THE SPIRIT OF LOVE: THE FIRST PART
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My Dear Friend, You had no occasion to make any apology for the manner of your letter to me, for though you very well know that I have as utter an aversion to waste my time and thoughts in matters of theological debate as in any contentions merely of a worldly nature, as knowing that the former are generally as much, if not more, hurtful to the heart of man than the latter; yet as your objections rather tend to stir up the powers of love than the wrangle of a rational debate, so I consider them only as motives and occasions of edifying both you and myself with the truth, the power and divine blessedness of the spirit of love.
You say there is nothing in all my writings that has more affected you than that spirit of love that breathes in them, and that you wish for nothing so much as to have a living sensibility of the power, life, and religion of love.
But you have these two objections often rising in your mind: First, that this doctrine of pure and universal love may be too refined and imaginary, because you find that however you like it, yet you cannot attain to it, or overcome all that in your nature which is contrary to it, do what you can; and so are only able to be an admirer of that love which you cannot lay hold of. Secondly, because you find so much said in scripture of a righteousness and justice, a wrath and vengeance of God that must be atoned and satisfied, etc., that though you are in love with that description of the Deity which I have given, as a being that is all love, yet you have some doubt whether the scripture will allow of it.
Thus stand your objections, which will fall into nothing as soon as you look at them from a right point of view, which will then be, as soon as you have found the true ground of the nature, power, and necessity of the blessed spirit of love.
Now the spirit of love has this original. God, as considered in himself in his holy being, before anything is brought forth by him or out of him, is only an eternal will to all goodness. This is the one eternal immutable God, that from eternity to eternity changeth not, that can be neither more nor less nor anything else but an eternal will to all the goodness that is in himself, and can come from him. The creation of ever so many worlds or systems of creatures adds nothing to, nor takes anything from this immutable God. He always was and always will be the same immutable will to all goodness. So that as certainly as he is the creator, so certainly is he the blesser of every created thing, and can give nothing but blessing, goodness, and happiness from himself because he has in himself nothing else to give. It is much more possible for the sun to give forth darkness than for God to do, or be, or give forth anything but blessing and goodness. Now this is the ground and original of the spirit of love in the creature; it is and must be a will to all goodness, and you have not the spirit of love till you have this will to all goodness at all times and on all occasions. You may indeed do many works of love and delight in them, especially at such times as they are not inconvenient to you, or contradictory to your state or temper or occurrences in life. But the spirit of love is not in you till it is the spirit of your life, till you live freely, willingly, and universally according to it. For every spirit acts with freedom and universality according to what it is. It needs no command to live its own life, or be what it is, no more than you need bid wrath be wrathful. And therefore when love is the spirit of your life, it will have the freedom and universality of a spirit; it will always live and work in love, not because of this or that, here or there, but because the spirit of love can only love, wherever it is or goes or whatever is done to it. As the sparks know no motion but that of flying upwards, whether it be in the darkness of night or in the light of day, so the spirit of love is always in the same course; it knows no difference of time, place, or persons, but whether it gives or forgives, bears or forbears, it is equally doing its own delightful work, equally blessed from itself. For the spirit of love, wherever it is, is its own blessing and happiness because it is the truth and reality of God in the soul, and therefore is in the same joy of life and is the same good to itself, everywhere and on every occasion.
Oh sir! Would you know the blessing of all blessings? It is this God of love dwelling in your soul and killing every root of bitterness which is the pain and torment of every earthly, selfish love. For all wants are satisfied, all disorders of nature are removed, no life is any longer a burden, every day is a day of peace, everything you meet becomes a help to you because everything you see or do is all done in the sweet, gentle element of love.
For as love has no by-ends, wills nothing but its own increase, so everything is as oil to its flame. It must have that which it wills and cannot be disappointed, because everything naturally helps it to live in its own way and to bring forth its own work. The spirit of love does not want to be rewarded, honored, or esteemed. Its only desire is to propagate itself and become the blessing and happiness of everything that wants it. And therefore it meets wrath and evil and hatred and opposition with the same one will as the light meets the darkness, only to overcome it with all its blessings. Did you want to avoid the wrath and ill will or to gain the favor of any persons, you might easily miss of your ends; but if you have no will but to all goodness, everything you meet, be it what it will, must be forced to be assistant to you. For the wrath of an enemy, the treachery of a friend, and every other evil only helps the spirit of love to be more triumphant, to live its own life and find all its own blessings in a higher degree. Whether therefore you consider perfection or happiness, it is all included in the spirit of love and must be so for this reason, because the infinitely perfect and happy God is mere love, an unchangeable will to all goodness; and therefore every creature must be corrupt and unhappy, so far as it is led by any other will than the one will to all goodness. Thus you see the ground, the nature, and perfection of the spirit of love. Let me now in a word or two show you the necessity of it. Now the necessity is absolute and unchangeable. No creature can be a child of God but because the goodness of God is in it; nor can it have any union or communion with the goodness of the Deity till its life is a spirit of love. This is the one only band of union betwixt God and the creature. All besides this, or that is not this, call it by what name you will, is only so much error, fiction, impurity, and corruption got into the creature, and must of all necessity be entirely separated from it before it can have that purity and holiness which alone can see God or find the divine life. For as God is an immutable will to all goodness, so the divine will can unite or work with no creaturely will but that which willeth with him only that which is good. Here the necessity is absolute; nothing will do instead of this will; all contrivances of holiness, all forms of religious piety, signify nothing without this will to all goodness. For as the will to all goodness is the whole nature of God, so it must be the whole nature of every service or religion that can be acceptable to him. For nothing serves God or worships and adores him but that which wills and worketh with him. For God can delight in nothing but his own will and his own Spirit, because all goodness is included in it and can be nowhere else. And therefore everything that followeth an own will or an own spirit forsaketh the one will to all goodness, and whilst it doth so hath no capacity for the light and Spirit of God. The necessity therefore of the spirit of love is what God himself cannot dispense with in the creature, no more than he can deny himself or act contrary to his own holy being. But as it was his will to all goodness that brought forth angels and the spirits of men, so he can will nothing in their existence but that they should live and work and manifest that same spirit of love and goodness which brought them into being. Everything therefore but the will and life of goodness is an apostasy in the creature and is rebellion against the whole nature of God.
There is no peace, nor ever can be for the soul of man but in the purity and perfection of its first created nature; nor can it have its purity and perfection in any other way than in and by the spirit of love. For as love is the God that created all things, so love is the purity, the perfection, and blessing of all created things; and nothing can live in God but as it lives in love. Look at every vice, pain, and disorder in human nature; it is in itself nothing else but the spirit of the creature turned from the universality of love to some self-seeking or own will in created things. So that love alone is, and only can be, the cure of every evil, and he that lives in the purity of love is risen out of the power of evil into the freedom of the one spirit in heaven. The schools have given us very accurate definitions of every vice, whether it be covetousness, pride, wrath, envy, etc., and shown us how to conceive them as notionally distinguished from one another. But the Christian has a much shorter way of knowing their nature and power and what they all are and do in and to himself. For call them by what names you will, or distinguish them with ever so much exactness, they are all, separately and jointly, just that same one thing, and all do that same one work as the scribes, the pharisees, hypocrites, and rabble of the Jews who crucified Christ were all but one and the same thing and all did one and the same work, however different they were in outward names. If you would therefore have a true sense of the nature and power of pride, wrath, covetousness, envy, etc., they are in their whole nature nothing else but the murderers and crucifiers of the true Christ of God; not as the high priests did many hundred years ago, nailing his outward humanity to an outward cross, but crucifying afresh the Son of God, the holy Immanuel, who is the Christ that every man crucifies as often as he gives way to wrath, pride, envy, or covetousness, etc. For every temper or passion that is contrary to the new birth of Christ and keeps the holy Immanuel from coming to life in the soul is, in the strictest sense of the words, a murderer and killer of the Lord of life. And where pride and envy and hatred, etc., are suffered to live, there the same thing is done as when Christ was killed and Barabbas was saved alive. The Christ of God was not then first crucified when the Jews brought him to the cross but Adam and Eve were his first real murderers; for the death which happened to them in the day that they did eat of the earthly tree was the death of Christ of God or the divine life in their souls. For Christ had never come into the world as a second Adam to redeem it had he not been originally the life and perfection and glory of the first Adam. And he is our atonement and reconciliation with God, because by and through him brought to life in us, we are set again in that first state of holiness, and have Christ again in us as our first father had at his creation. For had not Christ been in our first father as a birth of life in him, Adam had been created a mere child of wrath, in the same impurity of nature, in the same enmity with God, and in the same want of an atoning Savior as we are at this day. For God can have no delight or union with any creature but because his well-beloved Son, the express image of his person, is found in it. This is as true of all unfallen as of all fallen creatures; the one are redeemed and the other want no redemption, only through the life of Christ dwelling in them. For as the Word, or Son of God, is the creator of all things, and by him everything is made that was made, so everything that is good and holy in unfallen angels is as much through his living and dwelling in them as everything that is good and holy in redeemed man is through him. And he is just as much the preserver, the strength, and glory, and life of all the thrones and principalities of heaven as he is the righteousness, the peace, and redemption of fallen man.
This Christ of God hath many names in scripture, but they all mean only this, that he is, and alone can be, the light and life and holiness of every creature that is holy, whether in heaven or on earth. Wherever Christ is not, there is the wrath of nature or nature left to itself and its own tormenting strength of life, to feel nothing in itself but the vain, restless contrariety of its own working properties. This is the one only origin of hell, and every kind of curse and misery in the creature. It is nature without the Christ of God or the spirit of love ruling over it. And here you may observe that wrath has in itself the nature of hell, and that it can have no beginning or power in any creature but so far as it has lost the Christ of God. And when Christ is everywhere, wrath and hatred will be nowhere.
Whenever therefore you willingly indulge wrath or let your mind work in hatred, you not only work without Christ, but you resist him and withstand his redeeming power over you. You do in reality what those Jews did when they said, “We will not have this man to reign over us.”
For Christ never was, nor can be, in any creature but purely as a spirit of love.
In all the universe of nature nothing but heaven and heavenly creatures ever had, or could have been known, had every created will continued in that state in which it came forth out of and from God. For God can will nothing in the life of the creature but a creaturely manifestation of his own goodness, happiness and perfection. And therefore, where this is wanted, the fact is certain that the creature hath changed and lost its first state that it had from God. Everything therefore which is the vanity, the wrath, the torment and evil of man or any intelligent creature is solely the effect of his will turned from God and can come from nothing else. Misery and wickedness can have no other ground or root, for whatever wills and works with God must of all necessity partake of the happiness and perfection of God.
This therefore is a certain truth, that hell and death, curse and misery, can never cease or be removed from the creation till the will of the creature is again as it came from God and is only a spirit of love that willeth nothing but goodness. All the whole fallen creation, stand it never so long, must groan and travail in pain; this must be its purgatory till every contrariety to the divine will is entirely taken from every creature.
Which is only saying that all the powers and properties of nature are a misery to themselves, can only work in disquiet and wrath till the birth of the Son of God brings them under the dominion and power of the spirit of love.
Thus sir, you have seen the original, immutable ground and necessity of the spirit of love. It is no imaginary refinement or speculative curiosity, but is of the highest reality and most absolute necessity. It stands in the immutability and perfection of God, and not only every intelligent creature, be it what and where it will, but every inanimate thing must work in vanity and disquiet till it has its state in and works under the spirit of love. For as love brought forth all things, and all things were what they were and had their place and state under the working power of love, so everything that has lost its first- created state must be in restless strife and disquiet till it finds it again. There is no sort of strife, wrath, or storm in outward nature, no fermentation, vegetation, or corruption in any elementary things but what is a full proof and real effect of this truth, viz., that nature can have no rest but must be in the strife of fermentation, vegetation, and corruption, constantly doing and undoing, building and destroying, till the spirit of love has rectified all outward nature and brought it back again into that glassy sea of unity and purity in which St. John beheld the throne of God in the midst of it. For this glassy sea, which the beloved apostle was blessed with the sight of, is the transparent, heavenly element in which all the properties and powers of nature move and work in the unity and purity of the one will of God, only known as so many endless forms of triumphing light and love. For the strife of properties, of thick against thin, hard against soft, hot against cold, etc., had no existence till angels fell, that is till they turned from God to work with nature. This is the original of all the strife, division, and materiality in the fallen world.
No fluid in this world ferments but because there is some thickness and contrariety in it which it would not have. And it ferments only for this reason, to have a unity and clearness in itself which its nature wants to have. Now when you see this in any fluid, you see the work of all fallen nature and the same that everything else is doing as well as it can in its own way; it is in a restless working and strife after a unity and purity which it can neither have nor forbear to seek. And the reason why all things are doing thus is this, because all the elements of this world, before they were brought down into their present state, had their birth and existence in the unity and purity of the heavenly glassy sea, and therefore must be always in some sort of strife and tendency after their first state, and doomed to disquiet till it is found.
This is the desire of all fallen nature in this world. It cannot be separated from it but every part must work in fermentation, vegetation, and corruption, till it is restored to its first unity and purity under the spirit of love.
Every son of fallen Adam is under this same necessity of working and striving after something that he neither is nor hath, and for the same reason, because the life of man has lost its first unity and purity and therefore must be in a working strife till all contrariety and impurity is separated from it and it finds its first state in God. All evil as well as good men, all the wisdom and folly of this life, are equally proof of this. For the vanity of wicked men in their various ways, and the labors of good men in faith and hope, etc., proceed from the same cause, viz., from a want and desire of having and being something that they neither are nor have. The evil seek wrong and the good seek right, but they both are seekers, and for the same reason, because their present state has not that which it wants to have. And this must be the state of human life and of every creature that has fallen from its first state or has something in it that it should not have.
It must do as the polluted fluid does; it must ferment and work, either right or wrong, to mend its state. The muddled wine always works right to the utmost of its power because it works according to nature, but if it had an intelligent free will it might work as vainly as man does. It might continually thicken itself, be always stirring up its own dregs, just as well as the soul of man seeks happiness in the lusts of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. All which must of the same necessity fall away from the heart of man before it can find its happiness in God, as the dregs must separate from the wine before it can have its perfection and clearness.
Purification therefore is the one thing necessary, and nothing will do in the stead of it. But man is not purified till every earthly, wrathful, sensual, selfish, partial, self-willing temper is taken from him. He is not dying to himself till he is dying to these tempers, and he is not alive in God till he is dead to them. For he wants purification only because he has these tempers, and therefore he has not the purification which he wants till they are all separated from him. It is the purity and perfection of the divine nature that must be brought again into him, because in that purity and perfection he came forth from God and could have no less, as he was a child of God, that was to be blessed by a life in him and from him. For nothing impure or imperfect in its will and working can have any union with God. Nor are you to think that these words, the purity and perfection of God, are too high to be used on this occasion, for they only mean that the will of the creature, as an offspring of the divine will, must will and work with the will of God, for then it stands and lives truly and really in the purity and perfection of God, and whatever does not thus is at enmity with God and cannot have any union of life and happiness with him and in him.
Now nothing wills and works with God but the spirit of love, because nothing else works in God himself. The almighty brought forth all nature for this only end, that boundless love might have its infinity of height and depth to dwell and work in, and all the striving and working properties of nature are only to give essence and substance, life and strength, to the invisible hidden spirit of love, that it may come forth into outward activity and manifest its blessed powers, that creatures born in the strength, and out of the powers of nature, might communicate the spirit of love and goodness, give and receive mutual delight and joy to and from one another.
All below this state of love is a fall from the one life of God, and the only life in which the God of love can dwell. Partiality, self, mine, thine, etc., are tempers that can only belong to creatures that have lost the power, presence, and spirit of the universal good. They can have no place in heaven, nor can be anywhere but because heaven is lost. Think not, therefore, that the spirit of pure, universal love which is the one purity and perfection of heaven and all heavenly natures has been or can be carried too high or its absolute necessity too much asserted. For it admits no degrees of higher or lower, and is not in being till it is absolutely pure and unmixed, no more than a line can be straight till it is absolutely free from all crookedness.
All the design of Christian redemption is to remove everything that is unheavenly, gross, dark, wrathful, and disordered from every part of this fallen world. And when you see earth and stones, storms and tempests, and every kind of evil, misery, and wickedness, you see that which Christ came into the world to remove, and not only to give a new birth to fallen man, but also to deliver all outward nature from its present vanity and evil and set it again in its first heavenly state. Now if you ask how came all things into this evil and vanity, it is because they have lost the blessed spirit of love which alone makes the happiness and perfection of every power of nature. Look at grossness, coldness, hardness, and darkness.
Nature is at first only spiritual. It has in itself nothing but the spiritual properties of the desire, which is the very being and ground of nature. But when these spiritual properties are not filled and blessed, and all held in one will by the light and love of God ruling in them, then something is found in nature which never should have been found, viz., the properties of nature in a state of visible, palpable division and contrariety to each other. And this new state of the properties of nature is the first beginning and birth and possibility of all that contrariety that is to be found betwixt hot and cold, hard and soft, thick and thin, etc., all which could have had no existence till the properties of nature lost their first unity and purity under the light and love of God, manifested and working in them. And this is the one true origin of all the materiality of this earthly system and of every struggle and contrariety found in material things. Had the properties of nature been kept by the creature in their first state, blessed and overcome with the light and love of heaven dwelling and working in them, no wrath or contrariety could ever have been known by any creature, and had not wrath and contrariety entered into the properties of nature, nothing thick or hard or dark, etc., could ever have been found or known in any place. Now everything that you see and know of the things of this world shows you that matter began only in and from the change of the spiritual properties of nature, and that matter is changed and altered just as the light and purity of heaven is more or less in it. How comes the flint to be in such a state of hard, dark compaction? It is because the meekness and fluidity of the light and air and water of this world have little or no existence in it. And therefore, as soon as the fire has unlocked its hard compaction and opened in it the light and air and water of this world, it becomes transparent glass and is brought so much nearer to that first glassy sea in which it once existed. For the light and air and water of this world, though all of them in a material state, yet have the most of the first heavenly nature in them, and as these are more or less in all material things, so are they nearer or farther from their first heavenly state. And as fire is the first deliverer of the flint from its hard compaction, so the last universal fire must begin the deliverance of this material system and fit everything to receive that spirit of light and love which will bring all things back again to their first glassy sea, in which the Deity dwelleth as in his throne. And thus, as the earthly fire turns flint into glass, so earth will become heaven and the contrariety of four divided elements will become one transparent brightness of glory as soon as the last fire shall have melted every grossness into its first undivided fluidity, for the light and love and majesty of God to be all in all in it. How easy and natural is it to suppose all that is earth and stones to be dissolved into water, the water to be changed into air, the air into ether, and the ether rarefied into light? Is there anything here impossible to be supposed? And how near a step is the next, to suppose all this changed or exalted into that glassy sea, which was everywhere before the angels fell? What now is become of hard, heavy, dead, divisible, corruptible matter? Is it annihilated? No; and yet nothing of it is left. All that you know of it is gone and nothing but its shadowy idea will be known in eternity. Now as this shows you how matter can lose all its material properties and go back to its first spiritual state, so it makes it very intelligible to you how the sin of angels, which was their sinful working in and with the properties of nature, could bring them out of their first spirituality into that darkness, grossness, and chaos out of which God raised this material system. See now, sir, how unreasonably you once told me that our doctrine must suppose the eternity of matter, for throughout the whole you might easily have seen that it neither does nor can suppose it, but demonstrates the impossibility of it; shows the true origin of matter, that it is no older than sin; could have no possibility of beginning to be, but from sin, and therefore must entirely vanish when sin is entirely done away.
If matter, said you, be not made out of nothing then it must be eternal.
Just as well concluded as if you had said, if snow and hail and ice are not made out of nothing, then they must be eternal. And if your senses did not force you to know how these things are created out of something and are in themselves only the properties of light and air and water, brought out of their first state into such a compaction and creation as is called snow, hail, and ice, your rational philosophy would stand to its noble conclusion, that they must be made out of nothing. Now every time you see snow or hail or ice, you see in truth and reality the creation of matter, or how this world came from some antecedent properties of nature by that same creating power or fiat of God as turns the properties of light and air and water into the different materialities of snow, hail, and ice.
The first property of nature, which is in itself a constraining, attracting, compressing, and coagulating power, is that working power from whence comes all thickness, darkness, coldness, and hardness; and this is the creator of snow and hail and ice out of something that before was only the fluidity of light, air, and moisture. Now this same property of nature, directed by the will of God, was the fiat and creating power which, on the first day of this world, compacted, coagulated, or created the wrathful properties of fallen nature in the angelic kingdom into such a new state as to become earth and stones and water and a visible heaven. And the new state of the created heaven and earth and stones and water, etc., came forth by the fiat of God, or the working of the first property of nature, from the properties of fallen nature, just as snow and ice and hail come forth by the same fiat from the properties of light, air, and water. And the created materialities of heaven, earth, stones, and water have no more eternity in them than there is in snow or hail or ice, but are only held for a time in their compacted or created state, by the same first astringing property of nature which for a time holds snow and hail and ice in their compacted state.
Now here you see with the utmost certainty that all the matter or materiality of this world is the effect of sin and could have its beginning from nothing else. For as thickness, hardness, and darkness (which is the essence of matter) is the effect of the wrathful predominant power of the first property of nature, and as no property of nature can be predominant or known as it is in itself till nature is fallen from its harmonious unity under the light and love of God dwelling in it, so you have the utmost certainty that where matter or (which is the same thing) where thickness, darkness, hardness, etc., are found, there the will of the creature has turned from God and opened a disorderly working of nature without God.
Therefore, as sure as the materiality of this world standeth in the predominant power of the first attracting, astringing property of nature, or in other words, is a thickness, darkness, hardness, etc., so sure is it that all the matter of this world has its beginning from sin and must have its end as soon as the properties of nature are again restored to their first unity and blessed harmony under the light and Spirit of God.
It is no objection to all this that Almighty God must be owned to be the true creator of the materiality of this world. For God only brought or created it into this materiality out of the fallen sinful properties of nature, and in order to stop their sinful working and to put them into a state of recovery. He created the confused chaos of the darkened, divided, contrary properties of spiritual nature into a further, darker, harder coagulation and division, that so the fallen angels might thereby lose all power over them, and that this new materiality might become a theater of redemption and stand its time under the dominion of the Lamb of God till all the wrath and grossness and darkness, born of the sin of the angels, was fitted to return to its first heavenly purity.
And thus, though God is the creator of the materiality of this world, yet seeing he created it out of that wrath, division, and darkness which sin had opened in nature, this truth stands firm, that sin alone is the father, first cause, and beginner of all the materiality of this world, and that when sin is removed from nature all its materiality must vanish with it. For when the properties of nature are again in the unity of the one will of light and love, then hot and cold, thick and thin, dark and hard, with every property of matter, must give up all their distinction and all the divided elements of this world lose all their materiality and division in that first heavenly spirituality of a glassy sea from whence they fell.
Now as all the whole nature of matter, its grossness, darkness, and hardness, is owing to the unequal, predominant working of the first property of nature which is an attracting, astringing, and compressing desire; so every spiritual evil, every wicked working and disorderly state of any intelligent being is all owing to the same disorderly, predominant power of the first property of nature, doing all that inwardly in the spirit of the creature, which it does in an outward grossness, darkness, and hardness. Thus, when the desire (the first property of nature) in any intelligent creature leaves the unity and universality of the spirit of love and contracts or shuts up itself in an own will, own love, and self-seeking, then it does all that inwardly and spiritually in the soul, which it does in outward grossness, hardness, and darkness. And had not own will, own love, and self- seeking come into the spirit of the creature, it never could have found or felt any outward contrariety, darkness or hardness. For no creature can have any other outward nature but that which is in the same state with its inward spirit, and belongs to it as its own natural growth.
Modern metaphysics has no knowledge of the ground and nature either of spirit or body, but supposes them not only without any natural relation, but essentially contrary to one another, and only held together in a forced conjunction by the arbitrary will of God. Nay, if you was to say that God first created a soul out of nothing, and when that is done, then takes an understanding faculty and puts it into it, after that adds a will and then a memory, all is independently made, as when a tailor first makes the body of a coat and then adds sleeves or pockets to it. Was you to say this, the schools of Descartes, Malebranche, or Locke could have nothing to say against it. And the thing is unavoidable, for all these philosophers were so far from knowing the ground of nature, how it is a birth from God, and all creatures a birth from nature through the working will of God in and by the powers of nature, as they were so far from knowing this as to hold a creation out of nothing, so they were necessarily excluded from every fundamental truth concerning the origin either of body or spirit and their true relation to one another. For a creation out of nothing leaves no room for accounting why anything is as it is. Now every wise man is supposed to have respect to nature in everything that he would have joined together; he cannot suppose his work to succeed unless this be done. But to suppose God to create man with a body and soul, not only not naturally related but naturally impossible to be united by any powers in either of them, is to suppose God acting and creating man into an unnatural state, which yet he could not do unless there was such a thing as nature antecedent to the creation of man. And how can nature be, or have anything but what it is and has from God? Therefore to suppose God to bring any creature into an unnatural state is to suppose him acting contrary to himself and to that nature which is from him.
Yet all the metaphysics of the schools does this. It supposes God to bring a soul and a body together which have the utmost natural contrariety to each other and can only affect or act upon one another by the arbitrary will of God, willing that body and soul, held together by force, should seem to do that to one another which they have no natural or possible power to do. But the true philosophy of this matter, known only to the soul, that by a new birth from above has found its first state in and from God is this: namely, that nature is a birth or manifestation of the triune invisible Deity. And as it could only come into existence as a birth from God, so every creature or beginning thing can only come forth as a birth from and out of nature by the will of God, willing it to come forth in such a birth. And no creature can have, or be, anything but by and according to the working powers of nature; and therefore, strictly speaking, no creature can be, or be put into an unnatural state. It may indeed lose or fall from its natural perfection by the wrong use or working of its will; but then its fallen state is the natural effect of the wrong use of its will, and so it only has that which is natural to it. The truth of the matter is this: There neither is, nor can be, anything nor any effect in the whole universe of things but by the way of birth. For as the working will is the first cause or beginner of everything, so nothing can proceed further than as it is driven by the will and is a birth of it. And therefore nothing can be in anything but what is natural to its own working will and the true effect of it. Everything that is outward in any being is only a birth of its own spirit, and therefore all body, whether it be heavenly or earthly or hellish, has its whole nature and condition from its own inward spirit, and no spirit can have a body of any other properties but such as are natural to it as being its own true outward state. For body and spirit are not two separate, independent things, but are necessary to each other, and are only the inward and outward conditions of one and the same thing.
Every creaturely spirit must have its own body and cannot be without it, for its body is that which makes it manifest to itself. It cannot be said to exist as a creature till in a body because it can have no sensibility of itself, nor feel nor find either that it is or what it is but in and by its own body.
Its body is its first knowledge of its something and somewhere.
And now, sir, if you ask why I have gone into this detail of the origin and nature of body and spirit when my subject was only concerning the spirit of love, it is to show you that grossness, darkness, contrariety, disquiet, and fermentation must be the state of the body and spirit till they are both made pure and luminous by the light and love of heaven manifested in them. All darkness, grossness, and contrariety must be removed from the body before it can belong to heaven or be united with it; but these qualities must be in the body till the soul is totally dead to self, partiality, and contrariety, and breathes only the spirit of universal love, because the state of the body has nothing of its own or from itself but is solely the outward manifestation of nothing else but that which is inwardly in the soul. Every animal of this world has nothing in its outward form or shape, every spirit, whether heavenly or hellish, has nothing in the nature and state of its body but that which is the form and growth of its own inward spirit. As no number can be anything else but that which the unities contained in it make it to be, so no body of any creature can be anything else but the coagulation of sum total of those properties of nature that are coagulated in it. And when the properties of nature are formed into the band of a creaturely union, then is its body brought forth, whether the spirit of the creature be earthly, heavenly, or hellish.
Nature, or the first properties of life, are in a state of the highest contrariety, and the highest want of something which they have not. This is their whole nature and they have nothing else in them. And this is their true ground and fitness to become a life of triumphing joy and happiness, viz., when united in the possession of that which they seek for in their contrariety. And if life, in its first root, was not this depth of strife, this strength of hunger, and sensibility of want, the fullness of heavenly joy could not be manifested in it.
You are not a stranger to the mystery of the seven properties of nature which we have often spoken of; and therefore I shall shorten the matter and only say so much of them as may be of service to our present subject.
Nature, whether eternal or temporal, is that which comes not into being for its own self or to be that which it is in itself, but for the sake of something that it is not, and has not. And this is the reason why nature is only a desire; it is because it is for the sake of something else, and is also the reason why nature in itself is only a torment, because it is only a strong desire and cannot help itself to that which it wants, but is always working against itself.
Now a desire that cannot be stopped nor get that which it would have has a threefold contrariety or working in it, which you may thus conceive as follows: The first and peculiar property or the one only will of the desire, as such, is to have that which it has not; and all it can do toward having it is to act as if it were seizing it; and this is it which makes the desire to be a magic compressing, enclosing, or astringing, because that is all that it can do toward seizing of that which it would have. But the desire cannot thus magically astringe, compress, or strive to enclose without drawing and attracting: but drawing is motion, which is the highest contrariety and resistance to compressing or holding together. And thus the desire, in its magical working, sets out with two contrary properties, inseparable from one another and equal in strength; for the motion has no strength but as it is the drawing of the desire; and the desire only draws in the same degree as it wills to compress and astringe; and therefore the desire, as astringing, always begets a resistance equal to itself. Now from this great and equally strong contrariety of the two first properties of the desire magically pulling, as I may say, two contrary ways, there arises as a necessary birth from both of them a third property which is emphatically called a wheel or whirling anguish of life. For a thing that can go neither inward nor outward and yet must be and move under the equal power of both of them, must whirl or turn round; it has no possibility of doing anything else or of ceasing to do that. And that this whirling contrariety of these inseparable properties is the great anguish of life and may properly be called the hell of nature; and every lesser torment which any man finds in this mixed world has all its existence and power from the working of these three properties. For life can find no troublesome motions or sensibility of distress but so far as it comes under their power, and enters into their whirling wheel.
Now here you may observe that as this whirling anguish of life is a third state necessarily arising from the contrariety of the two first properties of the desire, so in this material system every whirling or orbicular motion of any body is solely the effect or product of the contrariety of these two first properties. For no material things can whirl or move round till it is under the power of these two properties; that is, till it can neither go inwards nor outwards and yet is obliged to move, just as the whirling anguish of the desire then begins when it can neither go inwards nor outwards and yet must be in motion.
And this may be again another strict demonstration to you that all the matter of this world is from spiritual properties, since all its workings and effects are according to them. For if matter does nothing but according to them, it can be nothing but what it is and has from them.
Here also, that is, in these three properties of the desire, you see the ground and reason of the three great laws of matter and motion lately discovered and so much celebrated, and need no more to be told that the illustrious Sir Isaac plowed with Behmen’s heifer when he brought forth the discovery of them. In the mathematical system of this great philosopher these three properties, attraction, equal resistance, and the orbicular motion of the planets as the effect of them, etc., are only treated of as facts and appearances whose ground is not pretended to be known.
But in our Behmen, the illuminated instrument of God, their birth and power in eternity is opened; their eternal beginning is shown, and how and why all worlds and every life of every creature, whether it be heavenly, earthly, or hellish, must be in them and from them, and can have no nature either spiritual or material, no kind of happiness or misery but according to the working power and state of these properties.
Every madness and folly of life is their immediate work and every good spirit of wisdom and love has all its strength and activity from them. They equally support darkness and light. The one could have no powers of thickness and coldness, the other no powers of warmth, brightness, and activity but by and through these three properties acting in a different state. Not a particle of matter stirs, rises, or falls, separates from or unites with any other but under their power. Not a thought of the mind either of love or hatred, of joy or trouble, of envy or wrath, of pride and covetousness, can rise in the spirit of any creature but as these properties act and stir in it.
The next and following properties, viz., the fourth, called fire; the fifth, called the form of light and love, and the sixth, sound or understanding, only declare the gradual effects of the entrance of the Deity into the three first properties of nature, changing or bringing their strong wrathful attraction, resistance, and whirling into a life and state of triumphing joy, and fullness of satisfaction, which state of peace and joy in one another is called the seventh property, or state of nature. And this is what Behmen means by his Ternarius Sanctus which he so often speaks of as the only place from whence he received all that he said and writ. He means by it the holy manifestation of the triune God in the seven properties of nature or kingdom of heaven. And from this manifestation of God in the seven properties of nature or kingdom of heaven, he most wonderfully opens and accounts for all that was done in the six first working days of the creation, showing how every of the six active properties had its peculiar day’s work till the whole ended or rested in the sanctified, paradisiacal sabbath of the seventh day, just as nature doth in its seventh property.
And now, sir, you may see in the greatest clearness how everything in this world, everything in the soul and body of man, absolutely requires the one redemption of the gospel. There is but one nature in all created things, whether spiritual or material; they all stand and work upon the same ground, viz., the three first properties of nature. That only which can illuminate the soul, that alone can give brightness and purity to the body.
For there is no grossness, darkness, and contrariety in the body but what strictly proceeds from the same cause that makes selfishness, wrath, envy, and torment in the soul; it is but one and the same state and working of the same three first properties of nature. All evil, whether natural or moral, whether of body or spirit, is the sole effect of the wrath and disorder of the spirits of nature working in and by themselves. And all the good, perfection, and purity of everything, whether spiritual or material, whether it be the body or spirit of man or angel, is solely from the power and presence of the supernatural Deity dwelling and working in the properties of nature. For the properties of nature are in themselves nothing else but a mere hunger, want, strife, and contrariety, till the fullness and riches of the Deity entering into them unites them all in one will and one possession of light and harmonious love, which is the one redemption of the gospel, and the one reason why nothing else but the heart or Son or light of God can purify nature and creature from all the evil they are fallen into.
For nothing can possibly deliver the soul from its selfish nature and earthly passions but that one power that can deliver matter from its present material properties and turn earth into heaven. And that for this plain reason, because soul and body, outward nature and inward life, have but one and the same evil in them and from one and the same cause.
The Deist, therefore, who looks for life and salvation through the use of his reason, acts contrary to the whole nature of everything that he sees and knows of himself and of the nature and state of this world. For from one end of it to the other, all its material state, all its gross divided elements declare that they are what they are because the light and love of heaven is not working and manifest in them, and that nothing can take darkness, materiality, rage, storms, and tempests from them but that same heavenly light and love which was made flesh to redeem the fallen humanity first, and after that the whole material system.
Can the Deist with his reason bring the light of this world into the eyes of his body? If not, how comes it to be less absurd or more possible for reason to bring heavenly light into the soul? Can reason hinder the body from being heavy, or remove thickness and darkness from flesh and blood?
Yet nothing less than such a power can possibly help the soul out of its fallen and earthly state. For the grossness of flesh and blood is the natural state of the fallen soul, and therefore nothing can purify the soul, or raise it out of its earthly, corrupt state, but that which hath all power over all that is earthy and material in nature.
To pretend therefore that reason may have sufficient power to remove all hellish depravity and earthly lusts from the soul whilst it has not the least power over sweet or sour in any one particle of matter in the body is as highly absurd as if a man should pretend that he has a full power to alter the inward, invisible, vegetable life of a plant, but none at all over its outward state, color, leaves, or fruit. The Deist therefore, and not the Christian, stands in need of continual miracles to make good his doctrine.
The unbelieving Jews said of our Lord, “How can this man forgive sins?”
Christ showed them how by appealing to that power which they saw he had over the body: “Whether,” says he, “is it easier to say, thy sins are forgiven thee, or to say, arise, take up thy bed, and walk?” But the delusion of the unbelieving Deist is greater than that of the Jew. For the Deist sees that his reason has no power over his body; can remove no disease, blindness, deafness, or lameness from it, and yet will pretend to have power enough from his reason to help the soul out of all its evil, not knowing that body and soul go hand in hand, and are nothing else but the inward and outward state of one and the same life, and that therefore he only, who can say to the dead body of Lazarus, “Come forth,” can say to the soul, “Be thou clean.” The Deist therefore, if he pleases, may style himself a natural or a moral philosopher, but with no more truth than he can call himself a healer of all the maladies of the body. And for a man to think himself a moral philosopher because he has made a choice collection of syllogisms in order to quicken and revive a divine goodness in the soul, or that no redeemer need come from heaven because human reason when truly left to itself has great skill in chopping of logic, may justly be deemed such an ignorance of the nature of things as is seldom found in the transactions of illiterate and vulgar life. But this by the by.
To return to our chief subject, the sum of all that has been said is this: All evil, be it what it will, all misery of every kind, is in its birth, working and extent, nothing else but nature left to itself, and under the divided workings of its own hunger, wrath, and contrariety; and therefore no possibility for the natural, earthly man to escape eternal hunger, wrath, and contrariety, but solely in the way as the gospel teacheth, by denying and dying to self.
On the other hand, all the goodness and perfection, all the happiness, glory, and joy that any intelligent, divine creature can be possessed of, is, and can be, from nothing else but the invisible uncreated light and Spirit of God manifesting itself in the properties of the creaturely life, filling, blessing, and uniting them all in one love and joy of life. And thus again: no possibility of man’s attaining to any heavenly perfection and happiness, but only in the way of the gospel, by the union of the divine and human nature, by man’s being born again from above of the Word and Spirit of God. There is no possibility of any other way because there is nothing that can possibly change the first properties of life into a heavenly state but the presence and working power of the Deity united with, and working in them. And therefore the “Word was made flesh,” and must of all necessity be made flesh if man is to have a heavenly nature. Now as all evil, sin, and misery have no beginning, nor power of working, but in the manifestation of nature in its divided, contrary properties, so it is certain that man has nothing to turn to, seek or aspire after but the lost spirit of love. And therefore it is, that God only can be his redeemer, because God only is love, and love can be nowhere else but in God and where God dwelleth and worketh.
Now the difficulty which you find in attaining to this purity and universality of the spirit of love is because you seek for it, as I once told you, in the way of reasoning. You would be possessed of it only from a rational conviction of the fitness and amiableness of it. And as this clear idea does not put you immediately into the real possession of it, your reason begins to waver, and suggests to you that it may be only a fine notion that has no ground but in the power of the imagination. But this, sir, is all your own error, and as contrary to nature as if you would have your eyes do that which only your hands or feet can do for you. The spirit of love is a spirit of nature and life, and all the operations of nature and life are according to the working powers of nature, and every growth and degree of life can only arise in its own time and place from its proper cause and as the genuine effect of it. Nature and life do nothing by chance or accidentally, but everything in one uniform way. Fire, air, and light do not proceed sometimes from one thing and sometimes from another, but wherever they are, they are always born in the same manner and from the same working properties of nature. So in like manner, love is an immutable birth, always proceeding from the same cause, and cannot be in existence till its own true parents have brought it forth.
How unreasonable would it be to begin to doubt whether strength and health of body were real things or possible to be had because you could not by the power of your reason take possession of them? Yet this is as well as to suspect the purity and perfection of love to be only a notion, because your reason cannot bring forth its birth in your soul. For reason has no more power of altering the life and properties of the soul than of altering the life and properties of the body. That, and that only, can cast devils and evil spirits out of the soul, that can say to the storm, “Be still,” and to the leper, “Be thou clean.”
The birth of love is a form or state of life, and has its fixed place in the fifth form of nature. The three first properties or forms of nature are the ground or band of life that is in itself only an extreme hunger, want, strife, and contrariety. And they are in this state, that they may become a proper fuel for the fourth form of nature, viz., the fire, to be kindled in them. You will perhaps say, “What is this fire? What is its nature? And how is it kindled? And how is it that the hunger and anguishing state of the properties are a fitness to be a fuel of this fire?” It may be answered, This hunger and anguish of nature, in its first forms, is its fitness to be changed into a life of light, joy, and happiness: and that for this reason, because it is in this hunger and anguish only because God is not in it. For as nature comes from God, and for this only end that the Deity may manifest heaven in it, it must stand in any hunger and anguishing state till the Deity is manifested in it. And therefore its hunger and anguish is its true fitness to be changed into a better state, and this is its fitness for the birth of the fire. For the fire means nothing and is nothing else but that which changes them into a better state. Not as if fire was a fourth, distinct thing that comes into them from without, but is only a fourth state, or condition into which the same properties are brought.
The fire then is that which changes the properties into a new and heavenly state. Therefore the fire does two things. It alters the state of nature and brings heaven into it, and therefore it must work from a two-fold power: the Deity and nature must both be in it. It must have some strength from nature, or it could not work in nature. It must have some strength from the Deity or it could not overcome and change nature into a divine life. Now all this is only to show you that the fire can only be kindled by the entrance of the Deity, or supernatural God, into a conjunction or (“of” in Stanwood) union with nature. And this conjunction of the Deity and nature maketh, or bringeth forth, that state or form of life which is called and truly is, fire: first, because it does that in the spiritual properties of nature which fire doth in the properties of material nature, and secondly, because it is that alone from which every fire in this world, whether in the life of animal or vegetable or inanimate matter, has its source and power and possibility of burning. The fire of this world overcomes its fuel, breaks its nature, alters its state and changes it into flame and light. But why does it do this? Whence has it this nature and power? It is because it is a true outbirth of the eternal fire which overcomes the darkness, wrath, and contrariety of nature, and changes all its properties into a life of light, joy, and glory. Not a spark of fire could be kindled in this world, nor a ray of light come from any material fire but because material nature is, in itself, nothing else but the very properties of eternal nature, standing for a time in a material state or condition; and therefore they must work in time as they do in eternity; and consequently there must be fire in this world, it must have the same birth and do the same work in its material way, which the eternal fire hath, and doth in spiritual nature. And this is the true ground and reason why everything in this world is delivered as far as it can be from its earthly impurity, and brought into its highest state of existence only by fire. It is because the eternal fire is the purifier of eternal nature and the opener of every perfection, light, and glory in it. And if you ask why the eternal fire is the purifier of eternal nature, the reason is plain; it is because the eternal fire has its birth and nature and power from the entrance of the pure, supernatural Deity into the properties of nature, which properties must change their state and be what they were not before, as soon as the Deity entereth into them. Their darkness, wrath, and contrariety is driven out of them, and they work and give forth only a life and strength of light and joy and glory. And this two-fold operation, viz., on one hand taking from nature its wrathful workings, and on the other hand opening a glorious manifestation of the Deity in them, is the whole nature and form of the fire, and is the reason why from eternity to eternity it is and must be the purifier of eternal nature, namely, as from eternity to eternity changing nature into a kingdom of heaven. Now every fire in this world does, and must do, the same thing in its low way to the utmost of its power, and can do nothing else. Kindle fire where or in what you will, it acts only as, from, and by the power of this eternal purifying fire; and therefore it breaks and consumes the grossness of everything, and makes all that is pure and spirituous to come forth out of it; and therefore purification is its one only work through all material nature, because it is a real outbirth of that eternal fire which purifies eternal nature, and changes it into a mere heaven of glory.
The eternal fire is called a fourth form or state of nature because it cannot exist but from the first three and hath its work in the fourth place in the midst of the seven forms, changing the three first into the three last forms of nature, that is, changing them from their natural into a heavenly state.
So that, strictly speaking, there are but three forms of nature in answerableness to the threefold working of the triune Deity. For the three last are not three new or different properties but are only the three first brought into a new state by the entrance of the triune Deity into conjunction with them. Which entrance of the supernatural Deity into them is the consuming of all that is bad in them and turning all their strength into a working life of light, joy, and heavenly glory; and therefore has the justest title to be called fire, as having no other nature and operation in it but the known nature of fire, and also as being that from which every fire in this world has all its nature and power of doing as it doth.
You once, as I remember, objected to my speaking so much in the Appeal, etc., of the fire of life as thinking it too gross an expression to be taken in its literal meaning when mention is made of the eternal fire, or the fire in animal life. But, sir, fire has but one nature through the whole universe of things, and material fire has not more or less of the nature of fire in it than that which is in eternal nature because it has nothing, works nothing but what it has, and works from thence. How easy was it for you to have seen that the fire of the soul and the fire of the body had but one nature? How else could they unite in their heat? How easy also to have seen that the fire of animal life was the same fire that burns in the kitchen? How else could the kitchen fire be serviceable to animal life? What good could it do you to come to a fire of wood where you wanted to have the heat of your own life increased? In animal life the fire is kindled and preserved in such a degree and in such circumstances as to be life and the preservation of life, and this is its difference from fires kindled in wood and burning it to ashes.
Just as in water that has only so much fire in it as to make it warm, and water that is by fire made boiling hot, the same nature and power of fire is in both but only in a different state. Now will you say that fire is not to be literally understood when it only makes water to be warm, because it is not red and flaming as you see it in a burning coal? Yet this would be as well as to say that fire is not literally to be understood in the animal life because it is so different from that fire which you see burning in a piece of wood. And thus, sir, there is no foundation for any objection to all that has been said of fire in the Appeal, etc. It is one and the same great power of God in the spiritual and material world; it is the cause of every life and the opener of every power of nature, and its one great work through all nature and creature, animate and inanimate, is purification and exaltation; it can do nothing else and that for this plain reason, because its birth is from the entrance of the pure Deity into nature, and therefore must in its various state and degrees be only doing that which the entrance of the Deity into nature does. It must bring every natural thing into its highest state. But to go back now to the spirit of love and show you the time and place of its birth before which it can have no existence in your soul, do what you will to have it.
The fire, you see, is the first overcomer of the hungry, wrathful, self-tormenting state of the properties of nature, and it only overcomes them because it is the entrance of the pure Deity into them; and therefore that which overcomes them is the light of the Deity. And this is the true ground and reason why every right-kindled fire must give forth light and cannot do otherwise. It is because the eternal fire is only the effect or operation of the supernatural light of the Deity entering into nature; and therefore fire must give forth light because it is only a power of the light, and light can be nowhere in nature but as a fifth form or state of nature, brought forth by the fire. And as light thus brought forth is the first state that is lovely and delightful in nature, so the spirit of love has only its birth in the light of life, and can be nowhere else. For the properties of life have no common good, nothing to rejoice in, till the light is found, and therefore no possible beginning of the spirit of love till then.
The shock that is given to the three first properties of nature by the amazing light of the Deity breaking in upon them is the operation of the fire that consumes or takes away the wrathful strength and contrariety of the properties, and forces each of them to shrink, as it were, away from itself, and come under the power of this new-risen light. Here all strife of enmity and wrathful contrariety in the properties must cease because all are united in the love of the light, and all equally helping one another to a higher enjoyment and delight in it. They are all one triune will, all doing the same thing, viz., all rejoicing in the one love of the light. And here it is, in this delightful unity of operation, that the spirit of love is born, in the fifth property or light of life, and cannot possibly rise up in any creature till the properties of its life are brought into this fifth state, thus changed and exalted into a new sensibility of life. Let me give you this similitude of the matter: Fancy to yourself a man shut up in a deep cave underground, without ever having seen a ray of the light, his body all over tortured with pain, his mind distracted with rage, himself whirling and working with the utmost fury and madness, he knows not what; and then you have an image of the first properties of life as they are in themselves before the fire had done its work in them.
Fancy this man suddenly struck, or all surrounded, with such a glare of light as in the twinkling of an eye stopped or struck dead every working of every pain and rage, both in his body and mind; and then you have an image of the operation of the fire and what it does to the first properties of nature. Now as soon as the first terror of the light has had its fiery operation, and struck nothing dead but every working sensibility of distress, fancy this man, as you now well may, in the sweetest peace of mind and bodily sensations, blessed in a new region of light, giving joy to his mind and gratification to every sense; and then the transports, the overflowings of love and delight in this new state may give you an image how the spirit of love is and must be born when fire and light have overcome and changed the state of the first properties of nature, and never till then can have any existence in any creature, nor proceed from any other cause. Thus, sir, you may sufficiently see how vainly you attempt to possess yourself of the spirit of love by the power of your reason; and also what a vanity of all vanities there is in the religion of the Deists who will have no other perfection or divine life but what they can have from their reason, as great a contradiction to nature as if they would have no life or strength of body but that which can be had from their faculty of reasoning. For reason can no more alter or exalt any one property of life in the soul and bring it into its perfect state than it can add one cubit to the stature of the body. The perfection of every life is no way possibly to be had but as every flower comes to its perfection, viz., from its own seed and root and the various degrees of transmutation which must be gone through before the flower is found. It is strictly thus with the perfection of the soul; all its properties of life must have their true natural birth and growth from one another. The first, as its seed and root, must have their natural change into a higher state; must, like the seed of the flower, pass through death into life and be blessed with the fire and light and spirit of heaven in their passage to it, just as the seed passes through death into life, blessed by the fire and light and air of this world till it reaches its last perfection and becomes a beautiful sweet-smelling flower. And to think that the soul can attain its perfection any other way than by the change and exaltation of its first properties changed and exalted till it comes to have its flower is a total ignorance of the nature of things. For as whatever dies cannot have a death particular to itself but the same death in the same way and for the same reasons that any other creature, whether animal or vegetable, ever did or can die, so every life and degree of life must come into its state and condition of life in the same way and for the same reasons as life and the perfection of life comes into every other living creature, whether in heaven or on earth. Therefore, the Deists’ religion or reason, which is to raise the soul to its true perfection, is so far from being the religion of nature that it is quite unnatural and declared to be so by every working in nature. For since reason can neither give life nor death to any one thing in nature, but everything lives or dies according to the working of its own properties, everything dead and alive gives forth a demonstration that nature asks no counsel of reason, nor stays to be directed by it. Hold it therefore for a certain truth that you can have no good come into your soul but only by the one way of a birth from above, from the entrance of the Deity into the properties of your own soulish life. Nature must be set right, its properties must enter into the process of a new birth, it must work to the production of light before the spirit of love can have a birth in it. For love is delight, and delight cannot arise in any creature till its nature is in a delightful state or is possessed of that in which it must rejoice. And this is the reason why God must become man; it is because a new birth of Deity must be found in the soul, giving to nature all that it wants, or the soul can never find itself in a delightful state and only working with the spirit of love. For whilst the soul has only its natural life, it can only be in such a state as nature without God is in, viz., a mere hunger, want, contrariety, and strife, for it knows not what. Hence is all that variety of blind, restless, contrary passions which govern and torment the life of fallen man. It is because all the properties of nature must work in blindness and be doing they know not what till the light of God is found in them. Hence also it is that that which is called the wisdom, the honor, the honesty, and the religion of the natural man often does as much hurt to himself and others as his pride, ambition, self-love, envy, or revenge, and are subject to the same humor and caprice; it is because nature is no better in one motion than in another, nor can be so, till something supernatural is come into it. We often charge men, both in church and state, with changing their principles; but the charge is too hasty for no man ever did, or can change his principles but by a birth from above. The natural, called in scripture the old man, is steadily the same in heart and spirit in everything he does, whatever variety of names may be given to his actions. For self can have no motion but what is selfish, which way soever it goes, or whatever it does, either in church or state. And be assured of this, that nature in every man, whether he be learned or unlearned, is this very self and can be nothing else till a birth of the Deity is brought forth in it. There is therefore no possibility of having the spirit of love or any divine goodness from any power of nature or working of reason. It can only be had in its own time and place; and its time and place is nowhere but where nature is overcome by a birth of the life of God in the properties of the soul. And thus you see the infallible truth and absolute necessity of Christian redemption; it is the most demonstrable thing in all nature. The Deity must become man, take a birth in the fallen nature, be united to it, become the life of it or the natural man must of all necessity be forever and ever in the hell of his own hunger, anguish, contrariety, and self-torment; and all for this plain reason, because nature is and can be nothing else but this variety of self-torment, till the Deity is manifested and dwelling in it.
And now, sir, you see also the absolute necessity of the gospel doctrine of the cross, viz., of dying to self as the one only way to life in God. This cross, or dying to self, is the one morality that does man any good. Fancy as many rules as you will of modeling the moral behavior of man, they all do nothing because they leave nature still alive, and therefore can only help a man to a feigned, hypocritical art of concealing his own inward evil and seeming to be not under its power. And the reason why it must be so is plain; it is because nature is not possible to be reformed; it is immutable in its workings and must be always as it is and never any better or worse than its own untaught workings are. It can no more change from evil to good than darkness can work itself into light. The one work therefore of morality is the one doctrine of the cross, viz., to resist and deny nature, that a supernatural power to divine goodness may take possession of it and bring a new light into it.
In a word, there are in all the possibility of things but two states or forms of life; the one is nature and the other is God manifested in nature; and as God and nature are both within you, so you have it in your power to live and work with which you will, but are under a necessity of doing either the one or the other. There is no standing still; life goes on and is always bringing forth its realities, which way soever it goeth. You have seen that the properties of nature are, and can be, nothing else in their own life but a restless hunger, disquiet, and blind strife for they know not what, till the property of light and love has got possession of them. Now when you see this, you see the true state of every natural man, whether he be Caesar or Cato, whether he gloriously murders others or only stabs himself; blind nature does all the work and must be the doer of it till the Christ of God is born in him. For the life of man can be nothing else but a hunger of covetousness, a rising up of pride, envy, and wrath, a medley of contrary passions, doing and undoing it knows not what because these workings are essential to the properties of nature; they must be always hungering and working one against another, striving to be above one another, and all this in blindness, till the light of God has helped them to one common good, in which they all willingly unite, rest, and rejoice. In a word, goodness is only a sound and virtue a mere strife of natural passions till the spirit of love is the breath of everything that lives and moves in the heart. For love is the one only blessing and goodness and God of nature; and you have no true religion, are no worshiper of the one true God but in and by that spirit of love which is God himself living and working in you.
But here I take off my pen and shall leave the remaining part of your objection to another opportunity.
King’s Cliffe, June 16, 1752. I am, etc.