INSECTS AND METAMORPHOSIS
And now, going a step lower, we come to insects, using the term insect in a very wide sense, to cover all the little invertebrate animals. And, as they are very low and outward forms of life, we must expect to find that they correspond to, and represent, the lower and outward things of man's life, the things of the circumference, and extremes, the things of the mere senses. Insects are of many kinds ; and they undergo changes in their forms and habits ; but, in their mature states they resemble birds, rather than beasts. Most of them have wings. They belong to the things which correspond to the life of man's intellect rather than to those which correspond to affections. But, from their mixed character, they partake somewhat of both sides. As a general principle, insects correspond to, and represent, the mere thoughts and impressions made upon the senses by the outward appearances of things. As forms of life, having their characteristic affections, they represent the pleasure we take in impressions made upon our senses. For instance: an impression is made upon our senses, by looking at a passing cloud; or a landscape. And we have a mere thought of the senses, about the appearance of the cloud, or of the landscape. This impression, and this thought, are merely sensuous things, to which the insects correspond. If we carry our thought further, and make some use of it, by rational or spiritual thought, then such thought would correspond to a bird, a higher form of life. But these harmless insects of the mind, these pretty butterflies and other innocent little creatures, are the dreaming fancies of our senses, often, pretty and harmless, but not things of advanced and useful life.
But insects are sometimes good, and sometimes bad. The harmless and innocent insects have a good correspondence, just as our senses are good, in their places, but they are not exalted in character. Noxious insects correspond to false thoughts, and bad impressions made upon our senses. Vicious insects which attack and sting, and even kill, larger animals and human beings, correspond to falsities which are aggressive, which seek to kill the good and truth in the human mind. Such, for instance, are the hornets of the mind. And the fear and dread of these hornets, correspond to the mental destruction of the man who suffers his mind to be constantly stung by false principles from his senses.
We read, in the Scriptures, of many kinds of insects, such as bees, hornets, worms, caterpillars, flies, locusts, grass-hoppers, scorpions, spiders, and others, representing the various kinds of sensuous thoughts and impressions. As insects are very numerous, and of very many "kinds, so the insects of the mind, the sensuous thoughts and impressions, are very numerous, and of many kinds. We have such thoughts and impressions about everything that makes itself known to any of our senses. And these thoughts and impressions may be good or evil, true or false, useful or injurious. We may picture to ourselves the beautiful scenery of heaven, or the hideous things of hell. Look upon a living and active, useful animal, fulfilling its uses, and enjoying its gentle life, under the beneficent heat and light of the sun. Here you have the symbolic picture of good and useful affections, doing their daily duty, in the spiritual heat and light, the love and wisdom of the Lord, as the Sun of Righteousness. And the impression made upon your senses by this peaceful scene, is an innocent and beautiful mental butterfly. But look again, at the dead and decayed body of an animal, filled with a hideous mass of wriggling worms ; and you have the symbolic picture of the mind which is willing to feast itself on impure thoughts.
The devastation of the fields by swarms of grasshoppers, or locusts, gives us a thoroughly representative picture of the state of man's mind, when the sensuous thoughts are uppermost, and are controlling the life ; when the mere pleasures of the senses are taking the place of calm and rational usefulness.
Almost every living thing upon the earth is subject to attack by some sort of insect. Insects are extremely voracious. They eat almost everything, animal and vegetable. They prey upon man and beast and plant, living, dying, or dead. And we can see their counterparts in the insects of the mind, the voracious appetites of man's sensuous thoughts. Rapidly all the good, the beautiful, the true things of noble manly life fall a prey to the swarming carrion-flies of false and filthy thoughts, when these are allowed to swarm and feed within the mind. And with terrible rapidity these mental flies multiply, and bring forth "after their kind."
We notice that insects are food for birds, and for serpents. And we find the parallel in our mental lives. Birds correspond to thoughts of a higher kind. And serpents correspond to affection for the pleasures of the senses. And our higher thoughts, and our 'love of sensuous pleasure, constantly use the little thoughts and impressions of the senses. Before we can think, we must have impressions and facts, to think upon. And before we can have pleasure, we must have the facts in which we find pleasure.
There is a kind of worm which preys upon books, eating into their edges, gathering its food, for its own use. And, as a counterpart, we have the man who reads all the time, gathering knowledge, but never putting his material to any actual use. And how appropriately such a man is called a "book-worm," a mere mental insect.
Insects of various kinds also prey upon each other. And so, in our minds, our sensuous thoughts and impressions prey upon each other. And, in the operations of the Divine Providence, this merciful provision often prevents the enormous multiplication of both physical and mental insects, which would otherwise occur. For instance, how often the sensuous thought of having nothing to do, and being indolent, is counteracted by another mental insect, the sensuous idea of pride of appearance.
Look where you will, throughout the living forms of nature, and you will find something in the form of an insect. Myriads of the little things are too small to be seen by the naked eye. In a particle as small as the head of a pin, the microscope often reveals a swarming mass of organized, living beings. And, while we live in this outward plane of life, this world of the senses, every feeling and thought of our minds, and every deed of our lives, is liable to l5e infested with a swarming mass of sensuous impressions and thoughts, many of which escape the notice of our mental eyes, unless we are supplied with the powerful microscope of the revealed truth of the Word of our Lord, in its higher and finer aspects and uses. Our Lord teaches us to lay up our mental treasures in the heavens of our inward and spiritual mind, and not merely in the earth of our natural mind and memory, where the "moth and rust corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal." (Matt. vi. 19-21.)
Among the most striking of the characteristics of insect-life, we observe that many insects undergo a remarkable metamorphosis, an entire change of form and habits. Such insects have three states, or conditions ; first, that of the worm, or grub, or larva ; second, that of the chrysalis, or pupa ; and third, that of the imago or perfect insect, with wings. The form of the insect grows more complex, and its powers become greater, and of a higher kind of life. These things are illustrated in the growth of the caterpillar, until it becomes a butterfly. In the first state, the chief work of the insect is to eat, to gather nourishment for its growth. In this state, the insect represents the affection of the natural mind for gathering materials into the memory, for securing impressions upon the senses, seeing and feeling the things of the senses. This is the state of the opening mind of the child. At first he does not learn to think, to soar on wings. but he learns to see things, to gather impressions, and to lay up these things in his memory, for future use, and for his mental growth. Hence comes the insatiable inquisitiveness of children, and their desire to touch everything they see ; i. e., to bring everything into contact with their senses, that they may gather impressions. And, to these things in the sensuous life of the little child, the caterpillar and its insatiable appetite, correspond.
The second condition of the insect is one of quiet rest, and of unconscious change, of formation going on, with the materials already gathered, and for the next state in the life of the insect. And, in this state, the insect corresponds to our sensuous impressions and ideas, gathered into the memory, but now undergoing the process of inward digestion. and assimilation, being arranged in order, for mental growth and use. This is a state of less outward activity, while inward and formative operations are going on. And, as a result of the chrysalis state, the insect comes forth in its full and perfect form, and enjoys a fuller, freer and higher life. And, in this complete state, it propagates its species. In this state, the fullformed insect represents, and corresponds to, our enjoyment of thinking about the things of the senses, the delight which comes after we have gathered ideas, and have shaped them into forms for use in practical life.
Noxious insects, of course, represent impure sensuous thoughts and delights.
Poets and philosophers have frequently used these facts concerning the changes of insects, the growth from the crawling worm to the flitting butterfly, to illustrate the corresponding change in the human mind,, effected by regeneration ; when the mind leaves its low and crawling state of selfishness and sin, and arises, on the wings of higher thought, to higher realms of light and life. And this idea is strongly enforced by the science of correspondences. The condition of the worm well represents the low condition of man's natural mind, when unregenerate. And the finer organization, and the higher powers, of the perfect insect, fitly represent the higher and fuller life of the natural mind, when regenerated. Thus, in all created beings, the principles of correspondence hold good. Every higher form of life includes the capacities and principles embodied in all the other created forms. And, correspondingly, in the mind of man, the highest condition of man includes and comprehends all the principles or all the lower conditions, in their order and uses. The more we understand both the Word and the works of our Lord, the more we observe their entire harmony, and the universality of every principle of life. And in every Divine principle there is Divine protection and life, to the man who loves and obeys that principle. "I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, and the canker-worm, and the caterpillar, and the palmer-worm." (Joel ii. 25.) "' I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions ; and over all the power of the enemy." (Luke x. 19.) And, spiritually, "A man's foes shall be they of his own [mental] household." (Matt. x. 36.)
Author: Edward Craig Mitchell From Sripture Symbolism 1904