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But there exist other difficulties in relation to the letter of the writien Word, which furnish additional proof of the necessity of admitting an internal sense.
Every one who is at all familiar with the Sacred Oracles, knows very well that they contain numerous passages, which, to his mind, are perfectly dark; passages which he either does not understand, or which do not contain any meaning whatever. He knows that some of the historical parts of the Word, portions of the Psalms, much of the Prophets, and nearly all the book of Revelation, convey to his mind no intelligible idea; and are moreover of such a character that, agreeably to the principles of interpretation acknowledged in the Old Church, any meaning or no meaning can be extracted from them, according to the genius or fancy of the interpreter. Let a few examples of this kind be cited by way of illustration.
"In Judah is God known; his name is great in Israel. In Salem also is his tabernacle, and his dwelling-place in Zion. There brake He the arrows of the bow, the shield, the sword, and the battle. Thou art more glorious and excellent than the mountains of prey. The stout-hearted are spoiled, they have slept their sleep; and none of the men of might have found their hands. At thy rebuke, O God of Jacob, both the chariot and horse are cast into a dead sleep." (Ps. Ixxvi.)
Now will any one, who is not acquainted with the internal sense of the Word, or the Science of Correspondences, say that he derives from this passage an intelligible idea? Or would any two of such persons be likely to agree in regard to its real meaning ?
Again in Ezekiel, chapter xxxix:
“And thou Son of Man, thus saith the Lord God, Speak to the fowl of every wing, and to every beast of the field, Assemble yourselves, and come, and gather yourselves on every side to my sacrifice, that I do sacrifice for you, [even] a great sacrifice upon the mountains of Israel, that ye may eat flesh and drink blood. Ye shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes of the earth, of rams, of lambs and of goats;
of bullocks, all of them fatlings of Bashan. And ye shall eat fat till ye be full, and drink blood till ye be drunken, of my sacrifice which I have sacrificed for you. Thus shall ye be filled at my table with horses and chariots, with mighty men and all men of war, saith the Lord God."
It may perhaps be said that this passage does convey an intelligible idea; that it describes a great feast prepared by the Lord God, especially for all the birds and beasts. The prophet is divinely commissioned to extend to them the invitation, and they are to come and eat not only the men and horses, but also the chariots ! But although the idea conveyed in the literal sense of this text may be intelligible, we ask if it be rational ?
Again in Habakkuk chapter iii :
“God came from Teman, and the Holy One from mount Paran. Selah. His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise. And his brightness was as the light; he had horns coming out of his hand : and there was the hiding of his power. Before him went the pestilence, and burning coals went forth at his feet. He stood, and measured the earth : he beheld, and drove asunder the nations; and the everlasting mountains were scattered, the perpetual hills did bow: his ways are everlasting. I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction : and the curtains of the land of Midian did tremble. Was the Lord displeased against the rivers ? was thine anger against the rivers ? was thy wrath against the sea, that thou didst ride upon thine horses, and thy chariots of salvation? Thy bow was made quite naked, according to the oaths of the tribes, even thy word. Selah. Thou didst cleave the earth with rivers. The mountains saw thee, and they trembled: the overflowing of the water passed by: the deep uttered his voice, and lifted up his hands on high. The sun and moon stood still in their habitation : at the light of thine arrows they went, and at the shining of thy glittering spear."
Again in the Revelation chapter vi:
" And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals; and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the
And I saw,
four beasts, saying, Come and see.
and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer. And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. And there went out another horse (that was) red ; and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword. And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo, a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine. And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. And I looked, and behold a pale horse ; and his name that sat on him was Death, and hell followed with him: and power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.”
Again, in chapter ix. it is written :
" And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth : and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. And he opened the bottomless pit: and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air was darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth : and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads. And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months : and their torment. was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man. And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall
flee from them. And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men. And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions. And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle. And they had tails like unto scorpions; and there were stings in their tails : and their power was to hurt, men five months. And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon. One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes nore hereafter."
Now, who that is unacquainted with the spiritual sense of the Word, can derive from these passages an idea at once intelligible and rational ? For, without a knowledge of correspondences, what can be understood by horses coming out of a book, or by the key of the bottomless pit being given to a star? And how much there is in the Word, which, without a spiritual sense must forever remain as it is, wholly unintelligible !
“Without the spiritual sense,” says Swedenborg, "it is impossible for any one to know why the prophet Jeremiah was commanded to buy himself a girdle, and not to draw it through the waters, but to go to Euphrates, and hide it there in a hole in the rock, (Jerem. xiii
. 1-7); or why Isaiah the prophet was commanded to loose the sackcloth from off his loins, and to put off his shoe from off his foot, and to go naked and barefoot three years, (Isaiah, xx. 2, 3); or why Ezekiel the prophet was commanded to make a razor pass upon his head and upon his beard, and afterwards to divide them, and to burn a third part in the midst of the city, and to smite a third part with the sword, and to scatter a third part in the wind, and to bind a little of them in his skirts, and at last to cast them into the midst of the fire, (Ezek. v. 1-4); or why the same prophet was commanded to lie upon his left side three hundred and ninety days, and upon his right side forty days, and to make
himself a cake of wheat, and barley, and millet, and fitches, with cow's dung, and eat it, and in the mean time to raise a rampart and a mound against Jerusalem and besiege it, (Ezek. iv. 1-15); or why Hosea was twice commanded to take to himself a harlot to wife, (Hosea, i. 2–9; iii. 2, 3); with several other things of a like nature. Moreover, who can know, without the spiritual sense, what is signified by all things appertaining to the tabernacle; as by the ark, the mercy-seat, the cherubim, the candlestick, the altar of incense, the shew-bread on the table, and the veils and curtains ? Or who would know, without the spiritual sense, what is signified by Aaron's holy garments; as by his coat, his cloak, the ephod, the urim and thummim, the mitre, and several things besides ? Or, without the spiritual sense, who would know what is signified by all those particulars which were enjoined concerning burnt offerings, sacrifices, meat-offerings, and drink-offerings; and also concerning sabbaths and feasts? The truth is, that nothing was enjoined, be it ever so minute, but what was significative of something appertaining to the Lord, to heaven, and to the church. From these few instances then it may be plainly seen, that there is a spiritual sense in all and every part of the Word.”_ (Doctrine Concerning the Sacred Scriptures n. 16.)
Nor can it be said that passages like those which we have cited are to be found only by long seeking. They occur frequently in almost every part of the Sacred Vó lume. And it is well known that there are no principles of interpretation understood and acknowledged in the Old Church, by a fair application of which we are able to elicit from these and other similar portions of the Word, a clear, consistent, and rational meaning. Almost every one in that Church is ready to acknowledge that, if such passages have any meaning, it is concealed as it were by a thick cloud.
But says one, “There is enough of Scripture plain and simple that we can understand; why then should we be troubled about such parts as are cloudy or obscure ?"
Suppose a man could see just well enough to enable him to walk the street tolerably well without stumbling;