BY JOHN WORCESTER
MASSACHUSETTS NEW-CHURCH UNION
THE office of the salivary glands is to secrete a watery liquid which mingles with the food, softens and moistens it, and reduces it almost to a semi-fluid state, so that it passes easily through the fauces and the oesophagus to the stomach. The saliva has other subsidiary uses, which will be considered presently; but this is the most important.
Water is, throughout the three kingdoms of nature, the vehicle of circulation; it is the means of conveying into the veins of animals, the fibres of plants, and the minute interstices of the rocks, the materials needed for their nourishment and growth.
As to its cleansing properties, water corresponds to the truth which distinguishes right from wrong. As to its nutritive and mobilizing properties, it corresponds to the same truth teaching what it is [p. 28] right to do, and thus giving the means of motion to those desires which, without such truth, would lie helplessly inert.
The saliva, therefore, which is almost pure water, having only about one per cent. of solid material, represents the instruction first given to new spirits as to the world into which they have come, as to what it is allowable and possible for them to do, and as to the state of their friends who have gone before, -- instruction which gives them freedom to go whithersoever they desire.
The fluid is secreted by large glands lying behind and under the lower jaw, and under the tongue, which summon, according to their need, copious streams from the general circulation, which correspond to fresh information concerning the state and wants of the heavenly man and the world of spirits.
The purer saliva, whose office is to mingle intimately with the food, to dissolve such portions as admit of ready solution, and convey them at once into the circulation, and to soften other portions [p. 29] to a semi-fluid condition so that they may easily pass to the stomach, corresponds specifically to instruction concerning heaven and heavenly life, the purpose of which is to introduce immediately into heaven those who are fitted for it, and to assist others on the way to heaven.
The viscid element of the sub-maxillary saliva, and still more evidently the mucus discharged by the follicles of the mouth, has for its specific office to lubricate the food, so that it may pass easily through the oesophagus to the stomach; and corresponds to instruction which serves to introduce spirits to societies in the world of spirits, where they remain for further preparation. The salivary glands correspond to societies of spiritual angels who love to acquire and communicate such instruction.
In regard to this instruction, which, it will be observed, is given immediately after the spirit passes the province of the lips, we read as follows:-- [p. 30]
"When the celestial angels are with a resuscitated person, they do not leave him, because they love every one; but when the spirit is such that he can no longer be in company with the celestial angels, he desires to depart from them; and when this is the case, angels from the Lord's spiritual kingdom come, by whom is given to him the use of light, for before he saw nothing, but only thought. . . . The angels are extremely cautious lest any idea should come from the resuscitated person but what savors of love; they then tell him that he is a spirit. The spiritual angels, after the use of light has been given, perform for the new spirit all the offices which he can ever desire in that state, and instruct him concerning the things of the other life, but so far as he can comprehend them. But if he is not such as to be willing to be instructed, the resuscitated person then desires to depart from the company of those angels; but still the angels do not leave him, but he dissociates himself from them; for the angels love every one, and desire nothing more than to perform kind offices, to instruct, and to introduce into heaven; their highest delight consists in that. When the spirit thus dissociates himself he is received by good spirits, and when he is in their company, also, all kind offices are performed for him; but if his [p. 31] life in the world had been such that he could not be in the company of the good, then also he wishes to remove from them, and this even until he associates himself with such as agree altogether with his life in the world, with whom he finds his life, and then, what is wonderful, he leads a similar life to what he led in the world. This beginning of man's life after death continues only for a few days." (H. H. 450, 451.)
In the posthumous treatise concerning the "Last Judgment," pp. 125-133, we have the following account of the reception and instruction of new spirits : --
"When a man after death comes into the spiritual world, which usually takes place on the third day after he has breathed his last, he appears to himself in a similar life to that in which he had been in the world, and in a similar house, room, and bed-chamber, in a similar dress and covering, and in similar companionship in the house; if he was a king or prince, in a similar palace; if a husbandman, in a similar cottage; rustic things surround the one, splendid the other. This takes place with every one after death, for the purpose that death may not seem to be death, but a [p. 32] continuation of life, and that the last state of the natural life may become the first of the spiritual life; and that from this he may go on to his goal, which will be either in heaven or in hell. . . . When new comers into the spiritual world are in this first state, angels come to them for the sake of wishing them a happy arrival, and at first are much amused in conversation with them, since they know that they do not then think otherwise than that they are still living in the former world. Therefore, they ask them what they think about the life after death; and the new comers answer according to their former ideas; some that they do not know; some that they are ghosts or a kind of ethereal beings; some that they are transparent, aerial bodies; some that they are flying spectres, either in the ether and the air, or in the waters, or in the middle of the earth; and some that souls like angels are in the stars; some of the new comers deny that any man lives after death. After listening to these replies, the angels say, 'Welcome! we will show you something new which you have not before known or believed, namely, that every man after death lives as man in a body exactly as he lived before.' To this the new spirits rejoin, ' This is impossible! Whence has he a body? Does it not lie with all there is of it dead in the [p. 33] grave?' The angels laughingly answer, 'We will give you ocular proof of it.' And they say, 'Are you not men in perfect form ? Examine and feel yourselves; and yet you have left the natural world. That you have not known this till now is because the first state of the life after death is exactly like the last state of the life before death.' Hearing this, the new guests are astonished, and exclaim from joy of heart, 'Thanks be to God that we are alive, and that death has not annihilated us.' I have very often heard new comers instructed thus as to their life after death, and gladdened by their resurrection."
Then follow examples of instruction by the angels concerning the consummation of the age, the destruction of the world, and the end of the Church; and, presently, leading the new spirits out, the angels showed them the Sun of Heaven, and beautiful representatives of the instruction of angels and spirits from the Lord in the Sun, and of the possible influx of Divine Truth also to man on the earth. And then also they showed how the evil spirits were multiplying in that time, before the Last Judgment, and cutting off the light of heaven from the minds of men on the earth. [p. 34] All these things are of the instruction given by angels to introduce new spirits into the life of the spiritual world.
Those soluble portions of the food which are in a condition to be readily absorbed correspond to spirits who readily receive instruction concerning heaven and are in a state to conform to it at once. The portions not readily dissolved or absorbed correspond to those who need more gradual initiation.
The small amount of organic substance contained in the saliva has an important subsidiary use in beginning the preparation of some elements of food which are not yet ready for absorption. The sweetness of fruits is in a form that can be absorbed at once. But the sweetness of sugar-cane needs a chemical combination with a little more water, to be reduced to the same form. Starch and gum also, which are chemically akin to cane-sugar, need the same addition to become food like the sugar of fruit. And the organic substance in the saliva, by its very presence, [ p. 35] stimulates this chemical change, some portions of the sugar and the starch undergoing the change almost instantly upon coming in contact with it. The chemical union of a little more water with these substances can hardly correspond to anything else than the reception of a little necessary truth into life. And the organic substance from the glands, which stimulates this reception, seems to correspond with the influence of angels who by encouragement or by warning immediately open the eyes of some who are already in good to purer truth, and perhaps to humbler acknowledgment, than they had been in before.
The slightly alkaline quality of the saliva probably represents the checking of all self-assertion, and the enforcing of the acknowledgment that self is nothing, and the Lord everything, in this kingdom.
By no means the whole of the soluble portion of the food is absorbed in the mouth; a large part, dissolved or dissolving in the saliva, is carried into the stomach; much of it goes even further, into [p. 36] the intestines, before it is absorbed. And in correspondence with this, no doubt many new comers who are open to spiritual instruction, hasten first to the company of their former friends in the world of spirits, and by a longer way, and through various methods of preparation, are carried into heaven.
End of Chapter 2.