<< THE WATERS FLOWING FROM THE LORD'S HOUSE. >>
He brought me again unto the door of the house; and, behold, waters issued out from under the threshold of the house, eastward; for the forefront of the house was toward the East; and waters came down from under the right side of the house at the South of the altar.
Then brought he me out of the way of the gate, northward, and led me about the way, without, unto the outer gate, by the way that looketh eastward; and behold, there ran out waters, on the right side.
And when the man that had the line in his hand went forth eastward, he measured a thousand cubits, and he brought me through the waters; the waters were to the ankles. Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through the waters; the waters were to the knees.
Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through; the waters were to the loins. Afterward, he measured a thousand; and it was a river that I could not pass over; for the waters' were risen, waters to swim in, a river that could not be passed over. And he said unto me, Son of Man, hast thou seen this? Then he brought me, and caused me to return to the brink of the river.
Now, when I had returned, behold, at the bank of the river were very many trees, on the one side and on the other. Then said he unto me, These waters issue out toward the East country, and go into the desert, and go into the sea; being brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be healed. And it shall come to pass, that everything that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live: and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither: for they shall be healed; and everything shall live whither the river cometh.-EZEKIEL. xlvii. 1-9.
The Divine Truth flows out from the Lord, with the Divine Love, to angels of the different heavens, and to men on the earths, to each according to the quality and degree of his mind and life.
THE DIVINE TRUTH.
This prophetic vision representatively pictures some phases of the progress of regeneration, in the human mind and life. The Divine Truth seems to increase in volume, and to rise to greater heights, the more the man attains greater perception and understanding of the truth.
The man with a measuring line may be viewed in several aspects. Naturally, he would appear to be an angel, sent upon this special mission. But, in the supreme aspect, He is the Lord, in His Divine Providence, leading and enlightening the regenerating man, And, impersonally, he represents the regenerating man's perception of the truth, developed by the Lord, and being the Lord's presence in the man.
The house of the Lord, or temple, in one sense, represents the church, which is the Lord's dwelling-place with men. In a more general sense, the house, or temple, represents heaven, which is also the Lord's dwelling place with men. But these two meanings make one, in their application to human life, because, in the higher sense, both the church and heaven are, spiritually, in the human mind; i.e., in the hearts and intellects of regenerate men, in this world, and in the next world. There is no mere locality which would be heaven in any spiritual sense, without the presence of regenerate men, who are angels, and in whom the Lord spiritually dwells. In the highest sense, the house, or temple, is the Divine Humanity of the Lord, in which the Divine life comes to men, and dwells with them, and they with Him, in His "house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."
THE DOOR OR GATE.
The door, or gate, of the Lord's house, represents the introductory truth, which informs a man's mind about the Lord and His church, and which thus serves to introduce him into the church; not merely the church as an external institution, but rather the principles of the church, which form an interior church in the mind, by introducing the mind into practical goodness in the daily life.
We recognize this practical. use of introductory truths, in the passage in the Revelation (xxii. 14) referring to the holy city of the New Jerusalem: "Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in, through the gates, into the city."
"The waters issued out from under the threshold of the house." This water represents the practical truth from the Lord, for use in man's life.
THE SPIRITUAL QUARTERS.
The waters flowed eastward. In the spiritual world, the quarters are not matters of locality, but of mental states. The Lord is "the Sun of Righteousness." And the spiritual quarter in which any angel dwells, depends upon his mental attitude towards the Lord, as the spiritual Sun. The East, where the sun appears to rise, represents the Lord's love; or, in us, our love for our Lord. The West, opposite the East, represents the least degree of love to the Lord. The South, in which is the greatest light, represents the greatest light of intelligence in Divine Truth. And the North, opposite the South, represents the least degree of spiritual intelligence. This least degree is in the natural mind of man, the external mind, which sees things in the light of the natural senses. In ancient times, temples for worship were built with an eastern aspect, i.e., "the fore-front of the house was toward the East," so that the worshippers should face the East, to represent that their minds were turned to the Lord.
"The waters came down from under the right side of the house, at the South of the altar." The right side represents. the affectional side, the side of the will, or heart; and the left side represents the intellectual side, the side of the understanding. The waters coming from the right side represents that the truth comes from the Lord's love, and appeals to man's love of the Lord. For a man's reception of the truth depends on how much his heart is interested in it.
When some of the disciples of Jesus had labored all night, in fishing, and had caught nothing, Jesus instructed them to cast their net on the right side of the boat, and they would find plenty of fish. To cast the net of argument on the right side of the ship of doctrine, is to teach men from love, from a desire to do them good. And this state of mind is always successful, in finding the living facts of knowledge, which are represented by fishes, which live in the waters of truth. That the waters came forth" at the South of the altar," represents that truths come from the Divine intelligence, and that they come to a man's highest intelligence, in his worship of the Lord.
NORTH AND EAST.
The prophet was taken by way of the gate northward, and led to "the outer gate, by the way that looketh eastward." It is necessary for a man to begin his regeneration in the spiritual North, the coldest and darkest quarter, because this quarter represents the natural mind, which is ignorant of spiritual things. A man must begin where he is, naturally. But the text declares that, although the prophet was at the North gate, and passed out of that gate, even to the outer gate, or most external state of mind, yet he then looked eastward; i.e., towards the Lord. And there he saw the waters running out, at the right side. And everyone who looks to the Lord will be able to see the spiritual waters of truth coming from the Lord, in the truths of His Word, and in the church.
Our loves are the heat from which our light comes. If we love the Lord, we look to the Lord, and we see in spiritual light. If we are intellectual in a worldly way, only, and for self, we are not spiritual-minded, but spiritual things seem to be unreal and obscure. But, if our love is a regenerate love, even although we may not be intellectual in the things of this world, we are in spiritual light, according to our level and degree of life; and the things which concern our spiritual life, we see in sufficient light to make them sure to us. And, in such a case, a regenerate man, of simple mind, and perhaps imperfect education, who may not be able to formulate an application of the truth to every detail of life, can recognize the truth when it is taught, because his love places him in an affirmative attitude of mind, in which he sees the truth in its own light. But the intellectual natural man, who does not love the Lord, is not in the light of love; and he does not see spiritual truth, because he is in a negative state of mind towards the truth; and he is in the supposed light of the natural senses.
Going eastward, the guide measured the length of the stream of water, from one point to another, four times, and with marked results. To measure anything, spiritually, is to discover its quality, or character. Naturally, we measure anything to discover its length, width or height. But, spiritually, we measure anything to discover its goodness, its truth, or its elevation in the scale of mind, and of spiritual principles. The cubit was the customary unit of measure, representing our mental measure, or rational judgment, by which we determine the character of a thing.
Hundreds, thousands, etc., as "round numbers," which complete a certain quantity, represent a complete and full state of mind and of life. When you are asked whether you have ever seen a familiar object, you reply, "'Yes, I have seen it a thousand times;" i.e., to a full extent, so often as to be familiar with it.
The prophet, going eastward, and following the stream of water from the door of the house, represents the mind looking to the Lord, and following the stream of truth, as it flows onward, increasing and deepening. And the fact that the journey is measured several times, and the depth of the water tested at each measurement, represents that the mental journey beside the flowing stream of truth, is made by successive stages, or steps of progress, each of which forms a complete general state in the mental experience of the regenerating man. And the fact that the waters became deeper, at each successive step, represents that the mind enters more and more deeply into the truth.
TO THE ANKLES.
At the end of the first stage of progress, the first one thousand cubits, the first completed state of mind, the waters were up to the ankles. The feet represent the natural man, or the natural mind of a man, which is the lowest part of his mental organism. Waters up to the ankles were waters that covered the feet. And these represented the Lord's truth as seen by the mind, at the end of its first stage of progress, when it is natural-minded, seeing merely the external side of the truth, as it applies to the things of man's natural life. Such, for instance, would be the state of a man's mind, when he has learned that the Scripture is the Word of the Lord, and that its rules must be obeyed in the practical conduct. The man then knows much of the truth, and has intelligence in the truth, in the natural degree; i.e., as it applies to his conduct, as a natural man. This is good, as far as it goes: but it is only the first completed state of mind, in the progress of regeneration. And then the Lord leads the man to measure another thousand cubits, along the stream of Divine Truth; i.e., to take the next general and complete step in spiritual progress.
And then the water reaches to the knees. The knees are at the top of the lower part of the limbs, but below the thighs. And so they represent that state of mind which is called spiritual-natural; i.e., while it is natural-minded, it is influenced by spiritual light and spiritual conditions, which are forming, within, but which have not yet come to the man's manifest consciousness. In this state, the man stands in the waters of truth much deeper than his ankles, for the lower limbs are covered. The man has reached a mental condition beyond mere obedience to the Lord's law of conduct. And he feels, although obscurely, the drawing of his affections towards principles, as well as rules. His natural mind is inwardly filled with a greater power, which he feels, without understanding it. His mind is growing spiritually rational.
The leader then measures another thousand cubits; and the waters are up to the loins. The man has now completed another stage of progress, and he has become distinctively spiritual-minded. The loins represent the affection of love to the neighbor. "Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning ;" i.e., have your affections girded with truth, and your spiritual intelligence active.
Measuring another thousand cubits, the stream becomes a great river, too deep to be forded, but necessitating swimming. This represents the completion of the last stage of progress in regeneration, when the man becomes distinctively celestial. In this mental state, he has progressed even beyond the love of the neighbor, as a neighbor; and he has reached the highest state, that of supreme, complete love to the Lord, an all-absorbing love of the Divine Love, in which truth becomes a great river, covering the whole man, and buoying him up, as he swims, mentally, feeling that he is immersed in infinite truths, which cover all possible cases of his experience. Such is the great increase of truths in the progress of regeneration, as the mind grasps, more and more, the spirit and life of the Lord's truth. The more completely we follow the course of truth, the greater the truth will become, to us, because the more we shall be able to perceive, and to understand, the Lord and His truth. And then the mind "takes the water of life freely," in the freedom of love, and not by compulsion.
This river is the same as the river seen by John, in apocalyptic vision, of which he says, " And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God." (Revelation xxii. I.) It is the same river of which the Psalmist says, " There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the Most High." (Psalm xlvi. 4.)On the banks of that river there were very many trees, which represent living and growing principles, things known to the regenerating mind; and which, as we learn from the context, bear nlany fruits, representing the practical good works, or outworking, of our accepted principles.
HEALING THE WATERS.
It is said that these waters " go into the desert, and go into the sea," where" the waters shall be healed." The desert is the natural mind, which is naturally dead to spiritual things. And the sea is the natural memory, the general repository of all things seen and heard. And the natural man, with all his memory, is spiritually dead, until the waters of Divine Truth come into his mind and memory, and take their place there, as Divine things. The natural memory may be full of the knowledges of doctrine, etc., but there will not be any spiritual life in these things, in the man, until they are acknowledged to be the Lord's.
And, on the other hand, all these Divine things will not be able to take a firm hold in the man's mind, until they flow into his natural mind and memory, and set these in order. And both these processes are involved in the healing of the waters, when they go down to the desert, and into the sea. And then "The knowledge of Jehovah shall cover the earth, as the waters cover the sea."
Geographically, we might suppose that these waters, flowing East from the temple in Jerusalem, would flow into the Dead Sea. And even this would be symbolic of giving life to the dead things of man's natural mind, by the waters of truth from the Lord.
Wherever these living waters flowed they caused everything to live. And it is so, spiritually; for the Lord's life is carried to men's souls by means of the Divine truths, taught to men, from the Divine Word. And, wherever those truths are admitted into the heart and the understanding, and allowed to form the conduct, they carry the light of heaven, and they regenerate the man.
In the healed waters swam a great multitude of fish, of all kinds. Fish, as a low form of life, cool-blooded, living in water, represent the practical facts known to us, things which are certainties, applicable to our daily experience. These facts are scientifics, knowledges of doctrine, etc., which will make good mental food, when made alive by acknowledging their source in the Lord.
Reviewing the history of the Churches, we can see that, in the Jewish Church, the water of truth was up to the ankles, only, because the truth was seen in its natural phases, only. In the First Christian Church, the water was up to the knees, with some glimpses of spiritual things, yet with doctrine which interpreted the Scriptures literally. But, in the New Church, the stream of water from the sanctuary is as deep as the loins, to many, who see truth as spiritual truth. And, to a few, the great truth has become a broad river to swim in, a stream of celestial lifee We see our Lord, Jesus Christ, not merely as a natural man, but as a Divine Man in whom is all the Divine Life. We see Him as Power, as Truth, as Love, and as Life. And the truths which flow from these living principles, may cover all things of our life, spiritual and natural. And, then, in our minds, "everything shall live whither the river cometh."
Author: Edward Craig Mitchell 1903