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And so it is with man in the world who is becoming an angel. In short, these extremes do all meet. He who feels least life of his own has most life; he who has least will of his own has most freedom; he who feels least power in himself has most power from the Divine Omnipotence. He who is nothing, in himself, and is most sensibly convinced of it, has most of all things properly belonging to man, for this emptiness of his own self is the very condition which opens all his resources, and turns him to the Fountain of all being, and draws most largely upon all the powers and capacities of the Infinite. The Lord can come where there is room for Him; not into those souls whose self-importance excludes all thought of extraneous help, and presents a form and a sphere of opposition and repulsion. To be in this condition is to be in the veriest bondage to evil and false spirits ; for they are all stated in this conception of life from one's self.
It is a beautiful thought here, that by this self-abnegation, which is the condition of true freedom, we do not lose one particle of our real self, which so many are afraid of -proper, conscious individuality, but only our conceited self, which must die in order that we may truly live. For the heavenly proprium — the sense of life — the serene joy of the angels, as they move on in their eternal spheres of activity and useful. ness, doing only the Divine Will, is as much more complete and self-satisfying than the apparent freedom of those who are only in the delight of their own self-love, as the blessedness of God is superior to the care and solicitude of man. For while diligently working - continually submitting their own wills to the Divine Will, and desiring nothing else, they have no care nor anxiety, but the “ daily bread” of the spirit is given every day, and being in the stream of the Divine Providence, they are thus in a state of
THE NATURE AND ORIGIN OF EVIL.
“ Inquire no longer, man! who is the author of evil; behold him in yourself. – Take away every thing that is the work of man, and all the rest is good.”— Rousseau.
“'Twas man himself
It will be expected, undoubtedly, with the foregoing view of the Divine Providence in regard to good, that we should say something on the more difficult subject of evil. If the will of man is as we have represented it, — if with regard to the production of good it is only apparently of himself, but really of the Divine Being from whom all good is, how is it with regard to evil? Does this, too, come from the Divinity? If it does not, then it must be either that there is an eternal Devil who inspires all the evil, or that man himself has a power to will and do evil different from that with which he wills and does good : that is to say, more independent, more self-originated, more absolutely of himself. And this, particularly with regard to the origin and first starting of evil, we shall find, without any inconsistency, to be the case.
Let us in the first place consider what evil is. It is not positive and essential; there is but one original and eternal essence; that is the Divine Good. Evil is that essence perverted and inverted by man. It becomes so in man by the receptive forms or spiritual vesicles of his mind. When these forms are in order, and upright, then the Divine influx is in him for
good. When they are turned or twisted away from their proper order, and turned up-side-down, as they frequently are when evil is entire, then the Divine influx is received accordingly. What before was good, is now changed into evil. This
be illustrated from things in the material world. It is the same heat and light which flows into thistles, as flows into roses;— into all poisonous and noxious plants, as into good and useful vegetables. But the receptive forms make all the difference. Just so it is with man, when he becomes inverted to the Divine celestial influences. This is so true, that, in the spiritual world, persons actually appear inverted to each other ; opposite as two men feet to feet, with their respective heads upwards and downwards. Such is the aspect of the whole heavens and hells. They are vast, organic, opposite relations. They have that appearance because the wicked have inverted true order, by making self-love uppermost or chief in the mind, and love to the Lord and the neighbor underneath all, or denying it altogether. Thus it is written — “ The way of the wicked He turneth upside-down.” (Psalm 146: 9.) The whole Word has respect to appearances in the spiritual world. And so the heavens and hells are not only inverted and opposite to each other, but comparatively speaking, one is positive and the other negative. The hells have no power but what the heavens, or the Lord through the heavens, can control. 6 Thus far, and no farther, and here shall thy proud waves be stayed.”
Here, however, let it be observed, that although evil has no absolute positive existence, yet it frequently becomes relatively positive, so as to overcome, for the time being, good itself. How often is it the case! But in the end, it is destined, we believe, to defeat. Good must eventually triumph over all evil, and God be glorified in all.
Evil is sometimes said to be undeveloped good," or "unripe good,” or “good in the making:" there is indeed a truth concealed even in these expressions ; but it is only true that while a certain spiritual good was making, evil came into existence.
Not that the good was made out of the evil, but that the evil started up as an opposition to the process. The subject dates back to the creation of man. It was the natural, animal mind of man, that objected to being made spiritual, or objected to that greater choice of good which was involved in the exaltation of his being from the childlike, infantile state, and instead thereof chose the evil.
Here let it be understood that man originally, as he came from the hands of his Creator, was a merely natural creature. He had a human soul - an internal and external man, and the capacity of becoming spiritual. But he was as yet only natural or unregenerate. Regeneration, according to this theory, or rather, re-creation, took place before the Fall; and it was necessary that it should so take place, for man at the first was only without evil, or in natural, not spiritual good. His regeneration, therefore, before the Fall, differed from that after the Fall, only in the sense that it was then without conflict; and if he had not fallen into evil, he might have proceeded straight on, as the Most Ancient Men did, with all pleasantness and facility, accomplishing his regeneration in the most orderly and agreeable manner. But he fell into evil, and hence the process is now so difficult, and of the nature of a warfare. It is impossible to tell how low man was at the first, or how long he remained in this condition; but it suffices to say that he was gradually educated out of this state, by the Lord through the ministry of angels, and raised to the complete height of a spiritual and celestial man. This was the apex of the first re-creation. This process is what is described in the spiritual sense of the first chapters of Genesis. It has no reference to the material creation, except so far as the processes of nature in the physical universe are correspondentially woven into this spiritual parrative. It is an account of the first re-creation of man from a purely natural to a purely spiritual state. From that state he fell; not suddenly, but gradually, and here com
menced the origin of evil.* Be it observed, then, that the calamity here contemplated did not begin in evil, but in less good. Man at first began to diminish in his amount of good. This may be called a negative evil, but not a positive one. only the absence of so much of the divine life. But how came man to grow less good ? Because of his immense distance from the great Creator, and the freedom which thus necessarily entered into his constitution as a man. Let it be observed here that all freedom consists in this
proprium or self-hood of man. Man would not be man without this. And as all goodness consists in the harmonious unition of this self-hood with the Divinity, so all evil consists in the non-unity, or separation of man from God. In the progress of this life of the self-hood, man comes to feel his own will too much. He begins to think he is something in himself alone. He puts on airs of self-conceit, and like a fool, unlearns his dependence. This is the primal sin, which “brought death into the world and all our woe.” It is this which closes up the receptacles of true life in man, so that the Divine Life cannot enter. This was the serpent in the Garden of Eden. Hence it was that the greatest care and solicitude were manifest towards man in his state of innocence, lest he should eat of “the
* In this account of the origin of evil we do not forget another account given in that remarkable book —“Arcana of Christianity,” by Rev. T. L. Harris. It is a statement which certainly has the merit of startling novelty, with a strong tinge of tradition in it, and is worthy of serious consideration. It is there affirmed that evil commenced on another planet, contiguous to our own, and that the hell of that planet extended its invasions into our world. But if this be even so, it does not essentially conflict with the spiritual causes here assigned for the same evil, and it varies from it only as to the whereabouts of its commencement, and some other particulars which need not here be named. The account which we give here regards the psychology and laws of evil as it exists in our own world, and does not pretend to any knowledge of pre-existent orbs, nor material ultimates in the Garden of Eden.