<< MATTHEW X: Spiritual Meaning >>
The last chapter closed with the divine declaration that the harvest is plenteous, but that the labourers are few, and the divine exhortation to the disciples to pray the Lord of the harvest to send forth labourers into his harvest. This chapter begins with Jesus, as the Lord of the harvest and shepherd of the sheep, calling unto him his twelve disciples, to send them on the great mission of gathering souls into his church.
1 And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.
2 Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;
3 Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus;
4 Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.
1 See Chapter VIII., 16. L. 48.
1 Jesus first called unto him his twelve disciples. The twelve represented all the principles which constitute the church, understanding the church to be a state of spiritual love and faith, or goodness and truth, in the heart and understanding of man. As these heavenly graces and spiritual principles are derived from the Lord through his revealed Word, the twelve disciples represent also all the goods and truths of the Word, these being the powers by which the Lord works out his saving purposes, whoever be the personal instruments who use them. When the Lord had called his twelve apostles, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. In sending his servants forth on this mission of mercy the Lord gave them power to do what he himself had done. The power which Jesus exerted for the benefit of mankind he derived from the Father – that is, from his own indwelling divinity. The power of healing conferred upon his disciples was entirely different from that power as it existed in the Lord. They wrought their miracles in his name; and in that name, as expressive of the divine humanity of the Saviour, was all the power of which they were but the finite mediums. Still, the result of their labour was the same as if they had possessed that power in their own persons. The reason of this was, they were representative characters. The principles of goodness and truth contained in the Word, which they represented, are truly the Lord’s apostles or ambassadors; and it is only these in the minds of teachers that makes them servants of the Lord. The Lord’s calling his twelve disciples unto him spiritually means, his drawing into a most intimate connection with himself the goods and truths of his Word, and endowing them with new power to evangelize the world and regenerate the human soul. But this subject, and the explanations we have offered, cannot be rationally understood without reflecting that this relates to the Lord in his humanity. When the Lord was made flesh, and his humanity was glorified, a more intimate connection was established between himself, as the eternal Word, and the written Word, and a power from him was imparted to us truths which they did not before possess, or could not exert. There was a reason for this. When the Lord was born into the world he passed, during his sojourn in it, through all the states of human life. Especially did he, as a man, acquire a knowledge of the truths of the Word, and these, in the first instance, as apparent truths. But as he advanced in glorification, as a mere man advances in regeneration, he elevated, or called unto him, the truths which he had acquired, putting off their appearances successively, until in him they were purely divine. And having ascended through all the degrees of truth, as they are in the Word, he is now enabled to descend through them, thus giving them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out from every human mind into which the truths of his holy Word have been admitted, and to heal therein all manner of sickness, and all manner of disease. This calling of the truths of the Word unto him, and giving them power over evils and falsities, the Lord also does in every one who is regenerated; for the truths acquired from the Word, first laid up in the memory, are gradually called forth by the Lord, and elevated nearer to himself, and as they are elevated, so are they endued with power to make all things new in the mind and life of man. And so is it with the church as a body, which was also represented by the disciples. Her power to correct disorder, and introduce order into the world, is exactly in proportion, not merely to the abstract purity of her principles, but to the actual elevation they have obtained in the hearts and understandings of her members.
2-4. Now the names of the twelve apostles are these. Before we proceed to consider the reason for enumerating the apostles by name we shall offer a few remarks on their general arrangement. We have already observed that the apostles, as enumerated in the Word, form three groups, consisting each of four numbers. This general arrangement is common to all the three gospels in which the twelve are named in series.
Matthew x. 2.
- Simon and
- James and
- Philip and
- Thomas and
- James the son of Alphaeus and
- Simon the Canaanite and
- Judas Iscariot.
Mark, iii. 16.
- Simon and
- James and
- John and
- Andrew and
- Philip and
- Bartholomew and
- Matthew and
- Thomas and
- James the son of Alphaeus and
- Thaddaeus and
- Simon the Canaanite and
- Judas Iscariot.
Luke vi. 14.
- Simon and
- James and
- Philip and
- Matthew and
- James the son of Alphaeus and
- Simon Zelotes,
- Judas the brother of James and
- Judas Iscariot.
It will be seen that while the three lists differ from one another in the particular arrangement of the apostles, they all agree in this, that, taken in fours, each corresponding group consists of the same four names, and each group begins with the same name. As in the Word there is nothing accidental, there must be a purpose and a meaning in this general similarity with particular diversity. As the apostles represent all the principles of goodness and truth in the Word, and thence in the church and in the human mind, this trinal arrangement of their names may be considered to represent that trinal order in which, we know, all the goods and truths of the Word exist, which we call celestial, spiritual, and natural. There are other similarities and distinctions that may be seen in these sacred namings of the apostles. There is the general agreement among all the evangelists of placing the name of Simon first, and that of Judas last. There is also the connecting them in pairs, as it will be seen is done in Matthew and Luke, and is according to the order in which the Lord sent them forth, as recorded in Mark vi. 7. Matthew’s connecting them, and the Lord sending them forth, two and two, represented that good and truth are partners, every good having its own truth, and every truth its own good; and that they ever proceed from the Lord united, however they may be divided in their finite recipients. So naming the twelve disciples is spiritually to express the quality of the principles they represent; for in ancient times names were generally given, not as now, to distinguish one person from another, but to express something peculiar to or characteristic of the person named. To trace the connection between Scripture names, where their meaning can be determined, and the spiritual signification of the persons named, would be a most useful study, and would yield most valuable results. This has been done to some extent, in the case of the apostles, by Noble, in the Intellectual Repository for 1839, to which we must be content to refer the reader.
5 These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not:
6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
5, 6. The Gentiles to whom they should not go, stand for those who are in evils, the cities of the Samaritans for those who are in falsities, sheep for those who are in goods. A. 4169.
The way of the Gentiles into which they were not to go, signifies what is false from evil. The city of the Samaritans into which they were forbidden to enter, signifies the false doctrine of those who reject the Lord. The lost sheep of the house of Israel, signify those who are in the good of charity, and thence in faith, Israel standing for all such wheresoever they are. E. 223,
5, 6, 16. See Chapter VII., 15. E. 1154.
5, 6. After naming the apostles, the evangelist says – These twelve Jesus sent forth. In its reference to the regeneration and spiritual progress of man, this circumstance of the calling to him and sending forth his twelve apostles appears to describe that period in man’s regenerative process in which his mind has been already furnished with a sufficient store of the knowledge of goodness and truth, or of the truths of the Word, and these have been united with their proper affections in the internal man, and endued with power by conjunction with the Lord, and thus stand ready to descend into the external man, to bring this into due correspondence with them. The command which the Lord gave the twelve when he sent them forth, expresses the law of order according to which the principles which the apostles represent operate, so as to effect the objects for which they are sent forth. Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. If these directions be only looked at externally, they must appear rather singular. The Lord came into the world, among other purposes, expressly to extend to the Gentiles the privilege of admission into his church, which had long been confined to the Jews; and while on earth, Samaritan and Gentile people shared his love, attention, and approbation. Whatever reason the Lord had for this limitation of the sphere of the apostles’ labour, it was only a temporary arrangement, and can afford no ground for the charge of partiality, since the full and final command of the Lord was, to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. It is in the spiritual sense, and its individual application, we propose to consider it. In this view, the apostles, the Gentiles, the Samaritans, and the Israelites, have all reference to certain principles, powers, and faculties existing in ourselves. The apostles, we have seen, are all the principles of truth and goodness operating in our minds from the Divine Word, all the graces of heaven striving for full transmission into, and influence over the whole man. The Gentiles, when mentioned in Scripture in an unfavourable manner, and as in opposition to the Israelites, or Jews, always signify the evils belonging to the natural mind. And as in the Word, when evil is treated of, falsity is usually treated of at the same time, therefore by the Samaritans, who were the descendants of the people whom Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, planted in Samaria when he carried the Ten tribes into captivity, and who mixed with the nation, and adopted a corrupt form of the Jewish religion, are meant all the false sentiments to which the human understanding is naturally prone. But the apostles are commanded not to go into the way of the Gentiles, by which is meant not to turn aside to any false sentiment, having its origin in evil, and not to enter into any city of the Samaritans, by which is meant not to support any doctrine having its origin in false principles. But why this prohibition, if it is to be understood as relating to heavenly principles? These, in themselves can have no tendency to go out of the right course or countenance anything evil or false. But as they are in us frail and fallible creatures they may turn, or rather be turned aside by being perverted, as many truths of Scripture sometimes are, to countenance the sins and practices that are inconsistent with the principles of pure Christianity.
In this command we have the momentous direction, that on no account are the gifts of heaven to be defiled and abused. They are to be regarded as sacred in all the variations of our affections and thoughts, and preserved unsullied in all their native purity. On no account are they to be presented so as to seem to favour any evil lust which the heart is prone to, or any false persuasion which the mind is disposed to adopt. Our duty is to “go not in the way of the Gentiles, and enter not into any city of the Samaritans but to go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” By this is meant that the spiritual apostles – the reclaiming principles of goodness and truth present with us from the Word – are to be applied to the cherishing and purifying of everything in us that partakes of good of every power and faculty of our constitution into which good can enter. As the Israelites, in a general sense, are all the members of the true church, so, in a particular sense, they are all the principles and faculties in the human mind into which the graces constituent of the church in man can enter. Sheep are constantly mentioned in Scripture as types of the principle of charity, which is the same thing as goodness; for genuine charity is the affection of spiritual love, and it is what a man loves that he denominates good. All the sheep of the house of Israel are all the affections of charity or goodness which have an affinity with the principles constituent of the church in man. But those here mentioned are the lost sheep of the house of Israel; by which are meant affections of charity as existing in a state not genuine, in consequence of not being in union with genuine truth; for without the guidance and purifying efficacy of genuine truth, charity is blind natural affection, capable of being easily led astray and drawn into connection even with grievous evils. Truth, in fact, is the keeper of good – the shepherd of the sheep, without whose guardianship they wander from the fold or become scattered abroad. These lost sheep are to be reclaimed by the preaching of the gospel; our natural charity is to be made spiritual by admitting the influence and operation of the divine emanation of pure goodness and truth constantly proceeding from the Lord, and communicated to our minds through the medium of the instructions of his life-giving Word.
7 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
7 See Chapter III., 2. R. 749.
See Chapter III., 2. E. 376.
7, 9, 10. By those words was represented that they who are in goods and truths from the Lord, possess nothing of good and of truth from themselves, but that they have all good and truth from the Lord ; for by the twelve disciples were represented all who are in goods and truths from the Lord, in the abstract sense all the goods of love and the truths of faith from the Lord. Goods and truths from self and not from the Lord are signified by possessing gold, silver, brass in girdles, and by a bag. But goods and truths from the Lord are signified by a coat, a shoe and a staff. By a coat interior truth or truth from what is celestial, by a shoe exterior truth, or truth in the natural, by a staff the power of truth. But by two coats, two shoes and two staffs, are signified truths and their powers both from the Lord and from self. A. 9942.
7 When the apostles were sent forth, the first thing they were to do as they went, was to preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. How momentous and blessed the announcement of the first preaching of the gospel! And how beautifully and emphatically is here pointed out, spiritually, the first impression and impulse under which man acts in the beginning of his regeneration, and which continues to urge him on through the whole course of his progress in the heavenly life! The preaching of the apostles denotes the impressions which the truths of the Lord’s Word make upon man’s mind; it is the perception and dictate, accompanied with an impelling influence, which is felt by every one who is awakened to a sense of the importance of eternal things, calling and prompting him to attend to the things that are essential above all others to his real welfare; it is the truths which he bears, reads, and learns from the Word, accompanied with suitable affection and desire, and filled with an influence from above, continually reminding him that but one thing is needful – to provide for his eternal salvation. Hence the constant theme of this genuine preaching, is the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of heaven is the government of the Lord’s divine truth; that is, of his wisdom united with his love, as it proceeds from heaven into the human mind. This kingdom is pre-eminently heaven itself, where the Lord’s divine love and wisdom ever reign, and when received in heaven by the angels, makes heaven to be really heaven.
8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.
8 See Chapter VIII., 16, 28. R. 458.
See Chapter VIII., 16, 28. E. 586.
Resurrection from the dead, as well in a natural as in a spiritual sense, was also represented and thence signified by the dead whom the Lord raised. For all the miracles which were performed by the Lord, and also-all those which are described in the Word, involved and thence signified the holy things of heaven and the church. Hence those miracles were Divine, and were distinguished from miracles which are not Divine. Similar things are signified by its being given to the disciples to raise the dead. E. 899.
See Chapter IV., 24. E. 1001.
8 But it is not only by proclaiming these good tidings that the spiritual apostles, or the graces of heaven communicated by the Word, are commissioned to benefit us, They are to act as well as to teach; and the beneficent acts which they are empowered and enjoined to perform are expressed by the command, Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give. These, are the ills from which we are to be delivered by the ministry of the apostles, if we will accept their aid for the purpose; and whether we are aware of it or not, their assistance herein is of the most indispensable necessity to us all; for whether we are aware of it or not, we are all the subjects of those deplorable miseries. Spiritually, and by birth and inheritance, we are all sick, leprous, and dead; and being dead, we are animated by a life worse than death: we are possessed and actuated by demons. By these miseries are summarily described the selfish nature of man, or the exact state of the natural mind as it exists by birth. The term here rendered sick is one that properly means weak or infirm. Owing to the corruption which reigns in his natural mind, he is mere weakness and infirmity in regard to all that is good, and has no power to resist evil; but would, if he allowed himself to be led by his natural inclinations and prudence, surrender at the first assault; and not only so, but would yield himself up a willing slave. Man is in his natural state called a leper, because, owing to the same ingenerate corruption, he is in the continual tendency to pervert and profane the truth: for, as we have seen (viii. 2), the terrible disease called leprosy is representative of the state of profanation. In the same manner also, man is what the Scriptures call dead; he is void of all spiritual life, being alive only to the objects of sense and nature, but dead to everything of God and heaven. This is the hereditary and natural state of every one. It is being dead in trespasses and sin; for, viewed in itself, the life of the natural man is, in its real quality, a life of mere evil and of false sentiment. What a man loves supremely is his life. The ruling love which constitutes man’s life comes either from heaven or from hell. If his love or life be merely natural, and therefore evil, it connects him with the kingdom of darkness, makes him the organ of infernal influence, and he is possessed as to all the active faculties of his mind by “devils,” or, as the original expresses it, demons, by which are specifically meant those evil spirits who are in a life of false persuasions springing from evil lusts. Such is the picture of all mankind as they actually are in themselves, as drawn by him who knows the heart, and who has declared that it is naturally deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. But the Lord only portrays this state that we may be delivered from it, and restored to life and health. He sends forth from himself agencies for our deliverance from the ills under which we labour, and for our restoration to a state of soundness and true enjoyment. He has given his Word, wherein is laid open the path of salvation. He has endowed us with faculties for receiving its divine truths; and as we yield to his leading, He accompanies those with a living influence from himself. These are the living and active apostles whom he sends forth to purify us from our corruptions, and restore us to the order into and for which we were created. These living agents he empowers and employs to heal the sick, to cleanse the lepers, to raise the dead, to cast out devils. By this means be bestows upon us the power of resisting evil, and of receiving truth without perverting or profaning it; he raises us from the death of our natural corruptions, and casts out those principles and agents of living death which, by an influx from the lower world, cause us to regard such death as life.
9 Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses,
10 Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat.
9 Jesus said to His disciples, whom He sent forth to preach the gospel, that they should not provide gold,, nor silver, nor brass in their purses, by which was represented that they should have nothing of good and truth from themselves, but from the Lord alone, and that all things should be given them freely. Gold signifies the good of love. E. 242.
9, 10. All the particulars here are representative of the celestial and spiritual things of the Lord’s kingdom, which the disciples were sent to preach. That they were not to take gold, silver, brass, scrip, nor bread with them, was because those things signified goods and truths which are from the Lord alone ; gold signifying good, silver truth therefrom, brass natural good, bread the good of love, or celestial good. But the coat, sandal, and shoe signified the truths with which they were clothed, and the staff the power of truth from good. A coat is interior natural truth, and because these things ought not to be double, but single, it was forbidden to have two staves, two pairs of shoes, two coats. A. 4677.
9 When the Lord commanded his apostles to take neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in their purses, his meaning, in a general sense, is that nothing of their own was to be mixed with what was from him. Gold, silver, and brass are the three kinds or degrees of love and goodness of which man is receptive from the Lord, – gold expressing the highest degree of pure goodness or love, which is love to the Lord, silver, pure spiritual truth, which in itself is love to the neighbour; and brass, natural good, which is the good of obedience and which may be otherwise expressed as charity, faith, and good works. To have these in our purses is to have and claim these things as our own, and not depend upon the Lord as their Source and Giver. Besides, gold, silver, and brass in purses do not represent the graces of charity, faith, and good works as living and quickening principles, but only as knowledge in the memory, of which faculty a purse, like any other similar receptacle, is the symbol.
10 Neither were they to have scrip for their journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor get slaves. The scrip was a bag for carrying food. They were not only to take with them no money, but no food or extra clothing. Food is the symbol of the good which supports the soul, clothing, of the truth which protects it, and the staff, of the ultimate power on which it rests. Here, again, there are three things not to be taken, – food, clothing a staff; representing things that belong to the will, to the understanding, and to the outward life. The prohibition implying that nothing that ministers to the life of either must be self- derived, being derived solely from the Lord, whose gifts and graces are to be preserved single, unmixed with anything of our own. In this simple injunction surely all Christians may see there must have been some other than the mere literal meaning, since this law, literally interpreted, is seen to be not now applicable to the preachers of the gospel. Yet how beautifully instructive is it in its spiritual sense, and how true is it in that sense, since nothing is more necessary to the members of the church, and to the minister of the gospel, than simplicity of character and a single eye to the Lord’s glory in all the labours of the Christian life! The Lord, while he prohibits the disciples from taking their scrip, teaches them to depend on their labour for their daily bread – for the workman is worthy of his meat. In spiritual and heavenly thing labour is its own reward. We acquire good by doing good. Use is the channel through which the Lord supplies us with the bread of life. So the Lord testifies of himself: My meat is to do the will of him that sent me.”
11 And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence.
12 And when ye come into an house, salute it.
13 And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you.
11-15. Peace be unto you, was the Lord’s salutation to His disciples, thus the Divine salutation, and by the Lord’s command it was the salutation of the disciples to all to whom they should enter in. R. 12.
From innocence the Lord is called a lamb and from peace He says, Peace I leave you : my peace I give your (John xiv. 27) and He is also meant by the peace with which the disciples were to salute a city or a house which they entered, and of which it is said, that if it were worthy, peace would come upon it, and if not worthy, peace would return. M. 394.
12-14. By peace are signified all the things in the complex which are from the Lord, and thence all things-of heaven and the church, and the blessedness of life in them. These are of peace in the highest or inmost sense. It follows from this, that charity, spiritual security and internal rest are peace. R. 306.
The state of peace into which men are to come from the Lord is treated of in Isaiah Ixv. and Ixvi. T. 303.
By the disciples being commanded to say, Peace be ta this house, is signified, that they should acquaint themselves whether they who were therein received the Lord,, preached the gospel concerning the Lord, and thence concerning heaven, celestial joy and eternal life, for all these things are signified by peace. They who receive them are signified by the sons of peace, upon whom the peace should rest; but that it should be taken away from’ those who would not acknowledge the Lord, and lest in-such case they should suffer hurt from the evils and falsities which were in that house, or in that city, it was commanded that when they departed, they should shake off the dust of their feet, by which is signified lest what was-cursed should thence adhere to them, for by the dust of the feet is signified what is cursed. E. 365,
14 Because dust signified those that did not regard spiritual and celestial things, but those of the body and the earth, the disciples were commanded by the Lord, that if a city or house was not worthy, they should shake off the dust of their feet. That dust signifies what is damned and infernal may be seen in Genesis iii. 19. A. 249.
The dust of the feet has a signification like that of the shoe, namely uncleanness from evil and falsity, because the sole of the foot is the ultimate natural. They were commanded to shake off the dust, because they were at that time in representatives, and thought that heavenly arcana were stored up in these alone, and not in naked truths. A. 1748.
Travelling and journeying signified what relates to instruction, and thence to life, and these were to be purified, lest the filth understood in the spiritual sense should adhere, and defile the house, that is, the man. A. 3148.
That dust signified what is condemned is because the earth over the hells in the spiritual world consists of mere dust, without grass or herbage. R. 788.
11 While the apostles were enjoined to attend to those rules that were necessary to qualify them for being suitable agents for preaching the gospel, they were also required to attend to certain rules in regard to those to whom they were sent. Into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, inquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence. Cities are constantly mentioned in the Word to signify doctrine, because it is always in some general principles, assumed as positive truths or settled conclusions, which are matters of doctrine, that the mind, and every distinct faculty in it, feels at home. And when, as here cities and towns (or villages) are mentioned, cities denote what is interior and principal, and villages what is respectively exterior and subordinate. A city symbolizes the mind itself, especially the intellectual faculty, in which all the affections and thoughts, as its living inhabitants, are contained. To this the apostles are to come, and they are to inquire who in it is worthy. Understanding this in relation to the mind itself, we are instructed that in the work of regeneration we are to seek to embody our principles in suitable and worthy forms of doctrine and life. To be more precise, when we seek to bring down the holy truths and goods from the inner into the outer man, we are to examine ourselves to see that they enter into worthy thoughts and affections, which will afford them a habitation suitable to their heavenly character, and a centre from which they can extend their influence and operation in all directions outward. And who are these worthy ones that are thus to be selected from the general mass? In every mind, as in every land, God has reserved a witness for himself. There is some good ground in every heart. Not, indeed, by birth has man this witness and ground in himself; but it is of providence that every human being shall receive the faculty of understanding and loving the good and truth of heaven – a faculty which is formed by the Divine operation upon the soul during the innocence of infancy and youth, and preserved by the Spirit of God in every subsequent period of life. In every faculty and principle of the human mind, both interior and exterior, there is something that is of the Lord. Every part of the human mind, by virtue of creation, is good, however it may have been perverted and misapplied; every one has a proper use; and in its use the Lord can be present and his apostles received. That which is worthy in any faculty of the human mind must be the end for which, when man was created, such a faculty was bestowed upon him, – it must be the proper use of the faculty, separate from the abuse of it; and there can be nothing in the whole man either in his mind or body, which has not a proper use belonging to it. It is even indubitable that no evil can be committed by man but by the exercise of power entrusted to him for a nobler purpose. It is the perversion of something which by creation is good, and to which a proper use is annexed; whereas when use is drily regarded, the faculty is restored to order, it is the abode of such heavenly principles as are represented by the apostles, and is made co-operative with them and by them for conducing to man’s eternal benefit. It is in the proper use of the faculty that the apostles are to abide till they go thence. This abiding, or dwelling, has always reference to a state of good, and confirmation in it. To abide till they go thence means that the heavenly principles must continue their, presence in every recipient faculty or principle till a state of good is completed and confirmed, and are thence to proceed into use in good deeds. For it is not the purpose of the Lord that good should be confined to one faculty of the mind, or be locked up in the heart, but that it should pervade the mind, and extend itself to the outermost activities of man’s life, The apostles are to go through the cities of Israel, and everywhere do the will of their divine Master.
The apostles received the command, And when ye come into an house, salute it. As the city has relation to the intellectual part of the mind, the house has more especial relation to the will. The salutation refers, therefore, to the exploration which the sacred principles of goodness and truth are to make in the affections of the will. The salutation which was used, as we learn from Luke, was, “Peace be to this house.” How heavenly and happy this gospel salutation! Yes, peace is the wish and aim of the gospel, and such should be the spirit and end of its propagation. The principles of heaven, as they flow into the human mind, bring this heavenly sphere with them. The Lord’s “doctrine drops as the rain, his speech distills as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass.” “The wisdom that cometh from above is peaceful, gentle, meek.” But not only is the message one of peace, but when it gives its peaceful salutation, it desires to receive an answer of peace. “If the house be worthy,” says the Lord to his apostles, “let your peace come upon it.” Its worthiness is expressed in Luke by, “If the son of peace be there.” It appears from this, that heavenly peace, to be received, must find the son of peace already in the recipient mind. But whence is this pre-existing element? We have had frequent occasion to remark that the Lord, when he comes to man as his Regenerator, comes to complete a work which he has already begun – to call out those latent affections and perceptions which he has already produced and laid up in the heart and understanding as the germs of the heavenly life. Without these there could be no ground of reception, no sympathetic feeling, no reciprocating thought, no answering voice to the heavenly salutation. The son of peace must already be there, to make the home worthy, before the heavenly messengers can enter and take up their abode. And what is this son of peace but the perception which is the offspring of the peace and innocence of childhood, He that would enter into the kingdom of heaven must become a little child. Regeneration changes the innocence and peace of ignorance into the innocence and peace of wisdom.
The first peace is that to which the second appeals – is that which must give the welcome, and with which alone it can abide. In the mind without this, there can be no tarrying.
13 If the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it. The peace of the apostles coming upon the house which was worthy, wherein was the son of peace, describes the imparting of spiritual peace to the will in which there is reciprocating natural peace; for the good qualities of the mind before actual regeneration, though in themselves spiritual, are naturally apprehended and loved. They do not constitute the kingdom of heaven, but only bestow the faculty of acquiring it, the stems on which its principles may be grafted. But if the house be not worthy, let your peace return to you. A principle of the utmost importance, and a lesson of the greatest moment, are contained in this rather singular injunction. If spiritual principles are allowed to enter into natural principles that are not in harmony or correspondence with them, they become weakened and finally dissipated, since it is a law of influx, that life is modified and even changed by the forms into which it flows. Goodness and truth, as they flow from the internal can only find their proper abode in honesty and decorum in the external. If these are not found, the heavenly principles must return to the internal, till they find suitable receptacles for them in the natural man. For the meaning of the Lord’s words is, not that this return of peace into their own bosom was to be permanent, but only till a worthy house was found for their reception.
14 And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.
15 Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.
15 Dust is what is damned, because the places .where evil spirits are, at the sides beneath the soles of the feet, appear as earth, and such as is untilled and dry, under which are certain hells. Hence it is that by dust is signified what is damned, and by shaking off the dust, condemnation. A. 7418.
That Sodom is the love of ruling from the love of self, is evident from-the description of Sodom in Moses (the Pentateuch). R. 502.
The Lord said the same things (about Sodom and Gomorrah) concerning the cities in which the disciples preached His advent or gospel, and were not received, for no one rejects the holy things of the church, and denies the Divine of the Lord inwardly but those who are in the love of self. The same is said concerning the prophets, and the people who adulterate the truths and goods of the Word to confirm evils and falses. E. 653.
14 A contingency of a more general and of a more serious character, involving a rejection of a more aggravated kind, and demanding a more solemn protest against it, is now spoken of. And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake of the dust of your feet. In the instances of unworthy persons already mentioned, there is nothing said of their refusing to receive the apostles into their houses; but only of the unfitness of these holy men being their guests. The Lord now speaks of those who will not receive them, nor even hear their words. We have seen that the inquiry of the apostles, as to who in a city or house is worthy, is intended to teach us that it is necessary carefully to scrutinize the character of the doctrinal sentiments and moral principles that have entered the external part of our minds from the world, and to do this under the influence of higher principles and the direction of a higher intelligence, before we allow the spiritual to enter into the natural, and “there abide.” The refusal being in the present case on the part of the householders and citizens, we are to understand not only incongruity, but a moral hostility on the part of the external man or natural mind. Such a condition of the whole of the natural mind is not to be supposed; for only some of the cities and houses visited are assumed to be hostile. It is possible for the natural mind generally to be debased, and yet the voice of the inquiring apostle to be heard asking who in it is worthy; for heaven sometimes speaks through the conscience of the sinner even when he is meditating the darkest crimes. But this is not the state represented here. The apostles are here going not only on a mission of saving mercy, but on a journey of spiritual progression. And it is possible that they may find in their progress not only unworthy but hostile inhabitants among those they seek to benefit. Do not all of us imbibe from the world, and more or less adopt as our own, intellectual doctrines and moral principles that are directly opposed to the truths and goods of religion? A different duty is imposed on the disciples in regard to these; from that which is laid upon them. With respect to the unworthy. They are not simply to let their peace return to them, but they are to shake off the dust of their feet. This, in Mark vi. 11, is commanded to be done for a testimony against them. The literal sense speaks of judgment and retaliation, but the spiritual sense, of the defence and preservation of what is good and true. The apostles were to shake the dust off their feet, to prevent it from adhering to and defiling them. Dust signifies what is in the lowest degree earthly. Since the fall, dust has been the serpent’s meat the sensual man, and the sensual principle in man, have no higher than earthly aims and satisfactions. The lesson our Lord designed to teach us by his command to the disciples is this, that if we find in our natural will and understanding any sensual inclination or sentiment that is directly opposed to our spiritual principles, we must not allow it to cleave to them, but must shake it off – separate it from all connection with the spiritual principle within – nor allow it to affect our life and practice, which are especially the part of the new man which must be preserved free from all contamination from the world and the flesh.
15 Speaking of the cities that should refuse to receive the disciples, the Lord says, Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment than for that city. Those who sin against the clear light of revelation are more guilty, and will bring upon themselves greater condemnation, than those who sin against the dim light of tradition. But this declaration of our Lord has a more interior meaning. Every one may see that a whole city could not be condemned because they did not receive the disciples, and instantly acknowledge the new doctrine which they preached. By Sodom and Gomorrah are meant those who are in evil of life, but have known nothing of the Lord and of the Word; while by the house or city which would not receive the disciples are meant those who are within the church, but do not live according to the truth. In a more particular application, the Lord’s words relate to the members of his church individually, and to a judgment which takes place within them. Their day of judgment is the time of separation between good and evil in their own minds, with the condemnation and rejection of the evil, and the approval and confirmation of the good. In this judgment the deeper evils must be the subjects of a severer condemnation. Those that belong to early life, which may be considered as sins of ignorance, are less grievous than those committed at a more advanced age, when the mind is more enlightened. As it is necessary for us to judge ourselves, that we may not be judged, we must, if we would escape final condemnation, bring our own evils into judgment, and subject them to the condemnation of divine truth.
16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
16 By the serpent, among the ancients who were celestial men, circumspection was signified, and thus also the sensual faculty, by virtue of which they were circumspect lest they should be injured by evils. A. 197.
See Chapter VII., 15. A. 3900.
Prudence and circumspection, in externals, is signified by serpents in Matthew. A. 6398.
Because they (the angels) love nothing more than to be led of the Lord, and attribute all things they have received to Him, they are removed from what is of themselves; and as far as they are removed of what is from themselves, so far the Lord flows in. Hence it is that whatever things they hear from Him, whether by means of the Word or by that of preaching, they do not lay up in the memory, but immediately obey, that is, will and do them. The will is itself their memory. These for the most part appear simple in outward form, but they are wise and prudent inwardly. They are those who are meant by the Lord in verse 16. H. 278.
The ancients called a sensual man a serpent, and as such a man is shrewd, crafty and an ingenious reasoner above others, therefore it is said in Genesis iii. i and the Lord says in Matthew x. 16. P. 310.
Sensual men are crafty and cunning as foxes, the Lord therefore says, Be ye prudent as serpents’, for the sensual man speaks and reasons from appearances and fallacies, he knows how to confirm every falsity shrewdly, and also the heresy about faith alone, and still is so dull in the power of seeing truth, that it is scarcely possible to be duller. R. 455.
That by serpents in the Word is signified the sensual man, his prudence and subtilty, is evident from the words of the Lord. They are called wise or prudent who are principled in good, and they are called subtle who are principled in evil, for prudence is of truth derived from good, and subtilty is of the falsity derived from evil. Since these words were spoken to those who were in truths derived from good, therefore by serpents, as here mentioned, is understood prudence. E. 581.
16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the, midst of wolves. The sheep are the principles of charity in the spiritual mind, and the wolves are the lusts of evil in the natural mind. This and the whole history of the opposition and persecution which the disciples were, to experience from the world, to which they were sent on a mission of peace, is strikingly true as all outward representation or type of the enmity that exists in our own natural mind against the spiritual. The labour of regeneration consists in bringing the natural mind into obedience to the spiritual. The necessity for this, the way in which it is to be effected, and the conflicts and trials with which it is attended, as described by corresponding circumstances in the experience of the disciples, are most interesting and instructive to those at least who are following the Lord in the regeneration. The spiritual principles which the Lord implants in the inner man are truly like sheep in the midst of wolves, when they first descend into the external, for the purpose of making this an image of itself. It is not, however, until good comes into actual contact with evil, that the malignity of the evil, as the opposite and enemy of goodness, is fully exhibited. And as evil works by means of what is false, it is as cunning as it is malignant. That they may be prepared to meet this opposition without being overcome by it, the Lord exhorts them in the memorable words, Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. How worthy was such in advice of Him who is Wisdom itself and Goodness itself, and in whom, and in all whose works, these attributes are perfectly united. The Christian, whether contending with evil in the world or in himself, is to aim at uniting these two elements of a perfect character. The union of wisdom and simplicity is the surest means of success, as well is of defence, against the evils that assail us in our upward course. But the wisdom of the serpent is, in a more specific sense, that which the children of this world so largely possess, and which makes them wiser in their generation than the children of light. In the Word the serpent is emblematical of the sensual part or principle of man’s nature, – that which is most external, and by which he communicates immediately with the world. The serpent is in consequence the emblem of circumspection, which man exercises through the sensual principle of his nature. The sensual principle performs the same office to the mind that the senses do to the body, which act as sentinels to guard the avenues to the seats of life, to warn them against evil, as well as to minister to them for their good. It was through the sensual principle, meant by the serpent, that man was betrayed to his fall, and it was through this principle also that he was redeemed and provided with the means of restoration. “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John iii. 14). It was by assuming and glorifying the sensual principle of human nature that the Lord can regenerate man even as to this principle. And it is through this principle, now glorified, that the Lord exercises divine circumspection over the human race, and protects them from the cunning and malice of their spiritual enemies. When, therefore, he exhorted his disciples to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves, he exhorted them to be in this, as in everything else, imitators and images of himself.
17 But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues;
18 And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.
19 But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.
17 See Chapter IV., 23. E. 120.
17, 18. By the disciples of the Lord are understood all who are in truths from good derived from the Lord, and in an abstract sense the truths themselves from good. By their being cast into prison by the devil is understood the endeavour of those who are in falsities from evil to deprive them of truths, and in the abstract a detention or imprisonment of truths by falsities. E. 122.
17 The Lord proceeds to show the necessity that would arise for the exercise of this wisdom. Beware of men; for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you by their synagogues. As the distinguishing facility of man is reason, natural men specifically signify, in relation to ourselves, natural reason. The disciples are exhorted to beware of men, to teach the Christian disciple that the greatest danger he has to encounter is from the opposition of his own natural reason to the truth of the Word and religion. The subtle reasonings of the natural mind are as the Pharisees and Sadducees, who contrived ingenious devices to entangle in his talk him who was the Word and the Truth itself and from whose sensual and subtle reasonings the Lord called them a generation of vipers. This reasoning character of the “men” of whom the disciples were to beware is indicated in the Lord’s words, – they will deliver you up to the councils;” for what are those councils to whom the disciples were to be delivered up, but those reasonings by which the natural-rational man tries to invalidate the truth of the spiritual man, and give a show of judgment and justice to its premeditated condemnation? As the award of their seemingly impartial and dispassionate but unjust judgments, the disciples were to be scoured in their accusers synagogues – indicating that good and truth are often subjected to violence under the influence of superstition or in the name of religion. For the natural man and the natural mind have their religion as well as the spiritual; and we know, both from history and experience, that conventional religion not unfrequently comes into conflict with that which is universal and essential, and makes men, by no very remote figure, scourge the disciples in their synagogues, – since all false doctrines of the church and religion, which these synagogues of Satan signify, oppose the divine truths of the Word, which is meant by scourging the disciples. But there is a synagogue in ourselves in which the disciples may be scourged. Every man has a religious principle of his own, which has its root in his self-love, and is supported, even when not confirmed, by his own self-intelligence and his synagogue is that spurious or false conscience in which his religion finds its sanctuary and its worship. Here the truth may be scourged, and is scourged when it is presented.
18 Besides the religious, there is a worldly side of men’s opposition to the truth. After telling the disciples that they would be scourged in the synagogues, the Lord adds, – And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. When in an orderly state, governors and kings signify governing principles of goodness and truth; but here they denote evils and falsities opposed to good and truth. The opposition here spoken of is that which evils and falsities, originating in worldly love, offer to the Christian principles that originate in the Lord’s humanity – that is, to the Lord’s government in the heart and mind. The disciples were to be brought before kings and governors, for a witness to them and the Gentiles. The Jews and the Gentiles were those within and those out of the church, and represented those principles in us that are acquired and those that are natural. The disciples witnessing to them of Jesus, is a communication of the divine truth and its influence to the intellectual and moral principles of the natural man, and is one of the leading uses of the operation of the internal upon the external man. The Lord said of himself, that for this end he came into the world, that he might bear witness unto the truth. And the witness of him is the witness of the truth. But what is the truth that is thus witnessed? It is the truth that exposes and condemns evil, and that teaches the good that is to be introduced in its place. The witness of Jesus is the testimony which the Word bears to the Lord in his humanity – the great truth that comprehends all salvation in itself.
20 For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.
- The spirit of my Father speaks in you. D. P., Page 62.
19, 20. But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. There was, no doubt, with the apostles in their teaching the presence of a divine influence not given to ordinary men; but the present promise had reference to extraordinary occasions. This was the promise rather of inspiration than enlightenment. And no better idea of the inspiration by which the Word was given can be obtained than the Lord’s words express: it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. It is somewhat surprising it should be believed that the apostles should be gifted with this plenary inspiration when they testified of their Lord before kings and governors, and that they should be left partly, if not wholly, to themselves when writing the sacred truths of the gospel for the use of the church in all future ages of the world. No just idea of the Scriptures as the Word of God can be obtained but by admitting the fact, that the sacred writers wrote not from guidance, but from the Spirit of the Lord. In regard to the spiritual sense of these words; when divine principles are brought to the bar of human opinion, in the world or in the individual mind, as the disciples were before kings and governors, it is for the purpose of exhibiting to the understanding the purely spiritual and heavenly – nay, the divine, character of the principles which the Lord has implanted in the inner man, and of causing their power to be felt and their authority to be acknowledged both by the ruling affections and thoughts of the natural mind – the governors and kings – and by the common and subordinate principles, which are the nations over whom the kings bear rule. The injunction to the disciples to take no thought, not to be anxious or solicitous, about what they should speak, implies the absence of man’s own will, and also of his own wisdom, in such a case. For so far as our own will and wisdom enter into the witness we bear to the truth, so far it fails to produce its desired effect-conviction. The Spirit of our Father is the truth that is from love; and as this is the spirit that is constantly flowing into the heart and mind of every one that will receive it, so should we endeavour to allow it to have free course to run and be glorified, preserving it, as far as our frailty admits, pure and inviolate. Such should be our inward desire. But the very purity and spirituality of the principles of the new life, as they exist in the inner man must, as a necessary consequence, excite the greater opposition to them in the outer man, when they descend into the natural mind for the purpose of bringing it into order. Therefore the Lord proceeds further to say –
21 And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.
22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.
21 The disagreement of the internal and external man is described. In the internal sense man stands for the good which is from the Lord, father signifies the evil which is from the proprium of man, daughter the affection of good and truth, mother the affection of what is evil and false. Who does not see that these words are to be understood otherwise than according to the letter? Especially from this consideration, that it is said without restriction, that a father, a mother, a wife, children, brethren, sisters, are to be hated, before any one can be a disciple of the Lord, when yet it is a precept of the Lord’s that no one is to be hated. That things proper to man which are evils and falses in their order, are meant by the above names is evident. A. 10490.
They who are in the truths of doctrine from the Word, and abstractly the truths themselves, are meant by sons.
R. 543. By parents, brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends are not understood such persons literally, nor by disciples, disciples, but the goods and truths of the church, also evils and falsities, and that evil will extinguish goods, .and falsity truths. E. 366.
By the names of consanguinities, affinities, and kindreds in the Word are understood consanguinities, affinities, and kindreds in a spiritual sense. That the father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father, signifies that evil will fight against truth, and truth against evil, the father there signifying the evil, which is the proprium of man, and the son the truth which man has from the Lord. E. 724.
22, 35-37. Most expressions in the Word have also an opposite sense, so also has father, and in this sense it signifies evil, and in like manner mother, which in the genuine sense signifies truth, in the opposite sense falsity. A. 3703.
23 For my name’s sake, plainly means for the sake of His doctrine. A. 2009.
See Chapter VI., 9. A. 2724.
The name of the Lord is everything of faith and love, by which the Lord is to be worshipped. A. 6674.
See Chapter VII., 22. P. 230.
That he who is once converted must remain in what is good and true to the end of life, the Lord teaches. P. 231.
By the name of Jehovah, or of the Lord, in the Word, is not meant His name, but everything by which He is worshipped, and because He is worshipped according to the doctrine in the church, by His name the all of doctrine is meant, and in a universal sense the all of religion. R. 81.
See Chapter VII., 22. R. 839.
The name of the Lord does not mean His name only, but the acknowledgment of Him as being the Redeemer and Saviour, together with obedience, and finally faith in Him. T. 682.
By the name of the Lord in the Word are understood all things of love and of faith by which He is worshipped. E. 102.
21 And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. There are here three different kinds of opposition. Brother against brother is falsity against truth, the father against the son is evil against truth, and the children against their parents are falsities against goods. The enmity between these is described as being carried out even to the death of the good and true that is, to their extinction. In those who are being regenerated this does not involve the idea of actual extinction, but the extreme of conflict, in which death is the means of life, the passage into the new life, the true resurrection. This enmity of the natural to the spiritual is so great that the disciples themselves are spoken of as suffering the extreme of human dislike.
22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. This is expressive of a repugnance of the whole natural mind to the principles of heavenly truth and good, or a conflict in which all the selfhood is exercised in opposition to what is the Lord’s in the mind. It is promised, however, that he that endureth to the end shall be saved, which means that those spiritual principles that do not yield in temptation shall become confirmed principles of both the inward and outward life. This is to be saved for what is salvation but the Lord’s saving principles of love and truth wrought into the mind by persevering steadfastness in faith and obedience against all the allurements and temptations that our own corrupt selfhood can use to draw us away from the path of duty. But, to be able to persevere unto the end, we must have wisdom as well as harmlessness and fortitude. The serpent must direct while the dove must influence.
23 But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.
23 Here by city is understood the doctrine of what is false originating in evil, and that where this exists, the doctrine of truth would not be admitted. E. 223.
23, 42- See Chapter V., 18, 26. R. 23.
See Chapter V., 18, 26. E. 228.
23 When they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another. Clowes, on this passage, which he renders, “When they persecute you in this city, flee into the other,” remarks, -“The internal meaning appears to be this, that when man is opposed in the doctrine of faith, he ought to take refuge in the doctrine of charity and when he is opposed in the latter, he should take refuge in the former: in other words, when he is opposed in truth, he should flee to good and when opposed in good, he should seek refuge in truth. This alternation is of the Divine Providence, and is probably intended for the perfecting of each principle in the regenerate, since without it man might be induced to rest in one principle separate from the other, or to cherish one at the expense of the other; whereas the end of regeneration is, they should be both distinctly perfected and both distinctly conjoined.” The Lord gives a reason for the disciples fleeing from one city to another, Verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel till the Son of man be come.” According to the literal sense, this is generally understood to mean that before the disciples had been persecuted in every city, the Lord would have come as an avenger in the destruction of Jerusalem. In the internal historical sense it means that the days of persecution and of the Jewish church should be shortened, not as a work of vengeance, but of love; for unless those days should be shortened there should no flesh be saved. No church or religious age is allowed to come naturally to a full end; for if it should, there would be no possibility, because no means of forming a new one, which must be raised up out of the remains of the old. That a remnant may be saved, to become the initialment of a new church, the days of every expiring church must be hastened by the performance of a judgment upon it, signified by the Son of man coming before the disciples had gone over the cities of Israel, before the church had completed its consummation, by extinguishing every principle of good and truth. In the internal sense, in which it relates to the work of regeneration, it may, when applied to the doctrinals of the church signified by the cities of Israel, denote the consummation and perfecting of those doctrinals; and in proportion as this is effected, the Son of man comes, or, what is the same thing, divine truth is manifested.
24 The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.
25 It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?
24, 25. By these words, in their widest sense is understood, that man shall not compare himself to the Lord, and that it is sufficient for him that all that he has, he has from the Lord, and then the disciple is as his master, and the servant as the Lord, for then the Lord is in him and causes him to will good and to think truth. He is called a disciple from good, and a servant from truth. E. 409.
24, 25. The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. This truth was uttered for the immediate purpose of reconciling the disciples to the treatment they were to receive it the hands of those whom they were sent to bless with the tidings of joy and peace, knowing that their Lord and Master had been treated no better than themselves. But the Lord’s declaration is not to be understood as being limited to his immediate disciples, but as applicable to those of all times. In a universal sense it signifies that man ought not to make himself equal with the Lord, but that it is sufficient for him that he has everything that be possesses from him, – and thus the disciple is as his master, and the servant as his lord; for the Lord is in him, and enables him to will what is good and think what is trite. The case is similar in the particular sense, as relating to any individual man who is led of the Lord; the external or natural man in such a person is a disciple and servant, and the internal or spiritual man is a master and lord; and when the external or natural man serves the internal or spiritual by obeying and effecting, then he also is a master and lord, for they act in unity, as it is said of the principal and instrumental causes that they act as one cause. This particular sense coincides with the universal sense, that when the spiritual and natural act in unity, then the Lord himself acts; for the spiritual man acts nothing of himself, but when he acts, he acts solely from the Lord; for so far as the spiritual man or mind is open into heaven, so far he does not act from himself, but from the Lord. And as disciple and master, servant and lord, have reference to good and truth, or will and understanding, we are instructed that as the interior things of the will and understanding suffer from the opposition of the loves of self and the world in the natural mind, so must exterior things suffer also. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household? The master of the house is the ruling principle of the mind: to call him Beelzebub is to oppose and endeavour to pervert, essential principles; for to call the Lord Beelzebub was in the highest possible degree to call good evil, and light darkness. And those who thus pervert the primary things of good and truth, much more will they pervert their secondary things, which are them of the household.
26 Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.
27 What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops.
26 That the evil before they are condemned and let down into hell undergo many states, is altogether unknown in the world. It is believed that man is at once either condemned or saved, and that this is effected without any process, but the case is otherwise. Justice reigns there, and no one is condemned until he himself knows, and this by interior conviction, that he is in evil, and that it is impossible for him to be in heaven. His own evils are also laid open to him, according to the words of the Lord. A. 7795.
26, 27. Whether works are from the Lord or from man cannot be distinguished by any one in the world, as both appear alike in external form. They are distinguished solely by the Lord ; and after man’s life in the world is finished it is discovered from what origin they are. E. 794.
26 Fear them not therefore for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. The disciple is not to fear his persecutors. This does not exhort them to have confidence in themselves, but to have confidence in the Lord. The Christian is like the Israelite, – he is not to fear his enemies, however strong and numerous they may be; for it is the Lord that fights for him, and delivers him, and gives him the victory. Fear indicates that the disciple is one of little faith. The reason the Lord gives for dismissing fear is that “there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.” This is a universal truth with regard to man – the secrets of all hearts shall be revealed in the eternal world, and all outward disguises shall be stripped off, and everything, even the darkest and most hidden thoughts and intentions, come into open day. So, correspondingly everything covered and hidden shall be brought to light in our own minds; and nothing in the minds of the regenerate shall remain covered or concealed by the fallacies of the senses, or falsities, but everything shall be brought under the influence of the light of truth, and its true value be revealed. In a more interior degree the remains of goodness and truth shall be uncovered and brought into manifestation, to the succour of the heavenly principles that act upon the outer mind, in the interiors of which those remains are stored up and concealed till the regeneration brings them forth for use.
27 The result of thus uncovering what is evil and false on the one hand, and what is good and true on the other, is spoken of. What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. What the Lord speaks to his disciples in darkness is the truth which he reveals interiorly to their understandings, and what they hear in the ear is the good which they receive interiorly in their wills. What is given in the interior is obscurely seen and indistinctly felt, and only becomes clear and sensible when it comes forth into the understanding and will of the national faculty of the mind. This meaning appears plain from the same words, used on a different occasion and for a different purpose, in Luke xii. 3, where we have an additional clause, that serves as a key to the explanation,- “that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.” The closets are the interiors of the mind, and, relatively to them, the housetops are the exteriors on which there is manifestation. So with regard to light, “Light does not exist in wisdom itself, but in the thought of the understanding, and thence in speech,” just as heat does not exist in love itself, but from it in the will, and thence in the body. Love and wisdom are the essence of heat and light; heat and light are things proceeding. The Lord is said to dwell in the thick darkness, not only because he is in his own essential nature incomprehensible, but also because he is so to the mind in its highest habitation. The teachings of the Lord through the inner man come first as whisperings in the ear and mutterings in the darkness and it is not till they descend into the will and thought that they become sonorous and intelligible, perceptible and communicable. In the upper regions of the atmosphere sound is tacit, and light is imperceptible; it is when they descend into the lower air that sound becomes audible and light truly visible. The true preacher, like the true disciple, is one who receives from his Master impressions and ideas, faint in their outline, but pregnant with meaning, – souls not yet clothed with bodies, ideas not yet formed into visible images. These he brings down into the region of conscious feeling and distinctive thought, and there gives them intellectual form and moral expression, and, clothing them in intelligible language, makes them perceptible to others. What he hears in the darkness he speaks in the light; what he hears in the ear he proclaims upon the housetops. But the disciple is to be a teacher to himself as well as to others; and what he has learnt from his Lord he is to proclaim in deeds as well as in words. He must bring forth the inward dictates of divine truth clearly into the thoughts of his own understanding, and the inmost impressions of divine love into the affections of his own will, and must thus bring them out into manifestation in his own life and conversation, that we may see his good works, and glorify Him who is their true Author.
28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.
28 Here also fearing God involves worshipping from some fear, because fear drove them to obedience. A. 2826.
When therefore in the beginning they (the simple-minded and children) from fear, dare not do evil, there is introduced in succession love with good, and then they begin to know and to perceive that nothing but good is from God, and that evil is from themselves, and at length that all evil is from hell. A. 6071.
The soul stands for the spiritual life of man, which life is of his spirit after death. To slay the soul, to lose the soul, to destroy the soul, is to die spiritually or to be condemned. A. 7021.
Here it is said of God that He is to be feared, because He is able to destroy body and soul in Gehenna, when yet He destroys no one. Nevertheless this is a truth, and therefore it is not to be extinguished, that is denied, for if it is denied faith in the Word perishes, and if faith in the Word perishes, man cannot spiritually live, for man has spiritual life through faith out of the Word. The case herein is this : it is a law of Divine order that good should have in itself a recompense, thus heaven. Therefore it is that evil has in itself its punishment, thus hell. The former law is from the Lord, because the Lord wills good to all, but the latter law not so, because the Lord wills evil to no one. But still it so comes about, not from the Lord, but from man who is in evil, consequently from evil. Yet this is attributed to the Lord in the sense of the letter of the Word, because it so appears. Therefore because it is apparent truth, it must not be denied, that is, extinguished, for thus faith in favor of the Word would be extinguished, which faith belongs to the simple. A. 9033.
By fearing in this passage is signified the fear of spiritual death, consequently natural fear, which is fearfulness and dread ; but spiritual fear is holy fear which is inwardly in all spiritual love, and is various according to the quality of the love and according to the quantity thereof. In this fear the spiritual man is principled. E. 696.
The soul signifies the life of the spirit of man, which is called his spiritual life. E. 750.
28 In laying this duty on his disciples the Lord speaks of two opposing influences that would act upon them – one from the world and one from, himself – and exhorts them accordingly. And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. We are to act, not with the fear of men, but with the fear of God before our eyes. The power of man extends only to the body, that of God to soul and body alike. But the literal sense of these words express an apparent, not a real truth. God destroys not the soul in hell, and the material body in all alike is killed by death, and survives not beyond the grave. Its spiritual sense is that which discloses the true meaning and real force of this rather singular declaration. Soul and body are predicated of the spirit, and signify the internal and the external man, which are indeed as soul and body to each other. In the spiritual sense him we are to fear does not mean the Divine Being, who never destroys, but some principle in ourselves which is the cause of our destruction. What, then, is it that kills the external, but cannot reach the internal? and what is it that reaches and can destroy both? The partial destroyer is falsity, the entire destroyer is evil. False persuasions may greatly injure the external man by perverting the understanding, but evil alone is able to destroy the whole man, for the man is wholly such as his will is. This destruction is not only wider but deeper than the other. For the Lord says of him whose power extends only to the body, that he kills it; but of him whose power extends to both body and soul, that he destroys them both in hell. Hell implies a deeper state of immersion, in the state opposite to what is expressively called life in the Word, than death. This appears from the Lord’s words as given in Luke xii. 4, where the disciples are warned to beware of him who, after he hath killed, hath power to cast into hell. Death and hell are therefore mentioned distinctly; and where both mean final states, death is the abode of satans, hell of devils. How solemn a lesson is this, and how practical in its inner meaning!
29 To show them how little cause they had to fear men, the Lord directs his disciples to the Providence that is ever over them, and which enters into the minutest particulars of their lives. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. If the last was to excite fear, this is to inspire hope and trust in God and in his goodness. Birds are the emblems of thoughts, and sparrows of the commonest and least precious, and when two are mentioned, they mean thoughts of truth and thoughts of good, or true and good thoughts. Two sparrows are sold for one farthing, or are worth only one farthing, when the lowest of our thoughts of good and truth are united to the lowest degree of the knowledge of good and truth, of which knowledge money is the emblem. Yet it is declared that even one of these shall not fall to the ground without your Father. We are to reflect that the trials and persecutions of the disciples is the subject to which these beautiful analogies relate. A sparrow falls to the ground when, in times of trial, the thoughts, instead of soaring into the heaven of the inner man fall drooping and even dead to the earth of the outer man. The reason of this is obvious. Affection is the life of thought; – and when the affections or the feelings are depressed, the thoughts languish and even die. Every one knows the effect of natural trial. The death of some beloved one in whom the affections are bound up seems for the moment to leave the world a blank, and the thoughts seem as if they had fallen to the ground, never to rise again. How much more in severe spiritual trial! Yet even in these states we are under the care of our heavenly Father, who controls and overrules even the least of our thoughts, if we are his disciples. The promise is, therefore, that when in these states the thoughts, or rather one such thought, fills, it shall not fill without our Father. Where there is sincere trust in God, the divine love enters into and preserves the least of our thoughts, so as that even in their depression to the earth they shall not be without its influence to sustain them.
30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.
30 There are two things which signify the whole, namely what is highest, and lowest. The reason why what is lowest or ultimate also signifies the whole is, because all interior things, even from the first to the highest, terminate in ultimates, and are there together. Hence also it is said that, The hairs of the head are all numbered, by which is signified that each and everything in man is so. A. 10044.
30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. The hairs of the head are the ultimate things of wisdom, or of the rational principle, as sparrows are of the natural. And here again the minuteness of the Lord’s providence is declared and promised to watch over us, especially in times of temptation. The declaration teaches us that all things, even to the least and lowest, are not only known to God, but ordinated (numbered) by him, and are thus under the superintending care of an all-provident Father. How much reason have we, therefore, to take courage from the words of the Lord in the next verse!
31 Fear ye not, therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. If the Lord takes care of the least and lowest, he will assuredly not forget the highest and the best. The disciples represent these highest and best principles. Those principles that are nearest to the Lord and heaven, that love him above all things, and seek to carry out his purposes and fulfil his commandments, are of more value than many lower thoughts and affections that concern themselves with matters of less importance – that relate to the concerns of the world and the body. And, indeed, some of our trials relate to these; some of our temptations come through them. It is about these things that we are inclined to take thought for the morrow, and that brings our thoughts down to the dust, when they should be elevated to the Lord in trust and thanksgiving. It is these that lead us to inquire “What shall we eat, and what shall we drink, and wherewithal shall we be clothed?” not remembering, or rather not fully believing, that our Father knoweth that we have need of all these things, and that he who feeds the fowls of the air and clothes the grass of the field will not leave unprovided those who are much better than the fowls, and more enduring than the grass, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven.
32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.
33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
32 All who come into heaven ought to be principled in good as well as in truth, for no man can be in the one, except he be at the same time in the other, since good is the esse of truth, and truth is the existere of good; .and as by the Father is signified the Divine good, and by angels Divine truth, both from the Lord, therefore it is said (Matthew x. 32). E. 200.
32, 33. See Chapter V., 45, 48. A. 8328.
32 Whosoever, therefore, shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. If we confess the Son before men, the Son will confess us before his Father. The Son is the Divine truth, the Father is the Divine good. If we do the truth, the truth will lead us to good. We confess the Son not only by openly avowing our faith in him, but by faithfully doing his commandments. This is practical confession. And this is the confession of the truth that leads to good. For the truth itself is then in us as a witness, and it acknowledges us as sons, and gifts us with the good of truth as the result and reward of our consistent profession. The Father is said to be in heaven, and the Son is understood to be on earth. The promise further implies, therefore, that a consistent and preserving practical acknowledgment of truth in the external man will be the means of raising that truth into the internal man, and so change the government of wisdom into the government of love.
33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before the Father which is in heaven. The denial of the Son before men involves the denial of the denier by the Son before the Father. If truth is practically denied in the life, it cannot lead to the good to which it continually points and was intended to conduct us. But we find here a more serious consequence of denying the Son than his not confessing us before his Father: he will deny us. And this denial means that when the truth is known and yet dishonoured, the truth itself condemns us, and deprives us of all the good which it teaches, resulting in a greater opposition against both truth and good than if we had never known and professed the truth.
34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.
34 Nothing else is meant by a sword than the truth from which and for which they would combat. A. 2799.
That they who are of the church must undergo temptations is meant by what the Lord said. But it is to be known that in temptations man does not fight, but the Lord alone fights for man, though it appears as if done by man, and when the Lord fights for man, man conquers in all things. A. 8159.
Mention is often made in the Word of swords, and nothing else is signified by them but truth combating against falsities and destroying them, and in the opposite sense also falsity against truths. R. 52.
By sword is understood the combat of temptation, the reason was, because men at that time were immersed in falsities, and the Lord manifested interior truths, and falsities cannot be ejected unless by combats from those truths. E. 131.
34-38. See Chapter X., 21. Add: the subject treated of in this passage is spiritual combats, which are temptations to be undergone by those who are to be regenerated, thus concerning the disagreements attendant on man in such cases, between the evils and falses which influence him from hell, and between the goods and truths which influence him from the Lord. A. 10490.
34-36, 38. These words signify the temptations of those who are of the church, because temptations are nothing else than vastations, or removals of falsity and evil. A. 4843.
34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. The literal meaning of this declaration is not that the Lord came to create discord among men, but that a necessary result of his teaching was difference of opinion, and division as a consequence. The world could not be awakened from its lethargy and sinfulness without causing commotion and conflict among men. In the spiritual sense it teaches, in a very striking manner, the result, in the mind of the believer, of the coming of the Lord to him as his Saviour. That result is, to excite into hostility the whole of the thoughts and affections of the natural mind against the spiritual. This is the subject we have already said is treated of in this chapter. And here it is directly declared, and as, plainly as directly, to those who look at this declaration spiritually. For the natural mind of man is meant by the earth. The Lord came not to give peace, nor does he ever come to give peace to the natural mind of man in its state of disorder and corruption. The sword of divine truth must go forth against the principles of evil and falsity in the mind, which are equally the enemies of God and of the man himself. Before regeneration, there is peace; but it is the false peace which is not peace, but the mere acquiescence of the whole mind in the disorder, and infidelity, and sin which are the natural man”, chosen inheritance. The coming of the Lord to the soul, and his acceptance as the Saviour, introduces the sword, and initiates a war that continues till victory is obtained over evil, and peace established on the principles of justice and truth. The war which the Lord’s reception creates is between the external and the internal man. The evils of the external being no longer acknowledged as the ruling principles of the mind and life, but another law – the law of God -being now acknowledged in the inner man, the lusts and imaginations of the natural mind rise up in hostility against the new and inward law, and strive in all the bitterness of hatred to wage a successful war against it. The nature of this warfare is described in some of the verses that now follow.
35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in- law. The man, a son, the daughter, and the daughter-in-law are the new principles and affections of good and truth in the internal man; and the father, mother, and mother-in-law are the old principles and affections of evil and falsity in the external man. The man is truth, and the daughter and daughter-in-law are the affections of good and truth. These are the principles of the inner man. The father is evil, and the mother and mother-in-law are the affections of evil and falsity; and these are the principles of the external man. The Lord’s coming to the soul sets these at variance; for the mind that has been enslaved to what is evil and false cannot receive the truth, whose very nature it is to make its recipients free, without striving to be freed from the bondage of sin, and resisting therefore the tyranny of his evil passions. In this struggle the Christian finds the truth of the Lord’s words as expressed in the next verse.
36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. The house is the man’s own mind. And truly are his foes they of his own house. His hereditary nature is nothing but evil. To love himself and the world before the Lord and his neighbour is his very nature. The loves of self and the world are always his enemies, since they deprive him of the true riches and of true happiness. But they are not known and regarded as enemies so long as the principles of truth and life are unknown. When a man becomes in purpose a friend of God, and of men as the images of God, he soon finds how deep is the enmity of his yet unregenerate heart. His foes are truly seen and felt to be those of his own house.
37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
37 Total submission is also meant by the Lord’s words. By father and mother are signified in general those things which are man’s own from inheritance, and by son and daughter those things which are his own from actual life.
37-39. Christ said, Whosoever shall lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. (Mark viii. 35.) D. P., Page 66.
38 That temptation is increased even to despair, manifestly appears from the Lord’s temptation in Gethsemane, and also afterwards upon the cross, and the temptation of the Lord is a type of the temptation of the faithful, wherefore the Lord says, that whosoever would follow Him must take up his cross, for the glorification of the Lord is a type of the regeneration of man, and regeneration is principally effected by temptations. A. 7166.
By the cross here is meant temptation. Life 99.
By the temptations here are meant spiritual temptations, which they suffer who have faith in the Lord and live according to His precepts while they are driving away the evil spirits which are with them, who act as one with their lusts. These temptations are signified by the cross. R. 639.
By the cross are understood temptations, and by following the Lord is understood to acknowledge His Divine, and to do His precepts. E. 893.
38, 39. See Chapter X., 34. A. 8159.
39 The soul stands for the life of faith, such as it is with those who believe, and in the opposite sense for the life not of faith, such as it is with those who do not believe. A. 9050.
By life or soul is meant the life of man’s proprium. Life 99.
By loving their life is signified to love themselves and the world, for life signifies man’s own life, which every one has from birth, which is to love himself and the world above all things. For this reason, by not loving their life is signified not to love themselves and the world more than the Lord, and the things which are the Lord’s. R. 556.
They who have crucified their flesh, afflicted their soul, and suffered temptations, are signified by the dead (Revelation xiv. 13) because by these means they have mortified their former life, and thence have become as dead before the world. R. 639.
A man examines the intentions of his will while he examines his thoughts, for in these the intentions manifest themselves, to find out how far, while thinking of them, he wills and intends revenge, adulteries, thefts, false witness, and the desire for them, and also blasphemy against God, the holy Word, and the church. If he searches to find whether he would do such things if the fear of the law and of reputation did not hinder, then, after such scrutiny, he who thinks that he will not because they are sins, repents truly and interiorly. Still more when he is in freedom to do these evils, and then resists and abstains. This is what is meant by the words of the Lord. T. 532.
See Chapter X., 28. E. 750.
37 He that loveth, father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me; and he that loveth, son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me. When a man has made the discovery that his enemies are they of his own house, there is a danger to which he is exposed, as indeed all trial and conflict are attended with danger. For the conflict or warfare of the Christian life is between the love of God and the love of self – the love of the neighbour and the love of the world – and the very fact that there is a conflict between these opposite loves indicates a balance of power that makes it possible for either side to gain the victory. If self and the world were not deeply rooted in our affections, there would be no ground for a serious contest, nor any danger of the natural overcoming the spiritual. As it is, this result is possible. Therefore our Lord guards us against such a calamity: “He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me.” Father and mother are the loves of self and the world, which are the parents of all evil loves; and son and daughter are the affections of all falsity and evil, which are the offspring of these two principal loves; thus they include all evil, hereditary and actual. The object of the conflict is to determine whether self is to be loved more than the Lord, or the Lord more than self. And in this warfare we have need to be reminded of the truth, that he that yields, and gives the predominance to self is no more worthy of him whose love is life. Evil is the devil, especially the evil of self-love; and if we are of our father the devil, we are utterly unworthy, because utterly unfit, to be called or to be the sons of God.
38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. A necessary ditty, and one that is essential to success in the Christian warfare, is that work of self-denial of which the cross is the expressive symbol. To crucify the world and the flesh is the Christian’s daily labour, and to follow the Lord is his daily duty. He must not only struggle against the evil lust within, but against the evil habit without; and must not only cease to do evil, but he must also learn to do well. He must take up his cross by resisting evil, and follow the Lord by imitating his holy example. And if he do not, he is not worthy of him who at once bore his cross and lived a life of beneficence love. To perform the important duty of bearing the cross, it is necessary to know what that duty is, or to understand what the cross means. Bearing the cross does not consist in afflicting the body, but in purifying the mind; not in denying either body or mind its proper and natural gratifications, but in resisting whatever is impure and selfish in them; so that whether we eat or drink, or whatsoever we do, we may do all to the glory of God. Bearing the cross means more especially to endure temptation; and temptation is an inward struggle against spiritual evil, as it rises up in our hearts against the good which the Lord has implanted there.
39 To bear the cross implies constant self- denial; but it includes also, as its end and final result, the crucifixion and death of the selfhood; and if it effect not this, we have borne it in vain. He that findeth his life shall lose it; and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it. Love is life. The love of self and the world is our own or unregenerate life; the love of the Lord is our new, our regenerate life. He that findeth his life, by allowing self-love to rule in his heart, must lose his life, which is the love of God, and which alone is trite life. But he that for the Lord’s sake loses or lays down his life shall find it in love to him. For to lay down our life for the Lord’s sake is to die to self, that we may live to God; it is to exchange evil for good and falsity for truth, and to do this because the Lord’s will is thereby done and his glory advanced. It may be remarked that the original word for life in this passage is one of two that are both rendered by this term in the New Testament. But there is a distinction between them, and the propriety, if not necessity, of attending to it will appear from an example. We read of our Lord that “in him was life, and the life was the light of men” (John i. 4); and we read also that our Lord himself said, “I lay down my life for the sheep. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again” (John x. 15, 18). The life he derived from the Father was not the same as the life he laid down, and is not expressed by the same term. The life which the Lord laid down is expressed by the same word as that which he used when he said, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.” The reason of the distinction will at once be seen when we reflect that the life which the, Lord had in him, by virtue of his being begotten by the Father, was the Divine love; and that the life which was sorrowful, and which he laid down, was the Divine truth: for the Lord was tempted and put to death as divine truth; but as divine love or good he was above all temptation, and incapable of death. Let us here remark that, when we speak of him suffering and dying as divine truth, we do not mean divine truth as it is in itself, but of divine truth as clothed with appearances of truth derived from his descent into the world by means of a finite and frail humanity. We may express the doctrine otherwise by saying, that the life which the Lord had in him from the Father was the life of his internal man, and that the life which he laid down, and which he derived from the mother, was the life of his external man. The life therefore, which he that findeth shall lose, and which he that loseth, for the Lord’s sake, shall find, is the life of his external man, specifically the life of his intellectual mind. To lay down this life is to put off the falsities and fallacies with which the truth we possess is surrounded, and thus remove from our faith the doubt and unbelief which adhere to it from the natural man. Intellectual pride is, in this application, the life or soul that we are required to lose – and when this life is laid down we find a new life, which is the living soul that God breathes into us, and which makes us new creatures. We may remark, in conclusion, that these two promises express summarily the doctrine of divine providence, which includes that of the Lord’s permissions, as well as of his provisions, in regard to us as his disciples. We have remarked that the Lord never permits any evil to befall us but for the purpose of preventing a greater, and for our good as an end. A sparrow never falls to the ground without his permission and control – and the very hairs of our head are all numbered. The numbering of the hairs of our head signifies not only the preservation but the arrangement by the Lord, and in agreement with his divine order, of all the least things and minutest activities of our natural mind and life. It is by this, indeed, that the Lord preserves; for he operates by order, and order is power.
40 He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.
40 It is sometimes said by the Lord in the Word that He was sent by the Father, but by being sent is meant everywhere in the internal sense to go forth. A. 2397.
The Lord says that He was sent by the Father, and to be sent signifies to proceed. The word sent in Hebrew is the same as angel. A. 6831.
By being sent into the world by the Father, is meant that He was conceived of Jehovah the Father. L. 20.
The Lord frequently said that the Father sent Him into the world, and that He was sent by the Father. This He says, because by being sent into the world is meant to descend and come amongst men, and this was done through the Human, which He assumed by means of the virgin Mary. T. 92.
He that receiveth me receiveth Him that sent me. D. P., Page 46.
40-42. They who are principled in the internal sense do not attend to the person, but to the thing which the person signifies, thus not to a disciple, nor to a prophet, but to the things which a disciple and a prophet signify. Disciple in the internal sense signifies truth of life, but prophet truth of doctrine. In the name of any one signifies on account of his quality, hence it is evident what is meant by those words of the Lord, namely, that they who love truth for the sake of truth, and who love to do truth for the sake of truth, love the Lord, and that they receive heaven in themselves, for the reward which is from the Lord is the affection of truth for the sake of truth, and in the affection of truth for the sake of truth is heaven. A. 10683.
40 We come now to another and still brighter side of the subject of the process by which the natural mind, and consequently the man himself, is regenerated. He that receiveth you, receiveth me; and he that receiveth me, receiveth him that sent me. The disciples were sent of Jesus, and Jesus was sent of God. We are not to understand that Jesus Christ was a separate person from the Father, as the disciples were separate persons from him The Divine Essence is one and indivisible, and that which is begotten of God is God, and therefore infinite. But men are created, and therefore finite; and between the infinite and the finite there is no comparison: the infinite is life itself, the finite is a mere receptacle of life – a life which cannot exist for a moment separate from its source. But although the Divine Essence is one and indivisible, yet there is in it a plurality of Divine Essentials. Love and wisdom, or goodness and truth, in God are distinct, though inseparable, as are the will and understanding in man. This distinction in God is expressed in the New Testament as that of Father and Son – the Father being the Divine Love or Goodness, the Son being the Divine Wisdom or Truth. Wisdom proceeds from love, or truth from goodness, comparatively as a son proceeds from a father; this, at least, is the natural similitude by which this divine subject is expressed to men in the natural world. Divine wisdom is thus sent by divine love. In this sense Jesus is the sent of God. In a corresponding sense the disciples are sent of Jesus; for the disciples whom the Lord sent, in his name represented the truths that proceed from the Lord; is the, Truth itself – truths accommodated to the lower apprehensions of the human mind. Thus, we may say, there is a gradation of life from God to man. Divine truth is sent of divine good, and truth divine is sent of divine truth. So also the spiritual principle proceeds from the celestial, and the natural from the spiritual. The lower leads to the, higher, and the higher to the highest; and not only so, but the lowest includes the higher in it. He therefore, who receives the lowest in all sincerity receives the others also. So with respect to the Word: all its interior senses are contained in its ultimate or natural sense. So is every one that is taught of God. He who receives the truth in its simplest sense receives in it its higher wisdom. He who is in simple obedience to God has in that obedience both the love of the neighbour and the love of God and if he continues to progress in the religious life, those loves which are potentially in his obedience will successively come to be active principles in his mind, and raise him into a correspondingly perfect life. “If a man loves me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him” (John xiv. 23). Here we have the blessed promise, that if we hear – that is, hearken to and obey – the Lord’s words, our minds will become the habitation both of his love and wisdom, and thus the tabernacle of God will be with us, and we shall be his people, and the Lord himself shall be with us, and be our God.
41 He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.
41 See Chapter V., 6. A. 9263.
To receive a prophet in the name of a prophet is to receive the truth of doctrine because it is true, and to receive a righteous man in the name of a righteous man is to receive good for the sake of good, and to receive a reward is to be saved according to the reception. R. 8. 41, 42. If any one says that good works ought to be done, that he may have recompense in heaven, according to the literal sense of the Word in Matthew and in other places, and yet in doing good works never thinks of merit, he in like manner, is in the kingdom of the Lord, because as to life he is in truth, and because he is such as to life, he suffers himself to be instructed that no one can merit heaven. A. 3451.
See Chapter V., n, 12. A. 8002.
The name and the reward of a prophet mean the state and the happiness of those who are in Divine truths, the name and reward of a just man mean the state and the happiness of those who are in Divine goods, and by a disciple is meant the state of those who are in some of the spiritual things of the church, the cup of cold water means some truth. P. 230.
See Chapter V., 12. R. 526.
See Chapter V., n, 12. T. 440.
To receive a prophet in the name of a prophet, a righteous man in the name of a righteous man, and to give to drink in the name of a disciple, signifies to love truth for the sake of truth, good for the sake of good, and to exercise charity from the faith of truth, for by a prophet is signified truth, by a righteous man good, and by a disciple good from truth. To give to drink of cold water is to exercise charity from obedience. To do these things in the name of such characters signifies for the sake of their quality, thus for the sake of those things. E. 102.
By a prophet, in the abstract sense, is signified the truth of doctrine, by a disciple the good of doctrine, by a righteous man the good of life, and by receiving them in their own name to receive those things for the love of them. To give to drink to one of the little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, signifies from innocence to love innocence, and by virtue thereof to love good and truth from the Word, and to teach them. By giving water to the little ones to drink is signified to teach truth from spiritual innocence, and also to instruct the innocent in truths. E. 624.
Every one shall receive heaven and the joy thereof according to his affection of truth and good, and according to obedience. By giving to drink a cup of cold water only to one of the little ones in the name of a disciple, is meant, to do good and teach truth from a principle of obedience, for by water is signified truth in affection, and by cold water truth in obedience. E. 695.
41 The Lord proceeds to say. – He that receiveth a prophet in the, name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. A prophet who taught the truth, and a righteous man who did it, signify truth and righteousness. To receive a prophet in the name of a prophet is to receive truth for its own sake – and to receive a righteous man in the name of a righteous man is to receive good for its own sake. The reward of receiving what is true and good for their own sake is to have the affection of truth and goodness. In love is happiness, for spiritual love is the Lord’s love in us, and in this love are contained, and in it are bestowed, both happiness and heaven.
42 And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.
42 By a disciple is meant charity, and at the same time faith from the Lord. R. 8.
42 And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward. Little children are the emblems of innocence; and to give the little ones to drink is to instruct the ignorant who are in innocence, and to insinuate truth into innocence itself. But the reward which is promised for this duty extends to those who give to drink only a cup of cold water. As warmth is love or affection, cold is the absence of love, or rather a defect of love. Cold water is the truth, not of love, but of obedience. And the promise that he who gives even a cup of cold water to a little one shall not lose his reward, is an assurance that even the simplest act of goodness done from a dutiful obedience to the Lord’s will shall have its own reward, as well as the highest, and not less in its degree than the most loving virtue. But to be entitled to a reward, this simple duty must be done in the name of a disciple – it must not be done in our own name. It must have respect to the teaching of the Word, and not be the offspring of natural benevolence. To give it a spiritual quality and a heavenly result, duty must proceed from a spiritual principle. Christians often lament their want of love to God. If they have not much love, they need have no lack of obedience. No one can force himself to love, but every one can compel himself to obey. And he who begins with honest, though it be but cold obedience, will, by a conscientious discharge of duty, gradually come to have and to feel that love the absence of which he laments. Although love cannot be willed into existence, it can be wrought into existence. If we give God obedience, he will give us love.
AUTHOR: EMANUEL SWEDENBORG (COMPILED BY ROBERT S. FISCHER AND LOUIS G. HOECK 1906)
COMMENTARY AUTHOR: WILLIAM BRUCE (1866)
PICTURES: JAMES TISSOT Courtesy of Brooklyn Museum