THE SCIENCE OF CORRESPONDENCES
COLORS, NUMBERS, WEIGHTS, MEASURES,
MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS, ETC.
“The Bible,” or Word of God, in the just and forcible language of Professor Bush, ” rises under the application of a law as fixed and invariable as the law of creation itself, with which, in fact, it becomes almost identical, into a new revelation, clothed with a sublimity, sanctity, and divinity of which we had not previously the remotest conception. It stands before us the living Oracle of Truth, which we no longer separate from the very being of its Author. He is Himself in his own truth. New treasures of wisdom gleam forth from its pages, and the most barren details of history, the recorded rounds of obsolete rituals, the driest catalogues of names, the most trivial specifications of dates, places, and enactments, once touched with the mystic wand of the spiritual sense, teem with the riches of angelic conceptions. The cosmogony of Genesis becomes the birthregister of the new-born soul. The garden of Eden smiles in every renovated mind in the intelligence and affection emblemed in its trees and fruits and flowers. The watering streams are the fructifying knowledges and truths of wisdom which make increase of the spiritual man. The Tree of Knowledge, the Tree of Life, the wily serpent, are all within us and within us all. The scenes transacted in the paradisiac purlieus are more or less the scenes of our own individual experience, and the narrative ceases to be looked upon merely as the chronicle of events that transpired thousands of years before we were born.” –Reply to Dr. Woods, p. 66.
The prismatic rays of the sun are clearly divisible into a trine, for there are the calorific rays, the colorific, and the chemical, having relation to love, wisdom, and use. Colors, as well as all other phenomena and appearances of nature mentioned in the Word, are representative, and allusions to them are very frequent. They derive their innumerable tints and hues from the refractions and reflections of the rays of heat and light from the sun, in various degrees of intensity, combined more or less with darkness, or blackness, and shade. A beam of light refracted and reflected by a prism on a dark screen, or by drops of water descending from a dark cloud, at a known angle, will exhibit an appearance of seven distinct hues, as in the rainbow. There are, however, but two fundamental elements of color, red, which is derived from the flaming light proceeding from the heat, and white from light. All colors are modifications of these with obscurity or blackness.
Colors, then, represent the modifications of the intermingling rays of spiritual heat and light by those principles and things which have respect to the natural mind. They denote the varied qualities of the respective principles treated of, both as to the intellect and the will, the thoughts and the affections. The irradiations of wisdom and truth in the dark clouds and appearances of the literal sense of the Word are the reflections of heaven’s own splendors, adaptations of the beams proceeding from the Sun of Righteousness to the ever-changing states of the human mind in the process of regeneration. In the time of trial and temptation they are ” the bow round the Almighty s throne ” (Rev. iv. 3), and the ” bow in the cloud ” (Gen. ix. 13), a token of God s eternal covenant with his faithful children, a memorial in the clouds of ignorance and error, in the mere appearances of truth, and in the dense vapors which sorrow and suffering cast over the natural mind, of his unchanging loving-kindness and faithfulness, bringing hope and consolation to the human heart.
Colors, in general, signify truths derived from goodness, and their various modifications ; or, on the contrary, different fallacious appearances of evil and error, in the constantly varying states of mental perception both as it respects the intellect and the will. They consequently denote the quality or state of which they are predicated. So far as they partake of red, they denote the quality of a thing or state, as to good, or love, or to its opposite, the obscurity of evil, and have an immediate reference to the will ; and so far as they partake of white, they signify truth in its purity, and its purifying influences, resplendent from good ; and, in the opposite sense, truth without goodness, or faith alone, and have more immediate relation to the understanding. (See Isa. i. 18.) But it will be at once seen that all shades of black, on which the variegations of obscurity depend, denote qualities originating in evil and falsity. Hence heaven is represented as an eternal state of day, for ” there is no night ihere ” (Rev. xxi. 25), proceeding from celestial fire or love, which vivifies the inmost of the soul ; while its inhabitants are described as ” clothed in white ” (Rev. vii. 9). But, on the other hand, hell is described as an everlasting state of darkness and sorrow and terror, proceeding from infernal fire, or that unchanging state of malice and hatred which torments.
On this ground of the representative meaning of colors, they are often mentioned in the Word, in both senses, and are sometimes arranged in a trine. Three of the most splendid and expensive colors were commanded by the Lord to be used in the construction and embellishment of the Tabernacle, “Blue, and purple, and scarlet “(Ex. xxv. 4, 5; xxvi. 1, etc.). These three colors serve most accurately to discriminate the threefold quality of the sincere worshipper, whose mind is represented by the Tabernacle and its beautiful furniture. Blue is descriptive of the quality of celestial light or truth, and its splendor as seen in the firmament of the intellect ; purple, the quality and brilliancy of celestial heat or love in the affections of the will ; and scarlet denotes the quality and warmth of enlightened faith and mutual charity reflected in the outward life. The brilliant colors of the costly gems set in the breastplate of Aaron (Ex. xxviii. 30), and of the precious stones which formed the foundations of the Holy City (Rev. xxi. 19, 20), signify the indefinitely varied modifications and qualities of heavenly wisdom and intelligence, beaming forth from the Word of God, translucent and shining with the celestial and spiritual resplendencies of heaven, signified by the precious gems.These bright and priceless truths of the Holy Word are the source of all just judgment, and are, also, the firm and glorious foundations on which the church is erected.
The literal sense, in many historical particulars, especially in figures or numbers, weights and measures, has been made to give way for the spiritual sense, or has been arranged without any other definite idea than what seems the purpose of the inner life, or Divine mind. This will fully account for the apparent breaks, inconsistencies, and contradictions which learned commentators have professed to discover in the historical narratives, such as the number of the Israelites who left Egypt, the time of their sojourn there, the arts and sciences among them, and many incidents in the wilderness, all of which are of little or no importance when we consider the divine and internal object which the Lord had in view by the inspiration of his Word.
Of the Lord, it is intimated by the prophet that He alone is allwise, all-good, and all-powerful, but that man is ” less than nothing, and vanity.” And, in a lofty and sublime strain of inspiration, asks, ” Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with a span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance ” ? (Isa. xl. 12, 17). Nor is this said merely in oriental phrase, of that divine and overruling intelligence and goodness which have so mysteriously and with only perfect order arranged the atoms and directed the combinations of those elemental substances of which the material globe is composed. Far higher was the design, which was to call forth our unquestioned faith and gratitude for eternal mercies, for the overrulement of every moment and event, by the secret operation of his ever-present and ever-wakeful providence, to advance our preparation for happiness and heaven. To this end the Lord, in the wonderful process of regeneration, Himself arranges and subordinates, in true order, the affections and thoughts, and the goodness and truth which they receive, so as to constitute the heavens of the internal mind as his own peculiar dwelling-place, and also the earth of the external mind as his glorious footstool. The mountains are the exalted principles of love to the Lord ; the hills are the less elevated principles of charity towards the neighbor ; the waters are the divine truths of his Word, which, by the activity of his power and love, He makes the instrument of his will in the accomplishment of his work. This just and accurate equilibrium, subordination, and complete arrangement of all things in relation to the order of man’s regeneration and salvation, are signified by his being represented as measuring the waters in the hollow of his hand, meting out heaven with a span, comprehending the dust of the earth in a measure, weighing the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance ; for to Him, and to Him alone, the exact measure and degree, the quantitative and qualitative analysis of every state of his regenerate children is distinctly known, both in time and in eternity. ” O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God ! How unsearch able are his judgments, and his ways past finding out” (Rom. xi.33).
Numbers, weights, and measures have their spiritual signification in the Word of God. This is the reason why they are so often employed, and why such frequent and solemn mention is made of numbering, telling, counting, weighing, and measuring. Unless such a spiritual signification be annexed to these terms, numerous passages will, in the literal sense, be obscure and unintelligible. They are used in all their relations, whether simple or compound, to express the various qualities of things in a combined form, and the various states of the church and her members, either in a genuine or in an opposite sense. The relations which number and order bear to the things and objects of the natural world are of precisely the same nature as are the relations and arrangements as to the quality of the things of the spiritual world and the human mind. We have already seen that the number three signifies fulness or perfection, and denotes a complete state, comprising the discrete degrees of life from begin ning to end. It is generally predicated of truth, or of its opposite, falsity, of what is sacred, or what is polluted. Thus, in addition to the instances already given, the divine command to ” keep a feast unto the Lord three times in the year” (Ex. xxiii. 14-17), signifies fulness and perpetuity of the worship of the Lord from a cheerful and grateful heart. These three festivals of unleavened bread, or the passover ; of the first-fruits of the harvest, or the feast of weeks ; and of the ingathering, or feast of tabernacles, were designed to represent man s complete spiritual deliverance from the thraldom of falsity, and his purification by successive trials and victories, the insemination of truth in a tender state of heavenly affection, and the implantation of goodness in the will. Multiples of the same number have, for the most part, a similar signification with the simple number, but one that is more complex and extensive. Thus, the number six, like three, denotes what is full and complete ; but in a greater or fuller degree, all states of labor preceding a full state of heavenly rest. Sometimes both simple and compound numbers are mentioned in a subordinate relation to other numbers, and then the signification is somewhat varied : thus, nine in relation to ten, and ninety-nine in relation to one hundred, denote fulness of a former state, previous to entering upon a new one. The number seven, again, refers in general to what is holy and inviolable, and, in an opposite sense, to what is profane : thus, a hallowed and enduring state of rest and peace, after the labors and conflicts of temptation, was represented by the Sabbath, which, under the Jewish dispensation, succeeded six days of toil, and was kept inviolate.
But these states of returning trial and rest not only involved subjects of a particular kind, but those of general and universal order ; hence, the Jews were commanded not only to keep the seventh day holy, but the seventh year was commanded to be a sabbath of rest ; and the end of seven times seven years, or seven sabbaths of years, a jubilee was to be proclaimed by sound of trumpets, slaves were man emitted or set at liberty, alienated property was restored to the original possessor or his descendants, and the uncultivated ground yielded a miraculous increase, equivalent to three harvests (Lev. xxv.). ” Seven times a day do I praise thee,” said the Psalmist (cxix. 164), to signify that the sweet incense of praise, to be acceptable to the Lord, must perpetually arise from a holy, undivided heart. To teach us that Christian forgiveness towards an offending brother must be full, plenary, and holy, we are divinely enjoined to forgive him ” not seven times, but seventy times seven ” (Matt, xviii. 21, 22) ; and to denote a holy state of complete purification, out of Mary Magdalene ” was cast seven devils ” (Mark xvi. 9.) In this pure and holy state of mind and life signified by the number seven we have conjunction with divine omnipotence, and thence we are supplied, through the Word, with superhuman strength against our spiritual adversaries.
To represent this to the very life, we read that, at the siege of Jericho, seven priests were commanded to bear seven trumpets of rams horns, and the ark of God, and, followed by all the people, were to make a circuit around the walls of the city on seven successive days ; but on the seventh day they were to compass the city seven times. Then the walls thereof fell, and the city and its inhabitants were destroyed (Josh. vi.).
Grievous temptations, and their duration, or full states of trial and suffering, are usually signified by the number forty, which is a compound of four multiplied by ten, denoting fulness and conjunction ; for, by the endurance of temptations, goodness and truth are conjoined in the soul. The same is signified by twice forty, or eighty, and, in a greater degree, by four hundred, which is a compound of forty multiplied by ten. Thus, to represent the trials and temptations which the Christian will experience in the course of his regeneration, the children of Israel were miraculously led forty years through the wilderness (Deut. viii. 4). Similar states of afflicting trial were signified by the solemn fast of Moses on Mount Sinai for forty days and forty nights (Deut ix. 9 ; x. 10) ; by the forty days of suffering endured by Elijah ; by the forty days in which the prophet Ezekiel was commanded to bear, representatively, the iniquities of the house of Israel (Ezek. iv. 6) ; and, lastly, by the forty days in which the Lord endured his grievous temptations in the wilderness (Matt. iv. 2). The strength of ” fourscore years” is, therefore, described as being ” labor and sorrow” (Ps. xc. 10) ; and the children of Israel are, from this signification, said to have been afflicted in Egypt “four hundred years” (Gen. xv. 13 ; Acts vii. 6).
Weights and measures are employed in the Word of God to signify quantity and quality as to the subjects of which they are predicated, or to denote the estimation in which they are held. In general, weight has relation to good and its quality, and, in an opposite sense, to evil, thus to states of things in reference to the will ; and measure has relation to truth and its quality, and, in an opposite sense, to falsity, thus to states of things in reference to the understanding. This brief signification of weights and measures, and their application, will at once enable us to perceive some of the deepest lessons of divine wisdom contained in the Word.
By weights and measures are signified, in reference to the soul, rules and explorations, and just judgment as to the quality and character of the mind and life. Thus in Leviticus, among other divine laws, we are supplied, in the spiritual sense of the Word, with a divine rule for self-examination, which, if any one conscientiously applies to the inward states of his soul, will bring down the strictest justice and judgment into all his words and works. Nothing is so common as for men to deceive themselves in regard to this important duty. It is seldom performed as it ought to be, and is often substituted by vain and powerless acknowledgments of sinfulness, uttered, perhaps, in words of Holy Writ, but unfelt, as not being the result of practical acquaintance with the inward states of the heart. If sins are to be remitted, however, they must be put away by repentance ; and how can they be removed unless they are seen ? We are too frequently self-satisfied with the delusive and dangerous notion that we are no worse than others, while the evils within us are only concealed by a fair exterior, honest before men, but unjust in the sight of God, outwardly” whited sepulchres, but inwardly filled with dead men’s bones and all uncleanness “(Matt, xxiii. 27).
How important, there fore, when considered in its eternal meaning, is the divine law of mental introspection to which we have alluded, and in which the Lord solemnly warns and exhorts us as follows :” Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment, in mete-yard, in weight, or in measure. Just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin shall ye have” (xix. 35, 36). Instructing us that if, without self-deception, we would attain the just measure or quality of an angel, and the standard weight of the balance of the sanctuary, we must not only examine the quality of our words and deeds, but of our desires and thoughts, our persuasions and intentions, our motives and ends of life. The exploration of the church in general, so as to ascertain the quantity and quality of truth and goodness therein, and thence to examine the inward states of the worshippers, and the intrinsic value of their worship, in order that revelation might be made, is also described as follows : ” I lifted up mine eyes again, and looked, and behold a man with a measuring line in his hand. Then said I, Whither goest thou ? And he said unto me, To measure Jerusalem, to see what is the breadth thereof, and what is the length thereof” (Zech. ii. 1, 2). And the same things are signified by these words in the Revelation, “And there was given unto me a reed like unto a rod : and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein ” (xi. 1). This measuring-line and reed serve likewise to point out our own individual duties, and the means of performing them, whether they are moral or religious.
By those heart-searching truths of the Holy Word, which exhibit to us our inward character, we can try our thoughts, explore our motives, and analyze our affections, and thus discover with certainty the external character of our words and works. When, therefore, the church was brought to its consummation or end, by the profanation of all the heavenly principles of goodness and truth ; all the holy things of the Word, signified by the consecrated vessels of the Temple, being applied to evil purposes, Belshazzar is described at his impious feast polluting the golden vessels, and then, it is said, there ” came forth fingers of a man’s hand, and wrote upon the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace,” to represent the divine exploration and judgment, as revealed in the very letter of God s Word ; while, to signify that the external church was totally destroyed, because that within it all truth and goodness had been profaned and adulterated, and its quality in the divine sight was only that of falsity and evil, in all the various degrees of the minds of its professors, ” this was the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN” (Dan. v. 25-27), numbered, weighed, divided. Numbered as to truth, which was found to be awfully corrupted ; weighed as to goodness, which was discovered to be hypocritical and defiled ; divided or disjoined from the Lord and heaven, because faith and charity were separated, and about to perish, in which case the church must cease to exist on earth. And such must be the awful and miserable doom which, after death, will most assuredly be pronounced upon all spiritual idolaters who, from the inward love of evil, had profaned the holy truths of religion, and had impiously applied them to their own sensual and selfish purposes, and had likewise defiled and perverted every principle of goodness, love, and charity, those golden vessels of the Lord s sanctuary, by hypocrisy, deceit, ambition, and pride.
Mention is often made in the Word of musical instruments, in consequence of their correspondence, which depends upon the difference in their sounds. These are of two kinds, namely, stringed instruments, the solid parts of which are composed of soft wood, as the harp, psaltery, lyre, etc., and wind instruments made of metals, as the trumpet, cymbal, etc. ; of animals horns, as the horn, and of hollow wood and reeds, as the pipe ; together with those in which the sound is produced by vibratory members being stretched over hollow cylinders or circles, as the tabret, the drum, and the timbrel. In stringed instruments the sounds are produced by discrete or perfectly distinct movements, and are more particularly predicated of the understanding, or, rather, of the distinct degrees of spiritual affection, and such discrete sounds excite within us the affections of truth ; but wind or breathing instruments, being capable of a continuous prolongation of sound, have a more specific reference to the will, or, rather, to the various degrees of celestial affection, such continuous sounds being those which more particularly excite within us the affections of goodness and charity. Perfect harmony depends upon the skilful union of both these kinds of instruments, and their association with the human voice, and is representative of the harmonic union of the will, understanding, and life, of spiritual and celestial affections, when receptive of goodness and truth, together with the inward exultation, delight, and desires thence resulting. And with these, for the same reason, because representative of inward states of delight and joy, singing and dancing are frequently united. Thus, in Psalm cl. we read, ” Praise ye the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise Him in the firmament of his power. Praise Him for his mighty acts : praise Him according to his excellent greatness. Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet : praise Him with the psaltery and harp. Praise Him with the timbrel and pipe: praise Him with stringed instruments and organs. Praise Him upon the loud cymbals : praise Him upon the high sounding cymbals. Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord.” In this divine Psalm we are exhorted, in the spiritual sense, to render praise to the Lord, not only with the holy thoughts of the understanding, but with all the pure and fervent affections of the will united in one harmonious concord. We are to praise Him with all our powers for his wonder ful works of creation, redemption, regeneration, and salvation, and for the glorious attributes by which they were and still are accomplished. To praise Him with wind instruments is to celebrate Him from the inmost or celestial affections of love and goodness in the heart ; and to praise Him with stringed instruments and cymbals, is to exalt Him from spiritual affections of wisdom and truth in the understanding, thus to delight in the Lord, and to worship and serve Him from the harmonious agreement and concord of the whole mind. For let man, as to the complex faculties of his intellect and reason, be contemplated as like a stringed instrument, as the psaltery, and, as to his voluntary principles, like a wind instrument, as the organ, every note, by virtue of his hereditary tendencies to evil and error, may be said, before regeneration, to be deranged and discordant. What, then, is the process of regeneration but the attuning of all the affections and thoughts, words and works, so that every string and pipe gives forth its appropriate sound, and combines with all the rest in perfect unity, uttering in harmonious notes and melodious tones songs of adoration, gratitude, and praise, and giving suitable expression to the inmost delights of the soul.
Sometimes stringed instruments or wind instruments are spoken of by themselves, as when deliverance or redemption by the power of divine truth is treated of, where we read, ” The Lord was ready to save me : therefore we will sing my songs to the stringed instruments all the days of our life, in the house of the Lord” (Isa. xxxviii. 20). That to sing to the Lord denotes to praise and glorify Him is self-evident ; and to do this with a timbrel, as Miriam did, after the wonderful passage and deliverance from the Red Sea (Ex. xv. 20), signifies to perform this great duty of thanksgiving to the Lord for his abounding mercies, from an inward ground of heartfelt confidence and gratitude.
On account of this signification of musical instruments, and their distinction into two classes, several Psalms, which have relation to the spiritual affections of wisdom or truth, were directed to be sung in the representative worship of the Jewish Temple, accompanied by neginoth or gittith, which were stringed instruments (Ps. iv., liv.) ; while others, which have more immediate reference to the celestial affections of love or goodness, and faith thence derived, were required to be sung upon nehiloth, or upon wind instruments (Ps. v., viii. ; Hab. iii. 19). Sometimes instruments of music are spoken of in an opposite sense, to denote the sinful delight which the unregenerate take in what is evil and false. Such insane pleasures, originating in self-homage, together with its enchanting persuasions, are signified by the worship of Nebuchadnezzar s golden image, which was accompanied with all kinds of music (Dan. iii.). And it is to such evil and impure pleasures, especially when they arise from the profanation of what is good and true, that the Lord alludes, where He says, ” Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs ; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols. Woe to them that are at ease in Zion, and trust in the mountain of Samaria. That chant to the sound of the viol, and invent to themselves instruments of music, like David ” (Amos v. 23 ; vi. 1, 5). And, again, speaking of the self-intelligent, who despise the instructions of the Divine Word, it is said, ” The harp, and the viol, the tabret, and pipe, and wine, are in their [polluted] feasts ; but they regard not the work of the Lord, neither consider the operation of his hands” (Isa. v. 12).
The harp is a well known stringed instrument, often mentioned in the Word, and signifies, in the internal sense, the voice of praise from spiritual truth, and thence confession, from sincere joy of heart, that all deliverance from sin is effected by the power of divine truth proceeding from divine mercy. Hence, in praising and blessing God for victorious deliverance from all spiritual enemies and troubles, and the consequent elevation of the mind, together with the gladness and comfort of soul thence derived, the inspired penman writes : ” I will also praise thee with the psaltery, even thy TRUTH, O my God ; unto thee will I sing with the harp, O thou Holy One of Israel ” (Ps. lxxi. 22). This is the reason why angels are represented as having ” the harps of God” (Rev. v. 8); for thus all confess Him with one accord, and from inmost delight. To represent the soul-enchanting harmony of such acknowledgment and its attendant joys among the inhabit ants of heaven, the apostle says, ” I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder : and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps ” (Rev. xiv. 2). With this signification of the harp before us, how beautiful and in structive is the account we have of Saul and David, where we read, that in consequence of obstinate disobedience ” the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul,” and an evil spirit was permitted to trouble him ; but he commanded his servants to provide him a man who could play skilfully upon the harp. And David was brought before him, “And it came to pass,” it is said, that ” when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took a harp, and played with his hand; so Saul was refreshed and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him ” (1 Sam. xvi. 14-23). The sphere of such confession, arising from the harp of truth being melodiously attuned to our states by the Lord s presence and providence, is truly angelic, and full of power. Evil spirits, who can live and rejoice only in scenes of jarring discord, are expelled from communion with the soul, turbulent passions are calmed, reason resumes the sceptre, polluted affections and thoughts are driven away, despair and grief are dissipated, so that the blessed angels can draw near to minister to man s consolation and joy, and restore him, if he will, to innocence, intelligence, and felicity.
On this subject Swedenborg’s remarks are numerous, interesting, and most edifying. Thus, in one place, he says, ” Formerly, in divine worship, several kinds of musical instruments were applied, but with much distinction ; in general, by the wind instruments were expressed the affections of good, and by the stringed instruments the affections of truth, and this from the correspondence of everything sonorous with the affections. It is a known thing that by some kinds of musical instruments are expressed natural affections of one quality, by some natural affections of another quality, and, when suitable harmony conspires, that they actually call forth those affections. They who are skilled in music are aware of this, and also act accordingly in applying the several instruments to the purpose intended. This circumstance has its ground in the very nature of sounds, and of their agreement with the affections. Man learnt this, at first, not from science and art, but from the hearing and its exquisite sense. Hence it is plain that it does not originate in the natural world, but in the spiritual, and in this case is derived from the correspondence of things which flow from order in the natural world with things in the spiritual world. Harmonious sound and its varieties in the natural world correspond to states of joy and gladness in the spiritual, and states of joy and gladness in the spiritual world exist from affections, which, in that world, are the affections of good and truth ; hence, now it may be manifest that musical instruments correspond to the delights and pleasantnesses of spiritual and celestial affections, and that some instruments correspond to the latter affections, some to the former.” A. C. 8337.
” As things celestial are the holy things of love, and the good things thence derived, so things spiritual are the truths and good things of faith ; for it is the part of faith to understand not only what is true, but also what is good, the knowledges of faith implying both ; but to be such as faith teacheth, is the part of the celestial [principle]. In as much as faith implieth the knowledge both of goodness and truth, they are signified by two instruments, the harp and the organ. The harp is a stringed instrument, as every one knows, and therefore signifies spiritual truth ; but the organ is between a stringed instrument and a wind instrument, and therefore signifies spiritual good. ” In the Word mention is made of various instruments, and each has its particular signification, as will be shown, by the divine mercy of the Lord, in its proper place. At present we shall only adduce some passages from David in relation thereto, as, for instance, I will offer in the tent of Jehovah sacrifices of shouting, I will sing and play to Jehovah (Psalm xxvii. 6). Where by tent is expressed what is celestial, and by shouting, singing, and playing, what is spiritual. Again, “Sing to Jehovah, ye just, for his praise is comely for the upright ; confess to Jehovah on the harp, play unto Him on the psaltery, an instrument of ten strings ; sing unto Him a new song, play skilfully with a loud noise, because the Word of Jehovah is right, and all his work is in truth.” (Ps. xxxiii. 1-4), signifying the truths of faith, whereof such things are predicated. Things spiritual, or truths and the good things of faith, were celebrated by the harp and psaltery, by singing and the like ; whereas things holy, or the celestial things of faith, were celebrated by wind instruments, as trumpets and the like ; hence so many instruments were used about the Temple, and it was ordained so frequently that this or that should be celebrated with particular instruments, and this was the reason why in struments were applied and understood to signify the things them selves which were celebrated by them, as in the cases now before us. Again, I will confess unto thee with the instrument of psaltery, thy truth, O my God ; unto thee will I play with the harp, thou Holy One of Israel ; my lips shall sing when I play unto thee, and my soul which thou hast redeemed (Ps. Ixxi. 22, 23). Where, in like manner, the truths of faith are signified.
Again, “Answer to Jehovah in confession, play on the harp to our God.” (Ps. cxlvii. 7). In which passage confession has respect to the celestial things of faith, and therefore mention is made of Jehovah ; whereas, to play on the harp has respect to the spiritual things of faith, and therefore mention is made of God. Again, “Let them praise the name of Jehovah in the dance, let them play unto Him with the timbrel and harp.” (Ps cxlix. 3). The timbrel signifies good, and the harp truth, which they praise. Again, “Praise God with the sound of the trumpet ; praise Him on the psaltery and harp; praise Him with the timbrel and pipe ; praise Him on stringed instruments and organs ; praise Him on the cymbals of hearing ; praise Him on the cymbals of shouting.” (Ps. cl. 3-5), signifying the good things and truths of faith, which were the ground of praise. Nor let any one suppose that so many different instruments would have been here mentioned, unless they had had such spiritual signification. Again, “Send out thy light and thy truth, let them lead me ; let them bring me unto the mountain of thy holiness, and to thy habitations, and I will go unto the altar of God, unto the God of the gladness of my rejoicing, and I will confess to thee on the harp, O God, my God.” (Ps. xliii. 3, 4), signifying the knowledges of goodness and truth. So in Isaiah, Take a harp, go about the city, make sweet melody, sing many songs, that thou mayest be remembered (xxiii. 16), signifying the things respecting faith, and the knowledges thereof. The same is expressed still more plainly in the Revelation : “The four animals and the four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odors, which are the prayers of the saints” (v. 8). Where it must be evident to every one that the animals and elders had not harps, but that by harps are signified the truths of faith, as by golden vials full of odors are signified the good things of faith. In David they are called praises and confessions, which were made by instruments (Ps. xlii. 5 ; Ixix. 31) ; and in another place, in John, “I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters ; and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps ; and they sung a new song.” (Rev. xiv. 2). And in another place, “I saw them that had gotten the victory stand near the sea of glass, having the harps of God” (Rev. xv. 2). It is worthy to be remarked, that angels and spirits, according to their differences with respect to goodness and truth, distinguish tones, and this not only in the case of singing and of instruments, but also in the words of speech, and admit only such tones as are in concord, so that there is an agreement of tones, consequently of instruments, with the nature and essence of goodness and truth.” A. C. 419, 420.
The Egyptian priests appear to have been their musicians. Their flute was only a cow’s horn, with three or four perforations in it, afterwards imitated in metal, and even still called horns. Their harp or lyre had only three strings. The Grecian and Jewish harp or lyre had seven, eight, and ten strings, probably somewhat like a modern guitar or lute, and was small, being held in the hand. The Jewish trumpets were rams horns, but afterwards were also made of silver and other metals, and were both straight and bent. Their flute was the same as the Egyptian. Their organ was an arrangement of pipes, similar to what are called Pandean, or shepherd s pipes ; and perforated pipes, or flutes, sometimes made of reeds, and were both single and double. The sackbut or psaltery was, in all probability, a triangular instrument, furnished with ten strings, and struck by a rod, or by a plectrum. Their other musical instruments were those of percussion, as the timbrel or tabret, a kind of tambourine ; the triangle, or triangular rods, in pairs, both plain and charged with rings. The citherns of the ancients were made of bronze or brass, and were furnished with bars and rings. However simple these ancient instruments were, they bear precisely the same signification as the more complicated and complete of modern times, for all kinds are equally divisible into the three classes just mentioned. Such music as the Jews had at their command, singing and even dancing, appears to have been interwoven into all their religious festivals and ceremonies of worship, and this could only have been from their cor respondence.
Both cheerful and mournful singing and dancing are often spoken of in the Word, to denote and express inward joy, and its corresponding delight, in the external mind; for “joy of heart finds utterance in singing, because when the heart is full of joy, and thence the thoughts also, it then pours itself forth in singing ” (Ap. Ex. 326). This gladness and joy are not derived to man from the natural world, or from mere scientific skill, but from the spiritual world, by perception or intuition ; the external sounds and their harmonious or melodious combinations being the corresponding base on which they rest, and by means of which the affections are brought forth. Choirs for conducting the praises of congregations in public worship, therefore, ought to be pious and intelligent persons, who, themselves, inwardly feel and respond to the appropriate tunes and melodies which they introduce ; and then the congregations will be greatly aided in their united responses of satisfaction and delight. Like the true poet, the master of music also owes his peculiar skill to an inferior kind of inspiration or spiritual intuition. The prophets frequently accompanied their plenarily-inspired songs and predictions with the melody of musical instruments.