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An allegorical interpretation of the vision described in the prophet Ezekiel


Concerning the kingdom of darkness, that is, of sin, and that God alone is able to take away sin from us, and to deliver us out of the bondage of the evil prince . . . . 12

1-- THE kingdom of darkness, the evil prince, having taken man captive at the beginning, enveloped and clothed the soul in the power of darkness, as a man might clothe another. "And that they may make him king, and clothe him with royal garments, so that from head to foot he may wear royal apparel." 1 In this manner the evil prince clothed the soul and all its substance with sin. He defiled it all, and brought it all into captivity to his kingdom, leaving not one member of it free from him not the thoughts, not the understanding, not the body; he clothed it all with the purple of darkness. For as it is the body that suffers, not one part or member of it, but the whole is liable to suffer together, so the whole soul suffered the passions of un- happiness and sin. The evil one clothed the whole soul, which is the indispensable part or member -of man, with his own unhappiness, which is sin, and thus the body became liable to suffering and decay.

2-- For when the apostle says, Put off the old man? he means a complete man, with eyes for eyes, ears for ears, hands for hands, and feet for feet. For the evil one has defiled the entire man, soul and body, and dragged him 1 The source of the quotation, if it is one, seems not to be known. It is intended, apparently, to give the idea of a complete envelopment. down, and has clothed the man with an "old man," polluted man, unclean, at enmity with God, not subject to the law of God, 1 and all identified with sin, that he may no longer see as the man himself wishes, but may see wrongly, and hear wrongly, and have feet that are swift to do evil, and hands that work iniquity, and a heart that devises evil things. Let us therefore beseech God that He would put off the old man from us ; because He alone is able to take away sin from us, for those that have taken us captive, and that detain us in their kingdom, are too mighty for us. But He has promised to deliver us from this sore bondage. When there is a hot sun and a wind blowing, the sun and the wind each have a body and nature of their own, but no one can separate between sun and wind, unless God, who alone can, should make the wind to cease from blowing. In like manner sin is mingled with the soul, though each has its own nature. 3-- It is impossible to separate between the soul and sin, unless God should stop and repress this evil wind, which dwells in the soul and in the body. A man watches a bird flying, and wishes to fly himself, but he cannot, because he has no wings. Even so the will is present 2 with a man to be pure, and blameless, and with- out spot, and to have no wickedness in him, but to be always with God ; but he has not the power. To fly into the air of God and the liberty of the Holy Ghost may be his wish, but unless wings are given him, he cannot. Let us then beseech God to bestow upon us the wings of a dove, even of the Holy Ghost, that we may fly to Him and be at rest, 3 and that He would separate and make to cease from our souls and bodies, that evil wind, which is the sin that dwelleth in the members of our souls and bodies. None but He can do it. Behold, it says, the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world* He alone has shewn

this mercy to those men who believe Him, redeeming them from sin ; and for those who are always waiting for Him, and hope, and seek without ceasing, He achieves this unutterable salvation.

4-- As in a gloomy black night a fierce wind blows, and stirs and searches and shakes all the plants and seeds, so when man falls under the power of the darkness of the devil's night, and is in night and darkness, he is agitated by that dreadful wind of sin that blows, and is shaken and stirred, and searched through all his nature, his soul, his thoughts, his understanding ; and all the limbs of his body are shaken, and no member of either soul or body escapes free and immune from the sin that dwelleth in us. In like manner there is a day of light and a divine wind of the Holy Ghost, which blows and refreshes the souls that are in the day of the light of God. It penetrates all the sub- stance of the soul and its thoughts, and all the being and all the members of the body, refreshing and resting them with a divine, unspeakable rest. This is what the apostle de- clared when he said, We are not children of the night or of darkness, for ye are all the sons of light and the sons of day. 1 And as yonder, in the state of error, the old man put on man as a complete whole, and wears the garment of the kingdom of darkness, the garment of blasphemy, unbelief, unconcern, vainglory, pride, avarice, lust, and all the other trappings of the kingdom of darkness, ragged, unclean, and abominable ; so here, all who have put off the old man, which is from beneath the earth all whom Jesus has stripped of the clothing of the kingdom of darkness have put on the new and heavenly man, Jesus Christ, once more corresponding, eyes to eyes, ears to ears, head to head, to be all pure, and wearing the heavenly image.

5-- The Lord has clothed them with the clothing of the kingdom of ineffable light, the clothing of faith, hope, charity, of joy, peace, goodness, kindness, and all the other divine and living clothing of the light of life, of inexpressible rest, that, as God Himself is love, and joy, and peace, and kindness, and goodness, so the new man may be through grace. And as the kingdom of darkness, and sin, are hidden in the soul until the day of resurrection, when the bodies also of sinners shall be covered with the darkness that is now hidden in the soul, so the kingdom of light, and the heavenly Image, Jesus Christ, now mystically enlightens the soul, and reigns in the soul of the saints, but is hidden from the eyes of men, and only with the eyes of the soul is Christ truly seen, until the day of resurrection ; but then the body also shall be covered and glorified with the light of the Lord, which is now in the man's soul, that the body also may reign with the soul which now receives the kingdom of Christ and rests and is enlightened with eternal light. Glory to His mercies and His tender compassion, for that He has such pity on His servants, and enlightens them, and delivers them from the kingdom of darkness, and bestows upon them His own light and His own kingdom. To Him be glory and might for ever. Amen.


That the brethren ought to live in sincerity, simplicity, love, and peace with each other, and to carry on contest and war in their inward thoughts . ..... 16 =

1-- THE brethren ought to dwell together in much charity, whether they are praying, or reading the scriptures, or doing some kind of work, that they may have the foundation of mutual charity. In this way, those various inclinations may find favour, and those who pray, and those who read, and those who work, can all live in sincerity and simplicity with each other to their profit. What is written ? Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth, 1 in order that as the angels in heaven dwell together in great concord, peace, and charity, and there is no such thing there as pride, or as envy, but they live together in charity and sincerity, so should the brethren dwell together. Some thirty, perhaps, are under one government ; they cannot continue all day and night at one thing. Some give themselves up to prayer for six hours, and then would like to read ; others are very ready to serve, while others work at some form of labour.

2-- Whatsoever they are about, the brethren ought to be in charity and cheerfulness with each other. Let him who is at work say of him who is at prayer, " The treasure that my brother gets is common, and therefore mine." Let him who prays say of the reader, " The profit which he gets by reading is to my advantage." Let him who is at work say,

"The service which I am doing is for the benefit of all." As the members of the body, being many, are one body,' 1 and help each other, and each performs its own function, but the eye sees on behalf of the whole body, and the hand labours for all the members, and the foot, as it walks, carries them all, and another member suffers with all alike, so let the brethren be with one another. Let not him who prays judge the labouring brother because he is not at prayer. Let not him that is at work judge the one who is praying, or say, " He lies by, while I am working." Let not him who serves judge some one else, but let each one do whatever he is doing to the glory of God. Let him who reads hold him who prays in chanty and cheerfulness, with the thought, " It is for me that he prays " ; and let him who prays think of him who is at work, " What he is doing is done for the benefit of us all."

3-- Thus much concord and peace and unity in the bond of peace 2 holds them all fast, and they are enabled to live together in sincerity and simplicity and the favour of God. No doubt the principal thing among these is continuance in prayer; but one thing is required, that a man should have treasure in his soul, and the life which is the Lord in his mind that whether he is working, or praying, or read- ing, he should have that possession which passes not away, which is the Holy Ghost. There are some who say thus that the Lord requires of men only the fruits that are visible, and that it is for God to rectify the things that are hidden. That is not the case. As a man secures himself with regard to the outer man, so ought he to carry on strife and war in his thoughts. The Lord requires of thee to be angry with thyself, and to do battle with thy mind, and neither to consent nor to take pleasure in the thoughts of wickedness.

4-- Nevertheless, to root out sin and the evil that is ever

i with us, this can only be accomplished by the divine power. It is not possible or within a man's competence to root out sin by his own power. To wrestle against it, to fight against it, to give and receive blows, is thine ; to uproot is God's. If thou hadst been able to do it, what need was there of the coming of the Lord ? As the eye cannot see without light, as a man cannot speak without a tongue, or hear without ears, or walk without feet, or work without hands, so he cannot be saved without Jesus, nor enter into the kingdom of heaven. If thou sayest, " In outward con- duct, I do not commit fornication or adultery, I am not covetous ; therefore I am righteous," thou art wrong in this, thinking that thou hast fulfilled all. Sin has not only three departments against which a man ought to ensure himself, but ten thousand. Arrogance, presumption, unbelief, hatred, envy, deceit, hypocrisy, whence are they ? Oughtest thou not to wrestle and strive against these in the hidden places in thy thoughts ? If there is a robber in the house, at once thou art distressed ; he does not allow thee to be at ease ; thou beginnest to strike back ; blows are exchanged. So ought the soul to strike back, to resist, to repel force by force.

5-- What follows ? By resisting and taking trouble and pains, the will begins to get the upper hand. It falls ; it recovers itself. Sin throws it again in ten, in twenty conflicts. It conquers the soul and throws it ; then the soul after a time in one engagement conquers the sin. If the soul perseveres and in no direction flags, it begins to have the best of it, to see through the enemy, and to carry off the trophies of victory from sin. But if the man is strictly examined even at this point, sin still is too hard for him, until he comes to a perfect man, to the measure of his stature,* and perfectly conquers death; for it is written The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. 2 Thus

will they get the upper hand, and be the conquerors of the devil. But if, as we observed before, a man should say, " I do not commit fornication or adultery ; I am no money-lover ; and that is enough," in this reckoning he has contended against three forces, but against twenty others that sin can employ upon the soul he has not contended, and is there- fore beaten. He ought to contend against them all, and to strive ; for the mind, as I have said many times, is an even match for it, and possesses a power that is well balanced against sin, to withstand and repel its suggestions. 6-- If you say that the opposing power is too strong, and that evil has complete sovereignty over man, you make God unrighteous when He condemns mankind for submit- ting to Satan, because Satan is so strong, and wields a power which compels submission. "Thou makest Satan greater and stronger than the soul, and then commandest me, ' Do not submit.' It is as though a young man should wrestle with a little child, and the child, when he is worsted, is condemned for getting worsted. This is a great in- justice." I tell you then that the human mind is a good match for the enemy and evenly balanced against him ; and a soul of that kind, when it seeks, finds help and succour, and redemption is vouchsafed to it. The contest and struggle is not an unequal one. Let us glorify the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost for ever. Amen.


Christians ought to accomplish their race in this world with heed and care, that they may gain heavenly praises from God and angels.

i. WE who wish to achieve the life of Christianity with any great thoroughness must before anything else cultivate with all our might that faculty of the soul which discerns and discriminates, in order that, having acquired a delicate sense of the difference between good and evil, and always dis- tinguishing the things with which pure nature has been unnaturally adulterated, we may behave ourselves in a straightforward manner, without offence. By using this power of discernment as a kind of eye, we may keep free from any union or connexion with the suggestions of sin, and thus the heavenly gift may be vouchsafed to us by which we become worthy of the Lord. Let us take an illustration from the visible world ; for there is a likeness between the body and the soul, between the things of the body and the things of the soul, and between the objects of sense and those which are hidden.

2-- The body has the eye for its guide. The eye, by seeing, guides the whole body straight. Imagine a man going through woody regions, full of thorns and miry places, where fire also breaks out, and there are swords stuck in the ground, and precipices and frequent waters are found there. The active, heedful, nimble traveller, using the guidance of his eye, passes those difficult places with great attention, gathering up his garment on every side with 20