Of Eternal and Temporal Nature. How Nature is from God, and the Scene of his Action. How the Creatures are out of it. Temporal Nature created out of that which is eternal. The fallen Angels brought the first Disorders into Nature. This World created to repair those Disorders. Whence Good and Evil is in every Thing of this World. How Heaven and Hell make up the Whole of this World. How the Fire of this World differs from eternal Fire; and the Matter of this World from the Materiality of Heaven. Eternal Nature is the Kingdom of Heaven, the beatific Manifestation of the triune God. God is more Love and Goodness. How Wrath and Anger come to be ascribed to him. Of Fire in general. Of the Unbeginning Fire. Of the Spirituality of Fire. How Fire comes to be in material Things. Whence the Possibility of kindling Fire in the Things of this World. Every Man is, and must be the Kindler of his own Eternal Fire, etc.
Was there no nature, there could be no creature, because the life of every creature is, and can be nothing else, but the life of that nature out of which it was created, and in which it has its being. Eternal beings must have their qualities, nature, form and manner of existence out of eternal nature, and temporal beings out of temporary nature: was there no eternity, there could be no time, was there nothing infinite, there could be nothing finite; therefore we have here two great fundamental truths that cannot be shaken; first, that there is, and must be, an eternal nature; because there is a nature that is temporary, and that it must be that to eternal creatures, which temporal nature is to temporal creatures: secondly, that everywhere, and in all worlds, nature must stand between God and the creature, as the foundation of all mutual intercourse; God can transact nothing with the creature, nor the creature have any communion with God, but in, and by that nature, in which it stands.
I hope no one will here ask me for scripture proofs of this, or call these truths nostrums, because they are not to be found in the same form of expression in some particular text of scripture. Where do the holy writings tell us, that a thing cannot be, and not be at the same time? Or that every consequence must arise from premises? And yet the scripture is continually supposing both these truths, and there could be no truth in the scripture, or anywhere else, if these things were not undeniable.
There is nothing said of man throughout all scripture, but what supposes him to stand in nature, under a necessity of choosing something that is natural, either life or death, fire or water. There is nothing said of God with relation to creatures, but what supposes him to be the God of nature, manifesting himself in and through nature, calling, assisting and directing everything to its highest natural state. Nature is the scene of his providence, and all the variety of his governing attributes display themselves by his various operations in and through nature: therefore it is equally certain, that what God does to any creature, must be done through the medium of nature, and also what the creature does toward God, must be done in and through the powers of that nature in which it stands. No temporary creature can turn to God, or reach after him, or have any communication with him, but in, and according to that relation which temporary nature bears to God; nor can any eternal beings draw near to, or unite with God in any other manner, than that in which eternal nature is united with him. Would you know, why no omnipotence of God can create temporal animals but out of temporary nature, nor eternal animals but out of eternal nature; it is because no omnipotence of God can produce a visible triangle, but out of, and by three visible lines; for, as lines must be before there can be any lineal figures, so nature must be before there can be natural creatures. 2. Everything that is in being, is either God, or nature, or creature; and everything that is not God, is only a manifestation of God; for as there is nothing, neither nature, nor creature, but what must have its being in, and from God, so everything is, and must be according to its nature, more or less a manifestation of God. Everything therefore, by its form and condition, speaks so much of God, and God in everything, speaks and manifests so much of himself. Temporary nature is this beginning, created system of sun, stars, and elements; ‘tis temporary nature, because it begins and hath an end, and therefore is only a temporary manifestation of God, or God manifested according to transitory things. 3. Properly and strictly speaking, nothing can begin to be: the beginning of everything is nothing more, than its beginning to be in a new state. Thus time itself does not begin to be, but duration, which always was, began to be measured by the earth’s turning round, or the rising and setting of the sun, and that is called the beginning of time, which is, properly speaking, only the beginning of the measure of duration: thus it is with all temporal nature, and all the qualities and powers of temporal beings that live in it: no quality or power of nature then began to be, but such qualities and powers as had been from all eternity, began then to be in a new state. Ask what time is, it is nothing else but something of eternal duration become finite, measurable, and transitory? Ask what fire, light, darkness, air, water, and earth are; they are, and can be nothing else, but some eternal things become gross, finite, measurable, divisible, and transitory? For if there could be a temporal fire that did not spring out of eternal fire, then there might be time that did not come out of eternity. ‘Tis thus with every temporary thing, and the qualities of it; ‘tis the beginning of nothing, but only of a new state of something that existed before: therefore all temporary nature is a product, offspring, or outbirth of eternal nature, and is nothing else but so much of eternal nature changed from its eternal to a temporal condition. Fire did not begin to be, darkness did not begin to be, light did not begin to be, water and earth did not begin to be, when this temporary world first appeared, but all these things came out of their eternal state, into a lower, divided, compacted, created and transitory state. Hearing, seeing, tasting, smelling, feeling, did not then begin to be, when God first created the creatures of this world, they only came to be qualities and powers of a lower, and more imperfect order of beings than they had been before.
Figures, and their relations, did not then begin to be, when material circles and squares, etc., were first made, but these figures and relations began then to appear in a lower state than they had done before: and so it must be said of all temporal nature, and everything in it. It is only something of eternal nature separated, changed, or created into a new, temporary state and condition. 4. Now it may be asked, why was eternal nature thus degraded, debased, and changed from its eternal state of perfection? Will anyone say, that God of his own free will changed eternal nature, which is the glorious manifestation of his power and godhead, the seat of his holy residence, his majestic kingdom of heaven, into this poor, miserable mixture of good and evil, into this impure state of division, grossness, death, and darkness? No.
It is the highest of all absurdities, to say so. Now, we sufficiently know from scripture, that a whole hierarchy, or host of angels, renounced their heavenly life, and thereby raised up a kingdom that was not heavenly.
Could they not have inflamed and disordered outward nature in which they lived, they could not have destroyed the heavenly nature in themselves: for everything must be according to the state of that world in which it lives; and therefore, the state of outward nature, and the state of inward nature in the angels must stand and fall together; and as sure as a whole kingdom of angels lost their heavenly life, so sure it is, that their whole kingdom lost its heavenly state and condition: and therefore, it is an undeniable truth, founded on scripture evidence, that same part of eternal nature was changed from its first state of glory and perfection, before the creation of temporary nature; therefore, in the creation of this poor, gross, disordered, perishable, material world, one of these two things was done, either God took the spoiled part of heaven or eternal nature, and created it into this temporary state of good and evil; or he degraded, and brought down some part of the kingdom of heaven from its glory and perfection, into this mixture of good and evil, order and disorder in which the world stands. He could not do this latter, without bringing evil into nature, as the devil had done, and therefore we may be sure he did not do it; but if he did the former, then the creation of this lower world, was a glorious act, and worthy of the infinite goodness of God, it was putting an end to the devil’s working evil in nature, and it was putting the evil that was brought into nature, in a way of being finally overcome, and turned into good again.
Will anyone now call these things whimsical speculations? Can anything be thought of more worthy of God, more conformable to nature, or more consonant to all revealed religion? But perhaps you will say, how could the angels spoil or destroy that glorious kingdom of eternal nature in which they dwelt. It may be answered, how could it possibly be otherwise? How could they live in eternal nature, unless nature without them, and nature within them, mutually mixed and qualified with each other? Would you have such mighty spirits, with their eternal energies, have less power in that nature, or kingdom in which they dwelt, than a kindled piece of coal hath in this world? For every piece of coal set on fire, adds so much heat to outward nature, and so far alters and changes the state of it. 5. Now, let it be supposed, not only that a piece of coal, but that the whole of everything in this world, that could either give or receive fire was made to burn, what effect would it have upon the whole frame of nature?
Would not the whole state of things, the regions, places, and divisions of the elements, and all the order of temporal nature be quite destroyed?
When therefore every angelical life kindled itself in wrath, and became thereby divided, darkened, and separated from God, the same kindling, darkening, dividing, and confusion must be brought forth in their natural kingdom, because they lived in nature, and could have neither love, nor wrath, but such as they could exert in and by the powers of nature.
Now, all fire, wherever it is, is either a fire of wrath, or a fire of love: fire not overcome or governed by light, is the fire of wrath, which only tears in pieces, consumes and devours all that it can lay hold of, and it wills nothing else: but light is the fire of love, it is meek, amiable, full of kind embraces, lovingly spreading itself, and giving itself with all its riches into everything that can receive it. These are the two fires of eternal nature, which were but one in heaven, and can be only one wherever heaven is; and it was the separation of these two fires that changed the angels into devils, and made their kingdom a beginning of hell.
Now, either of these two fires, wherever it is kindled in animate or lifeless things, communicates its own kind of heat in some degree to outward nature, and so far alters and changes the state of it: the wrath of a man, and the wrath of a tempest do one and the same thing to outward nature, alter its state in the same manner, and only differ in their degree of doing it.
Fire kindled in a material thing, can only communicate with the materiality of nature; but the fire of a wrathfully-inflamed man, being a fire both of body and soul, communicates a twofold heat, it stirs up the fire of outward nature, as fire does in a coal, and it stirs up the wrath of hell as the devils do.
The fire of love kindled by the Light and Spirit of God in a truly regenerated man, communicates a twofold blessing, it outwardly joins with the meek light of the sun, and helps to overcome the wrath of outward nature; it inwardly cooperates with the power of good angels, in resisting the wrath and darkness of hell: and it would be no folly to suppose, that if all human breath was become a mere, unmixed wrath, that all the fire in outward nature would immediately break forth, and bring that dissolution upon outward nature, which will arise from the last fire. Therefore it is necessary, that a whole kingdom of angels should kindle the same wrath and disorder in outward nature that was in themselves; for being in eternal nature, and communicating with it, as temporal beings do in temporal nature, what they did in themselves, must be done in that nature or kingdom in which they lived, and moved, and had their being.
What a powerful fire there is in the wrath of a spirit, may be seen by the effects of human wrath; one sudden thought shall in a moment discolor, poison, inflame, swell, distort and agitate the whole body of a man.
Whence also is it, that a diseased body infects the air, or that malignant air infects a healthful body? Is it not because there is, and must be an inseparable qualifying, mixing and uniting betwixt nature and those creatures that live in it? Now, all diseases and malignities, whether in nature or creature, all proceed from the sinful motions of the will and desires of the creature. This is as certain, as that death and all that leads to it, is the sole product of sin; therefore it is a certain truth, that all the disorder that ever was, or can be in nature, arises from that power which the creature hath in and upon nature; and therefore, as sure as a whole host of heavenly beings, raised up a fiery, wrathful, dark nature in themselves, so sure is it, that the same wrathful, fiery, dark disorder was raised up in that kingdom, or nature, in which they had their being. 6. Now the scriptures nowhere say in express words, that the place of this world was the place of the angels that fell, and that their fallen, spoiled and disordered kingdom, was by the power of God, changed or created into this temporary state of things in which we live; this is not expressly said, because it is plainly implied and fully signified to us by the most general doctrines of scripture; for if we know, both from nature and scripture, that this world is a mixture of good and evil, do not we enough know, that it could only be created out of that which was good and evil? And if we know that evil cannot come from God, if we know that the devil had actually brought it forth before the creation of this world; are we not enough told, that the evil which is in this world, is the evil that was brought forth into nature by the devil? And that therefore the matter of this world, is that very materiality which was spoiled by the fallen angels?
How can we need a particular text of scripture to tell us, that the place of this world was the place of the angels before their fall, when the whole tenor of scripture tells us, that it is the place of their habitation now? For how could they have, or find darkness, but in that very place, where they had extinguished the light? What could they have to do with us, or we with them, but that we are entered into their possessions, and have their kingdom made over to us? How could they go about amongst us as roaring lions, seeking whom they may devour, but that our creation has brought us amongst them? They cannot possibly be anywhere, but where they fell, because they can live nowhere but in the evil which they have brought forth; they can have no wrath and darkness but where they broke off from light and love; they can communicate with no outward nature but that which fell with them, and underwent the same change as they did: therefore, though St. Jude saith with great truth, that they left their own habitations, yet, it is only as they left their own angelical nature, not departed from it into a distant place, but deformed and changed it; so that the heaven that was within them, and without them, is equally left, because both within them, and without them, they have no habitation but a fiery darkness broken off from the light of God.
And therefore, as man by his creation is brought into a power of commerce with those fallen angels, who must live, and could only act in that part of nature which they had deformed, it is plain, that this creation placed him in that system of things, which was formed and created out of their fallen kingdom, because they can act, or be acted upon nowhere else. 7. And this is the one true, and only reason, why there is good and evil throughout all temporal nature and creature; ‘tis because all this temporary nature is a creation out of that strife of evil against good which the fallen angels had brought into their kingdom. No subtle, evil serpent could have been generated, no tree of knowledge of good and evil could have been sprung out of the earth, but because nature in this world was that part of eternal nature which the fallen angels had corrupted; and therefore, a life made up of good and evil could be brought forth by it. Evil and good was in the angelical kingdom as soon as they set their wills and desires contrary to God, and the divine life. Had God permitted them to go on, their whole kingdom had been like themselves, all over one unmixed evil, and so had been incapable of being created into a redeemable state: but God put a stop to the progress of evil in their kingdom, he came upon it whilst it was in strife, and compacted or created it all into a new, temporary, material state and condition; whence these two things followed: first, that the fallen angels lost their power over it, and could no further kindle their own fire in it, but were as chained prisoners, in an extent of darkness which they could neither get out of, nor extend any further: secondly, this new creation being created out of this begun strife, stood as yet in the birth of life, and so became capable of being assisted and blessed by God; and finally, at the end of time, restored to its first heavenly state.
Now, the good and evil that is in this world is that same good and evil, and in the same strife that it was in the kingdom of fallen angels, only with this happy difference, there it was under the devil’s power, and in a way to be wholly evil; here it is in a new compacted, or created state under the providence and blessing of God, appointed to bring forth a new kind of life, and display the wonders of divine love, till such time as a new race of angelical creatures born in this mixture of good and evil, shall be fit to receive the kingdom of Lucifer, restored to its first glory?
Is there any part of the Christian religion that does not either suppose or speak this great truth, any part of outward nature that does not confirm it?
Is there any part of the Christian religion that is not made more intelligible, more beautiful and edifying by it? Is there any difficulty of outward nature that is not totally removed and satisfied by it?
How was the philosophy of the ancient sages perplexed with the state of nature? They knew God to be all goodness, love, and perfection, and so knew not what to do with the misery of human life, and the disorders of outward nature, because they knew not how this nature came into its present state, or from whence it was descended. But had they known, that temporal nature, all that we see in this whole frame of things, was only the sickly, defiled state of eternal things put into a temporary state of recovery, that time and all transitory things were only in this war and strife, to be finally delivered from all the evil that was brought into eternal nature, their hearts must have praised God for this creation of things as those morning stars did, that shouted for joy when it was first brought forth. 8. From this true knowledge of the state, and nature, and place of this creation, what a reasonableness, wisdom, and necessity does there appear in the hardest sayings, precepts and doctrines of the gospel? He that thus knows what this world is, has great reason to be glad that he is born into it, and yet still greater reason to rejoice, in being called out of it, preserved from it, and shown how to escape with the preservation of his soul. The evils that are in this world, are the evils of hell, that are tending to be nothing else but hell; they are the remains of the sin and poison of the fallen angels: the good that is in this world are the sparks of life that are to generate heaven, and gain the restoration of the first kingdom of Lucifer.
Who therefore would think of anything, desire anything, endeavor anything, but to resist evil in every kind, under every shape and color?
Who would have any views, desires and prayers after anything, but that the life and light of heaven may rise up in himself, and that God’s kingdom may come, and his will be done in all nature and creature?
Darkness, light, fire and air, water and earth, stand in their temporary, created distinction and strife, for no other end, with no other view, but that they may obtain the one thing needful, their first condition in heaven: and shall man that is born into time for no other end, on no other errand, but that he may be an angel in eternity, think it hard to live as if there were but one thing needful for him? What was the poor politics, the earthly wisdom, the ease, sensuality, and advancements of this world for us, but such fruits as must be eaten in hell? To be swelled with pride, to be fattened with sensuality, to grow great through craft, and load ourselves with earthly goods, is only living the life of beasts, that we may die the death of devils. On the other hand, to go starved out of this world, rich in nothing but heavenly tempers and desires, is taking from time all that we came for, and all that can go with us into eternity. 9. But to return to the further consideration of nature. As all temporary nature is nothing else but eternal nature brought out of its kindled, disordered strife, into a created or compacted distinction of its several parts, so it is plain, that the whole of this world, in all its working powers, is nothing else but a mixture of heaven and hell. There cannot be the smallest thing, or the smallest quality of anything in this world, but what is a quality of heaven or hell, discovered under a temporal form: everything that is disagreeable to the taste, to the sight, to our hearing, smelling or feeling, has its root and ground, and cause, in and from hell, and is as surely in its degree the working or manifestation of hell in this world, as the most diabolical malice and wickedness is: the stink of weeds, of mire, of all poisonous, corrupted things, shrieks, horrible sounds, wrathful fire, rage of tempests, and thick darkness, are all of them things that had no possibility of existence, till the fallen angels disordered the state of their kingdom; therefore, everything that is disagreeable and horrible in this life, everything that can afflict and terrify our senses, all the kinds of natural and moral evil, are only so much of the nature, effects, and manifestations of hell: for hell and evil are only two words for one and the same thing: the extent of one is the extent of the other, and all that can be ascribed to the one, must be ascribed to the other. On the other hand, all that is sweet, delightful and amiable in this world, in the serenity of the air, the fineness of the seasons, the joy of light, the melody of sounds, the beauty of colors, the fragrancy of smells, the splendor of precious stones, is nothing else but heaven breaking through the veil of this world, manifesting itself in such a degree, and darting forth in such variety so much of its own nature.
So that heaven and hell are not only as near you, as constantly showing and proving themselves to all your senses, as day and night, but night itself is nothing else but hell breaking forth in such a degree, and the day is nothing else but a certain opening of heaven, to save us from the darkness that arises from hell.
O man! consider thyself, here thou standest in the earnest, perpetual strife of good and evil, all nature is continually at work to bring about the great redemption; the whole creation is travailing in pain, and laborious working, to be delivered from the vanity of time, and will thou be asleep?
Everything thou hearest, or seest, says nothing, shows nothing to thee, but what either eternal light, or eternal darkness hath brought forth; for as day and night divide the whole of our time, so heaven and hell divide the whole of our thoughts, words and actions. Stir which way thou wilt, do, or design what thou wilt, thou must be an agent with the one or with the other. Thou canst not stand still, because thou livest in the perpetual workings of temporal and eternal nature; if thou workest not with the good, the evil that is in nature carries thee along with it: thou hast the height and depth of eternity in thee, and therefore be doing what thou wilt, either in the closet, the field, the shop, or the church, thou art sowing that which grows, and must be reaped in eternity. Nothing of thine can vanish away, but every thought, motion, and desire of thy heart, has its effect either in the height of heaven, or the depth of hell: and as time is upon the wing, to put an end to the strife of good and evil, and bring about the last great separation of all things into their eternal state, with such speed art thou making haste either to be wholly an angel, or wholly a devil: O! therefore awake, watch and pray, join with all thy force with that goodness of God, which has created time and all things in it, to have a happy end in eternity. 10. Temporal nature opened to us by the Spirit of God becomes a volume of holy instruction to us, and leads us into all the mysteries and secrets of eternity: for as everything in temporal nature is descended out of that which is eternal, and stands as a palpable, visible outbirth of it; so when we know how to separate the grossness, death, and darkness of time from it, we find what it is in its eternal state. Fire, and light, and air in this world are not only a true resemblance of the Holy Trinity in Unity, but are the Trinity itself in its most outward, lowest kind of existence or manifestation; for there could be no fire, fire could not generate light, air could not proceed from both, these three could not be thus united, and thus divided, but because they have their root and original in the Trinity of the Deity. Fire compacted, created, separated from light and air, is the elemental fire of this world: fire uncreated, uncompacted, unseparated from light and air, is the heavenly fire of eternity: fire kindled in any material thing is only fire breaking out of its created, compacted state; it is nothing else but the awakening the spiritual properties of that thing, which being thus stirred up, strive to get rid of that material creation under which they are imprisoned: thus every kindled fire, with all its rage and fierceness, tears and divides, scatters and consumes that materiality under which it is imprisoned; and were not these spiritual properties imprisoned in matter, no material thing could be made to burn. And this is another proof, that the materiality of this world is come out of a higher, and spiritual state, because every matter upon earth can be made to discover spiritual properties concealed in it, and is indeed a compaction of nothing else. Fire is not, cannot be a material thing, it only makes itself visible and sensible by the destruction of matter; matter is its death and imprisonment, and it comes to life but by being able to agitate, divide, shake off, and consume that matter which held it in death and bondage; so that every time you see a fire kindled, you see nature striving in a low degree to get rid of the grossness of this material creation, and to do that which can alone be done by the last fire, when all the inward, spiritual properties hid in everything, in rocks, and stones, and earth, in sun, and stars, and elements, shall by the last trumpet be awakened and called forth: and this is a certain truth, that fire could nowhere now be kindled in any material thing, but for this reason, because all material nature was created to be restored, and stands by divine appointment in a fitness and tendency to have its deliverance from this created state, by fire; so that every time you see a piece of matter dissolved by fire, you have a full proof, that all the materiality of this world is appointed to a dissolution by fire; and that then, (O glorious day!) sun and stars, and all the elements will be delivered from vanity, will be again that one eternal, harmonious, glorious thing which they were, before they were compacted into material distinctions and separations. 11. The elements of this world stand in great strife and contrariety, and yet in great desire of mixing and uniting with each other; and hence arises both the life and death of all temporal things; and hereby we plainly know that the elements of this world were once one undivided thing; for union can nowhere be desired, but where there has first been a separation; as sure therefore as the elements desire each other, so sure is it, that they have been parted from each other, and are only parts of some one thing that has been divided. When the elements come to such a degree of union, a life is produced; but because they have still a contrariety to each other, they soon destroy again that same life which they had built, and therefore every four-elementary life is short and transitory.
Now, from this undeniable state of nature, we are told these following great truths: 1. That the four elements are only four parts of that, which before the creation of the world, was only a one element, or one undivided power of life. 2. That the mortality of this life is wholly and solely owing to the divided state of the elements. 3. That the true, immortal life of nature, is only there to be found, where the four elements are only one thing, mere unity and harmony; where fire and air, water and earth, have a much more glorious union than they have in diamonds and precious stones: for in the brightest diamonds the four elements still partake of their divided state, though to our eye they appear as only one glorious thing; but the beauty of the diamond is but a shadow, a low specimen of that glory which will shine through all nature, when fire and air, water and earth shall be again that one thing which they were, before the fall of angels and the creation of this world. 4. That the body of Adam (being formed for immortality) could not possibly have the nature, or be made out of the divided state of the elements. The letter of scripture absolutely demonstrates this; for if sickness, sorrow, pain, the trouble of heat and cold, all so many forerunners of death, can only be where the elements are in division and contrariety; and if, according to scripture, these calamities did not, could not possibly touch Adam till he fell, then it is plain from scripture, that before his fall, the division and contrariety of the elements was not in him: and that was his paradisaical nature, in and by which he stood in a state of superiority over all the elements of this world. 5. That the body of Adam lost is one elementary glory and immortality, and then first became gross, dark, heavy flesh and blood, under the power of the four elements, when he lusted to eat, and actually did eat of that tree, which had its good and evil from the divided state of the elements. 6. Hence we also know, with the greatest certainty, the mystery of the resurrection of the body, that it consists wholly and solely in the reducing the four-elementary body of this world, to its first, one elementary state, and then everyone has that same body raised again that died, and all that Adam lost is restored. For if the body is mortal, and dies because it is become a body of the four elements, it can only be raised immortal, by having its four elements reduced again into one: and here lies the true sameness of the body that died, and that which rises again. But to proceed: 12. As all the four elements, by their desiring, and wanting to be united together, prove that they are only four grossly divided outbirths of that which before was only one heavenly, harmonious element, so every single element fully demonstrates the same thing; for every single element, though standing in its created contrariety to every other, has yet in its own divided state, all the four elements in itself: thus the air has everything in it that is in the earth, and the earth has in itself everything that is in fire, water and air, only in a different mixture and compaction; were it not so, had not every element in some degree the whole nature of them all, they could not possibly mix, and qualify with one another; and this may well pass for a demonstration, that that out of which the four elements are descended, was one harmonious union of them all, because every one of the four, has now, and must have in its undivided state, all the four in itself, though not in equality; for if the four must be together, though unequally lodged in every single element, it is plain, the four must have been one harmonious thing, before they were brought into four unequal separations: and therefore, as sure as there are four warring, disagreeing elements in time, so sure is it, that that which is now in this fourfold division, was and is in eternity, one, in an heavenly, harmonious union, keeping up an eternal, joyful, glorious life in eternal nature, as its four broken parts bring forth a poor, miserable, transitory life in temporal nature. 13. All matter in this world is only the materiality of heaven thus altered.
The difference between matter in this world and matter in the other world, lies wholly and solely in this; in the one it is dead, in the other it is living materiality. It is dead materiality in this world, because it is gross, dark, hard, heavy, divisible, etc. It is in this state of death, because it is separated, or broken off from the eternal light, which is the true life, or the power of life in everything.
In eternal nature or the kingdom of heaven, materiality stands in life and light; it is the light’s glorious body, or that garment wherewith light is clothed, and therefore has all the properties of light in it, and only differs from light, as it is its brightness and beauty, as the holder and displayer of all its colors, powers and virtues. But the same materiality in this world, being created or compacted into a separation from fire united with light, is become the body of death and darkness, and is therefore gross, thick, dark, heavy, divisible, etc., for death is nothing else but the shutting up, or shutting out the united power of fire and light: this is the only death that ever did, or can happen to anything, whether earthly or heavenly.
Therefore, every degree of hardness, sickness, stiffness, etc., is a degree of death; and herein consists the deadness of the materiality of this world.
When it shall be raised to life, that is, when the united power of fire and light shall kindle itself through all temporal nature, then hardness, darkness, divisibility, etc., will be all extinguished together.
That the deadness of the earth may, and certainly will be brought to life by the united power of fire and light, is sufficiently shown us by the nature and office of the sun. The sun is the united power of fire and light, and therefore the sun is the raiser of life out of the deadness of the earth; but because fire and light as united in the sun, is only the virtue of temporary fire and light, so it can only raise a short and fading, transitory life. But as sure as you see, that fire and light united in the sun, can change the deadness of the earth, into such a beautiful variety of a vegetable life, so sure are you, that this dark, gross earth, is in its state of death and darkness, only for this reason, because it is broken off from the united power of fire and light: for as sure as the outward operation of the fire and light of the sun can change the deadness of the earth into a degree of life, so sure is it, that the earth lies in its present deadness, because it is separated from its own eternal fire and light: and as sure as you see, that the fire and light of the sun can raise a temporal life out of the earth, so sure is it, that the united power of eternal fire and light can, and will turn all that is earthly, into its first state of life and beauty. For the sun of this world, as it is the union of temporal fire and light, has no power, but as it is the outward agent, or temporary representative of eternal fire and light, and therefore it can only do that in part, and imperfectly in time, which by the eternal fire and light will be wholly and perfectly done in eternity. And therefore every vegetable life, every beauty, power, and virtue which the sun calls forth out of the earth, tells us, with a divine certainty, that there will come a time, when all that is hid in the deadness, grossness, and darkness of the earth, will be again called up to a perfection of life and glory of beauty. 14. How has the philosophy of the schools been puzzled with the divisibility of matter! It is because human reason, the mistress of the schools, partakes of the deadness of the earth; and the soul of man must first have the light of eternal life rise up in him, before he can see or find out the truths of nature. Human reason knew nothing of the death of the matter, or the nature and reason of its temporary creation, and so thought death and divisibility to be essential to matter; but the light of God tells every man this infallible truth, that God made not death in anything, that he is a God of life, and therefore, everything that comes from him, comes into a state of life. Matter is thick, hard, heavy, divisible, and the like, only for a time, because it is compacted or created into thickness, hardness, and divisibility only for a time: these are only the properties of its temporal, created state, and therefore are no more essential to it than the hardness of ice is essential to water. Now, that the creation of the matter of this world is nothing else but a compaction, that all the elements are separated compactions of that which before was free from such a compaction, is plain from scripture. For we are told, that all the material things and elements of this world, are to have their created state and nature taken from them, by being dissolved or melted: but if this be a scripture truth, then it is equally true from scripture, that their creation was only a compaction; and a compaction of something that stood before according to its own nature, absolutely free from it. Mortality, corruptibility, and divisibility, are not essential properties, but temporary accidents, they are in things, as diseases and sickness are, and are as separable from them; and that is the true reason, why this mortal can put on immortality, this corruptible can put on incorruptibility, and this divisible put on indivisibility: for when the four elements shall be dissolved and loosed from their separate compaction from one another, when fire and air, water and earth, shall be a one much more glorious and harmonious thing than they are now in the brightest diamond, then the divisibility of this redeemed materiality will be more impossible to be conceived, than the distance between fire and water in a diamond. 15. The reason why all inanimate things of this world tend towards their utmost perfection in their kind, lieth wholly and solely in this ground; it is because the four elements of this world were once the one element of the kingdom of the fallen angels; and therefore, nature in this world is always laboring after its first perfection of life, or as the scripture speaks, the “whole creation travaileth in pain, and groaneth to be delivered from its present vanity”: and therefore it is, that all vegetables and fruits naturally grasp after every kind and degree of perfection they can take in; endeavoring with all their power, after that first perfection of life which was before the fall of the angels. Every taste and color, and power and virtue, would be what it was before Lucifer kindled his dark, fiery, wrathful kingdom; but as this cannot be, so when every fruit and flower has worked itself as far towards a heavenly perfection as it can, it is forced to wither and rot, and become a witness to this truth, that neither flesh nor blood, nor fruit, nor flower, can reach the kingdom of God. 16. All the misery and imperfection that is in temporary nature, arises from the divided state of the elements: their division is that which brings all kinds and degrees of death and hell into this world, and yet their being in a certain degree in one another, and always endeavoring after their first union, is so much of the nature and perfection of heaven still in them. The death that is in this world, consists in the grossness, hardness and darkness of its materiality. The wrath that is in this world consists in the kindled division of its qualities, whence there arises a contrary motion and fermentation in all its parts, in which consists both the life and death of all its creatures. This death and this wrath is the nature of hell in this world, and is the manifestation of the disorders which the fallen angels have occasioned in nature. The heaven in this world began when God said, Let there be light, for so far as light is in anything, so much it has of heaven in it, and of the beginning of a heavenly life: this shows itself in all things of this world, chiefly in the life-giving power of the sun, in the sweetness and meekness of qualities and tempers, in the softness of sounds, the beauty of colors, the fragrancy of smells, and richness of tastes and the like; thus far as anything is tinctured with light, so far it shows its descent from heaven, and its partaking of something heavenly and paradisaical. Again, love or desire of union, is the other part of heaven that is visible in this world. In things without life, it is a senseless desire, a friendly mixing and uniting of their qualities, whereby they strive to be again in that first state of unity and harmony in which they existed, before they were kindled into division by Lucifer. In rational creatures, it is meekness, benevolence, kindness and friendship amongst one another: and thus far they have heaven and the Spirit of God in them, each in their sphere, being and doing that to one another, which the divine love is and does to all.
Again, the reason why man is naturally taken with beautiful objects, why he admires and rejoices at the sight of lucid and transparent bodies, and the splendor of precious stones, why he is delighted with the beauty of his own person, and is fond of his features when adorned with fine colors, has this only true ground, ‘tis because he was created in the greatest perfection of beauty, to live amongst all the beauties of a glorious paradise: and therefore man, though fallen, has this strong sensibility and reaching desire after all the beauties, that can be picked up in fallen nature. Had not this been his case, had not beauty, and light, and the glory of brightness been his first state by creation, he would now no more want the beauty of objects, than the ox wants to have his pasture enclosed with beautiful walls, and painted gates. Every vanity of fallen man shows our first dignity, and the vanity of our desires are so many proofs of the reality of that which we are fallen from. Man wants to see himself in riches, greatness and power, because human nature came first into the world in that state; and therefore, what he had in reality in paradise, that is he vainly seeking for, where he is only a poor prisoner in the valley and shadow of death. 17. All beings that are purely of this world, have their existence in and dependence upon temporal nature. God is no maker, creator or governor of any being or creature of this world, immediately, or by himself, but he creates, upholds and governs all things of this world, by, and through, and with temporal nature: as temporary nature is nothing else but eternal nature separated, divided, compacted, made visible and changeable for a time, so heaven is nothing else but the beatific visibility, the majestic preference (presence?) of the abysmal, unsearchable, triune God: ‘tis that light with which the scripture saith, God is decked as with a garment, and by which he is manifested and made visible to heavenly eyes and beings; for Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, as they are the triune God, deeper than the kingdom of heaven or eternal nature, are invisible to all created eyes; but that beatific visibility and outward glory which is called the kingdom of heaven, is the manifestation of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, in, and by, and through the glorious union of eternal fire, and light, and spirit. In the kingdom of heaven, these are three and one, because their original, the Holy Trinity, is so, and we must call them by the names of fire, and light, and spirit; because all that we have of fire, and light, and spirit in this world, has its whole nature directly from them, and is indeed nothing else but the fire, and light, and spirit of eternity, brought into a separated, compacted, temporal state. So that to speak of a heavenly fire, has no more grossness and offense in it, than when we speak of a heavenly life, a heavenly light, or heavenly spirit; for if there is a heavenly light and spirit, there must of all necessity be a heavenly fire; and if these things were not in heaven in a glorious state of union, they never could have been here in this gross state of a temporal compaction and division: so that as sure as there are fire, and light, and air in this world, in a divided, compacted, imperfect state, in which consists the life of temporary nature and creatures, so sure is it, that fire, and light, and spirit are in the kingdom of heaven, united in one perfection of glory, in which consists the beatific visibility of God, the divine nature, as communicable to heavenly beings. 18. The kingdom of heaven stands in this threefold life, where three are one, because it is a manifestation of the Deity, which is three and one; the Father has his distinct manifestation in the fire, which is always generating the light; the Son has his distinct manifestation of the light, which is always generated from the fire; the Holy Ghost has his manifestation in the spirit, that always proceeds from both, and is always united with them.
It is this eternal unbeginning Trinity in Unity of fire, light, and spirit, that constitutes eternal nature, the kingdom of heaven, the heavenly Jerusalem, the divine life, the beatific visibility, the majestic glory and presence of God. Through this kingdom of heaven, or eternal nature, is the invisible God, the incomprehensible Trinity eternally breaking forth, and manifesting itself in a boundless height and depth of blissful wonders, opening and displaying itself to all its creatures as in an infinite variation and endless multiplicity of its powers, beauties, joys and glories. So that all the inhabitants of heaven are for ever knowing, seeing, hearing, feeling, and variously enjoying all that is great, amiable, infinite and glorious in the divine nature.
Nothing ascends, or comes into this kingdom of heaven, but that which descended, or came out of it, all its inhabitants must be innate guests, and born out of it. 19. God considered in himself, as distinct from this eternal nature, or kingdom of heaven, is not the immediate creator of any angels, spirits, or divine beings; but as he creates and governs all temporal beings in, and by, and out of temporal nature, so he creates and governs all spiritual and heavenly beings in, and by, and out of eternal nature: this is as absolutely true, as that no being can be temporal, but by partaking of temporal nature, nor any being eternal, but by partaking of the eternal, divine nature; and therefore, whatever God creates is not created immediately by himself, but in and by, and out of that nature, in which it is to live, and move, and have its being, temporal beings out of temporal nature, and eternal beings out of the heavenly kingdom of eternal nature: and hence it is, that all angels, and the souls of men are said to be born of God, sons of God, and partakers of the divine nature, because they are formed out of that eternal nature, which is the unbeginning majesty of God, the kingdom of heaven, or visible glory of the Deity. In this eternal nature, which is the majestic clothing, or glory of the triune God, manifested in the glorious unity of divine fire, light, and spirit, have all the created images of God, whether they be angels or men, their existence, union and communion with God; because fire, and light, and spirit have the same union and birth in the creature, as in the creator: and hence it is, that they are so many various mirrors of the Deity, penetrated with the majesty of God, receiving and returning back communications of the life of God. Now, in this ground, that is, in this consideration of God, as manifesting his Holy Trinity through nature and creature, lieth the solid and true understanding of all that is so variously said of God, both in the Old and New Testament with relation to mankind, both as to their creation, fall, and redemption. God is to be considered throughout, as the God of nature, only manifesting himself to all his creatures in a variety of attributes in and by nature; creating, governing, blessing, punishing, and redeeming them according to the powers, workings, and possibilities of nature. Fire, light, and spirit in harmonious union, is the substantial glory, the beatific manifestation of the triune God, visible and communicable to creatures formed out of it. All intelligent, holy beings were by God formed and created out of, and for the enjoyment of this kingdom of glory, and had fire, and light, and spirit, as the triune glory of their created being: and herein consisted the infinite love, goodness and bounty of God to all his creatures: it was their being made creatures of this fire, light, and spirit, partakers of that same nature in which the Holy Trinity had stood from all eternity gloriously manifested. And thus they were creatures, subjects, and objects of the divine love; they came into the nearest, highest relation to God; they stood in, and partook of his own manifested nature, so that the outward glory and majesty of the triune God, was the very form, and beauty, and brightness of their own created nature. Every creature which thankfully, joyfully, and absolutely gave itself up to this blessed union with God, became absolutely fixed in its first created glory, and incapable of knowing anything but love, and joy, and happiness in God to all eternity: thus in this state, all angels and men came first out of the hands of God. But seeing light proceeds from fire by a birth, and the spirit from both, and seeing the will must be the leader of the birth, Lucifer and Adam could both do as they did, Lucifer could will strong might and power, to be greater than the light of God made him, and so he brought forth a birth of might and power, that was only mighty wrath and darkness, a fire of nature broken off from its light. Adam could will the knowledge of temporal nature, and so he lost the Light and Spirit of heaven for the light and spirit of this world: and had man been left in this state of temporary nature, without a redeemer, he must, when the light of this world had left him, have found himself in the same absolute wrath and darkness of nature, which the fallen angels are in. 20. Now, after these two falls of two orders of creatures, the Deity itself came to have new and strange names, new and unheard of tempers and inclinations of wrath, fury, and vengeance ascribed to it. I call them new, because they began at the fall; I call them strange, because they were foreign to the Deity, and could not belong to God in himself: thus God is in the scriptures said to be a consuming fire. But to whom? To the fallen angels, and lost souls. But why, and how is he so to them? It is because those creatures have lost all that they had from God, but fire; and therefore God can only be found and manifested in them, as a consuming fire. Now, is it not justly said, that God, who is nothing but infinite love, is yet in such creatures only a consuming fire, and that though God be nothing but love, yet they are under the wrath and vengeance of God, because they have only that fire in them, which is broken off from the light and love of God, and so can know, or feel nothing of God, but his fire in them? As creatures they can have no life, but what they have in and from God; and therefore, that wrathful life which they have, is truly said to be a wrath of God upon them. And yet it is as strictly true, that there is no wrath in God himself, that he is not changed in his temper towards the creatures, that he does not cease to be one and the same infinite fountain of goodness, infinitely flowing forth in the riches of his love upon all and every life; but the creatures have changed their state in nature, and so the God of nature can only be manifested in and to them, according to their own state in nature: and this is the true ground of rightly understanding all that is said of the wrath and vengeance of God in and upon the creatures.
It is only in such a sense as the curse or unhappiness of God may be said to be upon them, not because anything cursed, or unhappy can be in, or come from God, but because they have made that life which they must have in God, to be mere curse and unhappiness to them: for every creature that lives, must have its life in and from God, and therefore God must be in every creature; this is as true of devils, as of holy angels: but how is God in them? Why only as he is manifested in nature. Holy angels have the triune life of God in them, therefore God is in them all love, goodness, majesty and glory, and theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Devils have nothing of this triune life left in them, but the fire of eternal nature broken off from all light and joy; and therefore the life that they can have in and from God, is only a life of wrath and darkness, and theirs is the kingdom of hell: and because this life is a strength of life which they must have in and from God, and which they cannot take out of his hands; therefore, is their cursed, miserable, wrathful life truly and justly said to be the curse, and wrath, and vengeance of God in and upon them, though God himself can no more have wrath and vengeance, than he can have mischief and malice in him: for this is a glorious, twofold truth, that from God considered as in himself, nothing can come from eternity to eternity, but infinite love, goodness, happiness, and glory; and also that infinite love, goodness, happiness and glory are, and will be for ever and ever flowing forth from him in the same boundless, universal, infinite manner; he is the same infinitely overflowing fountain of love, goodness and glory after, as before the fall of any creatures; his love, and the infinite workings of it can no more be lessened, than his power can be increased by any outward thing; no creature, or number of creatures can raise any anger in him, ‘tis as impossible as to cast terror, or darkness, and pain into him, for nothing can come into God from the creature, nothing can be in him, but that which the Holy Trinity in Unity is in itself. All creatures are products of the infinite, triune love of God; nothing willed, and desired, and formed them, but infinite love, and they have all of them all the happiness, beauty and excellency that an infinitely powerful love can reach out to them: the same infinite love continues still in its first creating goodness, willing, desiring, working, and doing nothing with regard to all creatures, but what it willed, did, and desired in the creation of them: this God over nature and creature, darts no more anger at angels when fallen, than he did in the creation of them: they are not in hell, because Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are angry at them, and so cast them into a punishment, which their wrath had contrived for them; but they are in wrath and darkness, because they have done to the light which infinitely flows forth from God, as that man does to the light of the sun, who puts out his own eyes: he is in darkness, not because the sun is darkened towards him, has less light for him, or has lost all inclination to enlighten him, but because he has put out that birth of light in himself, which alone made him capable of seeing in the light of the sun. It is thus with fallen angels, they have extinguished in themselves that birth of light and love, which was their only capacity for that happiness, which infinitely, and everywhere flows forth from God; and they no more have their punishment from God himself than the man who puts out his eyes, has his darkness from the sun itself. 21. God, considered in himself, as the holy, triune God, is not the immediate fountain and original of creatures; but God considered as manifesting himself in and through nature, is the creator, Father and producer of all things. The hidden Deity of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, is from eternity to eternity, manifested, made visible, perceivable, sensible in the united glory of fire, light and spirit; this is the beatific presence, the glorious outbirth of the Holy Trinity; this is that eternal, universal nature, which brings God into all creatures, and all creatures into God, according to that degree and manner of life which they have in nature: for the life of creatures must stand in nature, and nature is nothing else but God made manifest, visible, and perceptible; and therefore the life of every creature, be it what it will, a life of joy or wrath, is only so much of God made manifest in it, and perceptible by it, and thus is God in some creatures only a God of wrath, and in others, only a God of glory and goodness.
No creature can have life, or live, and move, and have its being in God, but by being formed out of, and living in this manifestation of nature. Thus far hell and heaven, angels and devils are equally in God, that is, they equally live, move, and have their being in that eternal nature, which is the eternal manifestation of God: the one have a life of glory, majesty, and love, and bliss, the other a life of horror, fire, wrath, misery, and darkness. Now, all this could not possibly be, there could be no room for this distinction between creatures standing in nature, the one could not possibly have a life of majestic bliss and glory, the other of fiery horror and darkness, but because the holy, triune God is manifested in the united glory and bliss of fire, light, and spirit. For the creatures could only divide that, which there was in nature to be divided, they could only divide that, which was united, and divisible; and therefore, as sure as heaven is a splendrous light of blissful majesty, as sure as hell is a place of fiery wrath and darkness, so sure is it from the scriptures, that eternal nature, which is from God, or a manifestation of God, is a nature of united fire, light, and spirit, otherwise, some creatures could not have the blissful glory of light, and others, a horrible, fiery darkness for their separate portions.
All therefore that has been said of an eternal nature, or kingdom of heaven, consisting of united fire, light, and spirit, is not only to be looked upon as an opinion well grounded, and sufficiently discovered by the light of nature, but as a fundamental truth of revealed religion, fully established by all that is said in the scriptures both of heaven and hell. For if God was not manifested, visible, perceptible and communicable, in and by this united fire, and light, and spirit, how could there be a heaven of glorious majesty?
If this fire of heaven could not be separated, or broken off from its heavenly light, how could there be a hell in nature? Or, how could those angels which lost the light of heaven, have thereby fallen into a state of hellish darkness, or fire? Is not all this the greatest of demonstrations, that the holy Triunity of God is, and must be manifested in nature, by the union of fire, light, and spirit? And is not this demonstration wholly taken from the very letter of the most plain doctrines of scripture?
Hell and wrath could have no possibility of existence, but because the light and majesty, and glory of heaven, must of all necessity have its birth in and from the fire of nature. An angel could not have become a devil, but because the angelic light and glory had, and must have its birth in and from the fire of life. And thus as a devil was found, where angelic light and glory had its existence, so a hell was found, where heavenly glory was before; and as the devil is nothing but a fire-spirit broken off from its angelic light and glory, so hell is nothing but the fire of heaven separated from its first light and majesty.
And here we have plainly found two worlds in eternity; not possible to be two, nor ever known to be two, but by such creatures, as have in their own natures, by their own self-motion, separated the fire of eternal nature from its eternal light, spirit and majesty. And this is also the beginning, or first opening of the wrath of God in the creature; which is, in other words, only the beginning, or first opening of pain and misery in the creature, or the origin of a hellish, tormenting state of life. 22. And here, in this dark wrathful fire of the fallen creature, do we truly find that wrath and anger and vengeance of God, that cleaves to sin, that must be quenched, atoned, and satisfied before the sinner can be reconciled to God; that is, before it can have again that triune life of God in it, which is its union with the Holy Trinity of God, or its regaining the kingdom of heaven in itself.
Some have objected, that by thus considering the fallen soul, as a dark, wrathful fire-spirit, for this reason, because it has lost the birth of the Son and Holy Spirit of God in it, that this casts reproach upon God the Father, as having the nature of such a soul in him. But this is a groundless objection, for this state of the soul casts no more reproach upon the first, than upon the second and third persons of the holy Trinity. The fallen soul, that has lost the birth of the Son and Holy Spirit of God in it, cannot be said to have the nature of the Father left in it. This would be blasphemous nonsense, and is no way founded on this doctrine. But such a soul must be said to have a nature from the Father left in it, though a spoiled one, and this because the Father is the origin, fountain and creator of all kind of existence: hell, and the devils have their nature from him, because every kind of creature must have what it has of life and being from its creator; but hell and the devils have not therefore the nature of the Father in them. If it be asked what the Father is, as he is the first person in the sacred Trinity, the answer must be, that as such, he is the generator of the Son and Holy Spirit: this is the nature of the Father; where this generating is not, there is not the nature of the Father. Is it not therefore highly absurd to charge this doctrine with ascribing the nature of the Father to the fallen soul, which asserts the soul to be fallen, for this reason, because it has quite lost and extinguished all power and ability for the birth of the Son and Holy Spirit in it? How could it be more roundly affirmed, or more fully proved, that the fallen soul hath not the nature of the Father in it. But to proceed:
The reader ought not to wonder, or be offended at the frequent mention of the word “fire,” which is here used to denote the true nature, and state of the soul. For both nature and scripture speak continually the same language. For wherever there is mention of life, light, or love in the scriptures, there fire is necessarily supposed, as being that in which all life, and light, and love must necessarily arise; and therefore the scriptures speak as often of fire, as they do of life, and light, and love, because the one necessarily includes the other: for all life, whether it be vegetable, sensitive, animal, or intellectual, is only a kindled fire of life in such a variety of states; and every dead, insensitive thing is only so, because its fire is quenched, or shut up in a hard compaction. If therefore we will speak of the true ground of the fallen state of men and angels, we are not at liberty to think of it under any other idea, or speak of it in any other manner, than as the darkened fire of their life, or the fire of their life unable to kindle itself into light and love. Do not the scriptures strictly confine us to this idea of hell? So that it is not any particular philosophy, or affected singularity of expression, that makes me speak in this manner of the soul, but because all nature and scripture forces us to confess, that the root of all and every life stands, and must necessarily stand in the properties of fire.
The holy scriptures also speak much of fire, in the ideas which they give us, both of the divine nature, and of created spirits, whether they be saved, or lost; the former as becoming flames of heavenly light and love, the latter as dark firebrands of hell. (Theologia fere supra omnes sacrosanctam ignis figuram probasse reperitur. Eam enim invenies non solum retas igneas fingere, sed etiam ignea animalia — quinetiam thronos igneos esse dicit, ipsosq; summos seraphim incensos esse ex ipso nomine declarat, eisq; ignis & proprietatem & actionem tribuit: semperatq; ubiq; igneam figuram probat. Ac igneam quidem formam significare arbitror coelestium naturarum maximam in Deo imitando similitudinem. Theologi summam, & forma carentam essentiam ignis specie multis locis describunt, quod ignis multas divinae, si dictu fas est, proprietatis, imagines ac species prae se ferat. Ignis enim, qui sensu percipitur, in omnibus & per omnia sine admixtione funditur, secerniturq; a rebus omnibus, lucetq; totus simul, & abstrusus est, incognitusq; manet ipse per se — cohiberi, vinciq; non potest — quicquid ipsi proprius quoquo modo adhibeatur, sui particeps facit. Renovat omnia vitali calore, illustrat aperto lumine; teneri non potest, nec misceri. Dissipandi vim habet, commutari non potest, sursum fertur, celeritate magna praeditus est, sublimis est, nec humilitatem ullam ferre potest. Immobilis est, per se movetur, aliis motum affert; comprehendendi vim habet, ipse comprehendi non potest. Non eget altero: clam se amplificat: in materiis quae ipsius capaces sunt, magnitudinem suam declarat. Vim efficiendi habet, potens est: omnibus praesto est; nec videtur: attritu autem quasi inquisitione quadam connaturaliter repente apparet, rursuq; ita avolat ut comprehendi, & detineri nequeat: in omnibus sui communionibus minui non potest — multas etiam alias ignis proprietates invenire possumus, que propria sunt divinae actionis. S. Dionis. Arcop. de coelesti Hierarci, 56. ) No description is, or can be given us either of heaven or hell, but where fire is necessarily signified to be the ground and foundation both of the one and of the other. Why do all languages, however distant, and different from one another, all speak of the coldness of death, the coldness of insensibility?
Why do they all agree in speaking of the warmth of life, the heat of passions, the burnings of wrath, the flames of love? It is because it is the voice or dictate of universal nature, that fire is the root or seat of life, and that every variety of human tempers is only the various workings of the fire of life. It ought to be no reason why we should think grossly of fire, because it is seen in so many gross things of this world? For how is it seen in them? Why only as a destroyer, a consumer, and refiner of all grossness; as a kindler of life, and light out of death and darkness. So that in all the appearances of fire, even in earthly things, we have reason to look upon it as something of a heavenly, exalting, and glorious nature; as that which disperses death, darkness, and grossness, and raises up the power and glory of every life.
If you ask what fire is in its first, true, and unbeginning state, not yet entered into any creature, it is the power and strength, the glory and majesty of eternal nature; it is that which generates, enriches, brightens, strengthens and displays the Light of heaven. It is that which makes the eternal light to be majestic, the eternal love to be flaming: for the strength and vivacity of fire, must be both the majesty of light, and the ardor of love. It is the glorious outbirth, the true representative of God the Father eternally generating his only Son, Light and Word.
If you ask what fire is in its own spiritual nature, it is merely a desire, and has no other nature than that of a working desire, which is continually its own kindler. For every desire is nothing else, but its own striking up, or its own kindling itself into some kind and degree of fire. And hence it is that nature (though reduced to great ignorance of itself) has yet forced all nations and languages to speak of its own desires, as cool, warm, or burning, etc., because every desire is, so far as it goes, a kindled fire. And it is to be observed, that fire could have no existence or operation in material things, but because all the matter of this world has in it more or less of spiritual and heavenly properties compacted in it, which continually desire to be delivered from their material imprisonment. And the stirring up the desire of these spiritual properties, is the kindling of that heat, and glance, and light, in material things, which we call fire, and is nothing else but their gloriously breaking, and triumphantly dispersing that hard compaction in which they were imprisoned. And thus does every kindled fire, as a flash or transitory opening of heavenly glory, show us in little and daily, but true instances, the triumph of the last fire, when all that is spiritual and heavenly in this world, shall kindle and separate itself from that, which must be the death and darkness of hell.
Now the reason, why there are spiritual properties in all the essential things of this world, is only this, it is because the matter of this world is the materiality of the kingdom of heaven, brought down into a created state of grossness, death, and imprisonment, by occasion of the sin of those angels, who first inhabited the place, or extent of this material world.
Now these heavenly properties, which were brought into this created compaction, lie in a continual desire to return to their first state of glory; and this is the groaning of the whole creation to be delivered from vanity, which the apostle speaks of. And in this continual desire lieth the kindling, and all the possibility of kindling any fire in the things of this world.
Quench this desire, and suppose there is nothing in the matter of this world that desires to be restored to its first glory, and then all the breaking forth of fire, light, brightness, and glance in the things of this world, is utterly quenched with it, and it would be the same impossibility to strike fire, as to strike sense and reason out of a flint. 24. But you will perhaps say, though this be a truth, yet it is more speculative than edifying, more fitted to entertain the curiosity, than to assist the devotion of Christians. But stay awhile, and you shall see it is a truth full of the most edifying instruction, and directly speaking to the heart.
For if every desire is in itself, in its own essence, the kindling of fire, then we are taught this great practical lesson, that our own desire is the kindler of our own fire, the former and raiser of that life which leads us. What our desire kindles, that becomes the fire of our life, and fits us either for the majestic glories of the kingdom of God, or the dark horrors of hell: so that our desire is all, it does all, and governs all, and all that we have and are, must arise from it, and therefore it is, that the scripture saith, “Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.”
We are apt to think that our imaginations and desires may be played with, that they rise and fall away as nothing, because they do not always bring forth outward and visible effects. But indeed they are the greatest reality we have, and are the true formers and raisers of all that is real and solid in us. All outward power that we exercise in the things about us, is but as a shadow in comparison of that inward power, that resides in our will, imagination, and desires; these communicate with eternity, and kindle a life which always reaches either heaven or hell. This strength of the inward man makes all that is the angel, and all that is the devil in us, and we are neither good nor bad, but according to the working of that which is spiritual and invisible in us. Now our desire is not only thus powerful and productive of real effects, but it is always alive, always working and creating in us, I say creating, for it has no less power, it perpetually generates either life or death in us: and here lies the ground of the great efficacy of prayer, which when it is the prayer of the heart, the prayer of faith, has a kindling and creating power, and forms and transforms the soul into everything that its desires reach after: it has the key to the kingdom of heaven, and unlocks all its treasures, it opens, extends, and moves that in us, which has its being and motion in and with the divine nature, and so brings us into a real union and communion with God.
Long offices of prayer sounded only from the mouth, or impure hearts, may year after year be repeated to no advantage, they leave us to grow old in our own poor, weak state: these are only the poor prayers of heathens, who, as our Lord said, “think to be heard by their much speaking.” But when the eternal springs of the purified heart are stirred, when they stretch after that God from whence they came; then it is, that what we ask, we receive, and what we seek, we find. Hence it is, that all those great things are by the scriptures attributed to faith, that to it all things are possible; that it heals the sick, saves the sinner, can remove mountains, and that all things are possible to him that believeth; ‘tis because the working of will and desire is the first eternal source of all power, that from which everything is kindled into that degree of life in which it standeth; ‘tis because will and desire in us are creaturely offsprings of that first will and desire which formed and governed all things; and therefore, when the creaturely power of our will, imagination and desire leaves off its working in vanity, and gives itself wholly unto God in a naked and implicit faith in the divine operation upon it, then it is, that it does nothing in vain, it rises out of time into eternity, is in union and communion with God, and so all things are possible to it. Thus is this doctrine so far from being vainly speculative, that it opens to us the ground, and shows us the necessity and excellency of the greatest duties of the gospel. 25. Now, as all desire throughout nature and creature is but one and the same thing, branching itself out into various kinds and degrees of existence and operation, so there is but one fire throughout all nature and creature, standing only in different states and conditions. The fire that is in the light of the sun, is the same fire that is in the darkness of the flint: that fire which is the life of our bodies, is the life of our souls; that which tears wood in pieces, is the same which upholds the beauteous forms of angels: it is the same fire that burns straw, that will at last melt the sun, the same fire that brightens a diamond, is darkened in a flint: it is the same fire that kindles life in an animal, that kindled it in angels: in an angel it is an eternal fire of an eternal life, in an animal it is the same fire brought into a temporary condition, and therefore can only kindle a life that is temporary: the same fire that is mere wrath in a devil, is the sweetness of flaming love in an angel; and the same fire which is the majestic glory of heaven, makes the horror of hell.