Peter’s Wife’s Mother Healed
And when Jesus was come into Peter’s house, He saw his wife’s mother laid, and sick of a fever, etc.
Q. WHAT do you here understand by Jesus entering into Peter’s house, and by his seeing Peter’s wife’s mother laid, and sick of a fever?
A. These words have both a literal and a spiritual meaning, like the words of all the other Miracles performed by the lord, and according to the literal meaning they relate to Peter as a man, and to his wife’s mother as to a person sick of a bodily disorder called a fever; but according to their spiritual meaning, they relate to Peter and to his wife’s mother, as representing spiritual principles belonging to the church, that is to say, to the members of the church at that period, and to the distemper with which the members of the church were then affected.
Q. And according to the spiritual signification, what do you under stand by Jesus entering into Peter’s house?
A. By Peter, as an apostle, is represented the principle of faith in the church, and especially of that faith which acknowledges the divinity of the great saviour, (see Matt. 17:13-20); and by his house therefore are represented the interiors of that faith. Thus by Jesus entering Peter’s house is to be understood His Divine Influx into the interiors which constituted the faith of the church.
Q. What then do you understand, according to the spiritual idea, by Peter’s wife’s mother, and what by Jesus seeing her laid, and sick of a fever?
A. According to the spiritual idea, by Peter’s wife’s mother, is to be understood the affection in which the good of the faith of the church originates; and by Jesus seeing her laid, and sick of a fever, is further to be understood Divine Inspection into that affection, and a consequent discovery of its being merely natural, and infected with evils of concupiscence: for by Jesus seeing is signified Divine Inspection; and by being laid, and sick of a fever, is further denoted that the affection in which the good of the faith of the church originates, was immersed in mere natural love, and thus infested with the concupiscencies originating in that love.
Q. But it is written, that Jesus touched her handy and the fever left her, and she arose and ministered to them——what do you here conceive to be expressed by Jesus touching her hand? and the fever leaving her?
A. Agreeable to the above spiritual idea, by Jesus touching her hand is to be understood, the communication of Divine Power to the affection in which the good of the faith of the church originates; and by the fever leaving her in consequence of that touch, is to be further understood, that when that affection had communication opened with the Divine Power of the lord, and became thus conjoined with his love, it was then immediately liberated from the concupiscencies of evil which had before infested it, and was thus restored to its proper strength, purity, and activity.
Q. And what do you understand by her arising, and ministering to them?
A. These words, like the foregoing, have both a literal and a spiritual meaning, and in their literal meaning they relate to Peter’s wife’s mother, and to her arising out of her bed, and fulfilling her appointed duties, but in the spiritual sense, as applied to the affection in which the good of the faith of the church originates, they were intended to record the elevation of that affection, and its consequent application to works of service and of use in the church. And since all spiritual elevation implies an elevation towards the great and holy god, and thus a conjunction of life with Him, and the performing of useful services under His divine Influence, therefore this also is to be understood by arising and ministering to them.
Q. What then is the general instruction which you learn from the above Miracle?
A. I learn, in the first place, from its letter or history, to adore that Divine Power, by which the great saviour at one and the same time manifested His Divinity, and relieved the natural infirmities of His suffering creatures; and from the interior contents of that letter or history, I learn in the next place to acknowledge with equal adoration and gratitude the same Divine Power in its application to remove spiritual infirmity and disease. I learn further, from the significant history of a bodily fever, to reflect on that more terrible mental fever in which it originates, and which it was intended to represent and make manifest, and to be continually upon my guard against its assault and destructive effects. And since this mental fever consists in those concupiscencies of the natural man, which infest and defile the affection of truth, or of a right faith, in the spiritual man, I am further instructed by the spiritual sense of this Miracle, to be continually on the watch against the infecting influence of those concupiscencies, which all originate in self-love and an inordinate love of the world. I am resolved therefore from now on, through the Divine Grace and Mercy, to take heed to myself, lest at any time the defiling influence of mere natural love should infect the higher principles of the life of my immortal spirit, and thus plunge me into that most terrible and dangerous, yet least dreaded of all disorders, a fever of the mind, Still should it come to pass, through the weakness of my corrupt nature, that I shall at any time become the prey of such infection, I am resolved not to despair of Divine Aid and Relief but rather in all humility of penitence and contrition, to throw myself at the feet of my merciful saviour, and implore the healing power of His divine benediction. Thus may I hope, like Peter’s wife’s mother of old, who had the happiness to experience the blessed touch of her saviour’s hand, to be partaker of the same high privilege, and to receive from that touch the cure of all my spiritual maladies. And thus too, like her, shall I also arise and minister; in other words, become elevated to an eternal conjunction of life with my god, and by virtue of that elevation, be enabled to perform all useful services to my fellow-creatures to His glory and my own happiness. amen,