39 The Human Body


Edward Madeley



From the Intellectual Repository for January, 1851.

THE human body, so fearfully and wonderfully formed, is an epitome of Divine Order, showing how the Deity operates by his life-giving influx, and in what manner uses of every kind are performed. The body, viewed physiologically as to its organs, functions and uses, is a type of all the divine operations, and also of the divine economy in the universe. As a microcosm or little world, the body is the image of the macrocosm or great world. Whatever principles of science have ever been discovered in mechanics, chemistry, hydraulics, hydrostatics, botany, electricity, etc., are perfectly imaged in the human frame by its functions and uses. Thus the body is the temple of all the sciences, both physical and philosophical.!

But this image can be rationally seen only by analogy and correspondence. Thus in the human system there is a perfect image of domestic order, the economy of the body is the type of the household in which we should live. How one principle is subordinated to another, and how all are coordinated together, is perfectly exemplified in man s corporeal system. For without subordination and coordination there can be no order, and without order nothing can subsist in its proper state so as to perform its destined use. Again, in the human system there is a perfect exhibition of civil order and of political government. The body politic is conceived of as being in the human form, according to which the mind not only derives its metaphors of language, but its principles of thought. But lastly, the church and kingdom of God are thought of in accordance with the human form ; the principles which govern this form also govern the mind when properly thinking about heaven and the church.

Hence it is, that heaven is called ” Christ s mystical body,” and the faithful are said to be members of that body. (1 Cor. vi. 15 ; Eph. v. 30.)

Now, from what has been said, it will follow that physiology is a most important science, not only to the medical practitioner, but to the general reader, since it forms, more directly than any other science, the basis of theology. It supplies a ground of thought respecting God, his kingdom, and the human soul, more solid and firm than any other kind of knowledge. Even the divine Word itself, the only source of all revealed knowledge respecting divine and spiritual realities, is likened by Swedenborg to a man ; and the prophets, especially Elijah and John the Baptist, represented even as to their dress, the Word of God. From the importance, then, of physiology as a science, forming the basis of thought and reflection on subjects relating to the human soul, to God, and universally to things spiritual, celestial, and divine, every individual who desires to be gifted with any degree of spiritual and rational intelligence, should cultivate a knowledge of anatomy and physiology as the principal means of access to the great world of interior realities, or of genuine intelligence and wisdom. This will become more evident when we consider that the body and its parts often occur in the Scriptures, and that it is impossible to understand their true meaning without a spiritual discernment, or a spiritual perception of their correspondence to what is heavenly and divine. This will abundantly appear as we proceed.

The head and its coverings, the hair, the scalp and the skull frequently occur in Scripture, and in most cases in so striking a manner as at once to evince that something ulterior or spiritual is implied. One of the most universal metaphors of language is the head, as denoting the chief, primary, essential and governing principle in relation to the subject of which it is predicated. As being the central seat of the powers both of the will and understanding, as denoting the mind in its first principles, the head is at once an obvious figure of the governing principle of the soul. From the head everything in the body is animated with life. Here it is that all motion, the first indication of life as well as its first correspondent, exists, and from which, with a velocity greater than that of electricity, it is communicated to the entire system. Here likewise dwell all the organs of sense, and here all sensation is experienced. The head being the top of the body, we find that in all those passages in the Word where in the common version we meet with the term top, in Hebrew it is head. Thus, ” the tower, whose top (head) may reach unto heaven.” (Gen. xi. 4.)

” The top {head) of the ladder reached to heaven.” (xxviii. 12.) “Jacob poured oil on the top (head) of the stone,” etc. This is its common metaphorical meaning, because all correspondences have relation to the human form, and in most cases in Hebrew, designations of objects are taken from parts of the body. Thus we read of ” trees clapping their hands.” (Isaiah Iv. 13.) This is adduced in order to show that everything when viewed from heaven, has relation to the human form, or to what is opposite thereto, and monstrous.

The correspondence of the head as the governing principle of the life, will now be obvious and the numerous allusions in the Word to the head will be seen in their true and edifying meaning. Hence the Lord is said to be ” the lifter up of mine head ” (Ps. iii. 3), to denote that during the process of regeneration He elevates the governing principle of our life to the love of Himself above all things, by which elevation our head is truly ” lifted up above our enemies ” (Ps. xxvii. 6), the evils to which we are prone. He also “anoints our head with oil” (Ps. xxiii. 5), to denote that He flows with his divine love oil into the inmost or supreme principles of our life, and thus governs and blesses all things in the mind of man. Of what use would it be to anoint the head with oil, unless it had this spiritual signification? Hence it is that to anoint the head is one of the divine precepts of the Gospel (Matt. vi. 17) to open the heart to the reception of the Lord s love. Our iniquities are said to go over our heads (Ps. xxxviii. 4) when, during temptations, we feel the sinfulness of our depraved nature, and dread lest it should become the governing principle of our life. In this case we feel that ” the whole head is sick” (Isaiah i. 5), which signifies that even the governing principles of our life are nothing but evil, and that from the Lord alone can we be healed and restored to spiritual health. The mischief or evil of the wicked is said to return upon his own head (Ps. vii. 16), to signify, that according to the law of action and reaction, which is as prevalent in spiritual things as in natural, the evil intended always comes back again with sevenfold vengeance upon him who intends it ; for all intentions and designs originate in the governing love, or the head ; here also is the seat of all our motives, or of every thing which moves us to think, feel and act.

The hair which covers the head, and which is found more or less over the whole body, denotes, in relation to the principles of our life, what is most external and ultimate. As in nature or the great world around us all active principles and forces from the sun terminate in inactivity, inertia and fixedness, so in like manner in the little world of man, the body, all the active principles and forces of life from the head, terminate in the bones, cartilages, nails and hairs which are the ultimates where things settle down in comparative inertia and fixedness, deprived of nearly all sensation and life. Now the hair, and especially the hair of the head, is often mentioned in Scripture in a manner which it is impossible to understand but by means of the spiritual signification, discovered to our perceptions by the science of correspondences. In confirmation of this statement we will adduce out of many passages only a few.

What, for instance, is meant by the Lord s declaration in the prophet, that ” instead of well-set hair there shall be baldness ” (Isaiah iii. 24). Again, what is signified when it is said that the ” Lord shall shave the head and the hair of the feet” f (Isaiah vii. 20). And also, what is involved in the divine command to Jerusalem “Cut off thine hair, Jerusalem, and cast it away ” (Jer. vii. 29). Every man who believes the Word to be divine, can see that something important is involved in these statements ; but he cannot have a clear perception of the divine teaching, unless he knows from correspondence the spiritual signification of the hair.

Of all the institutions among the Jews, that of the Nazariteship was probably the most remarkable : see Numbers vi., where the laws to be observed by the Nazarites are stated. One of these laws commands that the Nazarite, during his vow of separation, or of his especial consecration to God, ” should suffer no razor to come upon his head ; and that he should let the locks of the hair of his head grow” (verse 5). There were, it appears, two kinds of Nazarites : one like Samson and John the Baptist, who were Nazarites from their infancy ; and another kind who voluntarily took upon themselves the vow of the Nazariteship for a season only, after which they returned to their usual avocations, and to their ordinary mode of living. But the distinguishing characteristic of the Nazarite was his hair: and in respect to Samson this was especially the case, for it is expressly staled that his wonderful strength consisted in his hair ; and that when his locks were shorn, his strength failed him (Judges xvi. 17, 19). Now, no merely rational investigation could ever discover the reason why the strength of Samson consisted chiefly in his hair. No rationale of this circumstance can be discovered a posteriori by our ordinary modes of thinking and of rational investigation. Hence it is that mere rationalists, or those who reason from merely external grounds of thought, and from skeptical and negative principles, consider the history of Samson to be a mere fable from beginning to end ; and so reject the Scriptures.

This is the case with many at the present time in the Protestant universities and colleges of Germany, and also with some in tkis country But it should be borne in mind that there is a true rationalism as well as a, false, and that the true consists in reasoning from more elevated or more interior principles of thought, and thus in “judging not according to the appearance, but judging righteous judgment.” But when the doctrine of correspondences and representatives is understood, new fields of thought, especially in relation to the Word of God, are opened to the mind ; and what before might appear fabulous, or as the apostle says, foolishness to the natural man, assumes now a different aspect, and becomes the ” wisdom of God unto salvation.” Hence it is that the discovery of the true nature of God s Word, and of its spiritual sense by the science of correspondences, is not only indispensable to its right interpretation, but absolutely requisite to rescue the Scriptures themselves from rejection by the increasing powers of infidelity.

We learn from science that no power can be exercised but by ultimate principles. Thus, none of the internal physical powers of the body in the brain and in the heart, can be exercised but by the arms, hands and feet which are its ultimates. None of the mental powers of the will and the intellect can be realized but by the mouth, and in general by the muscular energies of the body which are ultimates. The same may be said of the steam-engine : none of its wonderful powers can be realized in useful effects, but by suitable machinery consisting of levers and wheels which form its ultimates. All powers, therefore, are exercised in ultimates. Now as the hair is the extreme ultimate of man, we may see, from the doctrine of representatives and correspondences according to which the Word of God is written, how it was that the great power of Samson resided in his hair ; and as all the types and representatives in their supreme sense relate to the Lord, hence Samson was a type of the Lord in the flesh as our Redeemer, that is, clothed with the ultimates of humanity in which He subjugated the hells and accomplished the work of universal redemption. The power of Samson, therefore, represented the Lord s omnipotence when He descended into ultimates, or when the ” Word became flesh.” And generally He represented the power which every man by regeneration receives from the Lord, who alludes to this power when He says, ” If ye have faith as a grain of mustard-seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place, and it shall remove ; and nothing shall be impossible unto you” (Matt. xvii. 20). Hence the very important truth appears that unless we now, while in ultimates, endeavor to remove and reject, through the Lord s mercy and power, evil as the governing principle of our lives, we cannot possibly remove it after death when we leave the world of ultimates, any more than a man can walk without feet, which are his ultimates, or than a locomotive can speed its way with out wheels, which are in a like manner its ultimates.

This, then, was the reason why the strength of Samson resided in his hair ; and why the Nazarite was not allowed, during his Nazariteship, to cut his hair. For hereby was represented the power of celestial good in ultimates : hence we may see the reason why Jesus was called a Nazarene, and why He dwelt in Nazareth (Matt. ii. 23) ; and also why, when the Lord acknowledged himself to be Jesus of Nazareth, the officers who came to take Him went backward andfell to the ground (John xviii. 6), to denote the divine power which came from Him as the Divine Nazarite so remarkably represented by Samson who was a Nazarite from his infancy.

We may now see the signification of ” well-set hair ” in the passage quoted above. This finish and adornment to the body is a type of the orderly arrangement of all principles in ultimates ; that is, in our sensual and corporeal affections and appetites. When these are well-set, that is, when they are subordinated and arranged under higher principles of spiritual and heavenly order, the Lord can flow in and bless with his divine operation and presence, every state of our lives from inmost to outermost principles. We may also see the reason why Jerusalem is commanded in the passage quoted above, ” to cut off her hair and cast it away,” to signify the cleansing of our sensual and corporeal states, that new ultimates may be formed denoted by the new growth of the hair. It is also evident why the Lord is said, in reference to the king of Assyria, to shave ” the head and the hair of the feet,” and to ” consume the beard ” (Isaiah vii.20) ; which implies that all who from sensual fallacies as to the ultimate principles of thought, have cherished skepticism and infidelity against Divine Truth, will, at the time of judgment, be rejected. Hence we may also see why baldness was considered a reproach in the representative church. (See Lev. xxi. 5 ; Isaiah iii. 24, xv. 2 ; Ezekiel vii. 18.) For this imperfection signifies the destitution of truth in ultimates, which is the case with those who are confirmed in false doctrines, and also with those who, from inordinate worldly love and selfishness, are unconcerned about the knowledge of divine truth, except they can turn it to account in promoting some selfish advantage in the way of honor and gain.

As the case of Absalom and his wonderful hair is very peculiar, involving mysteries of wisdom which should be known in order that the Word may be rationally and spiritually discerned, and thus vindicated from the insults and assaults of infidelity, we shall resume the subject together with the correspondence of the skull in another paper. SCRUTATOR.