Sermons On The Word by Edward S. Hyatt
“To cause to dwell from the east Cherubim, is to provide lest he (man) be able to enter into any arcanum of faith for the east toward the garden of Eden is the celestial from which is intelligence; by the Cherubim is signified the Lord's Providence lest man should enter into those things which are of faith: by the flame of a sword turning itself is signified self-love with its insane cupidities and thence persuasions which are such that he indeed wills to enter but is borne away to corporeal and earthly things, and this for guarding the way of the tree of lives, which is lest; he be able to profane holy things”, A.C. 306.
“Lest anyone should enter into the spiritual sense and pervert the genuine truth which is of that sense, guards have been placed which are meant in the Word by Cherubim”, T.C.R 209.
The spiritual sense of the Word is the Word understood in its application to spiritual things. In the letter the Word appears to treat of natural things. These are all that the natural man sees when he reads the Word. Yea even when he reads the Word as set forth in the Writings, although they directly treat of spiritual things and are thus a revelation of the spiritual sense, the natural man only sees a natural view of those things. Thus whorl the understanding is referred to he thinks only of the natural understanding formed from the world — when the rational is mentioned he thinks only of the natural rationality formed from his own observation and reflection. And this notwithstanding the distinctions there drawn between the spiritual and the natural rational, for man's thought always tends to follow his affection and to dwell only upon the objects thereof. This is of the Divine Providence — the law which so determines the matter is meant by the placing of the Cherubim to guard the way of the tree of lives.
When the merely natural man reads the Word, whether in the Writings or in its more ultimate forms, he dwells upon those appearances there which favor his own ideas, confirming these as the centre of his thought, and either rejects the rest, or altogether subordinates the understanding of them to that centre. Thus he makes the tree of the knowledge of good and evil the centre of the garden which corresponds to his own intelligence or rationality. That is, he determines for himself from his own affections what is good and what is evil. Such a garden is altogether outside of the garden of Eden which signifies heavenly intelligence formed round the tree of lives, which is instruction in genuine truths from Divine Revelation. 'That the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is also in the garden of Eden, is to give man free determination, that tree being always in his reach if he will to take it, but the penalty of doing so is death to his spiritual intelligence. But in all gardens which man forms for himself, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is the very centre and is the principal source of the food by which his intelligence is nourished. Man can and does confirm the centre position of that tree in the garden of his intelligence by the letter of the Word; but if he were permitted to do so by the spiritual sense also his state would be still worse for he would thus put it out of his reach ever to be saved. Hence the law heads this morning's lesson:
“That hereafter the spiritual sense of the Word is not given to anyone except to him who is in genuine truth from the Lord”, T.C.R. 208.
Man can never return into just that state of intelligence which existed in the Most Ancient Church and which is meant by the garden of Eden; but by means of genuine truths from the Lord he may return into a state of heavenly intelligence. For the tree of lives is also in the midst of the New Jerusalem. Genuine truths do indeed stand forth in every form of the Word; but in the Old Church they have been so perverted by having been subordinated to those appearances of the letter which favour self-intelligence, that they are practically non-existent there except for the simple few. In the Writings genuine truths are revealed still more evidently and fully; but even there they are together with many appearances of truth such as can be made to favour man's love of his own natural rationality. These appearances are the Cherubim which guard the way of the tree of lives, to all except those who really desire to he instructed and led by the Lord. Only these latter give genuine truths the central place in their minds and subordinate all the appearance of truth thereto. The rest place this appearance in the centre of their minds according to their agreement with self love, rejecting genuine truths or falsifying them before receiving them. Thus such are unable to see the spiritual sense itself, even though they read the very words which convey it to those minds open to its reception.
“The reason is because no one can see the spiritual sense, except from the Lord alone, and unless he be in genuine truths from the Lord; for the spiritual sense treats concerning the Lord alone and His Kingdom, and it is that sense in which the angels of heaven are, for it is His Divine Truth there”, T.C.R. 208.
Man must be in an attitude of innocence towards the Lord before he can really see the spiritual sense. Some think that if they as it were translate the expressions of the Word according to their knowledge of correspondences, they are thereby able to draw the spiritual sense therefrom. But it is to be borne in mind that the word spiritual is used with discrimination. Every man is a spiritual being according to one use of the term; but only the regenerated man is spiritual according to the heavenly use of that term. There is a like discrimination in speaking of the spiritual sense of the Word. According to the first use of the term anyone can see the spiritual sense who reads the Writings; but in the higher use of the Word no one really sees the spiritual sense of the Word but he who sees it in its application to his own spiritual regeneration and who by striving for that opens himself to communication with heaven and to conjunction with the Lord. The spiritual sense is His Divine Truth in heaven, which is the Divine Truth which has been used and is being used for regeneration.
“Man can violate this if he be in the knowledge of correspondences, and by it wills to explore the spiritual sense of he Word from his own intelligence, for from some correspondences known to himself he is able to pervert that dense and draw it to the confirming of even what is false rind this would be doing violence to Divine Truth and thus also to heaven in which it dwells", T.C.R. 208.
In order to be in genuine truths man must depose self-intelligence from the central position in his mind, and be willing so to learn and receive genuine truths that they may be the centre of his thought and altogether subordinate other ideas. If man does not do this and still wills to use a knowledge of correspondences to explore the spiritual sense from his own intelligence, he does indeed come into a spiritual sense, but it is a perverted spiritual sense. If, being in such perverted spiritual sense, heaven were open to him he would thereby disturb, yea do violence to, the states in which the angels are.
“Wherefore if anyone wills to open that sense from himself and not from the Lord, heaven is closed, which being closed the man either sees nothing of truth or is spiritually insane”, T.C.R. 208.
Thus man cannot really of himself pass the Cherubim set to guard the spiritual sense; but he may and does try to evade them, and even seems to himself to succeed in doing so, but that seeming is only a part of the spiritual insanity which he thus induces upon himself. In reality heaven is more fully closed to those who thus receive a perverted spiritual sense than to those who only recognize the natural sense. To these latter, while in this life, it is always possible by repentance for heaven to be opened to them; but those who receive a perverted spiritual sense, thereby confirm in themselves their own perverted spiritual states and so far as they do this they put away from themselves the very possibility of heaven lacing opened to them. Against the Old Church the Cherubim effectively guard the spiritual sense; but to the New Church the means of opening heaven have been revealed anew and with those new means, the liability Lo now abuse. For the more fully man becomes acquainted with the means of opening heaven, the more fully he closes heaven to himself if he abuse those means, that is, Ito deeper he enters into states opposite to those of heaven. Beware therefore of abusing the knowledge of correspondence to making it a means of exploring the spiritual sense from self-intelligence, and of thereby seeming to evade the Cherubim which the Lord has placed to guard it, whereby no one can receive that sense unless he be first in genuine truths from the Lord and from them explore it.
“The reason also is because the Lord teaches everyone by the Word and He teaches from those knowledges which are with man, and does not immediately infuse new knowledge”, T.C.R. 208.
It is not uncommon for men to deceive themselves with the notion that the ideas of their own intelligence have been taught them by the Lord by internal influx; and that therefore to explore the spiritual sense from them is not to explore it from their own intelligence but from the Lord. It is necessary therefore to know that the Lord never gives man any knowledge of truth in this way. If he would acquire genuine truth it must be from the written Revelation which the Lord has given and which alone furnishes the legitimate means of passing the Cherubim who guard the spiritual sense.
“Wherefore unless man be in Divine Truth, or if he be only in a few truths and at the same time in falses, he is able to falsify truths; as also is done by every heretic as to the very sense of the letter of the Word”, T.C.R. 208.
Here the warning is given that it is also dangerous to be only in a few truths and at the same time in falses. Yet this is about the position we are all more or less in; but the danger lies not so much in the position itself as in being satisfied with it. As long as essential falses are in our minds the few truths we have received are in danger of being falsified by them, and will be unless we keep clearly before us the distinction between what we have received from the genuine truth of Divine Revelation and what we have received from self and the world or from the mere appearances of the letter of Divine Revelation; and also diligently strive to remove the latter by the means which the Lord has placed within our reach, always remembering that more interior and therefore more spiritually injurious falsification of truth is possible in the New Church than elsewhere.
Lest therefore anyone should enter into the spiritual sense and pervert the genuine truth which is of that sense, guards have been placed by the Lord which are meant in the Word by Cherubim.
And He caused to dwell from the east towards the garden of Eden, Cherubim and the flame of a sword turning itself to guard the way of the tree of lives.
In this world the Word which contains the Law of the Lord appears externally like an ordinary book. There is nothing wonderful about it to compel belief. It is the same in regard to the Word revealed by the Lord in His New Advent. The natural man is inclined to think that it should be otherwise, that if God had revealed His will He should have done so in such a wonderful manner that none might be able to doubt it. The Wisdom of Divine Providence has however ordained that what is wonderful therein should be carefully concealed from all but those who approach the Word in an affirmative spirit and really seek to have their eyes opened to its wonders. And even to these the unveiling of the eyes is a gradual process whereby the internal becomes visible little by little, as man becomes prepared to receive the wonderful things of the spiritual sense.
“In the natural world there do not exist any wonderful things from the Word, because the spiritual sense does not appear there”, T.C.R. 209.
Not only does it not appear in the external world; but also it does not appear in man's natural mind and cannot be seen even in the mind unless man suffers his under-standing to be lifted above the merely natural plane of thought.
“Neither is it received within by man of such quality as it is in itself”, T.C.R. 209.
While man is in this world his reception of the spiritual sense is always more or less obscured by ideas of time and space, and other fallacies not yet altogether rejected. These veil his eyes, thickly at first, but always to some extent, so that his reception is at best but an approximation to the quality of reception which the angels enjoy. Still that approximation will prepare us to receive the spiritual sense as it is in itself, if it be appropriated to the life, and the attainment of that approximation is comparatively an unveiling of the eyes to those who have as yet only seen the Word naturally.
“But in the spiritual world wonderful things appear from the Word, because all things there are spiritual, and spiritual things affect the spiritual man as natural things affect the natural man”, T.C.R. 209.
Moreover they not only appear in their minds; but as also projected outwardly before them, thus making the effect upon their minds manifest and objective. The description of such objective effects given in the Old and New Testaments and the further ones given in the Writings, will, if considered, illustrate and make clear the teaching given about the effect of the Word upon the mind.
“The wonderful things which exist in the spiritual world from the Word are many, from which I will here mention a few. The Word Itself in the repositories of the Temples there shines before the eyes of the angels like a great star, sometimes like the sun, and also from the radiance round about there appear as it were most beautiful rainbows; this takes place as soon as the repository is opened”, T.C.R. 209.
This shining is simply the correspondence of the effect which the Word has upon their minds when they approach it. This external correspondence is never manifest in the natural world. Nevertheless we must learn to take such an attitude towards the Word that it may have an effect upon our minds approximating to that which it has upon the minds of the angels and which this correspondential appearance makes evident. Has the Word such an effect upon our minds? Does it as soon as it is opened shed light there like a great star or a sun? On the contrary is not the Word often dark to us; or affording only a glimmering
light here and there, such as sheds upon the objects of thought in the mind only that vague light which leaves us free to imagine them pretty much what we will? It is well if you realize that such is really the case, that realizing the need you will seek and obtain more light. But too often men fail to recognize their own spiritual darkness because they accept natural light as light and are satisfied to a large extent to think even about spiritual things from that light. This point indicates what is the first thing necessary in order to make our minds more open to reception of spiritual light, to unveil our eyes to the wonderful things of the spiritual sense of the Word. It is that we shun thinking of spiritual things from natural light, whether that light be called the light of experience or the light of rationality. Natural things and natural thought therefrom can teach nothing whatever concerning spiritual things, but what is altogether false and misleading. Yea even of natural things themselves if we would have any real understanding of them we must think of them too from spiritual light in the first place and from natural light only in the second place. Just as we really shun thinking of spiritual things from natural light will our eyes become unveiled to the spiritual light of the Word.
“That all and single truths of the Word shine, this has been able to appear to me from this that when any little verse from the Word is written out upon paper and the paper cast into the air, the paper itself shines in such a form as it has been out into, wherefore spirits can from the Word produce various shining forms, and also of birds and fishes”, T.C.R. 209.
“What this implies may be inferred "from the signification of ‘writing’, that it is for reminding what is to be done", A.C. 10682. Also "from the signification of writing, that it is to impress upon the life.... That to write is to impress upon the life is because writings are for reminding; to all posterity; similarly the things which are impressed upon man's life: Alan has as it were two books, upon which are written all his thoughts and acts; those books are his two memories, the exterior and the interior; the things which are written upon his interior memory, they remain into all eternity, neither can they ever be wiped out; they are principally those things which have been made of the will, that is, which have been 111;1de of thelove., for the things which are of the love are of the will: chat memory it is which is meant by each one's book of life", A.C. 9386. Hence when spirits write verses from the Word upon paper, it corresponds to impressing them upon the interior memory. When this is done whatever forms are in the memory, and are thus impressed by the Word, become shining — the thoughts there as shining birds, and even the scientific facts there as shining fishes. So is it with us internally if the Word be really impressed upon the interior memory where only those things which have been loved have a place — even the facts there will then reflect the light of the Word. Thus this wonderful thing may take place interiorly with us, and can be seen if the eyes of our understanding be unveiled: although it is only in the spiritual world that that wonderful thing becomes objective also.
“Also what is still more wonderful, when anyone rubs the face, or the hands, or the garments with which he is clothed with the opened Word, by applying its writing to them, the very face, hands, and garments shine as if he stood in a star surrounded by its light; this I have very often seen and wondered at; hence it appeared to me whence is was that Moses' face shone when he carried clown the Tables of the Covenant from Mount Sinai”, T.C.R. 209.
The face represents the affection, the hands the power of truth, and garments the truths which clothe goods, all of which shine when they are impressed by the Word. By Moses was represented the external of the Word; the shining of his face represented the internal of the Word; that it was veiled represented that the internal of the Word could not appear to the Israelitish people. It is of Divine Providence that the internal of the Word is always veiled from the natural man. In order to become able to look upon the internal of the Word, he must first apply what of the Word he knows to his life, to his affection, to his work and to his thought — which is meant by applying the writing of the Word to the face, to the hands, and to the garments. Then he becomes receptive of the internal of the Word and only then does he become able to look upon the light thereof, hence only then does the Lord unveil his eyesto it.
“Besides these, there are given many other wonderful things there which are from the Word, as that if anyone who is in falses looks towards the Word lying in holy place, thick darkness arises to his eyes, and hence the Word appears black to him, and sometimes as if covered with soot; but if the same one touches the Word an explosion takes place with a crash and he is cast to a corner of the chamber and for an hour lies there as if dead”, T.C.R. 209.
The thick darkness which arises to the eyes of such a one is his own intelligence. When lie looks at the external of the Word, he sees nothing but his own intelligence there; but if he looks towards the Word itself in its holy place it appears black to him. But if he touch the Word — that is if the Word and his own affection come into contact — there is a sudden repulsion, because the life of his self-love feels itself threatened, which causes him to hate any approach of the Word Itself, other than the mere letter.
“If anything from the Word be written out upon paper by someone who is in falses and the paper thrown towards heaven, then in the air between his eye and heaven a similar explosion takes place, and the paper is torn into bits arid vanishes away, a similar thing takes place if the paper be thrown towards an angel who stands near. This I have often seen”, T.C.R. 209.
Thus not only does thick darkness envelop his mind, but an explosion intervenes between his understanding and heaven, showing how completely his view of the spiritual sense which makes heaven is shut off, for there is not a mere shutting off but violent resistance when there is any attempt to impress genuine truth upon his life.
“From hence it was evident to me that there is no communication with heaven through the Word for those who are in falses of doctrine, but that their reading flows apart in the way, and perishes like gunpowder wrapped in paper when it is kindled and cast into the air”, T.C.R. 209.
Some think of the Word as being a means of giving communication with heaven, without attending to the limitation to the use of that means, and hence they suppose that because the Word is read in the Old Church, that therefore there must be communication with heaven there. It is through the internal of the Word that communication with heaven is given; so that if that be altogether veiled by falser of doctrine, the external by itself is ineffective.
“The contrary takes place with those who are in truths of doctrine through the Word from the Lord; the reading of the Word by them penetrates even into heaven and makes conjunction with the angels there. The angels themselves when they descend from heaven to perform any office below appear surrounded by small stars, especially around the head which is a sign that Divine Truths from the Word are in them”, T.C.R. 209.
It is when we descend into ultimates to perform actual uses according to the teaching of the Word, that we receive illustration or enlightenment. We are then surrounded by just the truths that will give the necessary light to the work in hand, which if the spiritual sight were opened would be seen as little stars about our heads, but which still are none the less there because they are not externally visible as they are in the spiritual world. Even here however, the eyes of our minds are unveiled to their light if we are really endeavoring to ultimate them in application to our own lives.
From all these illustrations there can be seen the infinite power of the Word, both to lift up to heaven and to thrust back to hell such as have not chosen to prepare themselves for heaven. In the spiritual world it has been seen to over-turn mountains and hills, transfer them to a distance and cast them into the sea. It must do the same in the spiritual world of our minds, if we would be regenerated and have our eyes unveiled to the glory of heaven, byoverturning and casting out the mountain of self love which is so prominent there. The power to do this lies in the very ultimates of the Word but it is from the internal as is also all its heavenly light. Whether that power and that light descend from the internal into the ultimates of the Word in our mind to remove our evils and to guide us to heaven depends upon our attitude thereto. In view of the terrible way in which the power of the Word is manifested towards those who have trusted in the guidance of their own intelligence, it is only when we are really willing to deny ourselves in order to be led, by the Lord that it is wise to braywith David: Unveil may eyes that, I may see the wonderful things out of Thy Law
“To break bones is to destroy truths from the Divine which are ultimate in order upon which interior truths and goods rest and by which they are supported, which if they are destroyed, those that are erected thereon also fall. Truths ultimate in order are truths of the sense of the letter of the Word in which the truths of the internal sense rest like pillars on their pedestals. ... From these things it is evident what is represented and signified by those words concerning the Lord in John ‘They came to Jesus, when they saw Him dead, they did not break His le-s, which was done that the Scripture might be fulfilled: Ye shall not break a bone of Him’. The reason was because He was the Divine Truth Itself both in the first and in the last oforder”, A.C. 91.63.
There are many things by which the ultimate truths of the sense of the letter are represented in the Word — such as clouds, stones, curtains, veils, pillars, foundations, walls, etc., each variously bringing into prominence some special feature ofthoseultimate truths. All are necessary to any full illustration of the subject and to base the thought upon only one of these representatives would tend to limit the thought principally to one view only of the uses which the letter of the Word performs. Thus that ultimate truths are like the foundation of a house, clearly illustrates the use they perform as the basis upon which interior truths are built; but if the thought dwell upon that illustration alone, the use they perform as the containants of interior truths and of good, would be apt to be lost sight of. The illustrations which convey the fullest idea of these varied uses are those taken from the human body, which is indeed the ultimate complex of all that the Lord has created.
But these are more full because they are more complex, and are therefore less easy to grasp. The foundation of a house gives a simple idea of a basis, such as the simplest mind can grasp; but when the bones are regarded as the foundation of the human form, and as a representation of ultimate truths of the Word, a variety of features connected therewith tend to complicate the consideration of them. Thus the hones are the last of the infant, body that is developed, and not the first that appears, as does the foundation of a house. Again the bones sometimes take a more external position, as in the head, and sometimes an internal position as in the limbs. All of which illustrates that there is quite a variety of features which need to be taken up in any full consideration of what is meant by the letter of the Word and that it is a mistake to limit the ideas to one feature of the subject which, however necessary it may be to give the first idea and however true it may be as far as it goes, is yet very far from expressing any full or complete idea of the subject. Not only is the use and position of bone in the body varied; but even in the body there are two other ultimates which also represent the letter of the Word, and which also must be considered in connection with any full presentation of the subject — namely the skin and the hair. Each of these three makes prominent an aspect of the truth regarding the letter of the Word, without which only an essentially partial view is possible. The hair will be specially treated of in the section of the chapter which treats of the Nazarites. The skin also will be specially treated in a future section. Here it will only be necessary to refer to it incidentally as making prominent the idea of the letter as being the containant of interior goods and truths. In the present section, and further in that which next follows, bones will be considered as making prominent the idea of ultimate truth as being the basis and support of interior truths and goods.
“That the sense of the letter of the Word is the basis, containant and support of its spiritual and celestial senses. In everything Divine there is a First, Mediate, and an Ultimate, and the first goes through the Mediate to the Ultimate and thus exists and thus exists and subsists; hence the ultimate is the basis”, T.C.R. 210.
In the human body bone is the last part that is developed. At first the bones are merely soft cartilage and the skull merely skin or membrane. They harden gradually and it is not until towards adult age, that they attain their full degree of hardness. In the history of the human race, the period before the hones harden corresponds to the time of 1 he Most Ancient Church before a written Word was given. The gradual hardening of the hones has been accomplished by the successive written Revelations which have been given, beginning from the Ancient Word and concluding with the Writings. In these successive Revelations the Word has been clothed first in most remote correspondences, and then in less remote correspondences, until in the Writings it is clothed in the most approximate correspondences givable in this world. In proportion as the correspondences were remote as in the earlier written Revelations the truths revealed were general in their character, and therefore for the most part vague and capable of great diversity of interpretation; but as the correspondence became approximate more particulars of truth were revealed, giving more definiteness to the understanding of them. In the Writings this is most fully the case, where full particulars not only make that Revelation itself definite, but which also give a. like definiteness to our understanding of the previous Revelation. Thus have the bones of the Lord's Word gradually received the adult degree of hardness, which fits them to be most fully and perfectly the basis for the spiritual and celestial sense.
“Also the first is in the Mediate, and through the Mediate in the Ulitimates, thus the Ultimate is the Containant", T.C.R. 210.
The skin illustrates this feature of the letter of the Word most generally and prominently, but still in the head the hones of the skull are seen to form the containant also. The head corresponds to the celestial heaven, where there is the clearest perception of all that pertains to the Word not only as to its interiors but also as to its externals; for it is ultimated in literal form there also; but the sense of the letter is then most fully relegated to its rightful position as the external basis and containant to guard and protect the Word itself’. This function of the skull is thus described of Swedenborg’s work on the Brain:
“The animal microcosm is a kingdom by itself, separated from all similar ones with which it is associated. Its viscera, are so many provinces and the parts of the viscera are municipalities. The palace however where the ruling queen resides is the brain; there also is the court and the tribunal. The kingdom itself is engirded by a certain membranous fence or skin; but the palace or the brain is fortified by a double and triple rampart, i.e. by the skull and the dura mater. By these walls it repels all hostile assaults, no matter how many may be made against it from without; by their means also it accomplishes its vital motions secure from internal woes”. BRAIN 190.
As the head corresponds to what is celestial, the trunk to what is spiritual and the limbs to what is natural, in the fact that the brain and the principal organs of the trunk are protected externally by the skull and the ribs, but the limbs by skin only, we can see confirmed, that the celestial and spiritual senses are more fully guarded by the ultimates of the letter than the natural sense is, indeed that the more internal the sense is the more fully is it protected by ultimates, even as no part of the body is so fully clothed with -ultimate protection as the brain. Further in the position of the bones of the various parts of the body it can be seen illustrated that what in the higher degrees is but the outer containant and protection becomes in the natural the central principle of action like the bones in the limbs.
“And because the ultimate is the containant and basis, it is also the support. By the learned it is comprehended that those three can be named End, Cause, and Effect, also Esse, Fieri, and Existere, and that the End is the Esse (or being), the Cause the Fieri (or becoming), the Effect the Existere (that which stands out); consequently that in every complete thing there is a trine which is called First, Mediate, and Ultimate. also End, Cause, and Effect. When these are comprehended it is also comprehended that every Divine Work in the Ultimate is complete and perfect; and also that in the Ultimate is the all, because in it the prior things are together”, T.C.R. 210.
The End is the Divine Love, the Cause is Divine Truth. and the Effect is the Word in literal forms. The sense of the letter is but the ultimate effect of Divine Truth flowing into any given plane, even as bones are simply the last effectof the life inflowing into the body when it reaches meet nearly to the mineral plane. For all kingdoms of nature are collated in the human body -- the bones are the mineral kingdom there — the organs that act independently of any direction of the will are as it were the vegetable kingdom, those that are under the direction of the will are specifically the animal kingdom, while the faculty of lifting the understanding above the will is the distinc-1ively human. The hones then are the most ultimate effect of life — if it he said the most ultimate correspondences of life it is the same, for correspondences are nothing but effects. And as there are bones in the head as well as in the limbs, so the Divine Truth flowing into the rational or highest plane of the mind causes the effects which are presented to us as the literal form of the Writings. Thus there is a sense of the letter formed there, as well as one for each of the lower planes of the mind. Yea it is similar in the heavens also, the Divine Truth inflowing there cannot but cause an ultimate effect in each of them, which ultimate effect is presented as a sense of the letter accommodated to each. These effects wherever they are, whether in the highest heaven or in the most ultimate form of the Word on earth, contain the same end and cause which they result from — the Divine Good and the Divine Truth.
“There are three heavens, the supreme, the middle, and the lowest. The supreme heaven makes the Lord's celestial kingdom, the middle heaven makes His spiritual kingdom and the lowest heaven His natural kingdom; just as there are three heavens so also there are three senses of the Word, celestial, spiritual, and natural”, T.C.R. 212.
These three heavens form respectively the head, trunk, and limbs of the Grand Man, in each of which a support of bone is necessary, thus a sense of the Letter. In one view a spirit has not flesh and bones like men in the world; but still the Lend declares that He has in this respect what a pint has not, which means that Himself as the Word in the heavens has what corresponds to bone, that is, has a literal sense. In this world there is strictly only one discrete degree, the natural, but still it emulates the three discrete degrees of the spiritual, which emulations are called the rational, sensual, and corporeal, in which are the three natural forms of the Word. These would not emulate the three discrete degrees of the Word in the heavens, if they did not each have their own bones, their own sense of the letter. To acknowledge the letter of the Old Testament as the letter of the Word and deny the letter of the Writings as also being the letter of the Word is like acknowledging the bones of the legs as the basis and sup-port of the human body, but denying that the bones of the skull and chest are equally necessary as the basis and sup-port of the full human form. Nor is the importance of the bones of the feet to be magnified above all the rest simply because they are undeniably the lowest ultimate, for like the rest of the body the bones all depend upon each other mutually and reciprocally. To again quote from the work on the Brain:
“Besides the whole bony system of the animal body is so connected that one sustains the other, and as it were feels whatever happens to the other; and thus that it receives in part the force brought to bear upon the other; especially if any casualty happens to the skull. This is perceived sensibly by the vibrations and tremors arising from any blow and concussion; and likewise by means of membranes, muscles, tendons, vessels, and fibres. For the skull rests upon and is conjoined with the bones of the spinal marrow; from the bones of the spinal column, that is the vertebrae, are continued the ribs, the sternum, the os sacrum, the coccyx and finally the ulnae, the arms, the loins, and the feet. Whenever therefore an injury is inflicted on the skull everything bony in the whole body claims its share, or receives some part of the injury in itself, and thus in a certain manner comes forward and proffers its help. The harmony also which begins from the head is such that there is no particular which is not carried toward a general, and no general which does not redound into its parts. Hence an immense strength accrues to the skull for the purpose of protecting the brain”, BRAIN 194.
From all these things it is evident how important it is to see that in our reception of the Lord as the Word no bone of Him be broken, and the Lord in His Providence has preserved the letter of His Word from all injury and will ever do so. But still in our individual reception thereof such injury may be done, and it may be done not only to the lowest ultimate of the Word but also by breaking the connection which should exist between the various literal forms of the Word, all of which are essential each in its own and order as the basis and support of the Divine Human form. This do, that in you also the Scripture may be fulfilled. Ye shall not break a bone of Him.
The power in heaven and on earth is the power of saving men. The Divine operation for saving men is from firsts through ultimates. Thus the effects of His power are seen in ultimates, although the source of that power is the Divine Itself. The Lord has manifested Himself in ultimates in this world solely for the sake of saving men. It is for this alone that He has become the Word in ultimate form. As He Himself declares: I am come not to judge the world but to save the world. Since then His power of saving us is exercised solely through the ultimates of His Word it is of the greatest importance that we should clearly understand just what is meant by the ultimates which have received all power and that our idea thereof should not be limited further than the teaching of Divine Revelation warrants. Whatever the Lord declares about Himself He declares about His Word which is Himself as He is now manifested to us. This is evident from the following passage:
“It is to be known that after the Word has been given the Lord manifests Himself by it alone, for the Word is the Lord Himself in heaven and the church, from this it can first appear that the manifestation there predicted signifies the manifestation of Him in the Word and His manifestation in the Word has been effected by that He has opened and revealed the internal or spiritual sense of the Word, for in this sense is the Divine Truth itself of such quality as it is in heaven, and the Divine Truth, in heaven t I he Lord Himself there”, A.E. 5945.
Thus for us there is no other manifestation of the Lord, but as the Word, and especially the Word in its spiritual sense. The New Church has to some extent failed to receive the power of His New Advent, because it has failed to recognize that the Lord's Divine power is in the ultimates of the Revelation by which He has effected His New Advent, and that being there at all it is infinitely present there. Indeed it is only through this new Revelation that the power of the previous Revelations is restored, which would otherwise have been altogether lost. The Lord in His New Advent as in His First declares: All power is given to Me in heaven and on earth.
As has just been quoted, in the spiritual sense. is the Divine Truth Itself of such quality as it is in heaven. The idea that Divine Truth of such quality and as it is in heaven does not have infinite power, has only to be mentioned in order to make its absurdity evident in the light of such passages as the following:
“In the heavens all power is from the Divine Truth proceeding from the Lord's Divine Good; hence the angels have power, because they are receptives of Divine Truth from the Lord”, A.C. 101822.
“In heaven Divine Truth has all power and without it there is none at all. All angels are called powers from the Divine Truth and also so far as they are receptions or receptacles of it so far they are powers. By it they prevail over the hells and over all who oppose themselves — a thousand enemies there cannot bear one ray of the light of heaven which is Divine Truth. ... That there is such great power in Divine Truth they cannot believe who have no other idea concerning truth than as concerning thought or speech ... but in Divine Truth there is power in itself and such power, that by it heaven was Created and the world was created with all things which are in them”, H.H. 137.
If such be the power of Divine Truth as it is in heaven, how can it be absent from the Truth of similar quality which the Lord has revealed in his New Advent. All difficulty vanishes when once it is clearly recognized that every Divine Revelation is the lord's Word, and that a Revelation which was not His Word could not be Divine at all; and also that the Word is given in literal forms in the heavens as well as on the earth. Then it becomes evident that the teaching of this morning's lesson: “That Divine truth in the sense of the letter of the Word, is in its fulness, in its holiness, and in its power", T.C.R. 214, has application to the literal form of every Divine Revelation. More or less cannot be predicated of Infinite Power, therefore one form of Divine Revelation cannot be said to have more or less power than another, each one has all power in regard to the plane to which it belongs. The Word in Heaven has all power in its letter there; the Word on earth has all power in its letter here. Wherever the Lord comes as the Word He comes declaring that all power is given to Him. Thus also in His New Advent, in which He manifests Himself in accommodation to man's rational mind, He has all power in the letter of that Revelation in which He appeals to man's rational understanding, and which we call the Writings. As far as man's rational reception of the Word is concerned no other form has that power, although the other forms of the Word have likewise all power for affecting the lower planes of the human mind.
At the same time all senses of the Word rest upon the most ultimate sense for the final reaction of that Infinite Power which flows from the Lord. The most ultimate sense is like the fulcrum necessary for the manifestation of power by a lever — like the fulcrum also it is in no wise the source of the power. The Divine Truth as it flows from the. I cord is animated on each plane through which it passes, and each of those ultimations is all powerful on its own plane — for those ultimations the Word is made definite on each plane. In considering these successive ultimations it should be remembered that all things of successive order are accommodations to more and less finite reception, which are together in simultaneous order. As presented to man in each order they are various, but in. relation to the Lord they are all the same. On each plane of accommodation the Lord as Divine Truth has infinite power, and cannot be rightly said to have more or less on any plane. He has all power infinitely on the highest plane — He has all power infinitely on the lowest plane. That there appear variations in the power depends upon the recipient. For the recipient, what is the ultimate letter of the Word for him is alone all powerful. For man in the world the natural forms of the Word as given in the world are alone all powerful. Remember all forms of Divine Revelation givable in the world are necessarily natural in their literal forms — thus the Writings as well as the Old Testament. But here again the Lord not only accommodates Himself to the natural man, but also to the different planes of the natural man's mind, in regard to which planes the same principle holds, by which therefore for the rational plane of the mind the Word is all powerful only in the letter of the Writings. For that specific plane of life neither the higher forms of the Word which actually exists in the heavens nor yet the lower forms of the Old and New Testaments have Divine Power. Wherever the Lord comes, just as He comes there and in no other way is He all powerful there.
“From these things it can appear that the Word is the Word Itself in its sense of the letter, for within in this is spirit and life, this is what the Lord says: The Words which I speak to you are spirit and life, for the Lord spoke His words in the natural sense”, T.C.R. 214.
The spirit and life of the Lord can cone to us no other wise than in natural forms. Without natural forms they could have no definiteness for us, would therefore be without practical application in which alone power can be manifested. Thus unless the Writings as literally given he acknowledged and used for giving definiteness to the rational reception of truth — all forms of the Word now become subordinated to man's natural rational, that is, to man's rational as not reformed and defined by the Truth revealed by the Lord for that special purpose. When ibis is the case not only is the power of the Lord in His New Advent not received but the power of the previous forms of the Word is also destroyed in the minds of such recipients. In this way both the restoration of power to the more ultimate forms of the Word and the new power prepared by the Lord for mans rational mind are alike rejected.
“The celestial and spiritual senses lire not the Word without the natural sense, for they are like spirit and life without a body”, T.C.R. 214.
But just as the word body here cannot properly be limited to material bodies, so the natural sense in which the Word must always be ultimated in order to be the Word, does not mean only what is natural to this world. Certainly for us while in this world the Word, thus every Divine Revelation, must appear to be clothed in a natural sense as to its external form, just as man cannot appear in this world except in a natural body. But on the other hand just as every man has a body in the spiritual world, as perfectly fitted and as perfectly ultimated for that world as his material body is for this, so is the Word in each heaven clothed in a sense which is the natural ultimate of that heaven, and therefore relatively to those there is a natural sense as well as a literal sense, within which each has what is relatively spiritual and celestial. Thus it is a truth applying not only to this world but of universal application, that the Word is never given except in a natural sense, a sense perfectly accommodated to the nature of those for whom it is given and in which it has all power for them.
Similarly in the Writings the Lord has revealed His Word in a natural sense, that is in a sense accommodated to the nature of the human rational and in which He Himself comes knocking at the door of the rational mind and declaring: All power is given to Me in Heaven and on earth.
“Since the Word in the sense of its letter is such it follows that those who are in Divine Truth and in the faith that the Word within in its bosom is Holy Divine, and more those who are in the faith that the Word is such from its celestial and spiritual senses, when they read the Word in enlightenment from the Lord, they see Divine Truths in natural light; for the light of heaven in which is the spiritual sense of the Word inflows into the natural light in which is the sense of the letter of the Word and illuminates man's intellectual which is called the rational, and causes that he sees and acknowledges Divine Truths where they stand forth and where they lie hidden”, T.C.R. 215.
Mark the sense of the letter is in natural light, and man cannot see Divine Truths except in natural light. A literal Revelation could not appear in this world without appearing in the natural light of this world, and as it is only in such literal ultimations that men can see Divine Truths, it follows that whatever they see thereof must be in a natural sense, and must be in natural light. What is spiritual, still less what is Divine, cannot be given in this world unclothed with what is natural to this world — even spiritual light cannot come to man's mind here unclothed with something of natural light. No power can be exerted in this world except through something natural, for without that nothing could ever appear. Hence when the Writings speak of men seeing truths in spiritual light, they mean strictly, seeing truth in natural light into which spiritual light has been admitted.
This teaching should protect men of the New Church from those false Christs who come as internal Revelation only. The Lord always manifests Himself as Divine Truth in definite form, and externally always in a form natural to the plane on which He appears. Yet however these forms vary in accommodation to the various capabilities of finite reception, wherever the Lord appears the ultimates in which He appears are all powerful there. That is, the letter of every Divine Revelation is all powerful for the purpose for which it has been given. Wherever and whenever the Lord comes He can only come with infinite power, and it is of each ultimate appearance of Himself that He declares: All power is given to Me in heaven and on earth.
“And the foundation of the wall of the city garnished with every precious stone, signifies that all things of the doctrine of the New Jerusalem taken from the sense of the letter of the Word with those who are there, will appear in light according to reception. By the twelve foundations are signified all things of doctrine; by the wall is signified the Word in the sense of the letter; by the holy city Jerusalem is signified the Lord's New Church; by precious stone is signified the Word in the sense of the letter pellucid from its spiritual sense; and because this takes place according to reception therefore it is signified that all things of doctrine from the Word with them will appear in light according to reception”, A.R. 914.
Precious stones beautifully illustrate the quality of the letter of the Word when it is pellucid from its spiritual sense. Of these the ruby and the diamond may be taken as setting forth in general what the rest do more particularly. The ruby reflects light in a celestial manner; the diamond in a spiritual manner.
“There are two colours in general which are pellucid in precious stones — the red colour and the white colour. The remaining colours as green, yellow, blue, and many others are composed from them with black intervening, and by the red colour is signified the good of love, and by the white colour is signified the truth of wisdom. That the red colour signifies the good of love is because it derives its origin from the fire of the sun, and the fire of the sun of the spiritual world is the good of love; and that white colour signifies the truth of wisdom is because it derives its origin from the light which proceeds from the fire of that sun and (hat light proceeding is in its essence the Divine Wisdom, alms the truth of wisdom; and black derives its origin from their shade, which is ignorance”, A.R. 915.
The letter of the Word in itself is black, but has the colours of the various precious stones when it becomes transparant to the spiritual sense. The letter of the Word is black in itself because it is composed of what is taken from man's proprium. It is the black of the proprium also which gives the variety to receptions, and causes the various combinations of red and white to assume innumerable colours and shades. How far variety depends upon black from man's proprium is shown in the following:
“That it is according to order that the first should proceed to its ultimate in general and in particular, is that variety of all things may exist, and by variety every quality, for quality is perfected by relative differences to more and less opposites. Who cannot see that truth receives its quality by the false being given? Similarly good by evil being given? Similarly as light by thick darkness being given, and heat by cold being given. What would colour be if there were only given white and not black — the quality of intermediate colours is from no other source except it be imperfect. What is sense without relation, and -that is relation except to opposites. Is not the sight of the eye obscured from white alone, and is vivified from colour which within derives something from black such as is the colour green? Does not the ear grow deaf from one tone continuously striking its organ, and it is excited from modulation which is varied by relations. What is beauty without relation to what is unbeautiful, wherefore that the beauty of any virgin may be presented to the life, in some pictures there is placed an image of a deformed person at the side. What is delight and fortune without relation to what is undelightful and unfortunate. Who is not delirious from one constant idea unless variety from such things as verge to opposites interrupt it? It is similar in the spiritual things of the Church of which the opposites refer themselves to the evil and false, which nevertheless are not from the Lord but from man who has free determination which is able to bend them to good use and to evil use. It is comparatively as with darkness and cold, these are not from the sun but from the earth which by circumvolutions successively withdraws and hints itself, and nevertheless without the turning and withdrawing of it, there would not be days and years, and hence not anything nor anyone upon the earth”, T.C.R.763.
It is therefore an essential part of the Lord's accommodation of Himself to man that He should appear in externals which derive their finite quality from man, for it is only in these that man could at all perceive what comes from the Infinite, or be able to receive any idea of its quality. The Lord therefore builds His Word upon stones, but upon stones capable of receiving and reflecting heavenly light with the greatest variety. We are not taught the particular correspondence of each of the twelve stones reamed; but only that they indicate a similar complex of qualities as do the names of the twelve apostles whose names were written therein, and as the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel which were written upon a similar collection of precious stones which were placed upon the Ephod of Aaron. In the latter case they are classified.
“That there were four rows and in each row three stones, the cause was that the conjunction of all truths from one good might be represented and thus perfection, for by four is signified conjunction and by three perfection, for when there is one good from which they all proceed, consequently which they all regard, then there is conjunction of them all”, A.C. 9864.
The first row, ruby, topaz, and carbuncle were of a red flamy colour and signified the celestial love of good.
The second row, the chrysoprasus, the sapphire, and the diamond, were of blue from red and signified the celestial love of truth.
The third row, the ligure, the agate, and the amethyst west of blue from white and signified the spiritual love of good.
The fourth row, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper were of a colour which approaches white from blue, and signified the spiritual love of truth.
Thus there, is represented the letter of the Word as it is in the heavens. The first two rows represent the letter as it is respectively in the internal and the external of the celestial kingdom, and the last two rows the letter as it is respectively in the internal and the external of the spiritual kingdom; but in each of them it appears in trinal form, and variously according to the various receptions of the angels. Thus everywhere the Divine Truth itself is presented in ultimate forms, in which it is protected itself and in which it is able to afford protection to all who trust in it. Although the variety of its presentation is so great, never is there any indication that it is ever presented otherwise than in definite written forms. No part of the foundation of the heavens is without precious stones as the support and ultimate basis. Nor can any part of the foundation of the New Church be upon any other basis. Unless the Revelation by means of which the Lord has come to establish the New Church were as to its ultimates composed of precious stones, it could not convey the doctrine which is alone to give light in the New Jerusalem. Unless we learn to recognize the ultimates of that Revelation as precious stones, our eyes will remain blind to the light which the Lord has revealed for the New Church. This light is not from the sense of the letter, but can be seen beautifully reflected therein by those who suffer themselves to be taught genuine truths. But it is in their literal expression that their power is realized. The power of truth is the power of opening heaven, and also the power of combating evils and falses. In the presence of genuine truth, the real nature of evil first becomes evident. To know its real nature is to be protected against it, for it is only by its appearance of being good that it has hold upon us. It should be our aim so to surround our minds with a wall of truths, that nothing false and evil could continue therein without its real quality becoming manifest. Such a wall would consist of precious stones all pellucid from spiritual light within which only heavenly things could flourish, and against which all infernal attacks would be in vain.
Both the Tabernacle erected by Moses in the wilderness and the Temple built in Jerusalem by Solomon represent the Lord's kingdom wherever that kingdom obtains — thus in heaven, in the church, and in the individual mind of a regenerating man. Wherever the Lord's kingdom extends, there the Lord Himself as the Word is the inmost thereof, which was represented by the Word in the Ark, kept in the inmost part of the Tabernacle and of the Temple, which was called the Holy of Holies. Hence the Tabernacle was called the Lord's Habitation, even as Heaven is. The Holy of Holies represented the Celestial Heaven, the Holy Place the Spiritual Heaven, and the Court the Ultimate Heaven. Similarly they represented the three senses of the Word and all the externals of the Tabernacle represented the externals of the Word — its sense of the letter. It will be readily seen hence that as each part of the Tabernacle had its own veils or curtains, so each form of the Word has its own sense of the letter. This is distinctly taught thus:
“There were three veils there, first that which made the division between the Holy and the Holy of Holies, the second which was called the covering for the door of the Tabernacle, the third which was the covering for the gates of the court. The first veil… represented the proximate and inmost, appearances of rational truth in which the angels of the second heaven are... The second or covering of the gate of the Tabernacle. . . represented the appearances of good and truth which are inferior or exterior to the prior and in which the angels of the second heaven are... The third or the covering of the gate of the court . . . represented the appearances of good and truth still more inferior and exterior which are the lowest of the rational and in which the angels of the first heaven are”, A.C. 2576.
Thus the various entrances to the Tabernacle, one within the other, were covered by veils which represented appearances of truth on so many planes, after entrance has been obtained to the ultimate truths of heaven, the spiritual truths within these are still veiled off by their own literal ultimates and even when these have been penetrated there are still literal appearances veiling off truths as accommodated to the inmost heaven. Each portion had its own veils and curtains.
The text has special reference to the Holy Place, which is there called a habitation. This is taken for special consideration because it corresponds to the plane on which the spiritual sense of the Word is given, on the one hand divided by a veil from the Holy of Holies where the Word Itself was placed, and on the other hand divided by a veil from the external court, which represented the more ultimate forms of the Word. This middle part is specifically called the Lord's Habitation rather than the Holy of Holies because Truth is the habitation of Good and thus of the Lord.
“Heaven is called the habitation of God from this that the Divine of the Lord dwells there; for it is the Divine Truth proceeding from the Divine Good of the Lord which makes heaven, it indeed gives the life of the angels there; and because the Lord dwells with the angels in that which is from Himself, therefore Heaven is called the habitation of God, and the Divine Truths themselves from the Divine Good, of which the angels or angelic societies are receptions, are called habitations”, A.C. 9354.
Hence the curtains of the holy place represented the ultimate of spiritual truth.
“The spiritual and celestial things of the Word are comparatively like the Holy things of the Tabernacle, which were the table upon which were the breads of proposition, the golden altar upon which was frankincense, and the censer, also the candalabrum with the lamps, and more interiorly still the cherubim, the propitiatory and the ark — all these were the holy things of the Jewish and Israelitish Church; but still they could not be called holy and a sanctuary before they were covered with curtains and veils. Without those coverings they would have been ex-posed to the naked heaven, to rains and storms, to the birds of heaven and the wild beasts of the earth which would have violated, torn and dispersed them. Thus also would it be with Divine Truths in the heavens, which are called spiritual and celestial, unless they are enclosed with natural truths of quality as are the truths of the sense of the letter of the Word”, A.C. 1088.
But there were also three coverings external to the curtains of byssus, made respectively from she goat's hair, from the skins of rams, and from the skins of badgers. Hence Relatively to these the curtains of byssus represent interior truths, and indeed it will be found always, that the truths by which the Lord teaches angels and men, whether they be relatively internal or external are always in ultimate forms. Here:
“Ten curtains signify all the truths from which (is the second heaven) and they are the interior truths of faith which are of the new intellectual; ... that they are interior truths because exterior truths are signified by the curtain from she goats”, A.C. 9595.
“Of twined byssus, and hyacinth, and purple, and scarlet double dyed, that it signifies the spiritual and celestial things from which those truths are, appears from the signification of hyacinth that it is the celestial love of truth, and from the signification of purple that it is the celestial love of good; and from the signification of scarlet double dyed that it is spiritual good or spiritual truth. In such order do spiritual and celestial things or truths and goods follow with the man or angel who is in the middle or second heaven; for first there is truth from a heavenly origin, which is signified by byssus, afterwards there is the love or affection of truth which is the hyacinth, afterwards the love or affection of good thence which is the purple, and at length there is spiritual good which is the scarlet double dyed”, A.C. 9596.
Such is the order which must be followed before anyone receives the living spiritual sense of the Word. The spiritual sense is not living until it has become spiritual good in man, which it does when it really enters his affection, and he loves to do what it teaches. Still spiritual truth always remains intellectual in form. For:
“By Byssus is properly signified the intellectual such as it is within the spiritual man, or with the angel who is in the Lord’s spiritual kingdom; the cause that the intellectual is signified by twined byssus is because within the spiritual man the new voluntary is implanted by the Lord in his intellectual part, and because the intellectual of the spiritual man is signified by twined byssus therefore spiritual truth is also, for all truth pertains to the intellectual part”, A.C. 9596.
Thus by the inner curtains described in the text is meant the ultimates of distinctively spiritual truth that is of the spirilual sense of the Word. But these curtains were also covered by curtains made from the wool of she goats.
“That the curtains upon the habitation of the tent were to be made of the wool of the goats for a sign that all the holy things which were therein represented derived their essence from innocence; by the wool of she goats is signified the ultimate or outermost of innocence which is in ignorance”, A.C. 3519.
This represents that no one can get to the genuine proximate expression of spiritual truth signified by the curtain of twined byssus except through innocence, that is, unless he seek it in the spirit of innocence. The ultimate expressions of truth do not convey the same meaning to everyone who reads them and their genuine meaning appears only in proportion as they are approached in innocence, in the real desire to be led by the Lord and not by self-intelligence.
For there were still two coverings external to this, made respectively of the skins of rams and of the skins of badgers. By the skins of rams are signified external truths from good, and by the skin of badgers external good. These external truths and goods are all that are seen expressed in Divine Revelation when it is approached without innocence — when instead there is only desire to find confirmation of such external good of life as self-intelligence approves of.
Lastly, upon the inner covering of byssus cherubim were interwoven, by which are signified guards lest interior truths should be profaned. Note that these cherubim were on the inner covering, the covering which is the proximate ultimate of the spiritual sense. It is not necessary to guard the external sense which is so easily made to agree with man’s own idea of good and truth, but the internal is always guarded by such appearances as only reveal their genuine meaning to those who approach them in innocence. Similarly upon all the walls of Solomon’s Temple cherubim were engraved. They are still more prominent; if we approach the Word itself in the Holy of Holies where two figures of Cherubim made of gold stretch their wings over the ark itself wherein the Lord’s Testimony was placed.
The whole is called the work of a contriver, by which is signified the intellectual. For the spiritual man the forms of the Word appeal to his intellectual or ration1 faculties and it is by the use of those faculties that he must try to learn what the Lord’s message to him is. Not however subordinating the teaching of Revelation to his rational, but from innocence seeking to receive a reformed rational from the Lord, such as will enable him to understand what the Lord would have him do, in order that the spiritual interior of his mind may be regenerated. It is essential to any rational understanding of the Lord’s Word to have some knowledge of the human form and thence of the human mind, for the Lord’s Word is such as it is in externals, by reason of its perfect accommodation to the form of the human mind and to the varied requirements of the different planes thereof. Hence it is that:
“Similar things occur in the Tabernacle as with man, since representatives in nature refer themselves to the human form, and signify according to their relation to it. In the externals with man there are four coverings which envelop and enclose all his interiors, which coverings are called skins and cuticles… (and correspond to the internal coverings of his mind). Similar things were represented in the coverings which constituted the expanse of the Tabernacle. Hence the understanding can be furnished with some light concerning the form of heaven; but still that light will be extinguished with all those who have no distinct knowledge concerning those things which are in the human body and who have not at the same time a distinct knowledge concerning the spiritual things which are of faith and concerning the celestial things which are of love to which they correspond”, A.C. 9632.
For how can the Lord’s dealings with man be rationally understood, unless the nature of man himself be rightly understood. Only then can man begin to understand the wonderful perfection of the various accommodations of Divine Truth which the Lord has provided, and how each and all of them are essential for the complete reformation and regeneration of the human mind. As soon as any genuine understanding of this matter is attained, men of the Church will cease considering one ultimation of Divine Revelation as either more or less important than another, and will recognize and acknowledge that each is perfect and all powerful in its own place and for its own purpose. The man of the New Church thus recognizing the essential use of each form of the Word, will use that given in the Lord’s New Advent to make a habitation for the Lord in the intellectual part of his mind, in obedience to the Lord’s command as he is taught to spiritually understand it. Thou shalt make a habitation with ten curtains of twined byssus, and hyacinth, and purple, and scarlet double dyed, with cherubim, the work of a contriver thou shalt make them.
“The Lord in this transformation represented the Divine Truth which is the Word; for the Lord when He was in the world made His Human Divine Truth, and when He went forth out of the world He made His Human Divine Good by unition with the Divine Itself which was in Him from conception. Hence it is that the single things which were seen when He was transformed signify the Divine Truth proceeding from the Divine Good of the Lord”, A.E. 594.
When the Lord was in the world He appeared like an-other man and except for His teaching and works there was nothing to show that He was discretely different from all other men. Hence those who only judged by appearances, and preferred the ideas of their own intelligence to His teaching, could only see in Him an ordinary man. It is the same with regard to the Lord in His New Advent now. The Revelation in which He has now come to the natural mind only appears like a common book, and when it is read by a man who is in the conceit of his own intelligence, and who therefore cannot admit the superiority of army teaching that differs from his own ideas, it necessarily appears to him to be more or less faulty, and therefore in no wise Divine. In fact such a man sees nothing of what is Divine therein, what he approves therein is only such as he is able to understand in such a way that it agrees with his own intelligence, what he cannot make agree thereto he rejects. Thus to be able to see the Lord in His New Revelation of Himself is possible only to those who are able to see that the teaching therein is of a quality discretely above that of any teaching that could be hatched by any ordinary human intelligence, however cultivated. Hence the first requisite to enable a man to see the Lord in His glory, as He really is, that is, as He appears to the angels, is the humble acknowledgment that his own intelligence is useless in regard to spiritual things, that the ideas thereof are as to their essence opposite to all genuine understanding of Divine Truth such as can be obtained solely from Divine Revelation by such as approach it in an attitude of innocence.
To those who are satisfied with their own notions of what is good and what is evil, the glory of Divine Truth for ever remains invisible, if they see the Lord at all it is only as to natural external in which He manifests Himself, and there is nothing that can prove to them that there is more than that external to see. But even where a man chooses to seek for Divine leading such as will be altogether higher and even opposite to self-intelligence, the essential glory of the Lord's Word does not appear at once, nor until after a full state of preparation. This is meant by that it was after six days that Jesus took Peter, James, and John to a high mountain apart and was transformed before them. The Lord does not expect anyone to be able to pass at once from a state of self-intelligence to the opposite state of spiritual intelligence. Hence the Lord has variously accommodated Himself as the Word, so that even the most simple are provided with teaching adequate to their comprehension, and which if received in an affirmative spirit prepares, them for a further understanding of truth a little more interior to what they have before grasped, and so little by little such are led on by the Lord until He sees that they are able to bear the sight of His glory, which is never until after six days.
In all who approach the Word with the principle established in their minds that they need to be led by a Divine Intelligence altogether superior to their own, faith, charity and the good of charity are gradually developed, and these in man are what at length enable him to see the distinctive glory of the Lord's Word. The reason is because they are not man's own, but are entirely of the Lord with him, being formed from the reception of such Divine Truth as he has been able to receive into his understanding, his will, and his life. In order to reveal His glory, the Lord calls these apart and leads them up onto a high mountain, for they are meant by Peter, James, and John. This means that the initiament of the new understanding, together with the charity and its good within it, must be separated from the rest of man's mind, and must be elevated quite above all the ideas he has formed for himself, before the distinctively spiritual sense of the Word can be seen, which is the Lord's glory. This elevation of the understanding is not only above the will, but above and apart from the old understanding which agrees with the will. The new, that is all received from Revelation must be elevated and apart from the old, that is, from all that has been derived from any other source. When after clue preparation we suffer the Lord to lead us thus far, then we are able to view the Lord's Word transformed before us and see something of its distinctively spiritual application for which our previous external application of its teaching only prepared the way. It is then that Peter, James, and John are led up into a high mountain apart and see the Lord transformed.
“By the face which shone as a sun was represented the Divine Good of His Divine Love”, T.C.R. .222.
Or as it is elsewhere more fully expressed:
“The Divine Good of the Divine Love which was in Him, from which the Divine Truth was in the very Human, was represented by that His face shone like the sun: for the face represents the interiors, wherefore these interiors shone forth through the face; and the sun signifies the Divine Love”, A.E. 594.
The first thing realized when the spiritual sight of the understanding is opened to see something of the genuine spiritual sense of the Word, is the love which that sense of the Word always expresses. Even in the case of the Writings when only the literal sense is seen, statements may often appear harsh and strange; but once the understanding grasps something of the genuine truth which the doctrine is intended to convey it is invariably found to be an expression of the Lord's love. And further the more approximately to Truth Itself it is understood, the more fully it is found to express that love. This is seeing the Lord's face in His Word. But that genuine Truth which is internal even to the letter of the Writings is only seen when it is sought for the sake of application to life, for really genuine Truth does not exist apart from good, and therefore cannot be really grasped unless the principle represented by John is present in the sight of our understanding. Peter could not have seen the transformation of the Lord unless he had been accompanied also by James and John. This must be borne in mind if we would have the Lord's Word transformed before us, and see His face therein shining like the, Sun with the affection of love for us, as for all His creatures.
“Divine Truth was represented by His garments which were made like light. Garments in the Word signify Truths and the Lord's garments Divine Truth, wherefore also they appeared like light, for Divine Truth makes the light in the angelic heaven and hence light in the Word signifies that Truth”, A.E. 594.
The Lord's garments signify Divine Truth as to the externals in which it is presented — here the externals in which the spiritual sense is presented as they appear when the glory thereof is seen. But however the externals in which Divine Truth is manifested are varied the Truth Itself in them is the same — even as the Lord Himself was ever the same however He varied the garments — yea whether those garments were seen by men to be like light or only as ordinary garments, That here the garments of the Lord which were made like light specifically represent the externals in which the spiritual sense is manifested, appears evidently from the context, for:
“Since the Word which is Divine Truth was represented, therefore also Moses and Elias were seen speaking with Him; by Moses and Elias are signified the Word”, A.E. 594.
“By Moses the Word that was written by him, and in general the historical Word, and by Elias all the prophetical Word", T.C.R. 222.
Here, as is so frequently the case, the threefold form of the Word is made evident — as historical, prophetical, and spiritual forms. By Moses is represented the historical Word in general — thus the historical portion of both Testaments. By Elias all the Prophetical Word thus the prophetical books of both Testaments and by the Lord as He here appeared is represented the spiritual sense of the Word in which He makes His New Advent. The three are together, and in communication and still are distinct.
“But the Word in the letter was represented by the cloud which overshadowed the disciples and into which the disciples entered; for by the disciples in the Word the Church is represented which at that time and afterwards had only been in truth from the sense of the letter; and because revelations and answers are made by Divine Truth in ultimates, and thus truth is of such quality as is the truth of the sense of the letter of the Word, therefore it was caused that a voice was heard from the cloud saying: This is my beloved Son, hear ye Him; that is that He Himself is the Divine Truth or the Word", A.E. 594.
The letter of every Divine Revelation constitutes the clouds in which it is given, and there is nothing more prominent in the very letter of every Divine Revelation than that the Lord is, and all salvation is from obedience to Him. Whether we regard the letter of the Old Testament, the letter of the New or the letter of the Writings, thus whether we regard the clouds in which the Lord manifested Himself formerly or the clouds in which He now manifests Himself in His New Advent, from all that voice is heard saying: This is my beloved Son hear ye Him. To hear means to give heed to and obey. This command is reiterated throughout each form of the Word — in each man is exhorted again and again to obey the Divine Truth there revealed in order that he may live, and is as often warned that failure or refusal to obey it will result in eternal death. This command is not peculiar to arty one form of the Word, it is common to them all and in all it is most plainly set forth in the very letter so that all who will can hear that voice out of the clouds. Hence it is externally heard by all who even with their external ears hear the letter of Divine Revelation read; and yet few hear it in the sense of giving heed and obeying. Those that do thus really hearken to this voice heard from the letter cloud, do not remain able to see the letter only; they also see the Lord Himself as to genuine spiritual truth, yea, they also see His face shining with the affection of Divine Love and each form of the Word as communicating herewith. That is he who heeds and obeys the call from the letter of each form of the Word to obey the Lord as Divine Truth, he also hears, that is heeds and obeys what the spirit saith to the Churches. In reality no others do. t is obedience to the Word in the letter, because it is the Lord's, that prepares Peter, dames, and John in the regenerating man to be able to see the Lord in His glory, which ability then comes to the rational sight of the understanding, and enables him to understand better and better what the letter is intended to teach him. Man never becomes independent of the letter of Divine Revelation for his reception of genuine Truth. Like the disciples He is overshadowed by the cloud even when he is permitted to behold the glory of the Lord as He reveals Himself in the spiritual sense. All answers from heaven are given through the letter of the Word — that is the letter of Divine Revelation — and all advance in the understanding of genuine truth is simply an advance in the understanding of what the letter really contains. Moreover the preparation for every such advance is the same, it is readiness to obey the Word as it is understood at any given time. The voice out of the clouds is continually heard by those who are in innocence, calling upon them to obey the Truth as the Lord has given them ability to understand it now. The command comes to each man of the Church, in respect to his present understanding of the Word. "This is my beloved Son, hear ye him". When we have been led to see the genuine spiritual sense, which is the Lord as He appeared transformed before His disciples — the necessity of obeying this command is only made more rationally clear — this is the Lord Himself in Divine Truth or the Word — to obey is life, to disobey is death. This is my beloved Son, hear ye Him.
The subject of today’s lesson is:
“That the power of the Word in ultimates was represented by the Nazarites”, T.C.R. 223.
The power of the Lord from the ultimates of truth was represented by the Nazarites in the Jewish Church, and by Samson, concerning whom it is said that he was a Nazarite from his mother’s womb and that his power consisted in his hair; by Nazarite and Nazariteship also is signified hair, S.S. 49. (Meaning that in the Hebrew language) S.S. 35.
The representation of power by the hair is not as easily understood as some other representations of power, as by the hand or by a staff. It is easy to see why the hand should represent power for it is the direct instrument by which the power of the body is exerted. But to understand that strength should consist in the hair requires deeper consideration.
“No one can understand why Nazariteship, by which the hair is signified, was instituted and whence it is that Samson had strength from his hair, unless it be known what is signified in the Word by the head. By the head is signified the intelligence which angels and men have from the Lord through Divine Truth — hence by hair is signified intelligence in ultimates or extremes from Divine Truth”. T.C.R. 223.
This makes it evident that spiritual strength depends upon the intelligence being ultimated on the most external plane of life represented by the hair, for the hair is the external even of the natural. Further:
“By the hair the natural things are signified into which spiritual things operate and in which they cease wherefore by hair in the Word is signified the ultimates of wisdom and intelligence, by the hair of the head the ultimates of wisdom, by the beard the ultimates of intelligence”, A.C. 569.
Thus the hair of the head corresponds to the ultimation of wisdom and rationality on the natural plane. Such ultimation exists primarily in the letter of Divine Revelation — hence the hair represents the letter of the Word; and because all wisdom and rationality that are really such are derived from the Word, the hair also represents the ultimation of that wisdom and rationality in the external life. All spiritual strength depends upon there being such ultimation, and can never be received apart from them. Thus it is written:
“Unless there are the ultimates of intelligence which are signified by the hair of the head ... intelligence perishes, for when ultimates are taken away it is as it the base of a pillar were taken away or the foundation of a house; hence it is that in the Jewish Church which was a representative Church it was wicked to shave the hair of the head and induce baldness, similarly the beard; wherefore also those who are without intelligence, in the spiritual world appear bald”, A.E. 577.
“Because this was signified by the hair therefore it was a statute for the Nazarites that they should not shave the hair of their head because it was the Nazariteship of God upon their head, and also therefore it was a statute that the High Priest and his sons should not shave their head lest they should die and the universal house of Israel be angry. Since hair on account of that signification which is from correspondence was so holy, therefore the Son of Man which is the Lord as to the Word, is described even as to the hair that it was white like wool, like snow — similarly the Ancient of Days”, T.C.R. 223.
Hence this representative of the hair is the most important to consider and the one that needs to he kept most prominently before the mind — namely that hair represents the ultimates of the Lord as to the Word, which means the letter of the written Revelation which He has given. The hair of the Son of Man is said to be white because white signifies to be pure. The very ultimate letter of the Word is pure, inasmuch as there is not the least thing therein which does not contribute to the perfection of its accommodation for the regeneration of man. It is purely the Lord’s own means of bringing Divine Truth down to the level of man’s intelligence — and apart from that means man cannot attain any knowledge whatever of genuine truth — and so cannot have any power against his spiritual foes. Nay man cannot from himself even recognize that truth is truth or the false false, which is meant by that he cannot make one hair white or black — from himself he can understand nothing. Moreover it is necessary for him to come into the acknowledgment that this is so before he can approach the letter of Divine Revelation, so as to receive therefrom genuine truth.
“Since hair signifies truth in ultimates thus the sense of the letter of the Word, therefore those who despise the Word in the spiritual world become bald, and contrariwise those who have magnified the Word and had it Holy appear in becoming hair”, T.C.R. 223.
In the world however externals are so largely at variance with internals that we can form no conclusion from the external state of the individual concerning his internal state which may be the opposite thereto. Nevertheless so far as those externals are of voluntary choice, they do indicate the general state. Hence there can be no doubt that the shaving of the head by the Priest in the Roman Catholic Church, is an ultimation of their general state towards the letter of the Word which is different from that of the Protestant Church, although both alike have rejected the essential Word Itself — that is the genuine Truth of the Word. Also it is as great an evil to regard the letter altogether separated from its spirit as it is to reject the letter. The mere letter serves only to confirm external natural states, whence the natural grows beyond bounds and assumes altogether undue prominence. Therefore rough unkempt hair corresponds to the opposite evil to which voluntary baldness of the head and face does. Thus it is written:
“Men who in the life of the body have been merely natural, when they are presented to be seen in the other life according to that state, appear hairy as to almost all the face, and moreover the natural of man is represented by hair; when it is from good by hair becomingly and neatly arranged, but when not from good by unbecoming and disordered hair”, A.C. 3301.
“Therefore the angels have their hair decently and orderly disposed, for their hair represents their natural life and its correspondence with their spiritual life — to clip the hair is to accommodate natural things that they may be decent, thus becoming” A.C. 5569.
By this is represented that on the one hand they do not reject the letter of the Word — nor do they on the other allow it a prominence that does not belong to it — they neither reject the natural external of their life thence nor do they allow it to grow unchecked and unrestrained.
“On account of this correspondence it was caused that the 42 boys, because they called Elisha bald, were torn in pieces by two bears, for Elisha represented the Church as to Doctrine from the Word and bears signify the power of truth in ultimates”, T.C.R. 223.
That they called Elisha bald was denying the letter of the Word as represented by him, therefore denying the letter of the Doctrine which is from the Word. It is important in the New Church to see that the expression letter of the Word has relation to every Divine Revelation which has been given in written form. The law of the Nazarite affords a remarkable confirmation of the teaching that this is so. The Nazarite represented the celestial man who is regenerated by the good of love and not by the truth of faith like the spiritual man, and hence he was forbidden to drink wine or partake of anything from the vine until the end of the days of his Nazariteship. Then he was sanctified and could eat grapes and drink wine; it is indeed declared that after he was sanctified wine could not inebriate the Nazarite. After he was sanctified means when he is regenerated. The celestial man does not receive rational truth during his regeneration but only after it, even as in each step thereof he receives truth directly into his will before he receives into his understanding. This therefore does not apply to the ease of the spiritual man who is regenerated by means of the truth of faith. Yet the teaching has a bearing upon how to deal with the comparatively celestial states of little children as long as they are still in innocence. But there is another point which has universal application connected with the law that at their sanctification they should do another thing which previously is expressly forbidden them — namely shave their heads.
“That in the end of the days of the fulfilling he should shave his head and put the hair of his head upon the fire which was under the sacrifice of peace-offerings, represented the sensual then new from the Divine Celestial, for new hair afterwards grew on the Nazarite; and also it represented that the Lord from ultimate Divine Truth which is the sense of the letter entered into Divine Truth interiorly which is the Word in the internal sense, even to the highest there; for the Lord when He was in the world was the Word, because Divine Truth, and that more interiorly by degrees as he grew up, even to its highest which is purely Divine, altogether above the perceptions of angels”, A.E. 918.
Thus at that stage which represented his entrance into a higher plane of life, the Nazarite shaved his head and afterwards new hair grew thereon. Is not this what takes place with every man who enters heaven — he then puts off as far as it can be consciously present with him the letter of the Word as it is in the world, and the letter of the Word as it is ultimated in heaven takes its place — the old hair is shaved off and new takes its place. This indeed only takes place fully when a• man is prepared to fully enter heaven, but a change analogous thereto takes place when after due preparation he passes from the natural sense of the Word to the spiritual sense — then one sense of the letter is comparatively put away, and another new one is received. Man at one period was such that the sense of the letter of the Word of the Old Testament was the accommodation of Divine Truth best fitted for him; but in due time he entered a state when the sense of the letter as it is in the Word of the New Testament became the more fitting form of accommodation for him, and then the prior was put away to the extent that the understanding of it was subordinated to the new form of Divine Truth. Again in the fulness of time he entered into a state when still another form of accommodation was necessary to him and the Writings were given, which being received, the understanding of both previous forms of the Word becomes subordinated to that understanding of Truth which the man of the New Church receives by means of the sense of the letter of that new Revelation. The change in these cases is only analogous to that which takes place on fully entering heaven, because those three forms of the Word as to their externals are .ill natural, and therefore passing from the sense of tin letter of one to the sense of the letter of the other, is only analogous to passing the discrete degrees between the natural and the spiritual, but still it demands an approximate carrying out of this same law as to the sanctifying of the Nazarite — that then the head is to be shaved that new hair may take the place of the old. Neither must the other law be disregarded that until preparation for the change of state is made — the hair must not be shaved off, — that is, each must cling to the sense of the letter which is appropriate to his state. For example we should be careful not to remove from a child the sense of the letter which teaches that the Lord is angry with the wicked and even hates them, until it has come into the ability to understand the sense of the letter which teaches that the Lord is good to all and sendeth His rain upon the just and upon the unjust; nor must this latter sense of the letter be removed from him until the rational faculty is sufficiently developed to receive that sense of the letter which teaches how fully the Lord discriminates as to the way in which He expresses His love to reach each and every individual, doing good to the devils in quite an opposite way to that in which he does good to the angels, though always as is really best for each one. Thus theme are times when we must heed the law not to shave the head, and there are times when we must attend to the law that the head is to be shaved that new hair take its place. While we are in this life, however, the application of the prior law holds in regard to all Divine Revelation which has been ultimated for us in the natural forms of This world — the sense of the letter of each is necessary in its place. Let the man of the Church therefore take heed that all the days of his Nazariteship, a razor may not pass upon his head.
In addressing those who have any knowledge of New Church Doctrine, it is not necessary to show that these words have no reference to Peter as a man nor to his descendents; but to the ultimate forms of the Word which are what are signified by "this rock". The word Peter means rock. Indeed there is no difference either in the Greek or the Latin, between the word translated Peter and that translated rock, except that one is a masculine form "Petros”, “Petrus”, and the other a feminine form “petra”.
By the rock is signified Divine Truth as revealed in fixed ultimates, and by Peter faith or trust in the Divine Truth so revealed, and acknowledgment that such Truth is the Lord, which acknowledgment had just been expressed by Peter in the words: Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God. The power of the Word is manifested in its fixed ultimates, and cannot be received by man except as it is founded upon the ultimate basis of literal Revelation. But the Truth itself as it proceeds from the Lord is power, yea, it has all power, so that nothing else has any power except as to appearance. Hence its power is ineffable, that is, it is beyond the power of human language to express it. But that power is not evident to finite perception except so far as it reacts from ultimates. Hence the power of truth so far as it can be manifested to us is in ultimates and therefore our voluntary appropriation of that power can be effected from nowhere else but from the ultimate forms of truth. The Church cannot exist either in general or in the individual recipient except it be built upon that rock. The ultimate forms of revealed Truth are therefore practically the proximate source of Divine Truth for finite recipients; but in reality the source of Divine Truth and all its power is the Lord Himself as He is in the Sun of the spiritual world and goes forth thence in all the Truth which proceeds from Him, and the various ultimate forms which it has taken on in the various planes of heaven and the world, are but the Divinely appointed means whereby Divine Truth is made definitely evident to human beings and whereby its power may be realized by finite recipients. Thus ineffable power is inherent in all truth that proceeds from the Lord.
“Scarcely anyone knows that there is any power in Truths, for it is supposed, that it is only a word said by someone who is in power, that truth is only a breath from the mouth and a sound in the ear”, T.C.R. 224.
That is, they suppose that God's Word has power, simply because He has power to enforce what He commands and to punish disobedience thereto, just in the way that the arbitrary commands of any powerful ruler may be said to have power.
“When nevertheless Truth and Good are the principals (or beginnings) of all things in each world, the spiritual and the natural, and that they are what the universe was created by and by which the universe is conserved; and also by which man was made; wherefore those two are the all in all things”, T.C.R. 224.
Truth is the very form of what proceeds from the Lord and is Himself. By form is not meant merely shape, but everything that gives or expresses quality. Thus truth is the quality of good, and as it proceeds from the Lord is absolutely one therewith. Hence it is not a mere word, neither is it a mere command, but it is the form or quality of that Good which is substance itself, the sole source of every substantiality, and without which nothing is substantial. The form of the all powerful love of doing good by making others happy from itself, cannot do otherwise as it proceeds than create objects for that love such as may be made happy by voluntarily reciprocating that love. In doing this it is all powerful and irresistible. But because voluntary reciprocation is absolutely essential to the reception of such happiness the Lord would give to all His creatures, it necessarily involves that those whom He has created to be such objects of His love, must have the freedom either to reciprocate or not to reciprocate that love, as they choose, otherwise it could not be voluntary, and could not give satisfaction to any human being; hence, in that case, it could not make heaven in man. Now because man is thus suffered to refuse to reciprocate the Lord's love if he choose, there is an appearance of being able to resist the power which clothes what proceeds from the Lord — an appearance that so far Divine Truth is not all-powerful. But Divine Truth being the form or quality of the Divine Love the power of Divine Truth is nothing else but the power of doing good and it is such that it does good to every individual, to every devil as well as to every angel; each being such as he is and having chosen the attitude he has, the Divine Truth is all-powerful not only to do good to each, but the very best good to each and everyone. In doing this the Divine Truth proceeding from the Lord is absolutely all-powerful and irresistible. The very gates of hell cannot prevail against it in the least degree. And in thus doing good to all, the Divine Truth is always infinitely present everywhere in all space without space and in all time without time. Thus in this way the best good possible is done to each one of us, even in spite of ourselves.
But that good which the Lord wishes to give to each of us and which also makes heaven, but which can only be received where there is reciprocal love to the Lord, is what the Lord reveals and teaches in the ultimate forms of His written Word. All power to teach and effect the reception of that good by all who are willing has been given to the ultimate forms of Truth by which the Lord manifests Himself for that purpose. It is concerning Himself thus ultimately manifested that He declared: All power is given to Me in Heaven and on earth. It is a first essential of salvation that we acknowledge that therein our Divine Saviour has Himself come to save us, for this is the acknowledgment upon which the Church in us mist be founded. If it is built in us at all it must lee upon that rock. If the Church in us is built upon that rock and if our faith and trust continues to he placed only in the Divine Truth which the lord has revealed, nothing can prevail against it. Though all the hells attack it they will be power-less to injure it.
Peter in the Word represents faith in Divine Truth, as it exists in the Church — the faith which is imperfect and fluctuates and hence fails at times to trust in the all powerfulness of Divine Truth and thus denies the Lord. Trust and confidence are inseparable from real love. Therefore to fail in trust is to fail in rendering the reciprocal love which alone can open us to the reception of heavenly life, and without which even the Lord cannot give us heavenly good. It concerns each one of us, therefore, if we would suffer the Lord to lead us to heaven, to recognize that every doubt or mistrust of His Divine Providence is practically a denial of either His Will or His power to do good to us, which is a denial of Himself as the Omnipotent Good, that we may sincerely repent of such denials as we have been guilty of and earnestly strive to shun them in the future. The Lord is all-powerfully present not only in general but to direct each detail of everything that happens to us for our best good. If we trust in His Divine Truth so as to strive to obey the Word which He has written for us, then He is all-powerfully present in each detail of everything that happens to us to direct it so that it may promote our ultimate attainment of heaven. But who of us has not again and again yielded to the temptation to doubt this, and preferred to trust in the promptings of their own prudence. Indeed the trial as to whether we trust most in following the teaching of written Revelation, or in the prudence of our own intelligence constitutes spiritual temptation. If we really believed that the Divine Truth is all-powerful we would not hesitate to follow it whithersoever it led us; but we often incline more to trust in the power of our own prudence to save us from injury. Even therefore if we have made some beginning in the reception of faith in the Lord, we have still abundant reason to pray: Lord help Thou our unbelief.
The Lord as Divine Truth has all power, which really involves that He alone has any power — and that self has none. “They who trust in the Lord are saved: they who trust in themselves perish”. This is not merely a principle to be acknowledged by the understanding, but also one that must govern the will of each one who would attain heaven. It does not govern the will unless there is endeavour to apply it to the practical details of ordinary daily life. So far as it does govern the will it drives out anxiety and worry, not only as to our spiritual welfare, but also as to worldly cares. We should learn to regard our cares and anxieties chiefly as indication that our wills are not yet governed by trust in the Lord's power, and as warnings to shun the doubt and denial of that power as sin against God. We are born into this world that we may prepare for heaven, and this ought to be the primary object in everything we do. If it were, we would consider primarily in everything we propose to do, not so much how it is likely to affect our worldly welfare one way or the other, but how will what we are going to do, and the way we are going to do it, affect our preparation for heaven? It cannot profit us if it does promote our welfare here, if it at the same time is detrimental to the preparation of a heavenly state of mind. On the other hand, there is really no risk to our real welfare in any respect if we do really strive to make every act an ultimation which will confirm some heavenly attitude of mind towards the Lord and the neighbour, for have we not the Lord's positive promise that if we seek His Kingdom first, all we need will be added to us. Now it is easier to us to believe His willingness to carry Lout this promise than to really believe His power to keep it. Though we all know better than to deny that power theoretically, if we honestly examine our own self we shall be obliged to confess that we often lapse into what is practical denial thereof. But if we humbly recognize this and persevere in the exercise of repentance in regard to it, the hells will be permitted to tempt us only in order that they may excite our inherited evil tendencies, so that we may thus be rendered able to see them in ourselves, may shun them and by the power of the Lord's Truth get rid of them in the end. Thus the hells will indeed fight against us, but will not prevail; will indeed, in spite of themselves, only perform a use to us necessary for our regeneration. If then even the hells by the Lord's power are made to perform only use to those who have in them anything of the Church formed by Truths from Him, the same power will ever be effective in providing and preserving every-thing useful for the same end. We can and ought therefore to let our own prudence take an altogether secondary position to what should always be our primary aim in all we do, namely to so reciprocate the Lord's love to us by obedience to His Divine Truth, that we may thereby open ourselves to the reception of the operation of His infinite power, and trust in that power to finally elevate us into lies veil and in the meantime to provide us with everything necessary to our preparation even as to externals necessary to our bodies.
“That the Church which is in Divine Truths prevails over the hells and that it is that Church concerning which the Lord said to Peter: Upon this rock I will build My Church and the gates of bell shall not prevail against it. This the Lord said after Peter confessed: Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. This verity is meant there by the rock, for by rock everywhere in the Word is meant the Lord as to Divine Truth”, T.C.R. 224.
By “name” here is meant Doctrine — by the “name of other gods”, false doctrine. The only way to come into the reception of any spiritual good is by shunning the opposite evil as sin against God. This must be remembered if you would receive the good inculcated by this morning’s lesson which declares:
“That the Word is not understood without Doctrine”, T.C.R. 226.
That is, there cannot be application of this lesson, unless false doctrine be shunned — The name of other gods ye shall not mention.
Doctrine means teaching. Now as all men are born in a state of entire ignorance, every idea which they have in their minds has had to be learned. Nothing comes consciously into men’s minds except by teaching from some source or another, and whatever men study they necessarily study in the light of such teaching as they have already received. Hence the Word is always studied in the light of teaching of some sort; but it can never be rightly understood except so far as it is studied in the light of what is really the teaching of the Lord Himself. The under-standing of the Word which any other teaching conveys is always more or less perverted. Moreover such other teaching too often insinuates itself under the guise of being the Lord's teaching when it is really from an opposite source. It is therefore necessary to learn to examine teaching very particularly in this respect before receiving it, so that we may always recognize when a name or teaching is presented whether it be really of the Name of the Lord or only the name of some other god. The other gods which all men have a natural tendency to worship and receive teaching from are self and the world. Thus whatever favors the carrying out of the impulses of our own wills, whatever favors the acquirement of worldly riches and honors, is readily received, and becomes the teaching in the mind which so determines the understanding of the Word that it may be made to agree therewith. As sure as the natural mind has influence in every man not fully regenerated, so sure is it that all have need to shun the evil forbidden in the text: The name of other gods ye shall not mention.
“And the name of other gods ye shall
not mention, that it signifies that one must not think from the doctrine of
the false, appears from the signification of name, that it is the all of
faith and the all of worship in complex, here the all of false doctrine,
since by other gods are signified falses; and from the signification of to
mention that it is to think. That to
mention is to think is because mentioning is of the mouth and by those things
which are of the mouth are signified those things which are of the thought”,
“That the Word cannot be understood without Doctrine, the reason is because the Word in the sense of the letter consists of mere correspondences, for the sake of the end that spiritual and celestial things may be together therein, and every expression of them be a continent and fulcrum; therefore Divine Truths in the sense of the letter are rarely naked but clothed which are called appearances of truth, and many are accommodated to the grasp of the simple who do not elevate their thoughts above such things as they see before their eyes; and some which appear as contradictions, when nevertheless in the Word regarded in its own spiritual light no contradiction is given; and also in some places in the Prophets there are names of places and persons collected from which no sense can he elicited. When therefore the Word in the sense of the letter is such it can appear that it cannot be understood without Doctrine”, T.C.R. 226.
For when the appearances of Truth in which the Word is clothed thus vary even to the extent of opposition and contradiction the reader is free to dwell most on whichever of the opposite expressions he chooses and of course his natural tendency is invariably to dwell on those which agree most with his prior thought. This holds in regard to each form of the Word, in regard to the Writings as well as to the other forms. In the Writings opposite principles appear to be expressed. In some places will be found what is radically new in respect to anything conceived before; in others statements will be found which taken by themselves express only what is quite agreeable to the natural mind. Now we can either subordinate our understanding of the latter class of statements to the former, or that of the former to the latter; and upon which of these we do depends whether we receive the Writings really in the Lord’s name or only in the name of other gods. Hence it is evident that if you would obey the command of the text you must take care to shun confirming your prior ideas when you are studying the Word, and instead you must expect and seek to find teaching there such as will be altogether opposite to that which your natural inclinations tend to favor.
Depend upon it, you cannot escape from the dominion of self-teaching until that course be perseveringly pursued, that is until the command be heeded: The name of other gods ye shall not mention.
“The Word is not only understood by Doctrine but also it shines in the understanding, for it is like a candelabrum with lighted lamps; man then sees more things than he had seen before, and also understands those things which he had not understood before — obscure and discordant things he either does not see and passes by, or he sees and explains them so that they agree with Doctrine”, T. C.R. 227.
This is true as to all Doctrine or teaching — the teaching which favors self as well as that which is from the Lord. It lights up those things which agree with it, and causes man to pass by or explain away whatever does not. So that if a man studies the Word from genuine Doctrine he be-comes more and more enlightened in genuine truth; but if he studies the Word from false doctrine he becomes more and more fully persuaded that the false is true and the true false. It is easy to see that this is the case when men are in the doctrine of three gods and such like gross errors; but it should also be seen that it is the case too with every teaching which flatters the love of self-leading or the love of the world, teaching which the natural man always holds to, and which it is necessary to have exposed in one's self, in order that by persistent combat against it it may be thrown off.
“That the Word is seen from Doctrine, and is also explained according to it, experience in the Christian orb testifies; all the Reformed see the Word from their doctrine and explain the Word according to it; similarly the Papists from theirs, and explain according to it; yea the Jews do from theirs and explain according to it; consequently they see falses from false doctrine and truths from true doctrine. From these things it is evident that true doctrine is like a lamp in the dark, and like guide posts in the roads”, T.C.R. 227.