The inorganic substances of the mineral kingdom, of which – growth, motion, and sensation are not predicable, are likewise spoken of in the Word of God, to represent and signify, in a good sense, the principles of love and wisdom, and, in a negative sense, those of evil and error, in the very externals, or least sensitive principles, of the mind and life, to such spiritual things as are manifest even to sensual discernment, and form the lowest and firmest basis of a heavenly and eternal state ; or, on the contrary, to such infernal things as, confirmed by corporeal affection and sensual reasoning, extinguish all heavenly truth.
Of these correspondences several striking examples have already been given, from which it may be clearly inferred that the precious metals and stones, according to their indefinite varieties, colors, principles, and uses, correspond to those infinitely various kinds of goodness and truth which serve to enrich, adorn, and give stability to the extreme principles of the mind and life. But in their opposite sense, metals and stones signify evil and erroneous principles and persuasions in their external forms. That such is their signification, might be abundantly proved from the Word, as when the Lord is describing by the mouth of his prophet a grossly corrupt state of the church and the mind, together with the direful punishment which it necessarily induces, and which is called God s anger, and appears to be the infliction of his vengeance (for the wrath or fury of God, is, as we have previously shown, only an appearance of truth), He says, ” Be cause ye are all become dross, behold, therefore, I will gather you into the midst of Jerusalem. As they gather silver, and brass, and iron, and lead, and tin, into the midst of the furnace, to blow the fire upon it, to melt it ; so will I gather you in mine anger and in my fury, and I will leave you there and melt you” (Ezek. xxii. 19, 20).But when He speaks of an exalted state of his church and of the mind, together with the glories and blessings which belong thereto He says, ” For brass I will bring gold, and for iron I will bring silver, and for wood brass, and for stones iron” (Isa. Ix. 17).
We have before observed, that the precious stones which adorned the breast plate of the high-priest, and those which are the foundations of the New Jerusalem, signify all kinds and degrees of divine wisdom and knowledge in the Word translucent and resplendent from pure goodness, from which intelligence and just judgment are derived, and on which the church in heaven and on earth is founded. The Lord Himself, as to his divine Word or truth, and its eternal durability, as derived from this divine love, is also called ” a rock,” on which his church is said to be erected. In a perverted church He is represented as a stone which the builders the teachers of a false religion have rejected ; but in the true church He is acknowledged as the ” head stone of the corner ” (Ps. cxviii. 22 ; Matt. xxi. 42), the ” living stone, disallowed indeed of men” (1 Pet. ii. 4), “the tried stone, the precious corner-stone, the sure foundation” (Isa. xxviii. 16), on which all faith and hope and love must rest. That stone is called the corner-stone, or chief corner-stone, which is placed in the extreme angles of a foundation, conjoining and holding together two walls of the pile, meeting from different quarters. So also in the beautiful and instructive parable of the wise and foolish builders, in which is portrayed the characters of such as erect their spiritual habitations on the immovable rock of the Word of God, or divine truth, by hearing and doing the Lord s will ; in which case they are conjoined to Him in an everlasting covenant ; and, on the contrary, to such as build their spiritual houses on the delusive sand of human imagination, faith alone, and mere external profession, in which case their minds, disjoined from the eternal source of life, are brought to irretrievable ruin, and the knowledge they have acquired is dissipated. “Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine,” saith the Lord, “and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock : and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand : and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall thereof” (Matt. vii. 24-27). Here, the solid rock manifestly signifies divine truths, which, when received into the mind from affection, combined with goodness of heart, and brought down into the conduct, cohere together in unbroken unity, and man erecting thereon his spiritual house, is enabled successfully to resist every storm of temptation, for he is conjoined to the Rock of Ages, even the Lord Jesus Christ. But by sand is as plainly meant truths devoid of coherence, because received into the understanding separated from love and its life, mere outward profession of faith, without spiritual affection ; then truths of the holiest quality are but speculative knowledges in the memory and natural understanding, which, losing their cohesion and firmness, and deprived of all connection with their divine source, are profaned to evil purposes, and deprived of all that strength and consistency needful for man s support in times of spiritual trial and opposition. A dependence on these brings eternal ruin to the soul.
On account of this spiritual signification of stones, as denoting sacred truths of an external character, and their qualities of firmness and durability, pillars of stones, and heaps of stone, were, in ancient times, set up as witnesses of covenants, boundaries of land, and testimonials of affection, and were not unfrequently consecrated, as things connected with holy worship, by pouring oil upon the top of them (Gen. xxviii. 18 ; xxxv. 14). And of the temple of Solomon we read that it was completed of stones ready prepared, ” so that there was neither hammer, axe, nor any tool of iron heard in the house while it was in building” (1 Kings vi. 7). An altar to Jehovah was, on the same account, commanded to be erected of unhewn stones, or stones unpolluted by the workman s tool (Ex. xx. 25), to represent to us that worship can only be acceptable to God when it is the dictate of pure truth drawn from the Holy Word, unperverted and undefiled by the vain imaginations of self-intelligence.
In consequence of the science of correspondences being well known in ancient times, ” historians distinguished the periods, from the first age of the world to the last, into the golden, silver, copper, and iron ages, to which also they added an age of clay. The golden age they called those times when innocence and integrity prevailed, and when every one did what is good from what is good, and what is just from what is just; the silver age they called those times when there was no longer any innocence, but still a species of integrity which did not consist in their doing what is good from what is good, but in their doing what is true from what is true ; but the copper and iron ages they called those which were still inferior. The reason why they gave such appellations to those times was not from comparison, but from correspondence ; for the ancients knew that silver corresponds to truth, and gold to good, and this from communication with spirits and angels.” ” But who at this present day knows that the ages were called golden and silver by the ancients from correspondence ? yea, who at this day knows anything about correspondence ? And yet he that does not know this, and especially he that makes his chief gratification and wisdom to consist in disputing whether it be so or not, cannot even attain to the least knowledge concerning the innumerable things which are correspondences.” A. C. 5658.
There are various kinds of gold mentioned in the Word, or gold from various localities, as Uphaz, Ophir, Sheba, Havilah, and Tarshish, and they correspond to various kinds and degrees of love and goodness appertaining to the Lord, his Word, his kingdom, and our neighbor, according to the signification of the place mentioned, and the subject treated of. Thus gold from Uphaz signifies the precious principle of celestial goodness, and the wisdom thence derived, or the most exalted love of God, with its rich blessings, and the meaning of the word Uphaz expresses its fineness or purity (Jer. x. 9 ; Dan. x. 5). Gold from Ophir signifies spiritual goodness, or the love of the neighbor, derived from the love of God ; and the name Ophir means making fruitful (Isa. xiii. 12 ; Ps. xlv. 9). Gold from Sheba signifies the love of truth, derived from the Holy Word, and its application to good and useful purposes in life. Sheba means compassing about ; and gold from Havilah and Tarshish denotes the lowest order of love and goodness exemplified in the love of external or scientific knowledge, and in promoting what is profitable and benevolent in moraland civil life (Gen. ii. 11, 12; Isa. Ix. 9). Havilah means speaking or declaring, and Tarshish contemplation or examination. From these examples it may be seen how the meaning of Hebrew words often assist the true signification of the things predicated, and how varieties of the same object, both in a good and a bad sense, are to be interpreted. The love of goodness of any degree, when tried and purified by the process of temptation, is called ” gold tried in the fire;” that is, unalloyed or genuine (Rev. iii. 18). In an opposite sense, gold signifies the carnal and perverted and inordinate love of self and worldly pleasure of various kinds ; it is then described as used in the construction of idols, and its tendency to profanation; it is said, in strains of lamentation, ” How is the gold become dim ! how is the most fine gold changed ! The precious sons of Zion, com parable to fine gold, how are they esteemed as earthen pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter” (Lam. iv. 1, 2).
Again, what natural substances can more fitly represent the carnal concupiscences of the natural man, their inflammatory tendency, the direful falsehood, which, like thick smoke, arises therefrom, darken ing the very day, and the excruciating torment occasioned by their activity, both in this world and that which is to come, than the bituminous minerals of sulphur and pitch ? Hence they are mentioned in the Word in this sense ; as where the Lord by the inspired prophet is describing the judgment which a perverted church brings down upon itself, or a state of mind confirmed by the love and practice of evil and falsehood, in selfish lusts and fantasies, and the direful results, he says, ” It is the day of the Lord’s vengeance, and the year of recompenses for the controversy of Zion. And the streams thereof shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into brimstone, and the land thereof shall become burning pitch. It shall not be quenched night nor day ; the smoke thereof shall go up forever ” (Isa. xxxiv. 8-10). Hell itself and its ceaseless punishments, with the burning, soul-tormenting lusts of self and the world, the ever-active agents of all distress and misery, both as they exist in the spiritual world and in the disorderly minds of men on earth, are called ” a lake of fire burning with brimstone ” or sulphur (Rev. xix. 20 ; xxi. 8). And the Psalmist, speaking of the dreadful anguish which such evil concupiscences and their fantasies certainly induce upon men when they are indulged and confirmed, says, ” Upon the wicked He shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and a horrible tempest : this shall be the portion of their cup”(Psalm xi. 6).
Again, salt, we know, is a compound, in certain given proportions, of an acid and an alkali which have an affinity for each other. In a good sense salt corresponds to the affection of combining truth with goodness, faith with charity, knowledge with practice. This desire, when incorporated in the mind and diffused through the life, preserves them from the corruption of sin. The prophet Elijah, therefore, under a representative dispensation, when miracles were permitted, is said to have cast salt into the spring of the waters of Jericho, because the waters were unwholesome and the ground was unfruitful, saying, ” Thus saith the Lord, I have healed these waters ; there shall not be from thence any more death or barren land ” (2 Kings ii. 21), to teach us most significantly that the waters the doctrines of eternal truth can impart no permanently renovating virtues to refresh the soul, and render man fruitful in good works, unless man cooperates with the divine Bestower, by uniting therewith the interior spiritual affections and holy desires which embody themselves in goodness of life, and impart a heavenly quality to every word and action.
On account of this signification of salt in a good sense, it was an indispensable law to Israel, that with all the offerings presented to Jehovah, salt should be offered (Lev. ii. 13) ; and the spiritual ground of this law is recognized in the Gospel, where, in manifest reference to the heavenly union of truth and affection in the mind, signified by salt, we are thus divinely instructed and exhorted by our blessed Lord, ” Every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt. Salt is good : but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another” (Mark ix. 49, 56). But, in the opposite sense, salt denotes an unholy commixture of truth with evil, which is profanation, and the awful effect of this deplorable state is con damnation. Thus, Lot s wife became a pillar of salt, because she looked behind her and separated knowledge from duty (Gen. xix. 20 ) ; hence we have the solemn warning, ” Remember Lot s wife” (Luke xvii. 32). We read also of certain cities which were given up to salt, or devoted to desolation ; and to the same purport it is said, in reference to the want of this conjoining affection, ” [The Lord] turneth a fruitful land into barrenness (or salt), for the wickedness of them that dwell therein ” (Psalm cvii. 34).