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Doctrine of Life #66

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66. We read in Mark that a certain rich man came to Jesus and asked Him what he should do to inherit eternal life.

Jesus said to him, “You know the commandments: Do not commit adultery, do not kill, do not steal, do not bear false witness, do not defraud, honor your father and your mother.”

The rich man answered and said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth.”

Jesus, looked at him and loved him. Nevertheless He said, “One thing you lack: Go, sell whatever you have and give it to the poor. By doing so you will have treasure in heaven. But come, take up the cross and follow Me.” (Mark 10:17-22)

[2] We are told that Jesus loved him because he said that he had kept those commandments from his youth. But he lacked three things, namely, that he had not withdrawn his heart from his riches, that he had not fought against his urges, and that he had not yet acknowledged the Lord as God. For that reason the Lord told him to sell whatever he had, meaning that he should withdraw his heart from his riches; to take up the cross, meaning to fight against his lusts; and to follow Him, meaning to acknowledge the Lord as God.

The Lord said all this, as He did everything else, using terms that correspond, as may be seen in The Doctrine Regarding the Sacred Scripture 17.

For no one can refrain from evils as being sins unless he acknowledges the Lord and turns to Him, and unless he fights against evils and so puts away his urges to do them.

But more on this subject in the section dealing with battles against evils.

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Many thanks to the General Church of the New Jerusalem, and to Rev. N.B. Rogers, translator, for the permission to use this translation.

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Doctrine of the Sacred Scripture #17

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17. When the Lord was in the world, He spoke in terms of things that correspond, thus speaking spiritually while speaking naturally, and this can be seen from His parables, in which every single word has in it some spiritual meaning. Consider, for example, the parable of the ten virgins. The Lord said:

...the kingdom of heaven is like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were prudent, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil..., while the prudent took oil in...their lamps. But while the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight a cry was made: “Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!” Then all those virgins awakened and trimmed their lamps. But the foolish said to the prudent, “Give us some of your oil, because our lamps are going out.” However, the prudent answered, saying, “No, lest there not be enough perhaps for us and you; go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.” But when they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. And finally the other virgins came also, saying, “Lord, Lord, open to us!” But he answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.” (Matthew 25:1-12)

[2] The presence in these words of a spiritual meaning, and so of a Divine holiness, is seen only by someone who knows of the existence of the spiritual sense, and the nature of it.

In the spiritual sense, the kingdom of God means heaven and the church. The bridegroom means the Lord. The wedding means the marriage of the Lord with heaven and the church through the goodness of love and faith. The virgins symbolize people who are members of the church. Ten symbolizes all. Five, some. Lamps, truths of faith. Oil, the goodness of love. Slumbering and awaking symbolize a person’s life in the world, which is natural, and his life after death, which is spiritual. To buy is to procure for oneself. To go to those who sell and buy oil means, symbolically, to procure for oneself the goodness of love from other people after death. And because it can then no longer be procured, therefore even though the foolish virgins came with their lamps and the oil they bought to the door where the wedding was taking place, they were nevertheless told by the bridegroom, “I do not know you.” The reason is that, after his life in the world, a person remains such as he had lived in the world.

[3] It is apparent from this that the Lord spoke solely in terms of correspondences, and this because He spoke from the Divinity that He had in Him and that He possessed.

That the bridegroom symbolizes the Lord, and the kingdom of God the church; that the wedding symbolizes the marriage of the Lord with the church through the goodness of love and faith; that the virgins symbolize people who are members of the church, ten symbolizing all, and five some; that slumbering symbolizes a natural state; that buying symbolizes the procuring of something for oneself; that a door symbolizes entrance to heaven; and that not knowing, when said by the Lord, is to be without love for Him — all this can be seen from many passsages in the prophetic Word where these same depictions have similar symbolic meanings.

Because virgins symbolize people who are members of the church, therefore the prophetic Word so often makes mention of virgins and the daughter of Zion, of Jerusalem, and of Israel. And because oil symbolizes the goodness of love, therefore all the holy accouterments of the Israelite Church were anointed with oil.

[4] The same is the case in the rest of the parables, and in all the words spoken by the Lord and recorded in the Gospels. That is why the Lord says that His words are spirit and life (John 6:63).

The same is the case with the Lord’s miracles, which were Divine miracles, because they symbolized the various states of the people among whom the Lord was going to establish the church. For example, when the blind were given sight, it symbolically meant that people ignorant of truth would gain understanding. When the deaf were given hearing, it symbolically meant that people who had heard nothing before about the Lord and the Word would hearken and obey. When the dead were raised, it symbolically meant that people who would otherwise have perished would be made alive. And so on.

This is what the Lord meant by His reply to John’s disciples, when John wished to know whether the Lord was the one who was to come:

...tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead rise again and the poor hear the Gospel. (Matthew 11:3-5)

Moreover, all the miracles mentioned in the Word contain within them such matters as have to do with the Lord, heaven and the church. This is what makes them Divine miracles and distinguishes them from miracles that are not Divine.

Let these few example serve to illustrate what the spiritual sense is, and its presence in each and every constituent of the Word.

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Thanks to the General Church of the New Jerusalem, and to Rev. N.B. Rogers, translator, for the permission to use this translation.