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REASONS WHY THE LITERAL SENSE OF THE WORD OF
GOD MUST SYMBOLIZE A HIGHER SENSE.
« The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.” (John vi. 63.)
We are now commencing a course of lectures upon the symbolic character of the Sacred Scriptures, or of the Divine Language. But, are we truly sensible of what we are undertaking ? Are we, indeed, conscious that the language we purpose to explain is infinite, that God's words must contain infinite ideas, and that, to fully comprehend them, would require the wisdom of the great Jehovah-a capacity so far beyond the reach of men or angels ? All this we fully believe. And we also believe, that we can learn to appreciate the meaning and force of God's language, only in degrees according to our states; and that we can do this properly, only as we become acquainted with God's nature and character. For if we would enter into the real life and spirit or any book, we must know the qualities and character of the author; for the real author lives in his words and his works. And, as from the language of men, we are introduced to a knowledge of their
minds ; so, from the language of God, we may become somewhat acquainted with the will and wisdom of our heavenly Father. For God lives in his language. The words which He speaks, “They are spirit and they are life.” And that spirit and life are God Himself in His wisdom and love.
But what is the divine language? In its broadest sense it is everything that manifests the Lord's qualities. He is the author of everything; he lives in everything, and speaks in everything, either directly or indirectly. But His speech is understood according to the state and ability of the reader. Some see it in the light of divine wisdom, and understand it aright to the extent of their capacity. Others see it in the light of their own self-derived intelligence, and understand it not as it really is, but only as it appears to them to be.
But it is of the nature and character of God's revealed Word, rather than of the book of Nature, that we are to speak this evening; and more particularly, of the reasons why that Revelation must possess a symbolic or spiritual sense distinct from the literal sense. But in doing this, and in all our lectures, we shall aim, not so much at the profurdity and depth of the divine Wisdom and Word, as at its simplicity and plainness. For everything perfect and divine is in itself deep and obscure ; far deeper than finite minds can fathom.
Human wisdom can never reach the starting point, so as to comprehend the full cause of anything ; for Infinity is involved in that. Our efforts, therefore, in these lectures, will be to simplify and
bring the real, spiritual things out from their secret enfoldings, into the plain daylight of the reasoning faculties of man's natural mind; where he can see them in the light of science, take hold of them with the arm of his judgment, turn them over and about, and look at them on all sides, in the relation they bear to one another, to man and to their Creator.
Now the first and perfectly conclusive reason, why the Holy Word contains a spiritual sense within the literal, is seen in the law of analogy, which pervades the entire Word, and which shows the relation between spiritual and natural things ; between the world of .mind and the world of matter ; between God and nature ; between the mind of man and the universe of things. But this argument has no weight with a person, who is not acquainted with this law of analogy, or science of correspondences. This argument, therefore, we cannot use in this evening's discourse, as our lectures are designed for persons unacquainted with that science. But it will gradually present itself as the truth and beauty of that science are seen and understood, as the law is applied to the illustrations of the Word, as we proceed with these lectures. For the science of correspondences is the great rational test of the divinity of the Sacred Scriptures. By means of it are clearly understood the history of the Creation, the Garden of Eden, the Fall, the Flood, the Prophecy of Ezekiel, the Second Coming of the Lord, the Descent of the New Jerusalem, and the wonderful things declared in the Apocalypse. Upon the truth of this science, as an infallible key to the otherwise hidden
beauty and glory of the divine Word, the receivers of the doctrines of the New Church are ever ready to rest the entire question of their new religious faith.
Does any one disbelieve or doubt, that the Lord, as the “Word,” which was in the beginning with God and was God, and which was manifest in the flesh, is now actually making his second coming in the spiritual or internal sense of the Word, for the establishment of a new religious order of things, which will eventually bring all to see eye to eye, do away with all sin and contention among men, and really make all things ?-I say,
does any one disbelieve or doubt this ? Let him test the ground of his unbelief by the truth or falsehood of the science of correspondences. We court this test of all who candidly desire to understand the Holy Word. For, of the result of such an investigation, we have not the least doubt. We ourselves (with thousands of others) have weighed the ground of our own former unbelief in the same balance, and found it wanting. And all, who have ever sincerely examined into the merits of this science, have come to the same conclusions, and alike understood the doctrines of the sacred Word. The reason of their agreement is, that correspondences are a real science. For, as the science of geometry, by the light of natural truth, brings every close investigator of its principles to the same results in the solution of its problems ; so, also, does the science of correspondences by a higher, and yet, equally philosophical light, bring all its true and faithful investigators to the same conclusions as to the doctrines of the Word. For all truths are eternal verities. They are ever and unchangeably the same. About them, when seen, men do not differ. It is about falsehoods, and where truths are not seen, that the intellectual world is contending.
The doctrines of the Word, when seen in the light of correspondences, become themselves the indisputable evidence of their own truth. This is the reason why the students of this science agree in divine things. And it is the very reason why the watchmen, at the second coming of the Lord, are to "see eye to eye.”
The science of correspondences is a language. It may be denominated THE language. For it is the sure language of Jehovah. It is therefore a living language. It is the only language that has spirit and life. It is a universal language : the language in which not only the Holy Word speaks, but the mountains and streams, the winds and the ocean ; yea, earth and skies and universal nature with her ten thousand tongues are speaking to us. Does any one doubt the existence of such a language? Let him learn to read it. No one who has ever learned it has any such doubts. Does he say no one ever has learned it? How does he know that ? Thousands of persons, entitled to respect, say they have studied it, and find it to be a most sure and certain language. Where, then, rests the weight of evidence? Who is the best judge of a book, he that has read it, or he that has not ?
By this science, the Sacred Scripture is convincingly proved to be the Word of the Infinite Jebovah. All its parts thereby blend into harmony. The darkest and most obscure passages are opened and explained ;