Category — Regeneration
A SERIES OF LECTURES
Rev. Theodore Pitcairn
Nova Domini Ecclesia Quae Est
The Lord’s New Church Which Is Nova Hierosolyma
Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania
THE STORY OF CREATION IN GENESIS
THE FIRST DAY OF CREATION
THE FIRST DAY
The understanding of truth by the enlightenment of the human mind. The creation of the World of mind and its relation to the world of matter.
Every study which one undertakes involves not only new ideas, but also new words, in a sense a new vocabulary appropriate to the subject. Therefore, if we are to enter more profoundly into the things of religion, we, of necessity, have to master new ideas, and acquire an appropriate usage of words, which to a degree departs in meaning from the same words as used in common speech. In regard to the subject which we will consider, the difficulties of understanding it are not so great as is the case in many technical subjects which the man of medium intelligence readily masters if he is interested in the subject. But when it comes to religion many expect to arrive at essential things without the kind of effort that they would put into the study of some other subject. Yet everything worthwhile requires effort; apart from effort a subject soon grows flat and stale. The kingdom of God is not for the mentally lazy.
The reason that few are willing to spend the energy required in acquiring a knowledge of religion that they would readily spend on other subjects is that their love is weak. While the things of this world grip their interest, the things of eternal life do not grip them sufficiently, wherefore on encountering the first difficulty, they give up.
One seeking truth wishes a calm presentation, and not a highly emotional or oratorical presentation which deprives the mind of the quietness of mood necessary for an unbiased judgment. Religious talks often arouse the emotions to such an extent that one can not see whether what is said is true or not.
The object of these lectures is not to persuade, but to present certain things for your calm consideration.
In this country most persons believe in a God, that is, they are theists and not atheists; but generally speaking, the idea of God is decidedly vague, and there are many shades of opinion varying from those who hold to the strict traditions of our grandparents to the scientist who finds an unknown force or intelligence behind the natural phenomena with which he deals and which he calls God.
Even in the churches the idea of God with the great majority has become somewhat vague. There are few who accept the Bible in the same way as our forefathers did.
Our idea and thence thought of God may be based on three types of approach to the subject:
First, the approach through a written revelation: with the Christians through what is called the Bible. This is sometimes called the historical approach.
Second, the approach through the objective world. This approach may be divided into two kinds: the approach of the scientist who as it were sees God behind the order of the universe, or as the active force within the atom; and the approach of the artistically inclined who see God behind the harmony of creation.
Third, the approach through the subjective world of mind. These feel the presence of God as inspiration from within, as the source of love and wisdom.
With those who believe in God there is generally some thing of all these methods of approach and each has its place; but in the world such as it is at this day, the scientific approach tends to dominate and take a place of importance beyond its due.
The reason for this is that men have fallen into an intensive pursuit of material ends. They have been overcome by an all-pervading desire to satisfy first their material wants at the expense of all else. This pursuit has concentrated the thought on science as the means to this goal with the result that the thought of God has become largely a scientific idea of God.
Science with the exception of psychology deals with the objective world, and even psychology is based largely on objective experiments, which can be scientifically demonstrated on the plane of physical sensation.
To form our ideas according to the objective world, the world around us, is the easiest course, the course requiring the least reflection.
A child, if it were not pointed out to him, would have considerable knowledge of his surroundings before he realized that he had an eye that sees; and when he knows he has an eye he still cannot see his own eye. After growing older a child has a far more extensive knowledge of his environment before he comes to realize that he has a mind which is the means of his being conscious of the world; and even when he grows up, it is hard for him to realize that the actual consciousness of the world around us is within us and not as it appears outside of us, for we appear to see a tree at a distance and are not aware that the sensation is in the eye.
The tendency is to carry something of this childish attitude over into adult life, with the result that the world of material things around us seems to us more real than the world of mind.
It also appears as if the mind were formed and received its activity from the sensations which come to it from the outer world; but that this is a fallacy can be seen from the fact that a more internal activity cannot be caused by a lower type of activity. This may be seen illustrated by the following example:
If a soft iron bar is held in a north and south direction and hammered while so held, it becomes magnetized, that is, it becomes a magnet. The reason for this is that all iron consists of magnetic particles. These particles are normally facing in every direction, so that they neutralize each other; but when the bar is hammered, the earth’s magnetic field brings these particles into alignment with the result that the bar becomes what is called magnetized. The appearance is that the hammering gave to the bar its magnetic force, but the truth is that the hammering merely permitted the magnetic particles so to arrange themselves that their force becomes evident to us.
Another illustration is the electric generator. The turning of the wheels appears to be the source of the electricity, whereas in reality the turning of the wheels so arranges the electrical particles in which the electrical force resides, that the force may be felt and used.
The same is true of the mind. The sensations from the outer world impinging upon the brain do not cause mental activity such as thoughts, affections, things of love and wisdom, but sensations are the means of the things of the mind so arranging themselves that we become conscious of our mind. The case is analogous to the hammer on the iron bar, where the hammering was not the cause of the magnet, but merely the means of the magnetic force, intrinsically present in the particles of the iron, manifesting its activity as magnetic force.
The highest form of activity we know is mental activity, the activity of affection, thought, love and wisdom, things of which we are subjectively conscious, if we reflect upon them.
It is obvious that the most appropriate thought concerning God is thought which primarily is based on the highest activity.
We can become aware of, that is, the activity of the human things of love and wisdom, and secondarily on the creation of the objective world of matter with its various forms of activity. In a word, that the primary thought of God be a Divinely Human idea, and not primarily a scientific non-human idea; that we think of God as Divine Love and Wisdom and, being such, that he is primarily the origin of mind, and thence of the material world; and that we view the world of matter as the means by which the world of mind manifests itself.
All people have viewed God as being in a human form. This concept was first brought into question by one of the ancient Greek philosophers, who said that if cows were able to portray their gods, they would portray them as cows, etc. This line of thought led to the disparagement of what is called the anthropomorphic idea of God, the idea of God in the form of man. In the Genesis account of creation it is said that God created man in His image and likeness; and if we see that man is primarily man from the form of his mind, and only secondarily from the form of his body, and see the body as a manifestation of the soul on a lower plane, we can see that the idea of God as a Divine Man is the highest concept possible to man, and the only one which is truly appropriate. God is indeed infinitely more than man, but it is only by means of a Divine Human idea, that we can have any appropriate idea of Him, and thus be conjoined to Him by love.
We indeed do not think of God as being spatial, as being a spatial figure seated somewhere in the universe, but if we see Him as Divine Love and Wisdom, and see the body as a representative or manifestation of the soul, we can visualize God as a Divine Man.
If we can see this, it no longer appears strange that man is described as being created in the image and likeness of God. Nor does it appear so strange that the Logos, the Word, the Divine Truth, which was in the beginning, should be made flesh and dwell among us; and we behold His Glory as described in the first chapter of the Gospel of John, where also it is said, that He was the light of the world which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
Was not this light the same light of which we read in the first chapter of Genesis, where the first day of creation is described: “And God said, Let there be light, and there was light, and God saw the light that it was good”?
The first chapter of Genesis appears to treat of the creation of the physical universe, the world of the physical creation, the objective world, This in the wisdom of God was so provided in order that children, and all peoples who are in a childish state, may think of God as the Creator of the wonderful world in which we live. For to a child, and to all who are in a childish state, this is the only world which has any reality to them.
Yet the Word of God is also for the wise, for the adult who realizes that the world of mind is just as real and more essential than the world of matter, and that the primary creation is the creation of the world of mind.
That the seven days of creation, essentially, are not a literal description of the creation of the physical universe, is evident from the fact that light is described as being created on the first day, while the sun, moon and stars are said to be created on the fourth day.
That there is a light of the mind in which men see truth, as well as a light of the body in which men see physical objects, is a matter of common thought and speech, as well as of common expression in the Bible or in the Word of God. We have an instinctive feeling that this form of expression is not a mere simile, but that there is a correspondence between the seeing of the eye, and the seeing of the mind, and that the light of the mind is as real a light as the light of the sun.
Concerning the first day of creation we read: “And darkness was upon the faces of the deep and the spirit of God moved upon the faces of the waters. And God said, Let there be light.” Genesis 1:2. Anyone who is willing can feel that the darkness here spoken of is the darkness of the man who is in doubt and obscurity, who is searching for the light of truth, but cannot find it, and therefore feels himself as in a deep, or in an abyss of ignorance, and that the spirit of Cod is the mercy of God, the mercy of our Lord, leading him into the light of truth.
The spirit of God is said to move. The word in the Hebrew also means to brood. As a hen broods over her eggs, the spirit of God moves or broods over the waters.
That waters mean truths is evident from the words of our Lord in the New Testament, but of this we will treat more fully in our next lecture. Here the faces of the waters are the knowledges of the truths of religion we learnt in our childhood, but which appear obscure and dark when we become adult and find that none can satisfactorily explain to us the things we have been taught. It is the Lord’s mercy moving and brooding upon these knowledges of truth that brings to man the first light, which brings him to the first day of the re-creation of his spirit, the first light that God really is, that God is the All in all of life.
The Bible commences with the words: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” Are we to think here merely of the sky, or where the word “heaven” occurs, are we to think of what our Lord called “the kingdom of heaven within you”? Does “the beginning” merely refer to some ancient time, or does it mean the beginning of man’s awakening when a vision of the kingdom of God is granted to him?
As “heaven” stands for the “kingdom of heaven within you”, so earth stands for the kingdom of earth in man, for the earthly things of the mind, earthly thoughts and affections.
If the Bible is the Word of God, it cannot treat, as to its spirit, of any thing but the things of the spirit.
What importance would many things written in the Bible have if they did not have hidden within them the things of the spirit?
We read “the letter killeth, the spirit giveth life”.
THE SECOND DAY
The distinction between inner and outer thought. Inspiration. Truth and how it purifies the mind.
In the preceding lecture we considered some of the things involved in the first day of creation. It was shown that the seven days of creation, which apparently treat of the creation of the material world, as to their spirit treat of how the Lord God, the Logos, the Word of God, or the Divine Truth, creates the living spirit or the new mind in man. It was also shown that the word “creation” when used in the Word of God, as to its spirit always treats of the creation of the things of the spirit, as in the fifty-first Psalm, where we read: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” Verse 10.
It was shown that all true and appropriate thought of God was a thought of Him as being Divine Love and Divine Wisdom, thus as a Divine Man, and that man was thus to be created in His image; also that God, being Divine Good and Divine Truth, descended on earth as the Logos, the Divine Truth, arid became flesh, as described in the first chapter of John.
The first day treats of man being a “void” or “emptiness”, a “deep” or an “abyss”. As long as man pays all his attention to and directs his interests towards material ends, to the satisfaction of his material wants and pleasures, as to his spirit he is void and empty, and he is in darkness as to the things of the spirit; in fact, he is a “deep” or ~‘abyss” of ignorance in relation to all things above the plane of material existence. The spirit of God moving upon the face of the waters is the Lord’s mercy, reviving the things of religion which the man has been taught in his childhood.
Children in states of innocence are delighted when taught about God, about heaven. Things like Christmas, the hearing the story of the birth of the Lord, make a deep impression on them. When a child grows up, such things recede into the background, and man centers his attention on gaining the things of the world. Still these childhood memories and impressions remain, and can be revived. It is these remains of things from a man’s childhood which are the waters over which the spirit of God moves or broods.
If the spirit of God touches these things, a man begins to come into light, into the light that God is, that He is the All in all things of life. It is the dawning of this light which creates in man the things of the first day of his spiritual creation, the beginning of the “creation of a new heart and a new spirit”.
In the first chapter of Genesis we are told that on the second day God made an expanse (translated at times firmament) in the midst of the waters, which was to distinguish between the waters below the expanse and the waters which were above the expanse and that God called the expanse heaven.
If we think of the natural universe, this description has little meaning. Possibly one might think of the waters above as being the clouds and the waters below as being the seas, but to make this kind of distinction before the creation of the sun and moon. which were said to be created on the fourth day, is impossible.
It follows that what is described as taking place on what is called the second day of creation has a hidden meaning, for as it stands it appears to have little sense.
The subject of the second day of creation is the waters. That the Lord Jesus Christ used water as a symbol or representative of something of the spirit is self-evident, for we read that Jesus said: “He that believeth on me, as the Scripture bath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” John 7:38.
The “Scriptures” here referred to are such places as the following:
“With joy shall ye draw water out of the well of salvation.” Is. 12:3.
“They have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living waters.”
“Living waters shall go forth from Jerusalem.” Zech. 14:8.
There are many other places in both the New and the Old Testaments where it is self- evident that waters stand for something of the spirit. Therefore water and washing was chosen as a representative of purification, and is used in the sacrament of baptism.
The meaning of water is most clearly evident in the fourth chapter of John. where we read: “Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith unto thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldst have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living waters. Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again; but whosoever drinketh of the waters that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the waters that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. The woman saith unto Him, ‘Sir, give me this water that I thirst not, neither come hitherto draw.” John 4:10-15
If we are not like the woman of Samaria, but are willing to acknowledge the ancient symbolism or representation of water, we can find an intelligent and important meaning in the distinction made between the waters and the waters on the second day of creation.
Waters stand for and represent truth. There are two things necessary for the sustenance of the life of the body: food and drink; and there are two things necessary for the sustenance of the life of the spirit: truth and good, or, what is the same, wisdom and love, for all living truth is of wisdom, and all living good is of love.
If a man is willing to believe, truths, like a river, will flow out of his inner man: “Rivers of living water out of his belly.”
The subject of the second day of creation is therefore the distinction that is made between truths of a higher order, and truths of a lower order: waters above and below the expanse.
That such a distinction can be made is evident from the distinction between concrete thought and abstract thought
Concrete thought is all thought which is based on the physical senses of hearing, sight, touch, etc. Abstract thought is all thought which is based on man’s awareness of his conscious mind, awareness of his thoughts, feelings, affections, understanding, etc. Abstract truths therefore have to do with man’s mental world, the world which he knows by reflecting on the operations of the mind. Of this world he is aware, not through the physical senses, but directly. Concrete thought, on the other hand, deals with the physical world of his environment.
Another general distinction between truths closely related to the above is the distinction between scientific thought or the facts of science, and religions thought with its truths.
A more profound distinction, however, may be made, which is the essential subject of our consideration of what is involved in this day of creation. A man may have been taught knowledges about religion, about God, etc., from his youth, and yet these knowledges may be largely a matter of memory, of knowing them from having been taught, and may not be a matter of inspiration, of insight, of understanding them in a living way.
When a man has merely learned the things of religion in the same way as he has learned other subjects, they are together with his knowledges of other subjects in his outer mind. This is why it is first said: “Let there be an expanse or firmament in the midst of the waters and let it distinguish between the waters in the waters.” In this state distinction is made between the truths of religion and other truths, but all on the same plane, with the same faculties of the mind. In the verse following, however, it is said: “God made a distinction between the waters which were under the expanse, and the waters which were above the expanse.” That is, it is seen that a man has higher faculties of the mind, an inner life, and lower faculties of the mind, which have to do with his outer life, and that the living things of religion have to do with the inner or higher faculties of the mind, and that the living truths, called the waters above the expanse, are in these higher faculties.
Therefore it immediately follows, “and God called the expanse heaven”.
The “heaven” here spoken of is “the kingdom of heaven”, which the Lord says is “within you”. All spiritual insight, all genuine inspiration, all living spiritual truths, are in this kingdom of heaven within man. These are the waters above the expanse, whereas truths which have only been learned, and are knowledges in the memory, are the waters under the expanse.
With most persons the things of religion remain with other knowledges in the lower mind. In fact, most persons are unaware of any higher faculty of the mind in which insight, inspiration, the living truths of the spirit, have their seat or reside; and as long as one’s interest is directed mainly to the things of the world, to its pleasures and satisfactions, one remains unconscious of the higher faculties of the mind. It is only when the pursuit of material ends is weakened that such faculties begin to open up.
We read, therefore, in the Writings of Swedenborg: “At the present day this state (the second day) seldom exists without temptations, misfortune or sorrow, by which the things of the body and the world, that is such as are proper to man, are brought into quiescence (or quietness) and as it were die. Thus the things which belong to the external man are separated from those which belong to the internal man.” Arcana Coelestia No. 8.
At the end of each day it is said that the evening and the morning were the first day, second day, etc. Whereas at the end of the first day it is said: “And God called the light day and the darkness he called night.” Every man whose mind is opened to God and to the things of the spirit, finds himself at times in the morning of the things of the spirit, when he sees that God is, and that all that is good and true with him is from God. Such happy states are followed by ones of obscurity and darkness; doubts arise and one falls into the things of self and self-interest. If one has cared for higher things, this condition of mind brings sadness and one raises one’s eyes to a new dawn. Thus life consists of days, each with its morning and evening.
In the morning one is raised into the things of the light of the spirit, the things of God. In the evening one sinks into one’s own selfish thoughts and feelings, and the things of the spirit grow dim.
As the subject of the second day of creation is the waters and the distinction made between the waters, we will here continue the consideration of what is meant by water in the Bible or Word of God.
The first miracle our Lord Jesus Christ did was the miracle of turning water into wine. The water was placed in “pots of stone after the manner of the cleansing of the Jews”. Water and washing, as is self-evident, stood for the purification or cleansing of the spirit. A man by living according to the truth is purified from evil.
The water stood for truths which had been learned, truths in the memory, truths of the letter. These truths are turned in man into living truths of the spirit represented by wine. When a man comes to perceive from the Lord the living spirit of the Word of God, when he sees the teaching of the Word of God in application to the things of his soul, far above the natural appearances of the Bible, above the things of history, time, place and person, sees things universally as treating of the kingdom of God within, then the truths which he has learned are turned from water into wine.
The meaning of the waters below the expanse or firmament and the waters above the expanse which were called heaven, in the second day of creation, is very similar to the meaning of the water and wine of the first miracle of the Lord, where the wine has a similar signification to the waters above the expanse which were called heaven. The waters above the expanse and the wine both stand for the spirit of living truth in contrast to the water below, or the waters in the pots, which stand for truths in the memory, or truths understood naturally, or as to their letter.
We find this same contrast again in the words of John the Baptist: “I baptize you with water unto repentance, but He that cometh after me shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Matt. 3:11. Here John the Baptist stands for the letter of the Word, the first understanding of the Bible or Word of God, calling a man to repentance. whereas the Lord stands for the spirit of the Word, giving inspiration, and a spiritual understanding of the Word, represented by the Baptism of the Holy Spirit; and fire stands for the fire of love, the spiritual love of God and the neighbor.
The Lord said to Nicodemus, “I say unto thee, except man be born of water and of the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” John 3:5.
To be born of water signifies to come into a new life based upon the Word of God, a life of obedience to the commandments of the Lord. But as at first the commandments are understood as to their letter, an external obedience is given to them. In this state a man regards his acts as being of primary importance, but does not take heed to the motives, the spirit behind the acts. This is being born of water, also to be baptized with water; but to be born of the spirit requires far more; to be born of the spirit involves understanding the spirit of the Lord’s commands. To fulfill the spirit, one must not only change one’s life as to its appearances before the eyes of men, but one must search one’s motives, one’s intentions, thoughts and feelings, for these must also be born again of God. The purification of water is the purification of the outward life. The purification of the spirit is the purification of one’s inmost life, a life which few see: the purification of the feelings and thoughts one has in secret.
The sad condition of the world, with its sorrows, its evils, its hatreds, is the result of man’s not suffering God to make an expanse, a firmament, which divides the waters below from the waters above the expanse, the waters above being the kingdom of God in the inner or in the internal man, where the spirit of truth has its abode or dwelling place: truth which is not only a matter of knowledge, but which is living. Purifying truth changes the life, not only the life which is seen by man, but the life of one’s inmost love and intention.
“Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done, as in heaven so upon the earth.” (Matthew 6: 10.)
Before considering our text for today, let us review the first words of the Prayer, “Our Father who art in the heavens, hallowed be Thy Name.” As we said in our last sermon, Our Father, or Father of us, stands for the Lord as the Divine Love, thus the Lord as the Esse, Being and Life of all in heaven and in the Church. To call the Lord our Father signifies a desire to become His children by means of re-birth or regeneration. To become tho Lord’s childron is to be in innocence.
Concerning innocence we read: “The nature of innocence may be seen in a mirror from little children, in that they love their parents and trust in them alone, having no care but to please them; and accordingly they have food and clothing not merely for their needs, but also for their delight; and as they love their parents they do with tho delight of affection whatever is agreeable to them, thus not only what they command but also what they suppose them to wish to command, and moreover have no self regard whatever, not to mention many other characteristics of infancy. But it is known that the innocence of little children is not innocence, but only its semblance. Innocence itself dwells solely in wisdom… and wisdom consists in bearing oneself towards the Lord, out of the good of love and of faith, as do little children towards their parents in the way just stated.” (A.C.6107.)
It is only out of such innocence one can know and believe the Name of the Lord and hallow it. The Name of the Lord, as is known, is the Word and Doctrine thence, that is, it is the Genuine understanding of the Word. None others than those who are in innocence can believe in the Word genuinely understood and hallow and sanctify the true, which is the Lord’s Name. Such alone are in Doctrine which is spiritual from a celestial origin.
When such Doctrine, in the internal of the mind, comes into existance out of celestial innocence, there is a looking towards tho bringing of this Doctrine down into natural life; whorefore tho next words of tho Prayer are, “Thy Kingdom come.” The Lord as the Divine Love is “Our Father who art in heaven.” The Lord as the Divine True of Doctrine is the King. The word Kingdom implies a king who reigns.
The Kingdom consists of all who obey the Lord as the Divine True, thus all who obey the laws of tho Divine True which are the laws of His Kingdom or Church. Man therefore, after saying “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name,” prays for the coming of the Lord’s Kingdom. In this state it is a prayer; for many things must be fulfilled before the Kingdom can come. It is only at the end of the prayer that it is said, “Thine is the Kingdom.” Between the prayer, “Thy Kingdom come,” and the fulfillment “Thine is the Kingdom,” the rest of tho Prayer must be fulfilled, namely, “Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts as we also forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
“Our Father who art in the heavens, hallowed be Thy Name,” is the reception of the Lord in the inmost of the mind. “Thy Kingdom, in the heavens” is the rational as a receptacle of the Divine True of the Lord. “Thy Kingdom, on earth” is the natural as a receptacle of the Divine True of the Lord.
When the rational mind, not only in generals, but in particulars and singulars, looks continually to the Lord, and His Word, so that all the thinking from day to day and moment to moment is a praise and glorification of the Lord, and is a thanksgiving for His Mercy, then the Lord’s Kingdom is established in the Kingdom of heaven, which is within him. The internal Church is constituted of those who are in this Kingdom of heaven.