The True Meaning of the 7 Days of Creation: Spiritual Rebirth
The Sixth Day
The Image and Likeness of God.
In our last two lectures it was shown that by the sky or heaven in the Word of God is meant what the Lord called "the kingdom of heaven within you", that is, the inner or internal man or mind, and that the Lord is as it were in the sun of life in this internal man, being the source of the warmth of love and the enlightenment of truth. When this kingdom of heaven is open within man and he perceives the presence of the Lord God there, man's thoughts are changed. He comes into living knowledges of the Word of God, represented by the creation of fish, and his thoughts, represented by birds, ascend as it were towards God in heaven. Thus in the fifth day or state man turns his thoughts towards God, so that he thinks of the presence of God in all things of his life. He no longer regards himself in the first place, but thinks how he can do the will of God. He begins to see how all things of the Word of God are truths which guide him in his daily life.
As was shown in the last lecture, the mind of man consists of two parts, the one part being the voluntary, the will of doing what is good or right, the voluntary or will side of the mind to which belong also the affections or feelings. The other half of the mind is the intellect to which belong the understanding of truth, thoughts, knowledge and memory.
After establishing the kingdom of God within man, the first thing that takes place is that man's knowledge of the Word becomes living and his thoughts ascend towards God, that is, his intellect or his thoughts turn towards God. This is what was represented by the creation of fish and birds. On the sixth day the animals or beasts were created. The beasts stand for the affections or feelings of love. Thoughts, no matter how inspired, how lofty, or noble, are of little use if they are not followed by good feelings. An animal is led to do what it does from its affections, its feelings, which it instinctively follows. An animal, therefore, in the Word stands for affections or feelings. Men are therefore in the Word of God often called by the names of different animals, such as sheep, cattle or goats, or if evil, wolves and foxes. Because of this correspondence, it is often said in common speech that a man is a fox, a snake, a tiger, a pig, according to the nature of the affection which animates his life.
On account of this correspondence the Lord Jesus Christ was called the Lamb of God, to signify the Divine Innocence of love; and He was called "the Lion of the Tribe of Judah" to signify His omnipotence, His infinite power.
We have said that animals stand for affections or feelings. An affection is the result of something affecting us, moving us. We are affected by a thing according to our love. One who loves music is affected by it; one who does not, is not affected by it. If one loves another deeply, one is profoundly affected by his presence, particularly after a separation. If one loves truth, one is affected, moved, by hearing it. If one loves what is good, one is affected by seeing it. If one sees another make a great sacrifice, a sacrifice of that which he holds dear, for the sake of another, it affects one. A man who loves what is good is profoundly affected with delight at seeing good conquer, and is deeply grieved at seeing evil increase, and the affection is according to the strength of the love.
Now there are many who are moved by great and noble deeds, especially when done at a great sacrifice. Such things affect us and make up our nobler affections or feelings. But the affection is always according to the love. If a man's love is for temporal things, he will be affected by temporal things. If he loves eternal things, he will be affected by eternal things. From all the lectures that have gone before in this series it may be seen that the animals which are said to be created on the sixth day of creation signify the affection of eternal things, things of the spirit. The saddest thing about the present day is that so few are affected by eternal things, things of the spirit. For the most part men are affected by temporal things.
Generally speaking if a man loses his position, his reputation, his friends, his wealth, he becomes depressed and sunk in grief, maybe he is even brought to despair. But if a man feels himself losing his ideals, his faith, the purity of his purpose, he is not so much distressed.
Parents are apt to be more greatly grieved at the death of their children, than they would be at the loss of ideals on the part of their children. If men cared for the kingdom of God, the passing of one's children from this world to the world to come would cause far less grief than if their children turned their minds solely to merely material pursuits and gains and away from higher ideals.
When a calamity like war strikes in fury, many are affected by the great suffering. But there are few who are deeply affected by the far greater tragedy of this age: the youth of the world brought up without spiritual ideals, with no concept of anything beyond the things of this world, a youth which is largely aimless except in the pursuit of material ends, or a youth perverted by the false idea of a materialistic patriotism.
In the world today we see part of the human race inspired by a cruel materialistic patriotism, while the other part mostly do not care about the welfare of the world, provided they do not have to endanger their own useless and selfish lives, with their possessions and pleasures. How few would sacrifice anything for the "treasure in heaven". A treasure in heaven is all the things of a genuine love of God and the neighbor, all things of a deep wisdom of life with the great joy and delight of such a life.
If a man has passed through all the days, all the states described so far, he finally becomes an image and likeness of God. A man is not a man from his body but from his mind. A man's body is not unlike the body of an animal, but as to his mind he can become an image and likeness of God, viewing things Divine, living in things Divine. Thus is to be truly man in fullness.
It is said in the Arcana Coelestia by Swedenborg that the wise men in the Most Ancient Church, the Church that was called Adam, "called no one 'man' but the Lord Himself, and the things which were in Him; neither did they call themselves 'men', but only those things in themselves, as all the good of love and all the truth of faith, which they perceived they had from the Lord. These they said were 'of man', because they were of the Lord." Arcana Coelestia No. 49.
To become a man is to receive what is of the Lord in the heart and in spirit, in fullness, in such fullness that man as to his love, as to his wisdom, and as to his life is an image and likeness of God.
This state is rare. It is therefore written in the Aircana Coelestia: "Those who are being regenerated do not all arrive at this state. The greatest part at this day attain only to the first state, some only to the second, others to the third, fourth or fifth, few the sixth and scarcely anyone to the seventh." Arcana Coelestia No. 13.
It is therefore said of the world when it turns from God and from the kingdom of heaven to the things of earth: "I beheld and lo there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens were fled."Jeremiah 4:25.
It is evident that unless man is born again as to his mind, he is not an image and likeness of God; that an evil man is not such an image and likeness is evident. But even with the good, for one of them to become an image and likeness in any full sense is very rare. Because this is so rare, it is difficult to describe what such a man is like, for apart from the experience of meeting and speaking with such a one, a description conveys little idea.
If we really understand what is meant by man in the image and likeness of God, a man who is truly a man in the image and likeness of God, a man who is truly a man in the sense of the word in the description of the sixth day of creation, that is, one who is filled with the spirit of God, we may see for ourselves as did the prophet Jeremiah: "I beheld and lo there was no man."
A man is distinguished from animals primarily in this, that he can raise his mind above the things of earth, that he can receive the Divine Love and Wisdom of God, that he can be conjoined to God by love, that his love, his thought, and his whole life can be directed to Divine and eternal ends. One whose mind and life is not so directed is little above the animals. He is not a "man" in the true sense of the word.
We read concerning the sixth day of creation in the Arcana Coelestia by Emanuel Swedenborg: "The sixth state is when from faith and thence from love, he speaks what is true and does what is good; the things which he then brings forth are called the living soul and the beast, and as he then begins to act at once and together from both faith and love, he becomes a spiritual man, who is called an image. His spiritual life is delighted and sustained by such things as belong to the knowledges of faith, and to works of charity which are called his food; and his natural life is delighted and sustained by those things which belong to his body and the senses; thence a combat arises, until love gains the dominion and he becomes a celestial ('or heavenly) man." Arcana Coelestia No. 12.
What is in the above quotation called a combat involves the greatest and most bitter struggle. It involves the giving up of the love of the things of this world in so far as they are not of service to the establishing of the kingdom of God in the hearts of men. It involves giving up all things which are not filled with the spirit of God.
This great change in the heart does not necessarily involve a change in a man's life as it appears before men, but it involves a tremendous change in a man's life as it appears in the sight of God. Men have to continue their work in this world, but the whole purpose behind their life is changed. To change the life as it appears before men is not so difficult. The great difficulty is to change the heart and life as it appears before God, to remove self, self-advantage from the center of one's life, to the circumference, and to have the center of one's life filled with the spirit of the Lord God.
We stand today at one of the great crises of human history. Not since the Germanic hordes overran the Roman Empire, while a civilization tumbled, has such a catastrophe appeared to threaten civilization. Men stand confused and bewildered, and wonder what it is all about. If men's minds turn to God, they wonder and often doubt the wisdom of the Divine Providence.
The Lord in His Divine Providence works for eternal ends, ends which we often can not see. When a civilization becomes too materialistic, when men's minds concentrate on the things of this world and the kingdom of God is not in the hearts and lives of mankind, civilizations tumble and fall, sometimes they have been entirely wiped out, and a new beginning is made usually with different peoples.
Has our civilization become so materialistic, so rotten, that it is worse than useless, in the sight of God and the sight of heaven? This we as yet do not know. We do, however, know the words of God: "I will not destroy the city for the ten's sake." Gen. 8:32. Ten in the Word of God stands for remaining things. As long as there are some spiritually living things, some remains of whole-hearted love, wisdom, and life of religion, not merely formal religion, but religion from the very soul, so long a civilization is preserved.
As to the danger that threatens civilization, we can do little in the sight of men. What we are called to do is to enter into the warfare against the materialism and greed that is in our own hearts. To be willing to lay down our life for the sake of the Lord, to lay down that life which we have loved, for the sake of the new life which the Lord has promised us. To do so we must be heroes.
Many who would like to be heroes for the sake of praise and honor of men, are not heroes in fighting against the vanity, the pride, the greed that is in their own hearts. To be a conqueror of evil in the world, one must fight and conquer the passions of one's own heart. Most so-called reforms are mere vanity. Men start out to right the wrongs of the world without having heroically combated the vanities of their own soul. The result is that most reforms are superficial, not real, nor lasting.
It is easy to rally men to the support of superficial reforms of all sorts, but to call men to the reform, the rebirth of the inmost springs of their own lives, falls for the most part on deaf ears. This is why the Writings of Swedenborg have received so little attention in the world generally. They do not appeal to those loving what is showy; they do not flatter men; they call for a purification of the heart in the presence of God, in the inner chamber of the mind, and as such they do not appeal to the shallow, the superficial, to those seeking the easy road; in a word they do not appeal to the masses of mankind. To follow these Writings involves therefore turning away from the popular trend. One who does this appears strange to his friends and associates. He finds himself lonely in the world. If one has not something of the heroic in his nature, he will not be impressed by the genuine things of religion. It is easy to be a hero in the sight of men by fighting for what all men praise. The real hero is one who stands alone and fights for what is true in his own soul, in the sight of God, and having conquered, is willing to fight for what is unpopular, even when it brings upon him derision or mockery, the despising of the many.
The life of the true man, the man in the image and likeness of God, is a life which is an inner image and likeness of the life of the Lord while on earth. He was in the Prophets called a hero and mighty man, and we are heroes in so far as we receive His spirit within us. His heroism was not the heroism of the world. His heroism was in condemning what was evil and false, what was hypocritical, even though it led to His death and resurrection.
Though a man must fight as a hero, he must know that he does so solely from the power of the Lord God and not from any power of his own. He therefore ascribes the victory to the Lord.
The Lord's love was the Divine Love of the salvation of the human race, not a love of the salvation of the human race by changing its external institutions, but a salvation which consisted in changing the heart of man. Insofar as one is in the Lord and the Lord in him, so far a man also is in the love of the salvation of the human race, not only a temporal and external salvation, but an internal salvation by the change of the heart and spirit. A man must at times fight against the external evils of the world, but this by itself is only a temporary stop-gap. If the evils of the heart and spirit are not overcome, there is no permanent salvation.
from: A SERIES OF LECTURES by Rev. Theodore Pitcairn
Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania 1940
THE STORY OF CREATION IN GENESIS