No institution is of more importance, or more inti­mately connected with the best interests of mankind, than that of marriage. The earliest legislators saw its relation to the welfare of society, and paid special attention to it, and in their various codes guarded its sanctities by the most terrible penalties, to be inflicted upon those who violated them. Menes, the first king of Egypt, Cecrops, the first legislator of the Greeks, Numa, the lawgiver of Borne, Fohi, the first sovereign of China, all turned their attention to marriage. Even the poet Lucretius (Book v. 1009) observed the influence of marriage as an agent of human progress. After a description of the first stages of savage life, when man was scarcely advanced beyond the brute, the poet says: " But when they began to build their first rude huts, to clothe themselves in skins, and had discovered the use of fire, when first one woman was joined to one man in the chaste endearments of mutual love, and saw their offspring arising around them, then only did the ferocious manners of the human race begin to soften." Just in proportion as this sacred relation has been regarded by a nation or community, have they risen in the moral and intellectual scale, and progressed in all the elements of a genuine civilization. There is a philosophical reason for this, founded in the laws of correspondence, and the mysterious connection between natural and spiritual things. The highest moral and spiritual condition of a human soul is, where there is a perfect union of love and wisdom, or goodness and truth. The existence of these in perfect harmony, and in due proportion, is essentially the heavenly state. A genuine marriage between two regenerated persons, is the orderly natural basis of such a spiritual state.

If such is the important relation between the institution of marriage and the work of human redemption, and if there is so vital a connection between them, that the rela­tion of the sexes in any society becomes the unerring index of their intellectual and moral condition, it is evident that a new age of the Church would come with new light with regard to marriage. Now, I boldly aver, that no man has ever written, except the inspired authors of the Holy Word, who has given us so exalted concep­tions of the dignity and sanctity of the marriage relation as Swedenborg. There is a most striking contrast between the low Sadducean views that prevail in the Church and the world, and those unfolded in his truly philosophical and spiritual work on this subject. He teaches that the distinction of sex is not merely a difference of physical organism, but is found in the mental constitution of the race. In the male, the intellectual predominates and rules; in the female, the affections are in excess, and govern. This was ordained as a part of the plan of creation, and is eternal, because it belongs to the essence of the human spirit. Between love and wisdom, affection and reason, there is a natural attraction; and hence by the very constitution of the human mind there is a tendency to union between the sexes, and always must be while that constitution remains the same. Hence the immortality of the marriage relation, not of such unions as the Sadducce had in his conceptions, for such belong not to the kingdom of God, either in this world or the next, but the conjunction of the illuminated reason of the male with the holy affections of the female. Such a union is necessary to the perfection of man. No one can fail to observe that in her mental structure, woman has excel­lences where the mind of man is most defective. On the other hand, the mind of man possesses excellences which supply the defects in the mental organization of woman. Neither alone, has everything necessary to a perfect human nature. It is only in the oneness of the two that humanity is seen in its completeness. Without this unification of the sexes, that constitutes a real marriage, the development of humanity must be one-sided and inharmonious. In the moral system of Swedenborg, marriage is not a mere temporary arrangement for the attainment of selfish ends, but is as eternal as the mind. The spiritual union of one man with one woman on earth, calls into exercise the holiest principles of our nature, and is promotive of the highest happiness of the race, either here or hereafter. So a disregard of the sanctities of marriage is the fruitful cause of more evil and misery than any other operating in human society.

Marriage, according to Swedenborg, is most holy in its origin, and in what it symbolizes. There is in the Divine Mind, Love and Wisdom. These exist not separately, but in perfect union, and their conjunction is essentially a marriage. In a genuine marriage among men there is a union of the wisdom or intellect of the male with the affection of the female. This in its purity is but a finite and imperfect copy of what eternally exists in the Divine Nature. Hence marriage, in its origin, is as holy as the mind of God. But all things in the visible creation have proceeded from the Love and Wisdom of the Creator. As they are one in Him, so there is a union of good and truth in the works of creation, which proceed from Him. All things in the universe have relation to, and represent good and truth. Hence the conception of the sexuality of nature, an idea arising spontaneously in the human mind. This principle was introduced by Linnaeus into his Philosophy of the Vegetable Kingdom, but was observed by Pliny long before him. The dis­tinction of sex, so far as it belongs to our spiritual organism, originates in the Divine Mind—in the Love and Wisdom of the Lord. From Him it extends down by creative influx into the human race, and through this into the animal kingdom, and from this into the vegetable kingdom, and so down to the lowest link in creation's chain. Marriage, in its Divine reality, is a union of good and truth,or love and wisdom; and in its spiritual signifi­cance symbolizes such a spiritual state. It has its origin in God, it existed in Paradise, and must be transferred, with its ever increasing purity and bliss, to the Celestial shore. Those who can perceive the necessary connection between the institution of marriage, and the moral and spiritual elevation of the race, will find in the views of Swedenborg, on this all-important subject, the seed of a new dispensation of the Kingdom of God among men.

Author: Warren Felt Evans (1817-1889)

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