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Allegories of Genesis
by Thomas A. King 1922
THE FIRST DAY OF CREATION
Heaven and earth are used in the Bible as symbols, heaven as the symbol of the spiritual mind, and earth as the symbol of the natural mind. Regeneration, which is t he subject treated of in this story of creation, is the orderly formation and development of the distinct planes of life that are involved in the structure of these two minds. The spiritual mind is formed of three distinct degrees, the celestial, spiritual and natural. The natural mind is also constituted of three degrees, the rational, scientific and sensual. These two minds, with their degrees of life, constitute the difference between man and the mere animal for the mere animal possesses only the sensual degree, with something that makes an approach to the scientific, but is wholly without the rational and the three degrees constituent of the spiritual mind.
This is why it is said: "In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth." Regeneration begins with these two minds. It consists in the opening of the spiritual mind by which the natural mind is reformed and brought into order and completely subordinated to the spiritual mind. In the beginning of man's regeneration the natural mind (the earth) is mere vacuity and emptiness. It is not in the form of heaven and is empty of all genuine good. It is on a level with the world, and is the seat of hereditary evil, its life consisting in the love of self and the world. It must, therefore, be reformed and filled with new affections and thoughts.
The natural mind is also in darkness. It has no comprehension of spiritual things. It is of the earth, earthly. It is a great abyss; and over the face of this abyss, darkness broods. What a darkness it is! God, the Divine Word, the life after death, in fact, all the great truths of religion, are in total darkness to the natural mind. It knows only the natural world, and sees only the things that minister to its depraved loves.
If in the beginning, a spiritual mind had not been formed in man, above his natural mind, he never could have been raised above the animal plane of life. But "in the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth." By heaven is meant man's spiritual mind formed not of nature nor of the deposits of the world through the bodily senses, but of the substance of the inner spiritual world, with deposits from heaven, through the ministry of angels. These heavenly deposits are called, in the church writings, "Remains."
These deposits are stored up in all children, whether they were born in the church or out of it; whether they were born of pious parents or of impious parents. They are spiritual things, states of good, of innocence, formed in all, during childlife, while the mind which is on a level with heaven, is open, tender and plastic.
Our Blessed Saviour announced this truth of the Father's provision of these good states for child-life, when He said: "See that ye offend not one of these little ones; for verily I say unto you, that in heaven, their angels do always behold the face of my Father." The implantation and storing of these remains make a spiritual life possible to all men. They are really man's heredity from his heavenly Father.
Salvation, regeneration and the consequent subordination of all life to the Divine motive of living, become possible to all men because of this work done by the Lord through the angels during childhood.
Here lies the ground of hope for the salvation of the human race. It is the means by which the All-Good Father shall realize His end in the creation of man, a heaven of angels from the human race.
"Why bowest thou, O soul of mine,
Crushed by ancestral sin? Thou hast a nobler heritage
Which bids thee victory win. The tainted past may bring forth flowers,
As blossomed Aaron's rod; No legacy of sin annuls
Heredity from God."
But these remains must be awakened. They are the Lord's own in man; and He alone knows how and when to find them. Thus it is said: "And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." The Divine mercy of the Lord broods over these remains in man. It awakens them. The things that the Lord has hidden and treasured up in man, how precious they are! "More to be desired are they than gold, yea than much fine gold." They are what make every human being sacred. The sins which grow up and disfigure and mar human life, truly they are ugly, and sometimes men seem so hopelessly involved in them, yet such human beings have these sacred treasures stored up in them by the Lord. And the time comes when the spirit of our common Lord moves upon the face of these waters. These hidden treasures are the Lord's in man. They are not anything he has acquired by his conscious efforts. How beautifully does all this shine through Dr. Watt's lullaby:
"Hush, my babe! Lie still and slumber;
Holy angels guard thy bed; Heavenly blessings without number
Are gently falling on thy head."
Yes, these are the face of the waters in this story of the first day of creation. And gently does the Father's spirit move upon them. In ways recognized and in ways unrecognized, the Lord's Holy Spirit is moving, brooding over these things of heaven stored in man's spiritual mind. And the time comes to all, who hear His voice, when they are awakened. It may not always come in this life; but in the intermediate world of spirits, if not on earth, all in whom the way to their remains is not effectually closed by intellectual confirmation in evil, will hear the Divine voice and open the door; will feel the Divine brooding and yield to the Father's tender love.
What a need there is for parents to know this blessed teaching of the church! For knowing it, they can intelligently co-operate with the Lord and the angels. These remains are "the living creatures" to which the gospel is to be preached. Will the church ever learn this lesson? Conscious of our great intellectual stores of doctrines, we vainly imagine that our mission is to intellectually convince men that what we are offering them is the truth. Let it be said, for it is true, our failure to call the remnant into the church is not due to our failure to convince men of the rationality of the church's teaching, but to our not reaching, by a loving and gentle spirit, their remains, "the living creatures" in their hearts. Our efforts to convert men are intellectual and cold. We neglect the heart. I am not deprecating the teaching of doctrine. Far from it. But doctrine must be drawn from the Lord's Word, confirmed by it, and come to men with all the warmth of the Divine Heart, in an appeal to what is of the Lord in them.
This will reach and uncover the golden side of their life. "Deep will answer unto deep." A great light will dawn upon man through such an appeal. It will be the light of their heavenly Father's face; and in His light they will see light. Ah! this awakening of a human soul, what a momentous event it is! It is the dawning of a light in which one sees the Lord Jesus as one's God and Saviour; in which one sees oneself as a spiritual being; in which one sees the spiritual possibilities of life, the beginning of the great creation within. "And God said let there be light, and there was light."
THE SECOND DAY OF CREATION
The awakening of the things good and true that were implanted and stored away during childhood, and the dawning of the light of God upon the mind, brings the consciousness that there are in the mind states of knowledge that are from heaven and states of knowledge that are from the world. That which brings this consciousness is the rational perception of the duality of the mind. This perception at first is far from being clear; it is in fact very dim, but it enables a man to realize that he has, lying above what is natural in himself, a higher mind, or self, which demands, for its satisfaction, growth and culture, something the world cannot supply.
This dawning internal rational perception is what is meant by these words: "And God said, Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters." It is a rational perception, but it is in the formative state. It is not, at that time, lifted up and clearly discriminated and intellectually distinguished from the general perceptions of the mind. It is, at first, in the midst of the waters.
But growth is the law of the Divine life in man's life; therefore this rational perception grows and expands. This growth is largely dependent upon instruction, upon instruction suited and accommodated to the mind's state of reception. What a wide field for reflection this law, as it respects the growth of this rational perception, opens to the church!
May it not be true that one, and perhaps the most fruitful cause, of the Church's loss of so many of its own young people, is due to the Church's attempt to teach them theology? The mind is a spiritual organism created in distinct planes; and may it not be possible that the church has made the fatal mistake of forcing a degree of instruction upon its young people that they are wholly unprepared to receive? There is nothing more sacred than a young life, just opening to the realization of something deeper than the world is able to give; and the attempt to feed that budding life with instruction drawn from Swedenborg's "Divine Love and Wisdom" or "Earths in the Universe," or Burnham's "Discrete Degrees," is only to confuse and swamp it.
It might prove useful to us, as a church, if we would study more seriously and wisely the New-Church psychology, for it would save us from these mistakes.
Rational perceptions are formed slowly; and instruction must be suited to the mind in which they are growing. Simple doctrine, drawn from the letter of the Word, and presented affirmatively and affectionately, and always with reference to the sacred religious life that is awakening in the young people, never fails to interest and hold them. The deeper things of the spiritual sense of the Word, of the philosophy of doctrine, must wait. Their time will come; and the church must wait until her young people are capable of receiving them rationally.
While the expanse is in the midst of the waters, the simple Bible story, illustrated in its relation to the awakening religious nature, is all that is needed. If the church deals thus wisely with the opening, budding minds of its voung people, there will come the opening of a deeper rational perception in them. The expanse will divide between the waters in the waters. The faculty of classification will be developed. Things will be distinguished from each other.
Let the church watch this development, and adapt its instruction accordingly. This is the real argument for the graded lesson in the Sunday school. As the waters, the knowedges that are in the mind, begin to be classified, by rational thinking, guided by true and suitable instruction, the church, in her capacity as teacher, can adapt the truth to the new and higher plane of reception that is forming. The simpler lessons of the spiritual sense may then be given; but always shown to be in the very letter of the Bible. Then, too, simple doctrine may be taught, but always from the letter of the Lord's Word, and not in any abstract way.
This will divide between the waters in the waters. Knowledge that could only come from heaven, through the Lord's Word, will be distinguished from knowledge that comes from the world and that belongs to the world. It is all a gradual unfoldment of the mind.
And so, there comes a time when the waters, which were divided, attain perfect classification, a time when truth, derived by revelation, and truth derived through the exerercise of the natural mind, is clearly distinguished, the one from the other.
This is what is meant by these words: "And God made the expanse, and divided between the waters which were above the expanse and the waters which were under the expanse." Until this discrimination is made, it is not clearly seen that there is an internal man and that the things that are in the internal man are goods and truths that are from the Lord alone. Waters above the expanse! What do they mean other than the truths that come from the Lord? The rational faculty of perception does not originate spiritual truth. The Divine and spiritual truths, with which the internal mind is imbued, are above reason. The rational degree is an intermediate degree. The things that are proper to the natural mind, such as the knowledge belonging to the sensuous plane, and the scientifics that are learned in the schools, are below, under the reason ; and there is a side of the rational that looks down upon, orders and subordinates them. They are from the world and are not matters of revelation. They serve to teach man how to preserve his body, how to form and cultivate his natural mind, how to become a civic and moral man, and a useful member of civil society. They are all under the expanse. But the waters which are above the expanse! They are not on a level with nature. They are truths that have come through the channel of the spiritual world, the Word of God, and the church. They are above the reason but not contrary to reason; for as there is a side to I he rational degree of the mind that opens down to the stored states of the natural mind, so there is a side to it that opens up to the stored states of good and truth in the internal mind.
When the rational perception has attained to this degree of development, it calls for distinct doctrinal instruction and guidance. Here is the place for the doctrinal class, here opens the opportunity to use the church writings as hooks of instruction.
But in doing this, the church must not play the role of t he theological seminary. The church is to prepare men for useful living, and her instruction must have the making of good lives as its end. The world has very little interest in and use for a doctrinal gymnast: and it has less for a church that resolves itself into a theological gymnasium.
This is not meant as a disparagement of those who make a deep study of the church writings, that is largely a matter of inclination and taste. What I am advocating is the religious life, guided by the Lord's Word, as opened and explained in the doctrines of the church.
That this may be realized, the church in her teaching capacity, must put men in the possession of the light that can enable them to distinguish between spiritual good and natural good; between life lived from regard to self and life lived from regard to God; between truth from heaven, through revelation, and truth from the world. This is the mission of the church. Regeneration, the new life, that must be her aim. For this the Word, the Doctrines, yea all the means of grace, exist.
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THE THIRD DAY OF CREATION
The rational perception that there is involved in man two minds, an external mind for this world and an internal mind for the spiritual world, puts us in a position to see that all spiritual knowledge, the truth and good of heaven, inflow from the Lord through the internal mind into the external and are stored up in the memory for use in our coming regeneration.
The memory is therefore a most important department of the mind. It must be formed and stored with truths, learned from without, before there can be any distinct reasoning or deep thinking. Children are inspired by the Lord, through their guardian angels, with the love of knowing facts, and they are gifted with the mental organ of memory, in which they may be implanted and stored up. The will and the memory are active long before the understanding is in any degree developed. The will to learn, the love of knowing, must come in order that one may learn, and there must be a receptacle of the knowledge that is acquired, and this is the memory, capacious to receive and retentive to retain what is learned.
The memory is therefore the "one place" into which the waters under the heavens are gathered. For think, the waters under the heavens are the truths acquired by study and instruction, the truths that are stored up after they are learned. During this period there is afforded to parents and teachers the golden opportunity of implanting in children's minds the knowledge of the letter of the Lord's Word. There is nothing more important than this. Parents and teachers should not do the least thing to disturb a child's implicit belief in the letter of the Bible stories. They should be taught to the child mind in the form the Lord has put them. And not only should the Bible stories be taught in the form we find them in the letter of the Word, but certain portions of the Word should be committed to memory, such as the Lord's Prayer, the Ten Blessings, the Ten Commandments, and many of the shorter Psalms and the sayings of the Lord in the Gospels. The doing of this is the gathering of the waters into one place.
Rational thinking about these things will come later, and then doctrine about them can be taught. When this state arrives, there will form in the mind a plane for the reception of the Divine seed, from which will spring up and grow the life of heaven. This plane, or soil, is what is meant by the appearance of the dry land or earth.
The beginnings of the spiritual life, how interesting they are! God said: "Let the earth bring forth." Up to this point, God has done every thing, but now the earth, which has risen out of the waters, is called upon to bring forth. Childhood is a period of preparation for the spiritual life. This is what makes child life so sacred. Hut when the memory is stored with truths, and the understanding of them in their relation to life has been formed, man is then capable of co-operating with the Lord. He <an hear, understand and obey the Divine commands. He has come into his own responsible life. He is, spiritually, of age, and can act as of himself. He can receive and become conscious of God's operation in his soul, and is able to co-operate with the regenerative endeavor of the Divine Spirit. Thus God says: "Let the earth bring forth."
What is brought forth at first is very tender and feeble. It is called, in this story, "the tender grass." Self-compulsion is the first conscious step man takes in his effort to co-operate with the Lord's endeavor to regenerate him. The natural man is born into the love of evil; and his natural inclination is to those things which were habits of life in his parents. This is not the old doctrine of original sin, for no one is born into sin. It is the doctrine of heredity, the fact that we inherit from parents and ancestors the love of self and the world. These two evil loves are the very life of our natural mind. This evil life must be forsaken; we must act against and reject it if we would come into the life that makes heaven. This is what our Lord meant when He said: "Except a man hate his father and mother, yea, his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." And self-compulsion, self-imposed obedience to the Ten Commandments, is the first step. The spiritual life that comes as the result of this self-compulsion is what is meant by the "tender grass."
The church must learn to deal gently and patiently with this state. There is much of self in it, and its motive is very external, but it is something, it is a beginning. How thankful we should be that the tender grass has no seed in itself. It appears in the beginning, serves its use, passes away and makes room for something higher.
This higher form of spiritual living is represented by the "herb yielding seed." A higher motive for life comes and a more spiritual thinking and doing follows. The habit of obedience is formed. The truth is delightful. We love it, and do it because of our love for it. A new life center is formed. The love of the Lord and the neighbor becomes our very life. We have lost our life for the Lord's sake, and have found His life and made it our life. The natural man is being put under the reign of the Lord's truth. The herb yielding seed has sprung up, and is growing in the soul.
But something more than the herb comes in this day of man's spiritual creation. The tree bearing fruit makes its appearance. There comes the perception that all truth, all good, is from the Lord. This is the tree of the third day. How patiently the Lord waits for us to come into this state! He lets us, in the beginning, think that we are thinking the truth and doing good from ourselves, because He knows that at first we cannot act otherwise. And so He leads us on step by step, like the loving and kind Father that He is, until the tender grass and herb states are lived through, and then He causes this tree this perception, that all truth is from Him, that all good flows in from Him, to grow up in the mind. What a revelation it is to us! How the very thought of it humiliates self! How it exalts God! It brings a new state of life with it. It bears fruit. This was not so of the tender grass, nor of the herb. But of the tree it is said: "And the tree bearing fruit after its kind, whose seed was in itself after its kind." The fruit the tree bears is the fruit of repentance. For we are told in the writings of the church that this third state is one of repentance. In this state a man sees the evils that are in his natural mind, evils of heredity and evils that he has acquired by the wrong acts of his life. It is the state of self-revelation.
Repentance follows, a repentance that is deep and sincere. For in this state a man not only sees his evils, but he acknowledges them, makes himself guilty before God, confesses them to the Lord, implores forgiveness of them, and then desists from them and enters upon a new life. And when they rise up he turns from them and seeks Divine aid in being withheld from them. This is the fruit the tree bears. In this way the Lord introduces us into the spiritual life, and communicates to us the inward joy of heaven in a peace that passes all understanding, that is unspeakable and full of glory.
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THE FOURTH DAY OF CREATION
Regeneration is the progressive development of the Divine life in the human soul. It is a spiritual creation, for when it is finished man stands forth a new creature. The old carnal life, the life of loving himself and the world, has been displaced by the new life, the life of loving the Lord and the neighbor.
No one begins regeneration with a deep love for the Lord, nor with a clear and living faith. The light of the Divine truth dawns upon the mind, and one sees oneself in contrast with the purity and the requirements of the truth; and as the truth points, with directing finger, straight to the duty to be done, one finds that one must compel one's natural man to do it. This is the beginning of the creation of God in the soul.
But faithfulness to duty, daily acting against the life, impulses of the lower self, leads one on and on to that state in which one begins to feel the warmth of a living love in the heart and a clear bright faith in the Lord and the realities of the inner life. The sun and the moon of the fourth day are this love and this faith set in the internal mind of the regenerating man. A man comes into this state by growth. The natural sun is therefore the symbol of the Lord's love given to man to be in him, his love of God and man, and the center of his life, the glowing orb, round which everything of his life must revolve, like planets round the sun. It is the greater luminary set in his mind; for of all graces, love is the greatest. "Love is the fulfilling of the law." "He that dwelleth in love, dwells in God, for God is love."
This is the sun of the soul. This sun comes to rule over the day. The regenerating man has his days and nights. It is day in the soul when he is awake and spiritually active; when the Lord, the Word, the church, the spiritual life and all that pertains to heaven are close and real to his consciousness. His soul is warmed by the Divine Sun and his mind enlightened by the light of the great love of God that is shining within him. We all have these day states. Then everything is bright and beautiful. God is near; the Holy Word glows with warmth; the church is a great reality, grand and beautiful; the sermon is full of instruction and help; the Holy Communion is the Sacrament of the presence of the Divine Humanity; and the members of the church come close in the bonds of a real spiritual brotherhood. This is the day time of regeneration; and the sun of the Divine love rules over that day.
But it is not always day in the soul of the man who is following the Lord in the regeneration. He has his nights as well as his days. It is night in the world, when the earth turns away from the sun. It is night in the soul when one turns away from the Lord and inclines to one's selfhood. We do this. Then the sun of the soul is not seen and its warmth is not felt. It is night. But in the case of the regenerating man it is not a night of thick, black darkness. The moon of faith rises high and full in the sky of his soul. He sees and walks by faith. The love of his day states is still there; he is simply in an obscure state. And in that state, faith reflects the light of love as the moon reflects the light of the sun. He still believes, although he does not feel the glowing warmth of love. God, the Word and the church are still realities. His faith is bright and clear. This is the moon that rules the night. And this faith is living. It is not mere intellectual assent to dogma. It is the soul's sight of eternal things, a belief founded upon a rational conviction of the truth.
So far as such a man's daily life, in its outward associations, is concerned, no change has occurred. He prays to His Father in heaven; he reads daily the Lord's Word; he attends faithfully to his duties as a churchman; he humbly partakes of the Holy Communion and in all external things acts as a Christian should. Only the man himself, the Lord and the angels know that it is night. He does not commit the folly of forsaking these things. He holds on to them, even if the love of them has grown less warm.
The man who turns away from and neglects the Lord and the church because he has come into night, shows, in an unmistakable way, that he never had any real love for his Heavenly Father and spiritual mother. There are men who mistake mere enthusiasm for genuine love. We have all seen them. The doctrines of the church solve their intellectual problems and they are fired by zeal for the church. They are zealous for the cause of the truth. But opposition arises, or persecution for the truth's sake; the world is indifferent to the things that seem so clear to them; night comes on, dark states in which their first love grows less ardent, and finally ends in cold. Then, they begin to doubt the truth, to question the Divine revelation. They are seen less frequently at the church service and finally sink into utter indifference. What does such a happening mean? It means that they never did really see the Lord as He is; that they never did really see the internal things of the Word and church. Their state was an external one, one of the understanding merely. But the man who has really come into day states who has in-mostly felt the movement and inspiration of the Divine love in his heart, when night comes to him, looks up to the moon and orders his walk and conversation by the light of faith, the lesser luminary, that rules the night.
But this is not all. It is said of God: "He made the stars also." The stars are distant suns, and the light from them travels over immense fields of ether in reaching our earth. They are God's beautiful symbols of spiritual knowledge which has come down to us from the past. The star the wise men saw was a spiritual star and symbolized the knowledge of the Lord's coming which had been handed down by tradition from the dim long ago. Much is said about stars in the Bible; and always they stand for the knowledge of spiritual things.
There come states to the regenerating man, in which faith is clouded, in which he cannot see clearly the Divine verities of religion. But no sane man loses his knowledge of spiritual things, especially his knowlege of what is taught in the Ten Commandments, his knowledge of what is right, of what is wrong.
Love may grow cold, faith may be darkened, but the knowledge that evils are to be shunned because they are sins against God abides. "He made the stars, also." The light that reaches a man from the spiritual stars, the knowledge of what he is to shun as sin and do as good, comes in the darkest night. It never fails.
And if in such a state one lives by star-light, shunning and turning away from the evils forbidden in the Lord's commandments and doing the good things they command, it will not be long before the moon will rise again in one's mental sky, giving one the light of faith, and later on, if one is faithful, the sun will rise again, and the Divine love fill and warm the heart. It is all wonderful, all the Divine guidance of the human lives that are committed to Him whose watchful care is never withdrawn from His child.
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THE FIFTH DAY OF CREATION
It requires a long time for one to realize that the good one does and the truth one believes and speaks are from the Lord alone. The consciousness that all genuine good and truth are from the Lord does not come until man has formed in his internal mind the principle of love to the Lord and the principle of faith in the Lord. These two principles are meant by the two great luminaries, the sun and the moon. These spiritual luminaries, set high in the heavens within, begin to give a living quality to the truths that are in the mind. These truths are meant by the waters, which are now commanded to bring forth abundantly the moving creatures that have life. The religious truths that have been acquired by instruction are stored in the memory like waters in the sea; and now that the sun of love and the moon of faith have been set in the mind, life from the Lord, through them, is communicated to the religious truths, which up to this point, have existed as mere scientifics in the memory. Warmth and light from above penetrate the waters of the mind, and the regenerating man begins to act from higher and purer principles. He is gifted with a higher motive. The change is an internal one, affecting the willing and thinking, thus giving a living quality to all the more external affections and thoughts.
The fishes and the fowls, that the waters are said to have brought forth, are symbols of what religious truths in our minds bring forth when brought under the influence of love and faith. Fishes are among the lowest order of animal life, and represent the moving, the life of the affections, the beginning of a real love for the genuine good of heaven. This affection is of a very external character at first; still there is something of the warmth and life of heaven in it. It is all we are capable of producing at this state. We must not expect too much in the beginning. Young people in the church are sometimes treated as if they were old in the regenerate life; and we often expect of them the high spiritual affections that belong to an advanced state of regeneration. This is a mistake, and has led to sad results.
Their first awakened affections are external; and as they are interested only in the things that are on the plane of the affections and that are active in their minds, they must, therefore, be held in touch with the church by the things that appeal to them. They cannot enter understandingly and affectionately into the deep things of the spiritual sense of the Word, nor into the depths of the doctrines of the church. They are not prepared for these things. But they are interested in the letter of the Word, and in the simple teaching of life in it. They are interested in a true and beautiful church service, in which they can take a part. It feeds their awakening religious affections; it holds and interests them. This is the explanation of the constantly growing interest in the church and its teaching our young people evince. The church, like a wise mother, adapts all its offices to their state of mind.
But the waters brought forth not only fishes but fowl flying above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. The birds are symbols of spiritual thoughts. At first our thought of spiritual things has much that is natural connected with it, and has to be freed from what is natural before it can rise above the earth and freely soar in the open expanse of heaven.
Scientists tell us that in the beginning the birds were part reptile and part bird, but that in the process of the evolution of animal forms of life, a complete separation was made, the reptile branching out in one direction as a typical reptile, and the bird rising out of the water as a typical bird. This doctrine of science has a beautiful correspondence. The reptile is the symbol of sensuous thinking, of thinking that is confined to the Sense-plane of the mind; and the bird is the symbol of spiritual thinking, of thinking that rises above the sphere of the sense life into the clear atmosphere of what is spiritual.
But at first our thought of spiritual things is connected with what is sensuous. This is especially true of young people. They are incapable of freeing their thinking from sensuous appearances. This is why the mere abstract doctrines of the church fail to hold their interest. They cannot follow the pure spiritual sense of the Word. And yet, if they are young people who have the atmosphere of the church in their homes, their thinking is not wholly sensuous; it has a spiritual element in it.
When we insist that young people should be taught the letter of the Holy Scripture, we mean that the letter is to be taught in a New-Church way; for as a New-Church scientist learns the facts, laws and phenomena of nature, as the materialist learns them, but learns to think of them as outward expressions of the Divine creative life that is present in all material forms and expressions of life, so the young people of the church, while they learn the facts and moral lessons of the letter of the Word, should, at the same time, learn to think of them as outward and symbolic expressions of a great underlying spiritual sense, which, when they grow to it, will unfold in all its beauty before their wondering minds. In other words, there is a New-Church way of teaching the letter of the Word, just as there is a New-Church way of teaching the natural sciences.
But there comes a time in the course of the mind's growth when its thinking is separated from what is natural or sensuous. The mental reptile and the mental bird separate. Natural thought stays on its own level and finds its development on its own plane, and spiritual thought rises and flies in the open expanse of heaven. Then we can come directly to the doctrines and think spiritually.
When this state of spiritual thinking comes, the great cardinal doctrines of the church can be taught, rationally received and confirmed. It is a mistake to attempt to do this before the faculty of distinct spiritual thinking has been formed. The cardinal doctrines of the church are meant by the great whales that were created.
When the doctrine concerning the Lord, the Word and Life are clearly fixed and confirmed in the mind, then the external man, the daily life, is imbued with new qualities. Things really living begin to appear, things that have in them a living spiritual soul of good affection and thought.
This is what is meant by these words: "And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living soul after its kind, the beast and the moving thing, and the wild beast of the earth after its kind; and it was so."
Then it is that the regenerating man begins to speak from a principle of genuine faith and to confirm in himself the good and the true. This prepares the way for the Lord to form in him that high and holy human quality that He calls "man."
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THE SIXTH DAY OF CREATION
The making of man, on the sixth day, is God's symbol way of telling us how the spiritual man is made and what he is when made. The spiritual man is a human quality of life, organized in the soul, and exercising its supremacy in the daily conduct seen from this Divine view-point, anything short of the attainment and exercise of this human quality of life is not man.
The sensuous thought of what constitutes man stops with his body. Doubtless this is what most people think of when they attempt to form an idea of man. They think merely of so much matter molded into the human shape and moved and animated by the mysterious force called life. It does not enter their minds that man is something apart from the human shape.
In a rude state of society what is called man is a well formed physical body, with the additional quality of physical prowess. In polite and cultured society, man is conceived to be a being endowed with charming and graceful dignified carriage. In the eyes of the law, one is a man when he has attained his majority. But none of these measurements has in it the Divine idea of man. None of these things is meant in this story by the words, "Let us make man."
Intellectual and spiritual excellence and supremacy are what God calls man. This is evident from the use of the term "man" in the Holy Scriptures. For instance, we read: "I beheld the earth, and lo! there was no man." This cannot mean that, in a physical sense, there was no man upon the earth. It means that the human shapes upon the earth at that time were without those intellectual, moral and spiritual qualities which constitute the Divine idea of what it is to be a man. Again we read: '' Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now and know, and seek in the broad places thereof, if ye can find a man; if there be any that executeth judgement, that seeketh the truth." Human shapes are not in themselves men. Jerusalem was thronged with human shapes, but man, in the sense of human quality of life, was not to be found.
The story of creation is God's symbol way of telling us of the creation of the spiritual man, how, stage after stage, He carries forward the great work of regeneration, until in the sixth stage, man, the fully regenerated man, comes upon the scene. It is a slow process, this making of man. Many stages of preparation must be passed through before it is possible for God to say: "Let us make man." This spiritual man, who results from the combats and labors of the regenerative work of the six days, from a principle of faith and love, speaks what is true and does what is good. He acts from love as well as from faith. He is a spiritual man. He is an image of God.
But this spiritual man whom God makes, through the process of regeneration, is male and female; for it is said: "Male and female, created He them." Do not let your thought drop to the plane of thinking of two individuals, for the story of the creation of the male and female is introduced to show the complete evolution of the two great elements constituent of the human mind, its understanding, with its intellectual faculties, and its will, with all its affectional graces and powers.
The male man is the Divine symbol of the understanding: the female man of the will and its power of love and affection. Man and woman, considered as individuals, are the two equal halves of a complete humanity. Neither standing alone is complete. It is only in the spiritual union of the two that the complete one exists. This is effected by marriage, in which each supplies what the other lacks. Here then is the symbol. It is the symbol of the understanding and the will. As man, as an individual, is incomplete, standing alone, so the understanding is incomplete, standing alone. It is only half of the mind. The man who lives merely in his understanding, becomes cold, hard and critical. As woman, as an individual, standing alone, is incomplete, so the will is incomplete, standing alone. The man who lives merely in his will becomes emotional, impulsive and blind in his judgment.
Marriage, marriage I mean, in the real sense of a spiritual union, a Divine Sacrament, of twain makes one flesh, one man. So marriage, the union of the understanding and the will in the individual, makes a spiritual man. This spiritual man is thus male and female. He is not all intellect, nor is he all emotion. He is both an intellectual and an emotional man. His understanding is turned toward the Lord's truth, and he delights in the sight and reception of it; it opens to him the wonders of creation, the wonders of the Bible, the wonders of the Incarnation and the Divine redemption, and he delights in the clear intellectual aspects of these great truths.
All this is the legitimate field of the masculine side of the mind. But he is also female. He has a will, a heart, an affectional side to his mind, and it must find a corresponding development. This female element must exist in the man that God makes in His image in order that the mind may have poise. Both elements are necessary.
The understanding must be formed to see and rationally comprehend the truth, and the will must be formed to feel and love the truth. Either one, standing alone, is fruitless. This is true, even of God Himself. For if God were love alone, He could not create anything; if he were wisdom alone, He could not create anything. The creative life, the creative power, results from the perfect union of Divine Love and Divine Wisdom in God.
A religion that is all feeling runs into wild emotionalism, into mere enthusiasm. A religion that is all faith, runs into mere intellectualism and spends its time in abstract thinking, in mere idealistic speculation.
No, when God said: "Let us make man in our image and after our likeness," the man that was made and the man that is made now, is the new man, born, not of the flesh, but of the spirit, with his understanding open to the light of heaven, and with his will open to the heat of heaven.
And marriage, the blending of thought and feeling, understanding and will, is the eternal union in the mind, which having its beginning on earth, grows more beautiful to all eternity.
But in the making of this spiritual man, there must be a willing and intelligent co-operation on man's part, with the Lord. That is why it is said: "And God said, let us make man." This does not mean that God, the Father, thus addressed the Son and the Holy Ghost. The real truth is that the Lord is addressing the individual. The spiritual man is not made by a Divine fiat, nor is he made by an arbitrary Divine election or predestination. God and man are personally distinct from each other. Man is created out of the dead substance of matter, as to his body, and out of the substance of the spiritual world as to his soul; and then he is endowed with freedom and reason. He can co-operate with God. God cannot make him into a spiritual man unless he does co-operate with Him. He stores up in us, during child life, things good and true, the possibilities of spiritual manhood; and when we come to the years of responsibility, the Lord says to you and to me and to all who hear His voice: "Let us make man." God operates; we co-operate.
Here is the man of the world, absorbed in mere worldly things. He is in the human shape; he has attained to some degree of intellectual, moral and civil life; and God says to him: "I will operate upon your soul; you co-operate by keeping my commandments, and thus let us, I operating and you co-operating, make man, the spiritual man in you, who as he comes into power, will have dominion over all lower things, subduing and bringing them into order."
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THE SABBATH DAY OF CREATION
The first chapter of Genesis describes, in its spiritual sense, the creation of the spiritual man. It tells us of the great processes by which, from being merely natural, man becomes spiritual. Here is where Genesis begins. Out of the merely natural state, in which man loves himself and the world, it carries him in his spiritual growth until there is implanted in him a genuine spiritual life, affections and thoughts, regulated and determined into act by a clear understanding of the laws and rules of religious life and duty. He then reflects the Divine wisdom and becomes an image of God. This process is what is meant by the six days of creation.
During this growth, from one state to another, man's regard is for the Divine truth. All that he wills, thinks and does is inspired by his understanding and love of the truth.
This is why the name God alone is used in the first chapter of Genesis; for by the name God, the operation of the Lord as the Divine truth is meant.
The spiritual man is therefore the product of the Divine truth. He receives the truth by an outward way into his memory. Then he begins to think about it, to reason about it; then it is lifted into the light of his understanding and he becomes intelligent in the doctrines of the church.
The next step he takes is the act of compelling himself to live according to it. He begins to order his life and conversation by the truth which he understands. As he does this, the Lord, by the Holy Spirit, flows into him, by an interior way, and gifts him with affections for the truth. These affections are ultimately united to the truth and he becomes a spiritual man. This is the way the Lord makes the spiritual man.
When made, he is the image of God, and differs in every particular of his life of motive from the natural man.
But the spiritual man, while in God's image, is not in God's likeness. Thus there lies above the plane of the spiritual degree of the internal mind of man a region of possible affection and thought, which when it is formed and developed, results in a celestial man, a man that is as distinct from the spiritual man as the spiritual man is from the natural man.
The celestial man is not made by the truth, although every act of his life is in harmony with the truth. He is open to the Lord in his heart-life; and while far from being wildly emotional, is at the same time moved and impelled by the Divine good.
He is under no necessity to reason about the Divine truth, but what he believes, thinks and does are consonant with the very highest exercise of spiritual reason. Truth falls immediately into the embrace of his love. He sees it from within. What faith is to the spiritual man, perception is to the celestial man. He is intuitive, and comes by an internal way, into the deepest things of the Divine wisdom. He is childlike in his trust in the Lord. Yet his understanding sees in clearest light the deeper things of the church that are hidden from the wise and prudent.
The law of the Lord is inscribed on the tables of his heart of flesh. The Lord is very being to him; he lives and moves in the atmosphere of the Divine love. When he reads the Lord's Word, he feels the personal atmosphere of the Lord in it. His conversation is in heaven. Such is the celestial man, such are the celestial people, the love-people, of the world.
The celestial man is the Lord's Sabbath. God's truth has done its work. He has had his spiritual combats; and now love crowns the whole spiritual work with its life and touch and fills the soul with its Sabbath calm and peace.
The Sabbath of the Bible was the seventh day. Think of the meaning of the number seven. The word seven is used in the Bible as the number of wholeness and perfection. For instance, when it is said in the Bible: "In that day seven women shall take hold of one man," the thought expressed is that of all the affections of the heart, the pure love of the heart, going out to and seeking guidance by the Lord in His Divine Humanity. In the book of Revelation it is said that the Lamb in the midst of the throne had seven horns and seven eyes which are the seven spirits of God.
The Lamb is the symbol of the Lord in His Divine Humanity; and the number seven applied to the horns and eyes of the Lamb stands for the perfection and holiness of His power and His wisdom. The seven devils cast out of Mary of Magdala, denote, not her sinfulness and moral degradation, but the fulness of her regeneration.
So of the seventh day of the creation, it stands for the perfect work of regeneration, for the sabbath of the soul. The love man is the Lord's sabbath, His rest. He has the rest and peace of the Lord in his soul. Repose and heavenly tranquillity characterize his life. He feels the, delights of wisdom and enjoys the peace of exalted virtue.
The Jewish dispensation of religion was merely the representative of a church. It was held in connection with the Lord and heaven, not through any internal quality of life, but by the symbols of its ceremonials and ritual; and in that representative of a church, the seventh day stood for two things: (1) The peace which came to the Lord after He had fought against and subjugated the infernal powers of darkness; and (2) the rest that comes to all who, by taking up the cross and following Him in the regeneration, attain to the rest and peace of heaven.
When we understand the difference between the celestial man and the spiritual man, instantly there dawns the reason for the two and conflicting accounts of creation given in Genesis. The first account describes the rise of man out of the natural into the spiritual state. The second account describes the rise of man out of the spiritual into the celestial state. The spiritual man is made by the truth; and because Elohim means God as to the Divine Truth, that name is used in the first account. The celestial man is made by a double operation, the operation, of love and truth; and because Jehovah means God in the operation of His Divine Love, therefore it is introduced in the second account of creation. Jehovah, Elohim is used to designate the fact that the celestial man is the love man, the likeness of God, and that with him all truth is from good.
The love door of the celestial man is open to the Lord. Love is first with him. It flows from the Lord into his will; and because his understanding is connected directly with his will, love from the heavenly Father, passes immediately into the understanding where it is intellectualized and becomes truth from good.
Such was the man of the seventh day of creation. There are but a few who at this day come into the fullness of the perfect life of the seventh day; but it exists for all who do faithfully the work of the six days. The New Jerusalem means, in the highest thought of it, the coming again to men of this beautiful celestial life of the long ago golden age. It seems far away, but it will come again. Of the seventh day it is not said: "And the evening and the morning were the seventh day." For when the Sabbath of regeneration dawns, the work is done; and one unending day of spiritual peace and joy reigns in the purified soul.
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THE CREATION OF ADAM
The second chapter of Genesis instead of being, as is supposed by rationalizing critics, another account of creation, is the description of the Divine process in the carrying forward of the spiritual creation of man to the higher and celestial plane of life.
The celestial, or love man, different from the spiritual, or truth man, is formed and moved by the Divine love. It is because of this that the name Jehovah, or Lord, is placed in the foreground in the second chapter of Genesis; for the name Lord stands for God as to His Divine love. But in what sense are we to view the man whose formation is so minutely described in this chapter? Is he to be conceived of as an individual; or is he to be regarded as the type of a community?
The verbal expressions of the story, as well as the dictates of sound reason, show that the man of the Genesis story is the communal man. This is, of course, away from the ordinary interpretation, but there are several circumstances mentioned in the story that clearly indicate this as the true conception. For instance, it is said: "The Lord God called their name Adam, in the day that the Lord God created them." Also Cain, after he had slain Abel, said: "My punishment is greater than I can bear; and it shall come to pass that every one finding me will slay me." This statement certainly implies the existence of society.
There is another statement in the letter of the story which clearly indicates the existence of human society, When Cain went into the land of Nod, he is said to have known his wife who bore him a son whom they named Enoch and for whom a city was built and called after his name. If there existed no human society, where did Cain's wife come from? Where were workmen procured to build a city? Those whose existence, at that time, are inferred in the letter of the narrative, had no connection with and bore no relation to Adam.
The fact is, the story is a Divine parable. Adam is a race-name. It stands for a community of men and women who by the processes of regeneration, described in the first chapter of Genesis, were gradually separated, spiritually, from the general mass of human beings, and who had come into those excellencies of character which gifted them with the moral image and likeness of God. In other words, by the creation of Adam is meant the formation of the first church on this earth, the MostAncient Church.
Surely there is nothing irrational in this thought. It was then, as it was when the Lord came into the world and established the Christian Church. It was formed of all who accepted Him, and who, by their acknowledgment of Him, were separated, in motive and belief, from the outlying mass who rejected Him.
The name Adam occurs in the second and third chapters of Genesis a great many times; and in every instance it is put with the definite article, "the Adam." This shows that the name Adam is not the appellation of an individual. It is a nominal expression of kind. The Adam, or the man, indicated the community, the society, the church; and the idea is that of a human association of people possessing the graces and excellencies of genuine religion.
The people who formed this church of the childhood of the race, were of a heavenly genius. Their whole being was alive with the consciousness of the Divine love. They reached up to the highest things; and the life of the Lord descending through them, gave a living and human quality to the most external things of their lives. This coming down of the Divine life into the most external plane of their being and gifting it with a human quality is what is meant by the Lord forming man of the dust of the ground.
Keep the mind on the spiritual plane of thought, for by the dust of the ground is not meant natural dust, but natural dust is used to symbolize that which in itself is dead and external. Not only the souls of these most ancient people, but their minds, yea their very bodies shared in the influx and formative power of the life of God. The Lord dwelt in their souls, and through their souls illuminated their minds, and through their minds filled their very material bodies with sensations of joy and delight. The very dust of their mental ground was made alive, imbued with a human quality. How much more worthy of the Divine Creator this conception is! What a profound interest it creates in the Divine Book!
And the breath of lives breathed into the nostrils of Adam, how easy, now that we see that Adam stands for a highly developed heavenly society, to see in that breathing the symbol of how the Divine and heavenly life came to the people who constituted this first church! The nostrils, through which odors, good or bad, are sensed, stand for the mental faculties of perception. The people of the long ago golden age had an internal and living perception of what was good and true. The Lord's life of goodness and truth came to them as a matter of inward perception. It was breathed into their souls; and it came, not as the breath of life, but as the breath of lives, for that is what is said in the original text.
Man has a will and an understanding. Today the understanding is separated from the will and made capable of an intellectual elevation above the will; but this was not the case with the Adamic man. His will and understanding were united. Good from the Lord flowed, in an internal way, into his will and passed immediately into his understanding and became there, in an intellectualized form, the truth to guide him. Good in the will, truth in the understanding were God's breath in the most ancient man. It was in him the breath of lives, the life of good, and the life of truth from that good.
When we speak of the church formed among these people we must think of it as a heavenly state of life in them. They had no outward book or revelation. They saw what was good and true from perception. They had, that is, the more interior among them, open communication with heaven; and from heaven they knew the heavenly correspondence of the objects of nature that surrounded them. Their internal sight made one with their external sight. When they looked upon natural objects, they saw what we see, but, different from us, their minds were immediately elevated to see the heavenly meaning of natural objects.
Nature to them was what the letter of the Word is to a well-instructed New Churchman, a vast symbol of the Divine mind. They could ascend from Nature to Nature's God. Heaven was then close to the earth and they saw it mirrored in all the beautiful forms of natural life. Their whole being, soul, mind and body, was open to the Divine influxes. They lived and moved in the current of the Divine harmonies. And when we read of this Most Ancient Church, we are not to think of cathedrals and church structures, of priests, rituals or outward sacraments. All these came when man had fallen away from his primeval state. The people of the Golden Age lived simple pastoral life. The father in the family was the head and the priest, and the church was an innocent, yet wise life in the hearts, and revelation was the voice of the heavenly Father in their souls.
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THE GARDEN EASTWARD IN EDEN
The people of the Golden Age, who formed the Most Ancient Church, were celestial. They were open in their heart life to all the influences that came to them from their Heavenly Father. They had no memory of the truth apart from their life. Their life was really their memory. Their life of love and faith came to them as a constant inflowing from above, and as their external mind acted in complete harmony with their internal mind, there was nothing in them to resist or act against the Divine in-flow of life. They were the love, people of long ago.
The state of love in which they lived, love to the Lord and to each other, is meant by Eden. The Eden of the Golden Age was therefore not a natural territory or tract of land, but a heavenly state of love, with the tranquillity and blessedness of soul that belong to and result from it. Of course the people who formed this church of the childhood of the race, had a local habitation in the world, and that natural place was what we know as the land of Canaan; but Eden was not a natural place, but a state of love. It was the kingdom of heaven in men's hearts, the church, as to love, in human lives. It was within and not outside.
There is no difficulty attending this thought of Eden if we keep in mind that the Lord in this story is telling us, not of the natural life of an individual, but of the spiritual life of a race. It is the history of the church, of the celestial church, that we are reading about in this story; of the church, not as an ecclesiastical organization, but as a state of love and faith in human hearts. This is the key to the right understanding of the subject. The church was in the most ancient people, and Eden was the love-side of it, the love that filled and animated their will. We have seen that in the man of the celestial church, the will and understanding were united. The man of that church had no memory knowledge, no understanding, no faith, no intelligence apart from the great love life of his will. He thought as he loved, and his thought life or intelligence was the form his love assumed in his understanding. Here we see the spiritual meaning of the garden planted eastward in Eden. The garden in Eden was the heavenly intelligence that was from and in the heavenly state of love denoted by Eden. Eden is one thing and the garden is quite another thing. We are told in the church writings that the celestial man, because he is in a state of supreme love to the Lord, a love that is from the Lord and directed to the Lord, comes into a state en rapport with the angels and is, as if he were one among them. " In this state all his thoughts and ideas of thoughts, and even his words and actions are open even from the Lord, and contain within them what is celestial and spiritual. "Such was the celestial man of the Edenic age. He was open to the Lord. His intelligence was from love. He was in the true order of his life. His intelligence came from within. It was the form of his love. This was the garden planted in Eden.
It is true that this intelligence was not of the external character that belongs to our idea of intelligence. It was not an intelligence formed from knowledge of external science; for the people of the Golden Age did not study matters of mere science. Their intelligence was the intelligence of love. They understood the deep things of the Divine life.
Remnants of this intelligence may be found today in the simple good people of the world. Their hearts are right; their love is pure and single; and while they lack much, and in many instances all the knowledge of external matters of science and philosophy, so highly prized by the man of the world, yet they have an inward intelligence that opens them to see and comprehend the very deepest things of the church. They are the babes of the kingdom of heaven to whom the Lord reveals the things that are hidden from the wise and prudent of the world. Such, only in a deeper sense, was the heavenly intelligence of the people of the Most Ancient Church. Their garden was planted in Eden.
Think of what is meant by the statement that the garden was planted eastward.
The east, as a spiritual quarter, stands, in the supreme sense, for the Lord. In Ezekiel we read: "He brought me to the gate, even the gate that looked the way of the east, and behold the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east." We are told in the church writings that it was because of this correspondence of the east to the Lord that there prevailed, in the representative Jewish Church, before the building of the temple, the holy custom of turning the face to the east when praying.
But the east not only represented the Lord; it also represented the reception of intelligence from Him. Here lies its meaning. The minds of the Adamic people were turned toward the Lord. He was in their love; and their love of Him formed and turned their thoughts toward Him. This is the true origin of orientation. Largely the internal has been lost and only the physical act remains; but among the people of the celestial church there was a real turning of their minds to the Lord and a real reception of intelligence from Him. He was the east they turned to; and light from Him was the intelligence that made their beautiful garden.
But this was not all. There were beautiful fruit-bearing spiritual trees in the garden. "And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree desirable to behold and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil."
The garden eastward in Eden being the heavenly intelligence of the man of the celestial church, the trees of the garden are the perceptions from that intelligence, perceptions of truth and good. Every tree desirable to behold! Don't we see that they were the perceptions of truth? The eye of the mind is the faculty of understanding, the intellectual seeing of the truth.
We must not think of these most ancient people as being without intellectual guidance. They possessed the very highest form of intelligence; and from it, in an internal way, saw the very deepest truths. But truth with them was not a spiritual plaything. It was a vital thing of life. They beheld it as a desirable tree to look upon because it was from good and led to good. "A tree good for food!" How easy to see that it was the perception of good!
Truth and goodness, as matters of perception, formed the very life of these people. They did not reason about truth; they perceived it. They did not reason about good; they perceive it. Open to the Lord and the heavenly influxes, they spiritually sensed what was true and good as we sense naturally the odors of flowers. They had no system of doctrine, all things came to them from within.
And the tree of life in the midst of the garden, was the highest of all their perceptions, the perception of the Lord as very Being, their very inmost life. They ate of the fruit of this tree, lived from the Lord's life, had a sensation of His life in the midst of all their intelligence. For this tree was in the midst of the garden. The Lord's life which is His love, they made central in all their willing, thinking and doing. This was the tree of life.
But while all this is true, yet in order that man may have freedom, he must be in the appearance that life is in him. He must never confirm that appearance as if it were true; but he must be held in it. This is what is meant by the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It was there in the garden, but to turn to it and seek to enter into heavenly things from self would result in spiritual death. Thus it was said: "In the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die."
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THE RIVER OF EDEN PARTED INTO FOUR HEADS
The people of the Adamic age had an intuitive perception of the Divine symbolism of nature. The lands and rivers of the earth were to them representative of the internal things of heaven and the church. They saw from within that the world of nature was a theatre representative of the world of mind and that there was a living and vital relation of correspondence between the two worlds. Remnants of the knowledge of this correspondence of natural things to spiritual are found among us today. Christian people speak of Zion, Jerusalem, Canaan and Jordan with spiritual ideas attached to each name. In using these names they do not think of natural cities, lands or rivers, but of what they spiritually stand for.
With the Adamic people correspondence, the relation of natural objects to spiritual realities, was a universal language. Here we have the key to the meaning of all the natural objects mentioned in connection with the Edenic story and people. As Eden was not a natural place, but a highly developed state of heavenly love; as the garden eastward in Eden was not a highly cultivated piece of ground, but a beautifully cultivated state of heavenly intelligence, so the river of Eden that parted into four heads was not a natural river, but the Divine wisdom of the Lord, which flowed into the mind, performing for it a service fitly represented by the service which a river renders to the natural country through which it courses its way.
The thought of a natural river was, in the minds of the most ancient people, instantly changed into the thought of the inflowing Divine wisdom, and the variety of forms the Divine wisdom takes on as it flows into finite minds, they regarded as its streams, and gave corresponding or symbolic names to them. This very thing has been preserved in the ancient mythologies. The consecration of the fountains of Pindus, Helicon and Parnassus to the Muses and other references, in mythology, to rivers, their sources and results, had their rise from a perception of the correspondence of a river to the Divine wisdom.
In our holy volume of Divine Scripture, this symbolism is clearly set forth. Those who find deep satisfaction in receiving instruction in the truths of Divine wisdom are said "to drink of the river of God's pleasures." Ezekiel's vision of the stream that issued from under the altar of the Lord's house and which widened and deepened as it flowed on, until it became a river that no man could pass, what was it other than the Divine wisdom received by man and heightening as he learns to love and obey it, until it attains to what no mere finite mind can comprehend?
St. John's vision of the river of life proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb, was it not a symbolic representation of the Divine wisdom as the Word going forth from the Lord to men? The Psalmist says: "There is a river the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God." What is this river? Truly, it is the Lord's Word, which is His wisdom. And the streams of that river, what are they? Truly, they are the particular truths, truths informing the will, enlightening the understanding and enriching the life, that go forth from the Divine wisdom in the Word as streams from a river.
Now, in all these instances none of us has been thinking of a natural river. We have been thinking of the Lord's Word, which is the source of all wisdom to angels and to men. Why, then, should anyone think naturally of the river in Eden?
The river in Eden is mentioned as the symbol of the Divine wisdom of God. There was a tree of life in Eden, and it was the perception of the Lord as the very life of the will, the Divine love itself, from which the will's affections existed. But the Lord was not only, as to His love, the life of the affections which belonged to the Adamic people, but He was also the life of the thoughts that belonged to their understanding. God's wisdom as the very life of their thinking, was the river of life to them, as God's love as the very life of their willing was the tree of life to them.
Have you noticed the fact that no name is given to this river? Why is it a river without a name? Its branches are named, but the river itself bears no name. Why is this so? It is so because the Divine wisdom, as it is in God, cannot be expressed to finite thought. There is no finite term by which it can be defined. For this reason the river is not named. But when the river entered Eden it was parted and "became into four heads."
The nameless river entering Eden symbolizes the inexpressible Divine wisdom finiting itself, adapting itself to human reception and thus presenting itself to the various faculties of the mind and there finding what distinguishes it in the human quality of loving and thinking.
It is not difficult to see this, for every one can see that the Divine wisdom of God cannot fall into finite vessels, and that in order to be understood by the finite mind must, in some sense and degree, enter the faculties of the mind.
Here we come to the distinct degrees of the mind, to that sublime psychology which is a part of the Lord's revelation to the church. For we are taught to think of the mind as a definite spiritual organism comprising distinct degrees or planes of mental life.
In general, the mind is formed of three degrees, which we designate as celestial, spiritual and natural, but there is really a fourth degree. It is the rational, which exists between the spiritual and the natural. As the Divine wisdom flows out of God to man, it is thus parted, like the river in Eden, into four heads. It enters these four degrees of the mind, and wisdom formed in these four degrees is apprehensible by man. The heads of the river can be named. Parted into four heads, the streams of the Edenic river were called Pison, Gihon, Hiddekel and Euphrates. Each of these names stands for a distinct form and activity of the Divine wisdom as received into the finite mind.
As a Hebrew word, Pison means literally a change or extension, but spiritually the name stands for the operation of the Divine wisdom upon the human will. As this operation goes on the will undergoes continual changes in its quality, constant improvement by being lifted up. And as this is done, the Divine wisdom directs its affections in the performance of wide and extensive uses. This is Pison, change and extension.
Gihon, as a Hebrew name, means a stream or a valley of grace. Spiritually, this stream of the river of Eden means the understanding's perception, through the truth, of all heavenly graces. Wisdom from God is the only thing that enables the understanding to distinguish between the graces of heaven and the moralities and virtues of a well-ordered natural life. The grace of heavenly life is a quality that belongs to a purified understanding , an understanding that sees how to classify the virtues of life, distinguishing those that are merely moral and civil from those that are the result of the inflowing wisdom of God. This is Gihon, Valley of Grace.
Hiddekel means a sharp voice. Here we have the Divine wisdom pictured to us as the influence which illuminates the rational faculty, the inflowing reason as the sharp voice that guides, by instruction, the rational degree of the mind. In the Eden story Hiddekel flowed toward the east of Assyria. Assyria is the great Bible symbol of the rational mind. The word itself means beholding. The rational is the seeing faculty of the mind. The rational faculty receiving the stream of Divine wisdom by which like a voice speaking from within, it is led to look up to God and revelation in all its processes, is Hiddekel.
Euphrates, the fourth stream from the river, means literally to make fruitful. The natural mind, the whole plane of natural life, when it receives the guidance of Divine wisdom, is made fruitful in good works as the true and ultimate expression of the heavenly life. Thus the Lord's wisdom flowing into the natural mind and rendering it prolific in works of genuine charity is Euphrates.
Such is the spiritual meaning of the river in Eden parted into four heads. It is the symbol way of telling us of the influence of the Divine wisdom upon every department of the life of the Adamic people. There was a stream for the will (the celestial); there was a stream for the understanding, (the spiritual); there was a stream for what lies between the spiritual and the natural, (the rational,) and there was a stream for the natural mind and life. The whole mind and life were reached and affected by the wisdom of the Lord which thus adapted itself to every plane of their being.
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THE SLEEP OF ADAM: THE CREATION OF EVE
When there dawns upon the mind the true spiritual character of these early chapters of the book of Genesis, one feels less and less inclined to call attention to the difficulties standing in the way of one who attempts to invent theories of a merely literal interpretation. God's purpose, in the very structure of these early records, is so apparent that the mere calling of attention to their literal contradictions seems almost sacrilegious; and for that reason we have not dwelt at all with that phase of the subject but have held the mind on the high plane of their spiritual meaning. It is not a destructive, but a constructive work the church has been called to do. We need therefore, to come directly to the Lord's own opening of the internal sense of the story of Adam's sleep and the creation of Eve.
The Adamic Church gradually rose to the very fullest enjoyment of all the love and intelligence that belong to the highest state of regeneration. The deepest heavenly love filled the heart of the church. That love was Eden. The highest heavenly intelligence illuminated the mind of the church. That intelligence was the beautiful garden planted eastward in Eden. The deep perceptive faculty this Most Ancient Church was endowed with, enabled it to receive instruction from the Lord in an internal way. The voice of the Lord was heard in the garden, that is, the guidance of the church was not effected by following an outward rule of life, but by an inward listening to the Lord's voice as it uttered its message in their souls.
It was a beautiful life, too beautiful, indeed, for us, to whom the Lord must come in such a different way, to form any adequate idea of it. The man, the Adam, dwelt alone in the garden. How significant this is when once we learn what is meant in the Bible by living alone!
Think. Those who look to the Heavenly Father and trust in all things to His guidance, are, in the Bible, said to be alone. External things of mere doctrinal knowledge, things that make one conscious of one's individuality, are not in the affections and thoughts of such highly developed people. They live alone with the Lord. Balaam , in speaking of the future of Israel as the Lord's people said: "Lo the people shall dwell alone." Moses, on one occasion, in speaking of Israel said: "Israel shall dwell in safety alone." A prophet of the olden time, exhorted Israel, saying: "Arise, get you up to the wealthy nation, that dwelleth without care, saith the Lord, which have neither gates nor bars, which dwell alone." Of course, we all see that by dwelling alone was not meant individual solitude. So of Adam. As Adam is the name of the church of the childhood of the race, his being alone means that the celestial church lived alone with the Lord. That it was led and influenced solely by the Divine guidance from within.
We have no means of determining how long this single leadership of the Lord, this dwelling alone with Him, lasted. A very considerable length of time must have elapsed before the Adamic people began to turn to self and thus away from the Lord; but there ultimately came a posterity of the Most Ancient Church that inclined to their proprium or ownhood, that entertained the thought of and desire to possess the consciousness of an individuality apart from the Lord.
This thought, this desire, grew from generation to generation, until finally the ownhood, the personal individuality, had such prominence given to it that the sole leading of the Lord was no longer possible. This state, when it was formed, is what is meant by the words: "And the Lord God said, it is not good that the man should be alone."
This does not mean that in the original creation the Lord had failed to supply all the needs of man and that upon the discovery of man's need for human companionship He set to work to remedy the defect. It means that a state had arisen in the Adamic Church in which the church no longer felt that it was good to live alone with the Lord.
The Lord respects, in all the dispensations of His providence the freedom of man. So when the Adamic Church no longer desired to be led solely by the Lord, He did not interfere with the church's freedom. It would not have been for the good of the church if the Lord had compelled it to live alone with Him.
But while the Lord permitted the Adamic people to descend into this more external state, He did not turn away from them. He followed these most ancient people in their decline and raised up the means of regenerating them on the plane to which they had fallen. Hence we read that the Lord said: "I will make an help meet for him." Here we come to the story of Adam's deep sleep. Don't think of a man going to sleep physically. The sleep described here was a spiritual sleep. St. Paul exhorts spiritual sleepers where he says: "Awake, thou that sleepest, and Christ shall give thee light."
The mind is not simply a thinking faculty; it is a spiritual organism, created in discrete planes of consciousness. This was true of the people called Adam. Now, when the Most Ancient Church ceased to desire to be alone with the Lord, the very highest plane of life in that Adam fell into a state of spiritual sleep. The Lord's love was no longer active on that plane. Deep sleep brooded over it. This was Adam's sleep. Falling into this sleep, the Adamic people would have utterly destroyed all heavenly life in themselves if it had not been for the tender mercy of the Lord. They inclined to their selfhood, and it would have swallowed them up. Think of the Lord's mercy! Adam sleeps; the highest life of the church has ceased; but while Adam sleeps, the Lord takes one of his ribs and closes up the flesh instead, and that rib, He builds into a woman. So runs the allegory. What does it mean? Remember, it is the religious condition of the Most Ancient Church that is treated of in this story of the rib built into a woman, remember that, and the whole narrative becomes clear.
The rib of Adam stands for the ownhood, the individuality, of the earliest people. This ownhood, in itself, was dead, without any spiritual life; but it was capable of being vivified with life from the Lord. Thus taken out of the most ancient man, as the means of arresting his spiritual ruin, and raised into a new condition and animated by another life, it could come to see that what is good and true are to be believed and practiced in daily life, by man as of himself, yet with the acknowledgment that the will, the understanding and the power to do so are from the Lord alone.
When the ownhood is thus vivified, it is no longer a hard bone, no longer a rib. It becomes soft, pliable, fair, yielding and lovable. These qualities are meant by the woman, beautiful and innocent.
This is not, therefore, the story of the origin of woman; but the woman is introduced into the story because, in all the tenderness and beautiful qualities of high and noble womanhood, she represents what was true of the ownhood of the most ancient people after it was taken out of them and raised to newness of life by the Lord. They could love this proprium, and the Lord could still retain His hold on them. It was, of course, a more external state than the one pictured by Adam alone in the garden; but it was not an evil state. In coming into it, this posterity of the Adamic Church, forsook many internal things. This is what is meant by the forsaking of father and mother. But the church could cleave to the wife, to the pure and the good, as it saw them, on a more external plane.
To teach us that while what we have described was a more outward state of the Most Ancient Church, yet not an utterly fallen and evil state, it is said: "And they were both naked and were not ashamed." There was no guilt up to this point. It was only the beginning of the fall that went on until the Lord came.
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THE SERPENT OF EDEN
The primeval state of man, of man before he became the subject of regeneration, is described in allegorical terms, as the earth, without form, and void, with darkness brooding over the face of a great deep. The six days of creation symbolically set forth his gradual rise, through the work of regeneration, out of this low condition into one of the highest degree of spiritual and celestial excellence. His fall was a gradual return to his former natural state; but when he returned to the ground from whence he was taken, he was no longer innocent in his naturalism; for now he had become evil. As there were steps that led up to the high state man reached in his Eden home, so there were steps that led down to the moral degradation that ultimately expelled him from Eden.
We must think of these most ancient people as involving in their spiritual, mental and physical structures the same constituents of humanity that we possess; but in them, all the elements of their being were in harmony. They, when fully regenerated, were open, from their inmost soul down through all their mental degrees of life, yea even to the most external planes of their bodies, to the descending life of the Lord. Everything was in perfect order.
The first movement downward came when a certain posterity of the Most Ancient Church felt an inclination to exalt and make prominent their individuality. In the beginning this was a mere suggestion, but it grew with succeeding posterities of that church until they felt it was no longer good to live alone with the Lord.
This led to Adam's deep sleep, the closure of the higher planes of the mind to the inflow of the Lord's life. It is not that the most ancient people did not possess a proprium, in the beginning; for without a proprium, an ownhood, they would not have had personal otherness from the Lord, and would thus have been incapable of regeneration. They always possessed an ownhood; but it was not made prominent, nor did they incline to it until a posterity came that wished to be led as of themselves.
This, in the beginning, was not an evil thing; for, at first, it did not take them away from the Lord, but only gave them a consciousness of individuality in following Him. The "rib", the ownhood, was taken out of man and built into a woman imbued with innocence and thus rendered capable of serving man in his regeneration. But this state was much lower than the one described by Adam living alone in the garden; and it ultimately led to the utter ruin of the Most Ancient Church.
Up to this point, the sensuous nature in the most ancient people, yielded willing obedience to the dictates and impulses of the celestial principles of the mind. Like an obedient servant, the sensuous plane of their minds ministered to the attainment of the highest life. It kept its subordinate position. The whole plane of sense life was designed by the all-wise Creator to serve the higher life of the soul. The senses are inlets for certain kinds of knowledge, doors through which the outer things of the world enter the mind; and while they are kept subordinate to the higher principles of the soul, they serve the use of elevating and enlarging the mind; but when they are turned to and exalted above the intellectual and spiritual things of life, they close the mind to heaven and open it downward to the world and thus invert all true order.
This sensuous plane of life, the degree of life that belongs to the senses of the body, is what is meant by the serpent in the Eden story. It is said in this story: "Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field." The animals to which Adam gave names stand for the affections and thoughts of the most ancient people; and by Adam naming the animals is meant that the man of the celestial church perceived the quality of all such affections and thoughts. And now, when it is said that the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field, the thing meant is that the senses are more deceptive than any other quality of human life. They are the lowest and the least to be depended upon. They call for constant watchfulness on the part of the higher powers of the mind; they need constant direction and guidance. They belong to the outer extremes of human life and are open directly to receive impressions from the world, by which the memory is furnished with things which it can use with persuasive art in favor of the delights and cupidities of mere bodily life. The natural mind is formed by deposits from the world through the senses of the body: and the natural mind thus formed reasons from the sense plane, and thus rejects the truth of revelation, and doubts all Divine things. The senses cannot be trusted. The judgments and conclusions formed from them are always erroneous. Every wise man is called upon, in reaching the truth, to correct the impressions received from without through his senses. They cannot be followed. With the people of the most Ancient Church, this sensuous plane, while they remained in their integrity, was as wise as a serpent, because it admitted into itself the correcting light of the higher principles of the mind; but as succeeding posterities of that church began to incline to the sense life, to look to the senses for their interpretation of life, they came more and more under the influence of the sensuous side of their being, until all the inner avenues of life were closed.
To whom did the serpent make its appeal? To Eve. Eve is the symbol of the selfhood. The selfhood imbued with innocence, was at first a help-meet; but now it had grown so large in the regard of these most ancient people that it became a means by which the senses were able to involve them in complete spiritual ruin.
The tree of the knowledge of good and of evil was not a literal tree, for we can all see that the knowledge of good and evil could not have been the product of a tree. The knowledge of spiritual things is communicated to man by the Lord. It comes by revelation, given either through an internal dictate or by a written word of Scripture. Every man who does any serious thinking knows this to be true. He feels himself incompetent for such a discovery as the knowledge of spiritual things.
With the most ancient people this knowledge flowed in from the Lord and they were forbidden to attempt to gain it by any external methods. Of all the trees of the garden they might eat, excepting the fruit of the tree of knowledge. Why this prohibition? The fruit of every perception of goodness and truth, they were permitted to appropriate; but they must not appropriate to themselves the knowledge that belongs to God alone; for to eat of this tree meant a mental appropriation by which they would be led to believe that spiritual knowledge was the result of their own self-derived intelligence. But the Eve in this posterity of the Most Ancient Church, the ownhood, had opened the way for the pleading of the sense life. Knowledge, as a tree to see was planted by the Lord in Eden; for it is lawful to see the tree of knowledge , to seek to learn and comprehend the things of knowledge ; but it never is lawful to eat of the tree of knowledge because that act stands for making knowledge a result of our own efforts. It meant intellectual conceit. "Ye shall be as gods," the serpent said. This posterity of the Most Ancient Church yielded to the deception of the sense life. Men began to think of themselves as wise from themselves, to be as gods. The senses won out. "Eve ate and gave to her husband, and he did eat." The selfhood, the will, yielded to the senses; and as a result, the intellectual faculty consented. Innocence was lost. The soul was closed to God. The sense of guilt came. Conscience took the place of perception. They knew they were naked. Eden closed to them, and they were "sent forth to till the ground from whence they were taken.
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THE CURSE UPON THE SERPENT, THE WOMAN AND THE GROUND
Eating of the tree of knowledge is assigned, in the Genesis story, as the reason for the expulsion from Eden; and when we see that Eden was the state of heavenly love, which had been gradually formed in the hearts of the Adamic people, and the garden in Eden the heavenly intelligence of their minds, and the tree of knowledge the appearance that life was their own, and that eating of that tree meant that they confirmed and appropriated the appearance as a truth, and thus came to regard knowledge of spiritual things as self derived, we can see that nothing less than the loss of their heavenly love and intelligence could result.
The question has been asked: "If the serpent represented man's sensual nature, which finally led him astray, why did the Lord put such a snare in man's way?" In answering this question, we must lay aside the current ideas clustering around the term "sensual;" for as used in the writings of the New Church, it does not stand for the lusts and appetites of the fallen mind, but for that plane of the mind which sees and concludes through the senses of the body. It means the sensuous degree of man's mind. This sensuous degree of the mind is the sense plane of life, the sense-consciousness, that which makes us conscious of the external world and its life. It is plainly to be seen that the Lord could not have created man without this plane of life. He would not be man if it were left out of his constitution.
With the primeval Adamic man, this plane was in perfect order. It was upright. It looked to the higher element of spiritual reason for guidance. It was an obedient servant.
The posterity of the Adamic people who lost their heavenly Eden, inclined to this sensuous principle. They paid an undue regard to that, which on its own plane, was designed to minister to higher things. They came to prefer the things of mere bodily life to the things of the soul. This led them to eat of the tree of knowledge.
They then came to believe in their own goodness and wisdom; they became wise in their own conceit; they attempted to enter into Divine and heavenly things through a cultivation of their sense-life. Thus that which was a necessary endowment became, because of an abuse, the source of the greatest evils.
This could not have been prevented without violation to that freedom of will in which the Lord holds His children. Where the will is not free there can be no moral responsibility.
The dreadful crime committed by this posterity of the Most Ancient Church, the exaltation of their own good above God, the turning of their minds downward to the senses and the consequent loss of all the heavenly excellencies that had crowned and beautified the lives of their forefathers, is visited with fearful curses. How are we to understand this? The idea generally prevails that God became angry at man when he transgressed His law, and that He visited these evils upon man because of His anger. This cannot be true. Anger has no place in the Divine mind. It is as utterly foreign to God's nature as sin itself. There may be here the appearance of anger, but it is only an appearance. It cannot be a reality. Anger when attributed to the Lord, expresses the aspect under which He appears to the perverted mind of man.
The wicked man thinks God must be angry when His laws are broken, because he forms his ideas of God from his own state. He believes God does what he knows he would do if he were in God's place. Here is a principle by which to explain all that is said in the letter of the Bible about the anger of God. But the serpent was cursed: the woman's sorrow was to be multiplied, and the ground, cursed of God, was to bring forth thorns and thistles. What do these things mean?
The serpent of this story is, as we have seen, the sensuous side of the mind. This mental serpent, which in the beginning, was upright, led the self-hood of the Adamic people astray and involved them in dreadful evils. It thus turned away from its subordinate position; and then sank to the lowest depths. It, the sensuous plane of the mind, reached a deeper degradation than any other fallen principle in the Adamic people. The curse, which is said to have consigned it to drag its slimy length upon the ground, was simply the utterance of the Divine truth as to the state of the sensuous mind after it averted itself from the Divine order in which it was formed.
This side of man's mind, which in the beginning looked up to higher principles, now crawled close to the earth and was fed by merely earthly and corporeal things. The higher degrees of man's life were closed and men began to live a sensuous life believing only the things that reported to their minds through the outer doorways of their bodily senses. They became sensuous men, a generation of serpents, mere naturalists, to whom God and spiritual things were mere sounds. Ah yes, this curse upon the serpent is seen even in our own day in men and women who are seeking the satisfactions of life in the gratification of bodily appetite, in mere pleasure and natural diversion.
The enmity between the serpent and the woman and her seed, what is it? It was the separation that was then effected between the sensuous life and the heavenly selfhood. These two planes became antagonistic. There originated then an antagonism which has persisted in all the succeeding generations of men. We all know what it is. St. Paul graphically describes it: "The flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh, and these are contrary one to the other." It has been the conflict of the ages, and will continue, until the mystery of sin is ended in the final triumph of redemption.
And the curse upon the woman, what was it? Certainly it was no Divine infliction. The woman of the Edenic story was the symbol of the selfhood, which the Lord mercifully granted to the Adamic people when they could no longer live alone with Him, and into which He inspired what was lovely and pure. But this selfhood, yielding to the senses, fell. Its entire character was changed. Thereafter it would be hard to bring into the conduct the states of heavenly life. It would be difficult to even conceive of spiritual things, and great spiritual sorrow and temptation would be experienced in bringing the high truths of heaven into the daily life. Is it not so? How difficult it is to lead men to see that there is a spiritual world! How hard it is for them to believe in the supersensuous life! This is all the result of man's fall.
And the curse upon the ground: "Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth." The ground referred to is the external natural life. Out of this ground, the Lord, in the beginning, formed man; now he returns to the ground from whence he was taken; but it brings forth evils which are spiritual thorns and false principles of life, which are spiritual thistles. These things became man's hereditary nature; they grew up spontaneously. And the curse upon the man! He was to eat bread in the sweat of his face. No longer would good come directly from the Lord by a gentle inflowing into the will. The order of influx was changed. Only through spiritual toil could heavenly life, the good of heaven, be procured. It has been so ever since. Man came under a different law, the law expressed by St. Paul where he says: "Work out your soul's salvation with fear and trembling." Only in this way can we expect to procure and eat of the bread of life.
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THE EXPULSION FROM EDEN
What a wonderful parable this story of the first pair is! We have seen them in their beautiful garden home, happy, because innocent. We have traced their decline, step by step, to their final act of disobedience. Now we see them driven from their beautiful garden to till the ground from whence they were taken. It is all a wonderfull Divine parable.
We have grown familiar with the thought that Adam is the name of that portion of the then existing human race which by process of spiritual and celestial unfoldings, was formed into the first church established upon the earth; and we have learned to think of Eden as the name given to the beautiful love-life they lived, and of the garden, eastward in Eden, as the name given to designate the heavenly intelligence they possessed; for like a luxuriant garden, their minds, always open to the Lord, brought forth every form and order of celestial intelligence.
In this love-state, with all the beautiful forms of intelligence which clothed it, the Adamic people lived for many generations. Then the love of leading themselves began to take root and grow in their hearts. That love the Lord modified by imbuing it with the affection of looking to and acknowledging Him in the life of acting as of themselves; and when he showed this marvelous love for them, He called it taking a rib out of Adam and building it into a woman. This mercy of the Lord arrested, for a while, the fall of this church, but the decline once entered upon, went on until by turning to their senses for the interpretation of life, the members of this church of the race's infancy, fell entirely away from their heavenly Father's guidance and lost their love for Him and their intelligence of heavenly things, and were expelled from Eden.
The steps in this moral decline were slowly taken, and many generations came and passed away before these early people came to believe that they had life and intelligence from themselves. The story of the talking serpent is introduced into the parable to symbolize the sensuous life of these most ancient people. This sense plane, good when subordinated to the higher principles of the mind, they exalted to a degree of dominance and began to listen to its pleadings. This led them into evil.
The serpent has ever been regarded as the symbol of sensuous thought and life. In Phoenecian mythology we have the story of an egg surrounded by a serpent. It was the Phoenician way of expressing the fact that life, in its very beginning, is beset with danger from sensuous thoughts and affections. The hair of Medusa was transformed into serpents after she had violated the sanctity of the temple of Minerva. This myth expressed the law that the ultimate things of life become merely sensual in those who violate the holy things of their soul life. Hercules, strangling great serpents, while as yet he was an infant in his cradle, and afterward destroying the hydra, is a mythological picture of how innocence destroys every approach of sensuality, and how through the labors of regeneration every form of evil is overcome.
The serpent of the Edenic story represents the same things. Listening to its subtle pleading on the part of Eve was the selfhood inclining to the mere sense plane and finally yielding to its seductive influence. This could not have been prevented without taking from the most ancient people that freedom of will which enabled them to live a responsbile human life. In this way the final fall came about.
The appearance that they lived of themselves, that life was their own, the Adamic people confirmed as a truth. Little by little did they bring into their thinking the importance of their individuality; little by little they receded from the inward guidance of the Lord until finally senuous reasoning seduced them into believing that outward and visible things were more real than inward and invisible things; that it was folly to believe that life came to them from God when it was evident to their senses that it orginated in them; that it was foolish to look up to the guidance of an invisible being when their sense-consciousness clearly revealed to them the fact that they guided themselves. So it was these appearances, which they exalted into the region of truth, and adopted, that led them ultimately to believe that they were good and wise of themselves, gods knowing good and evil.
What could result from this dreadful state but their expulsion from Eden? This expulsion, however, was not an arbitrary act on the part of the Lord. It was the result of their closure to the inflow of the Lord's life.
The story of the Lord driving the first pair out of Eden is only the parable way of describing the way things appeared to the fallen people of the Most Ancient Church. The people of whom this parable treats had effaced those heavenly graces which were once the glory of their lives. They could no longer respond to the Divine love. They had closed, plane after plane, their minds to the heavenly influxes, and their expulsion from Eden was their own act.
We all know that as evil loves grow in man's heart they expel him from any real delight in the society of innocent and pure-minded people. He does not love what they love. He seeks his own. So it was in the long ago. By closing their hearts to heaven the fallen people of the Adamic age withdrew from the sacred influences of goodness and separated themselves from heaven as a bad man expels himself from the society of the virtuous and truth-loving.
But a great mercy was shown them. We are told of it in the story of the cherubim with the sword of flame stationed at the east of the garden to guard the way of the tree of life. Don't think of a literal cherub, nor of a literal sword of flame, but instead think of the mercy and providence of the Lord over those most ancient people, the Lord's watchful care lest they from mere sensuous reasoning, should seek to enter into holy things and profane them, and by so doing bring the deeper curse upon themselves.
The great miracle of the separation of the understanding from the will had not as yet been wrought, so their wills must be guarded lest in them there might occur the mixture of good and evil. Such a mixture is profanation; and that sin is incurable because it closes the very capacity for the reception of God. The gate of their wills must be guarded; and the loving providence of the Lord in thus protecting them against this sin of profanation is what is meant by the cherub at the east of Eden. The cherub stood there to guard the way of the tree of life, "lest they put forth their hand and eat of the tree of life and live forever."
How remarkable this language is! Theologians have thought that it was God's way of preventing man from attaining an immortal existence in this world. It was not that. So long as one does not mix good and evil in his heart and thus profane holy things, he is in a saveable state; but if he becomes guilty of deliberate profanation, he commits the sin that cannot be cured in this world nor in the world to come. To eat of the tree of life after they had turned their hearts to the world, to put forth their hand and pluck the fruit of that tree, meant to attempt to enter into interior things, holy things, from their ownhood and own power; and to do this would mean to live forever in evil, in a state of utter profanation. Seeing this, what a mercy that a cherub should stand there to prevent such an awful crime!
And here in the east of the garden appeared also the flaming sword, turning itself every way to guard the tree of life. This flaming sword was the self-love of those fallen people, with its insane cupidities and persuasions which desire to enter into holy things, and by so doing profaned them. The sword of flame turned every way, and thus, prevented profanation.
It is the same today. The Lord's providence prevents not to be understood as individuals, but as symbolizing two different classes of religious sentiments and doctrines that grew up in the Adamic Church. So long as the Adamic Church maintained its integrity, the minds of its members were united, and all the various faculties of their minds existed and acted in harmony. The will loved what was good, and from that good, the understanding perceived what was true.
But when the Adamic Church turned its mind out and down to the sense plane and sought to enter into interior things from mere sensuous knowledge, the two faculties the will and the understanding, ceased to act as one. The harmony of the moral creation was broken up. The will and the understanding began to act against each other, and in course of time there developed two types of churchmen. One of these types was called Cain; the other was called Abel.
The Cainites were people who had an intellectual knowledge of what was good and true, but exalted that knowledge into mere faith and claimed that faith without works, was the all of religion. Thus arose the heresy of faith alone in the Adamic Church.
Abel was the name given to those, who, while they did not disparage faith, nor ignore the place spiritual knowledge held in the church, saw that charity was superior to knowledge and the mere doctrine of faith. Thus side by side these two sects grew in the Adamic Church, the Cainites claiming that faith was a more excellent and saving quality than charity, and the Abelites claiming that charity was the great and distinguishing mark of churchmanship. Both of these sects professed to serve the Lord, but each had a different principle and motive in that service.
Cain was the firstborn of Adam. It was natural that he should come first; for in eating of the forbidden fruit, the Adamic Church chose knowledge as a thing above obedience; and in thus placing the cultivation of the intellect above the cleansing of the heart, the first outcome, the first spiritual conception and birth of the church, could not have been other than the doctrine of faith as a thing separate from charity and forming the sole ground of acceptance with the Lord. All who accepted this doctrine were denominated Cain.
Abel was the second son of the Adamic Church. He stands for the doctrine that charity is the supreme characteristic of the truly religious man. The Abelites were those who cultivated the good of charity in their hearts and practiced it in their lives. They loved the Lord; they loved each other. They had faith, but it was not made the prominent thing in their religious life. Charity of life was their principal quest. They were humble, gentle, kind and loving. They believed, but they laid the emphasis upon the loving and doing side of religion.
Here, then, we see the two branches into which the great Adamic Church was divided, Cain being the branch that placed the all of religion in mere faith alone, and Abel the branch that stood for charity as the embodiment and true expression of faith. Look at the respective occupations of these two brothers. Cain was a tiller of the ground. Abel was a shepherd. Cain a tiller of the ground! How full of meaning in relation to what he stands for that expression is! The ground mentioned here is the external or natural plane of the mind; and by Cain tilling this ground is meant the labor bestowed upon the cultivation of the external mind in making it fruitful in the production of theories of faith as a thing apart from the daily life. The Cainites did what the same kind of faith-alone people did and do in the Christian Church. For instance, the Apostolic Church worshipped one Lord, and had one faith and one baptism. It was a true church. But the schismatic bodies formed in it invented theories of the Trinity, theories of Atonement, theories of Salvation, theories of Faith, almost without number. What was the age of the Councils but a long period in which Cain did nothing else than till the ground? The various and conflicting doctrines of Catholic and Protestant theology are only the reward of the labor bestowed by Cain in the Christian Church, on the ground he has tilled. It was thus in the Adamic Church. The intellect of the Cainites was busy tilling the ground of faith alone. Abel was a shepherd. Spiritually thought of, a shepherd is one who exercises the good of charity; and as a "keeper of sheep," Abel stands for what this truly religious branch of the Adamic Church was daily doing, keeping the affections of their hearts pure in the sight of their Heavenly Father. The Abelites employed their time in promoting the life of charity in themselves and in others. They were keepers of spiritual sheep. Not despising, not undervaluing the faith side of religion; for they knew that without faith it was impossible to please their Heavenly Father; yet they made the life of religion to consist in that principle of charity that as St. Paul says, "Vaunteth not itself and is not puffed up."
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THE OFFERINGS OF CAIN AND ABEL
The offerings of Cain and Abel have suggested a difficulty to those who know that ceremonial worship did not have its rise until a later period, that is, until the Ancient Churchwas established among the descendants of Noah; but no difficulty really exists. The original Adamic Church had an internal perception of the correspondence of natural objects to spiritual realities; all of their compositions were structured according to the law of correspondence and their mode of conversing was correspondential. They employed the objects of nature to express their spiritual ideas. This was especially true of the animal kingdom. When, for instance, we read of Adam giving names to the animals that are said to have been brought to him, we are not to think of natural names given to natural animals, but instead we are to think of the church giving a celestial quality to the various affections and thoughts of the mind. So of the fruits of the ground. They were, to the Most Ancient Church, symbols of the fruits of the mind. The worship or offering of Cain and Abel was not therefore what we understand by ceremonial worship. This did not begin until in the Ancient and succeeding churches, men lost the spiritual ideas of worship and formed a worship with the things that in the beginning were spoken of only as symbols of celestial affections and thoughts.
The period in the Adamic Church pictured to us in the story of Cain and Abel, was not far enough removed from the original state of the church as to require ceremonial worship. This state came, however; and when it did come, the things, the names of which only were mentioned in connection with worship, began to be used. Here was the origin of outward sacrificial worship. In the original Adamic Church, Cain was the name given to those who made religion to consist in faith without charity. The people of this Cainitish sect in the Most Ancient Church who adopted this doctrine had their own mode and principle of worship. At first there was something of charity among the Cainites. They did not begin as they ended. They underwent a gradual decline. Each step they took was away from their original regard for charity, until they finally eliminated it entirely from their lives and from their worship of the Lord.
This is pointed out in the allegory itself. It is said: "And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord." Adam when expelled from the garden was sent forth to till the ground from whence he was taken. The ground Adam was sent forth to till was the external man. The external man is the ground on which the celestial and spiritual states of the internal man rest. They must be grounded in what is natural; for the external mind is to the more interior things of the soul what the earth is to the body.
The original Adamic Church was made of the dust of this ground, which means that as the most ancient man rose into the life of celestial regeneration, a human quality was given to the most external plane of his mind. The Lord, in the gospel, uses the ground in a spiritual sense. He said: "The kingdom of heaven is as if a man should cast seed into the ground." And in the parable of the Sower, He speaks of the seed falling on "good ground." It is plainly to be seen that in these instances, the Lord used natural ground in a symbolic sense as denoting the external mind of man.
Now, notice one important thing. Cain did not bring to the Lord an offering of the fruit of seeds sown in the ground. He brought of the fruit of the ground and not the fruit of the seeds. Do we see the point? The fruit of the ground represented simply the works, the deeds, of the external man. By the external man, the church writings do not mean man's physical body. In the psychology of the church, the external man is formed of the affections, thoughts and knowledge that are gathered from the natural world and which form the exterior plane of man as a spiritual being. The natural body, strictly speaking, is no part of man. It is only a material scaffolding within which the external man and the higher spiritual man are being reared.
The internal man is created on a level with heaven. He is so formed that he can see and love the things of heaven. The external man is created on a level with the world and is formed to see and love the things of the world.
In a perfectly regenerated man these two, the internal man and the external, act as one. But in the man whose loves are evil, the internal man is closed to heaven and his external man only is open and active. The quality of the external mind in such a man is evil. He is separated, in the motive of his life, from all that is of heaven. He becomes a worldly man, no matter how much memory knowledge he may have of spiritual things; and the good he does is done from himself and not from the acknowledgement of the Lord. This is what is meant by the ground of which Cain was a tiller. The religion, therefore, of the Cainites had not anything from the Lord in it. It was the fruit of the ground, mere knowledge, mere form, a body that had no soul in it. How could it be acceptable unto the Lord? It was heartless. Faith alone can never be a thing of Divine regard. Faith as a thing by itself is mere self-derived intelligence. It belongs to the external man separated from its proper internal, the fruit of the ground, and is not accepted by the Lord. This is why Cain's offering was rejected.
Look now at Abel. The Lord had respect unto Abel's offering because he, as representing the branch of the Adamic Church principled in charity, brought to the Lord the offering of a sincere and good heart. Under the ceremonial law, offerings taken from the flock were lambs, sheep, rams and goats. These stood for the good things of charity. The Abelites were full of innocence and charity. They worshipped the Lord with their whole heart. Their faith was only the form of their charity, and their charity consisted in shunning evils as sins against God and in doing good from Him.
There is no real charity without innocence; and innocence is the quality of singlemindedness, a willingness to be led by the Lord alone. As Abel stands, in this allegory, for all who preserved in the church the principle and life of charity, his bringing to the Lord, as an offering, the firstlings of the flock, which were lambs, therefore the quality of the worship of the Abelites that made it acceptable unto the Lord was innocence. All that made them men of charity with its innocence of life, came to them from the Lord, and they acknowledged Him in every form of their charitable and innocent lives, and worshipped Him from the good of charity.
The Abelites were not without faith, but their faith was a living and doing faith, a faith made perfect by love. They knew their Heavenly Father's will; they believed His word; but they also did their Heavenly Father's will and Word. This is why the Lord had respect unto Abel's offering.
When Cain's offering was rejected, it is said: "He was very wroth and his countenance fell." How expressive this is! Faith alone has in it the wrath that is to come to those who adopt it as a principle of religion. Cain's anger is the evil that fills the place in the heart that charity should occupy. The falling of Cain's countenance expresses the dreadful state of those long-ago faith-alone people of the Adamic age; for the changes that take place with the countenance indicate corresponding and causal changes in the mind. With Abel it was different. Worship from charity was acceptable to the Lord; and the Abelites must have experienced in their hearts the sweetness of their communion in worship, with their good and Divine Father in heaven.
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THE DEATH OF ABEL: CAIN A FUGITIVE AND VAGABOND
The Cainitish sect in the Adamic Church had gone on increasing in wickedness; for it is as true of a false and heretical sect, of a declining church, as it is of an individual, that unless it repents of its evils and abandons its false teaching, it will continue to sink lower and lower in the moral scale.
This was the case with the Cainites. At first they were not wholly bad. They had, it is true, adopted a false doctrine, but in the beginning they retained something of charity. But the faith-alone doctrine for which they stood involved the deadly falsity that religion was merely for the intellect. And this involved falsity gradually led them to less and less regard for charity, until it culminated in the utter rejection and death of charity in their hearts and lives.
This is clearly pointed out in the allegory: "And Cain talked with Abel, his brother; and it came to pass when they were in the field that Cain rose up against Abel, his brother, and slew him."
The idea expressed here is that of an angry dispute. Cain was the aggressor. He talked or disputed with Abel. He rose up and s!ew him. We must think of two distinct branches of the Adamic Church, one of which was called Cain and stood for the doctrine that faith is the essential and first thing of the church, and the other called Abel, which stood for the doctrine that charity was the essential of the church. These two branches of the Adamic Church were involved in a theological controversy, and each was seeking an ascendency over the other.
It was not unlike the controversies that have arisen in the Christian Church. The original catholic church of Jesus Christ was one. St. Paul gloried in the fact that it had one Lord, one faith, and one baptism. Rome grew to be the most important Episcopal See in the church, and the Bishop of Rome saw the way clear to establish himself in the chair of St. Peter as the universal bishop of Christendom, and he did it. But his claim was denied by the Eastern Church; and after several centuries of bitter controversy, the Eastern Church broke off communion with the church in the west and installed a Patriarch at Constantinople as the spiritual head of the Eastern Church. These two branches of the original Catholic Church, which died as Adam is said to have died, have been in one sense the Cain and Abel of the Catholic Church. Rome, as Cain, has been arrogant and intolerant. It has destroyed the principle of charity and has had no mercy for those who dared to differ in opinion from its edicts and bulls.
The same thing has been realized in Protestant Christianity. The long and angry disputes that took place between the Lutheran, Calvinistic and Arminian sects in the Protestant Church come readily to mind. Like Cain and Abel, these sects have talked together in the field; but it has been vehement and invective talk.
Think of the strife, the battle that was fought between Luther and Erasmus. Luther rose up like Cain. He said: "That exasperated viper Erasmus has again attacked me." Servetus dared to controvert one of John Calvin's pet theories; and, like Cain, Calvin rose up, caused him to be apprehended, accused him of blasphemy, had him condemned as a heretic and consigned to the flames.
These facts of church history help us to an understanding of the story we are considering. The Cainites were faith-alone people. They had no regard for charity. The Abelites were of a sweet and affirmative disposition. They had no quarrel with faith as such; but they did see that standing alone, it was a worthless, dead thing. They would have nothing to do with faith alone. They saw where it would lead those who adopted it. The Cainites would have nothing to do with charity. Religion, with them, was a matter of faith apart from the life. This was the dispute in the field.
This division having entered into the Most Ancient Church, doctrinal controversies arose in many forms, and those who ranged themselves on the side of faith alone drew to themselves great numbers who saw in the Cainitish doctrine that which favored their lusts and pride of intelligence; and as a consequence the Abelites, who loved peace and were actuated by an affirmative spirit, suffered at the hands of the larger and more powerful sect of Cainites. They submitted to persecution and sought in all their trials to exhibit the true spirit of religion. Still Cain rose up. Think of that expression: "Cain rose up." You see in it the idea of exaltation, of superiority. This is precisely the state that faith alone produces in the mind. It exalts creeds above life-forms above the genuine spirit of religion. And those who believe that faith, mere doctrine, is the essential of the church are exalted in their own esteem. They rise up in their regard for doctrine and form and claim to be superior to those who differ from them.
Our own beloved church is not entirely free from this spirit. We are often tempted to place more importance upon a correct knowledge of doctrine than upon a correct life. It is very difficult for some of us to acknowledge that one may be in the life of the internal sense of the Word without an intelligent understanding of the internal sense of the Word as given in the church writings. We have had many disputes along these lines. We must guard against this dreadful state; for whoever is in good, from the Lord, comes into the spirit of the Word when he reads it. We must entertain no unkindly sentiments against those who may differ from us in doctrine.
This is what the Cainites failed to do. They tried to establish the pre-eminence of faith, and they finally did it, but it was done at a dreadful cost. "Cain rose up and slew Abel, his brother." The story of the natural murder is introduced into the allegory to represent the spiritual murder that had been committed in the hearts of the Cainites. Abel is murdered in all who destroy the life of charity in themselves by exalting faith above it. So when the Cainites had slain Abel in their hearts, when they made faith the essential of the church, they rested not until they had exterminated the Abelites from the church. Abel was slain. We hear nothing more of him. Faith alone ruled men's hearts.
What could come upon the people who perpetrated so dreadful a spiritual crime but the evils that are represented by the curses upon Cain?
The Lord is represented as asking Cain, "Where is thy brother Abel?" This question conveys the idea of an internal dictate to the conscience of those who had slain charity, as to what had become of it. It means this: "There was once peace and tranquillity in the church; now there is discord and division; what has become of charity? These things could not exist if charity were alive and active. Where is charity?
But the faith-alone people of the long ago, while they stood convicted by this dictate, instead of repenting of their crime, made an effort to justify it. Cain said: "Am I my brother's keeper?" This expressed the utterly fallen state of these Cainites. They had no regard for charity. "What have we to do with charity? Our business is to defend and establish faith."
Then came the curses. The ground would not yield its strength; and Cain would become a fugitive and a vagabond. It was so. The external mind of the Cainites produced heresy after heresy, each one more dreadful than the former, until this branch of the Adamic Church perished in its own evils.
Cain became a fugitive. The spiritual idea is that of one who shirks his duty. This is what the Cainites did. They ran away from every demand of duty. Their wills were turned away from the Lord, they ran away from the practice of goodness. Cain also became a vagabond, a wanderer. It was so with the Cainites. They had no settled spiritual habitation. Their understandings had no settled conceptions of right. These are curses, but they were not Divine inflictions. They came as the result of the rejecting and slaying of the principle of charity. "Evil shall slay the wicked."
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CAIN IN THE LAND OF NOD: THE BIRTH OF ENOCH
After Cain had slain his brother Abel, he is said to have "gone out from the presence of the Lord." The word presence does not express the idea intended to be conveyed. The true rendering is face. "And Cain went out from the face of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod toward the east of Eden." This describes the spiritual result, which followed in the Cainite sect consequent upon the destruction and complete elimination of the principle of charity denoted by Abel.
We can all see that no one can be separated from the omnipresent God; for it is written: "whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up to heaven, thou art there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. Yea, darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day; the darkness and the light are both alike to thee."
From this we see that something deeper is involved in the statement "that Cain went out from the face of the Lord" than is indicated by the mere letter. What is the deeper meaning?
The Divine Word frequently speaks of the Lord's presence, also of His face; and, thought of spiritually, these two expressions mean very different conditions. The understanding is the created receptacle of the Lord's truth: and it is by means of the Divine truth in the understanding that man perceives the Lord's presence. The will is the created receptacle of the Lord's love; and it is by means of the Divine love in the will that man sees the Lord's face. "Presence," then, refers to the understanding and "face" to the will.
The sect called Cain, in this story, retained many truths in the understanding; and in that sense did not lose the Lord's presence; for He was present by means of their knowledge of truth; but this sect departed entirely from the principle and life of charity; they averted and turned their wills away from the Divine love; and that is what is meant by Cain going out from the face of the Lord.
A man's face is an index of his heart. He may prevent his thoughts from appearing before men, but he cannot prevent the affections of his heart from showing themselves in his face. Modesty cannot do otherwise than blush when it is offended. Guilt, when brought home to a man, makes the face turn pale. This is a law. God's face is therefore used in the Bible, to denote His love. Thus all who are in deep charity of life see the Lord's face. The Cainites had departed from charity; they were in mere faith alone; therefore Cain, the name given, to the sect which separated from the Adamic Church, and which exalted faith above charity, lost the perception of the Divine love, went out or away from the Lord's face.
Going farther and farther away from the thought and practice of charity, they came into a state of mind represented, in this allegory, by the Land of Nod. This land was not a geographic locality. It means almost the same thing that Is indicated by the "far country" in the parable of the Prodigal Son. It is an untranslated Hebrew word, and means literally a state of exile and vagabondism. Cain said of himself: "I shall be a fugitive and vagabond in the earth." This, as we have seen, indicated the internal state of the Cainites. Their hearts ran away from every obligation of charity and their understandings had no settled convictions on questions of right and wrong. This was their spiritual state.
Now, it is a spiritual law that one's internal state will ultimately lead one into an environment that corresponds to it. This law worked a change in the spiritual environment of the Cainites. They withdrew from the influence of the Divine love and came and dwelt in an external state denoted by the land of Nod. When a man gives way to doubt and uncertainty in regard to the things of faith, he becomes a mental wanderer and has no spiritual habitation; and if goodness is excluded from the heart at the same time, such a man begins to regard all matters of faith and religious truth as things of mere human speculation. No man can retain a clear belief in the truth unless he is in the endeavor to live a life of charity. The faith of the disobedient man is a wandering thing; he is driven about by every wind of doctrine. Faith without charity is therefore weak and unstable, and the heart has no defense against the inrush of evils of every kind.
This was realized in the lives of the Cainites. This is what is meant by Cain going out from the face of God and dwelling in the land of Nod.
But notice one thing: The land of Nod was toward the east of Eden. Here we see a great mercy. The east is the symbol of the Lord, the source of all spiritual heat and light. Eden is the symbol of the love that turns the mind toward the Lord and disposes it to receive light from Him. So when it is said that Cain dwelt in Nod toward the east of Eden, there is conveyed the idea that there still remained with the Cainites the capacity of knowledge concerning what was genuinely good and true. Their understandings were toward the east of Eden. Their minds were not, at this time, wholly closed against the knowledge of truth: They still retained the capacity of knowing the truth.
We see this in our own day. There are men who are driven hither and thither doctrinally, who are in fluctuating and doubtful states; and yet they dwell toward the east of Eden, have capacity left for believing in the good and the true. All such can be rescued. Many such have been rescued and brought into beautiful states of faith and life. But they must be rescued. If not, they finally close the way toward the east of Eden and come into the dreadful state that results from the infernal marriage of evil and falsity in their minds.
This happened to the Cainites. It is told in the story of Cain knowing his wife in the land of Nod. The wife is introduced, into the story of the spiritual decline of this sect of the Most Ancient Church, to represent the state of it when it went out from what is denoted by the face of the Lord.
The faith that belongs to the understanding is as a husband and the love that belongs to the will is as a wife. In a state of regeneration, the faith of the understanding is married to love in the will. This is the heavenly marriage of good and truth. But in the unregenerate, falsity in the understanding is married to evil in the will. This is the infernal marriage of evil and falsity. The former constitutes heaven, the latter constitutes hell.
The Cainites were in faith alone; Cain's wife was the affection in the heart for that doctrine. It was there from the beginning; for it is not said that he found and married his wife in the land of Nod, but that he knew her in the land of Nod.
What does this mean? It means that the Cainites came into a moral state in which they made prominent, confirmed and were conjoined to the affection in their hearts for the doctrine, for the heresy, of salvation by faith alone. This became the permanent state of the people called Cain. They were closely conjoined to the affection that grew up in their hearts for the persuasion of faith separate from charity.
The heresy of faith alone became then the parent of other heresies. Enoch, who is said to have been born to Cain, was another heresy that sprang up in this schismatic branch of the Most Ancient Church. And from it other heresies descended, like sons from a father. Thus it is said: "Unto Enoch was born Irad; and Irad begat Mehujeal, and Mehujeal begat Methusael and Methusael begat Lamech." These names stand for derivitive heresies in the Cainite line of departure from Adam.
The city which Cain is said to have built, and named after his son Enoch, represents the doctrine which the Cainites constructed as an intellectual dwelling place for the heresy of faith alone. This very thing has been done over again in the Christian Church. The doctrine of the vicarious atonement, and the imputed righteousness of Christ, whereby the sinner is saved by mere faith alone, is the city Cain built for his son in Protestant Christianity.
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THE BIRTH OF SETH: HIS DESCENDANTS: ENOCH'S WALK WITH GOD
The Cainitish, or faith alone branch of the Adamic Church, ended in Lamech. Lamech is represented as saying to his wives: "Hear my voice, ye wives of Lamech; hearken unto my speech; for I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt." Lamech is not the name of an individual. The name stands for a process which we call vastation. Vastation is of two kinds. With the interiorily good, there takes place a vastation, or separation from them of external evils and falsities, things that were not of their inner love or life. And with the evil, there takes place a vastation or separation from them, of all good and truth. This is the judgment into which all come after death; for in the other life one is divested of the moral qualities, be they good or evil, that do not form a part of one's inner life. This same law obtains in the church.
The Cainites having adopted the principle of faith alone , having rejected charity as of no consequence, began to undergo the process of spiritual vastation. This extended through many generations, each generation extinguishing more and more the principle of faith, until the vastation was complete. All faith, among the Cainites, petished; all charity disappeared. This complete vastation was personified under the name Lamech. The end had come. The very semblance of religion disappeared. This sad state was expressed in the words: "I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt."
The very memory of the truth perished among the Cainites and every impulse of charity died. Nothing more is said of this sect. It had its rise, ran its course and died.
But the Lord never leaves Himself without a witness in the world. So we find that there came what may be called a Reformation in the original Adamic Church. We read: "And Adam knew his wife again, and she bare him a son, and called his name Seth; for God hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel." Here arose the Sethite branch of the Most Ancient Church. This branch of the church was gifted with a new principle of faith; and from it there was to be developed a true charity of life.
Seth represents not only the new principle of faith and the charity that was implanted in it, but also the people who embraced the new faith. Abel represented the charity which, in the beginning, was regarded as the chief thing of religion, but which was destroyed by the false teaching and evil living of the Cainites; but now Seth is raised up to take the place of Abel whom Cain slew. A new faith was given, that from it another branch of the original church might come into the life of charity.
We are led to believe that charity was cultivated by the Sethites; for we are told: "Then began men to call upon the name of the Lord." This reformed church did not fully restore the charity that was represented by Abel; for the charity that came with Seth was not of the same quality as that which was destroyed by Cain. Charity, with the Sethites, arose more from an intellectual dictate and was more external than the charity which Abel represented. The channels and fountains of impulsive love were closed, and as a consequence, the religious life was lived from a more external principle.
This reformation, like all reform movements in a declining church, did not continue in its integrity. It arrested the decline for a while, as the Protestant Reformation did in the Christian Church, but as the Protestant Church broke up into almost innumerable churches or sects, each sect inventing new creeds and forms of worship until the end was reached in the final judgment, so the Sethite reformation gave rise to many sects; and among them, continued to decline, until it ended among a people called Lamech. The Lamech, with whom the Sethite branch of the church ended, is not the Lamech with whom the Cainite branch of the church ended. They were distinct and separate races, but bore the same name, because they represented the same thing, namely the vastated state of the church.
At the time treated of in this chapter, there had grown up a great variety of doctrines around which ranged a great many sects that had severed all connection with the original Adamic Church, and which were distinguished from each other by appropriate names, much like what we see today in the Protestant Church. Each sect was personified. Thus Seth represented the new principle of faith out of which was to be formed a new charity of life. He also represented the people to whom it was given. Seeing this, it follows that those, in the genealogy of Seth, represent distinct branches and lines of the reformed church of the Adamic Age. Here we reach an important feature of the antediluvian history, I refer to the extraordinary ages the story assigns to Seth, Enos, Cainan, Mahalaleel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah and Lamech.
Commentators, both Jewish and Christian, have labored in vain to reconcile the longevity of these so-called antediluvian patriarchs with science and the dictate of reason, but have utterly failed. The discussion of their attempted explanations would not prove of any interest to us, who know that the number of years given as the age of these supposed patriarchs, when they either begat sons or died, stands for the moral quality of the sect they respectively represent. We are not reading of persons but of heresies and sects.
One thing, however, is true. As these heresies were embraced by different races of men, they must have persisted for many hundreds of years; and some of them must have been longer lived than others. There might be an historic basis for the idea that the ages assigned in this story cover the periods in which these heresies prevailed, although that certainly was not the Divine purpose in the use of the numbers employed. Religious systems are often given the names of their founders and are called by their names long after they have passed away. For instance, Israel is the name given to the descendants of Jacob. Viewed in this light, Israel up to the present time may be said to have lived nearly four thousand years. In the Christian Church Unitarians and tripersonalists originated in the fourth century; and if we wished to personify them under the names of Arius and Althanasius, we could say that each is fifteen hundred years old. This idea may be useful to those who are not prepared for the more spiritual interpretation of the story of the longevity told in this chapter of Genesis.
Have you noticed the fact that longevity is not predicated of Cain and his descendants, but only of Seth and his descendants? There is a deep spiritual reason for this. Cain represented faith. It was a true faith, but it degenerated into faith alone. The line of descent from Cain is the story of the decline of faith. Faith is primarily a thing of the understanding. Faith is short-lived when it becomes faith alone. It depends upon the memory for its continued existence, and therefore soon dies. This is why the Cainitish line is short. The line of descent from Seth is long, and immense ages are assigned to the people said to have descended from him. The Sethites, were, in the beginning, characterized by charity. Charity belongs to the will and its affections. Things that affect the intellect and memory only, die much sooner than do the things that affect the will and the life. The things for which Seth stands touched the hearts of men. It was therefore longer in dying.
But divisions came to this branch of the church; and a time came when charity was on the verge of perishing. Then arose another branch of the church. It was called Enoch. He represented a branch of the church that gathered into a teaching the things of faith and charity. Truths that had been perceived in an internal way, were by this branch of the church, collected into a doctrinal form and taught in an outward way. The doing of this is what is meant by Enoch walking with God.
The Divine truths which the Enochites collected were from the Lord. They did not pretend to originate them. This is what is meant by "Enoch was not." God was in what they did. They were out of it. And the Divine truths collected into doctrine by the Enochites were preserved by the Lord for the use of a new church that was to arise. The preservation of these sacred collections is what is meant by God taking Enoch.
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THE SONS OF GOD: THE DAUGHTERS OF MEN: THE GIANTS OF THE ANCIENT WORLD
The people of the Most Ancient Church were characterized by a genius which has not been possessed by any of the succeeding churches. With the members of the Antediluvian church, the will and the understanding were immediately conjoined; and because of this they enjoyed a state of perception, and from perception, they had intuition, and immediately comprehended the highest forms of the Divine truth without undergoing the processes of reasoning about them. Good, from the Lord, entering their wills, flowed directly into their understandings, and became in their understandings, truths from good to guide them in all the wise and innocent ways of life.
This exalted celestial state was not suddenly destroyed. The decline was very gradual; but the loss of perception was eventually effected; for evils of life ultimately closed all the inward channels of their souls to the Divine influx. This left them in utter spiritual darkness; and as the successive generations of that church came, each was more and more infixed in evil until the whole Adamic race was involved in the most dreadful forms of wickedness. Good and truth were successively shut out of the mind of the church; both will and understanding were closed to heaven. What could result from this inner closure of the mind but the inrush of all sorts of evil and false persuasions? These persuasions were confirmed as good and true things; and from them, the fallen church, was unwilling to recede.
Thus we read: "The wickedness of man was great in the earth, and every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." Everything that entered the ideas of these fallen people, was turned into lust by their corrupt wills. Their wills and understandings acted as one faculty. In whatever direction their wills turned, their understandings followed. Thus when they came to love what was evil, they were, by their very mental structure, compelled to think what was false.
Good and truth could not be stored as remains in their minds. When they flowed in, they were profaned, and could not be held as a separated plane for the subsequent work of regeneration.
The great miracle of the separation of the understanding from the will, thereby making it capable of an elevation above the cupidities of the fallen will, had not at this point, in the history of the Most Ancient people, been effected. Thus with the last posterity of the Most Ancient church, there followed the most dreadful states of evils and falsities. This appalling state is thus portrayed: "It came to pass when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose." What does this mean? Literally understood, the whole narrative is unsatisfactory. But the Lord's Word is spirit and life; and it is only as we see here a Divine parable of the deep corruptions of the Antediluvian race that we begin to find the instruction the narrative was intended to convey.
The multiplication of men was the increase of the corruptions of the Adamic race; and the multiplication of men on the face of the earth is the parable way of stating the wide extent of this corruption in the church. The face of the ground is its surface, and this stands for the visible aspects of the church, as they exist in the lives of men.
The people of the church had abandoned the guidance of the Lord; they had turned to their own evil loves and ways. Their wills and understandings were united in evil; and daughters, not sons, were born unto them. The daughters born unto them were the dreadful lusts which they originated. The daughters of Zion and Jerusalem, spoken of so frequently in the Lord's Word, represent the genuine affections for goodness and truth in the church; but the daughters of Babylon, Philistia and Moab symbolize the evil affections and lusts of the depraved heart of man. Now, as daughters stand for affections which belong to the will, so sons stand for the thoughts which belong to the understanding. In this narrative, by the sons of God are meant the truths of doctrine which still remained, at this period, among this last posterity of the Most Ancient church. These doctrinal truths had descended to them from remote and better posterities of the church. They had not been wholly dissipated.
Now, we see the meaning. These sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair. This means that the remaining truths of doctrine that had come down to this posterity through the long line of the Cainites and Sethites in the church were drawn down to the level of the lusts that had grown up in the wicked hearts of these people and were so perverted as to favor those lusts. Then the final step was taken; the awful deed was done. "They took to them wives of all which they chose." Think of what this means. When the human mind turns away from the Lord's way of good life to the devil's way of evil life, it undergoes a marvelous change both in its will and in its understanding. The thing it loves supremely it thinks about continually and all the knowledge stored in the mind is brought down and over to serve and to favor the thing that is loved. This is the way men confirm and infix evil loves in themselves. If any truth is too powerful to lend itself or to be lent to favor the chosen evil, it is cast out of the mind and soon forgotten, while all others are drawn into favor with the ruling lusts and made to look upon them as fair and good.
So it was with this last posterity of the Most Ancient church. The doctrinal truths, which still lingered among men, were drawn down and conjoined to the lusts of their hearts. They took them wives of the daughters of men. Here was the infernal marriage, a will steeped in evil married to an understanding corrupted by falsity.
What could result from this infernal marriage but gigantic evils and falsities of life? Here we see the meaning of the giants in the Genesis allegory. The mind has dimensions as well as the body. When a man excludes God, revelation and the church from his mind, he grows mighty big in his own intellectual conceit. He regards his infidelistic bombast as possessing gigantic proportions; and the only bigness he fails to see is the bigness of the fool he is. "The fool hath said in his heart there is no God." Only the other day one of our atheistic writers penned these words: "The time has come when "belief in the existence of God is confined to men of small culture and low mentality." Yes, evil puffs men up in their own esteem. They swell up under the imaginary importance of their insane phantasies. This is the inevitable result of evil confirmed in the life.
Now, this condition became universal with the people treated of in this narrative. These Antediluvian giants are called "mighty men which were of old, men of renown.'' This expresses the might and power of the self love which they developed. How mighty this love is in every endeavor it makes to attain its end! Self love is a principle that seeks its own ends; and it is mighty to bring persons and things into a state of servitude to itself. Its friends are those whom it is able to use; and its enemies are those who stand in its way. And these giants were of old. These selfish loves were a long time growing. They dated back to the disobedience in Eden, They had been cumulative. Now, they reached the full measure of their iniquity and attained a degree of degradation that left men without even the desire for anything better. The flowing in of evil drove all goodness out of their hearts; and with the loss of goodness, all perceptions of truth perished. Their minds were given over to abominable persuasions, to deadly phantasies. All flesh had corrupted itself. This last posterity of the original Adamic church perished by spiritual, yea by physical suffocation; and that is why the end of the Most Ancient Church is told under the form of the story of a flood which innundated and suffocated all flesh. The new or Ancient church, which succeeded the Adamic church, was formed among those who had never been a real part of the Most Ancient church.
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THE BUILDING OF THE ARK: THE CLEAN AND THE UNCLEAN BEASTS
The Most Ancient Church came to its final end in the great wickedness portrayed under the parable of the sons of God seeing the daughters of men that they were fair and taking to themselves wives of the daughters of men. Immediately following upon this, we read: "And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." Then follows a statement of the final result of this state of wickedness. We read: "And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth." This is the language of appearances, for it was evil that destroyed the fallen people of the Most Ancient Church. The Lord seeks to save; He is not a destroyer. But the evil look upon the Lord as the cause of their misery; and the letter of the Bible expresses in the language of appearances, their thought of the Lord. The genuine truth is expressed elsewhere in the Scripture, where it is said: "Evil shall slay the wicked."
The spiritual destruction that overtook the last posterity of the Most Ancient Church came as the result of their own evil state. The church ended with them. The celestial dispensation closed. But the Lord never leaves Himself without a witness in the earth. When one dispensation of religion closes, the Lord immediately raises up a new dispensation of the church; and in doing so, He begins with the remnant of good people in the consummated church, people who while nominally of it are not irretrievably involved in its evils and falsities, but are capable of deliverance from them. This remnant constitutes the nucleus of the New Church which arises as the means of salvation to mankind.
At the end of the Adamic Church, this remnant was represented by Noah. Here, as was the case with Adam we are not to think of an individual by the name of Noah, but we are to think of all the people of the consummated Adamic Church who were capable of being saved by being formed into a new church. These were the remnant, and in this Divine allegory, they are personified and called Noah. Thus it is said: "But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord." There were with the people called Noah remains of good, things that had been preserved and that served as a plane on which the Lord's spirit could act in effecting a new process of regeneration. These remains are meant by these words: "Noah was a just man and perfect in his generation; and Noah walked with God." This brings us to the consideration of one of the most marvelous things in connection with the Divine parable, we refer to the organic and structural change which the Lord, in His Divine mercy, effected in the minds of the Noatic people.
In the Adamic people, the will and the understanding were united. They acted not as two, but as one faculty. In whatever direction their wills turned, their understandings took the same course. This was their distinctive genius. The two parts of their mental structure cohered and formed one. Good from the Lord flowed directly into their wills, and because their understandings were immediately connected with their wills, good passed from their wills into their understandings in a direct way and was formed into truth. This peculiarity of mental structure led them, in the beginning, to the very highest celestial attainment and life. But when they fell away from the Lord, they still retained this peculiarity of mental structure and carried it down with them into all the moral corruptions into which they descended. Loving what was evil they could not do otherwise than believe what was false. Do we see what this led to? Their minds were like a glutinous substance. When good and truth touched them they became glued to them and profaned. Remains of good and truth could not be implanted in them, for their genius was such that there was no separate plane in their minds for such goods and truths to adhere to. This was the spiritual cause for the utter extinction, physically and spiritually, of the last posterity of the Most Ancient Church. Noah, who is said to have found grace in the eyes of the Lord, represents, as we have said, the remnant in the Most Ancient Church who were not totally involved in this condition; and in this remnant, the Lord wrought the mighty miracle of the separation of their intellectual principle from their fallen and corrupt wills. This was a great miracle as well as an exhibition of the profoundest mercy; for it at once enabled them to lift their intellects above their corrupt hearts and learn what was good and true, and thus have formed in the intellectual part of their minds a new will principle above and apart from their fallen proprium.
This made the storing of remains possible; and it also rendered an outward revelation of truth necessary. It also ushered into existence an entirely new mental and spiritual genius. The celestial life, as it had been, would be no more. That plane of the mind, of the race mind, closed with the end of the Most Ancient Church. A spiritual church, a church on a discretely lower plane of the race mind, arose. It commenced with the people called Noah. It was a new dispensation of religion. It was instituted by a Divine revelation, by a sacred scripture, which we know as the Ancient Word. This sacred Word was a book of Divine symbols. The truths which were inwardly revealed to the Most Ancient Church and which were collected and preserved by the people called Enoch, when the intuitive faculty was perishing in the church, were outwardly revealed to the understandings of the Noetic people. We do not have the time to dwell upon this story of the Ancient word further than to say that it gave rise to the Ancient or Spiritual church; that the first eleven chapters of Genesis belonged originally to it and that in the Hebrew Scripture, it is quoted and certain of the books that formed it mentioned by name, such, for instance, as the book of the wars of Jehovah, the book of Jasher and the book of the Enunciators. This outward revelation of the Word was made necessary because of the structural change that was effected in the mental organization of the Noetic race, for their intellectual part being separated from their will, the only light upon religious subjects that could reach them must come into their understandings in an external way. By receiving and obeying the truth thus communicated to them, they formed a new will, a will of obedience in their understandings, and were, in time, regenerated by the truth.
This is what is meant by the Lord's command to Noah to build the ark. The ark is the symbol of the church that was formed in them; for the church is not a mere outward ecclesiasticism, but is the kingdom of God in human souls. This work of building up in their lives the principles of the kingdom of God is told under the allegorical form of Noah building an ark. The allegory is God's beautiful way of telling us of the building of this spiritual church in their minds.
The ark was to be built of gopher wood. This was a low order of wood and very inflammable. Do you see the lesson? It stood for the concupiscences and peculiar cupidities of the Noetic people. How could these things be built into a spiritual ark of safety? Think! The Lord begins with man as he finds him. He cannot build with material that man does not possess. In the beginning, He makes use of our selfishness. He appeals to and works with the motives we present to Him, ever leading us on to higher and better things. So of the people in this story. Their very concupiscences were made use of. They could not be led, in the beginning, to regeneration by the love of the intrinsic excellence of the truth. At first, their improvement had to be built upon some personal and selfish consideration. It is the same with us today. This is what is meant by the gopher wood. This, however, was a temporary state.
The same was true of the pitch used; for the ark is said to have been pitched within and without. At first, these people were protected from the outward invasion of falsehood and from the inward seduction of evil by appeals to their selfishness. We are no better; for the Lord does, in the beginning, the same thing with us. How good and merciful He is to accept us as we are! Yes, but He loved those Ancient people as He loves us, not for what they were but for what they were capable of becoming. The gopher wood and the pitch were all they had of themselves to begin with. But they did possess remains from the Lord; and they were what the Lord reached and ultimately unfolded in a life of beautiful spiritual regeneration. While the Lord makes use of what is man's in the beginning, yet He does it merely as the means of reaching and developing what is of His own in man. It was thus that He began with the gopher wood and pitch and ended with a redeemed and regenerated church.
The three stories of the ark, what were they, other than the three distinct degrees of mental life in the man of the Ancient Church? And the beasts, clean and unclean, what were they other than the affections and thoughts, spiritual and natural, that were brought under the regenerating influence of the Divine truth in the minds of the people of the Noetic age? These facts are the spiritual realities that lie back of the symbols in the allegory.
The ark had one door on its side. Could that door be anything less than hearing, receiving and obeying the voice of the Lord? And the window in the top of the ark, do we not see that it was the elevated intellectual principle, which is the spiritual window of the soul, letting in the light of the Father's face by which their minds were illuminated from heaven? How wonderful the story is!
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THE FLOOD: NOAH AND HIS FAMILY SAVED
The deluge was a spiritual catastrophe. This statement instantly clothes the Divine narrative with a significance that disarms science of the objections it has urged against belief in it as a physical occurrence. We have neither the time nor the disposition to notice these objections. The Bible is a Divine book; and its message is spiritual. It addresses itself to man as a spiritual being; so that whatever may be the outward form in which it comes, underneath there lies the spiritual instruction, appeal, warning or encouragement it was intended to bring to man. The Lord, who is the Divine author of the written Word, said: "The words that I speak unto you they are spirit and they are life." This is true of every inspired book in the Holy Word. Seen in this light, the Bible vindicates and establishes its claim to Divine inspiration.
The outward things of history, things that have been enacted in the natural world, are not, in themselves, Divine revelations. Revelation includes the thought of a degree of truth made known to man that he could not have discovered by the exercise of any faculty proper to his mind. God is the only way to Himself. He lets down the ladder on whose rounds man ascends to a knowledge of Him. "The world by wisdom knew not God."
And so of the story of the flood. If it is believed to be the record of outward happenings, there is not in such a belief one single element of spirituality, nor one single thing that tends to give the mind an exalted conception of God. It is only when we regard the narrative in the light of a Divine parable that we find the ground of its spirituality and learn from it the deep things of God. It is a parable. It describes spiritual things under the form of natural and corresponding things in the visible world of nature. Let us think of it in this way. In general the story of the flood is God's own way of telling us of the spiritual destruction of the last posterity of the Most Ancient Church in the flood of dreadful persuasions and abominable evils that they brought upon themselves. It is the story of how they were carried down to destruction by the falsehoods which they believed and the evils which they loved. A natural inundation is used to represent a spiritual inundation.
The effect of this spiritual inundation was (1) to destroy and utterly sweep away the corrupt people of the dead and fallen church, and (2) to act as temptations by which those of the succeeding or Ancient Church, were regenerated. A flood is one of the most familiar symbols used in the Bible to denote a state of deep and interior temptation. The Psalmist prayed: "Save me, O God, for the waters are come in unto my soul. I sink in deep mire where there is no standing. I am come into deep water where the floods overflow me. Let not the water floods overflow me, neither let the deep swallow me up." David was not speaking of natural water, nor of natural floods. He was using the language of correspondence and was praying for deliverance from the evil and false principles which were infesting his soul. The prophet in portraying the certainty of the Lord's protection of those who put their trust in Him in times of spiritual distress and temptation says: "When the enemy shall come in like a flood the spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him." The temptations that arise from the sphere of naturalism, with which we are all surrounded, are described by the prophet in the following language: "Egypt riseth up like a flood and his waters are moved like the rivers." Our Lord said of the house built on the rock: "The rain descended and the flood came, but it fell not." But of the house built on the sand He said: "The rain descended and the flood came and it fell." We all see that by the house built on the rock is meant a human character founded upon the Divine truth which the flood of temptation is unable to move; and that the house built on the sand is a human character built on wrong principles, which falls under the power of temptation as the house on the sand was swept away by the flood.
From these instances, it is easy to be see that the Scriptures use natural floods as the expressive symbol of spiritual trials and temptations which prove the destruction of the wicked but which serve as purifying experiences to the good. This is the light in which to view the Mosaic story of the deluge. Think! Two sources are assigned for the flood; the breaking up of the fountains of the deep, and the opening of the windows of heaven. These two sources of the flood are clearly spiritual and stand, the windows of heaven for the understanding or intellectual principle, and the fountains of the deep for the will or voluntary principle of the mind.
The windows of heaven! They are the perceptions of the understanding, for it is through intellectual perceptions that man sees the things of heaven. In the good, these spiritual windows of the heaven that is within are opened to admit the light of truth into the mind. But in the story of the flood, these windows admitted that which was one of the principal sources of destruction; consequently they denote the understanding given over to falsehoods and destructive reasonings, by which the whole intellectual life of the fallen church was inundated and destroyed. The fountains of the deep! These deep fountains, or fountains of the deep, picture to us the will and its loves. In the Bible, the will is compared to the deep because it is the receptacle of the deep things of a man's life. The good man's will is the deep place of his life; all that he thinks and does comes out of the deep places of his heart. So of the evil man. His corruptions are deep. Out of the fountains of the deep love the good man has for the Lord, arise all the holiest joys of his life, and, in like manner, out of the fountains of the evil man's deep love of himself, arise all the dissatisfactions and unrest of his life.
In the case of the flood, "the fountains of the deep were broken up." Don't you see that this means that the will, as a will for goodness, was, in the people of the fallen Adamic Church, disrupted; that it had become a deep lust? The will of good was broken up and the entire voluntary life of the evil people of the Adamic Church was given over to lusts of every description.
Everything in them perished; not a vestige of the church remained. This spiritual destruction is described in correspondential language as the covering of the high hills under the whole heaven, the submergence of the mountains, the death of all flesh, both of fowl and cattle, and beast and of every creeping thing. All things of the church perished. This was the effect of the flood upon the incorrigibly wicked. But the evils and falsities that end a fallen church act as temptations through which the members of the new and succeeding church are regenerated. Thus the flood, which ended the Most Ancient Church, operated to purify the affections and thoughts, to elevate and regenerate the members of the succeeding Ancient Church. They resisted these evil and false things. They had not closed the way to remains; they were capable of regeneration. All such were represented by Noah and his family. They were the remnant. They endured these dreadful temptations and were saved. With them, a wind, the spirit of the Lord, passed over the earth of their minds, and the waters, the falsities of the dead church, were assuaged. Their understandings and wills became receptive of truth and love. A new will of obedience was formed in their understanding. New influences operated upon them, and the waters of temptation gradually abated They came, at length, through hard and bitter trials, into a state of spiritual love. They reached it through daily obedience to the truth. This happy state is beautifully described in the allegory: "And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat."
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THE NOETIC CHURCH: THE ABATING OF THE WATERS: THE RESTING OF THE ARK ON THE MOUNTAIN
Three distinct things are mentioned in connection with Noah: He was just, he was upright, and he walked with God. These three are said to be the generations of Noah. Now, in what sense were justice, uprightness and obedience, or what is the same, walking with God, the generations of Noah? If Noah is to be understood as standing merely for an individual man, he may have possessed these moral excellences, but understood in that way, it is difficult to see how justice, uprightness and obedience can be called the generations of Noah. The passage reads: "These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a just man, and upright in his generation, and Noah walked with God." There is no difficulty here; for by Noah is not meant an individual, but the new church which was being raised up; consequently, the generations of Noah were the great cardinal principles of that new church; and these were what is meant by justice, uprightness and obedience. These virtues as cardinal principles, are called nativities or generations, because they were to result from the regenerative process which the Noetic people would undergo. To understand this teaching it will be necessary to divest the mind of the modern conception of the word church. We think of the church as an ecclesiasticism, as an organizaiton of men and women who accept a definite creed and organize for the purpose of propagating a certain set of doctrines; but this is not what the Bible and the church writings mean by the term church.
The church is a state of life. It is formed in man by regeneration. This does not mean that the organization with its ecclesiastical order, is not necessary, for it is. But organization and ecclesiastical laws are humanly constructed things. They are not the church; for strictly speaking, a church, as a thing apart from regenerating human souls, is as impossible as heaven would be as a thing apart from the angels, in whom it is formed by the inflowing of the Divine of the Lord. The church on earth is a regenerating humanity. The church ends when, instead of being regenerated, men remain in the love of themselves and the world; and consequently a new church is this work of regeneration beginning again in the remnant left in the old for the commencement of a new church.
Thus the Adamic Church ended with the spiritual flood it brought upon itself, and the new church, called the Ancient Church, commenced with Noah, who stands for all the people left in the Adamic Church, who were capable of undergoing the new processes of regeneration by which alone they could be saved. The spiritual generations or nativities of this new church, which arose, are what are meant by the generations of Noah; and these were justice, uprightness and obedience, or walking with God.
There is a Divine order observed in these generations of the Noetic Church. Justice is the first mentioned, because it belongs to the heart life of the church in that it consists in the very good of charity. Uprightness is next mentioned, because it has to do with the law and order of truth, by which charity is formed and exercised. Lastly, walking with God is mentioned, because it stands for the principle of Obedience in the daily life. These were the generations of Noah.
But these three graces were not existing in a full state of development at the time it was said: "Now, Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord." The capacity for them existed, as is always the case with the remnant at the end of the church; but their development was to be realized in a subsequent state of the Ancient Church. We must also remember that the people who formed the Ancient Church, in the beginning, were the descendants of a corrupted and fallen race of the Most Ancient Church. They partook of their corruptions and differed from them only in the sense of having remaining with them a plane on which could be built a spiritual life. It was through deep regeneration that the principles denoted by the generations of Noah, were so far developed as to be capable of distinct presentation to the outlying world.
Here we reach an important fact. The Adamic Church did not include the whole of mankind then existing on the earth. There were immense populations who had never sustained any vital relations to the Most Ancient Church. They were what we would call Gentiles, people in the great body of humanity, but outside the church, which was the heart and lungs of the whole body of humanity then existing. Noah was the remnant in the Most Ancient Church. The outlying mass of people, who because they were no vital part of the Most Ancient Church, were not involved in its moral corruptions, were those in whom the religion of the Ancient Church was established. These outside people were not all of the same genius. Their dispositions were various; each had his own individuality, their peculiar bent and capacity of mind. In general they constituted three distinct classes. Each class received from the teaching of the Noetic Church that which was best suited to its genius. Now, let us get a concrete idea of all this: The Ancient Church, as we have said, contained three cardinal principles, called the generations of Noah, which were justice, uprightness and obedience. The three classes into which the people were divided, who were capable of being influenced and saved by these principles were called Shem, Ham and Japheth. These are said to be the sons of Noah, because they stand for the three kinds of people who were reached and brought into the Noetic Church. The teaching of the church concerning justice, or the doctrine of charity, appealed most strongly and was most attractive to the people called Shem; and they were brought into the church by it. The teaching concerning uprightness, the doctrine that revealed right laws of truth and that awakened the understanding to an intellectual appreciation of the truth, appealed to, reached and brought into the church, the people called Ham. The teaching concerning obedience, the doctrine which clearly defined one's walk with God, or religion in daily life, attracted those to the church who are called Japheth. Thus Noah, Shem, Ham and Japheth stand, not for individuals, but for distinct classes of individuals in whom the Lord formed the Ancient Church. This is what the story means. By Noah's wife and the wives of his sons, are meant the affections with which each class of individuals comprising the church received its teaching. All of these were saved in the ark, that is, by the church which was built up in their minds. The flood came, but they were saved. They endured temptations and were purified.
Think now of the wind that passed over the earth and dried up the waters, and you will see that it is used as the symbol of the truth. For as a natural wind evaporates water, so Divine truth disperses falsities and restores the mind to health and vigor. The truth gained daily in its power over the minds and lives of these people; like a spiritual wind, it dried up the waters of falsity and brought to view the landscapes of a new life. The waters receded. Ah, but it was through mighty and prolonged struggles that this was done. But out of those struggles they were brought; and then, in their hearts, there grew up from the Lord, a great love for Him and for each other, and for all the world. It lifted up their minds; it filled them with deep thankfulness; it elevated every phase of their life. They had been exposed to great spiritual danger but now they felt secure in the great love that had come to them. They had struggled; now a sweet rest had come to them. How beautifully the Divine allegory tells us of it: "And the Ark rested on the mountains of Ararat." What a beautiful ending!
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THE RAVEN AND THE DOVE
In discussing the story of the flood and the ark, we have purposely avoided calling attention to the discrepancies and contradictions and physical impossibilities that appear on the surface of the account. These things are apparent to all who read the story, and calling attention to them would prove a wearisome task as well as a fruitless one; and besides it might prove harmful to those who are unable to rise to the plane of the spiritual interpretation of the story. The New Church does not come to destroy, but to fulfill. Its work is constructive not destructive.
There are many simple-minded Christians in the world; and they are unable to bear the inner light of the Lord's Word; for which reason they must remain in the shade of its letter. As long as they do this, reading the Word and understanding it according to its natural sense, but with reverent minds the angels, as we are told, "instantaneously evolve the spiritual sense," as such reverent souls read it, "and thereby connect them with heaven and conjoin them with the Lord." This is a beautiful and catholic teaching.
But to all who have reached a plane in the development of their intellectual life where they must see and have a rational basis for faith, all that is necessary to lead them to an acknowledgment of the Divinity of the Bible is the simple and direct opening of the lessons of its spiritual sense. Truth is its own witness. Truth is its own authority. So of this story. It need only be opened in its spiritual sense to be seen and acknowledged by all who are prepared for a reasonable faith in revelation.
A man asked me the other day this question: "Why is it that nothing is said about the admission of air into the ark?" The ark is the symbol of the church, as it was formed in the people of the Noetic age; and it was formed in them by the slow process of spiritual regeneration. The air is wind in a gentle and quiet state and is the symbol of the spiritual influences which operate to regenerate man. These influences are continually supplied by the Lord as man Co-operates with Him, but no man is openly sensible of them, that is, they make no report to his senses. Spiritual life comes from moment to moment, but we are not conscious of its constant communication. The Lord is the giver of those holy and interior spiritual influences. He secretly, and in a manner wholly unknown to us, supplies the regenerative life. No man can do this. It was to represent this great fact that in this allegory nothing is said of Noah making provision for the airing of the ark. Here, then is the answer.
And the other question which doubtless has occurred to many: "Why were the two lower stories of the ark left in darkness? There was only one window, and that was in the top of the ark." Look within for the answer. The ark tossed on the waters! Don't you see that it is the picture of the people, in whom the church was being formed, undergoing severe trial and temptation? What of a state of deep spiritual temptation? In such a state of trial, are not the lower stories of the mind, the faculties that pertain to the merely natural and rational departments of the soul, in a state of darkness? Evil and false influences are operating upon them and the light of heaven is, for the time being, shut out. Who has not experienced this? At such times, the lower parts of the mind lose entirely their hold on religion. They are in darkness. But there is a window above in the ark. It is the intellectual faculty belonging to the spiritual mind. Light enters there; so that while in a state of temptation, the lower and more external planes of the mind are in darkness, light shines in the interior regions of the soul. If this were not true, no one could do otherwise than fall in temptation. But of the flowing in of this interior light, man is wholly unconscious, when in a state of temptation. While the trial lasts even this window seems shut. But when the temptation ends, this seemingly closed window appears open again to the spiritual consciousness. This is what is meant where it is said: "At the end of forty days, Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made."
The number forty stands for a full state of trial and temptation. When this passes away, the window, the interiors of the mind, opens and one is made conscious of the loving hand that upheld and guided the soul in the hour of temptation. This is true of the individual; and it was true of the collective man represented by Noah in the ark. Think now of the sending forth of the raven. The raven, unlike the dove, was not, in this allegory, sent forth to see if the waters were dried up. It was sent forth as a thing to be gotten rid of. The raven is a black and voracious bird, and it therefore symbolizes a false principle in the understanding. The raven in the ark! Don't you see that it denoted a false idea that adhered to the minds of the Noetic people, which was disclosed to them, when, after temptation, the spiritual part of their minds was illumined by the Divine truth?
Truth is spiritual light; and when this light shines in the mind it reveals falsity in all its horrid blackness and there comes an effort to expel it. This is what is meant by Noah sending forth the raven. But the raven did not go away at once. True it never got back into the Ark again; but it did go "to and fro." It flew away and then came back; and it continued to do this until finally it disappeared forever. Almost without being told, one sees what this means.
Take your own experience. Most of you have come to the new church from the denominational bodies. You were taught the old dogmas. You thought of God as existing in three Divine persons; of the atonement as the placating of Divine wrath by the death of Christ and of salvation by faith alone. What are these dogmas but ravens? You have learned to think of Jesus Christ as God in a Divine Humanity in whom is the Divine trinity of Father, Son and Holy Ghost as Divine essentials; you have learned to think of the atonement as man's union with the Lord. You have learned to think of salvation as the Lord's deliverance of your souls from sin and its power. In this way the Lord is forming His New Church in you. You have undergone much trial in the reception of the doctrines of the Lord's new advent. You have come out of it. Light has come. You see the raven, the false doctrine of the consummated church on these subjects, and you have sent it forth out of the ark. Let me ask you, did it go forth never to bother you again? Did it not go "to and fro"? The old ideas come back, you are distressed by them at times. One of you said to me: "If I could stay in church all the time I could shut out the old doctrine I was taught about God, but when I go home it comes back to me." This is what is meant by the raven going "to and fro" But we who have come into the New Church, if we are faithful, will see the raven go for good, never to return again. Now such was the experience of the people in whom the Lord formed the Ancient Church. They did not free their minds of false things suddenly. The raven, when sent forth from the ark, went "to and fro" for a long time. But finally it disappeared never to return again. The truth finally expelled it forever.
And then a new experience came to them. It is told us in the beautiful parable of sending forth the dove. The dove was sent forth to see if the waters had dried up. That was its mission. The dove represents the truth. But the truth is from the Lord; and to be effective, must be done in the acknowledgment of Him as its author. In the beginning of regeneration, man is not in this acknowledgment. He acts from his selfhood. He believes he has discovered the truth and that he has the power to execute its commands. This, in the beginning, was the state of the Noetic people. Thus is is said: "Noah sent forth the dove from himself." It found no place for the "sole of its foot." How could it? Truth believed and done from oneself has no power to change life. The dove came back and Noah pulled it into the ark,, so runs the story. There is still here the idea of a mental ownership of the truth, still, the thought that one is doing good of himself. The raven has gone,, falsity is expelled, but the dove of truth has not attained to full liberty of life.
It is sent forth again, and again it comes back to be taken into the ark, but it brings back an olive leaf! How beautiful this symbolism is! The olive tree, from which the holy oil was derived, is the symbol of the perception of the indwelling of the Divine love; and the olive leaf symbolizes the truth of the awakening of that love in man's heart. This had become, by this time, the spiritual state of the people of the Ancient Church.
Upon this return of the dove, it was not pulled into the ark. The selfhood was finding its true place; the Lord was being acknowledged.
The third time the dove was sent forth, it did not return. The waters had dried up and it found a place for the "sole of its foot." By the dove finding a place for the "sole of her foot" is meant that the truth found a resting place in the hearts of the people. It disappeared as truth in the forms of goodness which it produced.
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THE BOW IN THE CLOUD
In the Divine allegory we are considering, the ark is said to have rested on the mountain; and when the waters were fully abated, Noah is said to have uncovered the ark. Then God is said to have commanded Noah and his sons to leave the ark, bringing with them the living creatures they had taken into it. It is then said that Noah built an altar unto the Lord and offered unto the Lord an offering of every clean beast and of every clean fowl. After this offering, the Lord is described as establishing a covenant with Noah and every living creature of all flesh. The token of that covenant was a bow in the cloud. "I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth."
Noah and his family were not so many individuals. They stand for the great spiritual church which was forming in the world. This church had passed through trying ordeals; it had suffered bitter trials and temptations; but now rest had come, the waters of turmoil and strife had abated, and the church was in a state of peace. Coming out of these great temptations, the minds of the Noetic people were clearer on all spiritual subjects. Things that had been in a state of obscurity to them, were now openly seen. This is what is meant by Noah uncovering the ark. Out of this brighter and better state, that had come as the result of their trial faithfully borne, there arose in their hearts a sense of deep thankfulness to the Lord for His Divine protection in the time of their danger and a desire to express that holy sentiment in the genuine worship of the Lord. In the allegory, this is portrayed in these simple words: And Noah builded an altar unto the Lord; and took of every clean beast and every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar."
The things mentioned, such as the altar, clean beasts and birds and the burnt offering stand in the allegory for the affections in the hearts and for the thoughts in the understandings of the people of the Noetic Church; for at the period of the Ancient Church that is here described, the people were not external enough to call for the actual killing of animals in sacrifice. That practice arose later when worship among them became sensualized. The clean beasts and birds that Noah is said to have taken into the ark were not natural animals; they were the clean affections, the clean thoughts of the people who were being formed into a new church; and they were called beasts and birds because beasts and birds fitly represented them.
Uncovering the ark and coming out of it, the altar that was built unto the Lord was the high state of love that was formed in their hearts. The altar was within them, the altar of a pure and consecrated heart. So of the beasts and birds, they were the good affections and thoughts of their regenerated wills and understandings. In other words, their internal worship is described by external acts and objects that represent it.
It was after this state of freedom in worship was formed in the members of the Ancient Church, that we read of the bow that was set in the cloud as the token of the Lord's covenant with them. Perhaps some of us remember when we thought of this bow in the cloud as the creation and first appearance of the rainbow. We know better now; for the bow in the cloud is a natural phenomenon and is always caused by the shining of the sun through the drops of descending rain. It was not a new creation in the day of Noah. For such a phenomenon has always appeared whenever the proper physical conditions were furnished.
And then, the word set does not imply to create or make for the first time. It rather conveys the idea of appointment or establishment. What had been a well-known and beautiful appearance, a thing so frequently seen, was now appealed to, set apart and dedicated as a token and symbol of the establishment of a covenant between the Lord and man.
A covenant is a conjunction or union of two parties; so that a covenant between God and man means a coming together, a living, vital and personal relationship between the Divine Creator and His human and responsible creatures; and the natural object used as the symbol of that personal relationship must perfectly represent it. The rainbow does this in the most perfect way.
From the earliest times, the typical character of the bow in the cloud has been recognized. The early Rabbinical writings traced the resemblance of the bow to the Hebrew letter caph and supposed it to be a token of certain remarkable events in the civil history of the Jewish people. It was regarded as a sign among the ancient Greeks and was called Iris. In the Greek mythology the office assigned to Iris was to cut the thread which was supposed to hold the soul in the body of those who were dying. Here we see a little hint of the covenant of which Iris was supposed to be the token. She removed out of the way the thing that prevented the soul's union with God. This, like many other ideas in the Greek mythology, was derived from the correspondences of natural things to spiritual, a knowledge which had come down from the time of the Ancient Church.
The early Christian Fathers, especially OriGenesis and Tertullian, regarded the bow in the cloud as the symbol of the covenant of grace which came with the incarnation of the Logos. In relation to the Noetic Church, the bow had a twofold meaning. (1) It represented the spiritual sense of the Divine Word which was revealed to the Ancient Church. For we must remember that the Ancient Word, by which that church was instituted and established in the world, had its cloud or letter. The literal sense of the Ancient Word was formed from the carefully preserved correspondences, through the ministry of the Enochites, of the Most Ancient Church. These correspondences were more remote than the correspondences of the literal sense of the Hebrew Scriptures. They formed a letter of a revelation which treated only of spiritual things. This letter of the Ancient Word was the cloud and the spiritual sense within that letter, which treated of the Lord and the regeneration of man, was the beautiful bow set in that cloud. Thus to the Ancient Church, the bow set in the cloud, was the token of the covenant which God made with that church by means of the outward revelation of truth in a Divinely given book of Scripture. Thus the rainbow, which is distinguished by a series of harmonious colors, was the symbol of spiritual truths within the letter of the Ancient Word. These spiritual truths in all their variegations were the real token of the covenant which God made with the Ancient Church.
(2) The bow, as it respects the man of the Ancient Church, or those who by the work of regeneration were having the principles of the church implanted in their minds, represented the perception of the spiritual sense of their Scripture. As the Word has its cloud, or letter, in which the spiritual sense appears as a bow, so the regenerating man has his cloud, a natural mind, with its obscure perceptions of spiritual truth. The best of men have dark and cloudy states; but in this cloud God sets His bow of promise and covenant. For in our darkest hours there is present some perception of spiritual things that spans the cloud. So of the people among whom the Lord formed the Ancient Church. They had their dark background, their heredity from the long ago, their obscure states; but because of the separation of will and understanding in them, they had perceptions of spiritual truth. These were their bow of promise. These perceptions of spiritual things kept them in touch with the Lord. A new will of obedience could be formed in their separated and elevated understandings and thus a covenant be established between God and themselves. They could learn His will and do it. They could be conjoined to Him. This faculty would preserve them from the dreadful evils and falsities which inundated and destroyed the Most Ancient Church.
And so it is also with us. Our Bible has its cloud, its letter, and it also has its bow or spiritual sense, and is therefore God's covenant with us. And the man of the New Church has his cloud of naturalism, his dark side; but going on to know the Lord, he also has his beautiful bow of spiritual perceptions. This bow spans his mind. One end of it rests on his natural mind and arching his being, the other end rests on his spiritual mind. What a beautiful bow! Yes, and it is the promise that in the end the two minds in him will be harmonized and act as one.
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NOAH'S VINEYARD: HIS DRUNKENNESS AND HIS EXPOSURE
The Most Ancient, or Adamic Church, was celestial, but the Ancient, or Noetic Church, was spiritual. These two terms, celestial and spiritual, indicate and point out differences and distinctions that are organic and far reaching. The celestial church was in the goodness of love; the spiritual church was in the truths of faith. This means that the man of the Most Ancient Church derived truth from good, and that the man of the Ancient Church derived good from truth. The will and the understanding of the celestial man acted as one faculty, the understanding being formed from the will and thinking always as the will loved. The will and understanding in the spiritual man were separated, they were not one falculty but two; and because of the corruptions of his will, a new will was formed in his intellectual part, in which a distinctly spiritual life was implanted, to be formed and guided by the truth which from revelation entered his understanding from without. Such was the organic difference between the two churches.
The imagry of the Divine Allegory clearly points to this difference. Adam was placed in a garden, Noah planted a vineyard. Adam fell through eating, Noah fell through drinking. Eating is an act which indicates a state of the will; drinking is an act which describes a state of the understanding. The Adamic people, by listening to the pleading of the sense-life, fell away from the purity of love. The Noetic people, by the inflation of self-intelligence, fell away from the purity of truth. Adam's fall took place in a garden; Noah's fall took place in a vineyard. It would be interesting to follow up and dwell upon these correspondences, but enough has been said to indicate and fix the spiritual meaning in our minds.
We have seen that the ark resting on the mountain is the beautiful picture the Lord gives us of the Ancient Church resting in the heights and quiet of the Divine love after its long state of trial and temptation. The waters of temptations have abated. The dry ground appears. And, now, we come to a very remarkable statement, one that, in its spiritual meaning, reveals the first step in the spiritual decline of the Noetic Church. We read: "And Noah began to be an husbandman; and he planted a vineyard." Now the original Hebrew words, ish adamah, which in the Authorized Version of the Bible are translated, husbandman, more literally means a man of the ground. This changes the entire sense and brings out more clearly the spiritual meaning. The ground referred to is the external mind; and the spiritual sense reads as follows: "And the Ancient Church began to be external." that was just the very thing that happened to the Noetic Church. The literal picture of Noah coming down from the summit of the mountain and planting a vineyard in the plain, describes how the people of the Ancient Church began to be external, men of the ground, how they descended from the mountain heights of love to the Lord and their neighbor into the more external things of the church; how they began to cultivate them, to give undue importance to them and finally to prefer and exalt them above the internal and spiritual things of the church. This is what is meant by the words: "And Noah began to be a man of the ground." Here was the beginning of the fall of the Ancient Church. It began to be a church of the ground, to look down and out instead of looking up and within.
There is always danger ahead of any church that begins to do this. Externals of worship, the rituals of religion, are not the church; they are not religion. They have a very important place and serve a very high use in the church, but if they are allowed to absorb the thought, if they are taken out of their subordinate position and given undue prominence, nothing other than a decline of spiritual life can result. I sound this note of warning that the new Church may be kept from an undue regard for the things that merely please the eye and ear. The Church is an internal spiritual life, and its ceremonies and ritual are mere clothing and nothing more.
Beginning to be a man of the ground, the allegory goes on to tell us that Noah planted a vineyard. Of the Garden of Adam, it is said: "And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden." The garden in Eden was planted by the Lord, but the vineyard of Ararat was planted by Noah.
Here is brought out an important spiritual teaching. The planting of this vineyard was one more step in the decline of the Noetic Church; for it represents the establishment of a church that partook more of the mere external things of truth and doctrine than of love and the life of charity. This was really the case. For as the Ancient Church declined, it began to give loud utterance to the things of mere faith and to pay less and less attention to the life of chanty. It finally became a church of the ground.
The Lord in the Word uses a vineyard to represent the church, but He is also said to plant it. In the parable, the householder who planted a vineyard and let it out to husbandmen is the Lord Himself who plants His church and lets it out to us; but here, Noah plants the vineyard. And Noah having become a man of the ground, could plant nothing more than a church in mere externals, a church in which the mere knowledge of the truth was regarded as the chief virtue and charity of life as an inferior quality. This is the dreadful thing that happens when man attempts to place the essentials of the church in mere faith, things of mere doctrine.
We come now to Noah's intoxication: Wine is the symbol of spiritual truth. For this reason, the Lord used wine in the institution of the Holy Supper. The Lord established the Christian Church as His spiritual vineyard; and the spiritual truths which He reveals to it are the wine of the vineyard. The opening of the minds of men to Christian teaching and instruction is spiritually to drink of the wine of the vineyard of the Lord's planting; but in receiving Christian teaching and in imparting it, we must remember whose vineyard the church is and from whom the wine of spiritual truth is derived. Every movement of self-intelligence must be quelled, all pride of intellect must be shunned as sin against God. If these evils are not shunned, we are sure to fall into errors that will confuse and bewilder our judgment and lead our intellects astray. This state is described in the Bible as spiritual drunkenness.
Here we find the meaning of Noah's intoxication. His sin was not that of natural inebriety. There are other forms of intoxication than the one produced by the excessive use of wine. We often indicate certain states of mind by the term intoxication. We say of an enthusiast that he is intoxicated with an undue zeal for the cause he is advocating. The wordly mind is often intoxicated with the success which attends its efforts and achievements. The Bible frequently speaks of drunkenness to denote a state of spiritual pride. Ariel is said by the prophet Isaiah to be drunk. He says: "They are drunken but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink." Again he says: "The crown of pride, the drunkards of Ephraim shall be trodden down." So we come to see that the story of Noah's drunkenness, considered spiritually, is the description of the state into which the Ancient Church fell when it began to pervert and falsify the truths that were revealed to it. The people of that Church became sottish, intoxicated with the passion for mere truth separate from the life it taught, they laid in a state of spiritual stupor. This is what is meant by Noah being drunken with the wine of his vineyard.
Think now of Noah's exposure. He lay uncovered in his tent. The first consequence which followed Adam's sin was that he discovered he was naked. Here, Noah lies uncovered. Adam seeing his own nakedness is the symbol-way of telling us of the revelation to the consciousness of the Most Ancient Church of the loss of the innocence which it possessed in the beginning of its career. So of Noah. His nakedness was the coming to the surface of the inward guilt into which the Ancient Church had fallen.
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THE SIN OF HAM: THE CURSE ON CANAAN
The letter of this story of Noah's drunkenness and his exposure by Ham, and the charitable treatment he met with at the hands of Shem and Japheth, is the relation of a domestic incident, a Divine picture, designed to convey to us the most important lessons. It is a domestic parable.
By Noah, as we have seen, is denoted the Ancient Church. His drunkenness symbolizes the errors into which that church fell, when it departed from its high principles and began to cultivate religion, as a mere philosophy of doctrine. To do this is to become spiritually intoxicated. This is what is meant by Noah's drunkenness. He became drunk with the wine of his own vineyard. Self intelligence had found its way into the church; and following the dictate of self intelligence led the church into all manner of errors. Noah laid drunk in his tent. Revelation from the Lord is the only safeguard of the church, for no church can guide itself into anything but errors. This statement applies to the modern church as truly as it applies to the Ancient Church. The very moment any church begins to turn away from the plain declarations of the revelation by which it is founded, to its own intelligence, it becomes inebriated with the wine of his own vineyard. This has been realized in the history of the Christian Church. The early Christian Church, the church of the Apostolic age, accepted the Lord's guidance in His Word and had spiritual power and intelligence from Him. But as that age of the church closed, the Christological and Trinitarian controversies arose; and the age of the councils marks a long period of spiritual inebriation. Noah, again, lay uncovered in his tent. And it was all due to self intelligence. Noah's drunkenness was this very thing, the fall through self intelligence, of the Ancient Church into all mannerof erroneous persuasions. And his being uncovered in his tent is only the symbolic way of describing the shame and disgrace to which those errors and false persuasions exposed the Ancient Church. Has not the same thing happened in the history of the Christian Church? Have not the formulations of the councils, the cruel and debasing doctrines of the Post Nicene Church, been a disgrace and a scandal to Christianity? Could a sober church ever invent the doctrine of the tripersonality of God, the vicarious atonement, salvation by faith alone, predestination, infant damnation, and a hell of everlasting burning? Truly, any sober-minded man is able to see that those doctrines have exposed the church's shame to the gaze of the world. This, only on another plane and in a different form, was Noah uncovered in his tent, the Ancient Church disgraced by the errors which resulted from its own intelligence.
The sons of Noah are not to be thought of as individuals. They stand for the three classes of principles which entered into the constitution of the Ancient Church; and also for the three classes of persons by whom they were embraced.
Shem stands for those who placed the worship of the Lord in the foreground, who regarded it as the first principle of the church. They, however, did not attach much importance to the element of spiritual intelligence in directing and forming that worship. They were not doctrinal people; nor did they see the importance of true doctrine as a qualifying factor in their worship of the Lord.
Japheth stands for those who were in simple obedience to the laws which commanded the life, and inculcated the moralities of religion. To them, this was the principal requirement of religion. But they saw no necessary connection of the moralities of religion with the good and the truth of God, from which all the outward moralities and utilities of life must get their true inwardness.
Ham stands for those who accepted and received the truths of religion, because of the light they afforded to their understandings, for the worldly advantage they derived from them. They had only a scanty regard for the good in which they originated, for the high spiritual use they were designed to serve.
Now, the people called Ham, soon began to fall away from truths of the church. Regarding the love of goodness and obedience from interior and spiritual motives, as inferior to the cultivation of mere knowledge, their truth soon lost all connection in their minds with its Divine origin in revelation, and soon failed to see any real connection between knowledge and conduct.
Here we see a law, which is this: Spiritual truth, if it is not connected in the mind with its source in God and revelation, is soon turned into intellectual speculation. This leads to a separation of religion from life. This being the genius of the Hamites, therefore Ham is said to be the one who exposed Noah; for it was a part of their disposition to detect every fault or error which was manifested.
The Hamites were the rationalists of the Ancient Church. They were quick to observe every discrepancy and to hold it up, and speak of it. This they did, with no intention of correcting error, but only to expose it to the gaze of others.
The people of the ancient Church denoted by Shem and Japheth, acted differently. They were in simple, good and obedience; thus they endeavored to excuse the errors that had made an entrance into the church, to put upon them, a favorable construction. This effort of the charitable people of the church to protect it from scandal is represented by Shem and Japheth covering Noah with a garment. Their disinclination to give publicity to the errors that were reported of the church is what is meant by their turning their eyes away from their father's nakedness and going backward as they covered him in his tent. Here is a great lesson in charity; and there is ample room and opportunity for the practice of it in our own day and in our own church.
"Noah awoke from his wine." What does this mean? It means that the Ancient Church awoke to a sense of the dreadful error into which it had fallen. The church is the larger man; and as an individual may make a mistake and afterwards come to see it, so the church may fall into errors of interpretation, and afterward awake to a full sense of the nature and consequence of such errors. This was true of the Ancient Church. "Noah awoke from his wine."
When Noah awoke, we are told that, "he knew what his younger son had done unto him." This is strange language; and it is impossible to think of it only in a figurative sense; for Ham, according to the literal sense, was Noah's second, and not his younger son. The awakening of Noah was the Ancient Church seeing the errors into which it had fallen; and Noah seeing what his younger son had done unto him was the parable way of telling us that the church perceived the fact that the Hamites, the people of mere knowledge, had founded a corrupt worship on the very errors that they had detected.
That corrupt worship had arisen during Noah's state of intoxication. He saw it when he awoke. The people who adopted such worship and made it their religion, are called Canaan; and they are spoken of as Noah's younger son, because they adopted and carried into practice the religious corruptions which had last descended from the Ancient Church. Canaan, thus represented the last and youngest heretical worship that descended from the declining Ancient Church. In the story, Ham is called the father of Canaan. This means that from the Hamitish branch of the Ancient Church, which had perverted the Divine truth, there was begotten a new corruption which is here called Canaan.
Here we see why the curse for exposing Noah's nakedness was pronounced against Canaan and not upon Ham. The curse upon Canaan means that the people, under that name, who had adopted such corrupt worship, turned themselves away from the Lord and closed all the avenues of Divine influx against the life of heaven. This curse, this closure of the minds of the Canaanites to the Lord, was fully realized in their history as a people; for it was this people with their corrupt worship that were long afterwards destroyed by the Jews when they came into possess the land of Canaan.
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THE GENERATIONS OF SHEM, HAM AND JAPHETH
The sons of Noah were the distinct religious branches of the Ancient Church. Think of Noah, not as an individual, but as the Ancient or Spiritual Church, and there will be no difficulty attending this spiritual interpretation. The name Noah stands for the remnant, left in the Most Ancient Church, in all of whom the Lord commenced a different process of regeneration, a regeneration which consisted in the forming of a new will in their intellectual parts. Shem, Ham and Japheth denote not only the three cardinal principles of the Ancient Church, but the different classes of people who accepted them and by loyalty to them propagated them among mankind.
We may find an illustration of this in the history of the Christian Church. That church, as early as the second century, was called the Catholic Church. It was so called because to the early Fathers the word catholic expressed the true conception of Christianity as the universal religion, differing from the ethnic or race religions in this: that it brought to the world a religion for all sorts and conditions of men. But, after the first general council in 325 A. D., the original Catholic Church began to depart from the faith once delivered unto the saints, and branched out into three parts, which church history calls the Roman, the Greek and the Anglican Catholic Churches. The Roman, Greek and Anglican Churches are the three sons of the original Christian Catholic Church. Each distinct branch retained something of the parent church, but each departed in many particulars from the original church.
So it was of the sons of Noah. Shem was the branch that received and accentuated the doctrine of charity. Ham was the branch of the church that received in a special way the doctrine that revealed the laws of the Divine truth. Japheth was the branch of the church that received and laid especial stress upon the doctrine of obedience. Starting out, in this way, these three branches of the Noetic Church began to propagate the special things they stood for. As they did this, there arose among their members many and various opinions concerning the principles for which they stood, especially as to the methods of propagating them.
Thus the descendants of Shem, Ham and Japheth are not to be understood as individuals but as forms of belief, and their names as indicating the people who embraced them. This is all clear enough if we keep in mind the doctrine that we are reading about the spiritual history of the church and not about the natural population of the world.
The number which descended from the three sons of Noah is seventy. This number is very significant, for, like sewn, it stands for what is full and complete. We get from it, spiritually understood, the idea of the full development of the principles derived from the three cardinal teachings of the Ancient Church. One thing, however, we must keep in mind, the Noetic Church was in the process of decline. The descendants of Shem, Ham and Japheth, the beliefs that were originated and propagated in these branches of the Noetic Church, were getting farther and farther away from the original deposit of the true faith, the church in its three branches was going on to its judgment and end. The number seventy, the number of the descendants of the three sons, stands for this consummation and end.
Thus it is not the origin of the inhabitants of the lands, but the origin and character of the religious doctrine and ritual which prevailed among men in those ancient times that this record deals with.
Here we meet with a remarkable statement. After the descendants of Japheth are enumerated, it is said: "By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands." Here we see that Gentiles, that is, people outside of the church, were already in existence, showing in the very letter of the story that the record is not treating of the natural history of man. The lands were already full of inhabitants, but as the teaching of the Ancient Church, in its three great branches, was brought to them, they were divided in their lands, distinguished in their lands by the several notions of religion which began to prevail among them. Think of this same thing as realized in the propagation of Christianity. The first Christian Church was organized in Jerusalem and was under the pastoral care of St. James. From it as a center, Christianity was planted in the Holy Land. Missionaries went forth proclaiming its doctrine; and they begat, as spiritual sons, all the nations of western Europe. They were not the colonizers of those countries, but they were the ones who converted their inhabitants. Europe became Christian; but each nation has been distinguished by some peculiar feature of Christianity. The people were divided in their lands. So of this Noetic Church, the various nations that were influenced by the doctrines of the Ancient Church, the distinct forms of religious life that were developed among them, are what is meant by the Gentiles being divided in their lands. The respective receivers of the various doctrines of the Ancient Church in course of time separated and propagated their opinions; and the names of their religious characteristics were fixed upon the nations that received them.
One may ask how so many nations could have been so distinctly characterized by religion; but we have had the same thing in the history of Christianity and Mohammedanism. Stanley, in his History of the Eastern Church, gives the description of a whole family of national churches springing frbm and being related to the original Greek Church.
So the Divine purpose in the list of names of nations descended from Shem, Ham and Japheth is to express the origin and character of the various religious sentiments which sprang out of the three families of doctrine which grew up in the Noetic Church, and which, in the allegory, are called Shem, Ham and Japheth. The purpose was also to indicate the propagations of those varieties of doctrine and worship among the nations and their adoption of the names by which those religious teachings were expressed. We have the same thing today. Rome, from its religion, is called Papal. The Papal nations are they among whom the Romish religion is established. Turkey is called Mohammedan; and Islamism, or the Islam nations, are they among whom the religion of Mohamed is established. But the early Christian missionaries did not originate the inhabitants of Italy; nor did Mohamed originate the inhabitants of Turkey. But the Christian missionaries gave a religion to Italy, and Mohamed gave a religion to Turkey; and in accepting the religion they adopted the name. We can see from this how various were the forms of religious belief and worship in the Ancient Church; and each of these beliefs was adopted by certain numbers of individuals, who, as a family, a house, or a nation, was called by the name of the special religious doctrine that they accepted.
Thus we have three lines: The nations descended from Shem stand for the peoples who accepted the doctrines concerning goodness of life, which they derived from those of the Ancient Church who were in spiritual and internal worship. These doctrines gave a distinct character to the people that accepted them. They took the name of the doctrine; so that the nations descended from Shem are the people whose religious characteristics may be traced back to the distinctive religious teaching in the Ancient Church that was personified under the name Shem. The true evidence of Shemitic origin was their religious characteristics and not their descent from an individual called Shem.
The sons of Ham stand for doctrines which were derived from those in the Ancient Church, among whom there had prevailed a corrupt form of internal worship. They also stand for the nation by which the knowledge of such doctrines were received. Thus the sons of Ham denote the doctrines and the people who placed the knowledge of religion, and especially the mere ritual of the church, above the principles of the church and the life of charity. The nations that embraced these doctrines were called by the name which was given to that doctrine in the Ancient Church. It is the spiritual generation of these doctrines and not nations that is told us in the allegory.
Those who are described as the sons of Japheth stand for doctrines that were evolved from those in the Ancient Church who, in the beginning, held true views of external worship and for the communities and nations that adopted them. When we contemplate a nation, we think of it as one. There is a national character, and this national character gives a peculiar quality to the religion that prevails in it. But the inward quality of religion differs, because of its inward reception into different minds in the nation. So all the nations said to be descended from Japheth symbolize the different inward reception of the doctrines that were evolved from the original teaching in the Ancient Church which was personified by the name Japheth.
Thus it is of the descent and propagation of religious doctrines and forms of worship that is told us in the story of the generations of the three sons of Noah.
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NIMROD AND THE BEGINNING OF HIS KINGDOM
Nimrod was descended from Ham. By Ham was represented the doctrine of external worship, in which there was, in the beginning, a true internal spirit. But in the process of the decline of the Ancient Church, external worship was separated from true internal worship, and was adopted by large communities of people. Nimrod was the name given to the doctrine which grew out of the Hamitic branch of the Ancient Church, which centered the all of religion in mere external observances. He does not, therefore, stand for an individual, but for a doctrine and for the communities that adopted and were influenced in their religious life by it.
External worship separate from internal worship is profane. It consists in mere formalities and rituals. This kind of worship is soulless. It is sheer idolatry. It is paying tithe of mint and anise and cummin, but omitting the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy and faith. It makes the formal the essential and places the body above the soul. It appeals to and captivates the senses but does not reach the heart and mind. It is really a ceremonial tyranny and sets aside, as of little importance, the real inward spirit of religion. It is a dead and cold formalism.
All this is true of any form of worship, be it elaborate or simple, in which there is lacking the spirit of faith and true humility. The church is constituted of many varieties of mind; and a true and living church can never be cast into one mold of worship. Internal worship consists in love to the Lord and charity toward the neighbor, and this internal worship can enter into and dwell in all manner and forms of external worship. It is the essential, and if the members of the church are in this internal worship, their forms of external worship may be elaborate and ritualistic, or they may be as simple as the forms of Quakerism, and they will be acceptable unto the Lord. The internal is what the Lord sees. The attempt to force one external form of worship upon the whole church indicates an utter failure to see and be governed by the principle of charity. And this is just as true of those who seek to force what they call the simple forms of worship upon the whole church as it is of those who seek to force the more ornate and ritualistic forms. There is just as much danger in the one as there is in the other.
The main thing is to have the internal right in the sight of God; and then the ceremonials of the church become matters of dress, to be determined by the needs or taste of the people. This is the only broad and catholic view.
Now the Nimrod doctrine did not involve this great conception. It ignored the internal altogether and placed the whole worship in mere ceremonial. This doctrine reached its height of power as the Ancient Church approached its judgment and end. Indeed it is remarkable that each dispensation of the church has experienced, at its close, this same thing. As the Adamic Church neared its end, there arose in it an externalism represented by the giants whq became mighty in the earth. As the Ancient Church was coming to its end, Nimrod arose, there grew up a worship that was wholly external. When the historic Jewish Church was at its end there arose the same state as represented in the Pharisees, who bound heavy burdens and grievous to be borne and laid them on men's shoulders, And at the end of the church of the Lord's first advent, we find the real spirit of worship eliminated and a most gorgeous ceremonial worship established. The meaning of all this is clear enough to one who thinks. When the real inward life of the church dies out, the priesthood seek to make good the loss by the establishment of awe striking ceremonials. This is the state of the Ancient Church that is represented by Nimrod.
Think of what is said of Nimrod: "He became a mighty one in the earth." This is not the story of the rise of a man with a mighty and commanding influence. It is rather the story of the rise of a perverted and utterly false doctrine that grew into favor among men and came to be regarded as a mighty power in the Ancient Church.
The earth, or world, is the symbol of the church; and the story is that of a doctrine that became prominent in its sway and that was mighty in its influence. The Ancient Church had grown to be external. Its spiritual life had waned and died, and here was a doctrine of external worship that strongly appealed to the natural state of mind into which men had descended. Their natural hearts embraced it eagerly. It made no demands upon their life, for they had put away the vital things of faith and life and had come to regard the mere formalities of the church as having saving power. Descending into this condition, the church readily turned to a doctrine that eliminated charity and substituted for faith a mere formalism of worship. Thus Nimrod gained dominion; thus spiritual tyranny grew up and the church was dominated by mere externalism. This is what is meant by Nimrod's might in the earth. This same condition was developed during the history of the first Christian dispensation. As the inward and beautiful life of the Apostolic age waned and died, there were gradually developed the imposing ceremonials of the Romish Church. Nimrod became mighty in the earth. All spiritual thinking was banished from the church. Religion, as a life, died, and in its stead there grew up a vast system of superstition which held in bondage the nations of the Christian world.
It is said of Nimrod that "he was a mighty hunter before the Lord." This means that the system called Nimrod had a powerful sphere of persuasion about it. There was something in the Nimrod doctrine that captivated and held men's minds, and allured them on to accept a religion out of which had gone all spiritual vitality.
Think! The very nature of an external religion is persuasive; and men are easily ensnared by it, because having become external, they easily accept what appeals to their sight and natural feelings. They are easily caught and captivated by a religion of mystery, a religion on the natural plane. A religion that calls for thought, reflection and spirituality of character they pass by. This is the secret of the hold which the Roman Church has on its people. It is also the secret of the rapid growth of that cult which we know as Christian Science. Both systems are powerful in their persuasiveness. Neither system calls for any spiritual thinking. Both appeal to the natural man. They are Nimrodism. Both Romanism and Eddyism take advantage of the unthinking multitude: both bait their teaching with promises of relief from the duty of repentance and spiritual purification. Both systems are mighty hunters, great in persuasiveness and utterly lacking in rationality. Both systems are accepted by the people who do no thinking, but yield their minds as prey to Nimrod.
Think of what is said of Nimrod's kingdom: "The beginning of his kingdom was Babel and Erech and Accad and Calneth, in the land of Shinar." The idea is not that of the founding of these cities by a man named Nimrod; the idea is that of the beginning and extension of the doctrine, in the Ancient Church, which placed the all of religion in mere external things.
These cities with their inhabitants already existed, but Nimrodism began in Babel and extended its baleful influence over all the places mentioned. We see the same thing in the Christian Church. The beginning of the Papal dominion was in Italy and it gradually extended itself over Europe. Things have a beginning somewhere. But something more than a natural locality is meant by Babel. Babel is the Scripture name for the self love out of which grow all the forms of spiritual dominion over men's souls. The Babel of Nimrod was the selfish love of the natural heart in which the doctrine, that religion consists in the observance of mere ceremonies, found its beginning. It was so in the Ancient Church; and it is so today. Spiritual dominion begins in the Babel of a selfish heart and extends its influence to all the relations of life. We must be on guard against Nimrod. Let us therefore cling to the Internal things of the church and regard all external forms as the formalities of religion.
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THE JOURNEY FROM THE EAST: THE TOWER OF BABEL AND THE CONFUSION OF TONGUES
The supreme purpose of revelation is to teach spiritual truth. This is done by the employment of symbols. Thus the letter of Divine revelation is structured according to a definite law, the law of correspondence, which law expresses the causal relation between spiritual truth and the natural symbols by which it is clothed and through which it is expressed.
There can be no doubt about the fact of the prevalence of a universal natural language among the people of the Ancient Church during the period of the spiritual integrity of that church; but the unity of natural language was an effect flowing from an internal unity of affection and thought in the members of the Ancient Church. What their natural language was is a matter for philology to decide, if, indeed, it can be decided; but it would prove of no special spiritual use for us to know what it was.
The unity of language is used as a symbol of the unity of a deeper and profounder language, the language of the soul, the utterance of the church. This is our concern in the statement: "The whole earth was of one language and speech." Translated into the spiritual sense and read in the light of heaven the meaning is this: "The whole Ancient Church was possessed of one universal doctrine." For by the earth is meant the church. This was true of the Ancient Church in its best state. Its members, it is true, did not know the Lord in the interior way in which He was known in the Adamic Age; but they did all know Him and see Him in the light of the revelation which was made to them. And they loved Him. He stood out before their thought as one, a glorious being, a Divine person whom they could see and approach through the angel of His presence. They lived their life from Him and loved Him from the faith of their hearts.
This looking up to Him and love of Him opened in them the deep fountain of love for one another, for they were all children of the good Father in heaven and therefore brothers and sisters in the bonds of an abiding deep spiritual affection. They were, in other words, a brotherhood. They loved each other and were in the beautiful life of charity. Love to the Lord and the neighbor was their very life; and the language of the church, in them, was the language of love to God and to each other. This was universal. "The whole earth was of one language and speech." That the term language is employed in the Sacred Scriptures to represent doctrine is evident to all students of the Divine Book. The prophet in treating of the future state of the church in which science will be regarded as serviceable to its intellectual life says: "In that day shall five cities in the land of Egypt speak the language of Canaan." And in another place it said of the Lord: "I will turn to the people of a pure language that they may all call upon the name of the Lord to serve Him with one consent." In each of these instances no reference is made to natural language. The meaning becomes clear only as we think of natural language as the symbol of the universal doctrine of love to God and man that prevails in a true church. The Ancient Church, in its beginning, knew and used this language. It was the language of the soul.
But the Noetic Church lost this heavenly language. The reason for its loss is clearly stated in the Divine allegory: "It came to pass when they journeyed from the East." How expressive the symbolism! The church had one universal doctrine as long as it lived near the Lord and cultivated in the minds of its members a knowledge of and love for the internal spiritualities of religion. The Adamic Church fell when it left Eden. The Noetic Church fell when it left the east. The east, where the sun rises, is the symbol of the Lord from whom comes the light of life. Thus to dwell in the east, spiritually understood is to live near the Lord and derive from Him the life of love to Him and to our fellow men. To journey from the east, spiritually interpreted, is to close the mind to the Lord and the internal things of His Kingdom.
This is what the Noetic Church did. This has been the sad history of every church that has declined and passed away. Each of the old and consummated dispensations of religion departed gradually from its original state of love into the mere observance of externals.
We should learn a lesson from this. The New Church is an internal church. Not that it is not also external; but the internal things of heavenly life are the essentials Of the church, and forms of worship are mere matters of clothing. Simple or elaborate, they have no other significance or use. We are safe as long as we dwell in the east. We come into trouble and begin to lose our spiritual life as a church, the very moment we turn our minds out and down to mere external things. This sad state is pictured to us in what is said of the people who journeyed from the east. It is said: "They found a valley in the land of Shinar and dwelt there." A mountain, as an elevation in nature, represents a high state of spiritual life. Here is where the church should dwell; for while the church must be in the world it must not be of the world. Its mission is a high and holy service to human souls; and to properly perform it, the church must dwell on the mountains of love to God and man.
A valley is a depression in nature; and in the symbology of the Holy Word is used to represent an external life. So that when it is said: "They found a valley and dwelt there," the truth expressed is that the Ancient Church in departing from the internal things of doctrine and life came into a low external state, and in that state cultivated a love for mere ritual, for the raiment of religion as things of more importance than the inward and enduring things of the spirit of the church. The church dwelt in a valley.
There is a great warning in this story. Those of us who incline to the ornate and the beautiful in worship, who see that there may be great power in such ultimates of worship, should be careful not to give such externals too great importance; for there does lurk a mighty danger in them, the danger of allowing them to obscure in the mind the deeper and real essential things of the church.
We are told in this allegory that when the people descended into the valley of Shinar they said: "Go to, let us build us a city and a tower." Here we have the story of one more step in the decline of the Ancient Church. In departing from the Lord, the church forsook the high things of ideal and life and became external. What could grow out of this state other than the desire to build up a system of teaching with lofty pretensions of spirituality, but utterly lacking all the elements of love and truth? This is what is meant by the city and towers said to have been built in the valley of Shinar. The Ancient Church, in this, its last stage of decline, invented false doctrines and adopted artificial methods of salvation. Its doctrines fostered the love of self, inflated human intelligence with the thought of its greatness; and above all, they encouraged and developed the worst forms of spiritual dominion over human souls.
In this respect the Babel builders of the Ancient Church have come to life and done their work over again in the Christian Church.
Think! The men who journeyed from the east, when they came into the valley, said: "Go to, let us make brick and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone; and slime had they for mortar." Stones are Divine creations, and in the Scriptures, in a good sense, represent Divine truths revealed by the Lord to man. As no man can make a stone, so no man can make a truth. Bricks are artificially made stones. God never, in any direct way, made a brick. Therefore, bricks represent falsities, things that look like truths, but which when examined in the light of heaven reveal their true nature.
How easy from this correspondence it is to see the meaning of this part of the Divine allegory: The Ancient Church, in this final stage of its fall, turned entirely away from the Lord and His truth to self love and self intelligence and constructed its city of doctrine and its tower of life from the coinage of its own depraved will and fallen intellect. Brick and slime were the material the church built with.
Then came the final end, the judgment of the church. It is told in allegorical form under the story of the confusion of tongues and the dispersion of the people. The Ancient Church broke up into confused sects, each sect going forth to propagate its doctrines. It ceased to be a church.
These two dispensations, the Adamic and the Noetic, cover the prehistoric religious life on the earth: and the Genesis account of them, when understood in its spiritual sense, connects these prehistoric Churches with the historic Jewish dispensation of religion and thus gives spiritual unity to the Old Testament.
Aside from this interpretation of these early Chapters of the Word, we have no account of the beginnings of heavenly life in man. And now that science has rendered a literal interpretation of them impossible, this opening of their inner meaning by the Lord restores them to the Church and establishes rational faith in them as a part of God's divine revelation in the Word.