Extracts

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Correspondence

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[1 of 2] Swedenborg (1688-1772, Sweden): primary subject "Correspondence, between nature and spirit" (search under Inner Life/Teachings)": source "True Christian Religion": detail "Section 201 - 204"
That all things in nature, both in general and in particular, correspond to things spiritual, and in like manner all and everything in the human body, is shown in the treatise concerning "Heaven and Hell" [para. 87-105]. But what is meant by correspondence has to this day remained unknown, notwithstanding it was a subject most familiar to the men of the most ancient times, who esteemed it the science of sciences, and cultivated it so universally, that all their books and treatises were written by correspondences. The book of Job, which was a book of the ancient church, is full of correspondences. The hieroglyphics of the Egyptians, and the fabulous stories of antiquity, were founded on the same science. All the ancient churches were churches representative of spiritual things, and their ceremonies, and also their statutes, which were rules for the institution of their worship, consisted of mere correspondences. In like manner, everything in the Israelitish church, the burnt-offerings, sacrifices, meat-offerings, and drink-offerings, with all the particulars belonging to each, were correspondences; so also was the tabernacle, with all things contained in it; and likewise the festivals, as the feast of unleavened bread, the feast of tabernacles, the feast of the first-fruits; also, the priesthood of Aaron and the Levites, and their garments of holiness: but what were the particular spiritual things with which each corresponded, is shown in the "Arcana Coelestia", published at London: and besides the things above-mentioned, all the statutes and judgments relating to worship and life were correspondences. Now, as divine things fix their existence in outward nature in correspondences, therefore the Word (Bible) was written by mere correspondences; and for the same reason the Lord, in consequence of speaking from the Divine, spoke by correspondences; for whatever proceeds from the Divine, when it comes into outward nature, manifests itself in such outward things as correspond with what is divine, which outward things become then the repositories of divine things, otherwise called celestial and spiritual, which lie concealed within them.
 I have been informed, that the men of the most ancient church, which was before the flood, were of so heavenly a genius, that they conversed with angels, and that they had the power of holding such converse by means of correspondences; hence the state of their wisdom became such, that on viewing any of the objects of this world, they thought of them not only naturally, but also spiritually, thus in conjunction with the angels of heaven. I have been further informed, that Enoch, who is spoken of in Genesis, v. 21.-24, together with his associates, collected correspondences from the lips of these celestial men, and transmitted the knowledge thereof to posterity; in consequence of which, the science of correspondences was not only known in many kingdoms of Asia, but, was also much cultivated, particularly in the land of Canaan, Egypt, Assyria, Chaldea, Syria, Arabia, in Tyre, Sidon, and Nineveh, and from thence it was conveyed into Greece, where it was changed into fable, as may appear from the works of the oldest writers of that country.
 To show that the science of correspondences was long preserved in the Asiatic nations, among those who were called diviners and wise men, and by some magi, I will adduce a remarkable instance from 1 Sam. v. and vi. We are there informed, that the ark, containing the two tables whereon were written the ten commandments, was taken by the Philistines, and placed in the house of Dagon in Ashdod, and that Dagon fell to the ground before it; and afterwards, that his head and both the palms of his hands were separated from his body, and lay on the threshold; and that the people of Ashdod and Ekron, to the number of several thousands, were smitten with hemorrhoids, and that the land was devoured with mice; and that the Philistines, on this occasion, called together their priests and diviners, and that to put a stop to the destruction which threatened them, they determined to make five golden hemorrhoids, and five golden mice, and a new cart, and to set the ark on this cart, with the golden hemorrhoids and mice, and have it drawn by two milch kine, which lowed in the way before the cart, and thus to send back the ark to the children of Israel, by whom the kine and the cart were offered up in sacrifice, and the God of Israel was appeased. That all these devices of the Philistine diviners were correspondences is evident from their signification, which is this: the Philistines themselves signified those who are in faith separate from charity; Dagon represented that religious principle; the hemorrhoids, wherewith they were smitten, signified the natural loves, which, if separated from spiritual love, are unclean; and mice signified the devastation of the church by falsifications of truth; a new cart signified natural doctrine of the church, for a chariot, in the Word, signifies doctrines derived from spiritual truths; the milch kine signified good natural affections; the golden hemorrhoids signified the natural loves purified and made good; the golden mice signified the devastation of the church removed by means of good, for gold in the Word signifies good; the lowing of the kine in the way signified the difficult conversion of the concupiscences of evil in the natural man into good affections; the offering up of the kine and the cart as a burnt-offering signified that thus the God of Israel was rendered propitious. All these things which the Philistines did by the advice of their diviners were correspondences; from which it appears that that science was long preserved among the Gentiles.
 As the representative rites of the church, which were correspondences, began, in process of time, to be corrupted by idolatrous and likewise magical applications of them, therefore, by the divine providence of the Lord, the science of correspondences was gradually lost, and among the Israelitish and Jewish people entirely obliterated. The divine worship of that people consisted indeed of mere correspondences, and consequently was representative of heavenly things; but still they had no knowledge of a single thing represented; for they were altogether natural men, and therefore had neither inclination nor ability to gain any knowledge of spiritual and celestial subjects; for the same reason they were necessarily ignorant of correspondences, these being representations of things spiritual and celestial in things natural.


[2 of 2] Swedenborg (1688-1772, Sweden): primary subject "Correspondence, between nature and spirit" (search under Inner Life/Teachings)": source "True Christian Religion": detail "Section 206 - 207"
The reason why the science of correspondences, which is the key to the spiritual sense of the Word [Bible], was not discovered to later ages, was because the Christians of the primitive church were men of such great simplicity that it was impossible to discover it to them; for had it been discovered, they would have found no use in it, and would not have understood it. After those first ages of Christianity there arose thick clouds of darkness, which overspread the whole Christian world, first in consequence of many heretical opinions propagated in the church, and soon after in consequence of the decrees and determinations of the Council of Nicea, concerning the existence of three divine persons from eternity, and concerning the person of Christ as the Son of Mary, and not as the Son of Jehovah God. Hence sprang the present faith of justification, in which three gods are approached and worshipped according to their respective orders, and on which depend all and everything belonging to the present church, as the members of the body depend on the head: and because men applied every part of the Word to confirm this erroneous faith, therefore the spiritual sense could not be discovered; for had it been discovered, they would have applied it also to a confirmation of the same faith, and thereby would have profaned the very holiness of the Word, and thus would have shut heaven entirely against themselves, and have removed the Lord entirely from the church.
 The reason why the science of correspondences, which is the key to the spiritual sense of the Word, is now revealed, is because the divine truths of the church are now coming to light, and of these the spiritual sense of the Word consists; and while these are in man, the literal sense of the Word cannot be perverted; for the literal sense is capable of being turned any way, but if it be turned to favor the false, then its internal sanctity is destroyed, and its external along with it; whereas if it be turned to favor the truth, then its sanctity is preserved.