BEASTS AND BIRDS >> Affections and Thoughts

0388 Beasts, as a class, correspond to human affections; that is, to the things of man's will, or heart; and birds correspond to man's thoughts, that is, to the things of his understanding, or intellect. The characteristic differences between beasts and birds are easily seen; and so are the differences between our affections and our thoughts. Our affections are the activities of our loves ; and they are interested in the good, or the evil, of a thing, according to their character. Our good affections love goodness ; but our evil affections lust for evil. But our thoughts are engaged in ideas and reasonings ; and they are interested in the truth, or the falsity, of things. As, in our books of science, we have a distinct and orderly arrangement of beasts, and of birds, into different classes, each according to its kingdom, sub-kingdom, class, order, family, genus, species and variety ; so, in mental philosophy, we have a corresponding arrangement of human affections, and of human thoughts, into various classes.

Man includes, in himself, the characteristic qualities of all the lower forms of life. In man's own mind is Noah's ark, in which are collected all the living creatures of man's mental nature, the various affections and thoughts of human life. And, in the ark of true doctrine from God's Word, all these living things in man's mind are saved from impending spiritual death, threatened by a flood of false persuasions surrounding the mind in its dire temptations. Beasts and birds are but mirrors to men ; and, in their lives and'"'habits, we see our own reflected. And as surely as these beasts and birds bring forth "after their kind," so surely, in all our life, do our affections and our thoughts bring forth, each after its kind. Animals easily show their qualities, because they cannot do otherwise than follow the laws of their being. And, if we were not prevented, at first by policy, and afterwards by principle, we, like the beasts should carry out our present impulses. But our inward or spiritual nature enables us to control, and to change, our feelings and our thoughts, by self-restraint, and by reformation. We can control the menagerie of our mind, and cultivate the life of the good animals in it, and starve out the evil beasts and the birds of night.

The correspondence of beasts to our affections, and of birds to our thoughts, will be seen readily. In our every-day life, we see, and use, these correspondences; We call our dear ones by the pet names of good and gentle animals. And we call a cunning man a fox, and a filthy man a hog, and other men by the names of other animals ; because we recognize a correspondence between the characteristic life of the animal and that of the man. The gentleness of the fawn, the innocence of the lamb, the sweetness of the dove, the sensuality of the hog, the quarrelsomeness of the dog, the vanity of the peacock, are all easily recognized, and generally known, by men of all ages, and of all nations, to whom these animals are known.


The correspondence of animals explains to us their use in the Jewish sacrifices. The animals used in these sacrifices did not, as is sometimes supposed, typify the vicarious sacrifice of an innocent victim. The beasts and birds were used in sacrifices, to represent the offering up of our best affections and thoughts, to the Lord, in acknowledgment and worship. In the true sense, sacrifice means to make holy. Spiritually, we sacrifice, or make holy, that which we devote to the Lord. These beasts and birds correspond to men's affections and thoughts. And, if these animals were merely vicariously offered, why should there have been so many minute directions given by the Lord, as to which kind of beast, or bird, should be offered, in each particular case, and how and when the sacrifice should be made? But, as representing our offering up of our affections and thoughts, in worship, the directions are needed, to show us, in correspondences, how' we should feel and think, in each particular state and condition of our mental life, in our worship of the Lord.

Many things, in the letter of the Scriptures, seem very singular; but they seem so, because the real character of the Scriptures is not generally understood. But, with a knowledge of the nature of the Scriptures, and of their inward meaning, all the things of the letter are seen to be clear and instructive. The Jews, who lived, not in a real church, but in an external representative of a church, were commanded not to use the unclean beasts and birds, in sacrifices, because men are not to offer to the Lord, in acknowledgment and worship, any of their unclean, evil and selfish feelings and thoughts ; they are not to engage in worship, nor in their mental feasts, with any evil or false feeling or thought. For eating corresponds to receiving new affections into our hearts ; and drinking corresponds to receiving new thoughts into our understandings.

And so the Jews were forbidden to use unclean animals for food, because such animals correspond to the evil feelings and false thoughts of our selfish and unregenerate minds. And we should not spiritually eat these things ; that is, we should not receive into our minds, and live upon, any evil feeling, or any false thought. All animals are the outbirths and embodiments of the principles to which they correspond, and from which they draw their life. Therefore the Jews were forbidden to eat the flesh of an unclean beast or bird, because by correspondence, it would furnish a physical base for the operation of that kind of mental life to which that beast or bird corresponds.

Animals and birds may be classed in various ways, such as domestic and wild, clean and unclean, gentle and savage ; or, as those used for food, and those used for transporting, or for other practical work, and so forth. And these differences will readily suggest the corresponding differences in the various classes of our affection and thoughts.

Author: Edward Craig Mitchell From Scripture Symbolism 1904

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