What do we mean when we compare a person to a rock? when, for example, we say that a man stands like a rock? We mean that he is firm, immovable. This is the most marked characteristic of rocks, and the one which makes them useful for building and especially for foundations.
Is this firmness in a man merely a physical quality, or is there something in his mind fixed and unchanging, which makes him like a rock? What mental possessions have we, useful from their very hardness and fixed ness? Warm, sensitive, active affections are not like rocks; intelligence, growing and ever reaching out new branches, is not like a rock. But there are things in our minds, fixed and settled and not liable to change. There is a saying that "facts are stubborn things," and of these we have a store. The fact that two times two is four; that the earth attracts bodies to itself, or that the sun gives light and heat; that Columbus discovered America in 1492; the fact that there is a life after death; that there is a God, and that He is good; that God created men, and that He came into the world to save them - these and many more facts lie in our minds sure and unchanging. It is impossible to twist or bend them; we must accommodate ourselves to them. And do they serve a use as foundations? All our industries are based on the settled facts of nature; all our plans of life rest on "fundamental " facts which we accept as sure. All our knowledge rests on established facts; if we construct a line of argument, we must base it on facts; if our facts are faulty, the whole structure is weak; if they Prove false, the whole falls. Settled facts, of which we have a firm conviction, are our mental rocks. These give stability to our character; without them we are vacillating, having no foundation; in the degree that we have them and rest securely on them we have the quality of a rock. (AE 411; AC 8581)
Who knows whether rocks have always been rocks as we now find them, or whether some rocks have been gradually formed, and perhaps still are forming? The deposited or stratified rocks, as they are called, are formed in the course of years by the settling of little particles to the ocean bottom, which after ward become solidified. And are there facts existing today which were not facts yesterday? and this year which were not facts last year? The facts of history gather in this way a new layer with each day and year. But the accumulated facts of history may undergo a change when, by and by, they are looked at as a whole. They then show a plan and order throughout, which could not be known while the facts were gathering. This change is even more complete in regard to facts of nature, where we have long since ceased to record that the earth revolved today and yesterday and the day before, but remember simply the universal facts that the earth revolves, that the sun shines, that grass grows, that cattle eat it, etc. And so with facts of human and Divine life. We do not say this man passed into the spiritual world at death, and this man, and this; but we accept the universal fact that men by death pass to the spiritual world. We do not accumulate instances to Prove the Lord's goodness, but accept the fact that "the LORD is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works." The facts have lost the appearance of successive layers, and show themselves a compact structure through which run different clearly-marked elements. The change is like that which rocks undergo, from the stratified to the crystalline structure.
The Bible treats not of worldly, but of spiritual life. When it speaks of rocks it means especially the settled facts in regard to the Lord and heaven and salvation. We are like rocks in the Bible sense when we have a firm grasp of these eternal truths, and found our habits of thought and of life securely upon them. But whose thought grasps, we must rather say, whose thought is, the whole, the absolute and eternal truth? The Lord's, and His alone. "He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he." (Deut. xxxii. 4) "Trust ye in the LORD forever: for in the LORD Jehovah is a rock of ages." (Isa. xxvi. 4) "Lead me to the rock that is higher than I" (Ps. lxi. 2) What quality of the Lord is brought to mind in all such passages, where He is called a Rock? Is it His tender love? No, but His fixed, unchanging truth. (AE 411; AC 8581) You remember that the Lord speaks of a rock on which He will build His church. "He saith unto them, But whom say ye that
I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered . . . Thou art Peter, and upon this rock 1 will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (Matt. xvi. I5-18) The rock is the truth, established with firm conviction in the hearts of His disciples, that Jesus is the Son of God, which means that He is God in His Humanity. This is the fundamental truth of Christianity on which all else rests. The Lord's words read as if Peter were the rock, yet not Peter personally, but as the embodiment of this firm faith in the Lord. (Read verses 22 and 23 of the same chapter) Because Peter was chosen by the Lord to represent this element in the church, He named him Cephas or Peter, which means a stone. (John i. 42; AR 768, 798; TCR 342, 379; LJ 57; AC Preface to Chapter xxii. of Gen.; AE 411, 820)
"Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner. . . . And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them.". (Matt. xxi. 42-45) The priests and Pharisees were the builders of the church for the time; what cornerstone were they rejecting? The Divine truth of the Lord's Word; especially the foundation truth that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. But the Lord's eternal truth will surely prevail, and our opposition to it, in spiritual Matters as in physical, can lead only to our own hurt. (AE 417)
Remember the parable of the house built upon a rock. "And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not for it was founded upon a rock." (Matt. Vii. 24-27) One's spiritual house is the state of mind and life in which he feels safe and at home. The storm which tests its strength is temptation with its tempest of false thoughts. A living conviction of the eternal truths of the Lord's Word, about the Lord Himself, about His Providence, about heaven - a foundation which cannot be shaken, but shows its' strength the more plainly in the time of trial-is gained only in doing what the Lord commands. For doing the Lord's words brings us into living relation with Him who is the Rock, the Cornerstone. (AE 411, 644)
We read of the stones used in building the temple: "And the house, when it was building, was built of stone made ready before it was brought thither: so that there was neither hammer nor ax nor any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was building." (1 Kings vi. 7) And in another place we read: "And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it." (Exod. xx. 25) It means that our religious faith and our worship must be formed from genuine truths as we receive them from the Lord in His Word, and we must not distort and fashion them to suit ourselves. (AR 45 7, 847; AE 585; AC 1298, 8941) Remember how in the desert "Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and water came out abundantly." (Numb. xx. 1 I) Again we read: "Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways . . . with honey out of the rock should I have satisfied thee." (Ps. lxxxi. 16) The rock is the unchanging truth of the Lord's Word, in appearance stern and severe; the water and the honey are the refreshment and the sweetness which it has in store for us. (AE 411, 619, 374; AC 8581, 8582, 5620)
In the parable of the sower we read that some seed fell on stony ground, and the Lord explains: "He that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended." (Matt. xiii. 20,21) Stones here suggest something less heavenly. A hard, unaffectionate state of mind is pictured, which has only an intellectual interest in the Lord's Word, receives its teachings as mere facts, and has no love for it to give strength in time of temptation. (AE 401, 411; AC 3310; HH 488)
And still again, we find this verse: "Is not my word like a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?" (Jer. xxiii. 29) Can it be the rock of Divine truth which the Lord's Word breaks in pieces? Surely not. But we may have accepted falsities and supposed them to be truths and built on them as if they were the solid rocks. Before the Lord's Word, they fall to pieces. Rocks in this verse mean such falsities, as is very plain from the verses which precede. (PP; AE 411; INV. 35) This helps us to understand the meaning of the statement in the Revelation, that men "hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne." (Rev. Vi. 15, 16) They are not the good who wish to hide from the Lord, but the evil; and they are not the rocks of truth but of falsity with which the evil try to screen and justify themselves. (AR 338, 339; AE 410, 411; HH 488)
You remember that the Jewish law commanded that for certain crimes persons should be stoned. (Exod. xxi. 28, 29; Lev. xxiv. 16; John viii. 5) Punishments, like all other things in the Jewish Church were representative. They were pictures of the inevitable spiritual consequences of various forms of wrong-doing. Stoning represented the extinction of the spiritual understanding by the indulgence of false thoughts, and the crimes which received this punishment were those which represented the spiritual crime of falsifying truth. (AC 7456, 8799; AE 240, 655) Stoning also suggests the removal of falsity by the stern application of truth. (AC 7456) We find both thoughts involved in the words of the captives' Psalm "Happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us. Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones." (Ps. cxxxvii. 8, 9) The beginnings of innocent life have been destroyed by falsity; happy is he who destroys the beginnings of evil by the power of the Lord's Word. (AE 411)