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paration, is the spiritual purpose of the whole and every portion of the Word of God, each particular series concludes with the attainment of the regenerate state. The whole of the Bible is thus a compound series, having all mankind for its subject, beginning with the first fall of man, and closing with the sublime description of the descent of the New Jerusalem and the reign of righteousness on the earth. In like manner, there is such a series in other books. The Psalms commence with man walking "in the counsel of the ungodly," and terminate in every power and faculty praising the Lord; just as the prophecies through Isaiah commence with Israel as a "sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evil doers, children that are corrupters, that have forsaken the Lord, provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, that were gone away backward," (Isaiah i. 4.) and close with the triumph of the Lord's Church. In the same way the Gospels are serial, pourtraying in the glorification of the Lord's Human nature, the regeneration of the human soul, beginning with the child in the manger, and ending with the ascension into glory.
The regeneration of a human soul is representatively described in the narrative of the widow of Zarephath. We traced, in the last article, the series up to the point where spiritual sustenance and comfort were daily communicated from the Lord—"the barrel of meal and the cruse of oil failed not and wasted not." We now proceed to take up the circumstance of the death of the widow's son.
"Sickness and death, in the Word," says Swedenborg, "sometimes signify the successive progress towards regeneration, and regeneration itself, which is resurrection unto life; because sickness precedes death, and man by nature is in a state of spiritual death; but by regeneration, and its introductory processes, he is raised up into a state of spiritual life. Such is the spiritual and angelic interpretation of the word."—Arcana Ccelestia, 6221."
"Death [sometimes] signifies extinction of concupiscences, which is the crucifixion of the flesh, and thus a renewal of life."—Apocalypse Revealed, 866.
"When the death of man is mentioned in the Word, the angels only perceive his transmigration from one world to another; [from the natural into the spiritual world] and when burial is named, they perceive man's resurrection into life."— Apocalypse Explained, 659.
The reason of this is two-fold: first, because of the absolute fact that when man's body dies, his spirit enters into the spiritual world, in which he will afterwards continue to live for ever; and, secondly, because as death is extinction of life, so death to the world is the extinction of the worldly state,—death unto sin, the extinction of sin,—
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death unto righteousness, the extinction of righteousness, which is spiritual death. Hence, for the first reason, as meaning death unto the world, or natural death, the apostle says—"To live is Christ, to die is gain;" (Phil. i. 21.) or as speaking of spiritual death, he declares—"You hath He quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins," (Eph. ii. 1.) and "Even when we were dead in sins, [He] hath quickened us together with Christ." (Eph. ii. 5.) Speaking also of death unto sin, he says— "For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now, if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we should also live with Him. . . . Likewise, reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God, through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Rom. vi. 7, 8, 11.)
Therefore, the death of the widow's child denotes the extinction of that kind and state of life which he previously possessed; and the resuscitation of the child denotes the impartation of a new degree and state of life. He, like the prodigal estranged, was dead; and he, like the prodigal returned, was made alive again. This, consequently, is representative of regeneration,—the being born again from a condition of spiritual death into a condition of spiritual life. In like manner, the other cases of resuscitation described in the Word are severally representative of similar things ;—death represents the state of spiritual death; the awaking and returning from the dead represents regeneration. Hence the injunction of the apostle—"Awake, thou that sleepest; arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light." (Eph. v. 14.) This will more clearly appear from a detailed examination of the passage.
"The son of the woman fell sick; and his sickness was so sore, that there was no breath left in him." The son of the woman represents that degree of truth which she had rationally received prior to the coming of the man of God. This was not regeneration; but constituted only the state of preparedness for regeneration. Man can only be regenerated by a spiritual quickening, which must be preceded by a death unto self and sin. In all the rational perceptions of truth of an unregenerate mind, there is something of selfhood, of proprium, remaining,—the "leaven of the pharisees," "the old man," which has "to be crucified," to "be buried by baptism into the death" of the Lord, that like as He rose from the dead, it might "be raised into newness of life." As soon as the truths of God's Word are received into our hearts—the prophet dwelling in the widow's house—joy comes; but after that joy, a great trouble and temptation. "We be all [as] dead men." (Exodus xii. 83.) We see that there is no spiritual life, no
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heavenly vitality, in the good we have tried to do,—no saving efficacy in the truths we have tried to understand and practice. Our choicest possession, our rational perception of the truth—our little son—falls sick with a sore sickness, and dies before our eyes. "No breath in him" signifies that it is without spiritual life, because without spiritual love.
"And she said to Elijah, What have I to do with thee, O thou man of God?" These words signify that there was not yet a full conjunction of state between the widow and the divine truth, "the man of God."
"Art thou come to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son?" These words intimate that the death of the son and the remembrance of sin are spiritually consistent. It is only by the remembrance of sin that we can realise how truly we are spiritually dead. There is too prevalent a disposition in the church to boast increase in "sons,"—in rational perceptions of the truth,—without remembering that unless they are vitalised by the presence of the Divine love, they are dead, and need to be made spiritually alive. A sincere acceptance of the truths of the Word—the prophet—must ever bring our "sins to remembrance," and apparently cause our "son" to die. It is, however, only an evidence of life that we can discriminate between life and death, and distinguish between the living and the dead. The operation of the Gospel is to strip us "naked" from the false clothing of deceitful falsity, to show us to ourselves as "blind and poor," blind to our truest interests, and poor in eternal riches; to make us conscious that we are "dead," in order to render us conscious of being "quickened." Those who most content themselves with believing in their own mental "riches," who say, "I am increased with goods, and have need of nothing," are the most "wretched and miserable, and poor and blind and naked" of all. (Rev. iii. 17.) Even though they were as humble as the widow of Zarephath, and as charitable, if they have not been "bor n again," their regeneration has not begun. The preparatory process was only reformation, and they are not yet "new creatures in Christ."
"And he said unto her, Give me thy son." Here is the great difficulty; we are so little willing to give up to the Lord our rational powers. Here, too, is the great duty; a whole-souled devotion of what we are and have to the Lord. Spiritually dead as we are, and as we know ourselves to be, if we give up our rational powers to the Lord
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there is a surety of hope. All this is luminous with spiritual light; thought needs only to he prompted to suggest further elucidation.
"And he took him out of her bosom, and carried him up into a loft, where he abode, and laid him upon his own bed." These words indicate the means by which man's rational perceptions of truth are to become spiritually vitalised by the operation upon them of the Divine Truths of the Word. "Bosom denotes love, for what belongs to the breast corresponds to love, since it contains the heart, which corresponds to celestial love, and the lungs, which correspond to spiritual love. And as the bosom corresponds to love, it also signifies proprium, for that is man's proprium which is of his love." (Arcana Caelestia, 6960.) Taking him out of her bosom signifies the removal of the proprium or selfhood from rational perceptions of truth. "Carrying him up into a loft where Elijah abode," signifies elevation into the light of Divine Truth. This "loft" will suggest to the mind the " upper chamber" in which the Lord partook of the last supper with his disciples. That which is high as compared with that which is relatively low, represents superior light or truth or goodness, as was shown when considering "Arise." "Laying him on his own bed," denotes instruction in the doctrines of Divine Truth. "Bed signifies doctrine, because, as the body rests in its bed, so doeth the mind in its doctrine." (Apoc. Revealed, 137.) Elijah's bed, therefore, signifies the doctrine of Divine Truth, and laying the child upon it represents instruction therein. This means an entire subordination and submission of the rational faculties to the doctrines taught in the Word of God—an obedience of thought, as well .as of will and of action.
"And he cried unto the Lord, and said, O Lord my God, hast Thou also brought evil upon the widow with whom I sojourn by slaying her son?" Here the prophet speaks according to appearances of truth, and not according to genuine truths, just as Martha spoke after Lazarus's death. In both cases the sickness was "for the glory of God." (John xi. 4.) It sometimes seems as though God was the author of evil, when the absolute truth is that all that the Lord performs is good. It seems, too, that many things are evil which in their purpose and results are altogether good. But as man does so frequently "judge from appearances," although it is not "righteous judgment," therefore, such language is recorded in the Word.
"And he stretched himself upon the child three times." This act denotes conjunction between the Divine Truths of the Word and the rational faculty of the mind. The act is still more explicitly described
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in the case of Elisha and the son of the Shunammile woman. (2 Kings iv. 84.) Its heing repeated "three times," denotes a fulness or completion of the conjunction. Three denotes what is full and complete.
"And cried unto the Lord, and said, O Lord my God, I pray thee, let this child's soul come into him again." This shows that regeneration, or spiritual vivification, is the act of the Lord alone, operating through His Word. Whatever be the instrumentalities employed by the Divine Being, He yet is the sole Author and Giver of spiritual life. Hence, we read—"The Lord heard the voice [prayer] of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived."
"And Elijah took the child, and brought him down out of the chamber into the house, and delivered him unto his mother, and said, See, thy son liveth." When the rational faculty is vivified by the Lord, it is again committed to the care of man, to be used by him, and to be of service to him. To some persons it is difficult to perceive how different faculties or dispositions of one mind can be thus personified, as though they were separate existences; thus they are apt to grow confused in the interpretation of the spiritual drama described in this passage. It may help such if they temporarily dismiss from their minds the ideas of the prophet, the mother, the child, the upper chamber, and the house, and thus fix the spiritual signification of the narrative alone before their view. By receiving the truths of the Word, man discovers that the rational life he has hitherto enjoyed is not spiritual but natural; he finds that it is spiritually dead. He seeks unto the Word. The divine truths thereof elevate his rational powers into heavenly light, and there is a full conjunction established between his rational faculty and the divine truths of the Word. The Lord hears the prayer for life, and life comes. The man's rational faculty begins to live a new life, is made a new creature. Not only a new heart is given, but also a new mind. His mind is truly "born again," is regenerate, so that he may serve not only in newness of love, but with a new understanding also. The man is conscious of this change, and rejoices in it. Sorrow has passed away with the night to which it belonged, and the breaking of the morning was the opening of joy.
This consciousness of newness of life received from the Lord through the Word, is the sure testimony that the Word is true. The gift is the evidence of the existence of the Giver, and a proof of the mediumship of the instrument. Hence the mother's words—"Now, by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in thy mouth is truth." Prior to receiving this evidence of regeneration, man