SPIRITUAL LAW IN
THE NATURAL WORLD:
TONES AND UNDERTONES.
WE now proceed directly to the interpretation of nature in
the light of Scripture. And here the first question must be, as to the light
itself: is it truly this? Does Nature, read by Scripture, speak as Scripture
does? Are these two witnesses accordant?
We have not undertaken to verify Scripture according to the ordinary methods. We assume for the present also that what ordinary evangelical orthodoxy holds for truth is in its main features a fair representation of the doctrine of the Bible. We are entitled to do this, because what we propose is (though much more than this,) a method of verification. We are going, not to argue about the light, but to use it. It is wonderful how little argument of this kind there is in the Bible, and how much more convincing and universal is its appeal to men on that account.
If numbers are being made to appear as "powers of the cosmos," - and if all the higher laws of nature are more and more finding numerical expression, - then it is natural to seek here in an especial way the mind in Nature, mathematics bearing so strongly the impress of mind. And if the laws of harmony are clearly pervaded by mathematics, and the diapason actually govern in turn the numerical system of the Bible, then here we should appear to have found the most hopeful direction for discovery of the kind we are seeking. Moreover, we have made at least one discovery, that would seem a most encouraging one, that in its primary division the Scripture-series is one with the harmonic. May we not trust, then, to find it even wholly so, and by this door to reach an assured and open road to the region we desire so earnestly to examine?
The division of the 7 into 4 and has done more than discover to us the harmony thus far between Nature and Scripture. It enables us to give every note of the series its numerical place, in which F stands, therefore, as the first, and E as the final note. Without this, we could not proceed a step; and the help given by this discovery is thus indeed a great one.
But what of the black notes upon the board? Have they, it maybe asked, no title to be reckoned?. If all this is to have voice, ought not they also to be heard? or will it not be caprice to listen to some witnesses and to reject others whose testimony, if but negative, must be of very great importance? The black notes are, of course, semitones, - the notes half way between those on either side and which are sharp in reference to those which precede, and flat in regard to those which follow them. But thus it is evident that five semitones are to be added to the original seven notes in order to get the full compass of the diapason. Here, then, it seems as if we must first ask ourselves, what is meant by this new enumeration? Has it any meaning that we can discover? And is it in contradiction to what we seemed just now to have reached? or may it still by any possibility be consistent with it?
It is encouraging indeed to have to answer It is even more than consistent with it, - it is confirmatory of the meaning before gathered from the septenary arrangement and its division, and endows it only with fuller meaning!
As for the septenary notation, let the key board speak. Its presence there attests its practical reality and value to the musician. Its correspondence with Scripture gives it twofold witness. Why, then the 12, which has also reality, and should, one would say, have meaning, no less than the other? Now in taking this, for settlement, to Scripture, we shall make this new discovery, that 7 and 12 are numbers, according to it, most intimately allied. 12, wherever it is found as a series in Scripture, is found, perhaps without exception, to be divided into 4 times 3, as 7 is into 4 and 3. The factors are the same, although differently combined. As I have elsewhere said of it, "It is only in the relation of the two numbers to one another that it differs from 7: the number of the world and that of divine manifestation characterize it; but these are not side by side merely. It is God manifesting Himself in [relation to] the world of His creation, as 7 is, but now in active energy laying hold of and transforming it. Thus 12 is the number of manifest sovereignty, as it was exercised in Israel by the Lord in the midst of them, or as it will be exercised in the world to come."
Turn now to the complete rest of the people of God, - to that new Jerusalem which has the glory of God, whose light God is, and the Lamb the lamp of it; to which the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple. Here perfection and rest are found if any where, the thought connected, as is abundantly plain, with 7: yet what do we find? Look at the foundations of the city: they are twelve in number. Look at the gates: there are twelve gates. Measure the city: its length and breadth and height are equal, - twelve thousand furlongs each. Measure the height of the wall: a hundred and forty-four Cubits - 12 X 12. Behold the tree of life, planted by the river that issues from the throne of God: it bears twelve manner of fruits, and yields its fruit every month. Everywhere this number 12 meets us where we might expect the 7. It has the factors of 7: it is. as it were, the expansion of the 7; and the spiritual idea which shines through it, that God is everywhere the manifest Ruler, what does it speak of to our hearts but complete subjection to Him, the perfection of the creature, and its rest?
Thus the 12 is indeed the expanded 7; and the musical scale, as interpreted by Scripture, is in its every aspect, as in its internal meaning, really one.
We may go on, then, with increased confidence, to that for which it will be indeed taxed to the utmost: not because of scanty results accruing from our search, but rather from the contrary The new language we are learning will seem to lead into such quaint lore from Natures library that we shall be tempted to think we are dreaming, or in the hallucination of disease: we shall need to probe ourselves with sharp inquiry, to see if we are awake and to examine our road, to see if it be on solid earth, or marsh. Yet what is more certain than that the numbers of which we speak are really in nature? and what more simple than to guage the value of each by what we find in Scripture free as it must be from all suspicion of bribed witness? Then, if, after all, they tell a consistent story why should we refuse it, even though it should speak more theologically than for some reason we have concluded it to have the right to speak?
We come, then, in the next place, to consider the keys. They are of three kinds - sharps or flats mainly, with one natural key, which, save as accidentals, has neither sharps nor flats. The sharp keys raise certain notes regularly half a tone; the flats, on the other hand, lower them half a tone. The one represent, therefore, a forward and upward tendency; the other, a downward and backward one. The natural key represents neither the one nor the other, but a condition of rest between the two. Every key, moreover, has its special key-note, the fundamental one, to which all its melodies conduct, and where they rest at last. What, then, is the key-note of the natural key, the equilibrial anthem, the motion which is repose? It is C of the musical scale, 5 of the numerical series. And to what does this answer scripturally? We have only to compare our table. The fundamental thought connected with 5 is "the creature in relation to the Creator" or what is signified by the prophetical name of Him who, to fulfill it, was called "Jesus" - "Emmanuel," "God with us."
This is the central note of the musical scale - the rest-note, one may say, of the whole. From this the sharps stretch upward, the flats measure downward. Could any thing be more appropriate, more beautiful, than this, if the whole of the scale had been planned by some fanatic spiritualist, eager to press the universe into the service of the gospel? Find me, in the range of this numerical series, any number that shall be so justly the centre and meeting-place of all spiritual harmonies as this, in which God and man meet together, and the "Father of Eternity" is a "child born" whose name is "The Mighty God"?
Here God is God indeed, and man is only rightly man. Each is in his place, - man in the weakness which so claims God and God in the almightiness which can meet creature-need with unexhausted fullness. It is no wonder, then, that a fifth should be both the measure of the steps by which the sharp keys rise from the central note, and the measure also by which the flat keys descend from it. But what, then, do these movements represent? As God and man are both together at the centre, it seems as if Gods action might be represented in the one of the two, mans action in the other. And this action backward as well as downward seems well fitted to be mans as that upward and forward is of God.
But they have met in the centre: are they, then, now separating from one another? God forbid! all here is order, not disorder, - harmony, not discord. The keys stretch, but do not separate, from the centre: they remain ever in perfect relation to it. It is in this, we may say, they have their root, even as where God and man are not together we can have no music. And in the gospel God has shown its how possible it is to meet Him, and find Him for us, when as yet we realize nothing but ungodliness and impotence: "When we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly;" and "to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
From this point there is yet, therefore, progress, upward and downward, - upward, for the purpose of God is mans exaltation; downward, for "he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." Thus both these series, the upward and the downward, may have reference to man; and yet the upward speak none the less of divine action: for God alone can exalt and it is in His dealings with His creatures that He glorifies Himself. Each step of progress in both directions is marked by this number 5, for the central thought is thus sustained all through. Throughout, God and man are still together; and throughout, each still keeps his place. It is the only possible way of blessing that this should be so.
Let us follow the descending series first. Here, in the flat keys, we have really but one series of numbers, while in the sharps we have a double series. The reason is, that in the flats, the key-note always coincides with the flat added the previous time. We have thus but a single series of notes or numbers, which, if the suggestion above be right, we must interpret throughout as relating to man and not to God. Let us put them as a series, applying our key, as we best may. We have, then, -
The key of one flat, F (1) "integrity."
two flats, B (4) "weakness."
three " E (7) "rest in perfection."
four " A (3) "sanctification."
five " D (6) "victory over evil."
six " G (2) "service."
seven " C (5) "reward"
We close with the seventh key because of the number itself, as we know it, and because we have gone through, thus, all the numbers. The final key certainly yields a very appropriate number for the end of the series, - a somewhat remarkable series, even at first sight, although it may not seem to present the regular "pilgrims progress," which we might suppose it would. I believe a close comparison with the stages of the divine work in the first chapter of Genesis, type as it is of that in the individual soul, would develop a very striking correspondence, which it would require, however, many pages to bring out. A main difficulty is, that with the great diversity of experiences among Christians of which we must be conscious, there is so little agreement as to the order of attainment and the meaning of most important terms. What, for instance, is "sanctification"? How differently do sincere Christians write and speak of this! I shall make, therefore, but few and brief remarks upon what is before us.
As the basis of all Christian experience, we must have come to God in Christ, - a thing already indicated for us, as we have seen, in the key-note of the natural scale, the point of departure for the whole series. We meet Him with no consciousness but that of sin, are justified as ungodly; not as having worked for it, but receiving it as grace, through faith. Thus brought to Gad, the grace we have realized to be in Him operates to divorce us from sin, and to beget in us the guileless spirit which according to the Psalmist accompanies forgiveness. (Ps. xxxii. 2.) There is, for the first time in any true sense, -
before God. "Now to be Thine, yea, Thine alone," is the longing desire of the heart; and this is plainly the first necessity for growth. A "double-minded man" lacks every condition for progress, plainly.
But with the heart thus right, the desire and intention of obedience implanted in it, there will be naturally at first no proper consciousness of the impotence in us which may accompany a right will. The apprehension of -
has to be, as the apostle shows us it is, the condition of strength. The path of progress is here a steep descent into the valley of humiliation. "No confidence in the flesh" has to be learnt, and that all, self-confidence, even in the Christian, is confidence in the flesh. Holiness is not to be attained by self-occupation, nor the power of the Spirit of God found for self-complacency and Pharisaism. Here the scriptural remedy is most simple, yet too little known, - the cross of Christ, as the judgment of all that we are in nature and practice, so that we can turn away from ourselves to Him who is before God for us, and in whom we are, "accepted in the Beloved." In Christ we can see ourselves without the least stain or touch of sin, we can be occupied with ourselves without self-occupation; "in Christ," thus, we can realize that "old things are passed away, and all things are become new," and -
REST IN PERFECTION
outside ourselves, yet ours. Nothing will, nothing ought to, satisfy us but perfection To find it in ourselves would be to lose it; to find it in Christ is to find it available for all our but leaving us to glory in Him only. "We are the circumcision, who worship God in the spirit, and glory in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flash."
The result is, practical -
for Christ is "made of God to us sanctification" "We all wish open face beholding the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Lord the Spirit." A heart upon a heavenly object means, of necessity a heart outside the world. He who could say, "To me, to live is holiness" would leave out Christ. He who can with the apostle say, "To me, to live is Christ" will of necessity be holy.
How simple, how blessed, then, is Gods way of sanctification! is the way too of all success. How mighty in prayer will he be to whom to live is Christ! How quiet and assured may he be as to
VICTORY OVER EVIL
who is thus linked in heart with Christ!
"He always wins who sides with God;
To him no chance is lost:
Gods will is sweetest to him when
It triumphs at his cost."
Christs banner never floated yet in an unconquered field.
Thus far, then, there has been in this series a real and connected progress of thought. We have had no difficulty in tracing it; and it seems already to be in some sense complete. Yet the two closing members of it could hardly be omitted without loss,. and they come in with undeniable fitness where they do. Who would leave out of this catalogue of blessing, brief though it be, -
and who can separate it from that which divinelove has ordained to follow it, -
Thus our pilgrim has got within the gate. Theseries is manifestly complete.
What shall we say of it, now that it has ended? Is it any thing more than an ingenious play of fancy? Can we reckon, after all, this theological lesson as among the certainties of science? We neither have the will nor the power to decide this for our readers. That the numbers to be interpreted are there seems evident; that their interpretation is by a table of meanings which have their roots in nature itself seems equally so; that Scripture sustains and verifies, these meanings is capable of receiving extended proof.* There we must for the present leave it; but our search in this direction is not yet over: we have still to consider the sharp keys.
(*See The Numerical Bible" passim.)
Here we have a movement upward and forward, with halts at the same intervals of a fifth as before, by which the 5 which is our starting-point is carried continuously with us. Here the key-note lies next beyond the added sharp; so that we have a double series, of sharps and key-notes, to consider. Let us construct our table.
1 " F (1) The Father G (2) Christ.
2 " C (5) Divine government; D (6) Victory over evil.
3 " G (2) Christ A (3) Sanctification (by blood and Spirit).
4 " D (6) Conqueror; E (7) Perfection and rest.
5 " A (3) Holy Spirit; B (4) Weakness of creature.
6 " E (7) Perfect work; F (1) Kingdom of the Father.
This table is naturally more complex than the former one. Note that the spiritual movement indicated we have already suggested as one from God to man, and that this governs, therefore, in the interpretation of the numbers. Note also that with the sixth key (which is the last generally recognized in music) we have returned again to the point from which we set out; the cycle is complete: we set out from God and have returned to God again.
Not simply from God either, but from the Father. Notice, once more, that our series follows the order of Scripture and of the creeds: the first double pair of numbers speaks of the Father; the second, of the Son; the third, of the Spirit; and the numbers themselves bind us to this, - we have no alternative! Yet why should the numbers be as they are? All but one are represented here, and how is it that every one turns up in its necessary place to work out this result? If it be chance, how slender a chance was there of such a thing! the law of probabilities would say, at least, millions to one against it.
But this is not all. Among these seven numbers, six of which have found their place, there is just one which, if it had come in in the first row, would have spoiled all. This is 4, the number of the creature, and which in a movement from God to man would have been in this place an absolute negation of such meaning. It should not therefore appear, and it is the only number which should not. It should not, and it does not. Is all this still chance? Add all that we have seen before. Surely all sober reasoning is against the thought of any possible delusion in following these things to their full result.
In any movement from God to man, we begin, then, scripturally and necessarily, with the -
"To us," says the apostle, "there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things." And in His counsel toward man there is but one word that explains the whole - is the true key-note. Every Christian heart knows it, and it is affirmed here by nature and in song: it is -
"The Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world." Well may this be the first note here: what other could take its place?
In the second pair of numbers we have the first two repeated, with the creature one prefixed. They are therefore a confirmatory testimony to the same truth - not of course, a mere repetition of it. The number 5 speaks, as we have seen, of
of those governmental ways of which Christ is still the key. And the number which is in relation to this here shows what is the end of it in blessing for us, in that glorious and eternal -
VICTORY OVER EVIL
of which the cross is the great pledge and prelude, and in which God manifests Himself, to the joy and worship of His creatures. Here the end is reached naturally of the first division. The second shows
Himself in the accomplishment of His work in behalf of men. Here it will seem to many, at first sight, that the result of His work would be better expressed in some other way than as -
which they are accustomed to ascribe definitively to the Spirit. Scripture, however, is larger in its thought than this. Thus in Hebrews, for instance, we find sanctification by the blood of Christ, or "through the offering of the body of Jesus once for all," the blood "perfecting forever them that are sanctified." Thus we have "the heart sprinkled from an evil conscience," and are enabled to draw near to God in "full assurance of faith."
Again, Christ is "made of God unto us sanctification," having "sanctified Himself " - set Himself apart in the place He has assumed for us in heaven - that we also might be "sanctified through the truth." Thus as an Object for our hearts in heaven He draws the hearts of His people from the earth, and gives them what is true power for holiness in "the joy of the Lord."
Thirdly, He is also the giver of the Holy Spirit, who takes of the things that are Christs to show them to us. Perhaps no one word, then, would convey the fullness of His work for us so well asthat of "sanctification."
But again, the number 6 recalls us to the thought of Him as -
He is to come again, and to have all things put under His feet. By His blood He reconciles all things that are in heaven or on earth; and when He takes the throne at last, it is to subdue all to God. "Then cometh the end, when He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule, and all authority and power: for He must reign till He have put all enemies under His feet.". And then what? Why, -
PERFECTION AND REST.
And when all things shall be subdued under Him, then shall the Son Himself also be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all." Here, therefore, the second series the series comes to an end.
The third begins with the number of the -
which, however, is connected with one which may at first seem to be little in place. It is the number which speaks of the - WEAKNESS OF THE CREATURE.
We expect, rather, perhaps, something that speaks of strength or fruitfulness; but here, indeed, when we are made thoroughly conscious of it, is the secret of both. The creature leaving its creature-place, seeking to be as God, fell into ruin. The way back is simply to take humbly, in true repentance toward God, the creature-place. "Out of weakness" are we "made strong." Self-abased, we can be exalted. A whole book of Scripture gives us the story of a "perfect" man who learns by most painful discipline, and now with his eyes seeing God, to "abhor himself, and repent in dust and ashes." Then, as in a moment, he is lifted up out of the dust, and blest. How simple is the lesson! how strange the difficulty of learning it! Once be but His creature, God will be your God: to one with his body now dead is made the revelation of the almighty God, and to "walk before" Him is to "be perfect."
Thus now we have the number which speaks of this; the -
of the Spirit in us being that, which, when all things are indeed subdued, ends, as we have seen, in the
KINGDOM OF THE FATHER,
where the subjects are all children, obedience but a deep delight, and the eternal day is sanctified in the Sabbath-rest of the children of God.
Here, then, we have reached the end of these harmonic series, - as far, at least, as I am able to interpret them. Better theology I know not - more concise simple teaching of it I have yet to find. Strange indeed it is, no doubt, to find it here; but once again we are reminded of what has passed into a proverb, that "truth is stranger than fiction." Strange as it is, though, there is nothing about it uncouth, fantastic, or bizarre. It is but a natural type read by Scripture; and why should not Nature have her types thus, waiting Scripture-exposition? Is there any thing much stranger in it than that the things that "happened unto Israel" should have "happened unto them for types"?
The real question lurking in our minds is, I doubt not, one akin to what was once plainly put by those who saw the box of ointment broken above their Masters head. It would be, "Cui bono?" "To what purpose is this waste?" Why should theology be hid in music and hid so securely that it should take nineteen centuries to bring it out?
Well, if it be there, let us take the shame of not having found it: what has barred the way to our possession of these things, but little diligence to explore Gods Word - little belief of what was there for Us? The knowledge needed to explore it is not very deep, - the skill to bring it out not any thing wonderful. No: we have simply never looked for it; and "he that seeketh findeth."
Well; but still, cui bono? Why should it not be enough to find theology in Scripture why should we think of it or find it in the laws of harmony? Well, why should Israels history teach us what we know without it? Perhaps, after all, because we would not thus know it so well. Perhaps because, if even man will not hear, God will accumulate His testimonies, and heaven and earth be made to witness against him. Perhaps because His delight in Christ is such that He must everywhere express it. Perhaps to tell us where lies the soul of all true harmony, and that with Him alone are the pleasures which are at His right hand for evermore.
For us now also it may testify that the "crystals" of theology will neither be "washed away" nor "changed" by the inlet into it of the "flood" of science. This thought is only the result of the waters not being yet sufficiently settled to discern rightly what is going on. The sciences, in the unwisdom of their babyhood, may strive, no doubt, to extinguish the theologians; but before they are half-grown, they will be sitting at their feet. At their Masters feet, at least, all Nature sits in the hush of worship.
Go To Chapter Seven
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