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The thorn and the thistle shall come up on their altars.” Now, the true altar where the real incense is offered to God is the grateful and contrite heart. Wicked hearts are therefore the altars to which the prophet here alludes. For natural thistles grow not upon the altars of churches.
“The thistle that was in Lebanon." Lebanon is a mountain in Palestine. In the Word, a mountain denotes a high state of the mind, either for good or for evil. The thistle here denotes a false and vile principle, and the cedar a true and virtuous one. And both of these principles may be in the same mind, or may not. The will is the female element of the mind, and the understanding is the male element. The daughter of the cedar, therefore, is a young and noble principle of the will ; and the son of the thistle is a young and vicious principle of the understanding. Thus, as regards the same mind; the thistle or a falsity in the male department of the mind is asking for a union with the cedar or with a virtue, in the female department. Or in other words ; some falsity in the understanding is seeking a marriage with some good in the will. Now, vicious principles of the mind are always striving to bring down to their level the virtuous principles ; to unite the cedar with the thistle.
But we have not only the thistle and the cedar in the same mind; but we have the thistles and cedars of society. Where the thistle principle in a man rules, he may be called a thistle ; where the cedar principle rules, he may be called a cedar. And let the young men, the noble young cedars of the community beware, lest they be led astray by the thistles that stroll in our streets, and which lure to the dens of intemperance and vice. For if they once fall into the embrace of the thistle, they will be in danger of coming to the same end as the thistle in the text; which is deplorable enough. For the words following our text declare, that "there passed by a wild beast that was in Lebanon, and trode down the thistle ;” thus showing that such principles are low as the dust, and are under the very feet of the wild and unsubdued passions of the perverted will ; trodden under the feet of wild beasts.
But in these latter days the Lord is mercifully providing us with a safeguard against all these evils by opening to us the deeper truths of His Word whereby we may scan ourselves to the bottom, understand the causes and consequences of transgression, and see the way of escape from every vice. Then let us receive the Holy Word to our bosoms, seek its divine light, yield to its divine power, and thus ascend Mount Lebanon to its summit, where we can stand among its heavenly cedars and hold familiar converse with the lovely trees of Eden in the paradise of God.
SYMBOLIC MEANING OF HEAVENS AND EARTH, SUN,
MOON AND STARS.
“The sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken.” (Matt. xxiv. 29.)
HERE are divine ideas contained in human language -the mere words of men. But there is a divine speech within, the idiom of which is analogical. This analogy enables us to perceive something of the divine idea in and through the human speech. This analogy exists in and throughout nature. There we are to look for it, there we are to study it as the law of life. It is that law which connects the creation with the Creator. And by it we are to look through the visible universe into the mind of the Creator, and also into the minds of men, the images of God. God's language therefore is not an empty sign of ideas, but a living sign, expressive of the laws of life. It is neither Hebrew nor Greek, nor any other human language. But as all human dialects are taken from nature, and as God fills nature, so he speaks in any one of the human languages, when the words are so selected and arranged as to contain divine ideas by correspondences. God's language therefore is substantial life; the very life which exists throughout nature and speaks through it: for He says, “The words which I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.” Thus the things of nature are all letters and syllables, words and sentences, spoken by ten thousand tongues, all in action from the living universal speech of God. Our heavenly Father therefore, in order to speak to His children and teach them the nature of Himself and the laws of life, by written words, had to come down to man's own language, and thus clothe His divine speech in the common, finite words of the people. This was the only way He could reach our capacities. But, by His divine influence, He enabled the writers of His Word, to so select the words and frame the sentences as to contain, by correspondences, a spiritual or divine sense, which can be seen only by the divine law of analogy.
Thus God speaks to us, in man's own language, in the literal sense; and, at the same time, in the divine speech in the spiritual sense. But in reading the Word, some see only man's language. Yet, as it is divinely arranged and infilled with life by correspondences, even the literal sense contains a power which is felt in no other human composition. And if men humbly receive it and obey its literal commands, it will surely take them to heaven; because, from its internal powers it will make them heavenly. Why then, it may be asked, is any further sense necessary ?
further sense necessary ? We answer, because the true literal sense has, in many of its doctrines, been falsified by the traditions of men ; and the scientific world is passing it by as not a divine work. The time, therefore, has arrived for the Lord to appear as the spirit and life of that Book, that He may therein reach, anew, the souls of men, through their rational faculties ; expressing at the same time, the truth of the letter and the power and glory of the Spirit. While, therefore, some persons see in the Bible only the language of men, others see therein, the language of God.
But the divine speech, is the great language—the universal speech—the one in which the heavens and the earth are conversing together—the one which we shall all speak in the spiritual world. And because of the high importance of the spiritual sense of the Holy Word, the literal sense in many places, is given only for the sake of the spiritual. And in these instances the letter is often totally dark and incomprehensible, until the spiritual sense is seen.
Such is the case with our text. The letter alone is total darkness. Science looks it in the face and exclaims, What! The stars fall from heaven to this earth! And what are the stars but vast suns to other systems ? And, which way is down from those great centres ? And what, in comparison, is this little planet upon which we live, but a mere atom of dust? How is it to draw the universe to its comparative nothingness? And where would it and its inhabitants be, if it were in the centre of the whole immense mass of all matter, in one solid body ? And how could the Lord then come to us in the clouds of heaven? For, following our text, and after the stars have fallen the narrative says, “And then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see