THe psalms, or the songs, and praises, and prayers of Israel, contain a complete history and description of the internal states, and of the spiritual experience of every member of the lord's Church. On the one hand we behold the good and the pious, strengthened by Divine mercy and power, withstanding the "fiery darts" of the wicked, and though a "host encamp around them," yet "are they not afraid;" though they "walk through the valley of the shadow of death," yet "they fear not," because they "are comforted and protected by the rod and staff" of infinite power and goodness. When in temptations, "combating the foes of their own household," the great redeemer jesus christ, the Mighty god, the Everlasting father, is represented as "their shield and their buckler, their high tower, and their mighty bulwark of defence." When on their weary pilgrimage through the wilderness of this world, when their soul is fainting within them," he leads them in a "cloudy pillar by day, and in a pillar of fire by night;" he "strikes the rock in the desert," and the waters flow, and sends "bread from heaven, to satisfy the longing soul." Thus, the good and the pious find in the songs of Zion every encouragement, every consolation, every support, and the nearer they approach the gates of the celestial city, the more the "wondrous things" contained in the Psalms of David open to their enraptured minds. As the dawn of day gradually breaks upon the darkness of night, and continually brightens to a meridian splendour, discovering in indefinite variety the numberless objects of creation, so the "day-spring" from on high gradually dawns upon the benighted perceptions of the unregenerate mind, when it begins to be delighted with the divine objects which the Psalmist contemplates, and opens to its view the celestial prospects and the divine realities of the kingdom of heaven.
To the wicked and impious, on the contrary, if they will but for a moment arouse to serious reflection and feeling, the book of Psalms exhibits in most awful imagery, if they still persist in the "counsel of the ungodly," and still "sit in the seat of the scornful," their final allotments:—"the snare of the fowler" will beset them, "the noisome pestilence" will seize upon them, "the terror by night will affright them," "the arrow that flieth by day will pierce them," and "the wasting destruction will over-whelm them." How dreadful are these figures! But, how much more dreadful are the corresponding realities! As no state of goodness is left unnoticed and undescribed in the Divine Psalms from the "little good of the righteous," to that denoted by the purest "gold of Ophir," or the "heights of Zion," so no state of evil from the "slipping of the foot" to the "lowest hell" is permitted to lie in concealment. The Psalms, therefore, spiritually understood, and practically applied, are a universal palladium to the regenerate and the pious, warning and guarding them against every evil from the "lifting up of the heel," to the "raising of the head,"—from the grossest sensual propensities, to the inmost subtleties of a deep-rooted self-love, and a universal panacea to the evil and unregenerate, who may there find a power by which they "may burst asunder the bands of wickedness, and cast away from them its cords," who may thus have every "plague stayed," every "disease healed," be established in spiritual health, "clad with light as with a garment," and adorned with the "beauties of holiness."
These are the great and "wondrous things" of which the Psalms treat! All subjects of less moment than these are as inferior to the primary object and end for which these divine songs have been inspired by the mouth of God, as the earth is inferior to heaven. Every idea which binds these divine inspirations down to the personal history of David, and the circumstances of his age, as is the case with some commentators, is represented in the powerful language of scripture as "drawing the stars from heaven, and casting them down to the earth," that is, as prostituting the sacred knowledges of the spiritual sense of god's most Holy Word, to mere earthly and selfish purposes, of abiding in the "letter which killeth," to the "quenching of the Spirit which maketh alive." David, and the history of his age, formed the direct base and plane into which the treasures of revealed wisdom could flow, and in which, as in suitable vessels, they could be transmitted to the remotest generations of mankind. Whilst, therefore, the literal sense of the Psalms in the following translation has been regarded with the most scrupulous, yea, most anxious solicitude, and with the most profound veneration, yet, it is especially to the spiritual and "wondrous things" of the internal sense that the reader's devout attention is invited.
That the Psalms, alike with every other portion of the Word of god, contain an internal, or spiritual sense, is well known to the readers of the doctrines of the New Jerusalem, but the assertion may probably appear strange and fanciful to those who are not yet acquainted with those doctrines. To them, therefore, a few words respecting the nature and tendency of the spiritual sense may notonly be acceptable but expedient, in order that they may properly appreciate the following spiritual interpretations of the Psalms, and thus see the beauty, uniformity, and universal applicability of that admirable, yea, divine science, the science of correspondences, by which those interpretations have been made. In order to give the reader a concise view of the nature and tendency of the internal, or spiritual sense, contained in every portion of the Word of god, we cannot do better than make two or three extracts on the subject from the writings of the enlightened Swedenborg, who, as is verily believed, was the instrument, under especial divine auspices, of making known that sense to mankind, and thus of enabling them through it as a means, aided by the Holy Spirit of the lord, clearly to understand the Sacred Scriptures of revealed truth, and in this manner to banish all discord, dissension, and heresy from the Christian church.
"That all things in nature," says Swedenborg, "both in general and in particular, correspond to things spiritual, and in like manner all and every thing in the human body, is shewn in the treatise concerning heaven and hell, n. 87 to 105. But what is meant by correspondence, hath 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 tracts 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, every thing in the Israelitish church, their 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 their 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 shewn in the arcana coelestia, published at London: and beside the things above mentioned, all their statutes and judgments, relating to worship and life, were correspondences. Now, forasmuch as Divine things fix their existence in outward nature in correspondences, therefore the Word was written by mere correspondences; and for the same reason the lord, in consequence of speaking from the Divine, spake by correspondences; for whatever proceed-eth 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 not only thought of them 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 to 24, together with his associates, collected correspondences from the lips of these celestial men, and transmitted the science of them to posterity; in consequence of which, the science of correspondences was not only known in many kingdoms of Asia, hut also much cultivated, particularly in the land of Canaan, Egypt, Assyria, Chaldaea, Syria, Arabia, in Tyre, Sidon, and Nineveh, and that 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 shew that the science of correspondences was long preserved in the Asiatic nations, amongst those who were called diviners and wise men, and by some magi, I shall 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 haemorrhoids, 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 came to this determination, viz. that they would make five golden haemorrhoids, and live golden mice, and a new cart, and would set the ark on this cart, with the golden haemorrhoids and mice, and have it drawn by two milch-kine, which lowed in the way before the cart, and thus would send back the ark unto 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 haemorrhoids 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, signifieth doctrine derived from spiritual truths; the milch-kine signified good natural affections; the golden haemorrhoids 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 signifieth 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 then, which the Philistines did by the advice of their diviners, were correspondences; from which it appears, that that science was long preserved amongst the gentiles.
"Forasmuch 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 the science of correspondences was, by the Divine providence of the lord, gradually lost, and, amongst 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.
"The reason why the idolatries of the gentiles of old took their rise from the science of correspondences was, because all things that appear on the face of the earth have correspondence, consequently, not only trees and vegetables, but also beasts and birds of every kind, with fishes and all other things. The ancients, who were versed in the science of correspondences, made themselves images, which corresponded with heavenly things; and were greatly delighted with them by reason of their signification, and because they could discern in them what related to heaven and the church; they therefore placed those images not only in their temples, but also in their houses, not with any intention to worship them, but to serve as means of recollecting the heavenly things signified by them. Hence, in Egypt and in other places, they made images of calves, oxen, serpents, and also of children, old men, and virgins; because calves and oxen signified the affection and powers of the natural man; serpents, the prudence and likewise cunning of the sensual man; children, innocence and charity; old men, wisdom; and virgins, the affections of truth; and so in other instances. Succeeding ages, when the science of correspondences was obliterated, began to adore as holy, and at length to worship as deities, the images and resemblances set up by their forefathers, because they found them in and about their temples. For the same reason, the ancients performed their worship in gardens and in groves, according to the different kinds of trees growing in them, and also on mountains and hills; for gardens and groves signified wisdom and intelligence, and every particular tree something that had relation thereto; as the olive, the good of love; the vine, truth derived from that good; the cedar, good and truth rational; a mountain, the highest heaven; a hill, the heaven beneath. That the science of correspondences remained amongst many eastern nations, even till the coming of the lord, may appear also from the wise men of the east, who visited the lord at his nativity; wherefore a star went before them, and they brought with them gifts, gold, frankincense, and myrrh, Matt. ii. 1, 2, 9, 10, 11; for the star which went before them signified knowledge from heaven; gold signified celestial good; frankincense, spiritual good; and myrrh, natural good; which are the three constituents of all worship. But still there was no knowledge whatever of the science of correspondences amongst the Israelitish and Jewish people, although all parts of their worship, and all the statutes and judgments given them by Moses, and all things contained in the Word, were mere correspondences; the reason was, because they were idolaters at heart, and consequently of such a nature and genius, that they were not even willing to know that any part of their worship had a celestial and spiritual signification, for they believed that all the parts of it were holy of themselves; wherefore had the celestial and spiritual significations been revealed to them, they would not only have rejected, but also have profaned them: for this reason, heaven was so shut to them, that they scarcely knew whether there was such a thing as eternal life: that such was the case with them, appears evident from the circumstance that they did not acknowledge the lord, although the whole Scripture throughout prophesied concerning him, and foretold his coming; and they rejected him solely on this account, because he instructed them about a heavenly kingdom, and not about an earthly one; for they wanted a Messiah who should exalt them above all the nations in the world, and not a Messiah who should provide only for their eternal salvation.
"The reason why the science of correspondences, which is the key to the spiritual sense of the Word, 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, nor would they 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 nice, 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 worshiped, according to their respective orders, and on which depend all and every thing 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 revealed at this day, is, because the Divine truths of the church are now coming to light, and of these the spiritual sense of the Word consisteth; and whilst 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 favour the false, then its internal sanctity is destroyed, and its external along with it, whereas if it be turned to favour the truth, then its sanctity is preserved: more, however, will be said on this subject hereafter. That the spiritual sense of the Word should be opened now at this time, is signified by John's seeing heaven open, and the white horse, and also by his seeing and hearing the angel, who stood in the sun, calling all people together to a great supper, Rev. xix. 11 to 18: but that it would not be acknowledged for some time, is signified by the beasts and kings of the earth, who were about to make war with him that sat on the white horse, Rev. xix. 19; and also by the dragon, which persecuted the woman, that brought forth the man-child into the wilderness, and cast out of his mouth water as a flood after her, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood, Rev. xii. 13 to 17." T. C. R. 201—207.
"The spiritual sense, of the Word is not that which breaks forth as light out of the literal sense, whilst a person is studying and explaining the Word, with intent to establish some particular tenet of the church: this sense may be called the literal sense of the Word, but the spiritual sense does not appear in the literal sense, being within it, as the soul is in the body, or as the thought of the understanding is in the eye, or as the affection of love is in the countenance, which act together as cause and effect. It is this sense, principally, which renders the Word spiritual, and by which it is adapted not only to the use of men, but also of angels; whence also, by means of that sense, the Word communicates with the heavens.
"From the lord proceed these principles, the celestial, the spiritual, and the natural, one after another. Whatsoever proceeds from his Divine love is called celestial, and is Divine good; whatsoever proceeds from his Divine wisdom is called the spiritual, and is Divine truth; the natural partakes of both, and is their complex in ultimates. The angels of the celestial kingdom, who compose the third, or highest heaven, are in that Divine principle which proceeds from the lord, that is called celestial, for they are in the good of love from the lord; the angels of the lord's spiritual kingdom, who compose the second or middle heaven, are in that Divine principle which proceeds from the lord, that is called spiritual, for they are in the truths of wisdom from the lord:* but men, who compose the lord's church on earth, are in the Divine-natural, which also proceeds from the lord. Hence it follows, that the Divine proceeding from the lord, in its progress to its ultimates, descends through three degrees, and is termed celestial, spiritual, and natural. The Divine proceeding which descends from the lord to men, descends through those three degrees, and when it has descended, it contains those three degrees in itself. Such is the nature of all Divine proceeding; wherefore, when it is in its last degree, it is in its fulness. Such is the nature and quality of the Word; in its last sense it is natural, in its interior sense it is spiritual, and in its inmost sense it is celestial; and in each sense it is Divine. That the Word is of such a nature and quality, does not appear in the sense of the letter, which is natural, by reason that man has heretofore been altogether unacquainted with the state of the heavens, and consequently with the nature of the spiritual principle, and the celestial, and of course with the distinction between them and the natural principle.
* That there are two kingdoms of which the heavens consist, one of which is called the celestial kingdom, and the other the spiritual kingdom, may be seen in the Treatise concerning heaven and hell, n. 20 to 28.
"The distinction between these degrees cannot be known, except by the knowledge of correspondence, for these three degrees are altogether distinct from each other, like end, cause, and effect, or like what is prior, posterior, and postreme, but yet make one by correspondences; for the natural degree or principle corresponds with the spiritual, and also with the celestial. The nature and meaning of correspondence may be seen more fully explained in the treatise concerning heaven and hell, being there digested under these two articles:—1st. Concerning the correspondence of all things in heaven with all things in man, n. 87 to 102. 2nd. Concerning the correspondence of all things in heaven with all things on earth, n. 103 to 115; and it will be further seen below by examples adduced from the Word.
"Inasmuch as the Word in its interior is spiritual and celestial, therefore it is written by mere correspondences, and what is written by mere correspondences, in its ultimate sense is written in such a style, as that of the prophets and evangelists, which, notwithstanding its apparent commonness, contains in it all Divine and angelic wisdom." S.S. 5—8.
Inasmuch as the church, both in individuals, and in the aggregate, is based upon the proper understanding of the Divine Word, whence she derives all her truth, her wisdom, her love, in short, every thing which constitutes her a church, it must be readily seen, that nothing can be of greater concern to man, than an enlightened understanding of the Word of god, and consequently, nothing can have greater claims upon the most serious attention of mankind than the science of correspondences, by which, as by a golden key, the treasures of revealed wisdom can be unlocked, and presented in wondrous display to the delighted perceptions of the inquiring mind. We admire the genius, and congratulate the success with which natural philosophers have measured the distances, calculated the orbits of the planets, explained the phenomena of the solar system, and unravelled the intricacies of the celestial mechanism, and the name of every individual who has enlarged the boundaries of science on principles universally applicable, and mathematically correct, is embalmed in the memory of every student of nature. But what are these discoveries and results, interesting and magnificent as they are, when compared to the discovery of the science of correspondences, which is adequate to the explanation of the sacred volume, which can unravel its "dark sayings," put to silence and shame the cavils of the infidel, and thus exalt the Sacred Scriptures in the estimation of the Christian to the highest possible degree of veneration, because it shews in what the sanctity and divinity of the Word of God consist, and how infinitely it is distinguished from the word of man, or from all human composition whatsoever?
That the Word of God must have been inspired by its Divine Author, according to those eternal and immutable laws, by which all the operations of infinite love and wisdom displayed in creation, redemption, and salvation, are conducted, is an eternal truth, which to the mind of every wise man is placed beyond the possibility of debate. The Word of god, therefore, must be in strict analogy, or correspondence with the works of god, as the words of a wise and good man are always in correspondence with his deeds, that is, the words which he utters are regulated by the same motives of action, and by the same laws of thinking as the deeds he performs; but how infinitely more so must this be the case between the Word and the works of god
The science of correspondences, then, which as to dignity and excellence, infinitely transcends every other science, because infinitely more calculated to open all the genuine sources of wisdom to the mind of man, is that science which professes to explain the relation, or analogy, or more properly, the correspondence between things natural, and things spiritual, and thus to unfold the spiritual and Divine ideas conveyed in the literal sense of the Holy Word.* To understand any of the works of god in nature, a science or doctrine is deemed indispensable, thus, who could understand the magnificent order of the planetary system, unless he had the science of astronomy to instruct and guide him in his study of the heavenly bodies? Without the aid of such a science, no systematic order could be discovered in the planetary spheres. Now, as the Word of god is strictly in analogy, or correspondence with his works, and as his Word has been uttered by the same immutable laws of his own divine order by which he spake the fiat of creation, that is, by which he has produced, and by which he sustains all his works, it incontestibly follows, that a science, or doctrine, is indispensable to the proper comprehension of his revealed Word. We are aware, that the objection will be started, that the Spirit of god is sufficient to enlighten us, if we are but sincere and devout in the study of truth, and to lead us to a proper and profitable understanding of the Sacred Scriptures. We admit that the Spirit of god is sufficient; but we beg to reply, that even a superficial acquaintance with the divine economy, and with the laws by which providence acts in enlightening and regenerating mankind through the influence of revealed truth, presses upon us the indubitable fact, that the Spirit of god accomplishes nothing without employing adequate means for the attainment of its ends. When Philip put the important question to the eunuch, who was reading the prophet Esaias, "Understandest thou what thou readest?"$ his significative reply, "How can I, except some man should guide me;" plainly shews, that a guide, or doctrine, is necessary to lead us to a proper understanding of the Scriptures; the "Spirit"# was present, but it did not act upon the eunuch immediately, or without means, but mediately through Philip as a doctrinal guide, and thus led the "treasurer of Candace" to the belief, that "jesus christ is the Son of god."
* We earnestly refer the reader's attention to a work,
entitled "Plenary Inspiration of the Scriptures asserted, and the
Principles of their Composition investigated, with a view to the Refutation
of all Objections to their Divinity, by the Rev. S. Noble;" in the
second, third, and fourth Lectures of which work, a luminous demonstration
will be found of the existence of a spiritual sense in the Word of God, and
of the science of analogies, or correspondences, by which it is interpreted.
$ Acts viii. 30.
# Verse 29
It is, therefore, firmly believed by all who have impartially and seriously considered the science of correspondences, discovered to the world in the writings of the enlightened Swedenborg, that, of the Divine mercy, the solo adequate means to the proper understanding of the Sacred Word, is now furnished in that heavenly science.# That the Christian church has, in almost every page of its practical, not ecclesiastical, history, anticipated some period when a fuller development, both as to doctrine and life of our holy religion would be divinely granted, is a fact with which the theological student is perfectly acquainted, He finds it asserted in many of the writings of the most eminent divines of almost every denomination. Thus, in a theological dissertation, read a few years since, before the university of Cambridge, on the Divinity of christ, to which the Hulsean Prize* was awarded, the author, after having shown tin; legitimate use of reason in matters of revelation, says, "As the application of sound principles of investigation have laid open the systems of nature and providence, the same principles, judiciously applied, may one day lay open the mysteries of grace, and the method and arrangements which it has pleased god to adopt in the revelation of himself as a god of grace, will be found analogous to the method in which he has revealed himself as a god of nature and of providence, and will thus afford another powerful evidence, that the god of nature and of providence was the author of that book, which professed to make him known as a god of grace. The error of Leibnitz, and the school to which he gave rise in Germany, was, that they philosophized with the Scriptures, instead of from them: endeavouring to prove its doctrines on the principle of induction, instead of endeavouring simply to prove what those doctrines were. It is remarkable, that this country should have produced three such men as a Bacon, a Newton, and a Butler; the first established the principles of all science; Newton embodied them in the laws of nature; Butler, in the laws of providence. Another, adds the author, is still wanting, with the powers of a Bacon, joined to the humility of a Newton and a Butler." Here is the candid acknowledgment from the highest theological authority of our country, that, "another is still wanting to open the mysteries of grace, and to lead mankind to a clearer and fuller comprehension of the Divine Word" and we hesitate not a moment to assert, that the great desideratum hasbeen supplied in the person of the enlightened Swedenborg,$ who, "with the powers of a Bacon, joined to the humility of a Newton and a Butler" has, under divine auspices, through the especial illumination of the Spirit of god, solved all the great problems of theology, and "opened the mysteries of grace," in a manner most calculated to promote the glory of god, and the permanent well-being of mankind. Let his claims be impartially and duly considered,—let his system of scriptural interpretation be thoroughly examined, and we doubt not, that the great desideratum will be found to be supplied.
# See "Noble's Work on the Inspiration," &.c. referred to
* See Hulsean Prize Dissertation, by W.M. Mayers, of Catherine Hall, Cambridge, 1827.
$ See Noble's Appeal, &c. Section V, in which Swedenborg is proved to be the man whom the Hulsean writer asserts to be necessary to "open the mysteries of grace, &c."
With regard to the spiritual or internal sense, which the science of correspondences on uniform principles unfolds from the Word of god, it is well known, that in the primitive ages of Christianity, a spiritual sense was generally admitted to exist.# The writings of the early fathers are replete with spiritual and allegorical interpretations of the Holy Scriptures, and they who were most successful in establishing their spiritual interpretations, were held in the greatest reverence by the people whom they taught: but as they did not possess the science of correspondences, by which alone the spiritual sense can be successfully and regularly evolved from the sense of the letter, they could not avoid being led by conjecture and fancy, and thus, in many cases, they gave rise to delusion and error. But the science of correspondences, by virtue of the strict uniformity of its principles, shuts the door against conjecture and fancy, and thus precludes the possibility of delusion and error. Whatis it, indeed, that the devout reader of the Word of god seeks in his pious meditations on the divine subjects revealed in the volume of truth? Is it not to edify himself in love, in wisdom, and in holiness of life? And can any thing short of a "spiritual discernment" of the things of god's Word "satisfy the longing soul," and "fill the hungry with the broad of heaven?" What is it that the pious reader admires in the commentaries of Henry, or in the still profounder spiritual reflections of Bishop Home on the inspired songs, penned by the "sweet Psalmist of Israel," but the spiritual ideas, and the heart-felt application which those two pious authors were enabled to elicit from this eminent portion of the Sacred Word ? It must be admitted, that all the excellences of these two authors are derived from certain glimpses, however obscure, which they enjoyed of the spiritual sense. But what will be the devout reader's astonishment, when he beholds in the following Exposition a regular series of spiritual interpretations derived from the divine Psalms through the science of correspondences, in which every verse, every expression, and every word, is made to reflect the glory of the lord, and to bear directly upon the regeneration of man, and his preparation for the kingdom of heaven ? The first principle which the spiritual sense discovers to the mind is this, that the lord is the All in All of his Word; that he is the "sun" whence all the rays of revealed truth emanate, and that every truth is a mirror representing the lord. How magnificent the idea! How supremely worthy of that Word which claims the lord for its author! In the supreme sense, therefore, the Word treats solely of the lord, describing his combats against the hells, and his subjugation of their power, when he accomplished the work of universal redemption, and when he glorified his Humanity. That the Psalms thus treat of the lord, his own Divine testimony proves where he says, "These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms concerning me,"* but that it is the spiritual sense which especially treats of him, and not the literal, is further proved by the following verse, "Then opened he their understandings, that they might understand the Scriptures," for it is plain that they already understood the Scriptures in their literal sense as relating to David, and the subsequent history of the Jewish church down to the captivity in Babylon; whereas, in order that they might understand the Scriptures in the spiritual sense, or as the Apostle says, have a "spiritual discernment" of their meaning, which the Christian church, to whom internal things were revealed, should have cultivated and enjoyed, the lord opened the understandings of his disciples. They, therefore, who imagine that the lord is only treated of here and there in the Psalms, as is the case with the theology of the present day, do injury to the Sacred Word, and deprive it of its "spirit and its life."
# See Mosheim's History of the first three Centuries of the
Christian Church; see also Clowes's Preface to the Arcana Coelestia,
and to the Apocalypse Explained.
* Luke xxiv. 41.
Inasmuch as the lord requires us to "follow him in the regeneration," "to overcome even as he hath overcome," to be "perfected through sufferings — temptations — even as he was perfected," the internal sense of the Psalms especially relates to the regeneration of man, and his preparation for the kingdom of heaven; and it is this circumstance which makes the following Exposition so eminently useful and excellent. For, what is it, in reality, which so seriously concerns man as a candidate for heaven?
Is it not the work of regeneration, by which he alone can be fitted for heaven ? Is it possible for man to "see, still less to enter into the kingdom of heaven, unless he be born again ?" Divine Truth itself asserts that he cannot. For what other end was the Divine Word given, but to promote and establish the great work of regeneration in man ? But regeneration is a spiritual, yea, a divine work; the Word of god, therefore, must have a spiritual sense, which can be applied to the spiritual states of man. Let the reader ponder well on the following spiritual Exposition of the Psalms, and he will become sensible of its amazing importance.
The following translation has been made from Van der Hooght's edition of the Hebrew text, published by Sebastian Schmidius, with a Latin version,* which is the very same edition that Swedenborg constantly used, as is abundantly evident from his quotations in the version of Schmidius.#
* Secundum Editionem Everhardi Van der Hooght, cum Versione
Latina Sebastiani Schmidii, Lipsiae, mdccxl.
# Especially in his latter works, the Apocalypse Explained, True Christian Religion, and Apocalypse Revealed.
As to the following translation we wish to observe, that there are three ways by which a translation may be accomplished. The first is a literal translation, by which every word is strictly rendered verbatim from the original. The second is an idiomatic translation, by which the original idiom is carefully conveyed into the idiom of another language. The third is a free translation, in which the sense of the author is regarded, abstractedly from the expressions he uses, and freely translated in that manner in which the translator supposes the author would have expressed it, had he written in the language into which his work is translated. The first of these ways, that is, thestrictly literal, is the only way by which the Scriptures can be properly translated; in this respect, as in every other, they are essentially different from all merely human compositions; in these it is only necessary to have an accurate comprehension of the author's meaning, whereas in the former the letter is divine, and cannot be departed from without injuring the base on which the internal sense rests, as upon its proper foundation. A few observations will prove this to the reader: in Psalm cxiv. 4, we read of "the sons of the flock," rendered in the Bible version "lambs," which is the idiomatic translation, but which is not a base for the internal sense; see Exposition. In Psalm xviii. 4, 5, "cords of death" and "cords of hell," are rendered in the common version, "sorrows of death," "sorrows of hell;" this again is idiomatic, and not literal, and therefore not a proper base for the internal sense. These idiomatic renderings in the common version are numerous, such as "strength" for rock, Psalm lxxiii. 26; "defence" for shield, Psalm vii. 10, lxxxix. 18; "power" for arm, Psalm lxxi. 18; and many others, as well verbs as substantives. In a correct translation of the Sacred Text, not only the letter, but the points also must be taken into serious consideration; thus, jehovah must not be substituted for jehovih; see Psalm cix. 21, Exposition, also Note. This distinction is important, and could never have been preserved to the church without the points,—a sufficient argument to prove the indispensable necessity of studying Hebrew with the points, see A C 3455. In some cases, however, the Divine Text could not be rendered literally into English, thus the idiomatic translation was necessary; see Psalm xlix. 3, lxviii. 9; hence arose the necessity of notes, which we have subjoined to the text, in order that the reader, who is unacquainted with Hebrew, may have as correct a knowledge as possible of the literal sense of the Holy Word.
The reader will see from the title page, that this work was begun by the late Rev. J. Clowes.* Many years prior to his death, it was an object on which his pious and enlightened mind loved to dwell; the accomplishment of which he deemed most, useful and important in building up the lord's church in genuine charity, faith, and good works, but owing to the Infirmities of age, he was not able to complete it. In several notes which he has made in different parts of the M.S. he states, that it was his intention, before committing it to the press, to submit it to a strict revision. This has been done, and the intention of that excellent and venerated clergyman has now been accomplished. During the long period of nearly sixty years, the life of the venerable Clowes was devoted to the propagation of the heavenly doctrines of the New Jerusalem, made known to the world through the instrumentality of the Hon. Emanuel Swedenborg. Mr. Clowes considered these doctrines as containing the purest development of Christianity from the Sacred Scriptures,—as most calculated to promote " the glory of god in the highest, and peace and good will amongst men;" and therefore he dedicated, with unremitted industry and perseverance, his time and his talents to their propagation.!
* See Memoir of the late Rev. J. Clowes, Rector of St.
John's, Manchester, written by himself.
# See a catalogue of his works appended to his Memoir, especially an Affectionate Address to the Clergy of Great Britain and Ireland, on the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg.
That the Psalms thus expounded, as to their "spirit and their life" may tend to the promotion of genuine piety and charity amongst, mankind, and thus powerfully aid the building up of the true Christian church, is the ardent prayer of the
Of abbreviated titles of the Works of Emanuel Swedenborg, from which the extracts are made in the following Exposition.
Ap. Exp. or A. E.
Ap. Rev. or A. R.
T. C. R.
True Christian Religion.
Treatise concerning Heaven and Hell.
N. J. H. or Heav. Doct.
Heavenly Doctrine of the New Jerusalem.
D. L. W.
Angelic Wisdom concerning Divine Love and Wisdom.
Angelic Wisdom concerning Divine Providence.
Last Judgment, or Babylon Destroyed.
Doctrine of the New Jerusalem concerning the Lord.
Doctrine of the New Jerusalem concerning the Sacred Scripture.
Doctrine of Life for the New Jerusalem.
Doctrine of the New Jerusalem concerning Faith.
Delights of Wisdom concerning Conjugial Love, &c.
Treatise concerning Influx.