The Creation Of The Sun, Moon, And Stars.
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.