Spaces have not, in themselves, any substance, or any quality, but they are merely conditions of material substances ; and they have no control over spiritual things. Hence, in the spiritual world, there are no actual spaces, such as are in the material world. There are appearances of spaces ; and, to the sight of the spiritual eyes, that is, the eyes of the spiritual body, things appear as separated by spaces. But such spaces do not control conditions, as they do in the material world. In everything, externals are formed from their internals, as the expression of the physical face is formed by the controlling emotion of the mind, which adjusts the muscles of the face to correspond with the quality of the feeling.
The material world is formed of material substances, which are fixed in their ultimate forms, and which must be changed according to natural laws, that is, according to the operation of spiritual laws in material nature. But the spiritual world is made up of spiritual things, which are formed of spiritual substances, and according to spiritual laws, in their own degree. Spiritual things are not subject to material laws ; and their changes are according to spiritual laws. As we pass out of the natural ideas of place and space, we enter into the spiritual ideas of states of mind and conditions of character, to which places and spaces correspond, as natural representatives. Thus, while places and spaces and times influence our physical actionj they have no control over our spiritual operations.’ For instance, if your friend dwells in a distant place, you cannot go into his physical presence except by physically passing over the intervening space. But you can love your friend, and think of him, instantly, without any regard to the physical space between you. Your love and your thought are spiritual things, which material spaces cannot control.
And, as the spiritual world is controlled by spiritual laws, all its conditions are changed instantly, as the affection and the thought change.. For instance, to reach a distant friend on earth, you must travel to him. But, spiritually, you call a man “distant” when he seems to be very different from yourself, and not congenial. He may be standing beside you, physically, and yet, spiritually, he may be living in a different mental world, very “distant” from your spiritual condition. Space and place do not control your feeling of distance. But, suppose something should occur, and should exhibit, in the man standing near to you, qualities of character which you cherish and love : then you would see that you had been mistaken in your estimate of the man, and you would no longer feel “distant” towards him, but he would at once be “near and dear” to you. And he would appear nearer,’ in the spiritual appearance of space. Thus, his place, and the space between you, in the spiritual world, would be instantly controlled by your mind, your spirit. And so we say that there are no actual spaces in the spiritual world; because they have no controlling- influence, and they are mere appearances, depending upon the changes of mental states.
The things of the spiritual world are living things, which quickly respond to the indwelling spiritual life which controls them. But physical nature is comparatively dead, remote from life, and unable to respond quickly to spiritual influences, excepting in cases in which the physical substance is the external form of a living and conscious being. Where this is the case, as in man, even the muscles of his physical face and form respond at once to changes in his mental states of feeling and thought.
In physical nature we have an idea of space from intervening objects. And spaces seem indefinite when there are no intervening objects, as when looking at the stars. And when we refer to qualities of character, although we speak in terms expressing space and size, yet we do not think of space ; as when we say that a certain man has a high character, or a broad mind. And if you say that you love one person more than another, you do not mean that your love is larger in space, but that it is greater in quality. Spiritually, you do not think where you are, in space, or what the time “is, but you think whether, your state of mind is satisfactory, that is, whether your affections and thoughts are satisfied. In the spiritual world, if one person is to be led to meet another, who is in a distant part, the former is not conveyed over any intervening space, but changes are brought about in the states of his mind, until he is brought into a state of mind, that is, of affection and of thought, similar to the state of mind of the other person. And when they are in similar ‘states of mind they are together, and present to each other. A somewhat similar process often occurs in the world, as when a man wishes to play marbles with a little boy. The man brings his mind down to the standpoint of the boy ; and thus they come together, mentally.
In the spiritual world, and according to its laws, one spiritual being can become present to another, by fixing his thought upon the other and desiring to be present with him. The thought is extended, until it reaches the other man, and arouses his thought. And similar things occur, even while we live on the earth, although we do not always notice and understand them. Telepathy is a fact to many sensitive minds.
In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke xvi. 26), Abraham said to the rich man, “Between us and you there is a great gulf fixed ; so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot ; neither can they pass to us that would come from thence.” This “great gulf” is not merely an objective yawning . chasm between heaven and hell ; but such a chasm merely represents the mental chasm between good and evil, the impassable difference between the states of mind and life of angels and devils. Fixed character places men, in the spiritual world; and every man remains where he belongs. And thus all spaces mentioned as in the spiritual world, represent states of mind, qualities of character.
And it is the same with times. But there is a difference: for spaces, especially represent states of the will, or heart, with its affections ; and times represent states of the Understanding, or intellect, with its thoughts. Often in common conversation, when we wish to distinguish our natural life from the life of the spiritual world, we speak of them, respectively, as “time” and “eternity.” When a man dies, physically, it is said that “he has passed from time into eternity.” Thus times are recognized as belonging to the natural world. But we often use the words indicating time, when we mean to express ideas as to conditions and qualities; as, for instance, when we are speaking of some objectionable condition of things, or some evil character, we say that we “hope that day will never come.” And yet we are not thinking of days, but of states of life. In our daily experiences, times seem long or short, according to the intensity of our interest in what is going on ; that is, according to how greatly our affections and thoughts are occupied in the matter. In general, the more spiritual-minded a man becomes, the less he is controlled by thoughts of space and time.
No man can understand God from thoughts of time and space, but only as he rises above such thoughts of the natural senses, and thinks of states and qualities of character and of life. The real difficulty with those minds which do not see the Divinity of Jesus Christ, is in their inability to think in a spiritual way, and above the influence of natural ideas of space and time. God is not to be measured by space, and yet He is the indwelling life of all things which are in space. “Look upon Zion, . . . There the glorious Jehovah will be unto us a place of broad, rivers and streams.” (Isa. xxxiii. 20, 21.) Here, you do not think of physical breadth or measure, but of the spiritual breadth, the extended truth, the all-including truth, to which the Lord will lead you, in heaven.
On earth, times are determined by the position of the earth towards the sun, during the rotation and revolution of the earth. But the spiritual world does not rotate upon its axis, nor does it revolve around the sun, of the spiritual world. As the spiritual sun always appears in the East, there is nothing to make a division of times; but the changes with the angels and spirits are changes of state, in their own minds. To think in natural thought is to think in ideas of space and time, but to think spiritually is to think of principles, states of affection and thought.
Migrating animals change their locations every year, about a certain time; but not because they have any sense of time, but because they then come into certain states of life, which serve as a plane and basis on which instinct can operate upon them, to impel them to move. For all animals are moved by an influx of life from the spiritual world, either from the heavens or from the hells, according to the character of the animal, and its correspondence with good or with evil.
In Daniel vii. 25, there is a singular statement, concerning the “fourth beast,” which shall “think to change times and laws : and they shall be given into his hand, until a time, and times, and the dividing of time.” Literally, this language would be difficult to understand. But, spiritually, it is easy to see that it refers to states of mind among the men of the church, and to the influence of the “beast” of fundamental evil, which threatens to destroy the general church. The statement of the angel, in Rev. x. 6, “that there should be time no longer,” does not refer to any approaching end of the world, or destruction of the material universe, but to the fact that the evils and falsities of men were bringing to an end all understanding of Divine Truth, among men. “Jehovah knoweth the days of the upright; and their inheritance shall be for ever. They shall not be ashamed in the evil time ; and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied.” (Ps. xxxvii. 18, 19.) These words do not refer to bodily conditions, but to the mental states of regenerate men, who will be sustained by the Lord, in love, in wisdom, and in uprightness. The “famine” mentioned is such as that spoken of in Amos viii. 2, “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord Jehovih, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of Jehovah.”
In the Scriptures, the term “day” is used in several senses; 1, as a period of twenty-four hours; 2, as the light part of a day, between sunrise and sunset, and thus contrasted with night ; 3, as a general period of indefinite duration. In all these cases, a day represents a state of mind, in man, especially referring to his intellectual states. In Gen. i. 5, it is said, “And the evening and the morning were the first day;” that is, the first general period and state of human life began in ignorance, without the light of truth, and progressed to enlightenment. Meaning the da3’light, day is used in the words of the Lord, “Are there not twelve hours in the day ? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.” (John xi. 9, 10.) But the reference is to mental light and darkness, that is, knowledge and ignorance. In a general sense, day is used in Psalm xcv. 8, “Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation, in the wilderness.” “Moreover, the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be seven-fold, in the day that Jehovah bindeth up the breach of His people, and healeth the stroke of their wound.” (Isa. xxx. 26.) Jesus said to the Jews, “Your father, Abraham, rejoiced to see My day: and he saw, and was glad;” (John viii. 56), literally referring to the fact that God had appeared to Abraham, in the human form; but spiritually referring to the state of mind, in the regenerating man, in which he comes to the clear perception of the Divine character of Jesus Christ.
DAY AND NIGHT.
Day .and night, used in contrast, in the sense of times” of daylight and of darkness, represent opposite conditions of mind, day denoting a state of mental light and intelligence, and night representing a state of ignorance, and a lack of intelligence. “Show me Thy ways, O Jehovah; teach me Thy paths. On Thee do I wait, all the day.” (Ps. xxv. 5.) To wait on the Lord all the day, is to look to Him for intelligence, and for instruction, in all mental conditions. “In the day of. my trouble I sought the Lord,” (Ps. Ixxvii. 2), that is, in states of doubt and confusion, in the mind of the regenerating man. In the highest sense, these words refer to the states of mind in the assumed humanity of our Lord, during the troubles preceding the full glorification of the Divine Humanity. It is said of the regenerating man, “His delight is in the law of Jehovah ; and in His law doth he meditate day’ and night;” (Ps. i. 2), that is, in his brighter states of intelligence and in his darker states, of doubt and obscurity; that is, in his spiritual-minded states and in his natural-minded states. “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth His handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge;” (Ps. xix. i, 2) ; that is, the spiritual mind of man proclaims the Divine Truth, and recognizes the Divine Good in practical life. And each state of intelligence speaks to all other such states in the same mind; and, even in the natural mind, each state of orderly obedience to truth serves to confirm other states.
The sun, with its heat and light, represents the Lord, with His love and wisdom. Without the light of the sun the earth is dark. But the rising of the sun is the coming of light and of life. The different periods of the day, morning, noon, evening and night, are conditions in which the earth receives more or less of the living influence of the sun. And so these periods represent corresponding conditions ‘ in the minds of men, more or less receptive of the Lord’s love and wisdom.
Morning is the beginning of a new day ; and it represents the beginning of a new state of mind, when the light of truth comes newly upon the mind, either of the individual man, or of the aggregate man of the church. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy Cometh in the morning.” (Ps. xxx. 5.) Sorrow fills the mind which is in the darkness of ignorance, but joy comes when the truth comes clearly to the mind.The beginning of the morning, before the daylight came, was called “cock-crowing,” which represented the beginnings of a new state of mind, but before the truth became clear. Sunrise introduces the day, in light, representing the coming of the truth to the mind. “Let them that love Him [Jehovah] be as the sun when he goeth forth in his might.” (Joshua v. 31.)”From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same, Jehovah’s name is to be praised.” (Ps. cxiii.3.) The mercy of our Lord, in giving His truth to all men, is symbolically expressed in Matthew v. 45 ; “He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good.”
Noon, or mid-day, when the sun is in the zenith, and in its greatest power in giving heat and light, represents the greatest state of enlightenment and intelligence in man’s mind. “If thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of Jehovah, thy God, … . thou shalt grope at noon-day, as the blind gropeth in darkness.” (Deut. xxviii. 15, 29.) Even the brightest states of the unregenerate mind are actually dark and confused. “Commit thy way unto Jehovah, . . . and He shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noon-day.” (Ps. xxxvii. 5, 6.) Sunset represents the decline of that state of intelligence,’ when the man, or the church, is sinking into lower mental conditions, which are represented by evening, when the light of truth has become very dull; when the Divine truth is not recognized in its rational principles, but only in its external rules of conduct; and by night, when the truth has disappeared from the mind, leaving it in the darkness of ignorance and of falsity.
In contrast, morning represents what is from the Lord, in man ; for the Lord brings new states of mind, to save men from the evils of their old states. But evening and night represent what is from man’s self, from his proprium, which brings its present state to its end.
What part of the day it is, representatively, in any man’s mind, depends upon his understanding and intelligence as to the Divine truth. Individuals and churches change their mental states, in general, and also in particular, from day to day. “While the earth remaineth, seed-time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night, shall not cease.” (Gen. viii. 22.)
PERIODS OF TIME.
Short periods of time, as moments, minutes, hours, days and months, represent brief and less-extended states of human thought. And longer periods, as years, centuries and ages, represent more extended states, more general conditions of thought, as with nations and races of men. Speaking of the church, and of the Lord’s providential care of the church, in all its conditions, in small and large changes, it is said, in Isa. xxvii. 2, 3, “A vineyard of red wine. I, Jehovah, do keep it ; I will water it every moment ; lest any hurt it,- I will keep it, night and day.” “Alas, alas, that great city, Babylon, that mighty city ! for in one hour is thy judgment come.” (Rev. xviii. 10.) The Divine protection and guidance, during temptation, are shown, in Matt. x. 19, 20, “When they deliver you up, take no [anxious] thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you, in that same hour, what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.” The publican said, “I fast twice in the week.” (Lk. xviii. 12), referring to acts of self-denial which are merely external and superficial, and not accompanied by any restraint of evil desires and false notions.
Months are determined by states of the moon. In contrast, the sun, as the apparent origin of life, represents the Lord, as the Giver. And in man the sun represents man’s love of the Lord, which is the presence of the Lord, in man. And the moon, which reflects the light of the sun, represents man’s faith in the Lord, which enables a man to reflect the goodness and wisdom of the Lord, in a good and true human life, according to the Divine principles. Therefore months represent states of faith, in men. The various fast days and feast-days of the Israelites were fixed for certain days of certain months, representing the states of faith necessary to proper worship. In the New Jerusalem, “in the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month” (Rev. xxii. 2) ; that is, in every state of, faith, in man, the fruits of such faith are brought out in the practical daily life.
A year represents an entire period, or general state of mind, including the various states of faith and life which make, up the twelve months. In the first chapters of Genesis several persons are named, who are said to have lived a great many years more than any individual human life of which we have any historic knowledge. These names did not belong to individuals, but to general churches, which existed among men, during certain states or conditions of spiritual life. And the long genealogies named in the Scriptures, some of which are only symbolic, and some literal, always represent progressive states of life, in the general church, one growing out of another, in a long succession. The spiritual character, or quality, of every such church, is representatively indicated by the number of years it is said to have existed, etc. The forty years during which Israel wandered in the wilderness represent a general state of temptation, through which the regenerating man must pass, in order finally to reach heaven. In temptation, a man exclaims, “My life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing.” (Ps. xxxi. 10.) But, in states of true faith, we would say to the Lord, “Thou crownest the year with Thy goodness.” (Ps. Ixv. 2.) “I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High.” (Ps. Ixxvii. 10.)
From the literal sense of the Apocalypse, some suppose that there will be a millenium on earth, when the devil will be bound, and a very happy state will exist on earth for one thousand years. . But these things do not form a literal prophecy, but a symbolic account of mental and spiritual conditions in the general church,in regenerate states.
Centuries represent more extended states of mind than years represent. After Jehovah called Abram to found the Jewish nation, “He said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them ; and they shall afflict them four hundred years.” (Gen. xv. 13.) And this prophecy was both literally and spiritually fulfilled. For, literally, the Israelites were in Egypt four hundred and thirty years. And spiritually they were in long bondage to the lusts of the sense’s, to a fulness of state, in temptations and vastations, represented by four hundred years. Long ages, eras, or epochs, of human history represent the most extended and most general human states. Every such age had its characteristics, not only in the spiritual conditions of men, but also in the conditions of lower life, on earth. After the creation of man, the fauna and flora of the earth, in any age, were in correspondence with the men then on earth.
DIVISIONS OF THE YEAR.
Spring is, to the year, what morning is to the day, representing the beginning of a new state of mind only in a more extended condition. And summer is like noon, only of larger significance. Autumn is like afternoon; and winter is like night. Spring is called “the beginning of the year.” (Deut. xi. 12.) “O God, . . . Thou has made summer and winter.” (Ps. Ixxiv. 10, 17.) Those who do not live by the Divine laws, will finally exclaim, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” (Jer. ix. 20.)
The autumn, when the harvests were gathered, was called “the end of the year,” because it was the end of the active part of the year, for the farmers, before the deadness of winter. At that time, a general feast was enjoyed, as a thanksgiving to the Lord, for the harvest. “Thou shalt keep … the feast of ingathering, in the end of the year, when thou hast gathered in thy labors out of the field.” (Ex. xxiii. 15, 16.) .
Speaking prophetically of the coming judgment upon the First Christian Church, our Lord said to His disciples, “But pray ye that your flight be not in winter; for then shall be great tribulation.” (Matt. xxiv. 20, 21.) Winter represents a cold and indifferent state of mind, when truths are not growing and producing fruit. And it is not well for a man to meet hard trials while he is in such a cold state, which is apt to produce in him a state of aversion towards the Divine truth.
Author: Edward Craig Mitchell From Scripture Symbolism 1904