Графични страници
PDF файл

heaven and hell, thus between good and evil, and thence in equilibrium, which is the cause and source of the free-will he enjoys in spiritual things, as was shewn above, n. 475; so long however as he lives in this world, he is as to his spirit in equilibrium between this world and heaven, and is little aware, that as he withdraws his affections from heaven and fixes them on the world, in the same proportion he draws near towards hell: this circumstance is partly known to him and partly unknown, to the end that in this, as in other cases, he may be left to his own freedom, and so be in a capacity of being reformed: 4. Because these two, the will and the understanding, are the receptacles of the Lord, the will being the receptacle of love and charity, and the understanding of wisdom and faith; and the Lord operates and produces each of these graces, whilst man is in the fullest enjoyment of freedom, in order that a mutual and reciprocal conjunction may be effected, on which depends salvation: 5. Because all the judgment which a man possesseth after death, depends on the use he makes of his free-will in spiritual things.

498. It follows as a consequence from these considerations, that free-will essentially hath its residence in the human soul in the fullest perfection, and thence, as a spring of water flows into a fountain, it flows into the mind as to both its parts, the will and the understanding, and through these into the bodily senses, the words and actions. For there are in man three degrees of life, the soul, the mind, and the sensual body; and whatever is in a superior degree, is in a state of perfection above that which is in an inferior. This freedom which he possesses is the faculty by which, in which, and with which, the Lord is present in him, who though He is continually urgent to be received, yet never puts aside or takes away his freedom, because, as was said above, nothing in relation to spiritual matters, which is not done by man in a state of freedom, can remain with him; so that it may truly be affirmed, that this

freedom is the faculty in which the Lord dwelleth with him in his soul. But that the outward commission of evil is restrained by laws, both in the spiritual and in the natural worlds, because society could not otherwise subsist, is a truth which requires no explication. It may be expedient however to illustrate this position, that without those external restraints, it would not only be impossible for society to subsist, but also that the whole human race would inevitably perish. Man is wholly possessed by two kinds of love, the love of ruling over all, and the love of possessing the wealth and property of all; these two loves, if the reins be given to them, are unlimited in their career: all the hereditary evils, in which man is naturally born, are chiefly derived from these two kinds of love: the sin of Adam consisted only i in this, that he wished to become as God, which evil inclination was infused into him by the serpent, hence in the curse pronounced against him it is said, "that the earth shall bring forth to him thorns and thistles," Gen. iii. 5, 18; which signifies every kind of evil, and its attendant falses. All such as are enslaved to those two kinds of love regard themselves alone as a sort of single central point, in which, and for which, all other things and persons were created; they are therefore void of compassion, void of the fear of God, and void of love towards their neighbour; and in consequence are full of unmercifulness, savageness, and cruelty, attended with an infernal covetousness and greedy desire of robbing and plundering other people; to effect which purposes they stop at no sort of craft and treachery. Such evil propensities are not innate in the beasts of the earth, for they never kill and devour one another from any other love than that of satisfying their hunger, or protecting themselves from danger; so that an evil man, considered as to those loves, is more savage, fierce, and vile, than any beast. That this is a true description of man, as to his internal state, is plain from what is observable in cases of se

ditious tumult, when a lawless mob throws off all the restraints of obedience to civil authority; it is plain also from the horrid butchery and rapine which take place when a besieged city is delivered up to pillage; for when the conquerors have full liberty to vent their fury upon their enemies, scarcely one is found to abstain, until the drum gives the signal to desist. Hence it is evident, that unless men were kept in awe by the fear of punishment which the law inflicts, not only would it be impossible for society to subsist, but the whole race of mankind must inevitably perish. These evils natural to man can only be removed by the true use of free-will in spiritual things, which consisteth in fixing the mind intently on such thoughts as relate to its state of life after death.

499. This subject is capable of receiving further illustration by the following comparisons: unless all created things, both animate and inanimate, possessed some kind of free determination, there could be no creation; for without freedom of determination, in natural things, as respects the brute creation, they would have no choice of food conducive to their nourishment and preservation, nor would they have any power of prolification, nor of taking care of their young, consequently they must cease to exist. Supposing the fish of the sea, and the shell fish in its depths, to be deprived of this freedom, it is plain, that there could be neither fish nor shell-fish. In like manner unless every insect was gifted with the same freedom, there could be no silk-worm to produce silk, nor bee to produce honey and wax, nor butterfly to sport with its partner in the air and feed on the juices of flowers, exhibiting an emblem of the blessed state of man in the heavenly atmosphere, when, like this insect, he casteth off his outward terrestial covering. Unless again there was something analogous to freedom of determination in the soil of the earth, in the seed sown

in it, and in all the parts of the plant or tree thence produced, in its fruits, and also in its new seeds, there could be no vegetable of any kind. The same must of necessity be the case with every metal, and with every stone, whether precious or common, nay, with every the smallest grain of sand, for there could be no such thing as metal, stone, or grain of sand, unless each possessed somewhat analogous to such freedom: for even these mineral substances freely imbibe the æthereal particles, and breathe forth their native essences, and cast off what is obsolete, and renew themselves with fresh substances, in consequence of which each is encompassed with its circum-ambient sphere, as the magnet with a magnetical sphere, iron, copper, silver, gold, stone, nitre, and sulphur, each with a sphere according to their respective natures and qualities; nay the very dust of the earth exhales also its particular sphere compounded of various properties, by which the inmost parts of every seed are impregnated, and its prolific principle caused to vegetate : indeed without such an exhalation from every particle of dust, there could be neither beginning nor continuance of vegetation, for the earth cannot possibly penetrate, with its dust and water, into the inmost centre of the seed sown in it, otherwise than by the minute particles exhaled from it; as into a "grain of mustard seed, which is the least of all seeds, but when it is grown it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree," Matt. xiii. 31, 32. Since then all created objects are endowed with freedom of determination, each according to its nature, how much rather ought man to be endowed with the same freedom, according to his nature, which is, to become a spiritual being! It is a great truth, therefore, that man enjoys free-will in spiritual things from the day of his birth till the day of his death, and afterwards to all eternity.


500. The consequence of not understanding the nature of the divine omnipotence is a belief in the truth of this position, that God could, without gifting man with free-will in spiritual things, induce all the inhabitants of the earth to believe in Him within the compass of a day. They who do not conceive aright of the divine omnipotence, may imagine either that there is no such thing as order, or that God can alike act contrary to order and according to it; when nevertheless without it there could have been no creation. It is a primary law of order, that man should be an image of God, consequently that he should be perfected in love and wisdom, and thus become more and more such an image, this is the intent of God's continual operation on him; but without free-will in spiritual things, by which he has the power to turn himself to God and enter into mutual conjunction with Him, such operation would be to no purpose, because the end designed could not possibly be accomplished. For order is that, from which and according to which, the whole world, with all and every thing it contains, was created, on which account God is called Order Itself; so that it is the same thing to speak of acting contrary to order, or contrary to God. Even God Himself cannot possibly act contrary to His own divine order, because that would be to act contrary to Himself; of course He leads every man according to order, that is according to Himself, endeavouring, as Order, to bring the wandering and backsliding into order, and to reduce the disobedient to order. Supposing it possible for man to have been created without

« ПредишнаНапред »