THE SCIENCE OF CORRESPONDENCES
<< CHAPTER IV >>
THE LAWS OF THE SCIENCE OF CORRESPONDENCES STATED AND CONFIRMED.
THE DOCTRINE OF CORRESPONDENCES WELL KNOWN TO THE ANCIENTS,
AND ITS CORRUPTION THE ORIGIN OF ALL IDOLATRY AND SUPERSTITION.
"IT is universally confessed," says Swedenborg, " that the Word is from God, is divinely inspired, and of consequence holy ; but still it has remained a secret to this day in what part of the Word its divinity resides, inasmuch as in the letter it appears like a common writing, composed in a strange style, neither so sublime, nor so elegant, nor so lucid as that which distinguishes the best secular compositions. Hence it is, that whosoever worships nature instead of God, or in preference to God, and in consequence of such worship makes himself and his own proprium [or selfhood] the centre and fountain of his thoughts, instead of deriving them out of heaven from the Lord, may easily fall into error concerning the Word, or into contempt for it, and say within himself, as he reads it, What is the meaning of this passage ? What is the meaning of that ? Is it possible this should be divine ? Is it possible that God, whose wisdom is infinite, should speak in this manner? Where is its sanctity, or whence can it be derived, but from superstition and credulity? with other suggestions of a similar nature.
" But he who reasons thus does not reflect that Jehovah the Lord, who is God of heaven and earth, spake the Word by Moses and the prophets, and that consequently it must be divine truth, inasmuch as what Jehovah himself speaks can be nothing else ; nor does such an one consider that the Lord, who is the same with Jehovah, spake the word written by the Evangelists, many parts from his own mouth, and the rest from the Spirit of his mouth, which is the Holy Spirit. Hence it is He himself declares, that in his words there is life, and that He is that light which enlightens, and that He is the truth, The natural man, however, cannot still be persuaded to believe that the Word is divine truth itself, in which is divine wisdom and divine life, inasmuch as he judges of it by its style, in which no such things appear.
" Nevertheless, the style in which the Word is written is a divine style, with which no other style, however sublime and excellent it may seem, is at all comparable ; for it is as darkness compared to light. The style of the Word is of such a nature as to contain what is holy in every verse, in every word, and in some cases in every letter ; and hence the Word conjoins man with the Lord, and opens heaven. There are two things which proceed from the Lord, divine love and divine wisdom, or, what is the same thing, divine good and divine truth : for divine good is of divine love itself, and divine truth is of the divine wisdom : and the Word in its essence is both of these ; and inasmuch as it conjoins man with the Lord, and opens heaven, as just observed, therefore the Word fills the man who reads it, under the Lord s influence and not under the influence of proprium or self, with the good of love and the truth of wisdom, his will with the good of love, and his understanding with the truth of wisdom.
" Hence man has life by and through the Word. Lest, therefore, mankind should remain any longer in doubt concerning the Divinity of the Word, the internal sense thereof is revealed, which in its essence is spiritual, and which is to the external sense, which is natural, what the soul is to the body. This internal sense is the Spirit which gives life to the letter ; wherefore this sense will evince the divinity and sanctity of the Word, and may convince even the natural man, if he is willing to be convinced." S. S. 1-4 ; A. E. 1065.
In the New Church, then, and for the benefit of all who are willing to receive the truth, it has been disclosed, and the discovery is the most important that has taken place since the completion of the New Testament, that the Holy Word is so written, that each expression corresponds to some distinct spiritual idea, that is, an idea which relates to the Lord, the spiritual world, and the human mind ; to goodness, truth, and their activities, or to love, wisdom, and life. Now these spiritual ideas, together with those of the letter, are shown to be so wonderfully connected as to form one perfect unbroken chain of eternal truth from first to last, one grand series of heavenly particulars, which constitutes the internal and external, or the spiritual and literal senses of the Word of God. The laws which thus unfold the true character of the Sacred Oracles are denominated laws of correspondence. This term is derived from con, re, and spondeo, meaning radically to answer with, or to agree, denoting, in the sense in which it is used in the New Church, the reciprocal relation of objects in higher and lower degrees, a mutual union of the internal with the external, the harmony of substance and form, the concord of cause and effect. From this definition it may be perceived that the science of correspondences is not, as some have rashly asserted, a mere clever invention, an arbitrary device, an imaginary theory, a fanciful con ceit, but that it is a systematic, uniform, and certain rule of interpretation, founded upon the nature, qualities, and uses of all terrestrial objects, arid all the phenomena of life. These have one and all the most exact correspondence with eternal realities and mental operations, for natural objects and truths are the mirrors in which spiritual subjects and infinite wisdom are reflected.26 Hence, man has been emphatically called by the ancients a microcosm, or little world, and considered as an epitome of the macrocosm, or great universe ; and as the lower or natural region of the mind is thus the world in its least effigy, so the superior or spiritual region of the mind is a heaven in its least effigy, on which account man may also be called a microuranos, or little heaven (T. C. R. 604). And a fragment of the very earliest philosophy which has been handed down to us, attributed to Hermes Trismegistus (the Greek name for Thoth, the personification of Egyptian wisdom), affirms, that " there is nothing in the heavens which is not in the earth in an earthly form ; and there is nothing on the earth which is not in the heavens in a heavenly form."
For as the indefinite particulars of which the universe is composed must have had a divine origin, so they must all bear analogies to each other, and reflect infinite intelligence and goodness : they must, there fore, of necessity be invested with a moral, a spiritual, yea, a divine significance, the visible objects of the outward world exactly corresponding with invisible realities in the world within, and these again to the infinite principles in the divine mind, as their secondary and primary cause of existence and subsistence. All this is in exact Agreement with the teaching of the apostle Paul, when he says, "For the invisible things of Him [God] from the creation of the world are clearly seen [" being considered in his works are distinctly seen." Hor. Rom., p. 6], being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and godhead" (Rom. i. 20).
These analogies or correspondences many theologians and philosophers have admitted, from the fact that they can scarcely escape the recognition of the devout and reflective mind. Thus the author of Tracts for the Times (Ixxxix.), speaking of the mode of interpreting the Sacred Word adopted by the early Fathers of the Christian Church, and the ground and reason of it, makes these important and suggestive remarks: " What if the whole scheme of sensible things be figurative ?" " What if these [correspondences in the Jewish tabernacle and ark] are but a slight specimen of one great use which ALMIGHTY GOD would have us to make of the external world, and of its relation to the world spiritual ? Certainly the form itself of speaking, with which these symbols are introduced [as made according to heavenly patterns], would seem to imply some such general rule." And again," That was the true light. I am the true vine. Who will give you the true riches? taking for granted, in a manner, the fact that there was somewhere in the nature of things a true counterpart of these ordinary objects, a substance of which they were but unreal shadows ; and only informing us in each case, with authority, what that counterpart and substance was." " This doctrine of correspondence between things seen and unseen, was familiar and very acceptable" [to the Fathers] (p. 165).
To the same purpose, Heylin, in his Select Discourses, observes, " There is an analogy betwixt the visible and invisible world, which the Scriptures declare to be the foundation of the Mosaic rites, and from which other religious ceremonies receive their fitness and utility. The terms unclean, denied, polluted, are applicable to minds as well as bodies, and that with a propriety which is easier felt than explained. The correspondent terms of cleansing, baptizing, purifying with water, or with fire, as the case may require, or the subject can bear, these, too, have a just and obvious signification in morals as well as naturals: for the systems of both worlds run parallel, so that realities in the superior have their respective shadows in the inferior, and are fitly represented by them" (i. 36 and 38, London, 1749).
That the natural world is full of analogies is universally acknowledged. Thus, Swainson writes : " It is unnecessary to enforce the axiom long established by sound philosophy, that natural and moral truths are but parts of the great system of nature. Nor need we go over those arguments that have been already so ably and so powerfully urged by others, to show that every thing in this world is evidently intended to be the means of moral and intellectual improvement, to a creature made capable of perceiving in it this use. This perfect analogy between the moral and the natural world, no Christian in these days will even think of questioning, much less of disputing" (192). "Between material and immaterial, there is no other relation than that which is afforded by analogy ; without this they would be widely and totally distinct; with this, they are united, and one reciprocally illustrates the other. Analogy, or symbolical representation, is, therefore, the most universal law of nature, because it embraces and extends its influence over the natural, the moral, and the spiritual world : a property which no other law yet discovered is known to possess" (193). "Things which in their essential nature are totally opposite, are found, on closer investigation, to possess mutual relations, and to be governed by the same law. Hence we discover three sorts of analogies pervading the system of nature, in the widest and most exalted application of the term: the first regards the spiritual truths of revelation ; the second, those which belong only to the moral system ; while the third are drawn from the phenomena of the material world" (201). Preliminary Discourse on the Study of Natural History, Cab. Cyclo., pp. 283, 290.
Another profound writer thus ably illustrates the subject of analogy in connection with religion. " While analogy," says he," is the happy instrument of conveying light into subjects in general, it is peculiarly so when employed in elucidating the truths of religion. Here the force of contrast with which it acts is at the maximum. We bring together the things of heaven and the things of earth ; arid bestow on the most remote and inaccessible objects some portion of that circumstantial particularity which belongs to those present and visible. To behold truths, in themselves so high above our comprehension, in connection with those which are familiarly inculcated on us by experience, must call forth our strongest admiration, and powerfully interest us on both sides, but particularly on that of our religion. Divine wisdom then descends from its ethereal seat, as the accessor of the throne of the Eternal, and communes with us face to face, and hand to hand. We find that the subjects on which the Scripture treats are not chimeras, not creations of the fancy, which have no substantial existence ; but things which ARE : things in which we live, and move, and have our being. It no longer appears to us in the light of a scheme, contrived in the bowers of philosophic seclusion, and addressing itself only to the contemplative and impassioned devotee, like the day dreams of the Koran, emerging from the gloom and solitude of the cave of Hara ; but it shines forth conspicuously, as an energizing principle, as a knowledge which is power, as a work of the Lord, carried on in the passing scene, with which we can not help sympathizing without doing violence to all the principles of our nature." Hampden s Essay on the Philosophical Evidences of Christianity.
The Rev. W. Kirby, M.A., in his interesting Bridgewater Treatise, thus expresses himself on the same subject : "Whoever surveys the three kingdoms of nature with any attention, will discover in every department objects that, without any affinity, appear to represent each other. Nor is this resemblance confined to forms ; it extends also to character. If we begin at the bottom of the scale and ascend up to man, we shall find two descriptions in almost every class, and even tribe, of animals : one, ferocious in their aspects, often rapid in their motions, predaceous in their luibits, preying upon their fellows, and living by rapine and bloodshed; while the other is quiet and harmless, making no attacks, shedding no Mood, and subsisting mostly on a vegetable diet. Since God created nothing in vain, we may rest assured that this system of representation was established with a particular view. The most common mode of instruction is, placing certain signs or symbols before the eye of the learner, which represent sounds or ideas; and so the Great Instructor of man placed this world before him as an open, though mystical book, in which the different objects and words of a language, from the study of which he might gain wisdom of various kinds, and be instructed in such truths relating to that spiritual wrorld to which his soul belonged, as God saw fit thus to reveal to him. In the first place, by observing that one object in nature represented another, he would be taught that all things are significant, as well as intended to act a certain part in the general drama ; and further, as he proceeded to trace the analogies of character in its two great branches just alluded to, he would be led to the knowledge of the doctrine, thus symbolically revealed, that in the invisible world there are two classes of spirits, one benevolent and beneficent, and the other malevolent and mischievous: characters which, after his fall, he would find even exemplified in individuals of his own species. [This doctrine of analogy] is a very useful and interesting study, and belongs to man as the principal inhabitant of a world stored with symbols, to ascertain what God intended to signify by the objects that He has created and placed before Him, as well as to know their natures and uses. When we recollect what the Apostle tells us (Rom. i. 20), that the invisible things of God from the creation of the world are clearly seen; and that spiritual truths are reflected as by a mirror (1 Cor. xiii. 12), and shown as it were enigmatically, we shall be convinced that, in this view, the study of nature, if properly conducted, may be made of the first importance" (vol. ii., pp. 523-525).
Even Emerson admits that " words are signs of natural factk. The use of natural history," says he, " is to give us aid in supernatural history. The use of the outer creation is to give us language for the being and changes of the inward creation. Every word which is used to express a moral or intellectual fact, if traced to its root, is found to be borrowed from some material appearance."
Right originally means straight ; wrong means twisted ; spirit primarily means wind ; transgression, the crossing of a line ; supercilious, the raising of tlie eye-brow. We say the heart to express emotion ; the head, to denote thought ; and thought and emotion are, in their turn, words borrowed from sensible things, and now appropriated to spiritual nature. Most of the process by which this transformation is made, is hidden from us in the remote time when language was framed, but the same tendency may be daily observed in children. . . . But this origin of all words that convey a spiritual import, so conspicuous a fact in the history of language, is our least debt to nature. It is not words only that are emblematic ; it is things which are emblematic. Every natural fact is a symbol of some spiritual fact. Every appearance in nature corresponds to some state of the mind, and that state of the mind can only be described by presenting that natural appearance as its picture. An enraged man is a lion, a cunning man is a fox, a firm man is a rock, a learned man is a torch. A lamb is innocence, a snake is subtle spite. . . . Light and darkness are our familiar expressions for knowledge and ignorance ; and heat for love. ... It is easily seen that there is nothing lucky or capricious in these analogies, but that they are constant and pervade nature. These are not the dreams of a few poets, here and there, but man is an analogist, and studies relations in all objects. . . . Because of this radical correspondence between visible things and human thoughts, savages, who have only what is necessary, converse in figures. As we go back in history, language becomes more picturesque, until its infancy, when it is all poetry ; or all spiritual facts are represented by natural symbols. The same symbols are found to make the elements of all languages. It has, moreover, been observed, that the idioms of all languages approach each other in passages of the greatest eloquence and power, and as this is the first language, so it is the last. This immediate dependence of language upon nature, this conversion of an outward phenomena into a type of somewhat in human life, never loses its power to affect us." Essay on Nature, p. 5.
The author of Essays and Analogies perceived, with most reflecting minds, that " Analogy is as universal as the universe itself, and every analogy, like every man, is, or includes, the natural, moral, and spiritual kingdoms" (note, p. 133).
"There is an analogy," writes an elegant author, " between external appearances of nature, as intelligible hieroglyphs, and particular affections [of the soul], strikingly exemplificative of that general harmony which subsists in all the universe. Material objects, as Mr. Gilpiu has justly remarked, being fixed in their appearances, strike every one in the same manner ; whereas ideas, being different in most persons upon the same subjects, will seldom serve by way of illustration. " ---Buck's Harmonies of Nature, vol. ii., pp. 130, 131. For, as Dr. Young has pertinently observed in his Night Thoughts, "the analogy of Nature is Christianity itself in a veil or parable."
Bishop Home also recognized the same analogies in creation. He says : " The visible works of God are formed to lead us, under the direction of his Word, to a knowledge of those which are invisible ; they give us ideas by analogy of a new creation, and are ready to instruct us in the mysteries of faith and the duties of morality." ---Pref. to Comm. on Psalms, pp. xxiv., xxv.
In Swedenborg's Diary, a posthumous work printed by Dr. Tafel, of Tubingen, is the following interesting statement : " No one [scarcely] reflects upon those things which exist in visible nature as being the images of celestial and spiritual things ; as that a plant or a tree arises from its seed, and grows, and by its root and bark extracts a sap, which is the life of the plant or tree, and which is hence distributed into all its interior or central parts in like manner as spiritual things should relate to celestial things. Moreover, all things, even the minutest in the plant and tree, respect the fruit as their end, that is, the renovation, and hence the perpetuity, of the life of the tree. The same is the case with all fruits, even with those which are enclosed in hard shells, within which are the nuclei or fruits. The shells and the various surfaces, one within another, by which the juice [or sap] is conveyed to the interior and inmost principles until the fruit is ripened, represent correspondent things in man when being regenerated, namely, the natural, scientific, rational, and intellectual things; which [latter] are spiritual, and which in this manner, as from a common plane, divided into infinitely various ways, can be conveyed and distributed into all things, even to the most particular, and into the inmost recesses. Hence arises in such things [viz., plants, trees, fruit, etc.] their perpetuities, which in the life of man corresponds to eternity. In like manner all things of the animal kingdom, even the most particular, are constituted ; and consequently all parts of the human body, even to the minutest.
" It is also surprising that all things made by man, such as works of art, statues, pictures, and innumerable other things, which on the outside appear beautiful, and are esteemed of great value, are nevertheless interiorly nothing but clay and mud, and devoid of beauty ; it is only the external surface which the eye admires. Whereas those things which grow from seeds, begin from an interior principle, and increase and assume an external. Such things are not only beautiful to the sight, but the more interiorly they are examined, the more beautiful they appear. It is the same with the life of man ; those things which begin from what is external, thus which proceed from the man himself, may be compared to artificial works, whose external form is esteemed and admired, but whose internals are of no value. Whereas those things which proceed from God Messiah are formed from inmost principles, and may be compared to those things in nature which are beautiful from within. This is what is meant by what God Messiah says in Matthew concerning the lilies of the field, that Solomon, in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these, while lilies, however, are disregarded" (n. 251).
These eternal laws of correspondence, overlaid, indeed, in successive ages, and among widely different nations, by endless varieties of metaphor, fable, analogy, mythic episodes, legends, and observances, may be said to constitute an " intelligible and truly human.," if not divine, " element " of relationship among all peoples and tribes of the globe, and the existence of which is proved by manners, customs, and languages, that nothing else can possibly explain. It appears, from the oldest records, that this science was well known to, and highly appreciated by, the ancients. It was especially cultivated among the Eastern nations of Egypt, Assyria, Chaldea, Syria, Canaan, and Arabia, as the " chief of all the sciences," as the " living science." in comparison with which all other sciences were regarded as dead. The book of Job, one of the most ancient we possess, abounds with correspondences, but they have not that serial connection which distinguishes the fully inspired Word of God. Indeed, all ancient oriental literature affords indisputable evidence to the truth of this science. From it originates the sacred and profane symbols of antiquity. It pervaded every system of theology and morality. As mankind, however, degenerated from purity and intelligence, it was desecrated to vile and superstitious purposes. It finally sank into Grecian fable, was associated with all that was monstrous, impious, and absurd, and was then for ages lost. From the successive profanation of this sacred science arose the later Egyptian hieroglyphics, the Hindoo, Celtic, Persian, Grecian, Roman, and Scandinavian mysteries and initiatory rites, their oracles and mythologies ; Orpheus and the Indian Apollo ; the Wadilions of Titan, and the giants invading heaven ; the fables of the golden age and the garden of Hesperides ; the story of Pandora and her box of evil ; the translation of Astrea by the Romans, of Dhrura among the Hindus, of Buddha among the Ceylonese, and of Xaca among the Calmucks of Siberia ; the incarnations of Vishnu in India, and the fables and allegories of so many nations respecting a universal flood. All these are traceable to the prolific source of corruption and confusion. Hence sprang up all idolatry, in which the corresponding forms in nature and representations in art were deified and worshipped instead of the attributes and perfections of God which they signified: The doctrine of a primeval chaos, the metempsychosis, or the transmigration of souls, together with the poetic legends and fables of antiquity, all had a like origin.
But though the mythological fables of ancient times present a confused admixture of allegorical symbols and arbitrary figures, introduced by the license of poetic imagination, mysteriously and ingeniously combining a crude system of natural and moral philosophy ; yet, heterogeneous, uncertain, extravagant, and obscure as they appear, from the vestiges and traces of correspondence which they still retain, the meaning of many of the less corrupted becomes obvious and interesting to those acquainted with this science. [The same deplorable corruptions and perversions of spiritual ideas originated magic, divination, demonology, necromancy, witchcraft, alchemy, astrology, and charms, with numberless other superstitions which for ages bound, as in adamantine fetters, the free-born mind.]
"The translation of the Word," says a sensible and pious writer, " into a language of such extensive use as the Greek, was fraught with important results. And from this source at least, if not from an earlier acquaintance with the Hebrew original, many of the sages, poets, and philosophers of the heathen world drew some sparks of the light of the heavenly fire which glowed within it. Which of your sophists, says Tertullian, addressing his Pagan contemporaries, have not drunk from the fountain of the prophets? It is from these sacred springs that your philosophers have refreshed their thirsty spirits ; and if they have found anything in the Holy Scriptures which hit their fancy, or which served their hypothesis, they took and turned it to a compliance with their curiosity, not considering those writings to be sacred and unalterable, nor understanding their true sense. "-- D. H. H. in Amer. N. J. Mag., vol. xxii., p. 431.
To this same effect wrote the apostle Paul to the Romans : " Because that, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves : who changed the truth of God into a lie, and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever, Amen" (i. 21-25). But in the Lord s good time, and in the multitude of his mercies, the period has happily arrived when this long-lost science, purged and defecated from the corrupting dregs of profanation, and without danger to human welfare, can be restored as a blessing to his Church, a holy medium of communion between himself and angels and men, a ground and pillar of the truth ; nor will it ever again be withdrawn. Thus He has fulfilled his gracious promise : " He hath turned to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one consent " (Zeph. ix. 9) ; so that men need no longer " walk in darkness, but may " have the light of life."