Observe “the waters of Babylon.” “The waters of Babylon” are all things which here are loved, and pass away. One man, for example, loveth to practise husbandry, to grow rich thereby, to employ his mind therein, thence to gain pleasure: let him observe the issue, and see that what he hath loved is not a foundation of Jerusalem, but a stream of Babylon. Another saith, It is a grand thing to be a soldier: all husbandmen fear those who are soldiers.…
But then other citizens of the holy Jerusalem, understanding their captivity, mark how the natural wishes and the various lusts of men hurry and drag them hither and thither, and drive them into the sea; they see this, and they throw not themselves into the waters of Babylon, but “sit down and weep,” either for those who are being carried away by them, or themselves whose deserts have placed them in Babylon, but sitting, that is, humbling themselves. O holy Sion, where all stands firm and nothing flows! Who hath thrown us headlong into this? Why have we left thy Founder and thy society? Behold, placed where all things are flowing and gliding away, scarce one, if he can grasp the tree, shall be snatched from the stream and escape. Humbling ourselves then in our captivity, let us “sit by the waters of Babylon,” let us not dare to plunge ourselves in those streams, nor to be proud and lifted up in the evil and sadness of our captivity, but let us sit, and so weep. Let us sit “by” the waters, not beneath the waters, of Babylon; such be our humility, that it overwhelm us not. Sit “by” the waters, not “in” the waters, not “under” the waters; but yet sit, in humble fashion, talk not as thou wouldest in Jerusalem.…
For many weep with the weeping of Babylon, because they rejoice also with the joy of Babylon. When men rejoice at gains and weep at losses, both are of Babylon. Thou oughtest to weep, but in the remembrance of Sion. If thou weepest in the remembrance of Sion, thou oughtest to weep even when it is well with thee in Babylon.…
The rivers of Babylon flow, and fall, and carry away.
O holy Sion, where everything stands firm and nothing falls!
We must sit by these rivers, not under or in them, but above, not standing upright, but sitting down, so that we remain humble by sitting, and safe by remaining above, but we shall stand upright in the porches of Jerusalem.
Let us see if this pleasure is firm or transitory; if it passes away it is a river of Babylon.
Peter answered him, "We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?"The pleasures of this world pass quickly, but I am no aescete like Pascal. There is an eternal something (do I dare to say form?) to all good things, and all good things long for the days of perfection. Until then we must test the waters.
Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.
We do not dive beneath the rivers of Babylon to drown, but we cut down trees by the banks to build longships. We sail downriver and raid the enemy, taking any plunder worth keeping.
We leave our homes, we are forced from our homes, we are taken from our homes. We sit down and weep, far from home, and make a new home. (We move, we cannot settle, we flow...we are seized and settled down.) The new home is a resting place for God's feet, and a throne room for his viceroys. And where we sit together, there arises the city: New Jerusalem, David's Throne. By the rivers of Babylon we sat down...
We do not dive beneath the rivers of Babylon to drown, but we do drink from them to be refreshed. After all, where did the first four rivers of our poetry flow? We can build our homes by the garden's rivers, and there make the thrones for our little God-given administrations, of our great City.
From Joffre's journal:
Plundering The Egyptians (A River Raid)
The rivers of Babylon flow, and fall, and bear away.
But Zion is holy, every thing firm, and no thing falls.
By rivers sit we, not under or in them, but from above;
Not standing nor upright, but humble and seated, yet from above.
Thus stand we on porches in David's throne city, no thing falls.
Let us see if the pleasure is firm or fleeting: do we bear it away?