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THE PROCESS OF REGENERATION.
but they must “ learn to do well.” In order that they may do well, they must LEARN first, before they can do; that is, their knowledge must ever exceed their goodness. Now to the signification of our text.
“To ride on the high places of the earth.” Height, in the Word, ever refers to the state of love or goodness in the will of man. Hills represent a lower state of goodness than mountains, but a higher state of goodness than plains or valleys. As says the psalmist—"Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill ?" (xv. 1.) and again—“O send out thy light and thy truth ; let them bring me unto thy holy hill; (xliii. 3.) and again—“The hill of God is as the hill of Bashan, a high hill as the hill of Bashan. Why leap ye, ye high hills? the hill God desireth to dwell in, yea the Lord will dwell in it for ever;" (lxviii. 15, 16.) and as says Isaiah (lvii. 15.)—“ Thus saith the high and lofty one that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is holy, I dwell in the high and holy place, with him that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones." Here the high and holy place is in the spirit of the contrite and humble man, evidently showing that the high places refer to the high state of goodness in the wills of the humble. This high place in the text refers, however, to the earth of man's nature ; and by earth, we are to understand the lowest degree of man's spiritual nature. The first possession bestowed on the regenerating man is “to ride in the high places of the earth;" that is, to attain to natural goodness by the appropriation of spiritual truth; his lowest, the natural degree of life, is to be purified from evil first. It must enter into marriage union with a higher truth, the truth of the spiritual degree, and having learned to do well, he must do well in natural things; and then will he have attained to the first result of regeneration,—"to ride on the high places of the earth.”
There is a further blessing attached to this condition of goodness" That he might eat of the increase of the fields.” Fields are the cultivated parts of the earth that bring forth fruit; and fields, therefore, correspond to the fruitful and productive portions of the earth of man's nature, where good fruit grows. To eat of this fruit signifies appropriation of good of this degree till it becomes a part of the man's living system, a part of himself. When a man has attained to high states of goodness in his natural degree, it brings forth fruit abundantly of goodness, which, by “ patient continuance in well-doing,” he makes his own; and then he may be said to “eat of the increase of the fields."
“ He made him suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock.” The grand signification of Rock throughout the Word, is the
THE PROCESS OF REGENERATION.
Lord as to His divine truth. “ We have all drunk of the spiritual rock, which is Christ,” says the apostle. “The rock, the Redeemer of Israel.” “ I am the God of Israel, and a rock." The Lord is my rock and my fortress," says the psalmist, “He only is my rock and my salvation." “ God is the rock of my refuge;" and so on in many places. Rock, therefore, refers generally to truth. Honey corresponds to the delight of the exterior natural principle of man ; it is a delight and a joy experienced in the earlier stage of the grand process of regeneration. “A land flowing with milk and honey" was promised to the representative Israelites, which was true in the natural sense, but also more widely true in the representative signification, meaning that the heavenly Canaan was flowing with spiritual and also natural delights and enjoyments. Honey was forbidden to be offered as a sacrifice, meaning that as honey represented the delights of sense, or of the natural degree of life, although it was intended for the enjoyment of man, yet the Lord required a higher goodness at the hands of his worshippers. “To suck honey out of the rock," therefore, signifies that when a man has become purified in the natural degree, or “rides on the high places of the earth," he experiences from the truths he has learned far more delight and enjoyment, even in natural affections, than ever he did or could have done before. He finds that the law of the Lord detracts nothing from his natural enjoyments, but enhances and augments them all; that the sun would shine on him with greater splendour; that the flowers would smile upon
him with more charming beauty ; that his family would become dearer to him; that food would become more delicate, labour more delightsome, rest more delicious; that he could better hear the harmony of the spheres, because his natural man was in harmony with his higher natures ; that he could walk up and down in this garden world of ours, and drink in rich enjoyment at every step, all things seewing beautiful, because all seeming good; that confiding in divine love and wisdom, he might realise in his natural experience even, that
“ Religion never was designed
To make our pleasures less."
For every sense would become a wide and ever-pure avenue, through which unalloyed felicity might gush in upon him,-avenues to become as channels where the bright stream of happiness should splash to the music within, and dance on under the sunshine that should never fade away. “Honey should come out of the rock” to him, indeed, when his natural degree of life should harmoniously chime in the grand chorus of regeneration
THE PROCESS OF REGENERATION,
But he should also “suck oil out of the flinty rock.” Oil represents a still higher good, the good of a higher degree, the spiritual degree of life. The church was counselled to buy oil and wine of the Lord, oil corresponding to spiritual goodness, and wine to truth. The priests were annointed with oil, representing that the ministers of holy things must be holy from the crown of the head, or the highest, to the soles of the feet, or the lowest degree of their being, altogether holy. The foolish virgins took no oil in their lamps, which signifies that they were not in possession of the good of charity towards their neighbour; for “oil of unction," in the Word, signifies the good of love to the Lord, and oil in lamps," the good of love to man. Oil, therefore, corresponds generally to the holy principle of love; and in our text it means that not only should the regenerating man enjoy natural good, but also the higher good of spiritual love. It is only a selfish pleasure after all, this natural delight. He sees beauty in nature, but only for himself. He hears the music that thrills and vibrates through external nature, but only for himself. He feels the delicate softness, smells the fragrant odours, enjoys the delicious tastes, but all only for himself. They are delights by the way, but only by the way; were he to stay here he would become selfish, sensual, devilish. The delight itself would vanish away, for it is only he in whom the higher degrees of life are opened who truly and really enjoys natural pleasures. Without these higher truths and this higher good they become mere animal gratifications, pleasing during the rush and glow of the passion they inspire, but palling on his taste, and disgusting him with surfeit.
Very different from this is the heart experience of the regenerating man here represented by Israel. Not only honey, or the delights of natural good, but oil, or spiritual good, should he suck out of truth. But he was not to rest contented with all this, for further and higher enjoyments were before him still,—“ butter of kine, and milk of sheep." The Lord, by Isaiah (vii. 22.) says,—" And it shall come to pass in that day (or state of regeneration) a man shall nourish a young cow and two sheep; and for the abundance of milk they shall give he shall eat butter, for butter and honey shall every one eat that is left in the land." It is evident that something more than the literal sense is intended here. Butter of kine signifies the good of the celestial-natural principle, and milk of sheep the truth of the celestial-spiritual principle of man's nature.
We must not fail to carefully observe, that after attaining to the celestial-natural degree of good, the next stage in regeneration is the attainment of a still higher truth; that is, that a man's
THE PROCESS OF REGENERATION.
knowledge of truth is first elevated, before his will can appropriate the good connected with it; that is, he must “learn to do well” before he
“ do well.” This is important to be remembered, for it affords a clue to the whole process of regeneration, and the reason of this presents us with a view of a principle, simple as all God's works are, but equally as potent.
“Fat of lambs and rams of the breed of Bashan, and goats,” refer to other and still increasingly superior goods, into the possession and enjoyment of which the regenerating man is to enter. “Fat,” throughout the whole Word, signifies the interior good of anything to which it is applied, the greatest good of all. I shall be satisfied with the fatness of thy house,” (Ps. xxxvi. 8.) says the psalmist, and also—“All thy paths drop fatness." (Ixv. 11.) “Let your soul delight in fatness," says the Lord, by Isaiah. (lv. 2.) “ I will satiate thy soul with fatness," he says, by Jeremiah, (xxxi. 14.) evidently referring to the interior or the highest good of all the many goods to be bestowed on those who diligently seek and faithfully serve Him. “ The fat of lambs," signifies celestial good, the good of celestial innocence, the good that procures the happiness of the inmost or the celestial heaven. “ The rams of Bashan and the goats," signify the goods of the lower degrees of the second and first heavens, the spiritual and the natural; and by the whole phrase, “ the fat of lambs and of rams of Bashan, and of goats,” is intended all the goods which a man or angel can possess. He shall be complete in all his possessions, and perfect in all his ways. The Lord has designed
a fulness of joy” for the saved and sanctified; and it shall be a fulness of joy, because it shall be complete in every particular. All the goods of the celestial, the spiritual, and of the natural degrees of life shall become his own; he shall eat of the fat things and be filled, or as the Lord, through Jeremiah, emphatically expresses it—"I will satiate thy soul with fatness.”
This is no fiction of poetry, no wild rhapsody of unrestrained euthusiasm, no methodised madness, but the unfailing promise of the Eternal, who has found us susceptible of happiness, and whose omniscience has devised the plan by which to usher humanity into a fulness of joy!
The last great promise of the text is the grand capstone on this pyramid of blessings:—"And thou shalt drink the pure blood of the grape." By this is signified the full appropriation of divine truth in immediate conjunction with the Divine Humanity of the Lord. The promise of the Lord to his disciples, at his last supper with them, was~ “I will no more drink of this fruit of the vine till I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom." Drinking " new wine," " the pure blood
THE PROCESS OF REGENERATION.
of the grape," is the imbibing of divine truth immediately from the fountain of all truth, when God should be with them as their all in all. This is the grand goal and ultimatum of all the hopes of the true Christian, when he should dwell in the tabernacle of the Lord, in the highest heaven, to go out no more for ever, one of the saved and the sanctified, dwelling in the Lord Jesus, and He in them. May we all, beloved brethren, through the Lord's mercy, attain to this happy state!
Two papers, entitled “The Lord's Harvest,” with the signature of
Argus,” and treating more especially on the ministry of the New Church, appear in the August and October numbers of the Repository. We beg to offer some reasons for dissenting from several things put forth in those papers.
Argus" is dissatisfied with some recent changes tending to promote equality among brethren in the Conference. He considers, for reasons which he adduces, that such equality ought not to exist in ecclesiastical matters. The writer of the present paper thinks, on the contrary, for reasons he will adduce, that Conference, in beginning these changes, has acted wisely, and gone in the direction of true order. He thinks that the changes already made have had a salutary effect; and that if this course is persisted in until equality exists in every respect, it will do much credit to the Conference, increase the influence of ministers, and strengthen the union which exists in the church.
Argus" conceives that ministers have claims superior to others in the church; that they are not duly honoured ; and that, according to Swedenborg, there should “external dignity and honour be accorded to the priesthood, somewhat similar to that accorded to rank and royalty." He does not seek to make this honour and dignity harmonize with that greatness which consists in men becoming as little children, and being the least of all and the servants of all ; nor does he shew how the men of such a priesthood would imitate that great High-priest who was meek and lowly of heart, who did not receive honour from men,
and was among his followers “as he that serveth.”
Argus” adduces in favour of priestly government the following passage from Swedenborg :-"Governors over those things amongst men which relate to heaven, or over ecclesiastical matters, are called priests, and their office the priesthood.” (H. D. 314.) This may