« הקודםהמשך »
-that the Word of God contains no spiritual sense, and is altogether like a human composition, because it so appears. It would persuade us that we really live, do good, and originate truth of ourselves, because such is the appearance. Thus it would persuade us that we have an independent, self-derived existence, and are as God, knowing good and evil. Now when this principle, separate from all other principles, descends into nature, and alone becomes clothed in a material garb, because it is the lowest in the mind, being nearly allied to the corporeal principle, it is seen embodied in the form of a serpent. This is its appropriate form and natural representative. Consequently serpent corresponds to,ʻand, when mentioned in the Word, signifies this low and sensual principle of the mind : and the speech or language of the serpent, denotes the reasonings of this principle, or of the persons who are under its influence; such, for example, are the reasonings of the natural man when he labors to confirm this, that the appearances of truth, whether in the volume of nature or revelation, are the genuine truth itself. And because he does this in a very cunning and artful manner, appealing to the evidence of the senses, therefore the serpent is said to be “ more subtle than any beast of the field, which Jehovah God had made.” (Gen. ii. 1.) Hence the reason why it is said in Psalms concerning those who seduce men by their carnal or sensual reasonings, “They sharpen their tongue like a serpent; adders' poison is under their lips.” (cxl. 3.) And again, “Their poison is like the poison of a serpent." (lviii. 4.)
That serpent has such a spiritual signification, and consequently, wherever it is used in the Word, it denotes all persons who are under the influence of the sensual principle, is manifest from many passages. Thus the Lord called the Jewish Scribes and Pharisees “Serpents-a generation of vipers.” (Matt. xxiii. 33.) Of course He could not mean that they were literally such; but that they were spiritually such from correspondence—because their minds were of that gross and sensual character to which the serpent corresponds ;
because their interiors were full of all kinds of evils ;because they were under the dominion of hell, that old serpent, called the Devil and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world.” That it was on this account that the Lord called the Jews “serpents" and "a viperous generation," is evident from the context; for these words occur in the same chapter and immediately after the repeated and severe denunciations which He utters against them, because they were "like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but within are full of the bones of the dead, and of all uncleanness." (v. 27.)
Again : there is another principle in man, which, while it inclines him to love goodness and truth, inclines him also to love the merit of them, and thus to believe and claim them as his own or self-derived. This affection--this love of claiming good and truth as our own and self-derived, is ever ready to grant a listening ear to the crafty insinuations of the serpent or sensual principle, because this principle endeavors to persuade us, by many appearances, of the very thing which we desire to believe, viz. that we do live and are wise of ourselves. This principle or affection therefore, is what is denoted by the woman whom the serpent tempted. Woman, in a good sense, corresponds to and signifies affection for truth. But when listening to the suggestions of the serpent, as in the present instance, it denotes the love of self-derived intelligence. Now when this love yields to the artful reasonings of the sensual principle, as it is ever inclined to do, and the man begins to believe that he lives, is wise and good of himself, because it so appears, that moment he turns away from the Tree of Life, and begins to eat of the forbidden tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And when man's affection for truth has become thus debased and sensualized, being changed into the affection for self-derived intelligence, it extends its poisonous influence throughout every region of the mind, blinding the understanding and debasing the rational principle also; --which is what is signified by the woman's tempting the man to eat. By man is here denoted the rational
principle. And in this state, the sensual principle being separated from the spiritual and celestial and turned to the corporeal, is no longer in the true order of its creation, or in a state of obedience to the higher principles of the soul. It is therefore accursed. This is what is spiritually signified by the sentence pronounced upon the serpent, "upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life.” And not only so, but the whole land is accursed, bringing forth thorns and thistles ; i. e., the whole region of the mind is disorded and debased, giving birth to infernal lusts and false persuasions.
Thus did the serpent, in the most Ancient Church, tempt the woman and the woman the man, until the affections of that Church becoming corrupted, and its understanding darkened, it gradually and successively fell from its state of primitive purity and innocence; thus was it driven out from the garden of Eden-away from the peaceful paradise of innocence and love.
This was the Fall—the fall of man :-a degraded state of spiritual blindness, moral imbecility, and internal self-worship, wherein all men by inheritance are now immersed ; and from which state, whosoever rises so as to feed upon the true and living Bread which cometh down from heaven, must do so in the sweat of his face ; i. e. by a hard struggle against his evil loves, and continual watchfulness against the subtle arts of the serpent.
Thus we may discover now in every mind the principles which correspond to and are denoted by the serpent, the tree of the science of good and evil, and that sinning woman Eve. And every man who depends on his own intelligence, or who loves himself more than the Lord, is eating of that forbidden tree, whose fruit is deadly poison to the life of heaven.
Let no one therefore think ever to find the garden of Eden out of himself. For in the soul—the purified and regenerate soul, are the essence and living correspondences of all the beautiful places and forms that exist in the natural world ;-of all the innocent creatures that walk and fly ;-of all the fair and fragrant flowers
that overspread the earth. Here, or nowhere, is the garden of Eden to be found.
Thus doth this Scripture, once cold and dead, become fresh and living truth, having an application to all men in all times. Thus by " the key of knowledge” which is furnished us in the revealed Science of Correspondences--by the touch as it were of the Lord's finger at this his second advent—the Sacred Scriptures rise from the dead, and are presented to us glorious in wisdom--' radiant with beauty-warm and breathing with the life of God.
ILLUSTRATIONS OF THE IMPORTANCE OF THE SCI
ENCE OF CORRESPONDENCES AS A KEY TO THE
INTERPRETATION OF THE SCRIPTURES.
"THE SUPPER OF THE GREAT GOD."- Rev. xix. 17.
In our last lecture we explained the nature of the Science of Correspondences, or the law according to which, as we learn from Swedenborg, the Sacred Scriptures are composed, and applied it to the interpretation of a few things in that portion of the Word which treats of the creation and fall of man. We endeavored to show that this science is not arbitrary or fanciful, but has its foundation in that immutable and necessary relation which subsists between natural and spiritual things, as between effects and their producing cause : that it expresses a law of divine order in creation, and is therefore as determinate and fixed as the laws of light, or of the planetary motions. And because all things in the natural world subsist from a spiritual cause and origin-because this law of correspondence between forms and their essence, or between natural effects and the spiritual substances which enter into them as their cause, is a necessary law in creation, it is a law of order necessary also in revelation. Consequently the Science of Correspondences, as revealed in the writings of Swedenborg, furnishes us with a rule, and the only rule, as we have before said, for interpreting aright the Word of God.