The Entrance of Evil Into the World
The following is an excerpt (Chapter 12) from an excellent book by William Law, "God's Power in You".
Most people may be said to be asleep, and this is even more true of Christians. The particular way of life that takes up each man's mind, thoughts, and actions may be very well called his particular dream. This degree of vanity is equally visible in every form and order of life. The educated and the uneducated, the rich and the poor, are all in the same state of slumber, only passing away a short life in different kinds of dreams. Why is this so?
It is because man has an eternity within him. He is born into this world, not for the sake of living here, not for anything this world can give him, but only to have time and place to become either an eternal partaker of a divine life with God or to have an hellish eternity among fallen angels. Therefore, every man whose eye, heart, and hands are not continually governed by this twofold eternity, may justly be said to be fast asleep and to have no awakened awareness of himself.
THE VANITY OF TIME
A life devoted to the interests and enjoyments of this world, spent and wasted in the slavery of earthly desires, may be truly called a dream, since such a life has all the shortness, vanity, and delusion of a dream. There is one great difference, though, between a dream and this life: when a dream is over, nothing is lost but fictions and fancies, but when the dream of life is ended only by death, all that eternity for which we were brought into being is lost.
Now there is no misery in this world, nothing that makes either the life or death of man to be full of calamity, except this blindness and unawareness of man's state, into which he so willingly, and even obstinately, plunges himself. Everything that has the nature of evil and distress in it arises from here. Sup- pose that a man knows himself, that he comes into this world on no other errand except to rise out of the vanity of time into the riches of eternity; suppose that he governs his inward thoughts and outward actions by this view of himself; then every day to him has lost all its evil. Prosperity and adversity have no difference, because he receives and uses them both in the same spirit. Life and death are equally welcome, be- cause they are equal parts of his way to eternity.
THE ONLY GOOD
As poor and miserable as this life is, we have free access to all that is great and good, and we carry within ourselves a key to all the treasures that heaven has to bestow upon us. We might starve in the midst of plenty and groan under infirmities, but the remedy is in our own hands.
Some of us live and die without ever knowing and feeling anything of the only good, while we have it in our power to know and enjoy it in as great a reality as we know and feel the power of this world over us. Heaven is as near to our souls as this world is to our bodies, and we are created and redeemed to have our conversation in it (Phil. 3:20). God, the only good of all intelligent natures, is not an absent or distant God, but is more present in and to our souls than our own bodies are. We are strangers to heaven, and we are without God in the world, be- cause we are void of the spirit of prayer that alone can, and never fails to, unite us with the only good and that can open heaven and the kingdom of God within us.
A root set in the finest soil, grown in the best climate, and blessed with all that sun and air and rain can do for it, is not as sure to grow to perfection as every man may be whose spirit aspires after all that God is ready to give to him. For the sun does not meet the springing bud that stretches toward him with half the certainty that God, the source of all good, Himself communicates to the soul that longs to partake of Him.
MAN CREATED IN THE IMAGE OF God
All of us are the offspring of God by birth, more nearly related to Him than we are to one another, "for in him we live, and move, and have our being" (Acts 17:28). The first man who was brought forth from God had the breath and spirit of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit breathed into him, and so he became a living soul (Gen. 2:7). This is how our first father was born of God, descended from Him, and stood in Paradise in the image and likeness of God. He was the image and likeness of God, not with regard to his outward shape or form, for no shape has any likeness to God; but he was in the image and likeness of God because the Holy Trinity had breathed their own nature and spirit into him. And as the Deity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is always in heaven and makes heaven to be everywhere, so this spirit, breathed into man, brought heaven into man along with it. So, man was in heaven, as well as on earth, that is, in Paradise, which signifies a heavenly state of life.
MAN IN PARADISE
Adam had the same divine nature, both as a heavenly spirit and a heavenly body, that the angels have. But as he was brought forth to be a lord and ruler of a new world, created out of the chaos or ruins of the kingdom of fallen angels, it was necessary that he should also have the nature of this new created world in himself, both its spirit and materiality. This is why he had a body taken from this newly created earth, the same dead earth from which we now make bricks. He was taken from the blessed earth of Paradise that had the powers of heaven in it, out of which the Tree of Life itself could grow.
Into the lungs of this outward body, the breath or spirit of this world was breathed. In the spirit and body of this world, the inward celestial spirit and body of Adam did dwell. It was the medium or means through which he was to have commerce with this world, become visible to its creatures, and rule over it and them. This is where our first father stood: an angel both as to body and spirit as he will be again after the resurrection yet dwelling in a body and spirit taken from this new, created world. This world, however, was as inferior to him and as subject to him as the earth and all its creatures were. It was no more alive in him; it no more brought forth its nature within him than Satan and the Serpent were alive in him at his first creation. He was to have no share of its life and nature, no feeling of good or evil from it, but he was to act in it as a heavenly artist who had power and skill to open the wonders of God in every power of outward nature.
In this lay the ground of Adam's ignorance of good and evil. It was because his outward body and the outward world in which alone was good and evil could not discover their own natures or open their own lives within him, but were kept inactive by the power and life of the celestial man within him. This was man's first great trial. It was a trial not imposed upon him by the mere will of God or by way of experiment, but a trial necessarily implied by the nature of his state.
Man was created as an angel, both in body and in spirit, and this angel stood in an outward body that had the nature of the outward world. Therefore, by the nature of his state, he had his trial, or power to choose, whether he would live as an angel, using only his outward body as a means of opening the wonders of the outward world to the glory of his creator, or whether he would turn his desire to the opening of the bestial life of the outward world in himself for the sake of knowing the good and evil that was in it. The fact is certain that he lusted after the knowledge of this good and evil and made use of the means to obtain it. As soon as he had gotten this knowledge by opening the bestial life within him, his soul, an immortal fire that could not die, became a poor slave in the prison of bestial flesh and blood.
THE NATURE OF REDEMPTION
The nature and necessity of our redemption is to redeem the first angelic nature that departed from Adam. It is to make that heavenly spirit and body that Adam lost become alive again in all human nature, and this is called regeneration. This is the true reason why only the Son, or eternal Word of God, could be our Redeemer. It is because He alone, by whom all things were made at first, is able to bring to life again the celestial spirit and body that had departed from Adam.
The need for us to regain our first heavenly body is the same as the need for us to eat the body and blood of Christ. The need for again having our first heavenly spirit is declared by the need for our being baptized by the Holy Spirit. Our fall is nothing else except the falling of our souls from this celestial body and spirit into a bestial body and spirit of this world. Our rising out of our fallen state, or redemption, is nothing else except the regaining of our first angelic spirit and body, which in Scripture is called our inward or new man, created again in Christ Jesus. Lastly, this is the true reason why the mortification of flesh and blood is required in the Gospel. It is because the bestial life of this outward world should never have been opened in man. The natural life is his separation from God and death to the kingdom of heaven; therefore, all its workings, appetites, and desires are to be restrained and kept under so that the first heavenly life, to which Adam died, may have room to rise in us.
It is plain that the command of God not to lust after and eat of the forbidden tree was not an arbitrary command of God given for His pleasure or as a mere trial of man's obedience. But it was kind and loving information given by the God of love to His newborn offspring concerning the state he was in and concerning the outward world. It warned him to withdraw all desire of entering into an awareness of the tree's good and evil, because such sensibility could not be had without his immediately dying to that divine and heavenly life that he then enjoyed. The God of love said, "Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it: for in the day that you do eat thereof you shall surely die" (Gen. 2:17).
THE FALL OF THE ANGELS AND THE CREATION OF THE WORLD
To better understand all this, imagine if God had said the following to the newly created Adam. "I have brought you into this Paradise, with such a nature as the angels have in heaven. By the order and dignity of your creation, everything that lives and moves in this world is made subject to you. I have made you in your outward body of this world to be for a time a little lower than the angels until you have brought forth numerous offspring fit for that kingdom that they have lost.
"The world around you, and the life that is newly awakened in it, is much lower than you are. It is of a nature quite inferior to yours. it is a gross, corruptible state of things that cannot stand long before Me but must for a while bear the marks of those creatures, which first made evil to be known in the creation.
"The angels, who first inhabited this region where you are to bring forth a new order of beings, were great and powerful spirits, highly endowed with the riches and powers of their Creator. While they stood, as the order of creation requires, in meekness and resignation under their Creator, nothing was impossible to them; there was no end of their glorious powers throughout their whole kingdom. Perpetual scenes of light, glory, and beauty were rising and changing through all the height and depth of their glassy sea, merely at their will and pleasure.
"They began to admire and even adore themselves because of the wonders of light and glory that they could perpetually bring forth. They discovered how all the powers of eternity, treasured up in their glassy sea, unfolded themselves and broke forth in ravishing forms of wonder and delight, merely in obedience to their call. They began to imagine that there was some infinity of power hid- den in themselves that they supposed was kept under and suppressed by that meekness and subjection to God under which they acted.
"Fired and intoxicated with this proud idea, they boldly resolved, with all their eternal energy and strength, to take their kingdom to themselves, with all its glories, by eternally renouncing all meekness and submission to God. No sooner did their eternal, potent desires fly in the direction of a revolt from God, than in the swiftness of a thought, heaven was lost, and they found themselves to be dark spirits, stripped of all their light and glory. Instead of rising above God, as they had hoped, by breaking off from Him, there was no end of their eternal sinking into new depths of slavery under their own self-tormenting natures.
"Just as a wheel that is going down a mountain that has no bottom must continually keep turning, so these angels are whirled down by the impetuosity of their own wrongly turned wills, in a continual de- scent from the fountain of all glory into the bottomless depths of their own dark, fiery powers. They are in no hell except what their own natural strength had awakened. They are bound in no chains except their own unbending, hardened spirits. They have been made such by their renouncing, with all their eternal strength, all meekness and subjection to God. In that moment, the beautiful materiality of their kingdom, their glassy sea in which they dwelt, was broken into pieces by the wrathful, rebellious workings of these apostate spirits, and it became a black lake, a horrible chaos of fire and wrath, thickness and darkness, a height and depth of the confused, divided, struggling properties of nature.
"My creating decree stopped the workings of these rebellious spirits by dividing the ruins of their wasted kingdom into an earth, a sun, stars, and other elements. If this revolt of angels had not brought forth that disordered chaos, the materiality of the outward world would never have been known. The raw, compacted earth, stones, rocks, wrathful fire here, dead water there, contending elements, with all their coarse vegetables and animals, are things not known in eternity and will only be seen in time until the great designs are finished, for which you are brought forth in Paradise. And then, just as a fire awakened by the rebel creature began all the disorders of nature and turned that glassy sea into a chaos, so a last fire, kindled at My word, will thoroughly purge the floor of this world. In those purifying flames, the sun, the stars, the air, the earth, and the water will part with all their dross, deadness, and division. They will then all become again that first, heavenly materiality, a glassy sea of ever- lasting light and glory, in which you and your offspring will sing hallelujahs for all eternity.
"Therefore, child of Paradise, son of eternity, do not look with a longing eye after anything in this outward world. There are the remains of the fallen angels in it; you have nothing to do in it except be a ruler over it. It stands before you as a mystery big with wonders, and you, while an angel in Paradise, have power to open and display them all. It does not stand in your sphere of existence. It is only a picture and a transitory image of things, for all that is not eternal is only like an image in a mirror that seems to have a reality, which it does not have.
"The life that springs up in this image of a world, in such an infinite variety of kinds and degrees, is only like a shadow; it is a life of such days and years that in eternity have no distinction from a moment. It is a life of such animals and insects that are without any divine sense, capacity, or feeling. Their natures have nothing in them except what I commanded this new modeled chaos, this order of stars and fighting elements, to bring forth.
"In heaven, all births and growths, all figures and spiritual forms of life, though infinite in variety, are yet all of a heavenly kind and are only so many manifestations of the goodness, wisdom, beauty, and riches of the divine nature. But in this newly modeled chaos, where the disorders that were raised by Lucifer are not wholly removed, every kind and degree of life, like the world from which it springs, is a mixture of good and evil in its birth. And both evil and good must stand here in strife until the last purifying fire.
"Therefore, my son, be content with your angelic nature. Be content, as an angel in Paradise, to eat angels' food and to rule over this mixed, imperfect, and perishing world without partaking of its corruptible, impure, and perishing nature. Do not lust to know how the animals feel the evil and good that this life affords them, for if you could feel what they feel, you must be as they are. You cannot have their awareness unless you have their nature. You cannot be an angel and an earthly animal at the same time. If the bestial life is raised up in you, the heavenly birth of your nature must die in you at the same instant.
"Therefore, turn away your lust and your mind from a tree that can only help you to the knowledge of such good and evil that belongs only to the animals of this outward world, for nothing but the bestial nature can receive good or evil from the stars and elements. They have no power over anything except over that life that proceeds from them.
Therefore, eat only the food of Paradise, and be content with angels' bread.
"If you eat of this tree, it will unavoidably awaken and open the bestial life within you, and in that moment, all that is heavenly must die and cease to have any power in you. Then, you will fall into a slavery for life, under the divided struggling powers of stars and elements. Stripped of any angelic garment that hid your outward body under its glory, you will become more naked than any beast upon earth and will be forced to seek a covering from beasts, to hide you from the sight of your own eyes. You will be a shameful, fearful, sickly, needy, suffering, and distressed heir of the same speedy death in the dust of the earth as the poor beasts, whom you will thus have made to be your brothers."