<< Mountain and Valley >>
''When He was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him.'' Matt. viii. 1.
When the Divine love flows into the heart many truths come with it.
"Thou shall bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of Thine inheritance , in the place, O Jehovah, which thou hast made for Thee to dwell in : in the sanctuary, O Jehovah, which Thine hands have established” Exodus xv. 17.
In the upbuilding of a soul the Lord labors, during the period of gestation of the body and during the first year or two of early infancy, while there is as yet no individualized resistance on the part of man, to build for Himself a sanctuary in the soul, a spot which will remain forever pure, uncontaminated, holy, and in which the soul will be sufficiently pure for Him to touch. This region of the soul, lying beyond and above the three degrees (called natural, spiritual and celestial), has been designated by Swedenborg the "human internal," and the material of which it is constructed the "remains." It is a delicate structure, built of the gentlest and tenderest love of the angels attending gestation and birth, and of the most delicate traits of mother love (storge) and maternal instincts. Its outer covering is constructed of the gentleness and innocence which all men and women endeavor to turn toward children. Since the elements thus gathered together are the highest attainable by man they are called “the mountain." In cases where they are instinctively gathered they are called, as here, the mountain inherited ("the mountain of holiness," "holy mountain," "holy hill"); where they incline toward the volitional they are called "the mountain (or mountains) of Zion ; " when the intellectual comes into prominence, "the mountain of Jerusalem," etc.
"And thou shall rear up the tabernacle according to the fashion therof which was shown thee in the mount.” Exodus xxvi. 30.
And after all, what is this thing we call regeneration, except it be an adaptation of the things of the lower mind to the things of the higher? No other meaning can the thought of regeneration have, save that man pattern his natural life upon the Divine design of his spiritual life.
''Escape to the mountain.” Genesis xix. 17.
Rely upon the love of the Lord,
''Escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed. Genesis xix. 17.
In times of serious temptation do not endeavor to derive strength from doctrine ("do not flee to the city"), nor from the natural sympathies of the world ("do not flee to the plain"), nor from any system of philosophy ("do not flee to the river"), but from the tender solicitude of the Divine love ("flee to the mountain ").
"A city that is set upon a mountain (hill) cannot be hid.'' Matthew v. 14.
A doctrine founded on love will always be perfectly clear and easily understood.
''And Moses went down from the mount unto the people. " Exodus xix. 14.
Intercourse between the higher realms of the mind and its lower faculties is maintained by correspondence. (In a general interpretation, the original meaning of the word "Moses," as being the Divine Truth, had best be so qualified as to limit the name to the two meanings : The law of Divine Truth as given in the science of correspondence, and the law of Divine Truth as given in the doctrine of degrees. We say the word "Moses," because the internal sense of the Word loses sight of all personality of men, keeping in sight only the personality of Man. For in the literal sense the Word tells the story of many men, but in the internal sense it tells the story of Man, and in the inmost sense the story of the God-Man, or the Divine Humanity).
"On the third day Jehovah will come down in the sight of all the people upon Mount Sinai. " Exodus xix. II.
When the soul is perfectly prepared for it the Divine Love will descend in a form accommodated to the grasp of each faculty of the mind, and will rest upon the highest and most loyal conception of love of which man is capable.
"And he led the flock to the back of the desert, and he came to the mountain of God, to Horeb." Exodus iii. 1.
Struggle on manfully through the desert reaches of temptation, keeping always faithful ward of the flock of faculties which the Great One has entrusted to you, and back beyond the desert of weary life-struggle you will find the mountain of God's infinite love, even the love that was of old, is now, and ever shall be.
"And they that remained fled to the mountain.'' Genesis xiv. 10.
It is well for man to know that when surface evils have been removed there still lurk in the deeper recesses of the natural mind many undesirable tendencies, which the Lord in His mercy will slowly and gently force to the surface, so that man, as it were by his own effort, may rid himself of them.
"And Jehovah said unto Aaron, Go into the wilderness to meet Moses. And he went, and met him in the mount of God, and kissed him.'' Exodus iv. 27.
The teacher should have an ability to teach ("Aaron," doctrine), and a method of teaching ("Moses"). Both are acquired from constant toil ("desert"). But they two are not made one, they do not meet and kiss unless they can be made to meet in the love ("mount") of teaching ("God"). The word "God" refers to truth, the word "mount" to love. Whether it be said the love of truth or the love of teaching the truth, it is the same.
"And thou shalt set bounds unto the people round about.'' Exodus xix. 12.
But the bounds which the Great One sets to the faculties of the mind are the bounds of the illimitable. The bounds of sight are the unfathomed depths of the universe ; the bounds of mathematical thought are the limitless reaches of number ; the bounds of speculative and mechanical thought are the infinitude of geometry and of analysis. God bounds man by infinity.
''And Jehovah called unto him out of the mountain." Exodus xix. 3.
All revelation proceeds from the Divine Love. (It may indeed appear in some instances as though a matter of revelation were distinctively intellectual, and that its reference to the volitional — emotional, love, or will — life of man were nil. But this appearance is deceptive.)
“And Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda. " Luke i. 39.
When the church has obtained a true conception of the Lord she enters upon a higher spiritual state, and she does so speedily. The pendulum of doctrine also swings away from dogma toward life, or, as the New Church would say, from the spiritual toward the celestial.
"From the top of the rocks I see Him, and from the hills I behold Him. " Numb. xxiii. 9.
The conception of the Lord as it comes to the highest intellectual effort of man's life is one thing; the same conception as it comes to the volitional side of life is another.
"And afterward the sons of Judah went down to fight against the Canaanites that dwelt in the mountain and in the south and in the valley. " Judges i. 9.
With the power which man derives from the Lord through the celestial kingdom ("Judah") — the expression “sons of " is always to be read " derived from" — he is able to combat his inherited nature in the will, in the intellect, and in the deeds of his natural life.
''He encamped at the mount of God." Exodus xviii 5.
A mind set in order by the love of Divine Truth.
“Let them that are in Judea flee unto the mountains.” Mark xiii. 14.
The inmost tenderness of the soul clings to the Divine Love as a babe to its mother's breast.
''And when they had sung a hymn they went out into the Mount of Olives. " Mark xiv. 26.
A devout spirit of love and faith manifested in worship lifts man's heart very, very near to the love of the Lord.
''And Aaron the priest went up to Mount Hor at the commandment of God, and died there.'' Numb, xxxiii. 38.
And presently the soul approaches nearer to the verity of that which is Divine, and as it does so the need of doctrinal instruction dies away.
" Therefore behold, I will allure her and bring her into the wilderness, and will speak comfortably unto her. And I will give her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor [trouble] for a door of hope. " Hosea ii. 14. 15.
Man is not inclined to think kindly of his wilderness experience, and yet therein lies the seed of much that is of use to him. "The valley of Achor" is indeed the valley of trouble, for all the natural life—the life of "the valley" — is a series of labor and of toil and of trouble. But in the very labor lies strength. The arm that labors not grows not strong. The eye that is not used for seeing falls blind from very feebleness.
''And He buried Moses in the valley in the land of Moab.'' Deut. xxxiv. 6.
The Great One has embodied all the laws of spiritual life in the simplicity and plainness of natural life.
"I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys'' Isaiah xli. 18.
In a perfected human soul the power of the Divine Father opens rivers of the waters of life in the spiritual mind and the fountains of salvation in the natural life.
''And the Lord was with Judah ; and he possessed the mountain. But he could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.” Judges i. 19.
True, spiritual love ever remains an ideal condition during earth's brief pilgrimage. The hard facts of the valley tend to make it so ; and in tending to make it so they serve as factors in the Divine Mercy and Divine Providence.
"Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low'' Isaiah xi. 4.
In the ultimate analysis of character, many of the events of life which seemed to man of lowly and humble order will become of the highest import — while much that he thought of as being absolutely essential to the perfecting of spiritual life will become as empty as straw that has been threshed.
"I will also gather all the nations and bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat [Yehovah judges], and will plead with them for My people and for My heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted My land." Joel iii. 2.
It is not very generally known how Yehovah builds character, nor is it very generally knowable. But if the process were described in a few words it might sound somewhat after this fashion : Scattered throughout the natural mind there are indications of certain spiritual traits which the Lord can use for the upbuilding of eternal character. They are thoughts, and truths, and sayings, and doings in which there is an element of eternal verity and of endless durations. They are thoughts which you and I think, that have been true ever since the morning stars sang together. They are not matters of opinion or of changing literary taste, or of changing method of life. They are the eternal elements of spiritual character. And out of the inmosts of the mind, into the deeper parts of the natural life, flow the impulses and emotions ; and they flow downward to be adjudged there whether they are to be eternal or not. If they are not, " the nations are destroyed before Yehovah ;" if they are to remain, then are they adjoined to those truths to which they belong, and they become eternal parts of life, the heritage of the Lord.
Author: A. Roeder (1900)