You're here: » Articles Home » William Law » The Spirit of Prayer - Part 4

The Spirit of Prayer - Part 4

By William Law



      [Pryr-2.2-1] Theoph. Let us now speak of Adam in his first Perfection, created by God to be a Lord and Ruler of this new-created World, to people it with an Host of angelic Men, till Time had finished its Course, and all things fitted to be restored to that State, from which they were fallen by the Revolt of Angels.

      [Pryr-2.2-2] For the Restoration of all things to their first glorious State, by making the Good to overcome the Evil, was the End which God proposed by the State and Manner of this new Creation.

      [Pryr-2.2-3] Adam was the chosen Instrument of God, to conduct this whole Affair, to keep up this new-made World in the State in which God had created it, not to till the Earth, which we now plough, but to keep That, which is now called the Curse in the Earth, covered, hid, and overcome, by that Paradise in which he was created. For this End, he was created in a twofold Nature, of the Powers of Heaven, and the Powers of this World. Inwardly, he had the celestial Body and Soul of an Angel, and he had this angelic Nature united to a Life and Body taken from the Stars and Elements of this outward World. As Paradise overcame, and concealed all the Wrath of the Stars and Elements, and kept that Evil, which is called the Curse, from being known or felt, so Adam's angelic, heavenly Nature, which was the Paradise of God within him, kept him quite ignorant of the Properties of that earthly Nature that was under it. He knew, and saw, and felt nothing in himself, but a Birth of Paradise, that is, a Life, Light, and Spirit of Heaven: for he had no difference from an Angel in Heaven, but that this World was joined to him, and put under his Feet. And this was done, because he was created by God to be the restoring Angel, to do all that in this outward World, which God would have to be done in it, before it could be restored to its first State. And therefore he must have the Nature of all this World in him, because he was to act in it, and upon it, as its restoring Angel; and yet with such Distinction from it, with such Power upon it, and over it, as the Light has upon and over Darkness. Does not now the whole Spirit of the Scriptures consent to this account of Adam's first Perfection? Do not all the chief Points of our Redemption demand this Perfection in Adam unfallen? How else could his Fall bring on the Necessity of the Gospel-Redemption of a new Birth from above, of the Word and Holy Spirit of God? For had he not had this Perfection of Nature at first, his Redemption could not have consisted in the Revival of this Birth and Perfection in him. For had it been something less than the Loss of an angelic and heavenly Life, that had happened to him by his Fall, had it been only some Evil, that related to a Life of this World, nothing else but some Remedy from this World, could have been his Redemption. But since it is the Corner-stone of the Gospel, that nothing less than the eternal Word, which was Man's Creator, could be his Redeemer, and that by a new Birth from above, it is a Demonstration, that he was at first created an Angel, born from above, and such a Partaker of the Divine Life, as the Angels are; and that his Fall was a real Death or Extinction of his angelic Life.

      [Pryr-2.2-4] Now the Letter of Moses is express for this first Perfection of Adam. God said, "Let us make Man in our own Image, after our Likeness." How different is this from the Creation of the Animals of this World? What can you think or say higher of an Angel? Or what Perfection can an Angel have, but that of being in the Image and after the Likeness of God? But now what an Absurdity would it be, to hold that Adam was created in the Image and Likeness of God, and yet had not in him so much as the Image and Likeness of an Angel? Again, was not Paradise lost, was not Evil and the Curse awakened in all the Elements, as soon as Adam fell? And does not this prove, beyond all Contradiction, that Adam was created by God, as I said above, to be the restoring Angel; to have Power over all the outward World; to keep all its Evil from being known or felt; till the Fall of Angels from Heaven had been repaired by a Race of angelic Men born on Earth? But how could he do, and be all this, for which he was created by God, how could he keep up the Life of Heaven and Paradise in himself, and this new World, unless the Life of Heaven had been his own Life? Or how could he be the Father of an Offspring that were to have no Evil, nor so much as the Knowledge of what was Good and Evil in this World? Could anything but an heavenly Man bring forth an heavenly Offspring? Or could he be said to have the Life of this World opened in him in his Creation, who was to bring forth a Race of Beings, insensible of the Good and Evil in this World? For every thing that has the Life of this World opened in it, is under an absolute necessity of knowing and feeling its Good and Evil.

      [Pryr-2.2-5] Secondly, that Adam, when he first entered into the World, had the Nature and Perfection of an Angel, is further plain from Moses, who tells us, that he was made at first both Male and Female in one Person; and that Eve, or the Female Part of him, was afterwards taken out of him. Now this Union of the Male and Female in him, was the Purity, or Virgin Perfection of his Life, and is the very Perfection of the angelic Nature. This we are assured of from our Lord himself, who, in Answer to the Question of the Sadducees, said unto them, "Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, and the Power of God; for in the Resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in Marriage, but are as the Angels in Heaven."{Matt. xxii. 29,30} Or, as in St. Luke, "for they are equal to the Angels of God." Here we have a twofold Proof of the angelic Perfection of Adam: (1) Because we are told, that that State in which he was created, neither Male nor Female, but with both Natures in his one Person, is the very Nature and Perfection of the Angels of God in Heaven. (2) Because everyone who shall have a Part in this Resurrection, shall then have this angelic Perfection again; to be no more Male or Female, or a Part of the Humanity, but such perfect, complete, undivided Creatures, as the Angels of God are. But now this Perfection could not belong to the Humanity after the Resurrection, but because it belonged to the first Man before his Fall: For nothing will be restored, but that which was first lost; nothing rise again, but that which should not have died; nor any thing be united, but that which should not have been parted. The short is this: Man is at last to have a Nature equal to that of the Angels. This Equality consists in this, that as they have, so the Humanity will have, both Male and Female Nature in one Person.

      [Pryr-2.2-6] But the Humanity was thus created at first, Male and Female in one Person, therefore the Humanity had at first a Nature and Perfection equal to that of the Angels. Thus is the Letter of Moses much more plain for the angelic Perfection of Adam in his Creation, than it is for the Resurrection of the Dead; and yet we have our Lord's Word for it, that Moses sufficiently proved the Resurrection of the Dead. What say you, Academicus, to this Matter?

      [Pryr-2.2-7] Acad. I will here just mention what my good old Tutor says: The Author of the Appeal, says he, founds all his Scheme of Regeneration or Redemption on a supposed threefold Life, in which Adam was created. His sole Proof of this threefold Life is taken from this text of Moses: "God breathed into Man the Breath of Lives, and Man became a living Soul." From this Phrase, The Breath of Lives, the Appeal, without any Authority from the Text, observes thus; "Here the highest, and most Divine Original is not darkly, but openly, absolutely, and in the strongest Form of Expression, ascribed to the Soul," &c. A vain Assertion, says my Tutor; for the Breath of Life or Lives is used by Moses only as a Phrase for animal Life. This is plainly seen, Gen. vii. ver. 21. "And all flesh died, - all in whose Nostrils was the Breath of Lives."

      [Pryr-2.2-8] Behold, says he, the very Phrase, which the Appeal takes to be so full a Proof of the high Dignity, and threefold Life of God in the Soul, here made use of to denote the Life of every kind of Animal. And therefore, says he, if this Phrase proves the Soul of Adam to be a Mirror of the Holy Trinity, it proves the same of every Breath in the Nostrils of every Creature.

      [Pryr-2.2-9] Theoph. To make short work, Academicus, with your Tutor's Confutation, as he thinks, of the capital Doctrine of the Appeal, I shall only quote the whole Period, as it stands in the Appeal.

      "God breathed into him the Breath of Lives (spiraculum vitarum) and Man became a living Soul. Here," says the Appeal, "the Notion of a Soul, created out of nothing, is in the plainest, strongest Manner, rejected by the first written Word of God; and no Jew or Christian can have the least Excuse for falling into such an Error: Here the highest and most Divine Original is not darkly, but openly, absolutely ascribed to the Soul. It came forth as a Breath of Life, or Lives, out of, and from the Mouth of God; and therefore did not come out of the Womb of nothing, but is what it is, and has what it has in itself, from, and out of, the first and highest of all Beings."

      Here, Academicus, behold the Falseness and Weakness of your Tutor's Observation. - The Appeal, you plainly see, proves only from the Text of Moses, the high Original of the Soul; and only for this Reason, because it is the Breath of God, breathed into Man. The Appeal makes no Use of the Expression, Breath of Lives, takes no Notice of it, deduces nothing from it, but solely considers the Act of God, as breathing the Spirit of the Soul from himself; and from this Act of God, the high Birth and Dignity of the Soul is most justly affirmed. And the Appeal makes this Observation solely to prove, that the Soul is not created out of nothing. This is the one, sole, open, and declared Intent of the Appeal, in all this Paragraph. But your Tutor, overlooking all this, though nothing else is there, makes the Author of the Appeal to affirm the threefold Life of God in the Soul, merely from the phrase of the Breath of Lives, when there is not one single Word about it. For the Appeal not only has not the least Hint in this Place of any such Matter, to be proved from the Breath of Lives, but through the whole Book there is not the smallest Regard paid to this Expression, nor any Argument ever deduced from it. How strange is all this in your good old Tutor!

      [Pryr-2.2-10] The Matter is plainly this; the Author of the Appeal looks wholly to the Action of God, breathing his own Spirit into Adam; and from this Breathing, he justly affirms the Divine Nature of the Soul; all his Argument is deduced from thence. Now if your Tutor, or anyone else, could show, that God breathed his own Spirit into every Animal, and with this Intent, that it might come forth in his own Image and likeness, then the Distinction and high Birth of the Soul, pleaded for by the Appeal, would indeed be lost. But till then, the Appeal must, and therefore will for ever, stand unconfuted in its Assertion of the Dignity and Divine Birth of the Soul.

      [Pryr-2.2-11] Again; behold, Academicus, a still further Weakness chargeable upon your Tutor. You have seen, that his Reasoning upon the Breath of Lives, is meddling with something that the Appeal meddles not with, makes no Account of: But your Tutor has conjured it up for his own Use; and yet see what a poor Use he makes of it. He affirms that Moses uses only the Breath of Lives, as a Phrase for animal Life. How does he prove this? Why, truly from this Reason, because Moses uses the same Phrase when he speaks of the Lives of all Animals.

      [Pryr-2.2-12] Now does not every Englishman know, that we make use of the same four Letters of the Alphabet, when we say the Life of a Man, the Life of a Beast, and the Life of a Plant? That we use the same five Letters, when we say the Death of a Man, the Death of a Beast, and the Death of a Plant? But will it thence follow, that the Life and Death of Men, and Beasts, and Plants, are of the same Nature and Degree, and have the same Good and Evil in them? Yet this is full as well, as to conclude, that the Breath of Life in Man, and the Breath of Life in Animals, is of the same Nature and Degree, has the same Goodness and Excellency in it, because the same Words, made up of the same Letters, express them both. Your Tutor therefore, Academicus, and not the Author of the Appeal, is the Person that reasons weakly from the Phrase of the Breath of Lives: For that Author never so much as offers to argue from it. His Proof of the threefold Life of God in the Soul, so far as it is deduced from the text of Moses, lies wholly in this; that it is the Breath and Spirit of the triune God, breathed forth from this triune Deity into Man. This, sure, is no small Proof of its having the triune Nature of God in it. And this threefold Life of the Soul, thus plainly deducible from the Letter of Moses, is shown to be absolutely certain, from every chief Doctrine and Institution, nay, from the whole Nature of our Redemption: and all the Gospel is shown to set its Seal to this great Truth, the threefold Life of God in the Soul. Nay, every thing in Nature, Fire, and Light, and Air; every thing that we know of Angels, of Devils, of the animal Life of this World; are all in the plainest and strongest Manner, from the Beginning to the End of the Appeal, made so many Proofs of the threefold Life of the triune God in the Soul. Thus says the Appeal; No Omnipotence can make you a Partaker of the Life of this outward World, without having the Life of this outward World born in your own creaturely Being; the Fire, and Light, and Air of this World, must have their Birth in your own creaturely Being, or you cannot possibly live in, or have a Life from outward Nature. And therefore no Omnipotence can make you a Partaker of the beatific Life, or Presence of the Holy Trinity, unless that Life stands in the same triune State within you, as it does without you. Again: Search to Eternity, says the Appeal, why no Devil or Beast can possibly enter into Heaven, and there can only this one Reason be assigned for it, because neither of them have the triune holy Life of God in them. But enough of this Mistake of your good old Tutor. Rusticus will I am afraid chide you for being the Occasion of this long Digression from the Point we were speaking to.

      [Pryr-2.2-13] Rust. Truly, Sir, I do not know what to make of these great Scholars; they seem to have more Love for the Shadow of an Objection, than for the most substantial Truths. I think I here see a great Reason, why our Saviour chose poor and illiterate Fishermen to be his Apostles. St. Paul was the only Man that had some Learning, and he was a Persecutor of Christ, till such time as God made as it were Scales to fall from his Eyes;-And then he became a powerful Apostle. But let us return to your Account of the first created Perfection of Man, and the Degree of his falling from it. It is one of the best Doctrines that I ever heard in my Life. It not only stirs up every thing that is good, and makes me hate every thing that is evil, in me; but it gives so good a Sense, so sound a Meaning to every Mystery of the Gospel, that it makes every thing our Saviour has done for us, and every thing he requires of us, to be equally necessary and beneficial to us. But suppose now our Fall not to be a Change of Nature, not a Death to our first Life, but only a single Sin or Mistake in the first Man; What a Difficulty is there in supposing so great a Scheme of Redemption to set right a single Mistake in one single Creature? Again, What could Man have to do with Angels and Heaven, if he had not, at his Creation, had the Nature of Heaven and Angels in him? But pray, Sir, begin again just where you left off.

      [Pryr-2.2-14] Theoph. I was indeed, Rusticus, at that Time just going to say, that Adam had lost much of his first Perfection before his Eve was taken out of him; which was done to prevent worse Effects of his Fall, and to prepare a means for his Recovery, when his Fall should become total, as it afterwards was, upon the eating of the earthly Tree of Good and Evil.

      [Pryr-2.2-15] "It is not good that Man should be alone," saith the Scripture: This shows, that Adam had altered his first State, had brought some Beginning of Evil into it, and had made that not to be good, which God saw to be good, when he created him. And therefore as a less Evil, and to prevent a greater, God divided the first perfect human Nature into two Parts, into a Male and a Female Creature; and this, as you shall see by and by, was a wonderful Instance of the Love and Care of God towards this new Humanity. It was at first, the total Humanity in one Creature, who should in that State of Perfection, have brought forth his own Likeness out of himself, in such Purity of Love, and such Divine Power, as he himself was brought forth by God: The Manner of his own Birth from God, was the Manner that his own Offspring should have had a Birth from him; all done by the pure Power of a Divine Love. Man stood no longer in the Perfection of his first State, as a Birth of Divine Love, than whilst he loved himself only as God loved him, as in the Image, and after the Likeness of God. This Purity of Love, and Delight in the Image of God, would have carried on the Birth of the Humanity, in the same Manner, and by the same Divine Power, as the first Man was brought forth: For it was only a Continuation of the same generating Love that gave Birth to the first Man. But Adam turned away his Love from the Divine Image, which he should only have loved, and desired to propagate out of himself. He gazed upon this outward World, and let in an adulterate Love into his Heart, which desired to know the Life that was in this World. This impure Desire brought the Nature of this World into him. His first Love and Divine Power, had no Strength left in it; it was no longer a Power of bringing forth a Divine Birth from himself. His first Virginity was lost by an adulterate Love, which had turned its Desire into this World. This State of Inability, is that which is called his falling into a deep Sleep: And in this Sleep, God divided this overcome Humanity into a Male and Female.

      [Pryr-2.2-16] The first Step therefore towards the Redemption or Recovery of Man, beginning to fall, was the taking his Eve out of him, that so he might have a second Trial in Paradise; in which if he failed, another effectual Redeemer might arise out of the Seed of the Woman. Oh my Friends, what a wonderful Procedure is there to be seen in the Divine Providence, turning all Evil, as soon as it appears, into a further Display and Opening of new Wonders of the Wisdom and Love of God! Look back to the first Evil, which the Fall of Angels brought forth. The Darkness, Wrath, and Fire, of fallen Nature, were immediately taken from them, and turned into a new Creation, where those apostate Angels were to see all the Evil that they had raised in their Kingdom, turned against them, and made the Ground of a new Race of Beings, which were to possess those Thrones which they had lost. Look now at Adam brought into the World in such an angelic Nature, as he, and all his redeemed Sons, will have after the Resurrection; an Angel at first, and an Angel at last; with Time, and Misery, and Sin, and Death, and Hell, all of them felt, and all overcome betwixt the two glorious Extremes. When this first human Angel, through a false, impure Love, lost the Divine Power of generating his own Likeness out of himself, God took Part of his Nature from him, that so the Eye of his Desire, which was turned to the Life of this World, might be directed to that Part of his Nature which was taken from him. And this is the Reason of my saying before, that this was chosen as a less Evil, and to avoid a greater; for it was a less Degree of falling from his first Perfection, to love the Female Part of his own divided Nature, than to turn his Love towards that, which was so much lower than his own Nature. And thus, at that Time, Eve was an Help, that was truly and properly meet for him, since he had lost his first Power of being himself the Parent of an angelic Offspring, and stood with a longing Eye, looking towards the Life of this World.

      [Pryr-2.2-17] But the most glorious Effect of this Division into Male and Female is yet to come. For when Adam and Eve had joined in the eating of the Tree of Good and Evil, and so were totally fallen from God and Paradise, into the Misery and Slavery of the bestial Life of this World; when this greatest of all Evils had thus happened to these two divided Parts of the Humanity; when all the Angel was lost, and nothing but a shameful, frightened Animal of this World, was to be seen in this divided Male and Female; then in, and by, and through this Division, did God open and establish the glorious Scheme of an universal Redemption to these fallen Creatures, and all their Offspring, by the mysterious Seed of the Woman.

      [Pryr-2.2-18] Had Adam stood in his first State of Perfection, as a Birth of Divine Love, and loving only the Divine Image and Likeness in himself, this Love would have been itself the fruitful Parent of an holy Offspring; no Eve had been taken out of him, nor any Male or Female ever known in human Nature: All his Posterity had been in him secured, and the earthly Tree of Good and Evil had never been seen in Paradise. But though he lost this first generating Power of Divine Love, and stood as a barren Tree, yet seeing God's Purpose of raising an Offspring from Adam, to possess the Thrones of fallen Angels must go on and succeed, therefore that, Adam might yet have an Offspring, God took from him that, which is called the Female Part of his Nature, that by this means, both a Posterity, and a Saviour, might proceed from him: For through this Division of Man, God would, in a wonderful Manner, do that which Adam should have done, before he was divided.

      [Pryr-2.2-19] For out of this Female Part, and after the Fall, God would raise, without the Help of Adam, that same glorious angelic Man, which Adam should have brought forth before and without his Eve; which glorious Man is therefore called the Second Adam: 1. As having in his Humanity that very Perfection, which the First Adam had in his Creation. 2. Because he was to do all that for Mankind, by a Birth of Redemption from him, which they should have had by a Birth of Nature from Adam, had he kept his first State of Perfection. What say you, Academicus, to all this?

      [Pryr-2.2-20] Acad. Truly, Sir, there seems to be so much Light, and Truth, and Scripture, for all this Account that you have given of these Matters, as must even force one to consent to it. But then all our Systems of Divinity, to which learned Men are chained, are quite silent of these Matters. I never before heard of this gradual Fall of Adam, nor this angelic State of his first Creation, and Power of bringing forth his own Offspring, and therefore can hardly believe it so strongly as I would, and as the Truth seems to demand of me.

      [Pryr-2.2-21] Rust. Pray, Sir, let me speak to Academicus: He seems to be so hampered with Learning, that I can hardly be sorry, that I am not a great Scholar.

      [Pryr-2.2-22] Can anything be more punctually related in Scripture than the gradual Fall of Adam? Do not you see, that he was created first with both Natures in him? Is it not expressly told you, that Eve was not taken out of him, till such Time as it was not good for him to be as he then was, and yet God saw that it was good when he created him? Is it not plain therefore, that he had fallen from the Goodness of his first Creation, and therefore his Fall was not at once, nor total, till his eating of the earthly Tree? Again, as to his being an Angel at his first Creation, because of both Natures in him, is it not sufficiently plain from his being declared to be an Angel of the same Nature at last, in the Resurrection? For this is an Axiom that cannot be shaken, that Nothing can rise higher, than its first created Nature; and therefore an Angel at last, must have been an Angel at first. Do you think it possible for an Ox in Tract of Time to be changed into a rational Philosopher? Yet this is as possible, as for a Man that has only by his Creation the Life of this World in him, to be changed into an Angel of Heaven. The Life of this World can reach no further than this World; no Omnipotence of God can carry it further; and therefore, if Man is to be an Angel at the last, and have the Life of Heaven in him, he must of all Necessity, in his Creation, have been created an Angel, and had his Life kindled from Heaven; because no Creature can possibly have any other Life, or higher Degree of Life, than that which his Creation brought forth in him.

      [Pryr-2.2-23] Theoph. Marvel not, Academicus, at that which has been said of the first Power of Adam, to generate in a Divine Manner an holy Offspring, by the Power of that Divine Love which gave Birth to himself; for he was born of that Love for no other End, than to multiply Births of it; and whilst his Love continued to be one with that Love, which brought him into Being, nothing was impossible to it. For Love is the great Creating Fiat that brought forth every Thing, that is distinct from God, and is the only working Principle that stirs, and effects every Thing that is done in Nature and Creature. Love is the Principle of Generation from the highest to the lowest of Creatures; it is the first Beginning of every Seed of Life; every Thing has its Form from it; every Thing that is born is born in the Likeness, and with the Fruitfulness, of that same Love that generateth and beareth it; and this is its own Seed of Love within itself, and is its Power of fructifying in its Kind.

      [Pryr-2.2-24] Love is the holy, heavenly, magic Power of the Deity, the first Fiat of God; and all Angels, and eternal Beings, are the first Births of it. The Deity delights in beholding the ideal Images, which rise up and appear in the Mirror of his own eternal Wisdom. This Delight becomes a loving Desire to have living Creatures in the Form of these Ideas; and this loving Desire is the generating heavenly Parent, out of which Angels, and all eternal Beings are born. Every Birth in Nature is a Consequence of this first prolific Love of the Deity, and generates from that which began the first Birth. Hence it is, that through all the Scale of Beings, from the Top to the Bottom of Nature, Love is the one Principle of Generation of every Life; and every Thing generates from the same Principle, and by the same Power, by which itself was generated. Marvel not therefore, my Friend, that Adam, standing in the Power of his first Birth, should have a Divine Power of bringing forth his own Likeness. But I must now tell you, that the greatest Proof of this glorious Truth is yet to come: for I will show you that all the Gospel bears Witness to that heavenly Birth, which we should have had from Adam alone.- This Birth from Adam is still the one Purpose of God, and must be the one Way of all those, that are to rise with Christ to an Equality with the Angels of God. All must be Children of Adam; for all that are born of Man and Woman, must lay aside this polluted Birth, and be born again of a second Adam, in that same Perfection of an holy angelic Nature, which they should have had from the first Adam, before his Eve was separated from him. For it is an undeniable Truth of the Gospel, that we are called to a new Birth, different in its whole Nature, from that which we have from Man and Woman, or there is no Salvation; and therefore it is certain from the Gospel, that the Birth which we have from Adam, divided into Male and Female, is not the Birth that we should have had, because it is the one Reason, why we are under a Necessity of being born again of a Birth from a second Adam, who is to generate us again in that Purity and Divine Power, in and by which we should have been born of the first angelic Adam.

      [Pryr-2.2-25] A Divine Love in the first pure and holy Adam, united with the Love of God, willing him to be the Father of an holy Offspring, was to have given Birth to a Race of Creatures from him. But Adam fulfilled not this Purpose of God; he awakened in himself a false Love, and so all his Offspring were forced to be born of Man and Woman, and thereby to have such impure Flesh and Blood as cannot enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. Is not this Proof enough, that this Birth from Adam and Eve is not the first Birth that we should have had? Will anyone say, How could Adam have such a Power to bring forth a Birth in such a Spiritual Way, and so contrary to the present State of Nature? The whole Nature of the Gospel is a full Answer to this Question. For are we not all to be born again in the same Spiritual Way, and are we not, merely by a Spiritual Power, to have a Birth of heavenly Flesh and Blood? The Strangeness of such a Power in the first Adam, is only just so strange, and hard to be believed, as the same Power in the second Adam; and who is called the second Adam for no other Reason, but because he stands in the Place of the first, and is to do That, which the first should have done. And therefore our having from him a new heavenly Flesh and Blood raised in us by a Spiritual Power, superior to the common Way of Birth in this World, is the strongest of Proofs, that we should have been born of Adam in the same Spiritual Power, and so contrary to the Birth of Animals into this World. For all that we have from the second Adam, is a Proof that we should have had the same from Adam the first:-A Divine Love in Adam the first, was to have brought forth an holy Offspring. A Divine Faith now takes its Place, in the second Birth, and is to generate a new Birth from the second Adam, is to eat his Flesh, and Drink his Blood, by the same Divine Power, by which we should have had a Birth of the angelic Flesh and Blood of our first Parent. Thus, Academicus, is this Birth from Adam alone no Whimsy, or Fiction, or fine-spun Notion, but the very Birth that the Gospel absolutely requires, as the Substance of our Redemption. There is no Room to deny it, without denying the whole Nature of our Redemption. On the other hand, the Birth that we have from Adam divided into Male and Female, is through all Scripture declared to be the Birth of Misery, of Shame, of Pollution, of sinful Flesh and Blood; and is only a Ground and Reason, why we must be born again of other Flesh and Blood, before we can enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. This Truth therefore, that we were to have had an heavenly Birth from Adam, depends not upon this, or that particular Text of Scripture, but is affirmed by the whole Nature of our Redemption, and the whole Spirit of Scripture, representing our Birth from this World as shameful, as that of the wild Ass's Colt, and calling for a new Birth from above, as absolutely necessary, if Man is to have a Place amongst the Angels of God. And therefore it may be affirmed, that so sure as it is from Scripture, that Christ is become our second Adam, to help us to such a Birth, so sure is it from Scripture, that we should have had the same Birth from our first Parent, who, if not fallen, could have wanted no Redeemer of his Offspring, and therefore must have brought forth that same Birth, which we have from Christ, but could not have from the Birth of Man and Woman. I must now only just mention to you a Passage much to the Matter in Hand, taken from the second Epistle of St. Clemens, a Bishop of Rome, who lived in the very Time of the Apostles. He relates, that Christ being asked, when his Kingdom should come, gave this Answer: "When two Things shall become one, and that which is outward be as that which is inward, the Male with the Female, and neither Man nor Woman." There wants no comment here: I shall only observe, that the Meaning of the Words, "When that which is outward shall be as that which is inward," seems plainly to be this, when the outward Life or Birth is come to be as the inward angelic Life is, then the Birth will be one, the Male and Female in one, and then the Kingdom of God is come. These Words were in the next Century quoted by Clemens of Alexandria, though with some Alteration. The same Author also relates another Answer given by our Lord, to much the same Question, put by Salome, where our Lord's answer was thus: "When ye shall have put off, or away, the Garment of Shame and Ignominy, and when two shall become one, the Male and the Female united, and neither Man nor Woman." The Garment of Shame and Ignominy, is plainly that Clothing of Flesh and Blood, at the Sight of which both Adam and Eve were ashamed.

      [Pryr-2.2-26] Acad. I am fully satisfied, Theophilus, with the Account you have given of the first Perfection, and Divine State of our first Parent. And I think nothing can be plainer, than that we were to have been born of him to the same heavenly Birth, which we now are to receive from Christ, our second Adam. But I must still say, that I am afraid, your critical Adversaries will here find some Pretense, to charge you with a Tendency, at least, to that Heresy, which held Marriage to be unlawful, since you here hold that it came in by Adam's falling from his first Perfection.

      [Pryr-2.2-27] Theoph. I own, my Friend, that there is no knowing when one is safe from Men of that Stamp. But as for me my Eye is only upon Truth; and wherever that leads, there I follow; they, if they please, may persecute it with Objections. Here is not the least Pretense for the Charge you speak of: for here is no more Condemnation of Marriage, as unlawful, than there is a Condemnation of God, for keeping up the State, and Life of this World. The Continuation of the World, though fallen, is a glorious Proof and Instance of the Goodness of God, that so a Race of new-born Angels may be brought forth in it. Happy therefore is it, that we have such a World as this to be born into, since we are only born, to be born again to the Life of Heaven. Now Marriage has the Nature of this fallen World; but it is God's appointed Means of raising the Seed of Adam to its full Number. Honourable therefore is Marriage in our fallen State, and happy is it for Man to derive his Life from it, as it helps him to a Power of being eternally a Son of God.

      [Pryr-2.2-28] Nor does this Original of Marriage cast the smallest Reflection upon the Sex, as if they brought all, or any Impurity into the human Nature. No, by no means. The Impurity lies in the division, and that which caused it, and not in either of the divided Parts. And the female Part has this Distinction, though not to boast of, yet to take Comfort in, that the Saviour of the World is called the Seed of the Woman, and had his Birth only from the female Part of our divided Nature. But Rusticus, I see, wants to speak.

      [Pryr-2.2-29] Rust. Indeed, sir, I do. But it is only to observe to you, what a System of solid, harmonious, and great Truths are here opened to our View, by this Consideration of the first angelic State of Adam, and his falling from it into an earthly animal Life of this World; created at first an human Angel, with an host of Angels in his Loins, and then falling from this State, with this particular Circumstance, that he had not only undone himself, but had also involved an innocent, and almost numberless Posterity in the same Misery, who now must all be born of him in his fallen Condition. Thus looking at this Creation of so noble and high a Creature, and his Fall, as introducing so extensive a Train of Misery, how worthy of God, how becoming a Love and Wisdom that are infinite, does all the stupendous Mystery of our Redemption appear! It was to restore an Angel, big with an angelic Offspring, an Angel that God had created to carry on the great Work of his new Creation, to bring Time with all its Conquests back into Eternity, an Angel in whom, and with whom, were fallen an innocent, numberless Posterity, that had not yet begun to breathe.

      [Pryr-2.2-30] What a Sense and Reasonableness does this State of Things give to all those Passages of Scripture, which bring a God incarnate from Heaven, to remedy this sad Scene of Misery, that was opened on Earth! What less than God, could awaken again the dead angelic Life! What less than God's entering into the human Birth itself, and becoming one of it, and with it, could generate again the Life of God in every human Birth? The Scripture saith, "God so loved the World";-"God spared not his only Son";-"Christ laid down his Life for us"; &c. How glorious a Sense is there in all these Sayings, when it is considered, that all this was done for so high and Divine a Creature, created by God for such great Ends, and full of a Posterity, that was to have filled an Heaven restored? In this Light, every Part of our Redemption gives a Glory, a Wisdom, and Goodness to God, which far surpasses every other View we can possibly take of them: Whereas if you lessen this angelic Dignity of the first Man, if you suppose his Fall to be less than that of falling, with all his Posterity, from an angelic Life, into the earthly, animal Life of this World, Slaves to Sin and Misery, all the Fabric of our Redemption is full of such Wonders, as can only be wondered at. Thus, if you consider this World, and Man its highest Inhabitant made out of nothing, and with only the Breath of this earthly Life breathed into his Nostrils, what is there to call for this great Redemption from Heaven?

      [Pryr-2.2-31] Again, if you consider the Fall of Man, only as a single Act of Disobedience to a positive, arbitrary Command of God, this is to make all the Consequences of his Fall unexplicable. For had the first Sin been only a single Act of Disobedience, it had been more worthy of Pardon, than any other Sin, merely because it was the first, and by a Creature that had as yet no Experience. But to make the first single Act of Disobedience, not only unpardonable, but the Cause of such a Curse and Variety of Misery entailed upon all his Posterity, from the Beginning to the End of Time; and to suppose, that so much Wrath was raised in God at this single Act of Disobedience, that nothing could make an Atonement for it, but the stupendous Mystery of the Birth, Sufferings, and Death, of the Son of God; is yet further impossible to be accounted for. In this Case, the supposed Wrath, and Goodness of God, are equally inexplicable. And from hence alone, have sprung up the detestable Doctrines, about the Guilt and Imputation of the first Sin, and the several Sorts of partial, absolute Elections, and Reprobations, of some to eternal Happiness, and others to be Firebrands of Hell to all Eternity. Detestable may they well be called, since if Lucifer could truly say, that God from all Eternity determined, and created him to be that wicked hellish Creature that he is, he might then add, Not unto him, but unto his Creator, must all his Wickedness be ascribed. How innocent, how tolerable is the Error of Transubstantiation, when compared with this absolute Election and Reprobation! It indeed cannot be reconciled to our Senses and Reason, but then it leaves God, and Heaven, possessed of all that is holy and good; but this Reprobation-Doctrine, not only overlooks all Sense and Reason, but confounds Heaven and Hell, takes all Goodness from the Deity, and leaves us nothing to detest in the Sinner, but God's eternal irresistible Contrivance to make him to be such.

      [Pryr-2.2-32] But now, when we take this Matter of the Creation, and Fall of Man, as Truth, and Fact, and Scripture, plainly represent it, every Thing that can awaken in ourselves a Love, and Desire to be like unto God, is to be found in it. Whilst Man stood in his first Perfection, unturned from God, this World was under his Feet; Paradise was the Element in which he lived; the Spirit of God was his Life; the Son of God was his Light; he was in the World, as much above it, and with as full Distinction from it, as incapable of being hurt by it, as an Angel, that only comes with a Divine Commission into it. The whole World was a Gift, put into his Hands; the Standing, or Fall of it was left to him; as his Will and Mind should work so should either Paradise, or a cursed Earth overcome. God, by this new Creation, had so altered the wrathful State of Lucifer's fallen Kingdom, that the Evil that had been raised in it, was hid and overcome by the Good. It was thus created, and put into this new State, for this sole End, that a human Angel might keep Paradise alive, and bring forth a paradisiacal Host of Angels, in the very Place, where the fallen Angels had brought forth their Evil. But all these great Things, depended upon Adam's conforming to the Designs of God, and living in this World in such a State, as God had created him in. He could not conform to the Designs of God any other Way, than by the rectitude of his Will, willing that which God willed, both in the Creation of him, and the World.

      [Pryr-2.2-33] Whilst his Will stood thus inclined, the new Creation was preserved, himself was an Angel, and the World a Paradise. No Evil would have been known either in Plant, or Fruit, or Animal, nor could have been known, but by the declining Will, and Desire of Man calling it forth. His first longing Look towards the Knowledge of the Life of this World, was the first loosening of the Reins of Evil.- It began to have Life, and a Power of stirring, as soon as his Desire began to be earthly; hence the Curse, or Evil, hid in the Earth, could begin to show itself, and got a Power of giving forth an evil Tree, whose Fruit was the Key to the Knowledge of Good and Evil; a Tree which could not have grown, had he willed nothing, but that which God willed in the Creation of him.

      [Pryr-2.2-34] He was not the Creator of this bad Tree, no more than he was the Creator of the good Trees, that grew in Paradise. But as the heavenly Rectitude of his Will kept up the heavenly Powers of Paradise in the Earth, so when his Will began to be earthly, it opened a Passage for the natural Evil; that was hid in the Earth, to bring forth a Tree in its own Likeness. The Earth as now, had then a natural Power of bringing forth a Tree of its own Nature, viz., Good and Evil, but Paradise was that heavenly Power, which hindered it from bringing forth such Productions: but when the Keeper of Paradise turned a Wish from God, and Paradise, after a bad Knowledge, then Paradise lost some of its Power, and the Curse, or Evil, hid in the Earth, could give forth a bad Tree. But see now the Goodness, and Compassion of God towards this mistaken Creature; for no sooner had Adam, by the abuse of his Power and Freedom, given occasion to the Birth of this evil Tree, but the God of Love informs him of the dreadful Nature of it, commands him not to eat of it, assuring him, that Death was hid in it, that Death to his angelic Life, would be found in the Day that he should eat of it. A plain Proof, if anything can be plain, that this Tree came not from God, was not according to his own Will and Purpose towards Adam, but from such a natural Power in the Earth, as could not show itself, till the strong Will and Desire of Adam, beginning to be earthly, worked with That, which was the Evil hid in the Earth. But pray, Theophilus, do you now speak again.

      [Pryr-2.2-35] Theoph. The short of the Matter then, my Friend, is this: neither Adam, nor any other Creature, has at its Creation, or Entrance into Life, any arbitrary Trial imposed upon it by God. The natural State of every intelligent Creature is its one only Trial; and it cannot sin, but by departing from that Nature, or falling from that State in which it was created. Adam was created an human Angel in Paradise, and he had no other Trial but this, whether he would live in Paradise, as an Angel of God, insensible of the Life, or the Good and Evil, of this earthly World. This was the Tree of Life, and the Tree of Death, that must stand before him; and the Necessity of his choosing either the one, or the other, was a Necessity founded in his own happy Nature.

      [Pryr-2.2-36] The true Account therefore of the Fall of Adam, is a gradual Declension, or Tendency of his will, from the Life of Paradise into the Life of this World, till he was at last wholly fallen into it, and swallowed up by it. The first Beginning of his Lust towards this World, was the first Beginning of his Fall, or Departure from the Life of Heaven and Paradise; and his eating of the earthly Tree, was his last and finishing Step of his Entrance into, and under the full Power of this World. This was the true Nature of his Fall. On the other hand, all that we see on the part of God, is a gradual Help, administered by God to this falling Creature, suitable to every Degree of his falling, till at last, in the Fullness of his Fall, an universal Redeemer of him, and his Posterity, was given by a Second Adam, to regenerate again the whole Seed of Adam the First.

      [Pryr-2.2-37] Thus, the first Degree of his Lust towards this World had some Stop put to it, by the taking his Eve out of him; that so his Desire into the Life of this World, might be in some measure lessened. When his Lust into this World still went on, and gave Occasion to the Birth of the evil Tree, a suitable Remedy was here given by God; for God laid a Prohibition upon it, and declared the Death that must be received from it. When he was further so overcome by his lusting Desire, as to eat of the Tree that had the Nature of this World in it, and so lost his first Life, and angelic Clothing, then God, even then all Goodness and Mercy to him, only told him of the Curse and Misery that was opened in Nature; that himself and Posterity must be sweating, labouring Animals, in a fallen World, till their sickly, shameful, naked, new-gotten Bodies mixed and mouldered in the Corruption of that Earth, whose Fruits they had chosen to know, instead of those of Paradise.

      [Pryr-2.2-38] Now all this is Nothing of a Penalty wrathfully inflicted by God, but was the natural State of Adam, as soon as his own Lust had led him out of an heavenly Paradise, into the earthly Life of this World. God brings no Misery upon him, but only shows the Misery that he had opened in himself, by not keeping to the State in which he was created. And no sooner had God informed this miserable Pair of the State they had brought upon themselves, but, in that Moment, his eternal Love begins a Covenant of Redemption, that was to begin in them, and in and through them extend itself to all their Posterity. A Beginning of a new Birth, called the Seed of the Woman, was, like the first Breath of Life, breathed or inspoken again into the Light of their Life, which, as an Immanuel, or God with them, should be born in all their Posterity, and be their Power of becoming again such Sons of God, as should fulfill the first Designs of the Creation of Adam, and fill Heaven again with that Host of Angels which it had lost. Thus from the Creation of Adam, through all the Degrees of his Fall to the Mystery of his Redemption, everything tells you, that God is Love. Nay the very Possibility of his having so great a Fall, gives great Glory to the Goodness and Love of God towards him. He was created an Angel, and therefore had the highest Perfection of an Angel, which is a Freedom of Willing. Secondly. He was created to be the restoring Angel of this new Creation. Now these two Things, which were his highest Glory, and greatest Marks of the divine Favour, were the only Possibility of his falling. Had he not had an angelic Freedom of Will, he could not have had a false Will; had he not had all Power given unto him over this World, he could not have fallen into it? It was this Divine and high Power over it, that opened a Way for his Entrance, or falling into it.-Thus, Academicus, from this View of Man, we come to the utmost Certainty of a threefold Nature or Life in him. 1. He is the Son of a fallen Angel. 2. He is the Son of a Male and Female of this bestial World. 3. He is a Son of the Lamb of God, and has a Birth of Heaven again in his Soul. Hence we see also, that all that we have to fear, to hate, and renounce; all that we have to love, to desire, and pray for; is all within ourselves. No Man can be miserable, but by falling a Sacrifice to his own inward Passions and Tempers; nor anyone happy, but by overcoming himself. How ridiculous would a Man seem to you, who should torment himself, because the Land in America was not well tilled? Now everything that is not within you, that has not its Birth and Growth in your own Life, is at the same Distance from you, is as foreign to your own Happiness or Misery, as an American Story. Your Life is all that you have; and nothing is a Part of it, or makes any Alteration in it, but the Good or Evil that is in the Workings of your own Life. Hence you may see why our Saviour, who, though he had all Wisdom, and came to be the Light of the World, is yet so short in his Instructions, and gives so small a Number of Doctrines to Mankind, whilst every Moral Teacher, writes Volumes upon every single Virtue. It is because he knew what they knew not, that our whole Malady lies in this, that the Will of our Mind, the Lust of our Life, is turned into this World; and that nothing can relieve us, or set us right, but the turning the Will of our Mind, and the Desire of our Hearts to God, and that Heaven which we had lost. And hence it is, that he calls us to nothing, but a total Denial of ourselves, and the Life of this World, and to a Faith in him, as the Worker of a new Birth and Life in us. Did we but receive his short Instructions with true Faith, and Simplicity of Heart, as the Truth of God, we should not want anyone to comment or enlarge upon them. A Traveller that has taken a wrong Road, does not want an Orator to discourse to him on the Nature of Roads, but to be told, in short, which is his right Way. Now this is our Case; it was not a Number of things that brought about our fall; Adam only took up a wrong Will; that Will brought him, and us into our present State, or Road of Life; and therefore our Saviour uses not a Number of Instructions to set us right; he only tells us to renounce the false Will, which brought Adam into the Life of this World, and to take up that Will, which should have kept him in Paradise. Observe now, my Friend, the great Benefit that we have from the foregoing Account of Man's original Perfection, and the Nature of his Fall. It opens the true Ground of our Religion, and the absolute Necessity of it; it forces us to know, that our whole natural Life is a mistaken Road, and that Christ is alone our true Guide out of it. It teaches us every Reason for renouncing ourselves, and loving the whole Nature of our Redemption, as the greatest Joy and Desire of our Hearts. We are not only compelled, as it were, to hunger after it, to run with Eagerness into its Arms, but are also delivered from all Mistakes about it, from all the Difficulties and Perplexities, which divided Sects and Churches have brought into it. For, from this View of things, we see, not uncertainly, but with the fullest Assurance, that our Will, and our Heart is all, that nothing else either finds or loses God; and that all our Religion is only the Religion of the Heart. We see with open Eyes, that as a Spirit of Longing after the Life of this World, made Adam and us to be the poor Pilgrims on Earth that we are, so the Spirit of Prayer, or the longing Desire of the Heart after Christ, and God, and Heaven, breaks all our Bonds asunder, casts all our Cords from us, and raises us out of the Miseries of Time, into the Riches of Eternity. Thus seeing and knowing our first and our present State, everything calls us to Prayer; and the Desire of our Heart becomes the Spirit of Prayer. And when the Spirit of Prayer is born in us, then Prayer is no longer considered, as only the Business of this or that Hour, but is the continual Panting or Breathing of the Heart after God. Its Petitions are not picked out of Manuals of Devotion; it loves its own Language, it speaks most when it says least. If you ask what its Words are, they are Spirit, they are Life, they are Love, that unite with God.

      [Pryr-2.2-39] Acad. I apprehend, Sir, that what you here say of the Spirit of Prayer, will be taken by some People for a Censure upon Hours and Forms of Prayer; though I know you have no such Meaning.

      [Pryr-2.2-40] Rust. Pray let me speak again to Academicus: His Learning seems to be always upon the Watch, to find out some Excuse for not receiving the whole Truth. Does not Theophilus here speak of the Spirit of Prayer, as a State of the Heart, which is become the governing Principle of the Soul's Life? And if it is a living State of the Heart, must it not have its Life in itself, independent of every outward Time and Occasion? And yet must it not, at the same Time, be that alone which disposes and fits the Heart to rejoice and delight in Hours, and Times, and Occasions of Prayer? Suppose he had said, that Honesty is an inward living Principle of the Heart, a Rectitude of the Mind, that has all its Life and Strength within itself: Could this be thought to Censure all Times and Occasions of performing outward Acts of Honesty? Now the Spirit of Prayer differs from all outward Acts and Forms of Prayer, just as the Honesty of the Heart, or a living Rectitude of Mind, differs from outward and occasional Acts of Honesty. And yet should a Man overlook, or disregard Times and Occasions of outward acts of Honesty, on Pretence that true Honesty was an inward living Principle of the Heart, who would not see that such a one had as little of the inward Spirit, as of the outward Acts of Honesty? St. John saith, "If any man hath this World's Goods, and seeth his Brother hath need, and shutteth up his Bowels of Compassion to him, how dwelleth the Love of God in him?" Just so, and with the same Truth, it may be said, if a Man overlooketh, neglecteth, or refuseth, Times and Hours of Prayer, how dwelleth the Spirit of Prayer in him? And yet, its own Life and Spirit is vastly superior to, independent of, and stays for no particular Hours, or Forms of Words. And in this Sense it is truly said, that it has its own Language, that it wants not to pick Words out of Manuals of Devotion, but is always speaking forth Spirit and Life, and Love towards God. But pray, Theophilus, do you go on, as you intended.

      [Pryr-2.2-41] Theoph. I shall only add, before we pass on to another Point, that, from what has been said of the first State and Fall of Man, it plainly follows, that the Sin of all Sins, or the Heresy of all Heresies, is a worldly Spirit. We are apt to consider this Temper only as an Infirmity, or pardonable Failure; but it is indeed the great Apostasy from God and the Divine Life. It is not a single Sin, but the whole Nature of all Sin, that leaves no Possibility of coming out of our fallen State, till it be totally renounced with all the Strength of our Hearts. Every Sin, be it of what kind it will, is only a Branch of the worldly Spirit that lives in us. There is but one that is good, saith our Lord, and that is God. In the same Strictness of Expression it must be said, there is but one Life that is good, and that is the Life of God and Heaven. Depart in the least Degree from the Goodness of God, and you depart into Evil; because nothing is good but his Goodness.

      [Pryr-2.2-42] Choose any Life, but the Life of God and Heaven, and you choose Death; for Death is nothing else but the Loss of the Life of God. The Creatures of this World have but one Life, and that is the Life of this World: this is their one Life, and one Good. Eternal Beings have but one Life, and one Good, and that is the Life of God. The Spirit of the Soul is in itself nothing else but a Spirit breathed forth from the Life of God, and for this only End, that the Life of God, the Nature of God, the Working of God, the Tempers of God, might be manifested in it. God could not create Man to have a Will of his own, and a Life of his own, different from the Life and Will that is in himself; this is more impossible than for a good Tree to bring forth corrupt Fruit. God can only delight in his own Life, his own Goodness, and his own Perfections; and therefore cannot love or delight, or dwell, in any Creatures, but where his own Goodness and Perfections are to be found. Like can only unite with Like, Heaven with Heaven, and Hell with Hell; and therefore the Life of God must be the Life of the Soul, if the Soul is to unite with God. Hence it is, that all the Religion of fallen Man, all the Methods of our Redemption, have only this one End, to take from us that strange and earthly Life we have gotten by the Fall, and to kindle again the life of God and Heaven in our Souls; Not to deliver us from that gross and sordid Vice called Covetousness, which Heathens can condemn, but to take the whole Spirit of this World entirely from us, and that for this necessary Reason, because All that is in the World, the Lust of the Flesh, the Lust of the Eyes, and the Pride of Life, is not of the Father, that is, is not that Life, or Spirit of Life, which we had from God by our Creation, but is of this World, {1 John 2:16} is brought into us by our Fall from God into the Life of this World. And therefore a worldly Spirit is not to be considered, as a single Sin, or as something that may consist with some real Degrees of Christian Goodness, but as a State of real Death to the Kingdom and Life of God in our Souls. Management, Prudence, or an artful Trimming betwixt God and Mammon, are here all in vain; it is not only the Grossness of an outward, visible, worldly Behaviour, but the Spirit, the Prudence, the Subtlety, the Wisdom of this World, that is our Separation from the Life of God.

      [Pryr-2.2-43] Hold this therefore, Academicus, as a certain Truth, that the Heresy of all Heresies is a worldly Spirit. It is the whole Nature and Misery of our Fall; it keeps up the Death of our Souls, and, so long as it lasts, makes it impossible for us to be born again from above. It is the greatest Blindness and Darkness of our Nature, and keeps us in the grossest Ignorance both of Heaven and Hell. For though they are both of them within us, yet we feel neither the one, nor the other, so long as the Spirit of this World reigns in us. Light and Truth, and the Gospel, so far as they concern Eternity, are all empty Sounds to the worldly Spirit. His own Good, and his own Evil, govern all his Hopes and Fears; and therefore he can have no Religion, or be further concerned in it, than so far as it can be made serviceable to the Life of this World. Publicans and Harlots are all born of the Spirit of this World; but its highest Birth, are the Scribes, and Pharisees, and Hypocrites, who turn Godliness into Gain, and serve God for the Sake of Mammon; these live, and move, and have their Being, in and from the Spirit of this World.- Of all Things therefore, my Friend, detest the Spirit of this World, or there is no Help; you must live and die an utter Stranger to all that is divine and heavenly. You will go out of the World in the same Poverty and Death to the Divine Life, in which you entered it. For a worldly, earthly Spirit can know nothing of God; it can know nothing, feel nothing, taste nothing, delight in nothing, but with earthly Senses, and after an earthly Manner. The natural Man, saith the Apostle, receiveth not the Things of the Spirit of God, they are Foolishness unto him. He cannot know them, because they are spiritually discerned; that is, they can only be discerned by that Spirit, which he hath not. Now the true Ground and Reason of this, and the absolute Impossibility for the natural Man to receive and know them, how polite, and learned, and acute soever he be, is this; it is because all real Knowledge is Life, or a living Sensibility of the Thing that is known. There is no Light in the Mind, but what is the Light of Life; so far as our Life reaches, so far we understand, and feel, and know, and no further. All after this, is only the Play of our Imagination, amusing itself with the dead Pictures of its own Ideas. Now this is all that the natural Man, who hath not the Life of God in him, can possibly do with the Things of God. He can only contemplate them, as Things foreign to himself, as so many dead Ideas, that he receives from Books, or Hearsay; and so can learnedly dispute and quarrel about them, and laugh at those as Enthusiasts, who have a living Sensibility of them. He is only the worse for his hearsay, dead Ideas of Divine Truths; they become a bad Nourishment of all his natural Tempers: He is proud of his Ability to discourse about them, and loses all Humility, all Love of God and Man, through a vain and haughty Contention for them. His Zeal for Religion is Envy and Wrath; his Orthodoxy is Pride and Obstinacy; his Love of the Truth is Hatred and Ill-will to those who dare to dissent from him. This is the constant Effect of the Religion of the natural Man, who is under the Dominion of the Spirit of this World. He cannot know more of Religion, nor make a better Use of his Knowledge, than this comes to; and all for this plain Reason, because he stands at the same Distance from a living Sensibility of the Truth, as the Man that is born blind, does from a living Sensibility of Light. Light must first be the Birth of his own Life, before he can enter into a real Knowledge of it. Yet so ignorant is the natural Man with all his learned Acuteness, that he does not so much as know, that there is, and must be, this great Difference between real Knowledge, and dead Ideas of Things; and that a Man cannot know anything, any further than as his own Life opens the Knowledge of it in himself.

      [Pryr-2.2-44] The Measure of our Life is the Measure of our Knowledge; and as the Spirit of our Life worketh, so the Spirit of our Understanding conceiveth. If our Will worketh with God, though our natural Capacity be ever so mean and narrow, we get a real Knowledge of God, and heavenly Truths; for every thing must feel that in which it lives.

      [Pryr-2.2-45] But if our Will works with Satan, and the Spirit of this World, let our Parts be ever so bright, our Imaginations ever so soaring, yet all our living Knowledge, or real Sensibility, can go no higher or deeper, than the Mysteries of Iniquity, and the Lusts of Flesh and Blood. For where our Life is, there, and there only, is our Understanding; and that for this plain Reason, because as Life is the Beginning of all Sensibility, so it is and must be the Bounds of it; and no Sensibility can go any further than the Life goes, or have any other Manner of Knowledge, than as the Manner of its Life is. If you ask what Life is, or what is to be understood by it? It is in itself nothing else but a working Will; and no Life could be either good or evil, but for this Reason, because it is a working Will: Every Life, from the highest Angel to the lowest Animal, consists in a working Will; and therefore as the Will worketh, as that is with which it uniteth, so has every Creature its Degree, and Kind, and Manner of Life; and consequently as the Will of its Life worketh, so it has its Degree, and Kind, and Manner of Conceiving and Understanding, of Liking and Disliking. For nothing feels, or tastes, or understands, or likes, or dislikes, but the Life that is in us. The Spirit that leads our Life, is the Spirit that forms our Understanding. The Mind is our Eye, and all the Faculties of the Mind see every thing according to the State the Mind is in. If selfish Pride is the Spirit of our Life, every thing is only seen, and felt, and known, through this Glass. Every thing is dark, senseless, and absurd to the proud Man, but that which brings Food to this Spirit. He understands nothing, he feels nothing, he tastes nothing, but as his Pride is made sensible of it, or capable of being affected with it. His working Will, which is the Life of his Soul, liveth and worketh only in the Element of Pride; and therefore what suits his Pride, is his only Good; and what contradicts his Pride, is all the Evil that he can feel or know. His Wit, his Parts, his Learning, his Advancement, his Friends, his Admirers, his Successes, his Conquests, all these are the only God and Heaven, that he has any living Sensibility of. He indeed can talk of a Scripture-God, a Scripture-Christ, and Heaven; but these are only the ornamental Furniture of his Brain, whilst Pride is the God of his Heart. We are told, that God resisteth the Proud, and giveth Grace to the Humble. This is not to be understood, as if God, by an arbitrary Will, only chose to deal thus with the proud and humble Man. Oh no. The true Ground is this, The Resistance is on the Part of Man. Pride resisteth God, it rejecteth him, it turneth from him, and chooseth to worship and adore something else instead of him; whereas Humility leaveth all for God, falls down before him, and opens all the Doors of the Heart for hi

Back to William Law index.


Like This Page?

© 1999-2019, All rights reserved.