36. Gold and Silver
Metals are in the same general class with rocks; they all are minerals and have in common the qualities of hardness and endurance. But metals have one quality unlike rocks, which adds greatly to their usefulness. What quality do I mean? Their ability to be molded and wrought into various forms.
Do you remember what the spiritual rocks are? The fixed facts, settled and sure, on which all our industries and all our habits of life and thought are based. (Chapter 33) Are there among these facts some which possess the peculiar quality of the metals, that while they are firm and sure, still they take various forms according to the circumstances? How about this fact: If you break the laws of order you will suffer for it? It is a sure fact; but how many different forms it takes according to the circumstances! As many forms as there are kinds of transgression and unhappy consequences. But the principle or the law-for so we usually call a fact of this sort - is the same, whatever the special form. These are the spiritual metals: principles or laws which are hard and sure like other facts, but take form according to the circumstances to which they are applied. The variety of circumstances is due to the changing relations of human life; and so we find that the spiritual metals are especially those principles which serve to guide men's lives - principles fixed and sure, but applicable to changing human states. (AC 425, 643, 1551; AE 176; AR 775, 913)
You can imagine a household or a community which is kept in order by the application everywhere of the principle suggested above. The people fear to do wrong because of the punishment it brings. Can you think of other principles which might rule, nobler perhaps than this? Here is one: It is for the good of all, that we should be obedient. This law also may take as many forms as there are opportunities for obedience and benefits resulting from them.
May we be guided by a still better principle? May we enter intelligently into the ways of the Lord's order as we see them revealed in His works and in His Word, and do right not because we are compelled to by outward force, nor yet for the sake of the natural benefits which follow obedience, but because we see that the Lord's order is wise and brings the genuine happiness of serving one another? We may state this principle briefly: Living intelligently in the ways of order brings a pure and happy spiritual life.
Is there still another principle of life more precious even than the last? May a little child do right from a motive higher than the fear of punishment; higher than the desire to get on comfortably; higher even than the pleasure of being useful to others? May he do right because he loves his father and mother and feels that his doing right makes them happy and brings him nearer to their love? And may not the same principle lead us to serve our Heavenly Father? Keep the Lord's commandments for His sake, and the Lord's love will be in all your life. It is vain to look for a deeper or purer motive.
Do you know the two most precious metals, to which these heavenly principles correspond? Silver and gold. These noble metals are very enduring, not liable to the rust which destroys baser metals. So the heavenly principles are free from corroding selfishness which so easily injures less heavenly motives. Gold and silver too while so enduring are soft and yielding, for these heavenly principles are gladly and easily applied as each opportunity arises to serve the neighbor or the Lord, and do not need, like the less heavenly motives, to be cast into hard, arbitrary rules. Gold and silver also are not used like baser metals to make tools and machinery to cut and pound and compel things to our service, but they are chiefly used for coins with which to reward faithful labor, and for ornaments. So these heavenly principles do not sternly compel us, but win us by their beauty and preciousness.
Now to distinguish between the two metals, silver and gold. In many respects they are nearly alike, but gold is more rare and precious than silver; and gold has the warm; fiery color of sunshine, while the cool white ness of silver is rather like the moon. Can we doubt that gold corresponds to that most holy law: Do good for the Lord's sake, and you will feel His love of good? and silver to that law only second in holiness: Live intelligently in the ways of the Lord's wisdom, and you will know the delight of serving one another? One law has the preciousness and warm glow of gold; the other the more intellectual beauty of silver. (AC 5658, 9832; AE 242; AR 211)
You have heard of the Golden Age. It is described in the Bible by the beautiful parable of the garden of Eden. Do you know why that age was called golden? Was it from the abundance of natural gold? or because spiritual gold was the ruling principle of those innocent people? because, like good children, they loved the Lord and in doing right for His sake felt the goodness of it from Him? This was the quality of those celestial people, and on that account their age was rightly called golden. (AC 5658; AE 70; HH 115; CL 75) And what is meant in the description of Eden, where we read of the first branch of the watering stream "That is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; and the gold of that land is good "? (Gen. ii. 11, 12) Does it not say that the wisdom of those people sprang from their love of the Lord and their knowledge of the goodness of His ways? (AC 110-113, 658, 9881)
There was also a Silver Age, which came after the age of gold. It was a time when men were wise in learning the Lord's ways of order from nature and from the Ancient Word, and found in them the happiness of serving one another. Was it from abundance of natural silver or for some deeper reason that this was called the Silver Age? (AC 5658; AE 70; HH 115; CL 76) There are many proofs in the Proverbs and in job, that the wise ancients knew that gold and silver correspond to precious heavenly principles. We have already quoted "Where shall wisdom be found? and where is the place of understanding? . . . It cannot be gotten for gold, neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof. It cannot be valued with the gold of Ophir, with the precious onyx, or the sapphire. The gold and the crystal cannot equal it: and the exchange of it shall not be for jewels of fine gold. No mention shall be made of coral, or of Pearls: for the price of wisdom is above rubies. The topaz of Ethiopia shall not equal it, neither shall it be valued with pure gold. Whence then cometh wisdom, and where is the place of understanding? " (Job xxviii 12-20; AE 717; AC 9865, 9881) "How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver! " (Prov. xvi. 16, viii. 10, iii. I4)
Now please suggest passages from the Bible where gold and silver are named; but let us reserve passages which mention also copper and iron for our next Chapter.
"The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold." (Ps. xix. 9, 10) "The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver." (Ps. cxix. 72; AE 619) The Lord's words are compared to gold and silver because they teach everywhere the two heavenly principles of love to the Lord and intelligent service of one another, which are gold and silver. These are the substance of the Two Great Commandments on which hang all the law and the prophets. They are the substance of the "Golden Rule," which also is the law and the prophets. (Matt. vii. 12, xxii. 40; AC 9832, 9881)
We read in the prophets that the Lord refines men as gold and silver. "I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction." (Isa. xlviii. I0) "I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined and try them as gold is tried." (Zech. xiii. 9; Mal. iii. 3) Does it not show the Lord's purpose that through temptation and trial the two heavenly principles of love to the Lord and intelligent service of one another may become pure in our hearts? (AE 242, 532; AC 8159) "I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich." (Rev. iii. 18) The Lord invites us to learn the goodness of doing good for His sake. (AE 242; AR 211; AC 10227) "Thou preventest him with the blessings of goodness: thou settest a crown of pure gold on his head." (Ps. xxi. 3; AE 272; AC 6524, 9930)
In the tabernacle gold was used as covering for the sacred furniture and the walls, while the bases in which the planks of the walls rested were of silver. (Exod. xxv., xxvi) Does this tell us something of the qualities which make human hearts dwelling-places of the Lord? Knowledge of His goodness is the gold next about His presence, and understanding of His truth is the silver basis on which this rests. (AC 9484, 9506, 9643, 9667, 2576; AE 242 end) Why is gold the first-named gift presented by the wise men to the infant Lord? (Matt. ii. 11) It represents the loving acknowledgment of the Lord's goodness, the gift He most desires. (AC 9293, 10252; AR 277; AE 242, 491)
What state of life is represented by the reign of Solomon when there was such abundance of gold? "All king Solomon's drinking vessels were of gold, and all the vessels of the house of the forest of Lebanon were of gold; none were of silver; it was nothing accounted of in the days of Solomon." (1 Kings x. 21) This pictures a celestial state in which love for the Lord, not intelligence, is the ruling motive.
What can be the meaning of the Lord's charge in sending out the apostles: "Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses "? (Matt. x. 9) That they must not trust their own sense of what is good, nor their own intelligence, but must be poor in spirit and let Him teach them what is good and true. (AE 242; AC 4677, 9942) We learned that the sun and moon sometimes represented self-love and self-intelligence, especially when they became objects of idolatrous worship. So also the gold and silver, especially when made into idols, may represent our acceptance of evil as the supreme good, and falsity as truth. (Isa. xl. 19; Rev. ix. 20; AE 587; AR 459; AC 8932)
We remember that there was a Golden Age when love for the Lord showed men what was good, and a Silver Age when their delight was to learn and live in His ways of charity. What is the meaning of these words of lament? "How is the gold become dim! how is the most fine gold changed!" (Lam. iv. 1) And again, "Thy silver is become dross." (Isa. i. 22) They express sadness that loving service of the Lord is no longer found, nor delight in learning and living in His ways of mutual service. (AR 913; AE 242, 887) Consider also the parable of the lost piece of silver; what is the particular spiritual treasure whose loss and recovery it describes? (Luke xv. 8-10; AE 675) And will the golden principle ever again prevail? Will men ever again be guided and rewarded in their daily life by the blessedness of doing good for the Lord's sake? It is promised. The holy city, seen by John descending out of heaven from God, "was pure gold, like unto clear glass. . . The street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass." (Rev. xxi. 18, 21; AR 912, 917; AE 1321, 1326)