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The True Meaning of the 7 Days of Creation: Spiritual Rebirth

Swedenborg v20-23
Day 5: Woofenden
Day 5: Thomas
Day 5: Pitcairn




Gen 1:20-23

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."

from Thomas King, Allegories of Genesis, 1922

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