<< The Waters >>
"And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide between the waters and the waters. " Genesis i. 6.
At some time in the progress of soul-life the Divine truth calls forth in man a consciousness whereby he learns to distinguish natural truths from spiritual truths.
''For Jehovah God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, .... and there was not a man to till the ground.”Genesis II. 5.
In the unregenerate state of man the peace of Jehovah has not yet rained into his mind, nor has the true humanity of the man been cultivated.
"And Caleb gave her the upper springs and the lower springs.” Judges I. 15.
Even while man is yet in a state of very early instruction (Caleb) in the church the Lord gives him a knowledge of spiritual things and of natural things.
''And God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water.” Genesis xxi. 19.
Right in the heart of the wilderness, right in the midst of the hard and leaden and dead world in which we live for twenty hours out of the twenty-four, the Divine truth can reveal to us the beauty of the Word and the real, human truths of the Word.
"At the time of evening, at the time when women go forth to draw water.'' Genesis xxiv. ii.
It is during a state of uncertainty and doubt that man's affections lead him outward and even out of himself, to search for the truth from the well of the Word.
''For all the wells which his father' servants had digged in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines had stopped them and filled them with sand." Genesis xxvi. 15.
How have the wisdom-wells of antiquity suffered at the hands of hair-splitting Philistines ! How the ancients digged and delved into the realms of the deeper-lying earth-waters until they found the waters of eternal truth, and how miserably have the learned of to-day and of the middle ages clogged and filled up these wells with sand ! There is no symbol-written page, deep with its latent wisdom, but they have filled it to the very edge with the sand of syntax and grammar and etymology and prosody and Orientalism and onomatopoetics. And over the sand of the Philistines gathers the dust of ages.
''And Isaac digged again the wells of water which they digged in the days of Abraham his father; for the Philistines had stopped them after the death of Abraham ; and he called their names after the names by which his father had called them.” Genesis xxvi. 18.
And the seer dug backward into the lost and hidden treasures of olden times, and dug out from under the sand of book-lore the lost truths of humanity, the buried systems of truth, which once men knew ; for while Schliemann digs for Troy and Layard for Niniveh, Swedenborg digs for the buried wells of living water. And he called them Science of Correspondences, Doctrine of Degrees, Remains, and other names, such names as these things had before the Philistines buried them under the dead sand of verbal criticism.
"Israel saith to Heshbon, Thou shall give me waters for money, that I may drink. Deut.ii. 28.
''And the Spirit and the Bride say. Come ; and whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. " Rev. xxii. 17.
How difficult it is to understand a Divine Truth when men have handled it and soiled it and garbled it ! What an amount of effort and investigation and research men must pay for that water ! And how simple and childlike is an absolute Divine Truth in its acquirement ! It may be difficult to learn to speak, but it is the easiest thing in the world to learn to breathe.
''And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice; and the water came out abundantly and the congregation drank and their beasts also. " Numb. xx. 11 .
Before an insight is gained into the inner verities of the Word of God its letter is but a barren rock, from which the thirsting: soul can draw no waters of salvation. But when Divine Law (Moses) has been so far understood as to enter into life at least to some extent — for they are but a little way upon their journey through the wilderness — then Moses can touch the rock with his rod — he can touch the letter with a knowledge of the science of correspondences ; and waters, living waters, will leap forth — living truths that will satisfy not only the mental wants but also the animal wants of man ; for the internal sense treats not only of mental conditions — it also illustrates man's relation to the physical universe.
''For My people have committed two evils, They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water. " Jeremiah ii . 15 .
It seems almost an unintelligible thing, this tendency of men to drift away from the simplicity and tenderness of Divine Truth and Divine Love into the hollowness and emptiness of man-made creeds and dogmas. And yet doth history show no more palpable fact.
''I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance; but He that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear; He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.'' Matthew iii. 11.
John the Baptist represents the literal sense of the Word. When contrasted with Jesus, as in this and similar sentences, the name Jesus signifies the internal sense of the Word. This internal sense of the Word is everywhere in this book conceived as a continuous narrative, describing the birth, formation, individualization, and final salvation of a human soul. That is, the Word in its internal sense is the story of man. But there is but one Man, that is, God-Man. Hence the internal sense, in its supreme concept, is the story of God-Man. For the Lord is the Word, and the Word in its internal sense is the narration of the Lord's internal Divine Life. Knowledge of the literal Word furnishes man with outer truths, applicable to the outer life, but knowledge of the inner Word furnishes him with inner truths, applicable to the inner life. And by such knowledge comes true spirit-life and its love.
"And I heard the angel of the waters say. Thou art righteous, O Lord. " Revelation xvi. 5.
Whatever may be the uncertainty of sound and ambiguity of meaning in natural truths, there is no such uncertainty and ambiguity in the spiritual perception of truth.
''For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool and troubled the water. Whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had. " John v. 4.
There are times in every life when the deeper stirring of the spirit is perceptible ; when some vital issue (some "angel”) is forced upon the outer consciousness, and the "pool" of the memory, where many of the waters of truth have been stored " from youth up," is stirred to its depths. And whatever weakness and feebleness, failure and fault, there may have been in man's character, it is felt to be healed and put aside "in that self-same hour."
"And He sendeth forth two of His disciples, and saith to them, Go ye into the city, and there shall meet you a man bearing a pitcher of water : follow him." Mark xiv. 13.
You and I have gone out to seek for communion with the Master. We sent forth all our love, all our wisdom. We wanted to know and to love. There were two disciples. We thought we were sending them forth, but it was really the Master, though we knew it not. And in our search, as we entered into some "city" — into some doctrine, into some line of thought — we found some little thing, some simple truth ("a pitcher of water"), with some plain, direct human aspect ("and a man bearing it"). It may have been a word that some one spoke, a book, or tract, or sermon, yea, it may have been the song of a bird, or a gorgeous sunset, or a revelation of the microscope, or a study of harmony, or a leit-motif of an opera — whatever it was, it led us powerfully on, until at the end of our journey we found an "upper room furnished and prepared." And that, too, we did not know, even as we knew not that it was the Master who sent the disciples. We knew not that while we were searching for Him in outer life He was finding us in our own higher, inner life, our own "upper room, furnished and prepared."
''Jesus saith to her, Give Me to drink. (For His disciples were gone away into the city to buy food).'' John iv. 7, 8.
Man comes to the well of the Word. He does so from his love of reasoning ("the woman of Samaria"). And as he drinks he actually gives to the Lord to drink. For while he is satisfying his thirst for natural truth he is laying a foundation for the satisfying of his thirst for spiritual truth, and the Lord and His disciples are building up his spiritual character.
Author: A. Roeder (1900)