BY JOHN WORCESTER
MASSACHUSETTS NEW-CHURCH UNION
HAIRS grow from the skin, and in a sense constitute a part of the skin. In themselves they have very little life or sensitiveness, though they may be strongly and sensitively held by the skin. They play a great part in the adornment of the person, and they have an important use in the protection of the more living surfaces, especially of the head, beneath them.
They correspond to the formalities and courtesies of thought and of life, which are of small account in themselves, and yet add greatly to the beauty of life, and certainly present a most useful shield to the more sensitive feelings beneath. They may indeed be presented with perfect sincerity, and may rightly interpret the feelings; but it is easier to meet in pleasant formalities about which we are not very sensitive, than to be always exposing our feelings, and receiving personal affronts and injuries. [p. 246]
"As is the correspondence of the bones and cuticles, so is that of the hairs, for these put forth from roots in the cuticles. Whatever has correspondence with the Greatest Man, this the spirits and angels have; for each one represents as an image the Greatest Man; therefore the angels have hair, arranged becomingly and in order. Their hair represents their natural life and its correspondence with their spiritual life. . . . There are many, especially women, who have placed everything in elegancies, nor have they thought higher, and scarcely anything concerning eternal life. This is pardoned to women until the age of womanhood, when the ardor which is wont to precede marriage ceases; but if they persist in such things in adult age, when they can know better, then they contract a nature which remains after death. Such appear in the other life with long hair spread over their face, which also they comb, placing elegance in it; for to comb the hair signifies to accommodate natural things so that they appear becoming. From this they are known by others; for spirits can tell from the color, length, and arrangement of the hair, what the persons were as to natural life in the world.
"They who have believed nature to be everything, and have confirmed
themselves in this, and [p. 247] therefore have lived a careless life,
not acknowledging any life after death, nor any hell or heaven; such, because
they are merely natural, when they appear in the light of heaven, do not
seem to have any face, but instead something bearded, hairy, unshorn; for,
as was said above, the face represents the spiritual and celestial things
interiorly in man, but hairiness the natural things."
Swedenborg describes a certain council called in the world of spirits,
in which "on the right stood those who in the world were called Apostolic
Fathers, and who lived in the ages preceding the Nicene Council; and on
the left stood men renowned in succeeding ages for their books, printed
or written out by scholars. Many of the latter had their faces shaved,
and their heads covered with curled wigs made of women's hair, . . . but
[p. 249] the former had long beards, and wore their natural hair"
The beard seems to represent the clothing in which one expresses his rational thought -- the generalities which one advances as it were tentatively, indicating his thought but not making it a matter of personal feeling.
Women have no beards, for when they speak they usually express their feelings; but they have beautiful hair, for they love to make this expression decorous and agreeable.
Such uses as these are evidently performed for the Word by its literal sense. Expressions of affection are there, in graceful, poetic language, which both adorns and protects them; and the wisdom by which the heavens were made, and are daily led in goodness, is there also; but it is clothed in neutral expressions which may be rejected without much harm, but which if understood rightly, reveal the Divine thought of the Lord.