WHAT ARE CORRESPONDENCES?
Like our three-dimensional body exists in a natural atmosphere, our higher-dimensional soul subsists in a spiritual, mental and emotional atmosphere.
Most people do not realize that, when they are seeking Love, Meaning and Purpose in their lives, they are seeking God because Divine Love is God’s substance and Divine Wisdom is His form. Every being in the universe longs to be reconnected with God or Divine Love. Most of us are presently in negative emotions and thoughts because we are disconnected from God (or Love). And some of us even try to foolishly reconnect with God (Love) artificially and violently by abusing alcohol, drugs or sex. We find meaning and purpose in our life when we freely choose to understand God’s Truth and reciprocate His Love.
For example, in Exodus, when Moses sees God in a burning bush, God says, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob." Abraham corresponds to the Celestial level of Heaven, Isaac to the rational or Spiritual level and Jacob to the natural level. A bush corresponds to the letter or literal sense of the Word because plants correspond to knowledge. And this bush is burning eternally because it contains the Fire of Divine Love within its higher meaning.
The Kings and Priests in the Bible are representatives of the Kings (rulers) and Priests (preachers) of our inner world during our spiritual evolution (or regeneration). Our inner Priest lovingly instructs our mind and heart through spiritual doctrines and our inner King rules our intentions, feelings and thoughts through spiritual Laws and Commandments. When we are still in the worldly understanding (Egypt) of our ego, the king of our inner world is Pharaoh. Pharaoh (our ego) enslaves us through self-love and self-intelligence. Later on, after we have fought, conquered and slaughtered the giant Goliath (self-pride or self-intelligence), the Priest or Prophet of our inner world becomes Samuel and our inner King becomes David. King David was a shepherd who tended his sheep (innocent or unselfish feelings of love). Since the Lord is Love and Truth, He should be the King and Priest of our inner world.
Before we leave this natural world, we must strive to understand what is True, will what is Good and do what is just and useful.
SOME SPIRITUAL CORRESPONDENCES IN THE WORD OF GOD
by A. Roeder
The bed is shorter than that one can stretch himself; and the covering narrower than that he can wrap himself in it. — The doctrines of the church at the present day do not admit of spiritual growth, and its observances are too much restricted to be available to the development of a true spiritual life.
BIND ON EARTH.
CAESAR AND GOD.
CAIN AND ABEL.
CALLED AND CHOSEN.
If they persecute you in this city, flee into another. — Whatever instruction one doctrinal system does not furnish, must be secured from some other system.
Into whatever city or town ye enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide until ye go thence. — Examine any doctrine or doctrinal system. Enter into the spirit of it. Take thence what is true and retain it, "even unto death.
DUST OF EARTH.
FASTING AND PRAYER.
FIRST AND LAST.
FOWL, FISH, BEAST.
And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way. — Garments are the methods of thought, the habits of thought. If the Lord is to enter into the intellectual life at all, these habits of thought are to be submitted to Him. They are to be strewn in His way. In other words, we must learn to think of Him in His way, not in ours. If this were not the meaning of this picture, the action would have been senseless, therefore inapplicable to the Divine Person in the centre of the picture.
GOLD, SILVER, COPPER.
GIVE AND TAKE.
HEAVEN AND EARTH.
INCREASE AND DECREASE.
LAW AND PROPHETS.
MILK AND HONEY.
Flee unto the mountain. — Cling to the principles of love, when faith begins to wane or waver.
In the name of God. — According to the nature of Divine Truth.
SPIRIT OF THE FATHER.
STAR — EAST.
TWO AND ONE.
WIND AND SEA.
WITHIN AND WITHOUT.
ABSALOM AND DAVID.
The story of Absalom and David, and the story of the struggle between them, is the story of what is literal and what is spiritual. For at all times in the history of the world, it has been true that the letter and the spirit have struggled together. There have always been some people who have taken things literally, and there have always been others who have understood things in a spiritual way. The struggle between them came about, not because the spiritual and the literal are opposed to each other, or because they deny each other, but because people have learnt either the one class of truth, or the other class of truth, and have denied that which they did not learn. That is, people would learn literal truths, and would deny spiritual truths, or again, they would learn spiritual truths and deny literal truths. In this way it came about that there would be some who, for instance, believed everything that was natural, and nothing that is spiritual. They believed in a natural world, they believed in the literal sense of the Word ; they believed what science had to say, because it rested upon natural things. But they did not believe in the spiritual world, or the spiritual sense of the Word, or the spirit of man. Again, on the other band, there are some who believe only in spiritual things; who believe in man as a spirit, and say that matter is only an impression. That everything that appears to the eyes is simply a projection of the subjective life within; and other thoughts of similar nature. Thus things spiritual and things literal have been opposed to one another. And the struggle will continue, until the student learns to understand natural things in a natural way and at the same time spiritual things in a spiritual way, and to leave the two stand side by side. As soon as anyone tries to explain a natural thing in a spiritual way, or a spiritual thing in a natural way, he will feel in his brain and in his heart the struggle between David and Absalom. And if he persists, he will find that Absalom dies in the oak. and David goes wild with grief.
Everything in nature seeks for expression. Every physical force constantly tries to show itself. Every power tries to find something on which it can act. And without its visible manifestation a force is, as it were, lost. Any power in nature which finds nothing upon which it can act, loses itself in emptiness. For instance, a ray of light falling through a shutter into a room, does not show, until it strikes the floor. The heat of the sun does not show as heat, until it strikes the heavy lower atmosphere. And so with all forces and powers. They will not show themselves, until they have something against which they can act. As all natural forces seek expression, so all spiritual forces seek expression. Swedenborg says, every affection of the heart tries to break forth in singing. Every thought of the mind tries to find expression in words. Every plan of the spirit tries to come into outward existence. When we know anything very nice, we are always particularly anxious to
"For thy law is my delight." "In it do I meditate day and night." The expression of mourning, which is here given in the story of David, has two reasons, the one natural and the other spiritual. The natural reason is, that David's heart went out to his son, as the heart of a father naturally goes out to his child. This was the conscious reason. This was the reason that was in the mind of the man, when he gave way to his passion of grief. But back of it there was also an unconscious reason, which was spiritual. The unconscious reason was that David represented the Lord, and that in his mourning he must give expression to the great depths of the Divine mercy, which are stirred when the Lord is deprived of an opportunity to do what His intense love for man dictates to Him to do. Nor is this thought of pain limited to the literal sense of the Bible. Not only is the Divine love violated and hurt by man's neglect of what is said in the literal sense, but also in many other things can man give pain to the Master; always remembering, that when we speak in this way, we speak according to human" ideas and in human language. Most prominent among the many ways in which the Divine power can be turned out of its course and violence done to the Master's love, is that of selfishness.
Absalom signifies the literal sense of the Word. Therefore so much is said of his long hair, and about the quality of his hair. All the men who are spoken of as having large quantities of hair, or as having long hair, represent the literal sense of the Word, and its power in man and to man. Samson and Absalom and John all represent the literal sense of the Word in various relationships to man. Samson represents its destructive power. John represents its power to call men to repentance. Absalom represents its power of endurance. That is, he represents the fact that the Word of God has a wonderful faculty of enduring beyond all other books the ravages of time and the destructive powers of men. There is no book known which has lived, so to speak, as long as the Word of God in its literal form. Remember that it is 5000 years old. That some parts of it have been handed down for ages and ages. Long before Caesar and Scipio and Raamses and Abraham and Eber, or any of the patriarchs who lived upon this earth, parts of this wonderful book were written on rocks, on leaves of trees and on skins. This is represented in the story by the pillar of Absalom. Even though Absalom as a living man ceases to exist, yet the heap of stones and the pillar of Absalom will go on for ever and ever. For Absalom, as a living man, represents that knowledge of the literal sense in which there is some life. But as you know, the literal sense of God's Word is not really, to most minds,a living thing. In most of the minds Absalom is already dead.
People try to understand the literal sense of the Bible as it was, and they get themselves "all mixed up," as they say. They could not make out the spiritual side, neither could they make out the natural side. They were "mixed up," as the hair of Absalom was mixed up with the oak. They hung between the natural and the spiritual, as Absalom hung between heaven and earth. Hence, their living interest in the Bible, as God's book, died out. And there was left in their mind either a confused mass of facts concerning the Bible, called a heap of stones, or they had these facts all arranged, everything in its proper place, one on top of the other. When this is the case, the mind is said to be a pillar. Although the living interest is dead, yet the pillar of Absalom stands. And it is so "unto this day." The literal pillar of Absalom may be gone, but the pillar of the literal Absalom is there even "unto this day," as the Book says.
BIRTH OF CHRIST.
In tracing the well known picture, take the larger outline first. It is true, that the earth and the city was much moved when He came, but the heavens were -yet more moved. For all history points to His coming as the central point, whence all things start and toward which all things move. Imagine this, and you will understand why the church celebrates Christmas as the most important of all festivals. For there is no thought more important to the world of men, than the thought of how God Himself was born upon the earth, as a man. It is not very hard to think of God, and we can read what the Holy Book says of Him and understand fairly what and Who He is. So too it is not very hard to understand about man. For we can look around in the world and watch men and notice what they do and what they say and get a fair idea of what a man is. But to think of God and Man in one; to think of the Lord Jesus Christ being Jehovah and Man at one and the same time, was so difficult a lesson for God's human children to learn, that He came and lived among them for thirty-three years, in order that they might understand at least a shadow of this wonderful truth.
1. But let us talk of the birth of the Divine Truth in the soul. As the Lord was born among men, so is He born in the minds of men. And first there is in the mind, in which He is to be born, a something which watches. The Book calls this something " Shepherds," but we all know that it means the innocent thoughts of the soul. For the Lord cannot come into the sullied or into the wicked, or into the unclean parts of the mind. He is all pure, and good and clean, and therefore there is, away back, and deep' down in the heart, into which He is to come, a something that is watching and waiting all through the weary night of evil, all through the dread forgetfulness of God, into which men fall ; watching and waiting in the deeps and silences of the heart are the innocent thoughts and loves, which men had when they were children. God saved them for Himself, that He might come into them, "in the fulness of time." 2. We learn all sorts of natural truths about the earth," and the stars, and the people. And such truths, when they are real and alive with experience, are called "men." But there are other truths to learn. There are truths to learn, which refer to spiritual things; to God, the life after death, the souls of men and other spiritual things. These truths are called " angels." And the Lord is born in the soul, when the first great spiritual truths are seen, that is, when man sees his first angel. Not a strange, shining thing, that can fly downward from heaven and back again, but a great light that comes into the mind, when it first realizes the stupendous truth of the Lord Jesus Christ and of His being the one and only God of heaven and earth. And do you know what follows? Immediately a man has learned this wonderful truth, he begins to see countless other truths, which follow from it, which grow out of it, which are in the first general thought, as fibres are in a muscle. Of course "the heavenly host is with the angel."
THE BREAD OF LIFE.
There are two types whereby the Lord constantly typifies His love and His wisdom or His goodness and His truth. They are bread and wine. These two types represent in Scripture the good and truth which flows forth from the Lord and is received by man. In order that this subject may be a little more clearly understood, let us dwell for a few sentences on a rather more detailed explanation of what we mean when we say good and truth. The natural man lives in a natural world. The spiritual man in the spiritual world. When the natural eye is turned upward, it sees a sun, and man knows that two things come from that sun. They are called heat and light. He feels the one and sees the other. When the spirit looks upward, it also sees a sun, in which dwells the Lord Himself, and from this sun he receives two things which resemble heat and light and act like heat and light. These two are good and truth. What heat and light do for the body, good and truth do for the spirit, and as the body would instantly die if heat and light were taken away from it, so would the spirit instantly die if good and truth were taken away from it. This will give some idea of what good and truth is. But as we know man is a threefold being, that is, his mind has three degrees, consequently everything that comes to him must come in a threefold order. Hence, also in the reception of good and truth there is a three
When it is the natural mind that is treated of, then good and truth are called Land and Water, and the types are taken from the mineral kingdom. When it is the spiritual mind that is treated of, then good and truth are called Bread and Wine and the types are taken from the vegetable kingdom. When it is the coelestial mind that is treated of, then good and truth are called Flesh and Blood and the types are taken from the animal kingdom; Now read over carefully in your Bible the various things that are said about these six types. Let me give you a number of places where you can find just what to read. First read the story of the beast from the land and the beast from the sea. You will find them in the XII. and XIII. Chapters of the Revelation of John. Then read the stories of how the Lord gave His people bread to eat. You will find those in Exodus xvi, 13—32. 1 Kings xvii, 3—6. Matthew xiv, 15 —21, xv, 32—39. And then read the stories of how He gave His people wine to drinks John ii, 1 —11. . Then read the stories of how the people received flesh to eat and blood to drink. Exodus xvi, 1 —13, vii, 14—25. After the student has read all of these stories (read every word carefully) let him put them all together in his mind in six spaces like those of the diagram and see what he has learned. — The bread from Heaven, which is spoken of in this chapter, i3 Divine good. It is for this reason therefore that the Lord calls Himself the bread from Heaven, because He is the Divine Good.
BY THE SEA.
There are two pictures in this chapter. One is the picture of how the Lord helps His people on land, and the other is the picture of how He helps them on the water. When they are hungry on the land, He gives them something to eat, and when they are in distress on the water, He comes to them, even though He must walk on the water to come to them. Although it is impossible for us to understand all the wonderful things that are taught here in the internal sense, and although we can not even understand how these things came to pass in the literal sense, and how the Lord made more bread and fishes out of the few He had, and how He could walk on the water, yet we can understand that these two pictures belong together, somewhat as the right hand and the left hand belong together, and somewhat as the right eye and the left eye belong together. We understand that the land refers to the will and the water refers to the understanding. And since we understand this, we can alsosee that the Lord acts differently in the will and differently in the understanding. On the land He gave them food, on the water He gave them help. So in the will the Lord really gives men food. He feeds their will as He feeds their bodies. Great waves of life" flow out from Him, and flow into the will, and draw into the will from the spiritual world around it all those angelic and spiritual substances which the soul needs to live upon. Just as His life flows into the body and causes the body to take into itself by eating and drinking all the various kinds of food presented' by the natural world around it. And the soul grows upon its spiritual food, as the body grows upon its natural food. But in the understanding the Lord acts differently. He does not feed or nourish. He guides, directs, supports, helps. As He teaches the body where to move and when to move, by means of the pictures which the eye sees from the natural world around it, so He teaches the understanding when to move and where to move by means of the pictures which the mental eye (reason through imagination) sees from the spiritual world around it. The will is fed, the understanding guided. Therefore, on land there is food, on the water help. For the land signifies the will and the water signifies the understanding.
1. We have in the Gospel of John the highest and therefore the most difficult record of the growth of the soul. The vital principle of the Word and of its relation to God is first stated, and then the influence of the Word upon the soul is given in its order. If the student will keep in mind constantly the nature of the regeneration and will not allow that thought to escape him or drift from him, he will understand all the points made here. Keep in mind, that the change which we call the regeneration is not an imaginary thing. It is not a change of emotions. It is an actual change of substance and form. It is as actual as any change in the contour of the earth. The power of the Lord acting in the spirit is as real as the circulation of the blood. There is nothing abstract about it. The Lord actually reaches down into the heart and life and soul of man and moves things, and changes them, and puts some away and puts new ones in their place, and the work is as real as the building of any house on the earth. The sentences and verses and chapters from the Holy Word are the stones and beams which He uses in building the soul. Therefore the Word is given first. Then there is a process of clearing away. This is called reformation. John the Baptist represents that. He tells what man must put away. Read especially what he tells the people in Luke. Then the Lord lays down the principal elements of character. These are called disciples.
2. He takes faith and the affection of faith, and intelligence, and conscience, and He calls them Peter and Andrew and Philip and Nathanael. These He puts down as fundamentals of character, and on them He continues the work. And the first step in this work is, that man should find out whereabouts in his life the Lord is. Therefore they first ask Him, where He dwells, and He tells them to come and see. Then He changes the name of Peter.
3. That is, He takes the faith which man had at first and changes its nature. You understand, what kind of faith man has during his childhood, before he feels any of the burdens and responsibilities of life. It is the faith of his teachers. He believes what folks tell him. We call that a persuasive faith in the New Church, or a historical faith. But when he grows older and comes into the foreground of the drama of life, and the burden and the heat of the day fall on him, then he must learn to understand things for himself. He must learn to think and act for himself. And the faith, that grows out of that, is another kind of faith. It is still faith, therefore it is the same man. But it is another kind of faith. It is a firmer faith. It is Rock-Faith. That is why the man is the same, but his name is changed.
THE DIVIDED NATION.
The historic narrative is divided into two great peoples at this time, the Israelites and the Jews. This division stands as a historical and as a political fact, just as it is told in the Book, but beside its historical import it has a spiritual lesson beneath it, or rather above it. That les son is: There are two great elements in the church. These are called Faith and Charity. Faith is what a man believes, and Charity is what a good man would do, if he were left alone to do as he pleases. In the intentions of Providence it is ordained that these two should be one, as the heat and light of the sun are one. But under the perversity of men, the two are separated, and made into distinct things, just as the one people, the Hebrew nation, was divided into two peoples, the Israelites and the Jews. The one people represented the church, but the divided peoples, the Jews and the Israelites, represent charity alone and faith alone. Hence one disaster follows the other, after the separation. For alone neither of these two is the church. They can only be the church when they are united, and hence too there is war between the two kings constantly. The other thought is that of the shields of gold, which were taken away, and the shields of copper put in their place. You will recall the statement made in the Prophets, "For copper I will bring gold, and for iron I will bring silver, and for wood copper, and for stone iron." This is the promise of the Lord to the soul, that He will take away from it that which is less precious and give it in its place that which is more precious. He will take away the lesser truth and give the greater truth. He will take away the lesser love and give the greater love. Inversely therefore to take away the shields of gold and substitute shields of copper, indicates an activity of the mind, in which a nobler love is taken away and a lesser love is pat in its place. Let this illustrate. If any one loves to go to church because he learns the words of eternal life there, or because he feels that the Lord is nearer to his soul through the reading of His Holy Word and through the sacredness of Divine worship, it is one thing. But if he goes to church because he thinks it is a nicer church than the one to which the man across the street goes, or because it is the biggest church in the city, or because he can get more customers by going to that church, than he could if he went to another, that is quite another thing. Any one can see which of these two loves is the higher and the nobler, which is gold and which is brass or copper. Men should never substitute a shield of brass for a shield of gold.
THE STORY OF ELIJAH.
The world is full of strange and sweet tokens of the Lord's infinite care and providence. The leaf and the blossom foreshadow the fruit, and in all that happens to them the fruit is provided for. The boy foreshadows the man and in all that happens to him there is inwardly concealed the possibility of manhood. In the first crude lines, that the quivering fingers of the child draw upon the paper, there may sleep the prospects of an artist. And so in all things; not one item stands alone. Everything is interlaced and intertwines with that which comes before and that which follows after. No lesson is so near to man. No lesson comes so closely to his heart, no thought can be so prominent in his mind as this, that the Lord overrules all things and guides them all toward certain definite ends, which men never see, until they have been reached and until the purposes which they form have been accomplished. This is the lesson of the literal story. It involves however one factor, which must not be overlooked. There are two reasons for which men do things. One is because they want to and the other is because the Lord wants them to. One involves much planning, and much care and much anxiety of thought and much caution, lest there be failure, but the other involves simply a recognition of things as they come, simply an eye to see and an ear to hear, what it is that the Lord has to speak. If all the wonderful things be considered, which men have made, the vessels and the locomotive, the dynamos and the windmills and the engines and all the many things, which now crowd the earth, we will find, that they all rest upon one thing, and that is a knowledge of forces as they exist outside of man. Man simply discovers what the Lord has created around him and then uses it. In other words, he hears what the Lord has to say. So in things spiritual it is the same. We need not invent a heaven or the joys of heaven. The Lord has already produced everything we will ever feel or know or love. All we need do is to heed the Word of the Lord. We need only hear Him, when He speaks to us and do what He tells us. This the prophet did and it was well with him, when all the rest of the land was in distress. — The oil in the cruse does not fail, because it signifies love. Love never fails. Passion may die out, desire may fade away, knowledge may be lost and memory may disappear, but love outlasts all time and all space. It never ceases. And that which ceases was not love.
When the Divine Word speaks of a representative action, such as the building of the altar of the twelve stones, it is necessary to remember that the action, although the prophet Elijah as a man understood nothing at all about it, represents a process, which is constantly going on in the mind of man. In the literal sense the thing described was done once upon a time, and that was the end of it. But the internal sense is limited in no way as to time. That which the various things here performed by the prophet signified is not under the limitations of space and time. If it be known, that the number twelve signifies all, and that stones signify truth such as it is in the memory of man, and that water signifies the same truth, such as it is in the intellectual life of man, then it will be understood, that the action of Elijah represents a certain activity of the mind, in which all it knows that is true, is concentrated upon one point, and all the experiences of its life, on the natural plane, on the spiritual plane, on the coelestial plane are gathered together, like thrice four measures of water, and then the result described follows. Fire will descend from heaven and the sacrifice of man will be accepted. So long as man looks to the world, leaps upon his altar, so long as he wounds himself for the sake of the world and bears the terrible tortures of self-consciousness and self-love, so long there is no response from heaven. But let any man gather up all the truths he has : let him gather up the twelve stones of his character, and build of them an altar for the devotion of a true purpose, and then let him dig around it the trench of discrimination, which will leave him in the world, but not of it, and then let him pour out upon that altar the water of his experiences in actual life, of the experiences he has received into his understanding, the experiences he has had in his will, that is, let him bring water three times, and he will find that at the very core and centre of his life there burns a Divine fire, of which he never until then felt the breath. Only concentrate yourself upon a thing, bring together all the twelve stones and the fire from heaven will not fail.
ELIJAH TAKEN TO HEAVEN.
In the first place, we have in this chapter a narrative of a remarkable transaction. We are told, that the Lord took Elijah up into heaven in a whirlwind, and that He sent down a chariot of fire and horses of fire, to take him up into heaven. Now, when there is a lesson of this kind, there are generally two ways of going at it. One
We can say, that Elisha's spiritual eyes were opened, and that he saw the chariot and the horses in the spiritual world, and that the light of that world is so bright and so splendid, that they appeared to him to be all aflame. And we can say, that in this way the body of Elijah was not taken up into heaven, since flesh and blood cannot enter into heaven. But even after we have solved the question upon natural ground so far, we will find, that our solution opens out a host of new questions, and that that is pretty much all it does. Therefore the other method is the more satisfactory. It means to leave the natural story to be explained as best it can be explained according to the degree of science which we have reached, and to apply our study to that which is spiritual. In that connection follow these thoughts for a moment.
There are three persons mentioned in the Divine Book, of whom we know not the fate of the body. In other words, there are three people, who were buried in such a way, that no one could find the body. Head the three quotations.
"So Moses, the servant of the Lord, died there in the land of Moab, according to the Word of the Lord. And He buried him in a valley in the laud of Moab, over against Beth-Peor : but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day." Deut. xxxiv, 5 and 6.
"And they said unto him, Behold now, there be with thy servants fifty strong men ; let them go, we pray thee, and seek thy master : lest peradventure and Spirit of the Lord hath taken him up, and cast him upon some moun tain, or into some valley. And he said, Ye shall not send. "And when they urged him till he was ashamed, he said, Send. They sent therefore fifty men; and they sought three days, but found him not.
"And when they came again to him, (for he tarried at Jericho), he said unto them, Did I not say unto you, go
"And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. "And they entered in and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. Luke xxiv, 2—3.126
It will be seen that the three persons here mentioned, namely, Jesus, Moses and Elias, are the same three who appeared together in glory on the mount of the trainsfiguration, while Peter, Jacob, John, the three chief
THE FIERY FURNACE.
There are two ways in which men can be tempted. One way is in the will, and the other is in the under standing. The effort to distinguish between what is good and what is evil, is one thing, and the effort to distinguish between what is false and what is true, is another thing. The one effort we make with and through
FIVE THOUSAND FED.
The internal sense is not limited to any particular time or any particular place. It is altogether independent of time and space and depends only on the changing conditions of man's spirit. Therefore in this case the story
GOD'S HEATHEN CHILDREN.
It is the purpose of the Lord that all men should know Him and the life-giving truths that flow out from Him. But it is also true that different minds see truth in different ways. Not every one can understand truth in the same way; neither can every one express truth in the same way. Hence people look at things in different ways, just as they talk about things in different, languages. And therefore it is, that the good Father speaks to all His children in their own "dear mother-tongue." To those who can understand Him readily, He talks plainly. He tells them all those important laws, on which life here and beyond depends. He tells them in such a way, that they cannot misunderstand Him. But there are many of His children, who neither know Him, nor understand Him. To these He cannot speak in direct language. To them He speaks in a language that appears to come from other sources. Hence, in teaching men, in opening their eyes, that they may see, the Lord acts in different ways. In some cases He touches,, the eyes; in other cases He "speaks the Word" only; but again, as in this case, He restores man's sight in a round about way. He does not touch his eyes, or speak the Word over them, but He makes a clay and lays that on them and tells the man to wash in Siloam. This represents the indirect revelations given to the Heathen and to those who are born outside of the external boundaries of the church. They are all children of the Lord's mercy, but He must speak to them all in their own mother-tongue and teach them as much and as thoroughly as He is able, until they can graduate through death into the real life of the Beyond, there to see clearly what they saw but dimly here. There to know what here they dreamed ; there to act what here they longed to express.
THE GOOD SHEPHERD.
Gather the children about you. Let the little ones read the story of the Great One, and of how He lays down His life for His sheep. Then as you tell them how the Good One laid down His life for His sheep, tell them also, that He took up that life again, and that He lives now, "the First-Born from the Dead" forevermore. And then read them the twenty-third Psalm, and if so be you are willing, let them learn its beautiful words and sentences by heart. And then go on into the larger detail of the lesson. The Lord is the Good Shepherd. What does that mean ? The answer you cannot understand, until you have given some thought to what else He is. Follow this line of thought for a moment. Here is a man. He lives in a little village. He has many neighbors and they all know him well. They see him every day. Now we go into the first neighbor's house, and there is someone there, who is very sick. And we ask of them: "Does anyone treat your patient?" And they answer: "Yes. The doctor lives right next door. Our neighbor is a physician." And they speak truly of the man, for he is a physician. And we go into another house. We find a stranger there who cannot speak English. He talks German. And the people of the house say : "Let us send him over to our neighbor. He can talk to him. He is a German." And so he is. He is not only a physician, he is also a German. And again there arises a question, who it was that wrote " Fidelio." And we puzzle about it, and puzzle about it, until at last someone says : "Let us ask the neighbor about it. He is a musician." And they speak truly about the man. For he is a musician. And that same night there is a meeting in the town-hall of the largest charity-organization of the village. And we ask someone: "Who founded this organization ?" And they answer : "Our neighbor started it. He is quite a philanthropist." And they speak truly. He is a philanthropist. And Sunday comes. I want to go to church. I ask the proprietor of the hotel: "Is there a New Church in this place?" And he smiles, and says : "No. There is no church of that denomination here. But my neighbor over yonder is a Swedenborgian. He will be pleased to see you." And he speaks truly. At least in part. For the man is not perhaps a Swedenbosgian, but a Newchurchman. So "my neighbor" is many things.
If then he, being a man, can be many things to many men, the Lord, being God-Man, and "our Neighbor," in the sublimest sense, must be all things to all men. And here then lies the answer to the question. There is in the Lord an infinite depth of Divine Wisdom, and when we think upon that and meditate upon it, then He is God. And there is in Him an unfathomable depth of Divine Love, and when we think of that, He is Yehovah. When He teaches men the wonders of spiritual truth and of how that truth governs them, then is He King. When He guides men into the sense of spiritual good, then is He Priest. When we think of how He touches upon the plane of natural truth, and saves men through the natural life, then is He the Christ, and through natural good, then is He Jesus. When we think of how strong He is, then is He the Rock. When we think of how He appears to the angels in heaven, then is He the Sun. When we think of how He protects us from falsity, then is He the Shield. When we think of how He protects us from evil, then is He the Fortress. He does all things, and He is the Almighty. He destroys the evils, which He finds in man, and He is the Destroyer, or Shaddai. He appeals to man's reason, and He is the Councellor. He fights man's battles for him, and He is the Hero. He gives rest to the weary, and He is the Prince of Peace. He stands related to eternity, and He is the Father of Eternity. He stands related to time, and He is the Son. He stands related to the internal sense of the Word, and He is the Son of God. To the literal sense of the Word, and He is the Son of Man. We see His Divine Humanity related to the highest heaven, and we call Him the Alpha and the Omega; to the middle heaven, and He is the Beginning and the Ending; to the lowest heaven, and He is called the First and the Last. And so in all things. Now when the Holy Book wants to teach us of the Divine gentleness, it calls the Great One the "Good Shepherd. Note.—The student is advised to follow this line of reasoning in any case, where a series of names is given for the same being or object. Thus, for instance, where Well, Bear, Wall, Cloud, Hair and many other words signify the literal sense of the Word, each is, of course, some one of the many relations tyrne by the letter of the Word to a growing spirit.
The literal story here treats of one of the Jewish Kings and the marvelous manner in which the Lord answered his prayer and saved him from his enemies. And in the spiritual story, which is within the letter, as the soul is within the body, we are told, how the Lord protects the true spiritual intelligence of man from being destroyed by the power of perverted reason or of the rational, when it has become centered upon self. So far as the literal story is concerned, we take it for granted as it stands. We have no reason and we have no right to alter the facts of the case. We group this miracle with those other miracles in the Bible and outside of
The story of Lazarus is the story of a dead soul quickened into life. It is the story of an experience that comes to every soul, that strives to find the way that leads to heaven. For as man must learn how to act and how to live his natural life, so must he learn how to act and lead his spiritual life. We must learn to walk and to talk and to move and to rest, to read and to write, to handle numbers and to work with tools. The body of itself learns nothing and does nothing. It is, as far as rational activity is concerned, dead. It must be wakened
THE LORD'S COMING AND GOING.
The Lord frequently speaks of His coming and of His going in such a way, as to let people think, that He means it as we mean it. He speaks of going to the Father, as when we speak of.going from one city to an other. And so many people have been led to believe that the Lord went away from the earth and went up beyond the clouds, somewhat in the same way as a man might go away from his house in the valley and go to live up on the top of a mountain. But there is another way of thinking about these sentences, which is much nearer the truth and much more satisfactory to the thinker. When we say, that we are going anywhere, we do not always mean that we are going to move bodily from one place to another. When we say : "I am going to bed," we mean, that the speaker goes from one room to another, or at least from one place to another. We use the word in reference to place or space; but when we say: "Hush, the little one is going to sleep," we do not mean, that the little one is going to move from one place to another. We mean, that the little one is going from one state to another. She is going from the waking state into the sleeping state. Thus, we use the word in a sense of state. — So, too, when we say : "My little boy is eleven years old. He is going into his twelfth year." By this again we do not mean, that he is going from one place to another, but from one state to another. So the word is used in two senses, one referring to space and one referring to state. It is in the latter sense almost exclusively, that the Lord uses it. When He says, that He is going anywhere, He means, that He is going to change His state. He is going to leave off doing one thing, and going to begin doing another. Thus, when His brothers ask Him, whether He is going to the feast, He says, that He is not going, but yet He goes. This shows, that He uses the word "Going" in another way from the way in which they used it. He did go, according to their sense, but not according to His sense, for He was not received. Now to explain more fully about the idea of going, when understood in the way of a change of mental states. Bodily a man goes from place to place, but spiritually he goes from state to state. Thus, if any one is angry in the morning, and bright and cheerful in the afternoon, we say, that he has gone from dark to light. In the same way, we say, that a man enters upon his manhood. We speak of a boy, and say: "He is going to be a man some day." This means, that he will cease being a boy, and will be a man. That is, he will stop thinking and acting like a boy, and will begin thinking and acting like a man. So when the Lord says, that He is going to the Father, He means, that after a certain time He will stop thinking and acting like a man, and will begin to think and act like God, and be God. Therefore in the internal sense "to go to the Father" means to be God Almighty. And He says to the people, that where He was, they could not come. This does not mean, that He would go into a place, into which they could not come, but that He would enter upon a state into which they could not enter. For there are certain things, which are within the limits of possibility, while there are others, which are not within those limits. Take as an illustration a man and a woman. There are certain feelings of pleasure and of displeasure, which both can feel alike, and in which they can be together. But there are again other feelings of pleasure and of displeasure, in which they are not at all alike, and in which they are not together. There are certain sports and duties, which men enjoy, and to which men attend, which women would not enjoy, and to which they could not attend. While again, there are certain duties and pleasures, which come to women, of which men know nothing, because there is no part of their mind, in which these could lodge, or in which they could develop or grow. — In a way some what resembling this, there are certain features of human character, which can be found in the Lord, while again, there are other features, which cannot be found in Him. Thus if a woman love her child beyond anything on earth, then that love would compare feebly, yet truly, with the intense love which the Lord has for children. But if one man kill another, then there could be found no counterpart of this anger anywhere in the character of the Lord Jesus Christ, the incarnate Jehovah, for there is no anger in the Lord. A man in such a state is said to be unable to go where the Lord is, for if he wants to come to the Lord, he will find that the only way there is of coming to Him, is by and through that which belongs to Him, that is, by love or wisdom or truth;
1. It is after the temple has been purified, and after the ground has been to some extent prepared, that the reality of the second birth begins to dawn upon the mind. Virtually man is born three times. The first time he is born as a body, and into a general consciousness, then, at the time when rationality begins to fashion thought into new images, man is born into an individual consciousness. He becomes conscious of that which is his, and of that which is not his. He feels the weight of his own character and the responsibility of shaping his destiny in the world here and in the world to come. This is called the being born again, or the second birth. Then comes the time, when he strips off the body, and is born into the future life, which may be called the third birth. We say, he strips off the body, but we mean, that the Lord does this, for no man can be resurrected, unless the Lord resurrect him. The second birth then is that time in life, when man begins to distinguish the good from the evil, and the true from the false. It is the time, when he begins to separate that which is from above from that which is from below, when he begins to make that distinction between heavenly and earthly things, of which the Savior speaks in this lesson.
The story of the prodigal son is one that is familiar to every one, and its lesson is one that is easy to understand. It is not difficult to see, that man is ever ready to drift away from the Lord. We love to go into a far country, to spend our substance in riotous living. We grow heedless of the Divine love and mercy, and we drift away into the deeps of sin and self, knowing not that it is unwise, that it is wicked, that it is sinful, to "join ourselves to a citizen of that country," to think as the world thinks, to act as the world acts, and to forget, that while men feed upon the empty husks, there is rich and ample food in the house of the Father. But there is one point in the lesson, which we should like to see emphasized. It is given in verse 17, and is the first sentence of that verse. "When he came to himself." What is meant by this coming to himself ? In every man, though deeply concealed at times, and under certain circumstances, there is a deeply rooted principle of good and truth. There is, as the poet says, "a Garden of God in every soul, where Yehovah-Jesus dwells." Far below and with in all the recklessness, and the shallowness of earth, far within the external shams, which men hold up before their face, far within the empty thoughts, the vain ambitions of the world, there is a spot, that is holy to Yehovah. The inmost depths of the soul, where the storms of life cannot come, where moth and rust cannot corrupt, where thieves cannot dig through and steal, there is a region of the mind, which is man's better self. This is the "self" to which he comes. There may be and there are times in life, when this better self is drowned in the shadow of the world. There are states, in which the an gel in man sleeps and is so silent, that man himself may think him dead. But no soul lives, in which the great power of the Lord cannot arouse the angel "self" into life, if man will but suffer Him to do so, and when this wonderful event happens in life, then is man said to " come to himself." And when he has thus come to him self, then he comes to the Father also. For to come to God, man must come to himself first. He must understand himself first, before he can understand God. He must see himself first, before he can see God. He must
THE SEAMLESS COAT.
What a wealth of significance in the fact, that Pilate, the heathen, recognizes the Kingship of the crucified Christ, as he had recognized the Kingship of the living Christ. And in the fact that unconsciously he writes the
WATER TURNED INTO WINE.
"We learn all things slowly, and what we learn is at first external. That means, that we first learn things with the eyes and with the ears and with the senses in general, and after we have learned them in this way, then we slowly arrange them and get them in order, and after they are arranged in order, then we begin to learn their internal essence. For instance; we learn all of the numbers and learn to count forwards and backwards and every which way; then we learn to add, subtract, multiply and divide. This is what we call arrangement. After a little while, from constant use of numbers, we find that multiplication is constant addition and that division is constant subtraction, and by this means we get hold of some abstract rules, so that we can change the numbers into letters and work the examples by letters. Now think over what we have done. We have first learned the shapes and forms of the figures, and we have learned to handle them and to fill them with a certain amount of knowledge, and then we have changed the figures in to letters. Now, if you will call the external form of the figures stone water-pots, and then call the knowledge, which you put into them, water, and the higher knowledge applied to letters, wine, then you will have an homely illustration of the miracle of water changed into wine. The fact is, that we are constantly undergoing this process. We learn a thing as an external truth or natural truth, and the Lord in His wonderful mercy turns it into a spiritual truth. Take another illustration from life. You all know what it is to give. We learn it first from natural things. You give a poor man a dime, or a sick child a doll, and what you give, you no longer have. That is natural giving. And all the natural truths that refer to it are called water. But now take another case. In later life, perhaps, the same man to whom you gave a clime comes to you; but now he does not want money. He has money himself. What he wants is advice. He wants you to tell him what to do in a troublesome question. Perhaps the Lord has given you wisdom, and you can give the man advice, and the more wisdom you exercise in giving advice, the more wisdom you get, the more your wisdom grows, for the more you give spiritually, the more you get. This is spiritual giving, and all the truths that refer to it, would be called spiritual truths or wine, and the Lord has changed your knowledge of natural giving, which was water, into your knowledge of spiritual giving, which was wine.
No state of spiritual life can be reached without effort. And since "six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work" is the law, therefore the vision of the transfigured Christ is preceeded by the statement "after six days."
MOSES’ HANDS UPHELD.
The two minds of man, the natural and spiritual, are called respectively valley and hill. All the temptation combats take place in the natural man ; therefore Joshua, which is another name for Jesus, fights for man in the valley, against self-love, called Amalek. It is necessary that while the struggle is going on, the faculties of the spiritual mind, that is the men on the hill, should be turned upward, toward the highest elements of humanity. The hands of Moses, being uplifted, represent this up ward inclination of the mind. But this process of uplifting is not an imaginary, vague or dreamy yearning of the soul. It is a very real thing. It is based upon firm convictions of truth, here called the stone on which Moses is seated. And the effort is supported on the one hand by man's religious experiences, represented, by Aharon, the Priest, and on the other hand by the experiences of every-day liff, represented by Hur, the layman. Thus, with the spiritual mind turned upward, and the natural mind facing its problem squarely, victory is achieved, when the sun of self goes down.
When we understand a thing, we say we see it. Whenwe do not understand, we say we do not see. Mental blindness frequently comes from prejudice, from misconceptions, from faulty instruction. Instruction, or doctrine, is called a city. In curing mental blindness, the Lord frequently takes a man by the hand, and, through life-experiences, sometimes of a distressing nature, leads him out of a mental condition in which he could not see. This is represented by a blind man being led out of the town. The process of the restoring of
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