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state of man's affections and thoughts, is manifest from the mention that is made of it in Ezekiel, xxviii. 13. It is there said concerning the king of Tyrus, “ Thou hast been in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering.” Now it is a common opinion that no one ever entered the garden of Eden after Adam was expelled from it; and certainly, if a literal garden or spot of material earth be understood, it is quite improbable that this king of Tyre could ever have been in it; for, according to common chronology, he was not born till more than 3000 years after Adam's expulsion from Eden.
No.—Men of learning may cease their fruitless search for the garden of Eden upon some spot of this natural earth; for certain it is they will never find it there. Nowhere in this outward world, but only in the soul of man—in the condition of a regenerate and well ordered mind, is the true garden of Eden—the paradise of God. Whoever hath his understanding enlightened by the Divine Truth, and his will warmed and vivified by the Divine Love, having all his affections and thoughts brought into perfect agreement with the will and wisdom of God, and is thus made a living soul-created anew, as to his spirit, after the image and likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ—he is in the garden of Eden, and every precious stone is his covering; i. e., all the precious truths of Revelation (which are the things denoted by precious stones) are his spiritual protection and covering—the fulness and perfection of his wisdom, the ornament and beauty of his mind.
Thus doth the Lord now, as in ancient times, place in the garden of Eden every one whom He creates a living soul after his own image and likeness. And there “He causes to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food” ; i. e. in this celestial state He causes to spring up in the mind the spiritual things to which beautiful trees and delicious fruit correspond those clear perceptions and blissful loves, which delight and nourish the soul of man: “ The Tree of Life also in the midst of the garden."
Now since the garden of Eden denotes not a place,
but a celestial state of the human mind, it is obvious that the Tree of Life in its midst cannot be understood as denoting any natural tree, but the inmost and lifegiving principle of all man's intelligence and affections, which are his spiritual garden of Eden. Every man has some supreme and ruling love; and according to its quality is the quality of all his subordinate loves. This ruling love is in all his affections and thoughts, and forms their inmost principle. Hence it is in their midst. Thus all the affections of the natural man are selfish, because his ruling love is the love of self. But the supreme love of che angels, and of all men who are like the angels—of all who are in a state of mind denoted by the garden of Eden-is love to the Lord. They perceive and acknowledge that the Lord alone is Life, and is the living source of all their intelligence and love. And because they love Him supremely, and look to Him in all things, therefore He is the Tree of Life in the midst of their garden of Eden. Tree, in a subordinate sense, corresponds to and signifies the Church, or a man of the Church, in respect to both faith and charity; its leaves correspond to the truths of faith, and its fruit to the goods of charity. And since the Lord is the only life, and the only source of goodness and truth to men, being Goodness itself and Truth itself, therefore Tree is here used in its supreme sense, because it is called the Tree of Life, and denotes the Lord as to his divine, life-giving wisdom and love.
While man remains in the garden of Eden, this Tree of Life must be in the midst; i. e. while he remains in a celestial state, he loves the Lord supremely, and acknowledges Him as the inmost, the source and the life of all his affections and thoughts. And while he lives in the performance of good uses from the Lord, acknowledging Him as the inmost or supreme source of all his will and wisdom and power to do good, he eats the fruit of this Tree of Life ; for then his mind is continually fed and nourished with the heavenly graces
of innocence, mercy, forbearance, peace, wisdom, intelligence, humility and love; and these with all other heavenly principles become appropriated to him, and as it were incorporated into his spiritual being.
As there is spiritual food or things which nourish the mind, to which natural food or things which nourish the body correspond; therefore there is such a thing as spiritual eating, to which natural eating corresponds. Hence to eat, according to the language of correspondences, signifies to receive into our minds the spiritual things of truth and love in such a manner that they become appropriated to our spirits, and incorporated with them, as natural food is appropriated to and incorporated with our material bodies. Hence the Lord saith, “ Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life." (John vi. 54.) Flesh corresponds to and signifies the good of love; and blood corresponds to and thence signifies the truth by which that good is nour ished and made spiritually alive. Consequently to eat the Lord's flesh signifies, according to correspondences, to have the good of the Lord's love incorporated with our will; and to drink his blood signifies to have the truth of His divine Wisdom or Word incorporated with our understanding. Whoever is in this state lives from the Lord, and thus hath eternal life. Nor can there be any true heavenly life without this substantial food wherewith the Lord feeds our souls, and which is indeed the spiritual flesh and blood of his own divine body. Wherefore it is written, “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you." (John vi. 53.)
Now at the same time that the celestial or regenerate man is eating the fruit of the Tree of Life in the manner above described, he is also dressing and keeping the garden wherein the Lord God hath placed him; for he is cherishing and preserving the life of all celestial principles—those heavenly plants which spring up and blossom in his mind, and make his state a true garden of Eden.
But another tree is spoken of in this garden, the very name of which shows us that a natural tree cannot be meant: it is the tree of the knowledge (or science] of good and evil." We perceive by its name that its fruits are spiritual. Now when man lives in the acknowledgment that the Lord is the only source of goodness and
truth, and is in the constant endeavor to perform good uses, not from himself or for the sake of himself, but from the Lord and for the sake of the neighbor, he knows nothing but good; for he then eats only of the Tree of Life, which is altogether good; and therefore he is blessed in the reception of true life from the Lord. Such was the state of the most ancient Church denoted by Adam. But so far as man thinks that he lives of himself—that he does good and originates truth of himself—so far he turns away from the Lord to his own self-intelligence, thinking that of himself he knows good and evil.
Man's self-derived intelligence therefore, which contains within it the love of being as God knowing good and evil, is what is denoted by “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” And so often as man performs any act, however fair its outward appearance may be, and does not in his heart ascribe all the honor and the glory of it to the only Lord and Saviour, but takes merit to himself for the good which he does and the truth which he speaks—so often he plucks and eats the fruit of that forbidden tree, whose very touch is moral pollution and disorder, and whose taste is spiritual death.
These two trees are said to have been placed in the garden, to denote the perfect freedom in which man is left
, even in his regenerate state, to turn either to the Lord or to himself; thus to eat either of the Tree which is in the midst of the garden, and enjoy true life, or of "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil," and suffer spiritual death.
And this, it should be remarked, agrees perfectly with Swedenborg's account of the origin of evil, which is the only rational account that has been or can be given. Upon this subject he says, in his work concerning Conjugial Love n. 443 ::
“This arcanum cannot be opened, unless it be known, that no one is good but God alone, and that there is not anything good which in itself is good, except from God; wherefore he that looks to God, and wills to be led by God, is in good; but he that turns himself away from
God, and wills to be led by himself, is not in good; for the good which he does, is either for the sake of himself, or for the sake of the world, thus it is either meritorious, or counterfeit
, or hypocritical ; from which it is manifest, that man himself is the origin of evil; not that that origin was put into man from creation, but that he himself
, by turning from God to himself, put it into himself. That origin of evil was not in Adam and his wife, but when the serpent said, In the day that ye shall eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, ye shall be as God, Gen. iii. 5; and then, because they turned themselves away from God, and turned themselves to themselves, as to a god, they made in themselves the origin of evil: to eat from that tree signified to believe that he knew good and evil, and was wise from himself, and not from God. Man was created, that all that he wills, thinks and does may appear to him as in himself, and thus from himself; man, without this appearance, would not be man, for he would not be able to receive, to retain, and, as it were, appropriate to himself anything of good and truth, or of love and wisdom; whence it follows, that without that as it were living appearance, man would not have cojunction with God, and thence neither eternal life. But if from this appearance. he induces in himself a belief that he wills, thinks, and thence does good from himself, and not from the Lord, although in all appearance as from himself, he turns good into evil with himself, and thus makes in himself the origin of evil: this was the sin of Adam [or the most Ancient Church.)”
Every one must perceive the rationality of this account of the origin of evil.
We know that there is a principle in man—it is the very outermost or lowest principle of the mind—which would judge of everything from the outward appearance, i. e., by the senses alone; and hence it is called the sensual principle of the mind. This principle would persuade us that there is no God besides ourselves, because we do not see Him with our natural eyes. It would persuade us that the obvious and literal meaning of Scripture is its true and only meaning;