Salt, Light, City, Lamp
You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt become saltless6, with what shall it be salted? After that it is of no use, except to be cast out, and to be trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is laid out on a mountain cannot be hidden. Neither do they light a lamp and put it under the bushel, but on the lampstand, and it shines for all who are in the house. So let your light shine in front of men, so that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in the heavens.
For everyone shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt. Salt is good; but if the salt become saltless, with what shall you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another.
AC 9207:2. By “the salt of the earth” is meant the truth of the church which longs for good. By “the salt that has lost its saltiness” is meant truth without any longing for good. That such truth is profitable for nothing is described by “the salt that has lost its savor being thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out and trodden under foot.” To long for good is to long to do what is good, and in this way to be conjoined with good.
AC 9207:3. “To have salt in oneself” denotes to have this longing.
AR 122. All the quality of good is from the truths that are united to it. For good without truths is like bread and food without wine and water, which do not nourish; and also like fruit in which there is no juice. It appears also like trees stripped of the leaves, on which there hang a few dry apples left from the autumn. This is also meant by these words of the Lord:
For everyone shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt. Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, with what will you season it? Have salt in yourselves (Mark 9:49–50).
Salt here is the desire of truth.
Light, City, Mountain
AE 405:32. “The light of the world” means the truth of the church. That it is not the truth unless it is from good is signified by “a city that is set on a mountain cannot be hid,” “a city on a mountain” meaning truth from good.
Parables: natural base for the spiritual sense
SS 5. In the Word there is a spiritual sense, hitherto unknown.
SS 27. The sense of the Letter of the Word is the basis, the containant and the support of the spiritual and celestial senses.
SS 33. The Word without the sense of its letter would be like a palace without a foundation, a palace in the air instead of on the ground, a mere shadow which would vanish away. Again, it would be like a temple, containing many sacred things, whose central shrine had no protecting roof or dividing wall, which are its containants. If these were lacking, or were taken away, its holy things would be carried off by robbers, and violated by the beasts of the earth and the birds of the air, and thus destroyed. It would be like the tabernacle, in the inmost of which was the Ark of the Covenant, and in the center the golden lampstand, the golden altar upon which was the incense, and the table upon which was the bread of faces, which were its holy things, without its outermost things, namely, the curtains and the veils.
Indeed, the Word without the sense of its Letter would be like the human body without its coverings, called skins, and without the support of its bones: without these all the inward parts would fall apart. It would also be like the heart and lungs in the thorax without their covering, called the pleura, and their supports, called the ribs; and like the brain without its covering, called the dura mater, and without its general covering, containant, and support called the skull.
Thus would it be with the Word without the sense of its Letter. Therefore, it is said in Isaiah, “Jehovah will create upon all the glory a covering” (Isa. 4:5).
SS 37. Divine Truth, in the sense of the Letter of the Word, is in its fulness, its holiness, and its power.
SS 40. The truths of the sense of the Letter of the Word are, in some cases, not naked truths, but appearances of truth, being, as it were, similitudes and comparisons taken from such things as are in nature, accommodated and adequate to the apprehension of simple people and children. But because they are correspondences, they are the receptacles and abodes of genuine truth. They are like vessels which enclose and contain, as a crystal cup holds noble wine, or a silver dish nourishing food. They are like garments which serve as clothing, like swaddling clothes for an infant, and a pretty dress for a maiden. They are also like the knowledge of the natural man, which comprises the perceptions and affections of truth of the spiritual man. The truths themselves unveiled, which are included, contained, clothed and comprised, are in the spiritual sense of the Word, and goods unveiled are in its celestial sense.
6 Literally in the Greek, “become··foolish (or senseless)”; the Latin word also means “be made foolish” or “tasteless” (AC 9207:2, 4; AC 10300:3). Doctrine of Charity 190 speaks of salt that has “lost its saltiness.”
Questions and Comments
- From the spiritual sense, what does the Lord mean by “salt of the earth”? We think of people who are honest, reliable, down-to-earth, humble.... Salt was very precious, even used as a soldier’s “salary.” Do you see how the common and the spiritual meanings fit together?
- What if we did not have the parable of the salt, but instead we only had the spiritual sense: “You are the truth of the church that longs to do what is good. But if the truth loses its longing for good, with what will that longing be rekindled?”