Графични страници
PDF файл

first with oats, beans, and flax, and afterwards with barley and wheat. The case may also be compared with crime, which so much abounds amongst mankind: unless malefactors were chastised and punished with stripes, or with death, according to the laws, no city or kingdom could possibly subsist. Just so it is with man, who is like a society in miniature: unless he deal with himself in a spiritual way, as is done by evil doers in a great society in a natural way, he, after death, will be chastised and punished, which will be continued until, through fear of punishment, he commit evil no longer, although even then he can never be reduced to do good from the love of good.


532: The reason why true repentance consists in a man's examining not only the actions of his life, but also the intentions of his will, is, because understanding and will produce those actions: for man speaks from thought, and acts from will, so that speech is thought speaking, and action is will acting and because this is the true source of speech and action, it indisputably follows, that those two principles are in fault when the body offends. It is possible also for a man to repent of the evils which he hath committed with the body, and still to think and will evil: but this is like cutting down the trunk of a bad tree, and leaving its root in the ground, from which the same bad tree grows again and spreads itself in all directions: far different is the case when the root also is plucked up: and this is effected in man when he examines not only the actions of his life, but likewise the intentions of his will, and at the same time removes evils by repentance. Man examines the intentions of his will at the time he examines his thoughts, for the intentions manifest themselves in the thoughts: thus whilst his thoughts are busied about revenge, adultery, theft, false witness,

blasphemy against God, the Holy Word and the church, &c. he also wills and intends such evils: but should he turn his attention towards his thoughts, and ponder in his mind whether he would commit the evils he finds there, supposing no obstacle to arise from the fear of the law and the loss of reputation, and should he then determine not to cherish them in thought or will, because they are sins, such a person performeth true and interior repentance; and especially if he resists and abstains from those evils when they present themselves to him with delight, and when he is at liberty to commit them whoso practiseth such repentance repeatedly for any time, will perceive the delights of evil, when they return, as undelightful, and will at length condemn them to hell. This is what the Lord meant when He said, "Whosoever will find his life shall lose it, and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it," Matt. x. 39. He who removes the evils of his will by such repentance, is like a man who in good time plucks up the tares sown in his ground by the devil, so that the seeds implanted by the Lord God the Saviour have free room to shoot forth, and grow up into a plentiful crop, Matt. xiii. 25 to 31.

533. There are two kinds of love, which for a long time have been deeply rooted in the human race, the love of ruling over all, and the love of possessing the properties of all the former love, if it be left without restraint, is so boundless in its desires, that it would be the God of heaven; and the latter love, if it be left also without restraint, would be the God of the world: all other evil loves are marshalled in subordination to these two, and form their troops or armies: but to search out these two is very difficult, because they have their residence, and conceal themselves in the inmost parts; for they are like vipers hid in holes of a rock, which retain their poison till some one lie down on the rock, on whom they inflict a mortal wound, and then retire into their hiding places. They are also like the fabled syrens of

the ancients, which ensnared men by the melody of their songs, and then murdered them. These two kinds of love also adorn themselves with robes and dresses of great splendour, even as the devil adorns by his magic art and phantasy both his own slaves and others on whom he would practise his illusions. But it is well to be marked, that these two kinds of love may possibly have more sway over the little than over the great, over the poor than over the rich, over subjects than over kings, the latter being born to dominion and wealth, which they come at last to regard just as a private individual, as for instance a governor, or a person in office, or the captain of a ship, or even as a poor husbandman, regards each his own household and possessions : the case however is different with such kings as pant after dominion over the kingdoms of other sovereigns. The reason why the intentions of the will ought to be searched out is, because the love resides in the will, for this is its receptacle, as hath been shewn above: it is from hence that every kind of love exhaleth its delights, and infuseth them into the perceptions and thoughts of the understanding, which do nothing of themselves, but are wholy influenced by the will, for they favour its impulses, consenting to and confirming whatever is agreeable to its love; so that the will is the house itself in which man dwells, and the understanding is a court to it, through which he goes in and out. This then is the reason why it was said, that the intentions of the will ought to be searched out, for when this is done, man is elevated out of the natural will, which is possessed by hereditary and actual evils, into a spiritual will, by which the Lord reforms, and regenerateth the natural, and by means of the natural, the sensual and voluntary principles of the body, and thus the whole man.

534. They who never examine themselves may be compared to sick people, whose blood is become corrupt, in consequence of some obstruction in the very minute vessels,

[blocks in formation]

whence arise atrophy, sluggishness of the limbs, and acute chronic disorders, occasioned by the thickness, tenacity, acrimony and acidity of the humours and consequently of the blood; but they who examine themselves even as to the intentions of the will, are like those who are cured of such diseases, and restored to the life which they enjoyed in their youth. They who rightly examine themselves are like ships laden with gold, silver and precious merchandise from Ophir ; but before they examine themselves they are like ships which are used to carry off dirt and dung from the streets, laden with all kinds of filth. They who interiorly examine themselves are like mines whose sides all glitter with the ores of precious metals; but before they examine themselves they are like stinking bogs, full of snakes and poisonous serpents with shining scales, and of noxious insects with glittering wings. They who never examine themselves, are like the dry bones in the valley; but when they have examined themselves they are like the same bones upon which the Lord Jehovih laid sinews, and brought flesh, and covered with skin, and put breath in them, and they lived, Ezek. xxxvii. 1 to 14. VIII. THAT THEY ALSO DO THE WORK OF REPENTANCE, WHO, THOUGH THEY DO NOT EXAMINE THEMSELVES, ABSTAIN FROM EVILS BECAUSE THEY ARE SINS; AND THAT THIS KIND OF REPENTANCE IS DONE BY THOSE WHO PERFORM WORKS OF CHARITY FROM A PRINCIPLE OF RELIGION.

535. Since actual repentance, which consists in self-examination, in the knowledge and acknowledgment of sins, in supplication to the Lord, and in beginning a new life, is exceedingly difficult in the reformed parts of Christendom, for reasons which shall be given hereafter, we shall here mention an easier kind of repentance; which is, that when a man is meditating and intending any evil, he should say to himself, "I meditate this, and I intend it, but as it is a sin I will not do it." By this means the temptation injected from hell is repelled, and its further entrance prevented. It

is a wonderful circumstance that every one can chide another who intends evil, and say to him, "Do not give way to it, because it is a sin;" and yet it is with difficulty he can say the same to himself; the reason is, because in the latter case the will is affected, but in the former only the thought which borders next on the organs of hearing. Inquiry was made in the spiritual world, who could do what is here described in the latter case, and so few were found capable of doing it, that they might be compared with doves in a wide wilderness: some said that they could do it, but that they could not examine themselves, and confess their sins before God. Still, however, all those who do good from a principle of religion avoid actual evils; and yet how rarely do they reflect on the interiors that regard the will, imagining that they are not in evils, because they are in good, nay more, that the good conceals the evil. But, my friend, the first constituent of charity is the shunning of evils, as the Word, the decalogue, baptism, the holy supper, and reason too, all teach; for how can any one flee from evils and put them away, unless he look into himself? And how can good become good, unless it be inwardly purified? I am well aware, that all men of piety, and likewise all men of sound reason, will assent to this doctrine, and discern it to be genuine truth, and yet that few will practise it.

536. Still however all those who do good from a principle of religion, whether they be Christians or pagans, are accepted by the Lord, and adopted after death; for the Lord said, "I was an hungred and ye gave Me meat; I was thirsty and ye gave Me drink; I was a stranger and ye took Me in, naked and ye clothed Me; 1 was sick and ye visited me; I was in prison and ye came unto Me: inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me; come ye blessed, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world," Matt. xxv. 31 to the end. To what hath been said I shall add

« ПредишнаНапред »