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unless the Lord had wrought redemption, that is, unless He had, by His combats against hell, and by His victories over it, deprived it of its power, and unless He had glorified His Humanity, that is, had made it Divine.
528. Consult your reason, and tell me, what sort of creatures, in your judgment, men would become, supposing the faith of the present church to continue, which teaches that they were redeemed solely by the passion of the cross, and that such as are gifted with that merit of the Lord, are not under the curse of the law; and further, that this faith, although man is altogether ignorant whether it be in him or not, remitteth sins and regenerates, and that his co-operation in its act, that is, whilst it is given and enters into him, would defile it, and make salvation void, for by this he would mix his own merit with the merit of Christ. Consult, I say, your own reason, and tell me whether, upon this supposition, the whole Word, which insists principally on regeneration, by a spiritual washing from evils, and by exercises of charity, must not of necessity be rejected? And then, of what use is the decalogue, which is the beginning of reformation, or what purpose can it serve, but to be applied by a cook as so much waste paper to wrap up his confectionary? In such a case, what is religion but a kind of lamentable cry, on man's part, that he is a sinner, joined with supplication to God the Father to have mercy on him, for the sake of His Son's sufferings? And what is this but a religion of the lips only, proceeding from the lungs, without any thing of act or deed in it proceeding from the heart? And what then is redemption but a papal indulgence? or what more than the whipping of one monk for the offences of the whole monastery, as is no uncommon practice? Supposing this faith alone to regenerate man, whilst repentance and charity contribute nothing, what is the internal man, which is his spirit that liveth after death, but like a city on fire, the rubbish of which
forms the external? or like cultivated ground, or a meadow, laid waste by caterpillars and locusts? Such a man appears in the sight of angels just like a person who cherishes a serpent in his bosom, whilst he covers it with his garment to prevent its being seen; or like one who sleeps as a sheep in company with a wolf; or like a person who lies down to rest under an elegant coverlid, in a shirt woven of spiders' webs. An in such case what is a life after death, when all, according to the differences of their advancement in the regeneration, are to be arranged in heaven, or according to the differences of their rejection of regeneration, in hell, but a merely carnal life, thus of a like quality with that of a fish or a crab?
THAT THE SEVERAL STAGES OF REGENERATION OF MAN ANSWER TO HIS NATURAL CONCEPTION, GESTATION IN THE WOMB, BIRTH, AND EDUCATION. 583 There is with man a constant correspondence between natural operations and spiritual, or between what is done in the body, and what is done in the spirit; the reason is, because as to his soul he is by birth a spiritual being, and is clothed with a natural covering which constitutes his material body; hence when this is cast off, his soul, clothed with a spiritual body, enters immediately into a world where all things are spiritual, and is there associated with its like. Now since the spiritual body is to be formed in the material body, and is formed by means of truths and goods, which are derived by influx from the Lord, through the spiritual world, and are received by man interiorly, in such of his component principles as are derived from the natural world, which are called matters of civil and of moral import, it is plain what must be the nature of its formation: and since, as just observed, there is with man a constant corres pondence between natural operations and spiritual, it follows, that the stages of spiritual regeneration answer to the stages of natural conception, gestation in the womb,
birth, and education. It is in this ground, that whenever mention is made in the Word of natural births, they always signify spiritual births, such as relate to good and truth: for whatever occurs in the letter of the Word, which is natural, involves and signifies something spiritual, as was fully proved in the chapter on the SACRED SCRIPTURE, where it was shewn, that in all and every part of the Word there is a spiritual sense contained in the letter. That natural births, when mentioned in the Word, involves spiritual births, is plain from the following passages: "We have conceived, we have come to the birth, we have as it were brought forth wind: we have not wrought any deliverance," Isaiah xxvi. 18; "At the presence of the Lord the earth bringeth forth," Psalm cxiv. 7; "Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth, saith the Lord; shall I cause to bring forth and shut the womb ?" Isaiah lxvi. 7 to 10; "Sin shall come to the birth, and shall not be able to bring forth,” Ezek. xxx. 15, 16; "The sorrows of a travailing woman shall come upon Ephraim; he is an unwise son, for he doth not stay his time in the womb of sons," Hosea xiii. 13: not to mention several other passages to the same purpose. Since natural births, when mentioned in the Word, signify such as are spiritual, and these are from the Lord, therefore He is called the Former, and He that bringeth forth from the womb, as is evident from these passages: "Jehovah is thy Maker, and thy Former from the womb," Isaiah xliv. 2; "He that brought me out from the womb," Psalm xxii. 9; "Upon Thee have I been placed from the womb; Thou art He that brought me forth out of my mother's bowels," Psalm 1xxi. 6; "Hearken unto me all the remnant of the house of Israel, which were borne by me from the womb, carried from the belly," Isaiah xlvi. 3; and in several other places. It is from this ground that the Lord is called Father, as in Isaiah ix. 6, lxiii. 16, John x. 30, xiv. 8, 9; and that
such as are in goods and truths from Him are called sons, and born of God, and brethren one amongst another, Matt. xxiii. 8; and that the church is called mother, Hosea ii. 2, 5, Ezek. xvi. 45.
584. From what has been said then, it is evident, that there is a correspondence between natural births and spiritual; and as there is such a correspondence it follows, that conception, gestation in the womb, parturition and education, are not only predicable of the new birth, but are states actually attending it, the particular nature of which we shall consider presently. It is sufficient in this place to observe, that the human seed is interiorly conceived in the understanding, and is formed in the will, and is thence translated into the testes, where it clothes itself with a natural covering, and is thus conveyed into the womb, and from thence into the world. There is moreover a correspondence between the regeneration of man and all the productions of the vegetable kingdom; on which account it is that in the Word man is frequently described by a tree, his truth by seed, and his goodness of fruit. That a bad tree may be as it were born anew, and afterwards bear good fruit and good seed, is evident from the cases of engrafting and inoculation, where, notwithstanding the ascent of the same juice from the root, through the trunk, even to the part ingrafted or inoculated, yet it is there changed into good juice, and maketh a good tree. The case is similar in the church, with those who are ingrafted in the Lord, as He Himself teaches in these words: "I am the vine, ye are the branches; he that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; if a man abide not in Me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered, and men gather them, and cast them into the fire," John xv. 5, 6.
585. That the vegetation, not only of trees, but also of all shrubs, corresponds with human prolification, is an opinion maintained by many of the learned; wherefore, by
way of appendix to what has been said, I shall add a few observations on this subject. In trees, and in all other subjects of the vegetable kingdom, there are not two sexes, male and female, but each particular subject is male,* the earth alone, or ground, being their common mother, and thus as it were a female; for it receives the seeds of all plants, causes them to open, carries them as in her womb, at the same time provides them with nourishment, and brings them forth, that is, teems them from her womb into the open day, and afterwards clothes and supports them. When the earth first causeth the seed to open, it beginneth from the root, which is like a heart, from whence it emits and transmits juice, like blood, and thus forms a kind of body furnished with members; the body is the stem of the plant, and the branches with their twigs are its members: the leaves, which it produces immediately after its birth, are in the place of lungs; for as the heart without the lungs
* What is here said by our author concerning the gender of plants, as being all males, may seem at first sight to militate against the received doctrine of the celebrated Linnæus on this subject, generally distinguished by the name of the sexual system. Upon a closer examination however it will be found, that the tenets of our author, and those of the Swedish botanist, do not in the least interfere with or oppose each other, but rather serve for each other's confirmation. The two sexes in plants, as pointed out by Linnæus, it should be well observed, do not of themselves serve to produce new plants, but only new seed, agreeable to what our author asserteth to be the case with the male in the human kind, that the human seed is conceived in the understanding, and formed in the will; properly speaking, therefore this circumstance in plants should not be considered as any ground of distinction of sex, any more than the difference between the will and the understanding should be considered as a ground of distinction of sex in man. The seed thus formed, by what Linnæus called the male and female parts of a plant, must needs be sown in the earth as a mother before a new plant can possibly be produced, and therefore it may be with great truth be asserted, according to our author, that the earth is the common mother of vegetables, and acteth as it were the part of a female, whilst each vegetable is a male, capable only of producing seed, by a distinction in the parts of its flowers, analogous to the distinction between the will and understanding in the male of the human kind.