« PreviousContinue »
their receiving of His fulness who stands in the midst of themof his fulness whose meat and drink were found in doing the will of his Father-of his fulness who laid down his life for them; who of himself laid down his life that he might take it again; and who by this means made his natural principle, or feet, to be what is represented by fine brass, burning as it were in a furnace.
And his voice as the voice of many waters.-By waters are signified divine truth in its lowest form, or in ultimates. It is on account of this signification of waters, that the Lord saith, whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him, shall never thirst, but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. Such is the water, which is said in the Apocalypse to proceed out of the throne of God and of the Lamb, and is called the water of life. It is by reason of this signification that it is said in John,-except a man be born of water and of the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. By being born of water, is meant the shunning of evils in obedience to the letter of the Word, and by being born of the spirit, is signified shunning evils in obedience to the spirit of the Word. As water signifies truth, so bread signifies good; and the reason why they have this signification, is because they nourish the body in the same manner as goodness and truth nourish the spirit. Therefore when bread and water are mentioned in the Word, those who understand the Word spiritually, as some do in this world and as angels do in heaven, do not think of bread and water, but of the spiritual things to which they correspond.
And having in his right hand seven stars.-By stars are signified knowledges of good and truth. Stars correspond to knowledges, because when we first come to the knowledge of a good or a truth, this knowledge, like a star, will guide us by its shining where we are ignorant of the way. By hand is signified power; and by the Son of Man, in whose hand the seven stars were seen, is signified the Lord as to the Word. Wherefore the general sense of this passage is, that all knowledge of goodness and truth is derived from the Lord through his Word.
And out of his mouth a sharp two-edged sword going forth, represents the power of truth in exploring our characters, in detecting and exposing our evils, and in dispelling the falsities, which originate in them. Sword is frequently mentioned in the Sacred Scriptures, and that this is its signification is evident, because no other kind of sword can properly be attributed to the Lord, and because truth performs a use corresponding to that of a sword, and because no other kind of sword is suitable in carrying on war against the false and evil: common natural swords being able to reach only the bodies of those in whom falses and evils dwell, and not the false and evil principles themselves;
these can be met and overcome by the truth only. The sword is said to be sharp and two-edged, because it penetrates so deeply, and because man is condemned by truths with which he is acquainted and which he has used in defending himself and in condemning others. When he comes into the presence of the Son of Man, and stands exposed in the light of divine truth, he feels that he is condemned out of his own mouth-that he is judged by the same judgment with which he is accustomed to judge others; that as he measured unto others, it is measured unto him. Wherefore the truth is called a sharp two-edged sword.
And his face was as the sun, shining in his strength.-It is said that the face of the Son of Man was as the sun shining in his strength, because the Lord is the sun of the spiritual world. The heat, which emanates from our natural sun, corresponds to the divine love, and the light corresponds to the divine wisdom, which flow forth from the Lord, and are received by the spiritual part of his creation. This influx is the providence of the Lord and the divine operation. From this influx, the Word was written, and the Word declares in natural language and under natural images what the divine influx endeavours to effect; for influx from the spiritual sun does not operate irresistibly, because such an operation would not produce desirable effects; but it enables man to do all that he can be made to be willing to do. And when both the influx, and the Word thence derived, were so perverted by man that it was no longer possible for him to be regenerated by them, then the Lord descended, by assuming human nature, and then by making it divine he glorified the Word. He brought the true sense of it, and the divine influx from which it was derived, down into the presence and to the apprehension of men. And the seven golden candlesticks, which have been spoken of, represent those who will permit the Lord to make an abode and to dwell in the midst of them; those who will permit the sharp two-edged sword of truth to make manifest and to overcome their evil inclinations and false persuasions, which hide the light of the Lamb;-they represent those who, by having their eyes thus opened, are able to see the feet of the Son of Man like unto fine brass, and his face as the sun shining in his strength.
And when I saw him I fell at his feet as dead.-Such is the effect of the presence of the Lord upon man. He, whom John saw, was like unto the Son of Man in the midst of seven golden candlesticks. He was clothed in a long garment and was girded about the paps with a golden girdle, by which is signified divine truth and divine good proceeding from him. His head and his hairs were white as white wool, as snow, signifies that he was divine from first principles to ultimates. His feet were like fine brass burning in a furnace, signifies that the divine love filled and
gave life to the lowest principles of his humanity. His voice being as the voice of many waters, signifies that all divine truth is from him. The sharp two-edged sword going forth from his mouth, represents the power of truth in dispelling false principles. His face shining as the sun in his strength, denotes the influence of divine love giving life and happiness to all in heaven and in the church. These appearances have been more particularly explained before; and they are now again repeated with their general signification, in order that it may be fresh in the recollection who it was that John saw, and before whose feet he fell as dead.
When it is said that John saw him, something more than common is meant by seeing. The things, which John saw, may be seen or thought of, and the things which they represent may be seen, and in a certain manner understood, without producing any effects upon the mind, corresponding to those who were represented by John's falling down at his feet as if dead. For it is so ordered, by the merciful providence of the Lord, that men should see without perceiving; that they should see only so much of his glory and the glory of his kingdom as will be useful to themthat is, as much as they would make good use of. Thus how utterly insensible are we, naturally, of the presence of the Lord, and of the necessity of his presence, in order that we may be able to do any thing. Some will profess to believe in his presence, but none will profess to perceive it as plainly as if he were present to their bodily senses. But this our blindness, or insensibility to his presence, is altogether of a moral, or rather of a spiritual nature. It is produced by dispositions; by indulging affections and thoughts which are contrary to him, which are opposed to his true quality. Thus clouds and darkness are raised about him, which make him invisible. Without any exaggeration, it is most strictly true, that the pure in heart do see God. And as it would be injurious to the impure to see him, because they would add to their obduracy the guilt of profanation, and because they could not, during the time of seeing him, nor after it, be led in freedom, so the only possible way of perceiving his presence is through the heart, or the inmost of the will-and through this only by means of its purification. It is purified by shunning evils in obedience to the commandments; for while evils are suffered to reign in us, they will make us unwilling to believe that there is a God, and much more unwilling to believe that he is what he is. And while this is the case, we cannot see him, because the interior perception of the divine presence, which is given through the will, is not like the natural sight, by which man may be made to see what he is unwilling to see, for this depends upon our being willing. Whence it may appear that the heart is purified for this perception by shunning those things which make us unwilling to believe
that there is a God, and that he is what he is, and that his influence is what it is; and that when this is done, a perception of the divine presence may be given without destroying our freedom, because it will not force us to any thing contrary to what we then will; and without danger of profanation, because we shall then have no disposition to pervert what we perceive.
And when I saw him, I FELL AT HIS FEET, as dead.-Falling at his feet represents humiliation of heart, and adoration from a state of humiliation. All affections of the mind have corresponding gestures or motions of the body, which they produce without thought, spontaneously. Humiliation before man, produces a bending, or bowing down, according to the degree of respect which is felt; but humiliation before the Lord produces prostration, when the humiliation is genuine, such as is felt when man really perceives the divine presence; when he is sensible that the Lord is all, and that he himself is nothing respectively; that from the Lord is every good, and from himself nothing but evil. When in this kind of humiliation and acknowledgment, he comes, as it were, out of himself, and permits himself to fall with the face to the ground. When he thus comes out of himself, and ceases to be lifted up by the love of self, then the divine influence can flow into him and vivify him, and raise him up. Whence it appears that the Lord does not, for his own sake or for his own glory, teach man to be humble; but because evils are removed from the heart of man by humiliation, and as far as evils are removed, so far what is divine flows in; for evils alone oppose.
I fell at his feet AS DEAD.-In the transition from natural life to spiritual, man appears to die as to the natural. Indeed, the transition from one to the other is similar to death, or the passing out of the natural into the spiritual world. Not that any thing like death takes place at that time especially in relation to the natural man, for his natural principle was, in respect to the spiritual and the divine, dead before; but it is then said to die or to be dead, because it then, for the first time, appears to him as it is; and the process by which it is made to appear so to him, is in his view the death of it. Before this he had no true life, with which he could contrast it, and thus see that it was dead. When man
is in natural life only; when the love of self and the world is the only love that he can feel, he will regard that as the only life, and all that is contrary to it he will regard as death, or as something destructive of life. He views the requirements, to love the Lord with all the heart, and to hate father and mother, wife and children, and one's own life also, as sayings that are hard and impracticable. He then regards death as life and life as death. But as he passes from death unto life, they change appearances and names. And as he comes into the presence of the Lord, or
rather into the perception of the divine presence, he looks back upon the life, which consisted of the love of self and the world, as a death from which he looks unto the Lord for deliverance.
And he laid his right hand upon me, saying to me fear not.— These words represent the communication of life from the Lord. For when man is prepared, by shunning evils, to receive the divine influx, and does thus perceive the divine presence, he is at first filled with fear, which, together with humiliation of heart, was implied by John's falling at his feet as dead. He then feels himself to be vivified and strengthened and lifted up again by the reception of life and love from the Lord;-this effect is represented in the words, and he laid his hand upon me; for as a man's natural power is principally exerted through the right hand, therefore the right hand is made to represent the exercise of spiritual and divine power. And when man becomes sensible that he is sustained by divine power, he ceases to fear, and this is expressed by the voice saying to me fear not. The ground and reason of the fear which is at first felt in such states, is that man is not entirely divested of self-reliance. He has never before been in a state to perceive how true it is that without the Lord we can do nothing. He does not know what it is not to depend upon himself at all, but he perceives that all such dependence must be vain in the presence of the Lord, therefore he fears; but when he feels the power of the Lord sustaining him, all his fears pass away.
I am the first and the last.-John's hearing these words, corresponds to a certain perception of the mind when in the state here described, which perception is this, that the Lord not only flows into us, and by his influence gives us life and the powers of affection, thought and action, now while we are in this state, and are able to perceive the fact; but also that we were equally indebted to the influence and presence of the Lord for the powers of life when we were in a natural state and were ignorant of him and did not perceive his operation within us; and that it is altogether owing to the power of his mercy that we are now so far raised out of the horrible pit of ourselves as to ascribe all the glory unto him, and to perceive that he is thus the first and the last.
And who liveth, and was made dead, and behold I am alive forever more.—It is said of the Lord that he liveth, because he alone hath life in himself; he alone has life that is underived ;-men live by continually receiving life from him; but it is here asserted not merely because it is so, but because it appears so to those who come into such a state as to perceive the presence of the Lord. When it is said of the Lord that he was dead, or was made dead, the literal sense relates to his being crucified by the Jews. But with respect to this apparent death of the Lord, it is