BY JOHN WORCESTER
MASSACHUSETTS NEW-CHURCH UNION
THE feet have many points of resemblance to the hands; their general structure is similar, with some modifications, so that in cases of necessity they are taught to do in some degree the work of hands, and the hands are degraded to the work of the feet. But they are not formed for so great a variety of motions; their solid part is larger and firmer, and the movable divisions are shorter and with much less capacity for varied and quick movements. Their thumbs, also, or great toes, are not intended to meet and assist the individual motions of the other toes, but step squarely with them, bearing a great part of the burden, and merely balancing the others. As to touch, again, though the feet are perhaps more sensitive than the hands to impressions from without, they have far less power of examining and individualizing the sources of those impressions. It is [p. 266] enough for them to know quickly that they are there, and, if injurious, must be avoided or removed. They leave it to the hands to examine into the nature of them and do the work of removing. Their work is to support the body, and carry it firmly from place to place. They are not intended to express and communicate what is in us, nor to operate upon objects outside of ourselves. They are simply to carry ourselves forward, feeling the ground as they go, and stepping firmly.
Swedenborg makes a curious statement in regard to the sensitiveness of the feet, which ought to be presented here. He says, --
"I wish also to add that those papillae or glands which provide the sole of the foot with an acute sense of touch, appear to be woven of fibres from the cerebrum itself, which flow down the length of the spinal cord, even to its extremity, and afterwards go off in the nerves; so that the sense of touch of the sole itself communicates more immediately with the cerebrum than the touch of other parts of the body, whence there is a more acute [p. 267] sense in the papillae, and their changes of state are instantly presented to the cerebrum; thus also the lasts are connected with the firsts in the corporeal system." (A. K. Part vii. p. 27.)
In treating of the correspondence of the hands and the feet, .Swedenborg says that "the hands signify the interiors of the natural, and the feet the exteriors of it" (n. 7442); also, "To lift the hand signifies power in spiritual things; and to lift the foot signifies power in natural things," and he explains, "By spiritual is meant that in the natural which is of the light of heaven, and by natural that which is of the light of the world." (n. 5328.)
In describing the position of the heavens in the Greatest Man, he states that "the highest heaven forms the head even to the neck, the second or middle heaven forms the breast to the loins and the knees, and the lowest or first heaven forms the feet even to the soles, and also the arms to the fingers " (H. H. 65). To this he adds, "The church on earth corresponds to the soles of the feet" [p. 268] (A. E. 606). And again, "The church not conjoined to the church in the heavens is meant by 'under the feet'; but when it is conjoined it is meant by the feet." (A. R. 533.)
In explaining the words concerning the Two Witnesses, that the Spirit of Life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet, he says, --
"By the Spirit of Life from God is signified spiritual life, and by standing upon the feet is signified natural life agreeing with spiritual, and thus vivified by the Lord. That this is signified is because by the Spirit of Life is meant the internal of man, which is called the internal man, which regarded in itself is spiritual; for the spirit of man thinks and wills, and to think and to will in itself is spiritual. By standing upon the feet is signified the external of man, which also is called the external man, which in itself is natural; for the body speaks and does what its spirit thinks and wills, and to speak and do is natural. . . . Every man who is reformed is first reformed as to his internal man, and afterwards as to the external; the internal man is not reformed by merely knowing and understanding the truths and goods by [p. 269] which man is saved, but by willing them and loving them; but the external man by speaking and doing the things which the internal man wills and loves; and as far as it does this, so far the man is regenerated. That he is not regenerated before is because his internal is not before in effect, but only in cause, and the cause unless it be in the effect is dissipated. It is like a house built upon the ice, which falls to the bottom when the ice is melted by the sun; in a word, it is like a man without feet upon which he can stand and walk; such is the internal or spiritual man unless it is founded in the external or natural." (A. R. 510.)
The two witnesses were the acknowledgment of the Divine Human of the Lord, and a life according to the Commandments; and they stood upon their feet full of the spirit of life from God when these two essentials of the New Church were fully received by Swedenborg and the angels associated with him, and were brought down into the world in his life. (See A. E. 665.)
In general, to walk is to live; and, in a good sense, it is to live in the Lord's ways, and to carry the spirit into the new states to which His [p. 270] ways lead. As the hands, therefore, are the love of communicating and doing good, the feet are the love of obeying and of doing right.
The provinces from the knees to the feet are in this love of obedience; and men on earth are in conjunction with them and live with their power when they love above all things to live the Commandments from the Lord. Through this love the Lord leads the race into new states and conditions of life. In the heavens the experiences acquired here are better understood, and attain fuller development; but here the advance is made into the new conditions and applications of truth, which is appropriately done by those in the province of the feet.
If we may trust Swedenborg's statement about the connection between the sensitive soles of the feet and the cerebrum, we should infer that not only are they who love the commandments living in unity with the lowest heaven, but they receive also the immediate attention and care of the angels with whom the Lord is most sensibly present, the [p. 271] wisest of the angels, who thus are enabled to care for their state with all the resources of the heavens, especially by commanding for their service the provinces of the hands and arms and legs and feet.
I will add only a word in regard to the difference between the right and the left sides. "The things which are on the right side," Swedenborg tells us, "correspond to good from which are truths, and the things of the left side correspond to truths by which is good." (A. C. 10,061.)
The right hand, therefore, responds to the call of the will, and expresses the power of the will; but the motions of the left are made with thought and comparative difficulty, and are also weaker.
But in walking, the left foot is by common usage made the leading foot, and Swedenborg declares that evil spirits turn their bodies about from right to left, but good spirits from left to right. (D. L. W. 270.) The cause of this he ascribes to the direction of the heavenly gyres in the good, and the contrary direction in the evil. [p. 272] But the cause of this may be that it is good and heavenly for the will to be guided by the understanding, and to learn to love what is true and right; but it is infernal for the will to compel the understanding to think from and to confirm the natural desires and impulses.