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The Mountain of the Lord "They shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks" (Isaiah ii. verse 4)

"And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the Lord " (Isaiah ii. verses 2-5)

Doubtless, when Isaiah uttered this prophecy, he conceived it realistically, believing that 'Zion and Jerusalem were to become the permanent seat of the Lord's dominion - that the neighbouring nations would at length turn thereto in humble submission to hear the Word of the Lord, and that in place of the sword, the doctrine of the Lord would be that which would enlighten, govern and control all peoples of the world. From its earliest days the Christian Church has discerned in these words the promise of its final triumph. For long centuries it was felt that the prophecy was fulfilled in Rome, to whose authority so many peoples turned in obedient submission. But the mountain of the Lord is neither the Zion of the Judaean hills nor the Latin city of the seven hills. The prophecy is not understood until divested of all reference to this earth and perceived as speaking throughout of the things of spiritual life. The "mountain of the Lord" is love to the Lord, the highest possible state of the human heart, the final achievement of the saving and regenerating power of the Lord in man. It is that angelhood which the Infinite Love of God eternally strives to fashion as its one pre-eminent purpose and end. To this mountain of the Lord man is summoned by every word proceeding from the Lord. As such love is the very end of creation, it is the very essence of worship, and thus of the Church. Though Divine Truth is that alone which builds up the Church, the Church is not formed within us until that truth is transmuted to love conveyed, that is to say, by discipline of life, from the understanding to the will, there to live in the whole service of one's life. This Divine prophecy is a summons to the Church, not merely to an institution, nor yet to a mere code of conduct, but to the Church as the threshold of heaven, to the Church as a new and purified and hallowed aim and end in all our living, the aim and end of love to the Lord, of purposing ever to do His Will, of seeking the law of that Will in His Word, and of making our endeavours and purposes one with His. This is the Zion of the Sacred Scriptures. In the Church alone does the Lord teach us of His ways and so enable us to walk in His paths. The descent of Divine blessings is by way of Divine Truth. As light descends from the heat of the sun, so Divine Truth descends as the Holy Spirit from the Divine Love, and the Divine Love needs, as it were, the vehicle of truth whereby to reach down to man and bestow its gifts. The fevered and perplexed effort of mankind for peace and security, for plenty and freedom and happiness, will remain fruitless until it is seen that from the Lord alone, and thus in His Word in His Church, can these desired things be found. And that they may indeed descend and become realities in the life of men, there must be the ascent of the mountain of the Lord. There must be the search of His Truth, and the living out of His Truth as an act of worship, as an expression of love to Him. Otherwise, the spirit of self-love will be present - the perception of His appointed way will be obscured, and the blessing will turn to a curse. " Out of Zion goes forth the law and from Jerusalem the Word ". Even as the Divine Truth comes to mankind from the Divine Love, speaking of the nature of that love, of its infinite joys and of the way of its attainment, so can the accents of that truth be heard only by worshipping ears, only by him who goes up to Zion seeking to know the truth, that the love it speaks of might be his and enter and animate his life. Only as this is the end and aim of all our searching after truth can the Lord in that truth "judge among the nations and rebuke the peoples ". Only as light is sought that love may be multiplied will the truth judge and discriminate between the nations and peoples, the conflicting affections of the heart; rebuke and condemn the evil, and sustain the good.

This, then, the New Church teaches, is the deeply spiritual and intensely realistic meaning of this great prophecy. And never was its message more needed than today. To await some near or far-off event when the Lord will descend upon some earthly mountain and by some mystic fiat enforce a peace among mankind, is to resign our manhood and most grievously to misread the message of the Word. The fulfilment of this prophecy lies by way of our fulfilment of the Word. The benediction of the Infinite Love is given in a life ordered by the Word of that love: and, be it affirmed, nowhere else. The need of mankind is most assuredly not to turn to the Church as it has been in the past, to a letter of Truth which can be turned this way and that, to an ecclesiasticism and an effete theology framed by councils and papal pronouncements. The need of mankind is to turn to the Word as to a body of laws of life; laws of love; with the set endeavour of living those laws as a means of worshipping the God of love, and of serving fellow-man. As the sterility of the old theology becomes more apparent, men are relying increasingly on themselves to regenerate human society. Progress is measured in terms of penicillin, of air-transport at 600 miles an hour, and, presumably of the atomic bomb. And the fiercest debates arise as to whether science is good or evil. The fact that man is a spiritual being, and that his very life is love, is not known. Yet these fundamentals of New-Church thought imply that behind human living and doing is the animating love of the human heart. The cry, "Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord" is instruction in the Word from the Lord, the source of all love, that a reorientation of life's endeavour and purpose will be necessary before the least evil can be removed from human affairs. There, and there alone, in that mountain, is the happy, peaceful, secure and useful life of mankind. Only as mankind learns that behind and within all its international policies, its economics, its trade and its inventions lies the human will, the source and inspiration of all the concrete experiences of the race, and only as it directs that will by those spiritual laws which alone can fashion it aright, can the mountain of the Lord be ascended and thereby any hope that the tide of human misery and chaos will be stemmed. The distant ages of the future have no moment in which some Divine magic will sheathe the drawn sword of man's contentious spirit and set the race, every man under his vine and under his fig-tree in peace. The sword will be beaten into the ploughshare and the spear into a pruning hook only when the work of Divine Truth, the enlightenment and discipline of Divine doctrine, have pierced and slain the spirit of war as it lives in the human will, not perhaps as so much blatant militarism, but as that which alone fosters militarism, the self-love which sets every man against his brother, that knows no God of love, that refuses to hear the truth of love, and that knows no object in life but its own pleasure and aggrandisement. The sword and the spear are the heaven-revealed doctrines of truth, die commandments and precepts of the Lord to man as essentially a spiritual being.

Be it noted that the first function of truth in life is that of the sword and the spear. " I came not to send peace on earth, but a sword ", taught the Prince of Peace, and until the work of the sword is done there can be no cry raised in the human heart summoning a man to the mountain of the Lord. The very promise here given, that the sword shall be beaten into the ploughshare, and the spear into the pruning hook, is completely reversed in another of the Divine prophecies. In the prophet Joel, the explicit command of the Lord reads, " Prepare for war . . . beat your ploughshares into swords and your pruning-hooks into spears, let the weak say I am strong ". It is only as the desires and affections of the unregenerate heart are pierced and slain, that the truth can begin to cultivate positive goods of life. The order of reform is announced in the Word, "Cease to do evil, learn to do well". Before any new life can be hoped for by humanity, the old life of self-interest must be recognised as such and put to the sword. But when, through the sword of truth, men "cease to do evil", the function of truth changes. It is then the beneficent instrument of cultivation, to enlighten and direct the good affections of the new heart the Lord implants. Then can the swords and spears be fashioned into the ploughshares and the pruning hooks, and the new-born angelhood in man "learn to do well".

Previous: The Wrath of God Abideth on Him "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him" (John iii. verse 36) Up: Precious Stones Next: "For the former things are passed away" (Revelation xxi. verse 4)


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