record of a literal event, is given up by all the Christian Church, at least by the intelligent portion of it. It means not a flood of literal waters, but of spiritual temptations. And the ark does not mean a natural ship to save Noah from a natural flood, but true doctrine formed of divine truths which constitutes the Lords true church, or the kingdom of heaven with man. This ark saved him from the flood of spiritual evil which overwhelmed all who were not within its protection. But Noah could not come into that ark and be safe until he had lived just six hundred years,—that is, until he had passed through the states of combat signified by the number six, and through all of them, as signified by six hundred, being the product of six and a hundred multiplied together. Of course we do not mean by Noah any individual man of that name, but an ancient church called Noah, as the most ancient was called Adam, and a subsequent one was called Israel.
Because six signifies combat, and to represent it, it was ordained in the Jewish law that the servant should serve six years and then go free; and also that the land itself should be cultivated six years, and rest or remain wholly uncultivated the seventh. And because by a king, in the Word, is meant truth ruling, and by the throne on which he sat is signified judgment according to truth, and because such judgment is only possible by those who have overcome all selfish and evil purposes, it was provided that the throne upon which Solomon and the kings of Israel sat in judgment should have six steps, to signify that all internal combats must cease before absolute truth reigns. For the same reason it is recorded by Matthew that at the crucifixion of the Lord there was darkness over all the earth from the sixth to the ninth hour, and that at the ninth hour Jesus yielded up the ghost. As six signifies combat, and nine is the product of three multiplied by itself, and as three means what is full, and its square or nine, fulness in the highest degree, it means that the Lords combat with evil, or the hells, was plenary and complete. Many other instances might be quoted, but it is unnecessary.
And that the number seven signifies what is perfect and holy, from the perfect and holy state of man when he becomes regenerated in the celestial degree and is made into the likeness of God, may be seen from the many instances in which that number is used in the Word. Indeed, so manifest is this that all commentators have had a perception that the number had a figurative meaning and a sense not apparent in the letter; but not understanding anything of the science of correspondences, their guesses at its real meaning have been conflicting and fantastic.
To quote the passages wherein the number seven occurs would be to weary your patience, as every reader of the Word is aware of the frequency of its use. It occurs throughout the whole Word, from our text in Genesis to the close of the Revelation. But to show that it means a holy and regenerate state in man it will be sufficient to refer you to the twenty-first and twenty-second verses of the eighteenth chapter of Matthew, which read : Then came Peter to Him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. Which means that state of entire regeneration which brings man into the likeness of God, who is love and forgiveness itself. The Lord has authorized us to pray for forgiveness only as we forgive others. And it is manifest that when the mind is brought into that state in which it can freely and spontaneously forgive all injuries, there can be no further internal conflict. Such a mind will be a Sabbath to the Lord.
Any one will see by reading the record that there is not the slightest authority for giving to the seventh day any other meaning as to time than to either of the preceding days. The transition sometimes attempted from geological periods in the six days to literal time in the seventh is violent, unauthorized, and is clearly a desperate effort by this expedient and after-thought to uphold a mistaken theory that was adopted in times of great mental and spiritual darkness. There is not the slightest intimation in the whole history that all the days are not to be taken in the same sense as to time. Therefore, if the six days do not mean respectively a revolution of the earth, neither does the seventh. And therefore those who adopt the theory of indefinite geological eras for the six days must in consistency give up the literal understanding of the seventh day also. And now a need is felt for an intelligible interpretation of the record which no natural learning or ingenuity can supply. This being so, I would earnestly ask those of candid minds—and this in the kindest spirit of charity and good-will—at least to examine the explanation furnished by the science of correspondences, which makes the whole record consistent, rational, and divine. I make this appeal the more readily because of the fact that the New Church interpretation was given before the natural sciences had disturbed the general acceptance of the old interpretation, and without the purpose of avoiding these difficulties, while the theory commonly accepted to-day was adopted solely and avowedly to meet the exigency which arose from the utter overthrow of its former interpretation by the development of the natural sciences.
A careful consideration of the various reasons assigned in the Word for the institution of the Sabbath, or seventh day, as a day of rest will satisfy any candid inquirer that something more must be meant than appears in the mere natural sense of the letter. Here in our text the seventh day is said to be blessed and sanctified, because that in it God ended all His work and rested. But no rational mind at this day can be so gross as to contend that God was really fatigued with manual labor on the six days, and needed to rest on the seventh, as a toiling man does. But if it does not mean just that, then it does not mean what the letter expresses, and we are not only at liberty but are in duty bound to seek for its true meaning. And as the idea that God was weary and needed rest is wholly inadmissible, so it is equally irrational to suppose that He ceased His divine operations, as it manifestly requires the same power and providence to preserve and sustain that it does to create. The true meaning, therefore, of the expressions that God ended His work and rested on the seventh day is to be found in the states of man, and not of his immutable and Divine Creator.
In the twentieth chapter of Exodus we have the ten commandments, among which is the ordinance of the Sabbath, and the reason assigned for its institution is expressed in these words : For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it. This, it will be seen, is the same reason as that assigned in the text. But we have seen in our lectures on those days that it was the creation of man into the image of God, and not of the natural universe, that the record in Genesis treats; and it therefore means the same thing here, for the Word is consistent and divine throughout in its internal sense. Consequently it is here, as it is there, man in his regenerate state that is the Sabbath which the Lord sanctifies and blesses, and of which the rest of the Sabbath was a type.
In the fifth chapter of Deuteronomy we have the ten commandments again recited before the assembled multitude of Israel, in the most solemn and imposing manner, but here all reference to creation is omitted from the third, and a wholly different reason is assigned for the institution and observance of the Sabbath. In Exodus, before referred to, the reason assigned is, For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it. But here in Deuteronomy the reason is assigned in these words: And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched-out arm: therefore the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the Sabbath day.
These two different promulgations of the commandments, and the totally different reasons assigned for the giving of the third, or the institution of the Sabbath, has presented a difficulty to the commentators which they have never been able to overcome. I need not weary you with reciting their conflicting and unsatisfactory attempts at explanation and reconciliation. It is simply impossible to reconcile them in the mere letter. In one instance the reason assigned is that God ended His work of creation on that day, and therefore sanctified it; and in the other the reason is that God brought Israel out of bondage in Egypt, and therefore instituted and sanctified it There is no conflict in the spiritual sense of these reasons. We have seen that the six days of creation signify the combats with evil through which man passes in the process of regeneration, and the seventh the state of holy rest which he enjoys when he has overcome, and the conflict ceases. And the bondage of Israel in Egypt signifies precisely the same thing. The Lord brought them from a state of labor and conflict to a land of freedom, in which they were delivered from their severe servitude. This deliverance, since all we have of Jewish history in the Word is given for the sake of the spiritual sense which that history symbolizes, signifies the regeneration of man and his deliverance from servitude to his baser propensities signified by Egypt, and his elevation to that state of holy freedom and rest symbolized by the Sabbath, which means rest.
That this is the meaning of the Sabbath, a regenerated state of man, and not merely one day in seven of natural time that the Lord blesses, is most plainly declared by the Lord through Moses in another place. If you will turn to the thirty-first chapter of Exodus, the twelfth and thirteenth verses, you will find these most significant words: And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my Sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you.
Here is the distinct declaration that the Sabbath is a sign, or symbol, or representative, or correspondent, of the work of the Lord in sanctifying or regenerating His people.
In Genesis and Exodus, which I have quoted, it is declared that the Lord sanctified the Sabbath because on it He ended His work and rested. In Deuteronomy, which I have likewise quoted, it is declared that the Sabbath was sanctified because He had brought Israel out of bondage in Egypt. And here it is declared that the Sabbath is a sign by which it may be known that it is the Lord that sanctifies His people. It is seen that the literal sense is in irreconcilable conflict, and could yield us no possible spiritual instruction if it could be reconciled. For suppose it was admitted by all that God did really work six literal days in making the world, and did really rest on the seventh day, and for that reason did command and require men to rest on every seventh day, can any one conceive what possible spiritual instruction it would convey ? It might be a very good reason why we should obey the command if we had no higher conception of God than of an all-powerful ruler whose arbitrary orders it would not be safe to disobey. But would not that be all? And is not that the reason that is assigned by many even yet for keeping the Sabbath ? Do we not: hear it proclaimed that God will be angry, just as an arbitrary ruler would be, at the disregard of His commands, and will pour out His wrath and fury upon the disobedient ? It is well for those who see nothing spiritual in the Divine Word to accept it even in this merely natural light, for it is to them a restraint upon their outward conduct, which is a natural good to society even when fear alone is the motive. And if it is only seen in the sense of the letter, and only as an arbitrary command, yet if it is respected even in this low conception of it, because it is held to be the will of the Lord, and with the desire to do His will, the observance will have a spiritual and elevating effect upon the mind that so regards it although unconscious of its higher significance.
But suppose the other reason assigned—namely, that the Lord, with a mighty hand and an out-stretched arm, brought the children of Israel out of bondage in Egypt, and therefore commanded them to keep the Sabbath—should be adopted by common consent as the ground of its institution, would that furnish any spiritual instruction to aid us in our conflicts with our own evils ? It might add so much to our knowledge of the literal history of the Jews some three or four thousand years ago ; but would it have any more sanctity or divinity than the same fact if it was found in Herodotus or Strabo, unless it has an internal, spiritual sense above mere human history, a sense that brings it home to us in our every-day life and duty ? Every one sees that it would not.
But if it is understood, as it is declared to be, a sign throughout all generations, that it is the Lord that sanctifies or regenerates His people, and the true nature and processes of that regeneration are understood by means of the science of correspondences as portrayed in the spiritual sense of the six days of labor and the seventh of rest in the one case, and in the bondage in Egypt and deliverance therefrom in the other; and when it is seen that all men in all times and in all countries must pass through precisely the same labor and bondage before the rest and freedom of the regenerate state can be enjoyed, the institution of the Sabbath comes home to us with a personal application and interest of infinite moment. It is seen to be no longer the dry record of a literal fact in the history of a strange people of remote antiquity, but the divinely-inspired message of infinite wisdom embodying a spiritual philosophy as broad as humanity, as all-embracing as Gods providence, as enduring as eternity itself.
In this view of the subject it is seen that the controversy as to what particular day of the week should be kept as the Sabbath is wholly irrelevant to the real question ; for it is not any particular portion of natural time that the Lord sanctifies. To Him all days are alike. His infinite Divine Providence is never suspended. And if the command really required us to keep the seventh day from the beginning of the creation of natural things, and for the reason that God attached a peculiar sanctity to that and to every subsequent seventh day, it is clear to every one that some more explicit instruction would have been given to enable us to select the true Sabbath for observance, lest all mankind should desecrate the right day for want of this knowledge. Moreover, the people on the different parts of the earth could not keep the same day at the same time, for while it is sunrise in one place it is sunset at another, and when it is noon with us it is midnight with those on the opposite side of the earth. And with those living in extreme northern and southern latitudes the day extends to weeks, and even to months, of our time. If the sanctity applied to the time, therefore, the command to keep it is simply impracticable. It must, therefore, have some spiritual significance, or it means nothing of practical value to us.
Again, if it was required of the Jews to keep the Sabbath simply as a memorial of their deliverance from bondage in Egypt, then it would seem from the letter that it could apply only to the Jews, as they alone were so delivered in a natural sense. And if they, by divine direction, or otherwise, were enabled to select the correct day for observance, then it is certain that nearly all Christians are wrong, for the Jewish Sabbath was, and still is, kept upon our Saturday. And so evident is this that some Christians, as the Seventh-day Baptists, believing that the sanctity really attaches to the day, and that the Jews have the right day, conscientiously keep the seventh day, or Saturday, for their Sabbath. And if sanctity attaches to the day, they are certainly more nearly in accord with the letter of the Word than other Christians. For there is no direct command, either in the Old Testament or in the New, to change the Sabbath from Saturday under the Jewish, to Sunday under the Christian dispensation.
If asked, therefore, if we repudiate the Sabbath, we answer emphatically, No ! We establish it upon the enduring basis of mans spiritual nature and the divine philosophy of our Lord when He answered the like cavil of the Pharisees, as recorded in the twenty-seventh and twenty-eighth verses of the second chapter of Mark, And He said unto them, The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath : therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath. If the Lords declaration be true, that the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath, then its uses, if rightly understood, will be found to be in harmony with mans essential qualities, and to be an appropriate means, in Gods providential dealings with him, in working out his final destiny. Its sanctity will not depend on the particular day, or portion of natural time, but on the uses it is capable of serving in mans combats with his evils, and his deliverance from bondage to the low and sensual principles of his nature, in his regeneration and preparation for that state of tranquillity and rest which the word Sabbath signifies.
It is, therefore, not essential how the observance of it came to be changed from Saturday with the Jews to Sunday with the Christians. But as the Lord arose on the first day of the Jewish week, it seems, from all the intimations we have in the New Testament or the history of the early church, that the disciples met on that day in commemoration of the Lords resurrection. On that day the Lord came to them, and again, an eight days after, He was with them. The day became associated with His presence, and was called the Lords day. Whether they had any authority by direct revelation for letting this day take the place of the Jewish Sabbath we are not told, but doubtless they were either consciously or unconsciously led to that practice by the Lords providence, from its peculiar appropriateness. The Lord on that day arose triumphant, having conquered all the powers of evil, and glorified His humanity. He was forever beyond the assaults of infernal principles, the Prince of Peace, the Lord of the Sabbath, the Way, the Truth, the Life, the everlasting Rest of those who should follow Him in the regeneration.
The ancient churches down to the time of Moses observed the Sabbath as a memorial of the tranquillity and rest of the regenerate state, after the combats signified by the six days of labor had ceased. The Jewish Church observed it as a memorial of their deliverance from bondage in Egypt, which spiritually signified the same combat and rest. The Christian Church observed it as a memorial of the resurrection of the Lord, which was the filling out of all previous types in the conquest of all evil by means of the Lords combats therewith, and His opening thereby a new and living way to the rest, or spiritual Sabbath, of which He declares Himself the Lord. And the New Church observes it, not as a memorial of any natural event, for with her all its significance is spiritual; and not as a type, for all types were exhausted in her Divine Redeemer; but as a providential means to the divinest use, the spiritual elevation and regeneration of man. It is not, therefore, to the New Church what it was to the Jew, a day for a man to afflict his soul. It is not to her what a mistaken view made it to the stern and conscientious Christians, an arbitrary command hedged around with fearful penalties that appalled the heart and paled the cheek lest Gods fury should break forth upon them for some unconscious omission to observe with the appropriate gloom and solemnity the awful sanctity of the hallowed time. But it is to her a glorious privilege, a time of joy and gladness, a rest from worldly care, an opportunity to receive and impart spiritual instruction, and a means of release from worldly bondage and of elevation to the spiritual possibilities of life.
Our Lord performed many of His miracles upon the Sabbath, especially the healing of the diseased, which all represented the dispersion of spiritual disorders and the restoration of man to that state of order and purity in which alone true happiness can be enjoyed. But His disciples were not then prepared to look beyond the literal fact of the bodily healing to the spiritual principles which His miracles represented. They were not able to bear the full unveiled glories of the spirit and life of His words and His works. They were not able to rise above the natural degree of the mind. They looked at all things in a natural light. They expected a temporal kingdom, and were offended when He spoke of things of a higher nature, and many, we are told, when His language was such that it could not be appropriated by the natural mind in its literal sense, went back and walked no more with Him. They could understand the fact of the miracle wrought before their eyes, but could see nothing in it but the fact itself and the power which the Lord possessed, and trusted that He was to be the great earthly prince that was to deliver Israel from their Roman bondage and make them a great nation. Often had lie endeavored to teach them the grander object of His mission, but they could not comprehend it. The fourteenth chapter of John is a most touching condescension to their state, in which He soothes, encourages, instructs, and sympathizes with their feebleness of perception with a Divine compassion. He had been teaching them that His kingdom was not of this world, but they could not understand. He had been teaching them that He was about to go away from them, and that as they knew whither He went, and the way, they need not be afflicted; but they protested that they knew not whither He was going, and how could they know the way? He had been teaching them that He and the Father were one; but they could not comprehend it, and asked Him to show them the Father. With tenderest pity and appeal He says, Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me : or else believe me for the very works sake. As if He had said, If you cannot comprehend that I am one with the Father; if you cannot see the spirit and life of my teaching ; if you cannot rise above the sphere of the mere senses, then believe me on that low and sensuous ground of the cures I have performed, for the sake of the external works that I have done. But, Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do ; because I go unto my Father.
The Lords works, as well as His words, are, in their essential nature and significance, spirit and life; but they were not seen to be such by the disciples to whom He was talking. To them, neither His works nor His words meant anything more than appeared in externals. But the divine promise is that he that believeth shall do the works that He performed, in their spiritual sense, and these would be greater works than the mere healing of bodily infirmities. Bodily diseases are but types and correspondences of spiritual infirmities, the cure of which is as much greater, or more important, than the cure of physical maladies, as the spirit and its eternal happiness is of greater value than the body and its temporary welfare. These miracles of spiritual healing, even to the raising of the dead, every believer performs in the work of regeneration. As a means and an aid to this great work, the Sabbath is of inconceivable importance. But without entering into this subject, I leave it for the reflection of each one of you.
Our Lord says the Sabbath was made for man. As a mere civil institution, it is necessary to mans physical development that he should be released from labor and toil at least that proportion of his time. Without this release man would inevitably degenerate physically. He needs just such an institution to develop his social nature. A lazy stupefaction and isolation is not a useful observance of the day. It is better that friends meet in mere social reunions, if they cannot use the day for higher purposes. He needs such an institution for his mental development. The great mass of mankind are so circumstanced that their mental faculties have but little exercise in their weekly toil. And without this blessed institution a mental stagnation must be the sure result. But pre-eminently he needs the day to cultivate and develop his spiritual and religious nature. All can see that without it spiritual progress would be difficult, if not impossible, and mankind would settle back into a state of mere sensualism, if not into barbarism itself.