WHAT ARE CORRESPONDENCES?
The natural world is a world of effects. These effects have their causes and purposes in the spiritual world. Therefore, everything that is in the natural world corresponds to what is in the spiritual world.
Like our three-dimensional body exists in a natural atmosphere, our higher-dimensional soul subsists in a spiritual, mental and emotional atmosphere.
For example, natural light and fire correspond to spiritual light and fire or Truth and Love. Light is the effect, Truth is the cause and Love is the purpose. In the natural world, without light, we cannot see. In the spiritual world or the world of consciousness, thought and feeling, without Truth, we cannot understand. In fact, without Truth, our life is meaningless and, without Love, our life is purposeless.
Most people do not realize that, when they are seeking Love, Meaning and Purpose in their lives, they are seeking God because Divine Love is God’s substance and Divine Wisdom is His form. Every being in the universe longs to be reconnected with God or Divine Love. Most of us are presently in negative emotions and thoughts because we are disconnected from God (or Love). And some of us even try to foolishly reconnect with God (Love) artificially and violently by abusing alcohol, drugs or sex. We find meaning and purpose in our life when we freely choose to understand God’s Truth and reciprocate His Love.
Love is spiritual motion or harmonic emotion. In the natural atmosphere, we move from one place to another by means of physical motion while, in the spiritual atmosphere, we move from one state into another by means of emotion. It is the Love within us which propels us to desire, think and do.
In the spiritual world, outer objects and beings are representatives of inner states. For example, animals and birds correspond to emotions and thoughts, gentle or useful animals and birds to positive or pure emotions and thoughts, and fierce and unclean animals and birds to impure and negative emotions and thoughts. A lamb corresponds to innocent feelings, a dove to innocent thoughts while a pig corresponds to greed and an owl to falsehood.
THE BIBLE WAS WRITTEN IN THE LANGUAGE OF CORRESPONDENCES
In order to understand the Word of God, we must learn the language in which it was written.
For example, in Deuteronomy, we read, “There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun who rideth in the heaven, and in magnificence upon the clouds. “(Deut. 33:26-27). Clouds correspond to the literal sense of the Word. To ride means to instruct in Divine Truths from the Word because a horse corresponds to understanding.
When the clouds (literal meaning of the Bible) are dispersed, we then see the Glory (spiritual Light) of God, which is the spiritual sense of the Word or Divine Truth and Wisdom itself.
Every word in the Bible corresponds to a spiritual reality. The Bible, in reality, is a scientific book but it is not just about natural science or the material world of our physical senses; it is about the whole universe, which includes the higher or inner dimensions of spirit, Truth and Love.
For example, in Exodus, when Moses sees God in a burning bush, God says, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” Abraham corresponds to the Celestial level of Heaven, Isaac to the rational or Spiritual level and Jacob to the natural level. A bush corresponds to the letter or literal sense of the Word because plants correspond to knowledge. And this bush is burning eternally because it contains the Fire of Divine Love within its higher meaning.
The Kings and Priests in the Bible are representatives of the Kings (rulers) and Priests (preachers) of our inner world during our spiritual evolution (or regeneration). Our inner Priest lovingly instructs our mind and heart through spiritual doctrines and our inner King rules our intentions, feelings and thoughts through spiritual Laws and Commandments. When we are still in the worldly understanding (Egypt) of our ego, the king of our inner world is Pharaoh. Pharaoh (our ego) enslaves us through self-love and self-intelligence. Later on, after we have fought, conquered and slaughtered the giant Goliath (self-pride or self-intelligence), the Priest or Prophet of our inner world becomes Samuel and our inner King becomes David. King David was a shepherd who tended his sheep (innocent or unselfish feelings of love). Since the Lord is Love and Truth, He should be the King and Priest of our inner world.
Purposes and causes originate in consciousness and physical circumstances are the effects of these causes. Our core loves and beliefs determine the substance and form of our spiritual body and the quality of this spiritual body draws us to a spiritual atmosphere of the same quality. For example, if we are in selfishness and lies, we would feel uncomfortable in the Light (Truth) and Fire (Love) of Heaven and we would feel more at ease in the obscure realms of hell where we are unable to perceive our spiritual flaws and experience the pangs, shame and remorse of heavenly conscience.
ALL NATURAL THINGS ARE CORRESPONDENCES
Everything we see in the natural world is only a symbol for a spiritual reality. Without the reality to which it corresponds, the symbol is meaningless.
For example, let us assume we are walking on a beautiful beach. In order to feel the reality, beauty and holiness of this beautiful scenery, we must have the Truth and Love which created this beautiful image within our own being. The landscape corresponds to our state of being, the ocean is the ocean of natural Truth and the sun is the Lord who enlightens our mind and warms our heart.
A symbol is a representation of something real. Without the reality, the symbol itself has no value. The whole material universe is just a symbol for the reality, which is the spiritual universe. The error human beings make is that they mistake the symbol for the reality. They start to love the world, which is a symbol, instead of loving the reality, which is God.
When we understand that every thing that is in the natural world corresponds to a reality in the spiritual world, the universe is transformed into something beautiful and meaningful. When we see a dove or a lamb, we glimpse the innocence, peace and freedom of Heaven.
IN THE SPIRITUAL WORLD, THE OUTER WORLD THAT WE EXPERIENCE CORRESPONDS EXACTLY TO OUR INNER REALITY
In the natural world, our outer environment does not necessarily have to match our inner state. For example, we may be walking along a beautiful beach and still be in a depressed state of mind. But, in the spiritual world, the projected outer world which we experience always corresponds to our state of consciousness. If we were in a depressed state of mind in the spiritual world, we would automatically be transported to a dark cave filled with mice and spiders.
In the spiritual world, our projected environment always corresponds to our state of being. Therefore, we must understand, while we are still on Earth, that our state of being is what is important, not our circumstances. Heaven and hell are not realms of reward or punishment; they are the spiritual atmospheres where our spiritual body will feel most comfortable after death. And, if we desire to be in a graceful, lighted and warm environment or Heaven, we must be in Truth and Love. The eternal fire of hell that we read about in the Bible corresponds to unfulfilled passions, lusts and desires. And the gnashing of teeth corresponds to the clashing of sensual opinions and thoughts because the residents of hell are always in disagreement.
Therefore, we must understand, while we are still on Earth, that our state of being is what is important, not our circumstances. Our state of being will determine where we are in the spiritual world. Our body and circumstances are the symbol but our state of being is the reality; it is who and what we really are.
Although we may not realize it, on earth, we are freely and willingly creating our spiritual body. What we freely love determines what we believe, what we believe determines what we say and do, what we do determines who and what we are, and what we are determines our ultimate destiny.
Before we leave this natural world, we must strive to understand what is True, will what is Good and do what is just and useful.
SOME SPIRITUAL CORRESPONDENCES IN THE WORD OF GOD
by A. Roeder
Agree with thine adversary quickly. — Let there be harmony between the external and internal man.
He is of age, ask him. — When the eyes of a man have been opened by the Lord, he is of age, that is, he is spiritually individualized and responsible for his own opinions. He ceases to be a parrot and grows to be a man.
And he built an altar there. — In this state (note the description preceding the words) man worships the Lord.
The angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream. — An obscure form of Divine Revelation.
And he arose and followed Him. — Man must needs rise into a higher state of life, if he desires to follow (or live) the Divine Truth.
He put away the image of Baal. — He changed the mental condition produced by the love of self.
And hast revealed them to babes. — Immediate influx of life from the Lord takes place only into the remains of innocence with man.
Went up from Babylon. — Ceased worship from the love of rule.
Baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. — From His Divine Love, His Divine Wisdom, and His Divine Power, the Lord introduces man into the church.
And there came forth two she-bears out of the wood, and tare 42 of the youths. — The most tender affections of human character are destroyed, if the literal sense of the Word be mocked. Note.— 6×7 is a state of struggle in regard to things holy; youths are affections of innocence; bears, the literal sense of the Word.
Take up thy bed and go unto thine house.— Take up thy doctrine and carry it into thy character. Thou hast been sleeping upon thy belief, and resting satisfied with its theories; henceforth make thy belief a part of thy life.
The bed is shorter than that one can stretch himself; and the covering narrower than that he can wrap himself in it. — The doctrines of the church at the present day do not admit of spiritual growth, and its observances are too much restricted to be available to the development of a true spiritual life.
The birds of heaven had flown away. — The mind was utterly empty of all interior thought.
Bless the Lord, oh my soul. — Permit the Lord to use your mind as a channel of life to reach your neighbor’s heart.
Sprinkle blood upon the altar. — Let the Divine Truth permeate the elements of worship.
He gives you bread from heaven. — He feeds the soul with Divine Good.
Let me first go and bury my father. — No return is possible to a state once passed through, in spiritual life.
BIND ON EARTH.
Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven ; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven. — Whatever spiritual principles man desires to retain in the future life, he must ultimate on earth ; and what ever principles he does not desire to maintain, he must remove on earth. Note.—There are two things to be remembered in connection with this sentence and all others like it.
1 The assumption that certain men were selected by the Lord to bind and loose things on earth, is stupid and needs no com ment. No man has any control whatever over the spiritual life of any other man. The three professions, physician, lawyer and minister, are exactly alike. The minister (priest, bishop, pope) has no more control over a man’s soul, than the physician or the lawyer. The sentence therefore does not mean, that there are priests who can bless or curse a soul unto joy or despair. It means simply what is stated in the interpretation.
2 In the loosing and binding, however, it must be remembered, that it refers only and can refer only to the spiritual elements of character, since the natural (material) cease at death. The student then will keep in mind that matters of material interest, food, drink, sleep, clothing, housing, language, habits of speech (secular and religious) and many other matters, are neither bound nor loosed on earth. The spiritual elements of character are Love, Wisdom, Faith, Intelligence, the affection of Divine Truth, Conjugial Love, Innocence, Justice, Mercy and many others. Hence it is not the habit, but the underlying principle that is bound or loosed. For example: If I have learned eight languages, I forget them all with equal impartiality after death. If I have used these languages to advise, counsel, cheer and strengthen my neighbor on earth, I shall forget the language in which I spoke, but shall retain the advice, counsel, cheer and strength, and use the spirit-picture language of Heaven to express them. But if I have used these languages to deceive, defraud and injure, I shall forget the language and retain the deceit, fraud and viciousness and use the satan-picture language of hell to express them. Let the student avoid with the utmost care the thought, that this sentence refers to any earthly habit, taste or inclination of the body, a mistake commonly made and a dangerous mistake to make.
And He came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi. — The Divine Mercy working along the lines of natural laws.
CAESAR AND GOD.
Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s ; and unto God the things which are God’s. — Judge, think of and enact natural things according to natural law, and spiritual things according to spiritual law.
CAIN AND ABEL.
And Cain rose up against Abel, his brother, and slew him. — And faith gained the ascendency in the church and destroyed charity.
CALLED AND CHOSEN.
Many are called, but few are chosen. — Man’s life consists of many points, of which but few continue into eternity. Thus he may speak many languages upon earth; in heaven he will need but one. He may learn many sciences in the world; in heaven he will need only “Know the Lord.” So many (things) are called, but very few are chosen (needed for spiritual life.)
Moses stood in the gate of the camp. — The organization of the external church depends in the first instance upon its conception of the Divine Law, (Moses stands.)
Whosoever shall smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. — If a natural affection be injured, put in its place a spiritual one.
These cities shall be a refuge to you. — Such doctrines were of transitional value only. They are not permanent forms of Divine Truth and are consequently permitted by the Lord only to preserve intact as perfect a human thought as possible.
Destroy a -city and salt it. — Overthrow a false doctrine by means of the Divine Truth (salt.)
And he built him a city. — He made for himself a doctrinal system.
A city that is set on a mountain cannot be hid. — A doctrine that is founded on love, must become manifest in the actual life.
If they persecute you in this city, flee into another. — Whatever instruction one doctrinal system does not furnish, must be secured from some other system.
Into whatever city or town ye enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide until ye go thence. — Examine any doctrine or doctrinal system. Enter into the spirit of it. Take thence what is true and retain it, “even unto death.
A cloud to Egypt, but a light to Israel. — The literal Word is dark to the literal mind, but light to the spiritual mind.
And a voice came from the cloud. — Revelation comes from the literal sense of the Word.
If a man take thy coat, give him thy cloak also. — The coat is an inner garment, the cloak an outer. An interior or spiritual thought clothed upon with words, is said to be a coat. An exterior or natural thought clothed in words, is said to be a cloak. If a man ask thee, therefore, for a spiritual thought, give him a natural thought also, upon which he can rest it, lest his spiritual thought be dissipated.
And darkness was upon the face of the abyss. — And the interiors of the mind were still closed. There was no intelligence.
Let the dead bury their dead. — The natural mind is governed by natural laws. (The natural mind is always called dead, in contradistinction to the spiritual mind, which is called “life.”)
Raise the dead. — To vivify forgotten truths (men); to vivify affections which have grown cold (women.)
The women of the city came to the well to draw water. — Men’s affections will lead them from their doctrines to search for confirmation in the literal sense of the Word.
DUST OF EARTH.
And Jehovah God formed man of the dust of the earth, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of lives. — The Divine Love and the Divine Wisdom of the Lord form the brute nature of man gradually into a human nature, and then flow in and rest within his will and understanding.
And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others. — Those who die in childhood are said to be hired at the eleventh hour, because they have had only one hour’s opportunity to work.
Abide with us, for it is near evening, and the day is far spent. — When states of darkness approach, then it is that men need the Lord’s presence. And their need, not their knowledge of Him it is, that makes Him stay. For the Disciples knew not that it was the Master.
When the evening was come, He was there alone. — When the activity of man ceases, the activity
of the Lord begins.
Evil destroys the wicked. — The law of equilibration requires that all forces must be met upon their own plane.
An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. — In the process of regeneration the Lord will give man spiritual intelligence for natural thought; He will give him spiritual truth for natural truth. Note.— When the same word is repeated as in this case, one term stands for the good or the true, and the other term for the evil or the false.
And he lifted up his eyes and saw. — It requires an uplifting of the understanding to see or grasp a truth.
Mine eye is consumed because of grief. — Sorrow distracts the mind.
And Jesus touched their eyes, and immediately they received their sight. — The Divine enters by influx into the understanding, and illuminates it.
And covered his face. — Concealed his interiors.
FASTING AND PRAYER.
This kind goeth not forth save by prayer and fasting. — Certain evils cannot be removed, unless the mind be brought into harmony with Divine Laws, and abstain from such habits as foster the evil.
In my Father’s house are many mansions. — In the Divine Character and its Love are the infinite sources of life. Hence, heaven, which is a manifestation of the Divine Love, is composed of an infinite number of individuals, characters and societies.
He that is washed, needeth not save to wash his feet, then is he clean every whit. — Man need only purify his natural desires and passions. The Lord takes care of all else.
One foot upon land and one on the sea. — A natural life based upon good and truth.
Sick of a fever. — Sinful through pride, and unworthy to minister to the church until cured by Divine humility.
And he took fire in his hand. — The power (hand) of love.
And lay the fire upon the altar. — Let Love permeate the elements of worship.
FIRST AND LAST.
But many that are first shall be last, and the last shall be first. — Many things, which man considers of first import on earth, are of least import in the future life, and vice versa.
Bring of the firstlings of the flock. — Devote to the Lord’s work the highest, purest and best of every faculty.
Go thou to the sea, and cast forth a hook, and take up the first fish that comes up: and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou wilt find a piece of silver. — Go to the sea of life and take up any every-day experience. Open it out, investigate its inner reality and you will find a law of Divine Truth embodied within it
And the land had rest forty years. — Peace comes after temptation. (This sentence is frequently used in Judges.)
FOWL, FISH, BEAST.
Fowl of the air, fish of the sea, and beasts of the land. — Thoughts as they are in the mind, experiences as they occur in life, and passions as they control man.
Garments that are white. — Habits of thought that are clean.
Sprinkle blood upon their garments. — Have the Divine Truth permeate their methods of thought.
The Lord’s garment dipped in blood. — The Divine Truth in the letter of the Word falsified and distorted.
And he rent his garments. — Removed external appearances and saw the reality.
And touched the hem of His garment. — Read the literal story of the Divine Book.
And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way. — Garments are the methods of thought, the habits of thought. If the Lord is to enter into the intellectual life at all, these habits of thought are to be submitted to Him. They are to be strewn in His way. In other words, we must learn to think of Him in His way, not in ours. If this were not the meaning of this picture, the action would have been senseless, therefore inapplicable to the Divine Person in the centre of the picture.
GOLD, SILVER, COPPER.
Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor copper in your purses. — When bent upon the Lord’s work, man should cease from the love of self (gold in an opposite sense), from self-derived intelligence (silver), and from false natural sympathies (copper.)
GIVE AND TAKE.
Unto every one that hath, shall be given, and he shall have abundance ; but from him that hath not, shall be taken away even that which he hath. — The process called “Vastation” in the New Church, is as follows. Every character which leaves the world consists of a mixture of good and evil, of truth and falsity. A character all good and true, without some admixture of evil and false, does not exist. A character all evil and false, without some redeeming feature of good or truth, does not exist. When man dies, he is brought into such conditions of mind, by contact with Heaven or Hell, that he clearly sees the evil and the good in himself, and is able to decide, which he desires to retain. If good predominates, the minor factor of evil is taken from him. If evil predominates, the minor factor of good is taken from him; — since in either case the minor quantity has never been really his own.
If thy right hand offend thee, cut it off and cast it from thee. — The hand represents the way of doing a thing. When a man is of the conviction that his way of doing a thing is the only right way, and therefore every other way is wrong, it is well for him to be rid of such a conviction.
Anoint thy head and wash thy face. — Let the internals be filled with love and the externals purified by truth.
HEAVEN AND EARTH.
Who maketh heaven and earth. — Who creates the internal and external man.
But blasphemy against the Spirit (the word Holy is not given in this instance, Matthew 12, 31), shall not be forgiven unto men. — There is a difference between evil and sin, and it can be readily understood thus. Take the body first : There are certain diseases, such as fevers, colds, troubles of the alimentary tracts, coughs, throat diseases, etc., which are readily curable. They sweep over the body and leave the body about the same as they found it. But there are others, such as cancer, consumption, etc., which attack the structure of organisms and produce a chemical change. They break it down, and change it into an inorganic thing. An organ attacked by such a disease cannot be restored. So there are certain passions, and fires and ill-chosen thoughts that sweep over the soul, but leave it about where it was before they came, if man does not excuse, nourish and harbor them. These are called evils. But there are others, that gnaw into the vitals of the soul. They produce a spiritual chemical change. They leave portions of the soul-organism as an unorganized mass, which ceases to respond to the Divine Life. This is sin. It is sin “against the spirit.”
He shall not multiply horses to himself. — Let no man rely upon his self-derived intelligence.
And when they had come into the house. — When man enters more deeply into the consciousness of his own character.
And they returned, every man to his house. — Finally every man decides his own character for himself.
When ye come into a house, salute it. — Respect every man’s character.
If a house be worthy, your peace will come upon it : — but if .it be not worthy, your peace returns to you. — You cannot influence any man until you touch the key-note of his character. Whatever you do outside of that, is love’s labor lost.
Let him that is on the housetop not come down to take anything out of his house. — When a man has attained an exalted condition of character, he should not return to the littlenesses and failings of previous states. Note.—This thought is given in several ways. 1st as above, referring to character in general. 2nd. “He who is in the field, let him not return to take his clothes,” referring to the fact that a man should not retrograde as to the church (field) and his manner of thought (clothes, garments.) 3rd. “No man having put his hand to the plough, and looks backward, is fit for the Kingdom of God,” referring to the actual service of a helpful life in the world. 4th. “And she turned and became a pillar of salt,” referring to a return to some form of falsity which had been corrected.
I am the I am. — The Lord alone is life itself. All creatures live from Him, and without Him they live not.
INCREASE AND DECREASE.
He (Jesus) must increase, I (John) must decrease. — Man’s object in earth-life is to have the spiritual increase and the natural decrease.
There was no room for them in the inn. — The human mind is not receptive of the nascent Divinity.
And he will rule them with’ a rod of iron. — The Lord controls all things on the material side of the universe by the laws of nature. And he could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron. — It is impossible to overcome natural sympathies, because they rest upon doctrinal tenets moving along the lines of natural laws.
Thus saith the Lord of Israel. — This is the form of the Divine Truth as known in the spiritual church.
And Moses called Oshea, the son of Nun, Joshua. — In the progress of regeneration a passive regenerative principle turns into an active one. Note.—All changes of name indicate a change in the nature of a faculty of the mind, not in the faculty itself.
And Joseph was 17 years old. — Divine Providence rests and acts primarily upon the holy principles of remains stored away in the inmost recesses of character.
The Father judgeth no man; He hath committed all judgment unto the Son. — The Divine Love does not exercise judgment. It is the Divine Truth according to which all things are judged.
LAW AND PROPHETS.
All the prophets and the Law prophesied until John. — When the Christ comes to a soul, that is, when the Lord is born in a soul, the law and the prophets cease. The things which early life prophesied are fulfilled and realized, and the law ceases to be a law and becomes simply a statement of fact. Thus with a thoroughly honest man, the law “Thou shalt not steal,” simply becomes the statement “Thou wilt not steal,” or “Thou doest not steal.”
And . . . . , the King, ruled in his stead. — Man’s leading or dominating love is changed.
Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth. — The understanding cannot fathom the secret impulses of the will.
Cleanse the lepers. — Refrain from unclean thoughts.
He that finds his life, loses it. He that loses his life for My sake, shall find it. — He that cultivates the natural life alone, loses his spiritual life. He that cultivates the spiritual life, must needs lose the vital interest in natural life he would otherwise have.
At eventime there shall be light. — When the eye closes upon the earth-life’s evening, it opens into the light of heaven’s day.
And all the people were of one tongue (lip.) — And all the church had one doctrine.
And he called the name of that place Mahanaim. — It is the nature of the church that she should be externally organized.
They neither marry nor are given in marriage in the resurrection. — Heaven is attainable only to such souls as are already married, that is, in whom will and understanding are one.
For copper I will bring gold, and for iron will I bring silver, and for wood copper and for stones iron. — As man advances into regenerate life, the nature of the experiences of life changes. In place of bare, cold sense-facts (stones) he will have natural facts (iron), and in place of such as he had in the natural rational, he will have spiritual truth (silver.) In the same way on the affectional side, he will have true spiritual love (gold) in the place of natural charity, and natural charity (copper) in the place of unreasoning sympathies (wood.)
Whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him two. — Try to understand the position which your neighbor occupies. Go as far as he goes and farther.
MILK AND HONEY.
A land that flows with milk and honey. — The church is founded upon spiritual truth and the love of it.
The moon shall not give her light. — Faith will wane.
He went up into a mountain. — An exalted state of love is attained.
Flee unto the mountain. — Cling to the principles of love, when faith begins to wane or waver.
And he opened his mouth. — Instruction from an interior state.
Whatsoever ye ask in my name, it shall be done unto you. — Whatever efforts are made according to the nature of the Divine Law, are successful. All others fail.
In the name of God. — According to the nature of Divine Truth.
I have kept the talent laid by in a napkin. — I have placed the greatest import and weight upon the external ceremonials of life, and have frittered away my ability to understand the laws of spiritual life in mastering the knowledge of the externalities of natural life.
And they left their nets and followed Him. — Men must forsake their self-made doctrinals to find the Divine Truth.
Came into the city by night. — Came to hold a certain doctrine from ignorance.
The night comes when no man can work. — The states, of the spirit change, as those of the body change. As day and night follow one another on earth, so day and night follow one another in the spirit. As men work in their body by day and rest at night, so should they do their mental and spiritual work while the mind is bright and keen, and sleep or rest mentally when the mind grows tired and fagged.
How old art thou? — It is well for man to stop and consider how far he has spiritually advanced.
And he passed over to the other side. — The influx of life alternates between will and understanding regularly. Thus a man desires to do a thing, then he learns how to go about it — then he desires to do the next thing, etc., etc.
And without a parable spake He not unto them. — All the words of the Lord have a spiritual signification.
He came in unto Pharaoh. — The mind was in a condition of external scientifics.
Pharaoh, King of Egypt, had gone up and taken Gezer, and burnt it with fire, and slain the Canaanites, who dwelt in the city, and had given it as a present to his daughter, Solomon’s wife. — Not all of the work of regeneration is done by the spiritual man. Some of it is left to the hard facts of science to accomplish. Science is called Pharaoh, King of Egypt, and science comes and destroys some of those queer, superstitious ideas that people have, in which dwell a great many fierce lusts, called Canaanites, and in driving them out he makes room in them for the gentler love of science, which is called Pharaoh’s daughter, an affection ennobled by interior wisdom, for Pharaoh’s daughter was married to Solomon.
And he returned unto his place. — The person spoken of ceases to be representative.
And slew the Philistines. — And set aside the empty excuses made from false reasonings.
But he took the poor man’s lamb, and dressed it for the man who had come to him. — The spiritual man in the Word is always called poor. The natural man is called rich. In the important steps in life it is very often the case that man must decide between what is spiritual and what is natural. This verse tells us, that if there is anything to sacrifice, man would frequently rather sacrifice a spiritual principle than to lose a natural advantage.
But the poor, who had nothing, he left in the land. — At the end of every state there is projected into the approaching state a remnant of the purest and best of that, which constituted the old.
Go, sell what thou hast and give it to the poor. — Cease acting from natural motives and begin to act from spiritual motives.
Show it unto the priest. — Examine the problem along the lines of vital religion.
A rich man shall hardly enter the Kingdom of Heaven. — He who hath all he wants, will not want the Lord. He who wants the Lord, is called poor; he who does not want the Lord, is called rich.
If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee. — The eye is the way of looking at a thing. When a man is convinced that his way is the right way of looking at a thing, and every one else’s way is wrong, it is well for him to be rid of such a state.
Which I saw by the river. — A matter which I understood when I followed along some definite line of reasoning.
Ye are the salt of the earth. — The church is established from truth.
And He must needs go through Samaria. — In order to go from the natural to what is spiritual, it is necessary to go through the rational.
Is Saul also among the prophets ? — Can reason be made to harmonize with revelation ?
A scarlet thread in the window. — An enlightened mind sees the Divine Love guiding all things, being deeply concealed within.
As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up. — The sense-man, both in the Human and in the Divine, must be made to serve the highest purposes. The ignoble must be trodden under foot.
And they left the ship and their father, and followed Him. — Men will leave their doctrines and traditions and obey the Divine Truth.
Heal the sick. — Abstain from evil.
And the silver was underneath. — Beneath and within all things lies concealed the Divine Law, or the Divine Truth.
And Noach was six-hundred years old. — And then came a troubled state upon the church.
And these are the cities of the South. — These are doctrines formulated from intelligence.
SPIRIT OF THE FATHER.
For it is not ye that speak, but the spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. — All life, all understanding, all love and all wisdom are from the Lord alone. Man is but a receptive vessel.
STAR — EAST.
We have seen His star in the East. — We have some knowledge of the Lord.
The stars shall fall from heaven. — Interior knowledges die out.
And they stoned him with stones. — They removed the falsity by supplying their minds with one fact after another.
And the house, when it was in building, was built of stone made ready before it was brought thither ; so that there was neither hammer, nor axe, nor any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was in building. — The real work of character-building is done by the Lord for man, and He requires no artificial aid to help Him.
And a great stone was upon the mouth of the well. — The clergy will not permit the laity to interpret the literal sense of the Word.
Every man straight before him. — After all and after all, no man will go any other way, save that called for by the development of his character.
The sun shall be darkened. — Love shall die away.
And there was a good way off from them a herd of many swine feeding. — Average human ity, do matter how low and depraved and possessed of evil, is still a “good way off” from actual bestiality.
Think not that I came to send peace upon earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. —To the evil the influence of Divine Life is productive of pain ; just as to an ulcerated lung the influx of pure, clean, life-giving air is productive of pain and distress. (In this way all such sentences are to be read, where anger, evil or punishment are ascribed to the Lord.)
To thy tents, Israel. — Every man will finally attain that state of character after death, which he has spiritually prepared for himself on earth.
It was now the third day. — The state described is now completed.
And they took up of the fragments, that remained, twelve baskets full. — Of all that man permits him to use, the Lord builds a perfect character.
TWO AND ONE.
Two shall be in the field. One shall be taken and the other left. Two (women) grinding at the mill. One shall be taken, the other left. — In establishing character for man, both before and after death, the Lord takes that which is eternal and leaves that which is temporal, both in the understanding (man) and in the will (woman.) Where this sentence is used in connection with ” bed,” the reference is to such doctrines as man may have learned.
Unto a stranger thou mayest lend upon usury; but unto thy brother thou shalt not lend upon usury. — A natural fact may rest upon sense-impressions, but spiritual truth cannot.
They gave Him vinegar to drink mingled, with gall. — The church falsified every vestige of Divine Truth in the most thorough way.
And he lifted up his voice and wept. —Higher forms of revelation proceed from the Divine Mercy.
And the water was turned to blood. — Truth was falsified.
Water which had become wine. — Natural truth elevated to a spiritual standpoint and made spiritual truth.
WIND AND SEA.
He rebuked the winds and the sea. — The Lord controls all influx of spiritual things into things natural and all the hells.
WITHIN AND WITHOUT.
Blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. — When the motives of the internal man are pure, the actions of the external will be clean also.
ABSALOM AND DAVID.
Sam. XVII and XVIII.
The story of Absalom and David, and the story of the struggle between them, is the story of what is literal and what is spiritual. For at all times in the history of the world, it has been true that the letter and the spirit have struggled together. There have always been some people who have taken things literally, and there have always been others who have understood things in a spiritual way. The struggle between them came about, not because the spiritual and the literal are opposed to each other, or because they deny each other, but because people have learnt either the one class of truth, or the other class of truth, and have denied that which they did not learn. That is, people would learn literal truths, and would deny spiritual truths, or again, they would learn spiritual truths and deny literal truths. In this way it came about that there would be some who, for instance, believed everything that was natural, and nothing that is spiritual. They believed in a natural world, they believed in the literal sense of the Word ; they believed what science had to say, because it rested upon natural things. But they did not believe in the spiritual world, or the spiritual sense of the Word, or the spirit of man. Again, on the other band, there are some who believe only in spiritual things; who believe in man as a spirit, and say that matter is only an impression. That everything that appears to the eyes is simply a projection of the subjective life within; and other thoughts of similar nature. Thus things spiritual and things literal have been opposed to one another. And the struggle will continue, until the student learns to understand natural things in a natural way and at the same time spiritual things in a spiritual way, and to leave the two stand side by side. As soon as anyone tries to explain a natural thing in a spiritual way, or a spiritual thing in a natural way, he will feel in his brain and in his heart the struggle between David and Absalom. And if he persists, he will find that Absalom dies in the oak. and David goes wild with grief.
2 Sam. XVIII, 10—33.
Everything in nature seeks for expression. Every physical force constantly tries to show itself. Every power tries to find something on which it can act. And without its visible manifestation a force is, as it were, lost. Any power in nature which finds nothing upon which it can act, loses itself in emptiness. For instance, a ray of light falling through a shutter into a room, does not show, until it strikes the floor. The heat of the sun does not show as heat, until it strikes the heavy lower atmosphere. And so with all forces and powers. They will not show themselves, until they have something against which they can act. As all natural forces seek expression, so all spiritual forces seek expression. Swedenborg says, every affection of the heart tries to break forth in singing. Every thought of the mind tries to find expression in words. Every plan of the spirit tries to come into outward existence. When we know anything very nice, we are always particularly anxious to tell it to somebody. We try to find words for it; we try to give it expression. Or we try to write it. Or we try to say it with the eyes, or with the face, or with the hands.
In the same way the Lord tries to find expression for the thoughts of His Divine mind. He tries to tell His children what He has in His mind concerning them, and what He wants them to know, to do, and to have. And in order to do this, He gave His thoughts expression in the literal sense of the Word. The literal sense of the Word, here called Absalom, is the means whereby the Lord talks to His children. If they pay attention to it, if they read their Bible, and listen to it and learn it, then He is pleased, and His love and His life flow into their hearts. The living Absalom is an especial care of David, the King. But if His children pay no attention to the Bible, if they do not read it, and do not study it, and let it be a dead letter with them, then He is much grieved and distressed, and He mourns for the loss of His opportunity to confer the blessings that He wants to confer,even as David mourned for Absalom, his son. The Lord wants us to let the letter of the Bible be a living thing inus, a daily study, and a constant meditation.
“For thy law is my delight.” “In it do I meditate day and night.” The expression of mourning, which is here given in the story of David, has two reasons, the one natural and the other spiritual. The natural reason is, that David’s heart went out to his son, as the heart of a father naturally goes out to his child. This was the conscious reason. This was the reason that was in the mind of the man, when he gave way to his passion of grief. But back of it there was also an unconscious reason, which was spiritual. The unconscious reason was that David represented the Lord, and that in his mourning he must give expression to the great depths of the Divine mercy, which are stirred when the Lord is deprived of an opportunity to do what His intense love for man dictates to Him to do. Nor is this thought of pain limited to the literal sense of the Bible. Not only is the Divine love violated and hurt by man’s neglect of what is said in the literal sense, but also in many other things can man give pain to the Master; always remembering, that when we speak in this way, we speak according to human” ideas and in human language. Most prominent among the many ways in which the Divine power can be turned out of its course and violence done to the Master’s love, is that of selfishness.
Every life-force that flows forth from the Master of life, has the law of transflux written into its every motion. By this I mean, that all life that comes from the Lord to man (for all life is from the Lord and not from man) is intended firsj; to flow into man and come into his heart, and then from there to flow forth again. What ever the Lord gives us, He wants us to give to others. He wants us to keep it only long enough, so that we may know just exactly what it is, and not make a mistake in giving it out again. That this is His intention, is evident from every force we know. Every force God uses in His natural universe, He causes to circulate, that is, to pass from one thing to another. Think of how the blood circulates through the body from one organ to the other and back again to the heart. Think of how the clouds feed the streams, and the streams feed the rivers, and the rivers feed the ocean, and the ocean again feeds the clouds. And so in all things natural. — It is the same in things spiritual. We are to receive from the Lord what we are able to receive, and instead of storing it up in ourselves, we are to pass it onward to the next mind or heart. To stop spiritual force, means to kill it. And to kill a spiritual force, means to do violence to the Divine love. “Freely you have received, freely give,” isthe law which governs all spiritual life.
2 Sam. XVIII, 1—17.
Absalom signifies the literal sense of the Word. Therefore so much is said of his long hair, and about the quality of his hair. All the men who are spoken of as having large quantities of hair, or as having long hair, represent the literal sense of the Word, and its power in man and to man. Samson and Absalom and John all represent the literal sense of the Word in various relationships to man. Samson represents its destructive power. John represents its power to call men to repentance. Absalom represents its power of endurance. That is, he represents the fact that the Word of God has a wonderful faculty of enduring beyond all other books the ravages of time and the destructive powers of men. There is no book known which has lived, so to speak, as long as the Word of God in its literal form. Remember that it is 5000 years old. That some parts of it have been handed down for ages and ages. Long before Caesar and Scipio and Raamses and Abraham and Eber, or any of the patriarchs who lived upon this earth, parts of this wonderful book were written on rocks, on leaves of trees and on skins. This is represented in the story by the pillar of Absalom. Even though Absalom as a living man ceases to exist, yet the heap of stones and the pillar of Absalom will go on for ever and ever. For Absalom, as a living man, represents that knowledge of the literal sense in which there is some life. But as you know, the literal sense of God’s Word is not really, to most minds,a living thing. In most of the minds Absalom is already dead.
People try to understand the literal sense of the Bible as it was, and they get themselves “all mixed up,” as they say. They could not make out the spiritual side, neither could they make out the natural side. They were “mixed up,” as the hair of Absalom was mixed up with the oak. They hung between the natural and the spiritual, as Absalom hung between heaven and earth. Hence, their living interest in the Bible, as God’s book, died out. And there was left in their mind either a confused mass of facts concerning the Bible, called a heap of stones, or they had these facts all arranged, everything in its proper place, one on top of the other. When this is the case, the mind is said to be a pillar. Although the living interest is dead, yet the pillar of Absalom stands. And it is so “unto this day.” The literal pillar of Absalom may be gone, but the pillar of the literal Absalom is there even “unto this day,” as the Book says.
ANOINTING THE FEET.
Luke VII, 36—50.
The church is a woman. She passes spiritually through the same states through which a woman passes naturally. But the church does not always stand in the same relation to her Lord. Her states change. She is sometimes very near to Him. Sometimes the great power and love of the Lord can weave itself into her life and flow through every avenue of her existence. And then the church is called the Wife of the Lamb. Sometimes on the verge of the great love of the Lord, she is called the Bride. Sometimes, when the Lord is still an Unknown Being to her, a strange and mysterious God, Who dwells afar off in the depths of space, then is she called the daughter of Zion or the daughter of Jerusalem. And sometimes the night falls darkly about the souls of men and the Lord is dead to their hearts. Then is the church a widow, and her Husband is dead. But at a time, when the church has grown to realize her evils, when she has become alive to the corruptions and evils and adulterations and falsities, which have crept into her organism, then she is “a woman, a sinner.” And this is the picture of the church, when she is aroused to the evils of her ways and begins again to desire the Love of her Master, of her Lord, of her Husband. And thus does she acquire the state she strives to attain. She anoints His feet. Instead of gazing rapt into the heavens, she comes down to the earth, down to “the feet” of Him. Down into those lower pathways, where starving, poverty-begrimed, vice-engendered humanity trembles on the edge of losing the image of the Lord. And she washes the feet, she strives to cleanse these lower pathways, where the feet of the Master must walk, and cleanse them she must, and with her tears. Has ever the church gone down into actual contact with human misery, and has not washed that misery with her tears ? Has ever the gentleness of the church come in contact with the hardness of vice and of crime, without the tears, wherewith these “feet” must be washed? Yes, she washes the feet with the tears, and wipes them with the hair of the head. She brings into the darkness of the fallen the light of the letter of the Word. For the letter of the Word is the hair of the head. And so stands the picture before the eye. Is it a wonder that the Master gives to Simon the lesson of the creditor who owed much and of him who owed little?
BIRTH OF CHRIST.
Luke II, 8—50.
In tracing the well known picture, take the larger outline first. It is true, that the earth and the city was much moved when He came, but the heavens were -yet more moved. For all history points to His coming as the central point, whence all things start and toward which all things move. Imagine this, and you will understand why the church celebrates Christmas as the most important of all festivals. For there is no thought more important to the world of men, than the thought of how God Himself was born upon the earth, as a man. It is not very hard to think of God, and we can read what the Holy Book says of Him and understand fairly what and Who He is. So too it is not very hard to understand about man. For we can look around in the world and watch men and notice what they do and what they say and get a fair idea of what a man is. But to think of God and Man in one; to think of the Lord Jesus Christ being Jehovah and Man at one and the same time, was so difficult a lesson for God’s human children to learn, that He came and lived among them for thirty-three years, in order that they might understand at least a shadow of this wonderful truth.
1 But let us talk of the birth of the Divine Truth in the soul. As the Lord was born among men, so is He born in the minds of men. And first there is in the mind, in which He is to be born, a something which watches. The Book calls this something ” Shepherds,” but we all know that it means the innocent thoughts of the soul. For the Lord cannot come into the sullied or into the wicked, or into the unclean parts of the mind. He is all pure, and good and clean, and therefore there is, away back, and deep’ down in the heart, into which He is to come, a something that is watching and waiting all through the weary night of evil, all through the dread forgetfulness of God, into which men fall ; watching and waiting in the deeps and silences of the heart are the innocent thoughts and loves, which men had when they were children. God saved them for Himself, that He might come into them, “in the fulness of time.” 2. We learn all sorts of natural truths about the earth,” and the stars, and the people. And such truths, when they are real and alive with experience, are called “men.” But there are other truths to learn. There are truths to learn, which refer to spiritual things; to God, the life after death, the souls of men and other spiritual things. These truths are called ” angels.” And the Lord is born in the soul, when the first great spiritual truths are seen, that is, when man sees his first angel. Not a strange, shining thing, that can fly downward from heaven and back again, but a great light that comes into the mind, when it first realizes the stupendous truth of the Lord Jesus Christ and of His being the one and only God of heaven and earth. And do you know what follows? Immediately a man has learned this wonderful truth, he begins to see countless other truths, which follow from it, which grow out of it, which are in the first general thought, as fibres are in a muscle. Of course “the heavenly host is with the angel.”
2 And the next step, what is it ? Do you not see, that when a man has seen the great central truth, he learns it, and he marvels at it, and he believes it. But as soon as he can see the way, he will apply it to life. He will let it come down into his everyday life. He “will go even to Bethlehem, to see this marvellous thing, which has come to pass.” He will examine his everyday life, to notice, where he can find a trace of the Divine. Not great things, but a little thing. A weak faith, a small hope. A little Babe he finds. Not a full-grown man, not a great wonder, but a little Babe.
THE BREAD OF LIFE.
John VI, 26—40.
There are two types whereby the Lord constantly typifies His love and His wisdom or His goodness and His truth. They are bread and wine. These two types represent in Scripture the good and truth which flows forth from the Lord and is received by man. In order that this subject may be a little more clearly understood, let us dwell for a few sentences on a rather more detailed explanation of what we mean when we say good and truth. The natural man lives in a natural world. The spiritual man in the spiritual world. When the natural eye is turned upward, it sees a sun, and man knows that two things come from that sun. They are called heat and light. He feels the one and sees the other. When the spirit looks upward, it also sees a sun, in which dwells the Lord Himself, and from this sun he receives two things which resemble heat and light and act like heat and light. These two are good and truth. What heat and light do for the body, good and truth do for the spirit, and as the body would instantly die if heat and light were taken away from it, so would the spirit instantly die if good and truth were taken away from it. This will give some idea of what good and truth is. But as we know man is a threefold being, that is, his mind has three degrees, consequently everything that comes to him must come in a threefold order. Hence, also in the reception of good and truth there is a threefold order.
When it is the natural mind that is treated of, then good and truth are called Land and Water, and the types are taken from the mineral kingdom. When it is the spiritual mind that is treated of, then good and truth are called Bread and Wine and the types are taken from the vegetable kingdom. When it is the coelestial mind that is treated of, then good and truth are called Flesh and Blood and the types are taken from the animal kingdom; Now read over carefully in your Bible the various things that are said about these six types. Let me give you a number of places where you can find just what to read. First read the story of the beast from the land and the beast from the sea. You will find them in the XII. and XIII. Chapters of the Revelation of John. Then read the stories of how the Lord gave His people bread to eat. You will find those in Exodus xvi, 13—32. 1 Kings xvii, 3—6. Matthew xiv, 15 —21, xv, 32—39. And then read the stories of how He gave His people wine to drinks John ii, 1 —11. . Then read the stories of how the people received flesh to eat and blood to drink. Exodus xvi, 1 —13, vii, 14—25. After the student has read all of these stories (read every word carefully) let him put them all together in his mind in six spaces like those of the diagram and see what he has learned. — The bread from Heaven, which is spoken of in this chapter, i3 Divine good. It is for this reason therefore that the Lord calls Himself the bread from Heaven, because He is the Divine Good.
BY THE SEA.
John VI, 1—21.
There are two pictures in this chapter. One is the picture of how the Lord helps His people on land, and the other is the picture of how He helps them on the water. When they are hungry on the land, He gives them something to eat, and when they are in distress on the water, He comes to them, even though He must walk on the water to come to them. Although it is impossible for us to understand all the wonderful things that are taught here in the internal sense, and although we can not even understand how these things came to pass in the literal sense, and how the Lord made more bread and fishes out of the few He had, and how He could walk on the water, yet we can understand that these two pictures belong together, somewhat as the right hand and the left hand belong together, and somewhat as the right eye and the left eye belong together. We understand that the land refers to the will and the water refers to the understanding. And since we understand this, we can alsosee that the Lord acts differently in the will and differently in the understanding. On the land He gave them food, on the water He gave them help. So in the will the Lord really gives men food. He feeds their will as He feeds their bodies. Great waves of life” flow out from Him, and flow into the will, and draw into the will from the spiritual world around it all those angelic and spiritual substances which the soul needs to live upon. Just as His life flows into the body and causes the body to take into itself by eating and drinking all the various kinds of food presented’ by the natural world around it. And the soul grows upon its spiritual food, as the body grows upon its natural food. But in the understanding the Lord acts differently. He does not feed or nourish. He guides, directs, supports, helps. As He teaches the body where to move and when to move, by means of the pictures which the eye sees from the natural world around it, so He teaches the understanding when to move and where to move by means of the pictures which the mental eye (reason through imagination) sees from the spiritual world around it. The will is fed, the understanding guided. Therefore, on land there is food, on the water help. For the land signifies the will and the water signifies the understanding.
CHOICE OF DISCIPLES.
1 We have in the Gospel of John the highest and therefore the most difficult record of the growth of the soul. The vital principle of the Word and of its relation to God is first stated, and then the influence of the Word upon the soul is given in its order. If the student will keep in mind constantly the nature of the regeneration and will not allow that thought to escape him or drift from him, he will understand all the points made here. Keep in mind, that the change which we call the regeneration is not an imaginary thing. It is not a change of emotions. It is an actual change of substance and form. It is as actual as any change in the contour of the earth. The power of the Lord acting in the spirit is as real as the circulation of the blood. There is nothing abstract about it. The Lord actually reaches down into the heart and life and soul of man and moves things, and changes them, and puts some away and puts new ones in their place, and the work is as real as the building of any house on the earth. The sentences and verses and chapters from the Holy Word are the stones and beams which He uses in building the soul. Therefore the Word is given first. Then there is a process of clearing away. This is called reformation. John the Baptist represents that. He tells what man must put away. Read especially what he tells the people in Luke. Then the Lord lays down the principal elements of character. These are called disciples.
2 He takes faith and the affection of faith, and intelligence, and conscience, and He calls them Peter and Andrew and Philip and Nathanael. These He puts down as fundamentals of character, and on them He continues the work. And the first step in this work is, that man should find out whereabouts in his life the Lord is. Therefore they first ask Him, where He dwells, and He tells them to come and see. Then He changes the name of Peter.
3 That is, He takes the faith which man had at first and changes its nature. You understand, what kind of faith man has during his childhood, before he feels any of the burdens and responsibilities of life. It is the faith of his teachers. He believes what folks tell him. We call that a persuasive faith in the New Church, or a historical faith. But when he grows older and comes into the foreground of the drama of life, and the burden and the heat of the day fall on him, then he must learn to understand things for himself. He must learn to think and act for himself. And the faith, that grows out of that, is another kind of faith. It is still faith, therefore it is the same man. But it is another kind of faith. It is a firmer faith. It is Rock-Faith. That is why the man is the same, but his name is changed.
THE DIVIDED NATION.
1 Kings XIV and XV.
The historic narrative is divided into two great peoples at this time, the Israelites and the Jews. This division stands as a historical and as a political fact, just as it is told in the Book, but beside its historical import it has a spiritual lesson beneath it, or rather above it. That les son is: There are two great elements in the church. These are called Faith and Charity. Faith is what a man believes, and Charity is what a good man would do, if he were left alone to do as he pleases. In the intentions of Providence it is ordained that these two should be one, as the heat and light of the sun are one. But under the perversity of men, the two are separated, and made into distinct things, just as the one people, the Hebrew nation, was divided into two peoples, the Israelites and the Jews. The one people represented the church, but the divided peoples, the Jews and the Israelites, represent charity alone and faith alone. Hence one disaster follows the other, after the separation. For alone neither of these two is the church. They can only be the church when they are united, and hence too there is war between the two kings constantly. The other thought is that of the shields of gold, which were taken away, and the shields of copper put in their place. You will recall the statement made in the Prophets, “For copper I will bring gold, and for iron I will bring silver, and for wood copper, and for stone iron.” This is the promise of the Lord to the soul, that He will take away from it that which is less precious and give it in its place that which is more precious. He will take away the lesser truth and give the greater truth. He will take away the lesser love and give the greater love. Inversely therefore to take away the shields of gold and substitute shields of copper, indicates an activity of the mind, in which a nobler love is taken away and a lesser love is pat in its place. Let this illustrate. If any one loves to go to church because he learns the words of eternal life there, or because he feels that the Lord is nearer to his soul through the reading of His Holy Word and through the sacredness of Divine worship, it is one thing. But if he goes to church because he thinks it is a nicer church than the one to which the man across the street goes, or because it is the biggest church in the city, or because he can get more customers by going to that church, than he could if he went to another, that is quite another thing. Any one can see which of these two loves is the higher and the nobler, which is gold and which is brass or copper. Men should never substitute a shield of brass for a shield of gold.
THE STORY OF ELIJAH.
1 Kings XVII and XVIll.
The world is full of strange and sweet tokens of the Lord’s infinite care and providence. The leaf and the blossom foreshadow the fruit, and in all that happens to them the fruit is provided for. The boy foreshadows the man and in all that happens to him there is inwardly concealed the possibility of manhood. In the first crude lines, that the quivering fingers of the child draw upon the paper, there may sleep the prospects of an artist. And so in all things; not one item stands alone. Everything is interlaced and intertwines with that which comes before and that which follows after. No lesson is so near to man. No lesson comes so closely to his heart, no thought can be so prominent in his mind as this, that the Lord overrules all things and guides them all toward certain definite ends, which men never see, until they have been reached and until the purposes which they form have been accomplished. This is the lesson of the literal story. It involves however one factor, which must not be overlooked. There are two reasons for which men do things. One is because they want to and the other is because the Lord wants them to. One involves much planning, and much care and much anxiety of thought and much caution, lest there be failure, but the other involves simply a recognition of things as they come, simply an eye to see and an ear to hear, what it is that the Lord has to speak. If all the wonderful things be considered, which men have made, the vessels and the locomotive, the dynamos and the windmills and the engines and all the many things, which now crowd the earth, we will find, that they all rest upon one thing, and that is a knowledge of forces as they exist outside of man. Man simply discovers what the Lord has created around him and then uses it. In other words, he hears what the Lord has to say. So in things spiritual it is the same. We need not invent a heaven or the joys of heaven. The Lord has already produced everything we will ever feel or know or love. All we need do is to heed the Word of the Lord. We need only hear Him, when He speaks to us and do what He tells us. This the prophet did and it was well with him, when all the rest of the land was in distress. — The oil in the cruse does not fail, because it signifies love. Love never fails. Passion may die out, desire may fade away, knowledge may be lost and memory may disappear, but love outlasts all time and all space. It never ceases. And that which ceases was not love.
When the Divine Word speaks of a representative action, such as the building of the altar of the twelve stones, it is necessary to remember that the action, although the prophet Elijah as a man understood nothing at all about it, represents a process, which is constantly going on in the mind of man. In the literal sense the thing described was done once upon a time, and that was the end of it. But the internal sense is limited in no way as to time. That which the various things here performed by the prophet signified is not under the limitations of space and time. If it be known, that the number twelve signifies all, and that stones signify truth such as it is in the memory of man, and that water signifies the same truth, such as it is in the intellectual life of man, then it will be understood, that the action of Elijah represents a certain activity of the mind, in which all it knows that is true, is concentrated upon one point, and all the experiences of its life, on the natural plane, on the spiritual plane, on the coelestial plane are gathered together, like thrice four measures of water, and then the result described follows. Fire will descend from heaven and the sacrifice of man will be accepted. So long as man looks to the world, leaps upon his altar, so long as he wounds himself for the sake of the world and bears the terrible tortures of self-consciousness and self-love, so long there is no response from heaven. But let any man gather up all the truths he has : let him gather up the twelve stones of his character, and build of them an altar for the devotion of a true purpose, and then let him dig around it the trench of discrimination, which will leave him in the world, but not of it, and then let him pour out upon that altar the water of his experiences in actual life, of the experiences he has received into his understanding, the experiences he has had in his will, that is, let him bring water three times, and he will find that at the very core and centre of his life there burns a Divine fire, of which he never until then felt the breath. Only concentrate yourself upon a thing, bring together all the twelve stones and the fire from heaven will not fail.
ELIJAH TAKEN TO HEAVEN.
2 Kings II, 1—11.
In the first place, we have in this chapter a narrative of a remarkable transaction. We are told, that the Lord took Elijah up into heaven in a whirlwind, and that He sent down a chariot of fire and horses of fire, to take him up into heaven. Now, when there is a lesson of this kind, there are generally two ways of going at it. One way is to try and understand the laws whereby the event took place. And the other is, to try to understand what the Lord wanted us to learn from the story, and therefore to understand, why the story was put in the Holy Book. If we try to explain the miracle in some way, we will find ourselves upon ground, where it is very difficult to tread. Certainly we have an advantage in the New Church, since we understand that an event of this kind can take place in the spiritual world and be recorded in the Book, as though it had occurred in the natural world.
We can say, that Elisha’s spiritual eyes were opened, and that he saw the chariot and the horses in the spiritual world, and that the light of that world is so bright and so splendid, that they appeared to him to be all aflame. And we can say, that in this way the body of Elijah was not taken up into heaven, since flesh and blood cannot enter into heaven. But even after we have solved the question upon natural ground so far, we will find, that our solution opens out a host of new questions, and that that is pretty much all it does. Therefore the other method is the more satisfactory. It means to leave the natural story to be explained as best it can be explained according to the degree of science which we have reached, and to apply our study to that which is spiritual. In that connection follow these thoughts for a moment.
There are three persons mentioned in the Divine Book, of whom we know not the fate of the body. In other words, there are three people, who were buried in such a way, that no one could find the body. Head the three quotations.
“So Moses, the servant of the Lord, died there in the land of Moab, according to the Word of the Lord. And He buried him in a valley in the laud of Moab, over against Beth-Peor : but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day.” Deut. xxxiv, 5 and 6.
“And they said unto him, Behold now, there be with thy servants fifty strong men ; let them go, we pray thee, and seek thy master : lest peradventure and Spirit of the Lord hath taken him up, and cast him upon some moun tain, or into some valley. And he said, Ye shall not send. “And when they urged him till he was ashamed, he said, Send. They sent therefore fifty men; and they sought three days, but found him not.
“And when they came again to him, (for he tarried at Jericho), he said unto them, Did I not say unto you, go not?” 2 Kings ii, 16—18.
“And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. “And they entered in and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. Luke xxiv, 2—3.126
It will be seen that the three persons here mentioned, namely, Jesus, Moses and Elias, are the same three who appeared together in glory on the mount of the trainsfiguration, while Peter, Jacob, John, the three chief apostles of the Lord, were, as it were, the shadows cast by them. Now if it be remembered, that man is a creature of three degrees, called coelestial, spiritual and natural, and that these three degrees do not die with the body, but live right on through-death and after death, then it will be readily understood, why these three men did not die as other men died, and why their bodies were not found, as other men’s bodies are found. For although the three degrees mentioned appear in nature and through nature, yet they in no wise have a bodily existence; consequently in the literal story the body disappears. Our space prevents us from going on, but every student will find it of interest to carry this thought forward.
THE FIERY FURNACE.
Daniel III, 13— 25.
There are two ways in which men can be tempted. One way is in the will, and the other is in the under standing. The effort to distinguish between what is good and what is evil, is one thing, and the effort to distinguish between what is false and what is true, is another thing. The one effort we make with and through the will, the other we make with and through the understanding. The temptation of the will is represented by the trial by fire, since fire signifies love, and love is of the will and is the will. The temptation of the understanding is represented by the trial in the lion’s den, for a lion signifies the power of truth in the good sense, and the power of falsity in the evil sense, and truth or falsity are of the understanding and are the understanding. Hence these two lessons, which are here given, are really one lesson, just as the two dreams of Nebuchadnezzar are really one dream and the two dreams of Pharaoh were really one dream. Hence it will be necessary to study these two lessons with reference to each other, and compare them all the way through. The temptation by fire takes place in the day, that of the lions by night. We are tempted as to the will, when it is light in the soul; we are tempted as to the understanding, when it is dark in the soul. The temptation by fire is brought about by incidents, which are themselves lost and destroyed in the struggle which follows, hence the men who throw the three men into the fire are consumed by the fire. But the incidents, which have created doubt in the mind and brought about a mental struggle, are not lost. Hence the men who throw Daniel into the den of lions, are not destroyed, but remain alive after their dread work is done. Again, in a temptation of the will there are several faculties involved, while in a temptation of the understanding there is only one. Hence there are three men in the fiery furnace, but only one man in the lion’s den. But in both temptations, both in the will and in the understanding, the Lord guards man in the most wonderful ways and yet in the most palpable ways, hence the angel of the Lord is with the men in the furnace and also with the man in the lion’s den, holding the flames away in the one case, and the mouths of the lions in the other. For temptations are not intended to destroy the faculties of the mind, but simply to remove something that is in the way. Just as the fire in the iron furnace burns to free the pure metal from the dross, and just as the fire in the smelting furnace burns to free the gold or the silver from the dross, just so the fire of temptation burns to free the soul from some of the dross of earth, of whatever nature it may be.
FIVE THOUSAND FED.
John VI, 1—14.
The internal sense is not limited to any particular time or any particular place. It is altogether independent of time and space and depends only on the changing conditions of man’s spirit. Therefore in this case the story of the feeding. of the multitudes, representing as it does in the internal sense the manner in which the Lord feeds and nourishes the soul, is not restricted in any way to any particular time or to any particular place. The Lord feeds the soul of man constantly and at all times, and it is always done as described in this lesson. In the first place there are in every human character certain leading traits, such as faith, charity, obedience. These are represented by the twelve apostles or disciples. And there are also in every human character a great many detailed characteristics or less important traits or minor traits, and these are called people. The number Five Thousand means a great many, because Five means some, Fifty means a fairly large quantity, Five Hundred means quite a number, and Five Thousand therefore means a great many. Now all of the minor traits of character are developed and nourished from the leading traits, therefore the Lord hands the bread to the disciples and they hand it to the people. But the spirit cannot grow if there is any disorder or any lack of harmony among the minor traits, therefore it was necessary that the people, who represent these minor traits, should settle down in perfect order, and you find them in this picture grouped about on the grass, and as Mark says, “In groups by hundreds and by fifties.” This is necessary in every instance. It is true also in our studies. There are all of the details of arithmetic, of grammar, of geography, and of all sorts of things, hundreds and thousands of them, which have to be set in order, before we can go out into the wide, wide world and actually perform that use that the Lord wants of us. When they are all in order, that is, all grouped upon the grass by fifties and by hundreds, then the Lord feeds the soul in wonderful ways and after such feeding man really can do more than he could when he first began. Therefore there was more bread and fish left after the feeding than there was when the miracle first began. But the main feature in this miracle and in its internal sense is the one that refers to the life after death, and it refers to it in this way. Man enters the future life with but few traits that are good and true, that is, with but few breads and few fishes. But as the light of the day dawns upon him and he steps out into the wonderful liberty and peace of the true life, he finds that the Lord takes the few good points which he has and develops them into a mighty power for good, and He takes the few truths that he has learned in the Valley of the Shadow below and turns them into a rich treasure-house filled with coelestial and spiritual knowledges. Thus is the miracle performed at death.
GOD’S HEATHEN CHILDREN.
John IX, 1—12.
It is the purpose of the Lord that all men should know Him and the life-giving truths that flow out from Him. But it is also true that different minds see truth in different ways. Not every one can understand truth in the same way; neither can every one express truth in the same way. Hence people look at things in different ways, just as they talk about things in different, languages. And therefore it is, that the good Father speaks to all His children in their own “dear mother-tongue.” To those who can understand Him readily, He talks plainly. He tells them all those important laws, on which life here and beyond depends. He tells them in such a way, that they cannot misunderstand Him. But there are many of His children, who neither know Him, nor understand Him. To these He cannot speak in direct language. To them He speaks in a language that appears to come from other sources. Hence, in teaching men, in opening their eyes, that they may see, the Lord acts in different ways. In some cases He touches,, the eyes; in other cases He “speaks the Word” only; but again, as in this case, He restores man’s sight in a round about way. He does not touch his eyes, or speak the Word over them, but He makes a clay and lays that on them and tells the man to wash in Siloam. This represents the indirect revelations given to the Heathen and to those who are born outside of the external boundaries of the church. They are all children of the Lord’s mercy, but He must speak to them all in their own mother-tongue and teach them as much and as thoroughly as He is able, until they can graduate through death into the real life of the Beyond, there to see clearly what they saw but dimly here. There to know what here they dreamed ; there to act what here they longed to express.
THE GOOD SHEPHERD.
John X, 1—21.
Gather the children about you. Let the little ones read the story of the Great One, and of how He lays down His life for His sheep. Then as you tell them how the Good One laid down His life for His sheep, tell them also, that He took up that life again, and that He lives now, “the First-Born from the Dead” forevermore. And then read them the twenty-third Psalm, and if so be you are willing, let them learn its beautiful words and sentences by heart. And then go on into the larger detail of the lesson. The Lord is the Good Shepherd. What does that mean ? The answer you cannot understand, until you have given some thought to what else He is. Follow this line of thought for a moment. Here is a man. He lives in a little village. He has many neighbors and they all know him well. They see him every day. Now we go into the first neighbor’s house, and there is someone there, who is very sick. And we ask of them: “Does anyone treat your patient?” And they answer: “Yes. The doctor lives right next door. Our neighbor is a physician.” And they speak truly of the man, for he is a physician. And we go into another house. We find a stranger there who cannot speak English. He talks German. And the people of the house say : “Let us send him over to our neighbor. He can talk to him. He is a German.” And so he is. He is not only a physician, he is also a German. And again there arises a question, who it was that wrote ” Fidelio.” And we puzzle about it, and puzzle about it, until at last someone says : “Let us ask the neighbor about it. He is a musician.” And they speak truly about the man. For he is a musician. And that same night there is a meeting in the town-hall of the largest charity-organization of the village. And we ask someone: “Who founded this organization ?” And they answer : “Our neighbor started it. He is quite a philanthropist.” And they speak truly. He is a philanthropist. And Sunday comes. I want to go to church. I ask the proprietor of the hotel: “Is there a New Church in this place?” And he smiles, and says : “No. There is no church of that denomination here. But my neighbor over yonder is a Swedenborgian. He will be pleased to see you.” And he speaks truly. At least in part. For the man is not perhaps a Swedenbosgian, but a Newchurchman. So “my neighbor” is many things.
If then he, being a man, can be many things to many men, the Lord, being God-Man, and “our Neighbor,” in the sublimest sense, must be all things to all men. And here then lies the answer to the question. There is in the Lord an infinite depth of Divine Wisdom, and when we think upon that and meditate upon it, then He is God. And there is in Him an unfathomable depth of Divine Love, and when we think of that, He is Yehovah. When He teaches men the wonders of spiritual truth and of how that truth governs them, then is He King. When He guides men into the sense of spiritual good, then is He Priest. When we think of how He touches upon the plane of natural truth, and saves men through the natural life, then is He the Christ, and through natural good, then is He Jesus. When we think of how strong He is, then is He the Rock. When we think of how He appears to the angels in heaven, then is He the Sun. When we think of how He protects us from falsity, then is He the Shield. When we think of how He protects us from evil, then is He the Fortress. He does all things, and He is the Almighty. He destroys the evils, which He finds in man, and He is the Destroyer, or Shaddai. He appeals to man’s reason, and He is the Councellor. He fights man’s battles for him, and He is the Hero. He gives rest to the weary, and He is the Prince of Peace. He stands related to eternity, and He is the Father of Eternity. He stands related to time, and He is the Son. He stands related to the internal sense of the Word, and He is the Son of God. To the literal sense of the Word, and He is the Son of Man. We see His Divine Humanity related to the highest heaven, and we call Him the Alpha and the Omega; to the middle heaven, and He is the Beginning and the Ending; to the lowest heaven, and He is called the First and the Last. And so in all things. Now when the Holy Book wants to teach us of the Divine gentleness, it calls the Great One the “Good Shepherd. Note.—The student is advised to follow this line of reasoning in any case, where a series of names is given for the same being or object. Thus, for instance, where Well, Bear, Wall, Cloud, Hair and many other words signify the literal sense of the Word, each is, of course, some one of the many relations tyrne by the letter of the Word to a growing spirit.
The literal story here treats of one of the Jewish Kings and the marvelous manner in which the Lord answered his prayer and saved him from his enemies. And in the spiritual story, which is within the letter, as the soul is within the body, we are told, how the Lord protects the true spiritual intelligence of man from being destroyed by the power of perverted reason or of the rational, when it has become centered upon self. So far as the literal story is concerned, we take it for granted as it stands. We have no reason and we have no right to alter the facts of the case. We group this miracle with those other miracles in the Bible and outside of it, which we do not understand. We may not know exactly how this great marvel came to pass, or how all of these people died in one night. But then neither do we know a great many other things ; we do not really know what electricity is, or what gravitation is, or where the end of the universe is, or why the axis of the earth does not stand up straight, and a thousand and one other things we do not know. This we should never forget at such times when we think of anything that looks or sounds at all strange in the Good Book. People some times talk as though the miracles were all in the Bible and everything outside of the Book were very easy to understand. But the fact is, that there are miracles all around us, and the Word of God is only a part of a great world of miracles in which we live and move, but of which “we understand but very, very little. We are in deed strangers in a strange land, in a very strange land. The lesson which we deduce from this story on the ground of morals is, that the methods of the Lord change as the life of His children changes. Not that He changes. But His methods change. He does not answer prayers today, as He did in the days of old. Such a prayer as that of Hezekiah would not receive the same response to day, as it did in the day it was offered. For the spirit of the age has changed and consequently the manner of the Lord’s government has changed. And the reason for this is evident. The race is really only a larger man. All the people on the earth taken together make one entity, which we call “man.” Really the entire race is one man, and as a single man begins life as a babe and goes through childhood into youth and age, so the Great Man began life as a babe in Adam and grew through infancy in Noach, to childhood in the Jewish church, to youth in the first Christian and is now entering upon manhood and womanhood.
For the convenience of the teacher we put this into diagram-form.
And during the childhood of the race the Lord guided the people differently from the guidance of manhood. He allowed them to do and to believe many things, which He does not want them to do or to believe any longer. Therefore prayer today is different from the prayers of old, and the answer to the prayers of today differs much from the answer to the prayers of old.
John XI, 1—46.
The story of Lazarus is the story of a dead soul quickened into life. It is the story of an experience that comes to every soul, that strives to find the way that leads to heaven. For as man must learn how to act and how to live his natural life, so must he learn how to act and lead his spiritual life. We must learn to walk and to talk and to move and to rest, to read and to write, to handle numbers and to work with tools. The body of itself learns nothing and does nothing. It is, as far as rational activity is concerned, dead. It must be wakened from that death into life by means of learning, education, instruction, experience. — It is the same with the spirit. Of itself it is virtually as powerless as the body. Whatever of life it has, it derives from the Lord. He is the Author and Giver of all life. He is Life itself, since He is Love itself; and Love is life. All life comes from Him, just as all heat and all light come from the sun. But even when life has come from Him, there is necessary a certain responsiveness or receptivity on the part of the soul. If a man be led out into the light, but keeps his eyes firmly closed, the light of the sun will be of little or no use to him. He must open his eyes and see. The opening of the eyes is man’s part of the work. The Lord gives the eye and the light, He gives also the power to open the eye. But the opening of the eye is man’s part of the work. So in giving life to the soul, the Lord gives the faculties. He approaches them with His life, He surrounds the soul with the blessings of eternal life, just as He surrounds the body with the beauties and blessings of temporal or worldly life. But to man is left the “opening of the eye.” To man is given the power to walk, a pair of feet to walk on and a world without end to walk in. But the direction taken and the manner and speed cf walking depends on him and on his sense of use, of justice and of purpose. Hence in this picture the Lord does not come up to Lazarus and loosen him from the bonds of death. He simply says the words : “Loose him and let him go.” The vivifying of the soul is represented by the fact, that Lazarus is made to live. Hence the importance of learning the lesson of trust, of faith and of rational understanding, and thence of prayer to the Lord and of confidence in the Lord. For though our work is assigned to us and given us, yet is it not really our work, but the Lord’s, and His alone.
THE LORD’S COMING AND GOING.
John VII, 3—44.
The Lord frequently speaks of His coming and of His going in such a way, as to let people think, that He means it as we mean it. He speaks of going to the Father, as when we speak of.going from one city to an other. And so many people have been led to believe that the Lord went away from the earth and went up beyond the clouds, somewhat in the same way as a man might go away from his house in the valley and go to live up on the top of a mountain. But there is another way of thinking about these sentences, which is much nearer the truth and much more satisfactory to the thinker. When we say, that we are going anywhere, we do not always mean that we are going to move bodily from one place to another. When we say : “I am going to bed,” we mean, that the speaker goes from one room to another, or at least from one place to another. We use the word in reference to place or space; but when we say: “Hush, the little one is going to sleep,” we do not mean, that the little one is going to move from one place to another. We mean, that the little one is going from one state to another. She is going from the waking state into the sleeping state. Thus, we use the word in a sense of state. — So, too, when we say : “My little boy is eleven years old. He is going into his twelfth year.” By this again we do not mean, that he is going from one place to another, but from one state to another. So the word is used in two senses, one referring to space and one referring to state. It is in the latter sense almost exclusively, that the Lord uses it. When He says, that He is going anywhere, He means, that He is going to change His state. He is going to leave off doing one thing, and going to begin doing another. Thus, when His brothers ask Him, whether He is going to the feast, He says, that He is not going, but yet He goes. This shows, that He uses the word “Going” in another way from the way in which they used it. He did go, according to their sense, but not according to His sense, for He was not received. Now to explain more fully about the idea of going, when understood in the way of a change of mental states. Bodily a man goes from place to place, but spiritually he goes from state to state. Thus, if any one is angry in the morning, and bright and cheerful in the afternoon, we say, that he has gone from dark to light. In the same way, we say, that a man enters upon his manhood. We speak of a boy, and say: “He is going to be a man some day.” This means, that he will cease being a boy, and will be a man. That is, he will stop thinking and acting like a boy, and will begin thinking and acting like a man. So when the Lord says, that He is going to the Father, He means, that after a certain time He will stop thinking and acting like a man, and will begin to think and act like God, and be God. Therefore in the internal sense “to go to the Father” means to be God Almighty. And He says to the people, that where He was, they could not come. This does not mean, that He would go into a place, into which they could not come, but that He would enter upon a state into which they could not enter. For there are certain things, which are within the limits of possibility, while there are others, which are not within those limits. Take as an illustration a man and a woman. There are certain feelings of pleasure and of displeasure, which both can feel alike, and in which they can be together. But there are again other feelings of pleasure and of displeasure, in which they are not at all alike, and in which they are not together. There are certain sports and duties, which men enjoy, and to which men attend, which women would not enjoy, and to which they could not attend. While again, there are certain duties and pleasures, which come to women, of which men know nothing, because there is no part of their mind, in which these could lodge, or in which they could develop or grow. — In a way some what resembling this, there are certain features of human character, which can be found in the Lord, while again, there are other features, which cannot be found in Him. Thus if a woman love her child beyond anything on earth, then that love would compare feebly, yet truly, with the intense love which the Lord has for children. But if one man kill another, then there could be found no counterpart of this anger anywhere in the character of the Lord Jesus Christ, the incarnate Jehovah, for there is no anger in the Lord. A man in such a state is said to be unable to go where the Lord is, for if he wants to come to the Lord, he will find that the only way there is of coming to Him, is by and through that which belongs to Him, that is, by love or wisdom or truth;
1 It is after the temple has been purified, and after the ground has been to some extent prepared, that the reality of the second birth begins to dawn upon the mind. Virtually man is born three times. The first time he is born as a body, and into a general consciousness, then, at the time when rationality begins to fashion thought into new images, man is born into an individual consciousness. He becomes conscious of that which is his, and of that which is not his. He feels the weight of his own character and the responsibility of shaping his destiny in the world here and in the world to come. This is called the being born again, or the second birth. Then comes the time, when he strips off the body, and is born into the future life, which may be called the third birth. We say, he strips off the body, but we mean, that the Lord does this, for no man can be resurrected, unless the Lord resurrect him. The second birth then is that time in life, when man begins to distinguish the good from the evil, and the true from the false. It is the time, when he begins to separate that which is from above from that which is from below, when he begins to make that distinction between heavenly and earthly things, of which the Savior speaks in this lesson.
2 It is quite natural, that the man who has learned to distinguish between that which is from above and that which is from below, should begin to attach more importance to the higher and less importance to the lower. He will pay less attention to the things of earth and more to the things of heaven. Although he realizes, that he cannot leave the world or withdraw himself from it,- as the anachorites of old did, and that he must remain in the world and fight its battles, and see and feel its joys and its sorrows; yet he also knows, that the eternal life, and the things pertaining to it, must be of greater and greater import to him. That the external (or John) must decrease, but the internal (or Jesus) increase. He then understands the lesson, that is given in the last part of this chapter.
THE PRAYER ON THE CROSS.
Luke XXIII, 33—47.
The story of the crucifixion is the story of the rejection of Divine Truth by the church, and the details given are the various activities of the mind in this rejection. The state here described is one of utter rejection ; for there are three planes in the human mind, called respectively the coelestial, the spiritual and the natural; or the will-plane, the understanding-plane and the plane upon which both of these principles come into act. That the Divine Truth may be rejected in all three of these planes, is signified by the fact, that there were three languages used, the Hebrew, the Greek and the Latin, in each of which He was acknowledged “King of the Jews.” In the same way all other details signify some part of the activity of the mind in this process that is so destructive of spirituality. -Let us however consider one point, and that is the sentence: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” In these words, as in a number of other cases, Jesus apparently addresses some one else. He seems to speak to some one, not Himself, but outside of Himself. This has led many to believe that the Father and the Son were two distinct persons, or two different people, although they did not want to believe in two Gods, knowing that there is only one God, and that there can be only one God. In order to understand this, the New Church teaches a very plain and rational doctrine. It is this. Every human being has two distinct natures. These two natures make one being, or one person. To understand them, imagine some one who is an invalid. You find the invalid upon a bed of sickness. The body is full of pain, and perhaps ugly with some malignant distortion, or offensive from some unpleasant sore. But the mind is calm and clear. The eye is bright and beneath its brightness slumbers a wealth of patience. You notice the pain only here and there by a slight twitch of the lip, or of the muscles of the hands, face and throat. And the sick person talks calmly to you. Then you know that the higher nature predominates. You come again, at some other time, and the patient, vexed with constant pain and disease, is cross. There is no smile on the face, no patience in the eye ; and the words you hear are full of complaint, anger and reproach. Then the lower nature predominates. Yet these two natures are one and the same person. Now call the higher nature the Father, and the lower nature the Son ; conceive of them both as infinite, as you have to conceive of space and time, and you will understand all that the New Testament has to say about the Father and the Son.
Luke XV, 11—32.
The story of the prodigal son is one that is familiar to every one, and its lesson is one that is easy to understand. It is not difficult to see, that man is ever ready to drift away from the Lord. We love to go into a far country, to spend our substance in riotous living. We grow heedless of the Divine love and mercy, and we drift away into the deeps of sin and self, knowing not that it is unwise, that it is wicked, that it is sinful, to “join ourselves to a citizen of that country,” to think as the world thinks, to act as the world acts, and to forget, that while men feed upon the empty husks, there is rich and ample food in the house of the Father. But there is one point in the lesson, which we should like to see emphasized. It is given in verse 17, and is the first sentence of that verse. “When he came to himself.” What is meant by this coming to himself ? In every man, though deeply concealed at times, and under certain circumstances, there is a deeply rooted principle of good and truth. There is, as the poet says, “a Garden of God in every soul, where Yehovah-Jesus dwells.” Far below and with in all the recklessness, and the shallowness of earth, far within the external shams, which men hold up before their face, far within the empty thoughts, the vain ambitions of the world, there is a spot, that is holy to Yehovah. The inmost depths of the soul, where the storms of life cannot come, where moth and rust cannot corrupt, where thieves cannot dig through and steal, there is a region of the mind, which is man’s better self. This is the “self” to which he comes. There may be and there are times in life, when this better self is drowned in the shadow of the world. There are states, in which the an gel in man sleeps and is so silent, that man himself may think him dead. But no soul lives, in which the great power of the Lord cannot arouse the angel “self” into life, if man will but suffer Him to do so, and when this wonderful event happens in life, then is man said to ” come to himself.” And when he has thus come to him self, then he comes to the Father also. For to come to God, man must come to himself first. He must understand himself first, before he can understand God. He must see himself first, before he can see God. He must
know himself first, before He can know God.
THE SEAMLESS COAT.
John XIX, 19—27.
What a wealth of significance in the fact, that Pilate, the heathen, recognizes the Kingship of the crucified Christ, as he had recognized the Kingship of the living Christ. And in the fact that unconsciously he writes the title, on the cross in the three languages of revelation; for the Old Testament was written in Hebrew, the New Testament in Greek, and the explanation of the internal sense of the two, the doctrines of the New Church, were written in Latin. And in the fact that the vesture of the Savior was divided as it was. For it is known in the church that the external garments of the Lord signify the literal sense of the Word, which is a garment for the spirit; for the spirit of the Word is a living organism, about which the literal sense is draped like the garments about a man. Here and there the internal shines through, even as the face and hands of a man, who is clothed, are left bare. Therefore the garments of Jesus signify the literal sense of the Word, which is constituted of different parts, such as the Law, and the Prophets, and the His tory and the Psalms, all four styles being essentially different. But the internal sense, signified by the “inner coat,” (v. 23) runs through all Scripture without a break. It begins with Adam in the Garden of Eden and runs down to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, and then turning inward again in the great cycle of Divine Life, it runs upward once more to the promise of the Garden of God (Rev. ii, 7) and finally to the accomplishment of that promise in the last chapter of the Revelation. The internal sense treats of the birth, growth and final perfection of the human soul. It is an unbroken narrative, how God first thinks the soul (in Adam), then forms, creates and shapes the body for it (in the Jewish dispensation), then perfects the soul in the body (as represented in the life of Christ), and finally stripping off the body, shows the soul in its spiritual individuality in the Revelation. Hence the inner coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout.
WATER TURNED INTO WINE.
John II, 1—11.
“We learn all things slowly, and what we learn is at first external. That means, that we first learn things with the eyes and with the ears and with the senses in general, and after we have learned them in this way, then we slowly arrange them and get them in order, and after they are arranged in order, then we begin to learn their internal essence. For instance; we learn all of the numbers and learn to count forwards and backwards and every which way; then we learn to add, subtract, multiply and divide. This is what we call arrangement. After a little while, from constant use of numbers, we find that multiplication is constant addition and that division is constant subtraction, and by this means we get hold of some abstract rules, so that we can change the numbers into letters and work the examples by letters. Now think over what we have done. We have first learned the shapes and forms of the figures, and we have learned to handle them and to fill them with a certain amount of knowledge, and then we have changed the figures in to letters. Now, if you will call the external form of the figures stone water-pots, and then call the knowledge, which you put into them, water, and the higher knowledge applied to letters, wine, then you will have an homely illustration of the miracle of water changed into wine. The fact is, that we are constantly undergoing this process. We learn a thing as an external truth or natural truth, and the Lord in His wonderful mercy turns it into a spiritual truth. Take another illustration from life. You all know what it is to give. We learn it first from natural things. You give a poor man a dime, or a sick child a doll, and what you give, you no longer have. That is natural giving. And all the natural truths that refer to it are called water. But now take another case. In later life, perhaps, the same man to whom you gave a clime comes to you; but now he does not want money. He has money himself. What he wants is advice. He wants you to tell him what to do in a troublesome question. Perhaps the Lord has given you wisdom, and you can give the man advice, and the more wisdom you exercise in giving advice, the more wisdom you get, the more your wisdom grows, for the more you give spiritually, the more you get. This is spiritual giving, and all the truths that refer to it, would be called spiritual truths or wine, and the Lord has changed your knowledge of natural giving, which was water, into your knowledge of spiritual giving, which was wine.
Matthew XVII, 1—8.
No state of spiritual life can be reached without effort. And since “six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work” is the law, therefore the vision of the transfigured Christ is preceeded by the statement “after six days.” This signifies that the state here described cannot be attained by any man without effort. There are three traits in the mind which dominate all others. They are faith, love, and the desire for use. These are called respectively Peter, John and Jacob (James.) Man first becomes conscious of these in his natural mind ; but gradually they carry him to higher and higher planes of consciousness, — that is, the Lord takes him “up into a high mountain.” As this is done, his conception of Christ changes. It becomes nobler, purer and truer. It is spiritualized, that is, it is “transfigured before him.” The inmost love of Jesus (face) becomes apparent to him, — shines like the sun ; and the Divine Truth (His garments) becomes clear (white as the light.) He becomes conscious in his own spiritual mind of three faculties, the exact correspondents of the three already disclosed in his natural mind. These three faculties are called Moses, Jesus and Elias; and he recognizes them as being of Divine origin. Therefore he says, “It is good for us to be here.” He also recognizes that they are eternal and perfect. Therefore he says, “Let us make here three tabernacles.” The conception of the Lord comes from the Word. The Word is always called a cloud. It is called a dark cloud when man does not understand it; and a light cloud when he does. . And from this light cloud comes all his instruction. Hence there is a voice from the cloud. With the recognition of the excellency of the Divine, comes that of the unworthiness of man’s interior motives, — that is, he falls on his face. But the Lord, by His Divine Power, lifts him into a higher plane, — Jesus touches him and says, Arise. And when his intelligence has thus attained a higher consciousness, — that is, when he lifts up his eyes, — he recognizes the sole Divinity of Jesus, — sees no man save Jesus only.
MOSES’ HANDS UPHELD.
Exodus XVII, 8-13.
The two minds of man, the natural and spiritual, are called respectively valley and hill. All the temptation combats take place in the natural man ; therefore Joshua, which is another name for Jesus, fights for man in the valley, against self-love, called Amalek. It is necessary that while the struggle is going on, the faculties of the spiritual mind, that is the men on the hill, should be turned upward, toward the highest elements of humanity. The hands of Moses, being uplifted, represent this up ward inclination of the mind. But this process of uplifting is not an imaginary, vague or dreamy yearning of the soul. It is a very real thing. It is based upon firm convictions of truth, here called the stone on which Moses is seated. And the effort is supported on the one hand by man’s religious experiences, represented, by Aharon, the Priest, and on the other hand by the experiences of every-day liff, represented by Hur, the layman. Thus, with the spiritual mind turned upward, and the natural mind facing its problem squarely, victory is achieved, when the sun of self goes down.
Mark VIll. 22—26.
When we understand a thing, we say we see it. When we do not understand, we say we do not see. Mental blindness frequently comes from prejudice, from misconceptions, from faulty instruction. Instruction, or doctrine, is called a city. In curing mental blindness, the Lord frequently takes a man by the hand, and, through life-experiences, sometimes of a distressing nature, leads him out of a mental condition in which he could not see. This is represented by a blind man being led out of the town. The process of the restoring of mental sight is, however, a gradual one. Therefore the man first sees “men as trees walking;” and then learns to “see every man clearly.” This advance in spiritual life being attained, the Lord desires that man should not fall back into his old prejudices (go not back into the town), and that he should not foster them in others (nor tell to any in the town.) Note.—The word “it” should be omitted, or translated “them”, the reference being to his former errors.
Author: A. Roeder, From Handbook of the Science of Correspondences, 1894).
THE BOOK OF TOBIT
The Book of Tobit, according to Swedenborg, is not part of the Word. And. on the literal level, it is a very bizarre story that is difficult to understand. However, when we uncover the spiritual correspondences, it becomes meaningful and enlightening. In fact, it is a prophecy of the redemption of humanity by the Lord.
Tobit, a righteous Israelite, after performing some good deeds, goes to sleep in the open air and is blinded by bird droppings that fall into his eyes.
Meanwhile, in Media, a faraway city, a young woman named Sarah is in despair because the demon of Lust kills every man Sarah marries on the wedding night before the marriage is consummated. Eventually. God sends the angel Raphael, disguised as a human being, to free Sarah from the demon and to heal Tobit of his blindness. But this unfolds in a very strange and complex manner.
After being blinded, Tobit sends his son, Tobias, to Media to collect some money he deposited there. On the way, Tobias meets Raphael who identifies himself as Tobit’s kingsman, Azariah. Raphael offfers to help and protect Tobias and his dog on their journey to Media. Along the way, when Tobias is washing his feet in the Tigris river, a fish tries to swallow his foot. Raphael instructs Tobias to capture the fish and remove its heart, liver and gall bladder.
When they arrive in Media. Raphael tells Tobias that he has the right to marry Sarah because he is her cousin. The archangel then instructs Tobias to burn the fish’s heart and liver to chase the demon of Lust on their wedding night. Eventually, Sarah and Tobias consummate their marriage and the demon is imprisoned in upper Egypt by Raphael. Sarah’s father, after learning that Tobias did not die like the others, orders a great marriage feast to celebrate.
After the three return to Nineveh, Raphael tells Tobias to use the fish’s gall to cure his father’s blindness. Raphael then reveals his real identity and returns and ascends into Heaven.
Tobit >> Israelitish Church
Bird Droppings >> Superstitions and Falsehoods
Tobit’s Blindness >> Israelitish Church becomes spiritually blinded by falsehoods and evils
Sarah >> Church or humanity on Earth
7 husbands killed >> Church corrupted by 7 sins
Raphael >> God sends His Son from Heaven to redeem humanity or the Son of God
Tobias >> The Son of Man, The Word or the Lord’s Humanity
Tobias marries Sarah >> The Lord embodies all the sins of humanity (Church)
Fish tries to swallow Tobias’ foot >> The Son of man’s natural and sensual temptations
Burning of Fish’s heart >> The Lord’s Divine natural Love heals humanity (Church)
Burning of Fish’s liver >> The Lord’s Divine natural Life saves humanity (Church)
Fish’s gall heals Tobit’s blindness >> The temptations, suffering and sacrifice of the Lord by which the Church is redeemed and spiritually enlightened
Tobit’s blindness is healed >> Israelitish Church is purged and consummated, humanity is spiritually enlightened by the Lord and the Christian Church is born