35 Salt


Edward Madeley




From the Intellectual Repository for Jan., 1842.

The Correspondence of Salt.

THERE is great reason for believing that the correspondence of the objects in the material world, is to be seen both in the quality of their substance and their respective uses. Salt is a substance which enters very largely into the composition of this terrestrial globe. The sea affords such large quantities of common salt (about one-thirtieth part of its own weight) that all mankind might be thence supplied with sufficient for their use. Mines of salt have long been known in England, Spain, Italy, Germany, Hungary, Poland, and other countries of Europe. In different parts of the world there are also huge mountains of salt. Of this kind there are two near Astracan in Russia ; several in the kingdoms of Tunis and Algiers in Africa, several in Asia and America ; and the whole island of Ormus in the Persian Gulf, consists almost entirely of fossil salt. Salt in a chemical sense, also, either as crystallizable acids, alkalies, and earths, or as combinations of acids with alkalies, earths, or metal lic oxides, enters very largely into the composition of all things in the mineral, vegetable, and animal kingdom.

All things which exist in the material world, exist also in their correspondences in man s microcosm ; and as salt enters so largely into all things of outward nature, its correspondence must form some important ingredient in the human mind. In the writings of the illustrious Swedenborg, we are taught that salt corresponds to desire, and that the term salt when it occurs in the Word (and it occurs there frequently) has in every instance this signification. As before observed there are many different kinds of salt : not only are there the varieties of common salt, but also the numerous crystallizable acids and alkalies, sulphates, sulphites, nitrates, nitrites, muriates, and phosphates. So also, there are various kinds of desires in the human mind : thus there are the desires of the natural mind corporeal desires, sensual desires : then again there are the desires of the spiritual mind desires for spiritual good and spiritual truth ; and there are also the desires of the celestial mind desires for celestial good and celestial truth -, and of each of these desires there is a great variety. All desires may, however, be considered under two great divisions ; desires for good and truth, and desires for evil and falsity. Thus Solomon says : ” The desire of the righteous is only good ; the soul of the wicked desires evil.” So the term salt in some passages of the Word signifies good desires, and in other passages, evil desires.

Some Illustrative Examples from the Word.

In Lev. chap. 2, ver. 13, we read, ” Every offering of thy cake shall be salted with salt ; neither shalt thou make to cease the salt of the covenant of thy God upon thy meat-offering. Upon all thy offerings thou shalt offer salt;” and in Leviticus we read that the incense should be salted. These divine words teach us that in all our acts of worship, the good which is in us must continually desire truth the truth which is in us must continually desire good : the heavenly marriage, the covenant, is the union of good and truth, and the desire of this conjunction is ” the salt of the covenant of thy God ; ” and the man who obeys these divine commands can adopt the words of the Psalmist, ” I have longed for thy salvation,” and of Isaiah, ” The desire of my soul is to thy name and to the remembrance of Thee.” ” As a new-born babe he desires the sincere milk of the Word that he may grow thereby.” The Lord Jesus says, ” Every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt. Salt is good, but if the salt have lost its saltness, wherewith will you season it.” To be ” salted with fire,” denotes the desire of good for truth, for desire is the very fire of love. And “salt that has lost its saltness, signifies a negation of all desire of good and of truth. A man whose mind is enlightened by truth, but who, at the same time, does not seek after purity of affection and of life, has salt ; he has desires, but they are not genuine they are mere lust, and he is “good for nothing.” Thus there are many passages in the holy Scriptures in which the term salt bears an evil signification. As in Jeremiah, ” Cursed be the man who maketh flesh his arm ; he shall not see when good cometh, but shall dwell in parched places in a salt land;” he whose trust is in his self-derived intelligence, and whose delight is in evil loves, dwells in a ” salt land ;” all good and all truth in him is destroyed by his filthy desires. So also in Zephaniah, ” It shall be as Gomorrah, a place left to the nettle, and a pit of suit and a waste to eternity.”

” The nettle,” denotes the ardor and the burning of the life of a man who is in the love of self, and ” a pit of salt,” denotes the same burning love desiring what is false. Such a man is a Sodom, ” as Gomorrah ;” for these cities represent the evil, direful, fiery, filthy affections, burning with desires of self-love. In Genesis we read of Lot s wife being turned into a pillar of salt ; and this teaches us that when truth in the mind (signified by Lot s wife) no longer looks to good (denoted by Lot), but turns to the love of self to Sodom ; then the mind becomes ” a pillar of salt,” all spiritual life is destroyed. With this view of the subject, how solemn is the Lord s exhortation, ” Remember Lot s wife !” These explanations of the sacred text are gathered from the works of Swedenborg. As, however, in the New Church we are not allowed to follow blindly the teachings of any man, but are permitted to obtain for ourselves a rational perception of the meaning of the sacred page, in order that, having learned the truth we may live it, we shall consider some of the peculiar properties of salt ; by this means we may see for ourselves, that salt corresponds to desire.

The Preserving Principle of Salt, and its Correspondence.

It has the peculiar property of preserving substances from putrefaction, and is, for this very purpose, extensively used in articles of food. It is also well known that the economy of the human body requires that we should take salt with our food. If the most healthy person were to abstain for any length of time from taking his accustomed portion of salt, his body would become diseased ; health and strength would give way to disease and languor, followed with death as a certain result. The same observation is true in reference to cattle. Graziers know that by liberally scattering salt with their feed, they are using one of the most effective means for preserving them from many fatal diseases : and in those parts of the world where cattle are not under the direction of man, Providence has placed within them a strong instinct to seek a supply of salt. In America, sheep and cattle resort in herds innumerable to the different clay salt pits, and that with the greatest eagerness : and in Africa large herds of cattle travel to great distances, at stated seasons, to enjoy the marine plants which are saturated with salt. By this provision their health is preserved.

As it is in the animal economy, so also it is in the mental constitution : if the good we have received does not desire truth, if the mental food we have received be not mixed with salt, then good corrupts, decays, perishes ; so also if the truths we have taken do not desire good, then truth perishes. How forcibly is this exhibited in the state of the former church ! In consequence of separating faith from charity, of teaching that faith alone is saving, of losing all affection for good, of having no salt in itself, the church of a hundred years ago had become corrupt, a loathsome corpse, a putrid carcass, about which the birds of desolation gathered together : its truths had become falsities, and all charity had been destroyed. And from this we may learn of what will most assuredly be our condition, if, as individuals, we have not salt within ourselves. If we do not cherish a desire for good, if our faith be without charity, if our knowledge be not attended with a life in accordance with the divine commands, if our profession of religion be without the possession of piety and virtue, then, though our knowledge should appear to us as splendid, glittering from the light of our own intelligence, it is in reality but the cold light of the glow worm, the phosphoric lumen of a decayed fish shining in the dark.

Notwithstanding our abundance of knowledges, our souls are in a state of decay, having no health or soundness. Without this spiritual preservative, even our knowledges of truth will be taken away from us ; they will wither like flowers cut off from their root ; they will sink from our mental hemisphere like fallen stars. Our ” knowledge will vanish away,” and there will be nothing left in our minds but such errors as will unite with the evils of our hearts. But if we have salt in ourselves, then this holy desire will preserve us in spiritual health and vigor ; and of our own souls it may be said, ” Now abideth faith, hope, and charity.” The salt of holy desire will give fixity to everything within us that is good and true, and preserve them for ever.

Its Fructifying Principle, and its Correspondence.

It is well known by farmers and graziers that cattle fatten upon feed in which there is an abundance of salt. Cows give a greater quantity of milk, causing the fluids to become more readily converted into chyle, and giving an increased energy to these juices secreted by the digestive organs. To the fructifying principle of salt is also attributed the superior quality of the Merino wool ; and the wool of flocks in our own country, fed within a few miles of the seacoast, or with plenty of salt, possesses a longer staple and a more pliant texture. Another proof of the fructifying properties of salt is seen in the extraordinary fertility of the cultivated land of China, its fruitfulness arising from the constant practice of the Chinese applying salt as manure, a practice which is coming into general use in our own country. So also the spiritual salt has a fructifying principle : by it a man becomes a living man, fruitful in good works. Truth is seed ; good is ground. Truths merely from thought will lie alone and rot. We may have knowledge in abundance, but if we have not a holy desire of good, our souls will be evil and barren : whereas if good salt be plentifully cast upon the ground if we desire to do the truth, then these knowledges will take root, spring up luxuriantly, and bring forth an abundant harvest.

The fructifying principle of mental salt is plainly taught us in many passages of the holy Word. We select one from 2 Kings, chap. 2, verse 19 to 21 : “The men of Jericho said to Elisha, Behold, the situation of the city is good ; but the waters are evil and the ground barren. And he said unto them, Bring a new cruse and put salt therein ; and they brought it to him, and he went forth to the spring of the waters, and cast the salt in there, and said, Thus saith the Lord, I have healed these waters ; there shall not be from thence any more death or barren land.” The prophet Elisha represents the Lord in reference to the Word. Jericho, being near to Jordan, which was the boundary of the land of Canaan, represents the boundary of the human mind, the external, the natural man. Water denotes truth ; earth represents good ; a new cruse, or vessel, the knowledges of good and truth ; and salt a love of good, a desire to live the truth. From this short explanation we may see that spiritual salt has a fructifying principle. Our first knowledges of good and truth are received into our external mind, our natural principle. These knowledges, ac quired in the first stages of regeneration, as also the good acts which we at that time perform, are not in reality good or true ; they are lifeless and barren ; merely natural ; they arise from our own love of self. ” These waters of Jericho are bitter ; ” neither is there in us any Jiving spiritual good productive of living faith of genuine charity ; but ” the land is barren.” If any reader of this work should be mourning this his unproductive and evil state, saying to himself, “the waters are bitter and the land is barren,” ” O, wretched man that I am ; who shall deliver me from the body of death?” let him go to the prophet Elisha the Word of God the Lord Jesus Christ, and supplicate counsel of Him. Listen to his words : ” Bring a new cruse, and put salt therein;” “Have salt in yourselves;” ” Cast forth the salt at the spring, the going forth of the waters ; ” then you shall be saved from this bitterness and barrenness. Exercise a desire to live the truth you have received in your external mind ; then you will drink of the waters of Jericho the literal truths of the Word, and become fruitful in works really good. By means of this spiritual salt your works will be acts of true living charity ; your knowledges of truth will be saving, and you will bring forth fruit to perfection.

Its Conjoining Principle, and its Correspondence.

It is by virtue of this its uniting property, that the uses we have referred to are effected. Salt conjoins all things. In the arts and manufactures it is extensively employed as a uniting medium, connecting bodies which otherwise could never be joined together. Thousands of men in this town [Birmingham], employed in making silver-plated articles of jewelry, and in what is here called the gilt toy trade, are in the daily practice of using salt for the purpose of uniting metals. A lump of copper has to be plated with silver. By covering the copper with a medium, a salt, a flux of borax, it will, when placed in a suitable degree of heat, readily take the silver; salt being the conjoining medium. In this instance, as also in a thousand other cases, we may see how the science of correspondence is adapted to raise the mind s contemplation from natural and worldly objects to things spiritual and heavenly. Every thing in our daily occupation, in our recreations, imparts a blessing when it is made useful ; and every thing around us can be made to aid us in working out our salvation, if God be in our thoughts, if we are spiritually minded.

The science of correspondence teaches us that copper represents natural good that good which is obtained through our connections in civil society, such as obedience to parents and masters, attendance to the external ceremonies of religion, all that is commonly termed morality. Silver represents spiritual truth truth obtained not through the external mind, but from within from God, truth that is living, saving. The Lord in his merciful providence has so ordered outward circumstances, that every one of us has more or less of this natural goodness this copper, which is the foundation upon which the holy influences of heaven can operate: but this natural good this copper, if it be not united with spiritual truth, can never prepare us for heaven. How can our minds be made spiritual ? What means are to be used in order that they may be covered over with spiritual good and truth the gold and silver of heaven ? The answer is : Let the copper natural good be coated with a flux of salt holy desire ; then the two principles will readily unite ; then we shall be adorned with silver decorated with the beautiful ornaments of spiritual truth and good ; with bracelets on our hands, that is, the power derived from divine truth ; a chain of gold on our necks the conjunction of all things in our internal and external minds ; earrings in our ears practical obedience to the laws of heaven ; and a beautiful crown upon our heads wisdom from the Lord ruling and blessing our whole soul.

Take another instance of the conjoining property of salt. In the manufacture of soap, the two principal ingredients employed are fat or oil, and water. Now oil and water of themselves cannot be made to unite ; it is impossible. Introduce a salt potash, and they will mix with the greatest readiness, and form soap, an article so essential to cleanliness and comfort. In this case as in the former, salt is the conjoining medium. Fat and oil correspond to good, and water to truth. And as oil and water cannot be united without a medium (salt), so also good and truth cannot form a one, so as to be the means of purifying our hearts, unless they be united with a heavenly salt a holy desire. We may have what the world calls goodness ; we may have truths in abundance ; but unless we have this spiritual desire this desire for good and truth, and thus unite truth in the understanding with good in the will, we shall remain unwashed and unprepared for heaven : while on the other hand, if good and truth be united by the salt of desire, then we shall stand at last with those who have washed their robes who have purified their hearts.

Again ; the salt of holy desire not only conjoins the principles of good and truth in the minds of individuals, but it is also the grand connecting medium by which Christians are united in church-fellowship. Without this salt we may assemble together in the same place, join externally in the same prayers and praises, hear the same sermons, be called by the same name, profess the same faith, and still be internally disunited. We may profess to believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is the only God of heaven and earth, see the errors of the former Church, and be able to vindicate the doctrines of the New Dispensation ; but if we have no desire to live the life of truth to put on the beautiful garments of Jerusalem, by uniting the acknowledgment of truth in the mind with the love of God and our neighbor in the heart, how can we be truly members of the New Jerusalem ? A mere profession of truth will never unite a man with his brother: there must be the desire of truth for the sake of use ; especially should this affection be in activity when assembled in holy worship. The Word of the Lord is imperative, ” Every oblation of thy meat offering shalt thou season with salt ; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meat-offering. With all thy offerings thou shalt offer salt,” And if we obey this command, there will then be no separations, no divisions, no contention, no ill-feeling, no party-spirit, no jealousy ; but the ” brethren will dwell together in unity :” having ” salt in ourselves,” we shall be at peace one with another.

Again. The existence of this spiritual salt in our minds, will give efficiency to all our aims at usefulness. Certain metals, copper, zinc, for instance, and leather, placed in water, will produce a galvanic effect ; but it will be very feeble. Dissolve a salt in the water ; introduce nitric acid, or the acetous acid, and the effect will be powerful. So is it in spiritual things. If we have salt in ourselves, although our numbers may be few and our means limited, we shall produce the best of results. Our works will be labors of charity, deeds of love, and we shall operate powerfully on all ” whose hearts God hath stirred up.” Again : By this holy medium all the inhabitants of all the heavens form a one ; the inhabitants of heaven are all closely united together. What is it that conjoins them ? It is the salt of pure desire. One heart, one soul pervades all the angelic host. There no one lives to himself; there separate interests are unknown ; but each believes and acts upon the principle that it is more blessed to give than to receive. Thus desire, like salt, has a conjoining principle.

Renders Food Savory.

Salt excites the appetite by making food savory. If food be eaten without salt, without a relish or an appetite for it, it does not so fully give its nutritious properties, or incorporate with the body. The same is true spiritually. If the good and truth of the holy Word be received without relish or savor without the salt of desire, it cannot be incorporated with the life ; because nothing can live in a man but what he loves nothing but what he receives with affection, with spiritual relish and savor.

Thus it is evident that salt corresponds to desire. By desire the truth and good in our minds are preserved from corruption ; we are fruitful in every good work ; the heavenly marriage of good and truth is celebrated ; and we are adorned with the rings, the jewels, the beautiful crown of wisdom, love and use. We enjoy the pleasant sight of brethren dwelling together in unity ; we extend the sphere of the New Jerusalem ; the truths of the holy Word become incorporated in our life ; we are refined from all unholy loves ; we are saved from lukewarmness, and burn with holy heavenly love. “Have salt in yourselves.”