from the 1717 revision of the First Table
Transcribed by Adam McLean
Having now done with the Fire, in the first circumvolution of our spiral line, on the fore side of the figure of Man, looking into Eternity; I should, according to my first intent and promise, go further on to the second, third, and fourth, where Tincture, Majesty, and Ternary, where their different characters, and lastly in the deepest depth, the ineffable name hvhy do appear. But here I must needs declare, that I cannot go further; for, being weary within and without, I must here stop, and apply from henceforth my mind wholly to another more necessary business, which will be of much greater importance to my own soul. Accordingly, I here part with the prosecution of my first intent, and ask pardon for having inconsiderately promised something which, because of some deeper emergent occasion, I cannot perform; observing daily more and more, that an inward progress in the only necessary work, is hindered and retarded in my own soul, by applying so continually all my faculties to write with pen and ink. Yet will I not part with it so hastily, as not to lay down first, more explicitly, a solid substantial ground and reason for my doing so, even such a one as cannot but be acknowledged good and firm, and standing upon a solid bottom, both with respect to all of us in general, and also with respect to myself in particular.
With respect to all of us in general it is undeniably true, that we know already much more than we need to know, of things requisite and necessary to that end, which all our knowledge is to lead us to; and that we are also convinced in ourselves of the truth thereof. For we do all know and own, that the Fire (and the fundamental doctrine of conformity to Jesus Christ, so eminently implied therein), is the only gate through which we can be let in deeper; and before or without which none can see, much less possess and enjoy, what is left behind or within that veil. And that it is that great point, wherein all our duties from this side, and all our happiness from the other side, do meet and concentre themselves; and which, as long as not attained and passed through, must needs hinder and retard the attainment of all really great and solid matters, in every soul - seeing that on this side of this great point, there is nothing really great, solid and weighty. If we then strive in sincerity, earnestness, and constancy, to enter through this gate, and to reach this great central point, we shall find, every one in himself, according to his measure and degree, what Tincture is, what Majesty is, etc. ; whereas without so finding it in ourselves, no angel from heaven can make us understand it from without. Why then should words be multiplied any further, about such things as are not relating at all to what we shall do, but only to what we may expect in mercy, when we have done, or rather in doing that which we know we are to do.
And with respect to myself in particular, I must needs declare openly, that all I could say or write further concerning Tincture, Majesty, etc., would be said and written only as on this side of that great gate and point. But pray, what can be said thereof on this side? To what end, intent and purpose, can any thing be said thereof; and what benefit could be expected either to myself or to any other, from such sayings and writings? Should not I swerve about in empty notions, and fill my own brain as well as the brain of others with shadows, having no life, reality and substance? How can I declare to any other what I have not seen myself, but only heard and read thereof? If I did say, I have seen these things, and know them in the ground of my own soul, I should be an impudent liar before God and men. If I did say that I have read in J.B., and have heard of these things (of the Light of Majesty especially), both here and beyond sea, and never without perplexity and amazement, I should say the truth. And if I did say, I can repeat the words or at least the substance thereof, written of spoken by others, I should say the truth likewise. But if I did undertake to bring forth words of my own concerning the Tincture, Majesty, etc., though they were never so true, pertinent and consistent with the ground of my friend J.B., I must justly be called presumptuous. And though I might not be called so by others, yet mine own conscience would tell me that I am so, and that I intend to set up a fine shew, and to make myself a name and reputation etc., but no manner of benefit could arise from it, neither to myself nor to any other; but hurt rather, and detriment might be expected both on my side, and on the side of them that might think my words are not what they are not. But from this my plain declaration, and from the instance of my breaking off, whereby I declare both to myself and others, That there is the highest necessity for us to do what we ought to do, but none at all to speculate, and search curiously after things not to be found out in any reality, but only as in a shadow, before we have done what our own heart tells us we are obliged to do; from this declaration and instance, I say, more benefit may reasonably be expected.
True it is, that I have formerly written something of these matters also, though very shortly, but I knew then as well as I know now, that I could do it but historically, not experimentally: but at this time, the case is quite altered by many other circumstances, and therefore I cannot do that same now again, which I could do then, but must break off before I come to the end of this 'First Table'. And of the other two Tables I must say, that not only there are many things in them which are already touched upon, at least implicitly declared in this 'First Table'; but also, that there is nothing in them which will not open and declare itself in reality and substance, when this gate is opened, and this point attained. If this is not a fully convincing argument, I will be willingly informed better; and if it be, this consequence is plain and evident, That it is much better both for myself and others to go forward within, than to run any further without, although perhaps I may be blamed by the one or other for so doing; which I may expect the rather, because such a thing was done already several times of late.
One friend found fault with my living so much retired or in secret, and advised me to make myself known, to seek more of conversation, to go abroad, and to do with my talent some good in the present generation, by instructing others, and making proselytes to the truth: for, said he, "I should find myself obliged to do so, if I had that knowledge that you have". This friend I answered but very shortly then; and now think it not worth my while to take any further notice thereof, for reasons best known to myself.
But another good friend of mine, soon after this, found fault with my keeping, even among friends, so close to myself that they could hardly get anything, and told me, that others with whom we conversed formerly had found the same fault, and the conclusion of all was this, that I was not fit for conversation. And to this friend I then made a serious promise that I would answer, and lay open before him my inward ground and whole heart, without equivocations and mental reservations. This promise therefore I will now perform, according to my best ability, without regard to this or that which might arise in my own mind to dissuade me from such a freedom, and without fear of his taking anything amiss, or putting a wrong construction upon my words; and I will do it (1) with a more general respect to those other friends whose testimony he brought in, and then also (2) with a more particular respect to the conversation between himself and me.
In the first place, this is undeniably true, that this fault you find with me in outward conversation, hath its deep ground in an internal secret constitution, or essential signature of my own mind. Further, this is true also, that if this signature be entirely of my own making, a much worse name than that of a fault may be justly given unto it. But again it is no less true, that no man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of Man which is in him. Seeing then my friend, that according to this general rule, you can as little know the things of mine, as I can the things of yours, you can judge no further as this or that doth outwardly appear to you, and you can understand it. Therefore to settle your judgment upon a deeper bottom, I will open to you the things of mine, as much as words of this world can be able to open secret spiritual depths. If you find a self-justifying spirit therein, you may justly reject it and condemn it, as much as I have formerly condemned and rejected such a spirit, in another friend. But if you meet with a spirit of sincerity, that speaks the naked truth, and speaks it for good ends, and speaks it as in the presence of God, without self-justification, then have a care to judge, and do not trust to your own deep-piercing and penetrating spirit, but say rather, I understand it not.
This internal signature of my own mind, and so consequently this fault you also find with me, is indeed, in some great sense, of my own making, and was made by myself before I could well discern my own right hand from my left, or when I was most terribly blind and ignorant. So far therefore it is evil, and falls under the indicature of the Almighty. But he who brings forth good out of evil, hath made use of this mine own evil for my own good, and for the preservation of my own soul. For by this disposition and signature of my mind, changed and improved by Him, I avoided many nets and snares, was kept from self-exaltation, restrained from rashly judging others, and was led through many strange and dangerous passages, without receiving hurt. Even by yourself, my friend, I should have been led away and involved in one labyrinth after another, if it had not been for this disposition of my mind. So far therefore it is not of my own making, but God, in his infinite love, free grace and mercy, shall be praised and glorified by it for ever and ever.
Now to give you a short verbal delineation of that inward visible figure of my mind, considered as changed and improved by free grace, I tell you, that after my dreadful sudden [Spiritual] shock (though indeed long before it also, I had something much like it, but it never came to that pitch), I could never acquiesce in, or be much pleased with anything inferior to what, I then perceived, was attainable only, by attaining that great point and entering through that gate. And besides this, I had from that time a deeper sense in my mind, that the astral spirit can give to any living in this world, and a stronger impression of that sense in my soul, than any words in this world can declare, concerning a vast, or rather an immense difference or distance between knowledge and understanding. And therefore when I was afterwards quite unexpectedly called, entreated, and mightily desired to write about J.B., I was often strangely amazed, how it could come to pass that I could be so pressed to write of things, which my own heart told me I did not yet understand. This now was the true ground and reason, why I never could not put any real value upon my own writings, squeezed as it were out of me; and why (I dare say) I could have seen them burnt without any inward concern. And when I perceived afterwards, that they were read, valued, and enquired after, I was thereby put into such a state of mind that I knew not what to think, or say thereof. I own freely that I thought within myself, not once and not superficially, Surely all those that make so much of what I make so little of, must needs be altogether blind and deplorably ignorant? Yet at the same time, as I had always before mine eyes, against me, that commandment, Judge not; so I had always also for me, this plain reason, viz., If they could see with their own eyes, and if they had a spirit able to discern between knowledge and understanding, and between things really valuable and things of no great value, they would presently perceive, that all these books of mine were written before that gate was opened in me, and that great point attained; and would therefore not value them any more, than I can and do value them, myself.
Every one that could speak of great things consistently with J.B., I thought must needs know something of this gate and point, and must have such a discerning spirit; and thoughts to the contrary I durst not freely entertain of any one, being restrained by a superior power, which I cannot account for. And yet such their doings and proceedings I could never reconcile with what I bore in my own mind. And this, if I had run into it too far with mine imagination, might have made me distracted. My words I know are much confused, yet I cannot help it, the invisible figure of my mind was much more so; and the internal sensation thereof which I had, as also that deep impression which these things made in my soul, I cannot give you.
But, to come nearer to the matter, let me tell you that, upon this ground, at that time when you were eager and busy to bring me over (not knowing then yourself, what you were about to do, not what you were to do next year quite to the contrary), to that assembly which I came into afterwards by some other means; that at that time, I say, I had a greater opinion of those friends than of myself, and thought myself not fit for their conversation, long before you heard them say so. Yet when I was come among them, this great opinion of them was soon mixed with a great confusion in myself. For something in me would secretly suggest to my mind, that this gate was still shut up in them, and this great point not yet attained. And some other thing in me would reprove me for thinking so, and would not let such thoughts settle in my mind, as a certain truth.
Reasons for that former were these: (1) because I never heard any mention made thereof; (2) because they valued so much, what I could value so little; and (3) because I could never see any real good effects, which I was sure could not have failed to follow the opening of that gate, and the attainment of that point. And a reason for the latter was, that I heard so many excellent words, fluent discourses, and confident declarations of great, high and glorious things.
Between these two I sat in great doubtfulness, and hesitation, for of them I durst not say positively, they are under delusion; and of myself I durst not utter any such glorious things. And so I came so far and so deep into confusion, that I knew not at all what to think or to say, either of them or of myself. Of its effects, which it had in me, I say now only this, that it made me on one side more and more sensible of my being not fit for their conversation, and on the other side more and more weary of every thing, and almost of every body too; because I never knew what to say to the one, nor what to take in from the other. But a while after, these private disputes, frequent fallings out, continual discords, heats and animosities always agitated in that assembly, gave me some relief, and extricated me more and more out of my confusion; for they shewed me, and convinced me of the truth of what I before was so slow, backward and cautious to let settle in my mind. What was done on my side to compose all those differences, and to keep up peace and union, you know; and what the effects and consequences of my doing so were, you know as well as I. Could you find at that time, that I kept so close to myself amongst those known friends, whose testimonies you now allege that they could hardly get anything from me? If you then did find me so, tell me now though you did not tell me then. And if you did not find me so then, but must rather own that they got from me ten times more than ever they would or could digest, then give me leave to tell you, that in all these matters I was not understood, neither by yourself nor by others. For if you had understood me you would have taken other measures, according to your own free and voluntary promise, yea you would take such as I should shew you; which yet you never did, for want of understanding me.
You must needs allow, that there is a vast difference between understanding the words of another grammatically, and understanding him essentially. Grammatically, though my words were not ordered according to the rules of an English grammar, I was always understood well enough; for what I said or wrote was approved of, the truth thereof was owned, and whenever I said, I am not understood, I was always answered, We understand you very well.
Who shall here be judge, whether I was understood or not understood! I say mine own internal essences (and also the essences of every one that proposes any spiritual matter) can be the best, and ought to be the only judges. For they can be sensible in themselves, whether or no they have really reached and stirred the internal essences of the hearer, and whether or no they have raised in his essences a full harmony with themselves and an equal disposition of mind towards that which the speaker verbally owneth to be truth. If they have, the good effects intended must of necessity follow. And if they have not, those internal essences in the speaker want no other testimony from without, but are clearly convinced in themselves of this plain truth, That they are not understood essentially, but only outwardly, grammatically, and superficially; neither can they be blinded nor made senseless by any of those confident replies, saying, We understand you very well; for their feeling cannot be beaten down by words.
If then (1) in the state of that confusion I spoke of in the foregoing paragraph, the internal invisible figure of my mind was such as I declared, it is no wonder that I could with more pleasure and readiness 'take a pipe' with those friends, and talk of the Sultan and the great Mogul, rather than of things which I had no great relish in; which I could not perceive to flow forth out of a solid ground, and out of which I had no prospect of any real good effects that could be produced - having experienced how I had fared with my first declaration made to them, concerning matters of practice. If now this was a fault in me, let it be one without my contradicting it, and let it be as great or as little as they please to make it, I for my part shall neither be the better nor the worst for it.
(2) In that following state, when I was come out of the inward confusion, and had occasion afforded to utter many things, all for good ends, and allowed to be good and true; if this was my condition, that I could not be understood essentially, that we continue strangers in our inward ground, that discord and division increased so much amongst them, as much as I endeavoured to promote peace and union - and that I durst not say, I am not understood, without being contradicted immediately, what should I have done then? Be you judge. Of my grand secret, which I may call my philosopher's stone, which the preservation of my temporal life without being burdensome to any, depends upon, I durst not utter one word, for twenty good substantial reasons. To you, my friend, I gave several hints thereof, but found you in the ground, bottom, practice, and serious endeavour after practice, as much a stranger to it as I am a stranger to your stone.
Of mysteries and high speculations I durst not speak, because I did not value those things half so much, as I valued things on the other side of the great gate and point. Of this gate and point I durst not make any mention, except I would have willfully raised a new dispute. Of matters relating to the practice of Godliness, to the doctrine of conformity with Jesus Christ - to the reading of our own book, to the judging of none but ourselves first, to the looking first into our own dark root and ground before we look into that of another, to our being all but one both with respect to the one side and the other, etc., you know that I have uttered much more than could be taken in by them, for it was neglected (though not contradicted) for want of practice and of understanding it.
Nothing therefore was left for me, which I might have employed my tongue or rather my pen about, but such things as the greater part of them, delighted to be entertained with, viz., enjoyments, triumphing joys and exultations, openings of the second principle, etc. If I had but praised, exalted, and admired these things, and had shewed a desire to get the same in their way and manner, I should have been an excellent fellow in their opinion. But of these things I had nothing to say at all, because, as they themselves rightly and truly said (and I thank them for having said this truth), I was not acquainted with such and the like things. If then I was not only unacquainted with those things, but did also declare openly that I did not desire them, and could nevertheless lay before them many good and necessary things which they truly wanted, and were not acquainted with, it is plain, that my essences had embraced something which theirs had no acquaintance with, that their essences valued something which mine made not much of, that therefore we were strangers to each other in our eternal essences, and consequently, that they were as little fit for my conversation, as I was for theirs.
But now my friend, with a more particular respect to yourself and me, give me leave to ask you this lawful question, What was our conversation? You know that some of our acquaintances, whose testimonies you alleged, knew nothing of this gate and great point; and that some others did not deny nor contradict what they heard thereof, but owned the truth, some of them more or less coldly, indifferently and superficially. But this my question shall not be extended to any one of them; but only between you and me, I ask, What was our conversation all the time of our acquaintance? I will not answer it by a definition or description thereof, made by myself, because such an one of my own might be liable to various different exceptions; but Moses, the mediator of the old covenant shall answer it both to you and me. We spend our years (says he) as a tale that is told. These words, I own on my side, are a plain, full, and true description of our conversation, which you are as well to take good notice of as I am, and I as you. For I lay no more from these words to your charge, than I lay to my own; yet not one grain less. Pray remember, in a serious recollection and introversion of your mind and in the fear of God, how many fine tales were told between us, concerning this gate and this great point; and do not misapprehend me, as if I did now condemn and reject all what was spoken about this matter. No, No, God forbid! But I say only these three things, and you may know that I say the truth. (1) All these tales wherein we spent three years, came never yet to any solid fixation, much less to any true internal reality; and that spark of an omnipotent will which lieth in our souls, was never yet so essentially touched by those tales, as to produce any good, great or considerable effect without. What good you may have got by them within, I can judge of you, as you can of me. (2) I say, that like as it is much better and more profitable to go on slowly and moderately, but steadily and constantly, in our own way we are in - maintaining that ground we stand upon, although there be but little or nothing known and said of this gate and point - provided our way be right and straight, not wrong and crooked; so it is much worse and more hurtful, to tell tales thereof, and to shew, in those tales, great earnestness and fervency one day, and be cool again and remiss the next. (3) I say to you my friend, do you judge and decide yourself, whose mind of the two is more harmless, and whose years are more innocently spent? His, that tells more tales, and is on that account more fit for conversation? Or his that tells less tales, and is less or not at all fit for it? I for my part, do hereby freely and openly declare, that I am in my mind and spirit, as weary of telling and of hearing tales concerning this point and gate, as I am weary of anything in this world.
On your side my good friend, and of your person, you have shown and proved more than sufficiently, that you are fit for conversation even with the greatest princes and courtiers in the world. But give me leave to tell you, that you are more fit for conversation with such, than with simple, mean and despicable people; although I own that you can condescend, and in a manner force yourself to it sometimes. To prove this, besides my own observation, I could alledge against you such testimonies of my familiar friends, as you have alleged against me. But it would be great folly in me to do so, and would give you a just occasion to think, that I was angry with you, that I took your words as an affront and would be revenged of you. No such thing. How could I take them so in anger when you said no more that what I said many times of myself; not from affectation of a proudish humility, but from a deep sense and feeling of my own constitution. And if I never took any notice without, and was not moved within, when you once called me a fool - distinguishing that fool without, from my ground within; how should I now take this so ill, which is not so harsh and rough as that? Besides I know, and own before God, that your words, declaring me not fit for conversation, have no such extensive, injurious and malignant sense, which might be resented so much, as I may seem, but only seem, to do. For I take them with a better distinction than you are aware of, and my intent in writing these things, looks quite another way. I thank you sincerely for this expression of yours, because it hath taken off from me a greater burden, and hath made me more light and easy than I ever was before. And hath moreover afforded opportunity to discover something, which else might have lain hid to the end of my life. Evil will not come out of it, at least not on my side; but good may be produced on both sides, if we make ourselves, assisted by the grace of God, capable of his blessing. Therefore, my friend, do you take nothing amiss of me, but remember that I told you before, I would be plain and open; and consider that sincerity as much as justice is no respecter of persons.
On my side, and of my own person, I acknowledge again and again, that I am not fit for conversation, and that I was made unfit for it, partly by the spirit of this world, and partly by that dreadful sudden shock I hinted at before. For this gave me such a strong sense, and made such a lively deep impression in my soul, of my own being nothing and having nothing, that I never shall be able in this world, to make any other soul by any words of mine, as sensible thereof as I was made; or to make myself to be understood as essentially, as I was made to understand myself essentially within. Neither can I always represent it to myself so deeply, as to have the same sensation and impression thereof which I had then; but I must acquiesce with this, that the same good effects thereof and the same wholesome disposition of mind, do continue and remain with me; and through the grace of God they shall remain, as long as I live in this world. That you also yourself have a deep sense and impression in your soul, of your being nothing and having nothing, I do not question, but say only, that your sensation and impression thereof, is not mine, and mine is not yours,, for if it were, you would have been as little fit for conversation as I am; and it would have been an eternal impossibility for you (I know what I say) to have done those things you did.
Therefore my kind request of you is this, that you would be pleased hereafter to find no more fault with my unfitness; for though you would do no hurt to me, yet you might perhaps hurt yourself, which I would not have you do. What we call in this world, conversation, is rightly called with respect to another world, communion of saints. Conversation includeth a two-legged beast, which will be devoured by worms, and be turned into dust and ashes; but this communion excludeth that beast, although during this mortal life, it cannot be entirely in every sense excluded. This communion must be the inward ground and bottom of conversation, if conversation shall not perish together with the beast and with this world. If conversation stands upon this ground and bottom and is animated by this communion, it is blessed and sanctified and able to bring forth good fruits: but if not, it is a certain truth, that the more one is fit for conversation in this world, and the more he cultivates and keeps it up, though in the best way, sense and manner thereof, the greater damage, and loss he must expect to meet with, in the world to come; because this conversation and all his fitness for it, having no eternal root, and being not animated by this communion, cannot got with him through death, but must sink down in the grave together with his beast. I for my part, have reason to thank my God and Father in heaven, that I am not fit for it. Neither can I pray to him to be made fit for it in this world and in this sense. But my prayer is rather to this purpose, that I be made unfit for it more and more, and that all the world, and all its conversation (not standing upon this bottom, and not being influenced and animated by this communion), may be crucified to me, and I to the same. May God our Father in his infinite love and mercy make us altogether fit (as he is ready and willing to do, if we do not hinder him, and do not think we are fit already) for a conversation, not made up by telling and hearing tales, but by finding, feeling, touching, embracing, and keeping each other, in our inward renewed or renewing ground; for thereby and thereby only, our conversation may be in heaven within, even in this time already, whilst it is and must be still in flesh without.
Having thus by this answer, discharged myself of that obligation I was under, by reason of a promise to a friend, and having said before, that I cannot go any further in the explanation of these tables, but that I would henceforth employ my mind wholly in another necessary business; I shall here for a conclusion of all, declare explicitly what business I mean. Not only that the truth of my words may appear the plainer to my friends (it is of much greater importance to my soul) but also and even chiefly, that this my declaration written by my own hand, may stand as a testimony against myself. If I should not perform or not continue in the performance of what I intend and promise through his grace, to do in secret before my Father in heaven, which seeth in secret.
My whole intent and purpose is to seek by earnest unceasing application to God my Saviour, for his perfect manifestation in my soul, and in respect to my studies to read and meditate only upon the scripture, and my worthy friend J.B., to be, by these two, always excited and stirred up to recollect and introvert my mind, whether I be at home or abroad - to let it not wander out in things unnecessary; to remember always that saying of my Lord to Martha, One thing is needful; to keep my heart with all diligence because out of it are the issues of life; to seek for no conversation with children of this world; to refrain my tongue from telling tales; to keep mine ears open, that I may be ready to hear what God will speak in my own conscience; and to have mine eye always intent and fixed upon Him, and him alone, as if no creature were in this world besides myself - yet so, as never to exclude from my mind that inward ground in any of my fellow members, in whom but so much as the smallest grain of grace is sowed by his Spirit; but whatever I may desire for my own soul, I will desire for them also, and nothing for myself alone. For although these two things may seem, as to some of my outward expressions, to be more or less inconsistent with each other; yet do I know sufficiently, that they are in substance and internal reality so coherent, and so firmly linked together, that they are inseparable; and that the one relating to my own soul in particular, cannot be pursued with any good success without the other, relating to all my fellow members in general. And this through the grace of God and by his assistance, I intend to do without any outward hypothetical show, peculiar affectation, or ostentation, as if it were not as other men are; and in one word, without alteration from what I have appeared outwardly hitherto. Because, I do not intend to make my outward, two-legged beast holy and fit for heaven; but only to have a bridle put into his mouth and a hook into his nostrils, that it may not kick and trample me under its feet, and turn again and rend me.
My ultimate end in doing so, shall not be the salvation and happiness of my own soul: no. For if I should make this my ultimate end, and reach no deeper in the spirit of my mind, I know that I should act from a very subtle, secret and almost imperceptible root of selfishness. Mine ultimate end therefore shall be this (beyond which I know not any further nor deeper, and which is not invented by the subtlety of reason), that my whole created being in body soul and spirit, with all the essences and faculties thereof without any exception, may be possessed by Him who is the right and sole proprietor and purchaser thereof; and that He may receive the reward due to his bloody labours, according to the promise made unto him by the Father, saying, Ask of me, and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, etc. : which as it is said in general with respect to all the nations upon earth, so it is applicable also in particular to every individual person, and therefore to myself also. And this only I shall constantly desire to be fulfilled and performed in me. "For the labourer is worthy of his reward"; and for my soul he hath laboured and travailed, and ought not therefore to be served so by me as to have occasion to complain, and to say, I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought.
But seeing that I know, the Father cannot give, and he cannot receive any soul, but what is made conformable unto him by his Spirit, therefore his fundamental doctrine of conformity to Him, according to that sense he hath given me thereof, shall be my principal rule; which if I follow, taking his yoke upon me, which is easy, and his burden which is light, and learning of him, I shall have no need of casuists and commentators: because he hath promised, that he who followeth him, "shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life"; and have for a guide his Spirit, that leads into all truth, necessary to salvation. But I shall have need only of simplicity, sincerity, humility and love. These four I take peculiar notice of, and enumerate them particularly for my own sake, and for reasons best known to myself. Although I know very well, that in each of them all the other three are implied; so that if I have one of them, I have them all in that one, because they are all inseparable companions, and none of them can really be had without having all the rest. And these four, I am sure enough, will be the best and fittest casuists and commentators - sufficient also for my necessary instruction in all cases and matters whatever.
And to this fundamental doctrine of conformity with Him I shall apply my mind and spirit, neither out of fear of hell nor out of hope for heaven; but only because it is imprinted on my soul and spirit, and I can read it therein as plainly as I can read what I do now write thereof, That so it ought to be, without asking or answering any Why; without a foregoing examination of any arguments pro or con; without deliberation and consultation with flesh and blood; without sour looking, murmuring or repining, but with gladness of heart, willingness of spirit and cheerfulness of mind. Knowing and always remembering, not only that my Lord and master says of himself, "Lo I come, in the volume of the book, it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God"; but also that in the same volume of the book it is written of me likewise, if I will be in the number of that people of whom it is said, "Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power", or, according to the German translation, "After thy conquest, thy people shall serve thee willingly" - not with uneasiness and reluctance, as being compelled by force; nor in a mercenary manner, as hired by wages; but freely, willingly and with delight, having received from his own free grace, this spirit of willingness.
This Spirit of willingness in the soul, not only implieth and strongly confirmeth what I said before, that my ultimate end in the spirit of my mind ought not to be the salvation of my own soul; and not only resolveth this question, Whether a man can love God and do willingly his will, without fixing his eye upon the reward promised to them that love him; but it answers also sufficiently an objection made from the words of the apostle, saying of our Lord and Saviour, that "he for the joy that was set before him, endureth the cross". Which silly question cannot be asked, and which senseless objection - senseless in the eternal ground, though specious enough in the superficiality or the sight of reason - cannot be made, by any but such as know nothing in their own ground, of the life and motions of this spirit of willingness, and very little of what our future salvation and happiness will be.
I for my part, and to my own full satisfaction know, that my Lord and Saviour having said, "Lo I come, I delight to do thy will, O my God", declareth immediately the deepest ground and the only foundation of this delight, in the next following words, "Yea thy law is within my heart". I know that here no other why is to be asked, and no deeper ground or reason to be enquired for. I know nevertheless that in an inferior and exterior sense and respect, more accommodate to my own weak capacity, and to excite in me the spirit of willingness, or to raise it when clouded or supressed, it is rightly said of him, that "for the joy that was set before him he endured the cross". But I know also, that it is a false conclusion to say, He made this joy his ultimate end in the spirit of his mind, or that he would not have delighted to do the will of his God, if it had not been for this joy, or for this necessary consequence of his delight. This I say, is injurious to him, and to that spirit of willingness, which he had in the highest perfection; because he had also the law of his God in the highest perfection within his heart.
And of mine own future happiness I know, that it will be a necessary consequence, or an appendix inseparable from that ultimate end, which I named above, and which, relating to my Saviour, is greater and more dignified than anything relating to myself can be; and that therefore it would be perverse doings, if I should make that which is less and inferior, to be my ultimate end. And further I know also, that this salvation and happiness will consist in two things, united into one, viz., on one side, in the greatest riches, fullness, life and glory, that I can be capable of; and on the other side in the ultimate poverty, emptiness, death and nothingness of my self, and of all that is my own. Or rather, that it will consist in an everlasting harmonious union of these two - in this world contrary things. Even such an union as will bind and cement them so together, that they shall be for ever and ever inseparable from each other. Such an union, that they shall make up one perfect circle wherein the beginning shall not be discerned from the end nor the end from the beginning; nay, such an union, that I may freely and truly say of each of these two things, This is that, and that is this. For dying to myself perpetually, is living unto my Saviour eternally, in happiness and glory - and this living is that dying; emptying myself continually of all mine own being, is my being filled with his riches for ever - and this my being filled is that emptying myself; losing my soul for ever and ever, is finding my soul to all eternity - and this my finding is my losing it, world without end.
If then my merciful God and Father in heaven giveth me a simple, sincere, humble and loving heart; not according to my notions which I can have of these words, but according to the sense in which his Spirit taketh these words in the Scripture, which sense I cannot yet have a right, true and adequate idea of. If he giveth me, I say --- (though indeed his is a very silly expression, fit only for this world and for earthly senses, but altogether nonsensical in the internal ground: and a very signal instance, shewing what all our words are in this world, when we will express thereby spiritual matters, belonging to another world. For it implieth something of an uncertainty, hesitation or doubtfulness, whether our merciful God and Father in heaven be willing to give it; whereas I know, not only that he on his side is always ready and willing to give it, nay giving it continually, but also, that in those earnest desires and longings for it, which were his gifts, he hath given us also the thing desired and longed for. Notwithstanding, at the same time I must own to my own shame, that I have it not; that so "he may be justified when he speaketh and be clear when he judgeth." But let me go on with my nonsensical expression, because it is so common in this world, and I can have no better; and let it suffice me, that his Spirit understandeth the internal sense of my mind) --- if, I say, he giveth me such a heart, I shall be (according to my friend Jacob's words) one of the richest and noblest men on earth; because they are such riches and such a nobility, as will continue and be perpetuated, and go along with me through death into life. Yet, so as I know I shall do in another world to all eternity, (N.B.) so I must begin to do in this world; I must lay them down entirely and continually at the feet of that merciful Giver, denying them to be my own, and owning myself to be one of the basest, vilest and poorest creatures among mankind. And this, N.B., I must not do in affectation, and imitation of such words as I may have heard from another, and may own to be good and true; for this would be superficial if not quite hypocritical. Neither must I do it only in a sincere assent and consent of my refined reason, for although this be good and necessary, yet must I not rest therein, not think to have attained thereby the highest pitch. But I am to know, that there is still something much deeper or higher and more solid, viz., a profound, substantial, unutterable sense or sensation of the truth thereof. Which sensation, my refined reason can give as little as it can give me a spirit of willingness; although it can apprehend, and convince me both of the truth and of the necessity thereof. But this sensation can be given only by that Spirit from above, which can give also a spirit of willingness; and without His giving it, no living soul can ever have it, let her reason be ever so much refined. Yet this refined reason may safely go on in this practice; for her sincere going on therein will not be in vain, but have a good and blessed success. And this my laying them down and denying them perpetually, I know will be my constant keeping, preserving and securing them. Poverty therefore and riches, baseness and nobility, are in this harmonious union, not two, but only one thing - one everlasting life, happiness and glory.
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