BY JOHN WORCESTER
MASSACHUSETTS NEW-CHURCH UNION
THE states of spirits and angels, with all their varieties,
can in no wise be understood without a knowledge of the human body; for the
Lord's kingdom is like a man." (S. D. 1145 1/2) "That heaven as a
whole is like one man is an arcanum not yet known in the world; but in heaven
it is most certainly known. To know that, and the specific and particular things
concerning it, is the chief of the intelligence of the angels there; very many
things also depend upon it, which without that as their general principle do
not enter distinctly and clearly into their minds." (H. H. 59.)
THE LIPS, TONGUE, AND TEETH
TO the lips is assigned the three-fold duty of expressing the thoughts and feelings to the sight by means of their motions and changes of form; of modifying and articulating the voice, and thus communicating the activities of the mind to the ear; and of receiving and drawing in the food by which the body is nourished. To the last use we will attend first, leaving the others till we have studied the correspondence of the lungs and of the face.
The use of the lips in receiving food is most evident in infancy, during the period in which nourishment is obtained by sucking. Afterwards, in drinking, they have a similar duty through the whole of life. In these operations the lips apply themselves to the mother's breast, or to the cup, and in conjunction with the cheeks, tongue, and fauces, by alternate expansions and contractions, [p. 4] draw out the pliant food, and introduce it into the mouth.
Such food needs no mastication; the function of the lips is merely to draw it in and introduce it, and then it is received by the soft parts of the mouth, and is quickly conducted to its destination. The lips have a similar use in laying hold of and drawing into the mouth solid food that is presented to them, and in caring for this they have the further duty, in cooperation with the cheeks and tongue, of pressing it between the teeth, and compelling it to submit to the grinding process by which its interior parts are opened and separated.
It is, perhaps, worthy of mention also that on the inner surfaces of the lips are little glands, which begin the process of moistening and lubricating the food, to aid in digestion and in its passage to the stomach. Undoubtedly there are also absorbents, by which a small amount of the purest part of the food is taken at once into the circulation of the body, and introduced into its life and uses.[p. 5]
To see the correspondence of these uses of the lips, on a grand scale and in perfection, we must think of the great community from which men derive their humanity, and which, because it receives the Divine Influence immediately and in the greatest measure, Swedenborg calls the "Greatest Man." (See A. C. 3741.)
This Greatest Man is the heavens. It includes all good men, recipients of good life from the Lord, who have lived upon any of the earths in the starry universe from the beginning of time. Of these, "the inhabitants of this world are very few comparatively, and almost as a drop of water in comparison with the ocean." (A. C. 3631.)
Of this Greatest Man the Lord is the Life. It is formed to receive His life, and to live from Him; and it is Man because He is Man. All its parts are human, and do human uses corresponding to the uses of the organs and members of the human body.
The nourishment of the heavens is of two kinds: they receive an influence of love and wisdom, or [p. 6] of warmth and light, immediately from the Lord; and they receive additions of new members from the earths.
These two kinds of nourishment are comparatively like the inflow of life from the soul into the human body, from which every particle of the body draws its gift of human life, and the additions of new particles from the food. Both kinds of nourishment are necessary to useful activity. Continual inflow of spiritual life of course is necessary to those who in themselves are dead; and frequent supplies of new experiences, new subjects of thought, new applications of truth, and new opportunities of use are also necessary, to those whose happiness is by their very constitution made to depend upon eternal progress.
New things, necessary to the growth and happiness of the heavens, are as food supplied from the earths. Like food the comers from the earth must be received by the heavens, examined, sorted, instructed, and trained to heavenly states, as by a kind of digestion, before they can be assimilated; and this is the function of the world of spirits. [p. 7]
"The life of man," Swedenborg says, "when he dies, and enters into the other life, is like food, which is received softly by the lips, and afterwards is passed through the mouth, fauces, and oesophagus into the stomach; and this according to the nature derived from his works during the life of the body. Most are treated gently at first, for they arc kept in the company of angels and good spirits; which is represented in food that it is first softly touched by the lips, and afterwards tasted as to its quality by the tongue.
"The food which is soft, in which is sweetness, [essential] oil, and spirit, is immediately received by the veins, and borne into the circulation; but food which is hard, in which is bitterness and foulness, and little nutritiveness, is more hardly treated, and is cast down through the oesophagus into the stomach, where it is corrected by various methods and tortures. What is still harder, more foul, and worthless, is thrust into the intestines, and at length into the rectum, where first is hell, and at last is cast out, and becomes excrement.
"Resembling this is the life of man after death. First man is kept in externals; and because he had lived a moral and civil life in externals, he is with angels and good spirits. But afterwards externals are taken away from him, and then it appears what [p. 8] he was within as to thoughts and affections, and at length as to ends; according to these his life remains.
"As long as they are in this state, in which they are like food in the stomach, they are not in the Greatest Man, but are being introduced; but when they are representatively in the blood, then they arc in the Greatest Man." (A. C. 5175, 5176.)
The angels, then, who softly receive man at his entrance into the spiritual world, who cooperate with the Lord in drawing him out of the world and introducing him into the spiritual world, are in the province of the lips. Perhaps we see some effect of their presence even before the moment of death, in those whose feelings and thoughts are strongly drawn towards the other world as the time of death comes near; and especially in those for whom open vision of spiritual things, more or less distinct, produces an anticipation of the peaceful gladness which we commonly see represented in the face after the natural life ceases.
Swedenborg says that celestial angels, who belong to the kingdom of the heart, come to a [p. 9] person at the time of death, and take charge of his affections and thoughts; and that at their approach an aromatic odor is perceived, and then all spirits leave the person exclusively to their care. (H. H. 449.)
The office of the lips and tongue, and of those in the corresponding provinces of the heavens, is twofold: they are organs of speech and organs for receiving food. As organs of speech their use is spiritual, and as organs for receiving food it is celestial. As Swedenborg writes, --
"The tongue affords entrance to the lungs and also to the stomach; thus it presents a sort of court-yard to spiritual things and to celestial things; to spiritual things because it ministers to the lungs and thence to speech, and to celestial things because it ministers to the stomach, which supplies aliment to the blood and the heart." (A. C. 4791.)
It is noteworthy that the angels who first receive man at death do not speak; but sit silently looking into his face, communicating their own affection. They apply themselves to him from [p. 10] love of introducing him into the joys of heaven, and of adding new members to heavenly societies. From this love they hold his thought fixed upon the future life, and lead it by various happy things into as full sympathy with their own thought as is possible. Then the Lord separates him from the body and he awakes in the world of spirits.
"Two or three times," Swedenborg writes in his Diary ("Minus," 4702), "I have been sent into the place where is the resurrection of the dead. It is known from this: that something balsamic is perceived from the dead when the Lord is present, and celestial angels. And it was said that the Lord is especially present there, and therefore also celestial angels are there; because without such presence of the Lord, there would be no resurrection of the dead."
After he is raised up, if the new spirit belongs to the very few who by instruction in heavenly truth and by training in heavenly love and usefulness are already prepared to enjoy the life of heaven, these angels receive him among themselves, and by ways in their own societies, like [p. 11] the absorbing vessels of the lips, and especially of the tongue, they introduce him at once into heaven, and lead him on the way to his permanent home.
In this work the angels of the tongue and the cheeks cooperate with those
of the lips. If the new spirits be interiorly open, gentle, and good, they are
most kindly treated by the angels of these provinces. Those of the tongue, especially,
delight to perceive the new varieties of goodness and truth which are introduced
from the world, and are eager to convey the pleasing intelligence of their arrival,
and if possible the spirits themselves, to the societies which will be enriched
by them; for the tongue abounds in porous papillae, which erect themselves on
the approach of food, to touch it, and to feel its quality; and if there be
in it that which is spirituous and aromatic, to absorb it for the immediate
benefit of the brain and the whole system.(1) "The
The angels of all the societies desire to receive new members; and being informed by the tongue of the advent of those who are suitable for their respective societies they prepare to welcome them. Their eagerness and desire excite appetite in all the intermediate receiving societies, and all combine to invite and guide the new spirits to their destination.(2)
With such soft welcomes are good, open-minded spirits received, and especially is such kindly embrace extended by angels to those who leave this [p. 13] world in infancy and childhood. No harsher treatment do they need than to be separated from evil spirits, and taken up at once into heavenly societies, to be made wise with the wisdom of angels.
The work of reception which we have been describing is done in the province
of the mouth of the Greatest Man, in what Swedenborg calls "the first state
of man after death" (H. H. 491). And spirits who are interiorly open, and
whose thoughts and feelings appear frankly, undergo no treatment less gentle
than this. But with the greater part even of good men, at the present day, the
interiors have never been consciously opened. They have done good works, perhaps
from good principles; but they have attended, as others have, only to the appearances
of their lives before men; which, like the hulls and skins of various grains
and fruits, must be broken up with some force, that their real life, their purposes
and intentions as well as their outward acts, may be disclosed. This disclosure
is necessary both for a fair judgment of the characters of the new spirits,
and as the first step
The love of introducing good spirits into heaven, and the love of perceiving the interior quality of new goodness and conveying a knowledge of it to the heavens, urge, therefore, the opening of the whole life of the new comers. We see an image of their operation in the action of the tongue and lips upon the food, which they press gently, subdivide, and examine, and bring into contact with all the soft absorbing surfaces of the mouth. And if in this examination hard morsels are discovered which do not open to gentle pressure, these are quickly conducted between the teeth, by the pressure of which they are broken up, and all their contents disclosed for examination; or, if they cannot be broken, they are rejected as worthless. So the angels who are in the love of receiving good spirits, and conducting them to heaven, presently lead those spirits whose interiors are closely concealed by externals into the province of other angels whose function it is to open the interior memory of the life. [p. 15]
These angels whose use is in some respects similar to that of the gates of pearl, in conjunction with the angels of the tongue, guard the way to the greater part of the world of spirits, and of heaven and hell. They know that all new comers are now to be judged, -- not according to their professions, but their lives. They say to them, therefore, "None are received here whose quality is not known; and the quality of every one is known from his life; now, how have you lived? what good have you done? what evil have you resisted? and what evil have you done and what did you love to do and think?" Thus they open the whole memory of the life. (H. H. 462.)
No doubt many other simple truths or facts concerning the other life they hold and press home in the same way. They are not in themselves sensitive, except to the resistance of spirits to this opening. They deal simply with matters of fact. They do not judge of the quality of the things they discover; this is the duty of the tongue. Their work is, as warders, to compel those who approach [p. 16] to show their true colors, to warn the tongue and lips if any are present who will not do so, and to assist in shutting out such, and any others whose quality is too repugnant to the life of the Greatest Man. We are told by the Scriptures that some who are admitted will be spewed out of the mouth. No doubt some will be ejected with disgust as soon as their quality is perceived. Perhaps these are the lukewarm, who can be received neither in heaven nor in hell, but are beneath the hells, in a state almost without life. (A. R. 204; A. E. 1158.)
There are some other particulars in regard to the action of the teeth which should be considered before we leave them. The teeth hold the food, and bite it off; in which they correspond to the truth that all men must die, and that the purpose of their life is to be prepared for heaven, and to be added to the heavens. Compared to the gentle drawing of all the thoughts and affections towards heaven, inspired by the angels of the lips, this is stern teaching; but it is [p. 17] necessary for those who cling to the world, and are unwilling to die. It is such truth as we apply to men to separate them from their worldly pursuits and attachments, and to turn them towards heaven. The angels of the incisors must influence us to do this.
This is the duty of the twice four front teeth, which have no part in the grinding of food, but only in the breaking off. The next four teeth, called "canine," or "eye teeth," are, in man, much like the incisors, and join in their work; adding, perhaps, a special duty of holding the food and, in the carnivora, of penetrating and rending it.
Then come the bicuspids (2X4), whose use it is to break or cut up the food into small pieces, ready for grinding; and then the molars (2 X 4+4), which separate all the particles.
As the incisors correspond to the truth that all must die and enter the spiritual world, the grinding teeth, in their several degrees, represent the further truth that there all are judged according to their works; and that therefore the lives [p. 18] of all must there be opened and explored, to show their real quality. Such truth, also, we apply in the world to bring out the fitness or unfitness of men for various uses and positions in society.
The teeth are in two sets, the upper and the lower. The upper are fixed in the head; the lower, exactly similar in number and character, are fitted into the movable jaw, and press, each one against its correlative above. The upper teeth correspond to truth founded in the nature of the world they guard; the lower to similar truth applied to the individual cases presented. The upper say to those who approach, "All men are created for life in the spiritual world; there are none in heaven who have not once lived upon the earth, and there died."The lower add, "You also are born for the same end; you too must die."The upper say, "Here all are judged by their life, by what they have done and what they have loved to do and to think."The lower continue in turn, "You, too, are to be judged according to your lives; now, what have you done, and [p. 19] what have you loved to do and to think?" And thus they compel the opening of all the particulars of the life.
They also have a delicate tact for hypocrisies and concealments; just as the natural teeth have for even the smallest hard particles which come between them, and they feel just where the pressure is necessary.
Swedenborg speaks of the teeth as corresponding to the "sensuals of the understanding" (A. R. 435), or to truth held merely naturally and obediently, without interior understanding. And the work of those who are in the teeth of the Greatest Man is not the work of intelligence, or of interior perception; it consists in strong compulsion, and is performed by those who hold Divine Truth firmly and uncompromisingly, but not intelligently. They who are in tender states cannot do this work; but leave it to those whose life it is to insist upon submission to the rules. They are simple, honest doorkeepers, who admit all who present themselves for admission, on the one [p. 20] condition that there shall be no concealment of who they are, or what they have done; but their lives shall be open for judgment.
Swedenborg often speaks of the disputes of the evil as sounding like gnashing of teeth; because they hold literal truths or falsities in the memory, and clash them together in a kind of clamorous argumentation (H. H. 575). The teeth in the hells seem to be related especially to the cruel, tearing teeth of the carnivora; and their purpose is to injure others, and to claim all things that can minister to self-love and love of the world. The gnashing of the teeth is the angry clashing of assertions of fact, or of literal statements, by which they urge such claims against one another and against the Lord and the heavens.
Of some who cause pain in the teeth, he says, "Hypocrites who have spoken holily of Divine things, with affection of love concerning the public and the neighbor, and testified what is just and right, and still have despised these things in their heart, and also laughed at them, when it [p. 21] was allowed them to flow into the parts of the body to which they corresponded from the opposite, produced pains in the teeth, and on their near presence so severe that I could not bear it" (A. C. 5720). Which appears to have been because the truths which they held in the memory and produced from the memory were like teeth, and their interior contempt for them was like death to the life and support of the teeth.
Again he says that "those who have been rich in the life of the body, and have dwelt in magnificent palaces, placing their heaven in such things, and have despoiled others of their goods under various pretences, without conscience or charity, . . . exhaled a sphere of fetor of teeth" (A. C. 1631). Which, apparently, was because with them a life of pleasures was substituted for a truly heavenly life, and the principles which insist upon interior exploration of those pleasures before they are received into the life were neglected and allowed to become foul and to decay.
A similar consequence follows from the habit of [p. 22] thinking over things that seem pleasant, in an indolent fashion, like food retained in the mouth, and rolled with the tongue, without regard to its rightness or usefulness; from which our principles decay, as the teeth do when not kept clean and bright.
The pains and dangers which children pass through in cutting their teeth, correspond to the natural reluctance and difficulty in forming principles by which apparently pleasant things are thoroughly examined, and the evil resolutely rejected.
A child's first principles are scarcely more than his parent's words, held without thought. These are succeeded by natural principles better understood, as the first set of teeth, lightly rooted, are replaced by those that are larger and firmer.
When old people pass from the state of parents to that of grandparents, and leaving the disciplinary stage of life, pass again into a child-like state, they become indulgent, and lose their teeth spiritually as they do naturally.
In this view, soundness of the teeth would [p. 23] correspond with the love of having the enjoyments of life thoroughly good; especially with the love of thoroughly good work, and not of what merely appears well. And unsoundness of the teeth would correspond to content with good appearances, and work that will pass.
The dentist's work, spiritually, is to point out the carelessness of such principles of judgment, and suggest what is necessary from principles of love to the Lord and the neighbor to make them sound. Such suggestions are like fillings of gold and silver.
Artificial teeth seem like the conventional standards which must replace the natural when they are gone.
There is an influx from the heavens into man, and from every province of the heavens into the correlative province of man's mind and the corresponding organ of his body. It is from this influx that his mind lives and loves and acts, and that the body also lives and performs its functions. The desire of the angels to receive new [p. 24] members, and introduce them into the uses and the happiness of the heavens, flows into our minds as a desire for the elements of which angelic spirits can be formed in us. It causes us to apply our minds to any source from which we can drink wisdom, and to drink it in for examination. It gives us an interest also in good works, from which we can get instruction and encouragement in regard to good life. It incites us to attend to these things, to receive them, taste them, be affected by the goodness of them, and to absorb this into our affections and lives. Therefore Swedenborg says that the use which the tongue performs in tasting, absorbing, and preparing nutriment for the body, "corresponds to the affection for knowing, understanding, and being wise in truths." (A. C. 4795.) (3)
That heavenly spirits are formed in us by thus receiving genuine wisdom and the goodness of wisdom is plain to every one. And it is also [p. 25 ] evident that the influx of the angels' love of receiving new angelic spirits must produce in us individually a desire for the heavenly elements of which such spirits are formed.
In this influx all angels who belong to the provinces of the digestive organs combine; and, indeed, in a general way, the whole heaven, since all angels desire to receive new brothers; and this hunger of the whole heavens for new brothers flows into us, and is felt as a hunger for wisdom. Specifically, those in the province of the lips impart to us the power of application to new truths; those in the province of the tongue inspire the capacity for tasting and discerning the quality of new ideas, before we finally adopt them; and those in the province of the gums and teeth, who cooperate so effectively with the tongue in its explorations, inspire the desire to open the interior quality of whatever is presented, and to receive nothing that we do not thus know, and that does not agree with our life.
We may hear thoughts which do not especially [p. 26] concern us, and may look at them with much or little interest, perhaps merely because others value them; but not until we think of them as relating to us, and desire to receive them into our lives, and so apply our minds to grasp them and understand them, -- not till then do we do that which is represented by taking food with our lips, masticating it with the teeth, and tasting it with the tongue. And then, if we assent and resolve to adopt it, we spiritually swallow it. Sometimes, also, people swallow what they do not understand, or even what they do not like, with very little mastication.
Yet, as thorough mastication is essential to good digestion of food, so the thorough understanding of the knowledge of life which we receive is essential to its proper assimilation.
End of Chapter 1.
2 "Men, after death, as soon as they come into the world of spirits, are carefully distinguished by the Lord; the evil are immediately bound to the infernal society in which they were in the world as to their ruling love, and the good are bound immediately to the heavenly society in which they also were as to love, charity, and faith" (H. H. 427). "This is the case with all as to internals; but not yet as to externals." (497.)