Графични страници
PDF файл



611. The reason why a man's sins are removed in proportion as he is regenerated, is, because regeneration consists in restraining the flesh that it may not have rule, and in subduing the old man with his lusts, that he may not rise and destroy the intellectual principle, for then man is no longer capable of reformation and this cannot be effected, unless the spirit of man, which is above the flesh, be instructed and perfected. What person whose understanding still remains sound cannot now conclude, that all these operations are not to be effected in a single moment, but proceed by successive degrees, just as a man is conceived, carried in the womb, brought forth, and educated, according to what was shewn above? For the things belonging to the flesh, or the old man, are inherent in man from his birth, and form the first habitation of his mind, in which lusts dwell like so many wild beasts in their dens, and take up their abode, first in the outer courts of the house, from which they enter by degrees, as it were into the rooms which lie under ground, and afterwards ascend by stairs, and form to themselves upper chambers; all this is effected in succession, as the infant grows up to a child, and from a child becomes a young man, and then begins to think under the influence of his own understanding, and to act under the influence of his own will. How plain is it to see that this house of the mind thus far advanced in the building, where lusts, like so many wild men and satyrs, join hands in sporting and dancing, cannot be pulled down in a moment, and a new house raised in its place? For is it not necessary that those lusts, so united in hand and sport, should be first removed, and that new desires, namely those of good and truth, should be introduced in place of those

lusts, which belong to evil and the false? But that this process cannot be effected in a moment, must be plain to every wise person from this single consideration, that every evil consists of innumerable lusts, and is like fruit that within its outer rind is full of worms, with white bodies and black heads; and also that evils are numerous, and joined together like a race of young spiders when first brought forth by the mother; wherefore unless evils be expelled one by one, until the chain that holds them together be broken asunder, it is impossible for man to be made new. These arguments are adduced in order to shew, that in proportion as a man is regenerated, his sins are removed.

612. Man by birth is inclined to all kinds of evil, and in consequence of such inclination lusteth after them, and so far as he is left at liberty actually commits them; for by birth he lusts for dominion over others, and to possess the property of others, which two lusts destroy every principle of love towards the neighbonr, so that he hates every one that opposeth him, and by reason of such hatred breathes a revengeful spirit, in which murder lies concealed and is cherished; hence too it is, that he makes light of adultery, and of fraud, which is a clandestine species of theft, and of reviling others, which also is false witness; and whosoever makes light of such crimes, is in his heart an atheist. Such is man by birth; whence it is evident, that by birth he is a hell in miniature. Now since man, differing from the brute creation, is born, as to the interiors of his mind, a spiritual being, and of consequence is born for heaven, and yet his natural or external man, is, as just observed, a hell in miniature, it follows of course, that heaven cannot be implanted where hell is, until this be first removed.

Spiders lay an innumerable quantity of eggs, which they connect all together in a ball of their web so as to bear a considerable resemblance to the coccoon of a silk-worm,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

613. Whosoever is acquainted with the distinction be tween heaven and hell, and how the one is separated from the other, may also know how man is regenerated, and what his quality is when regenerate. That this may be understood, we shall mention this general fact; that all who are in heaven turn their faces towards the Lord, and all who are in hell turn their faces away from the Lord; so that in looking out of heaven upon hell, nought is seen but the hinder parts of the head and the backs of the infernal inhabitants; nay, they also appear as if inverted, like antipodes, with their feet upwards and their heads downwards, and this though they walk upright on their feet, and turn their faces in every direction, for it is the opposite direction of the interiors of their minds which produces such an appearance; I have myself been an eye-witness of these extraordinary phænomena. It was thus discovered to me in what manner regeneration is effected; that it is effected altogether according to the removal of hell and its consequent separation from heaven; for as just observed, man, in respect to the first nature which he derives from his birth, is a hell in miniature, and as to that other nature which he derives from his second birth, he is a heaven in miniature. Hence it follows that evils are removed and separated in man, in like manner as hell and heaven, in their greater effigy, are removed and separated from one another; and that evils, as they are removed, turn themselves away from the Lord, and successively invert themselves, and that this is effected in the same degree as heaven is implanted, that is, as man is made new. To this may be added, for the sake of illustration, that every evil in man hath conjunction with such spirits in hell as are in a similar evil, and on the contrary, that every good in man hath conjunction with such in heaven as are in a similar good.

614. From what hath been said, it must appear plain, that the remission of sins does not consist in their ex

tirpation and wiping away, but in their removal and consequent separation; also, that every evil which a man. has actually appropiated to himself, remains; since then the remission of sins consists in their removal and separation, it follows, that man is with-held from evil, and preserved in good, by the Lord, and that this is what is given him by regeneration. I once heard a certain person in the last heaven say, that he was free from sins, because they were wiped away; he added, by the blood of Christ; but as he was in heaven, and had erred through ignorance, he was let into his own sins, all which he acknowledged as they returned; in consequence of this discovery he received a new faith, which taught him that every man, as well as every angel, is with-held from evils and preserved in goods by the Lord. Hence it is evident in what the remission of sins consists, that it is not instantaneous, but that it follows regeneration according to the progress of the latter. The removal of sins, which is called their remission, may be compared with the casting out of all unclean things from the camp of the children of Israel into the wilderness that lay around, for their camp represented heaven, and the wilderness hell. It may also be compared with the removal of the nations from the children of Israel in the land of Canaan, and of the Jebusites from Jerusalem, which were not cast out, but separated. It may be compared with Dagon, the God of the Philistines which, on the introduction of the ark, first fell on his face to the ground, and afterwards lay with his head and the palms of his hands cut off on the threshold; he was consequently not cast out, but removed. It may be compared with the legion of devils permitted by the Lord to enter into the herd of swine, which were afterwards drowned in the sea; by the sea, when mentioned in this and other

* See the meaning of the Word appropiation, note, n. 466.

passages of the Word, is signified hell. It may be compared likewise with the tumultuous assembly of the dragon, which on being separated from heaven, began to invade the earth, and was afterwards cast down into hell. It may lastly be compared with a forest, abounding with divers kinds of wild beasts, which, when it is cut down, flee into the thickets round about; and then the land in the midst being laid smooth, is cultivated, and becomes a fruitful field. XI. THAT REGENERATION CANNOT BE EFFECTED WITHOUT FREE-WILL IN SPIRITUAL CONCERNS.

615. Who but an ideot cannot see plainly, that man is not to be regenerated without free-will? For how else can he approach the Lord, and acknowledge Him to be the Redeemer and Saviour, and the God of heaven and earth, as He Himself teacheth, Matt. xxviii. 18? How it is possible, without such free-will, for any one to believe, that is, from a principle of faith to look unto and worship the Lord, and apply himself to receive the means and benefits of salvation from Him, and co-operate of himself towards their reception? How is it possible, without free-will, for him to do any good to his neighbour, or to exercise charity, or to introduce into his thought and will the various other subjects which belong to charity and faith, and afterwards bring them forth and produce them into act? What is regeneration, setting these things aside, but a mere word dropt from the mouth of the Lord, John iii. which either penetrates no further than the ear, or else entering into the sphere of thought which borders on the organs of speech, is conveyed thence into the mouth as an articulate sound of twelve letters, which sound cannot by any meaning be elevated into the higher region of the mind, but falls into the air, and is dispersed?

616. Tell me, if you can, any instance of blinder senselessness on the subject of regeneration, than what is observable in those who confirm themselves in the present

« ПредишнаНапред »