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Previous: 41. The Tabernacle and Temple Up: The Language of Parable Next: 43. Representative Persons

42. Garments

"A wolf in sheep's clothing." He is a cruel, selfish person disguised by kind and gentle words and manners such as are the true expression of innocent affection. (Chapter 12) The affection is the man, and that which expresses the affection truly (or disguises it, if one is a hypocrite) is the clothing. Words and manners are a part of this clothing; but in a broad sense it includes the whole department of intelligence which forms the affection into words and actions. This all is as a garment clothing the affection. Sometimes it clothes the affection becomingly, and sometimes, influenced by fashion, presents it in conventional and formal guise. (AC 1073, 9212; AE 195; AR 166)

Does natural clothing serve another use? It protects us from hurt, especially from cold. Does the intelligence which shows the fitting ways of expressing our affections serve such a use? Think how it is with little children; do they clothe their affections elaborately, or do their feelings come forth in nakedness, exposed sometimes to hurt and ridicule? We protect their tender affections from hurt, when we teach the children appropriate and useful ways of expressing them in words and actions. And so with us all, especially when we go out from the shelter of home, we need to know the wise ways of expressing our good and kind affections, or they will be hurt by the hardness and chilled by the coldness of the world. As wool, the clothing of sheep, protects our bodies from cold, so kind and gentle words and acts and manners keep warm our innocent affections.

Little children are naked in their innocence and are clothed as their intelligence develops and they learn to express their affection in fitting ways and perhaps to disguise feelings which are not good; and so it was with the race in its childhood in Eden. (Gen. ii. 25, iii. 7, 21; AC 165, 216, 292-295, 9960)

This is a good place to think of garments in the spiritual world. Should we expect to find pure and beautiful garments among angels or evil spirits? Should we expect to learn that the loving celestial angels or the intelligent spiritual angels are more elaborately and magnificently clothed? Be careful how you answer. The elaborate clothing belongs to the intellectual character, while the celestial angels, who impart immediately their pure affection, like little children are simply clothed, and those of the inmost heaven in their perfect innocence appear naked. We are prepared to learn further that the flaming brightness, or the shining light, or the simple whiteness of angels' garments is expressive of the degree of their intelligence. Garments of various lovely colors express the qualities of intelligence; heavenly garments also are changed in accord with changing states of intelligence. (HH 177, 182; AE 395, 828; AC 10536)

Do you remember places where the Bible tells us of angels and angels' garments? As the women stood sad and perplexed at the sepulcher of the Lord, "Behold two men stood by them in shining garments; . . . and they said, . . . He is not here, but he is risen." (Luke xxiv. 4-6) The shining garments are emblems of the angels' bright thoughts and of the message of truth they brought. (AR 166; AE 195, 196) In the Revelation, John saw a great multitude clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands." And he was told, "These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." (Rev. vii. 9-14) The Lamb is the Lord; the blood is the current of His Divine thought; our robes are washed in it when by His truth we become intelligent and our speech and conduct are made right and true. (AE 457, 475, 476; AR 378, 379) So in another chapter: "Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment." (Rev. iii. 4, 5) The church in Sardis stands for those who are in dead expressions and forms of worship and charity, these garments being with most of them defiled by evil life. Those who have not so defiled the outward forms of goodness, will enjoy in heaven a life whose outward expressions are genuinely pure and living. (AR 154, 166, 167; AE 182, 195, 196; HH 180) And again: "The marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints." (Rev. xix. 7, 8) The bride is the Lord's church, which appeared also as the New Jerusalem. The promise is that the church shall be instructed in genuine truths from the Lord's Word, which shall lead to genuine righteousness or goodness of life. (AR 814, 815; AE 1222, 1223; AC 5319) In a parable the Lord likened the kingdom of heaven to a marriage feast. "And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: and he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness." (Matt. xxii. 11-13) What we have learned of the garments of heaven shows us that the man without a wedding garment means those who have claimed heaven by mere outward pretence of goodness; and when this is lost, as it soon is after death, they find themselves without spiritual intelligence or any appearance of goodness; that they are bound hand and foot and are cast into outer darkness means that they are powerless to do heavenly deeds or to see in heavenly light. (AE 195; HH 48; AC 2132)

Remember the rich garments made for Aaron according to Divine instructions. They were among the sacred things of the Jewish worship which were all representative of spiritual life. "And these are the garments which they shall make; a breastplate, and an ephod, and a robe, and a broidered coat, a mitre, and a girdle: and they shall make holy garments for Aaron thy brother, and his sons, that he may minister unto me in the priest's office." (Exod. xxviii) Aaron as the priest, was the representative of the Lord in His Divine goodness. The precious garments are representative of all the lovely forms of Divine truth in which the Lord's love is clothed to men. (AC 9805-9966; AE 195 end, 717) Put with this the familiar words of the Psalm: "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments." (Ps. cxxxiii. 1, 2) So the oil of the Lord's Divine kindness descends from His inmost love into the most external forms of truth in which His love speaks to us. And so the oil of kindness from Him in our inmost heart descends into our thought and speech and conduct. (AC 9806; AE 375; PP)

Now let us think of other passages about garments, as they come to mind, reserving till the last those which speak of the Lord's own garments. "There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day." (Luke xvi. 19) The rich man in the parable is the Jewish Church, and the garments of purple and fine linen are the abundant knowledges of good and truth which the Jews had from the Word, which gave them the appearance of possessing "the righteousness of saints." (AC 9467; AE 118, 717, 1143; TCR 215) Again, the Lord said of the scribes and Pharisees, "But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments." (Matt. xxiii. 5) "These things the scribes and Pharisees literally did, but still, by their doing so, was represented and signified that they spoke many things from the ultimates of the Word, and applied them to life, and to their traditions, in order that they might appear holy and learned." The phylacteries on the head and hands suggest outward display of goodness. "To enlarge the borders of robes denotes to speak truths magnificently, only to be heard and seen by men." (AE 395; AC 9825) "No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse." (Matt. ix. 16) The Lord compared the new spiritual truths which He was teaching, and the manner of life which they required, with the external truths and representative rites of the Jewish Church. The new were not in agreement with the old - as in the avoidance of sinners, the observance of the Sabbath and of fasts. (AE 195) Remember the Lord's charge to clothe the naked: "Is not this the fast that I have chosen? . . . Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him? " (Isa. lviii. 6, 7) We clothe the naked when we teach those who desire instruction the useful and becoming ways of expressing good affections, and repressing evil ones. (AE 295, 240; AC 5433)

We read in the Gospel, of our Lord's birth on earth: "And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger: because there was no room for them in the inn." (Luke ii. 7) This was also a sign to the shepherds, by which they should know the Lord. (Ver. 12) The whole account shows the great mercy of the Lord in coming in such a humble way that men could receive and know Him. The swaddling clothes represent the first, simple forms of natural truth in which He clothed His love and began to make it known to men. (AE 706) Years after, a poor woman "when she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind and touched his garment. For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole." (Mark V. 27, 28) "And whithersoever he entered, into villages, or cities, or country, they laid the sick in the streets, and besought him that they might touch if it were but the border of his garment: and as many as touched him were made whole." (Mark vi. 56) The Lord's garments are the Divine truths in which He clothes His love and makes it comprehensible to us. What is the garment's hem, which is its lowest, outmost border, and at the same time that which gives it fixity and permanence? It is the literal precepts of the Lord's Word. And in these is healing power. Though we may not be wise in its spirit, in temptation when we feel our weakness, we must hold to the ten commandments and other simple, literal Divine words. We touch the garment's hem, and we feel in ourselves that we are healed. The Lord too feels that His healing power is received. (AE 195; AC 10023) When we remember the blessing imparted by the Lord's garments, and especially when we know that they represent the Lord's Word with its saving power, it is more than ever sad to read: "Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture did they cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did." (John xix. 23, 24) The Lord's garments here as elsewhere represent the truth in which He clothes His love to us. The soldiers rending His garments are a picture of the church at that day and many times since, rending the Lord's Word in her disputes, till its truth is destroyed. But the coat, or inner garment, woven without seam, represents the inner, spiritual truth of the Word, which is one connected Chapter of life throughout. It is safe from harm from those who rend the letter. (AC 4677, 9093, 9942; AE 64, 195)

When the three disciples in the mountain saw the Lord transfigured, "His face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light." (Matt. xvii. 2) "His raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them." (Mark ix. 3) The disciples' eyes were opened to see something of the glory in which the Lord appears to angels. What Divine quality was expressed by His face shining as the sun? The Lord's Divine love. And what was represented by His shining garments? The Divine truth which reveals Him to angels and men, filling their minds with brightness, and shining even outwardly to the eyes of angels. (AC 5319, 9212; AE 412; HH 129) As we learn to know the Lord's presence clothed in the truths of His Word, and to value the power and light which they impart to our souls, we can join with angels in the song: "Bless the Lord, O my soul. O Lord, my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honor and majesty. Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment." (Ps. civ. 1, 2; AC 9433, 9595; AE 283)


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42. Garments

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