STEAM >> Spiritual Work

steam-jwp_500_334 A most interesting development of the use of water has occurred in our day, in the universal application of steam to machinery. The locomotive, running over smoothly laid  iron rails, brings even more than the utmost fleetness of the horse to the general service of mankind. Applied to ships upon the sea, the moving power of steam equally surpasses that of the wind; and in connection with stationary machinery, it increases the working power of man a hundredfold.

The boiling of the waters is mentioned in Isaiah as an illustration of the effect of the Lord’s coming: “Oh, that Thou wouldst rend the heavens, that Thou wouldst come down, that the mountains might flow down at Thy presence, as when the melting fire burneth, the fire causeth the waters to boil!” (Isaiah 64:1, 2). And as the comparisons in the Scriptures are not mere comparisons, but correspondences as well, we should expect, in the fulfillment of the words, that the Divine love of the Lord, when His presence is manifested, would expand, with Infinite interior meaning, all the natural truth of His creation and His revelation. And so, indeed, it is.  But we should hardly have looked for so literal a fulfillment, also, as the effect of His coming in the clouds of heaven.

The natural work of the steam is simply a correspondence of the spiritual work of that which steam represents. The opening of the spiritual meanings in natural truth affects the mind with a delight and a power for good, which is not more than adequately represented by the expansive force of steam. Beautiful thoughts are multiplied by it, and the ability to render helpful service to the souls of men is greatly increased.  Especially does the opening of spiritual truth give the means of understanding those in quite dissimilar states; it shows the unity of mankind, in the widest variety; and because of that unity it interests us in states the most remote from our own, and prepares the way for mutually advantageous intercourse.

The days are not yet long past in which it was impossible for conscientious people who held different religious views to have any communication with one another, or even to live peaceably in the same country. An improvement has already taken place, to the extent of establishing a basis of mutual toleration and natural justice among many nations and religions, which may be likened to the building of good roads; but there is as yet scarcely any of the opening of interior things, which we may fairly expect to make the communications of the future so interesting and profitable.  That the approach of the Lord should produce first a development of natural philanthropy and intelligence, before the corresponding increase of spiritual wisdom and love, is according to the Lord’s prediction: “Behold the fig tree and all the trees.”

We may confidently accept the natural work that has been accomplished, both as a manifestation of the mighty spiritual power which is present, and as a sign that the spiritual work will shortly be brought to pass.


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