” For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it.” Genesis xiii. 15.
Whatever a man has thoroughly and perfectly understood and mastered has become part of his character.
“And Laban departed, and returned unto his place. Genesis xxxi. 55.
When a character in the Inspired Record ceases to be representative, for a time or permanently, he is said to “return unto his place.”
”And the people abode in Kadesh.” Numb. xx. i.
An odor of sanctity (” Kadesh”) attaches to all things true, just as a touch of the beautiful attaches to all things good.
”And Abraham returned unto his place.” Genesis xviii. 33.
The celestial mind ceases to be represented in the life of man for the time being.
‘‘And he built a city and dwelt therein.” Joshua xix. 50.
The mind of man, whether left to its own devices or God-guided into the absolute knowledge of utter truth, will, and probably must needs, construct for itself some system of thought, and live in and according to it.
”And the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelt there in the land.” Genesis xiii. 7.
Man’s character is for a long time tinged with heredity, both from the father and from the mother.
“And Moses sware on that day saying, Surely the land whereon thy feet have trodden shall be thine inheritance and thy children’s forever, because thou hast wholly followed the Lord my God.” Joshua xiv. 9.
When the character of man has been built in obedience to the Divine laws, then his every acquirement — every foot of the ground over which he has traveled — will become a portion of that character, and will be entered upon as naturally as light falls into the eye and water seeks its level.
“And Israel took all these cities, and Israel dwelt in all the cities. ” Numb. xxi. 25.
The spiritual mind can dwell in any system of philosophy or series of doctrines in which there is an element of truth ; it matters not where these cities lie, or who it was that built them.
“Return with much riches unto your tents ; with very much cattle, with silver, with gold, with copper, with iron, and with very much raiment ; divide the spoils of your enemies with your brethren.” Joshua xxii. 8.
Gentle souls pass on out of the natural life into the realities of the spiritual world, and into the character (“tents”) which they have formed for themselves they bring a multitude of purified affections (“cattle”), spiritual truth (“silver”), spiritual good (“gold”), natural good (“copper”), natural truth (“iron”), and all the needful external forms of truth (“raiment”), for they have gained (“divided the spoil”) from their natural life (“enemies”) a true spirit of charity (“brethren”).
“And get you unto your tents. ” Joshua xxii. 4.
All life is simply a question of character-building. We are each one of us building us some sort of spiritual edifice to live in, and the Master tells his servants the story in different ways. If a man suffers the voluntary part of his life to predominate, the ultimate outcome of his story is called ” going to his tent.” If he leads a life full of all manner of doctrine, some of which he builds for himself, some of which others build for him, the final result of his story is summarized in the sentence, “and he went into his own city. ” If he leads a life in which his character is developed along fairly equipoised lines of intelligence and volition he is said to “go into his house.” If he has moved along the lines mapped out for him by his inheritance (poor fellow, what a large following he has! What an army of people are living indolently along the same lines as their fathers did ! They go to church because their fathers did, they go through certain routine matters of politics and civics and ethics because their fathers did ; then the end of the story is, “And he slept with his fathers.” What a dreary dream of life it is to live a deeply-rutted time-worn tradition-honored inheritance-life !
”Because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke ii. 7.
It is a deplorable condition of mind in which there is no room for the Lord that is to be born.
”And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. ” Luke ii. 8.
Yet in that same mind, where in the outer consciousness there is no room for the coming Lord, there are certain soft and delicate traits of character — remains of the angel-guards of childhood, remains of the mother-love, that once wove about the now man-heart remains of the perfect peace and trust and confidence of early youth. And in the care of these tender traits are kept the flocks of possible humanity, of human kindliness and justice, of human love and wisdom, all through the “nights,” that know not God.
“And in those days there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. ” Luke ii 1.
The impressions which come to a man from the world around him depend almost entirely upon the world within him.
”The name of Debir [Word] was before Kirjath- sepher [City of a book].” Judges i. 11.
When a man reads his Bible first, it is to him a means of collecting doctrine (“city”) in his memory (“book”), but as he advances along the lines of soul-growth, it becomes to him the living Word (“Debir”).
“And they gave other names to the cities they builded.” Numb. xxxii . 38.
Now that the age of superstition is past we are on the eve of forgetting the old cities that fall in ruins about the souls of men. How far away are the old cities of Faith Alone, and Atonement, and Trinity of Persons, and Transubstantiation, and Homo-ousia and Homoi-ousia, and all the quaint old cities ! and in their place the new world has its new cities built by the New Church— and we call their names, Remains, and Degrees, and Proprium, and the Grand Man, and the Science of Correspondences, and Conjugial Love, and many other new names that men have not yet learned, but which they are preparing to learn.
“And he built a city, and called the name of the city after the name of his son Enoch [Chanoch].” Genesis iv. 17.
Man elaborates his doctrinal systems (in which his minds dwells), and their character (” name “) will be according to the character of the principles from which they are derived. A shrewd mind will devise shrewd doctrines, a cruel mind cruel ones, and a dull mind stupid ones.
”Lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city” Genesis. xix. 15.
Before any falsified system of teaching is destroyed all available forms of truth are transmitted for preservation — witness the mythology and history of antiquity.
“And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the town. ” Mark viii. 23.
Many cannot be brought to understand or to see things in their true light until the Lord has led them forth from those particular systems of doctrine which have until then prejudiced them.
“And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished they brought Him to Jerusalem, to present Him to the Lord.” Luke ii. 22.
And when the church shall have learned a purer inspiration, a cleaner love and a holier wisdom, then will she be purified along- the lines of the Divine Law, and she will then catch a glimpse of the Divinity through the Humanity. Or rather, she will bring her ideal of the Humanity up to the borders of Divinity.
Author: A. Roeder (1900)