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tions, and degrees of regeneration, they succeed to overcome in themselves the spirit of the world, its thorns and thistles, and return into the righteous opinion they possessed concerning themselves, before their degradation; into the spirit of humility, simplicity, meekness, candour, and innocence; into the good religion that teaches to give glory to God, to believe and hope but in Him, and that formerly made the soul-man excessively happy, a superb garden abounding with beautiful intellectual flowers and trees that bore the fruits of the spirit (Gal. 5. 22, 23); but now, alas! full of weeds (19, 20, 21, a mere shadow of what was created powerful and excellent), and until by the keeping of the commandments they may be made worthy to receive of the mysterious manna or spiritual knowledge (Rev. 2. 17), and may have, by the Grace of God, a right to the spiritual tree or doctrine that leads to the knowledge of the eternal life (Gen.3. 22), which is in the heart of any religious spirit (7), that is the garden, the Paradise, and the city or Jerusalem of the Spirit of God; whose voice then they would wish to hear within themselves, instead of dreading it, as they did, when they became guilty.
The words, To-day shalt thou be with me in Paradise, (Luke, 23. 43,) I am inclined to understand thus: Thy soul fearing God, (40,) acknowledging her faults, the justice of her condemnation, and the righteousness of my spirit (41), and praying the Lord to remember her (42), shall arrive, by her present knowledge, at the religion Paradise, at her former state of innocence and delights, having in herself of my spirit: (which consists in hope, faith, and charity). Understanding that it is
Christ's spiritual body or soul that is crucified, (Isaiah, 53. 10,) I should rather take the two malefactors for two degenerate spirits attending on, and suffering with, bis soul, when she dies spiritually: one of which is by repentance and fear of God, and with the help of Christ's doctrine, in the way of Paradise and regeneration,
The words, Caught up to the third Heaven, and caugbt op into Paradise, (2 Cor.12. 2. 4,) I understand as relating to Paul's soul caught up into, or translated, like Enoch's, to, a very superior and religious spirit or knowledge, wherein she bears within berself unspeakable truths, from the spirit of God. (Gal. 1. 24; 1 Cor. 7. 40; St. Matt. 10. 19, 20.)
Of the Flood.
In speaking of the earth and of the water, I have, Theophila, taken no notice of the verses in which they are mentioned, which relate to the flood; thinking it would be better to make a separate article of that great Scriptural event; which I fully admit, (the same as I do every part of the Sacred History, though there be many many passages which I have not the least intelligence of, and thougb I be not certain that I understand any corretly,) but which I cannot take in the literal way of the Jews: finding in the New Testament sufficient proofs that they have been mistaken in their views of the Holy Writings. Undoubtedly, the Flood, understood in a material sense, according to the ancient custom, is possible in erery one of the circumstances that are presented tons, because all things are possible to the Almighty; but it cannot be denied that there are several passages which, if believed literally, seem so incomprehensible that they afford no satisfaction. Surely it must have appeared inconceivable to the Jews of old, I mean to the thinking part, that Noah alone, at the age of five hundred years, could build such a large ship as the ark is represented; that alone he could gather of all food that is eaten, (which seems to include the animal as well as the vegetable,) in sufficient quantity for all the beings that were to enter into the ark, and remain in it a whole year; and that, with the help of only his wife, whose age must have exceeded one hundred years, his three sons, at least a hundred years old, and their wives, he could be able to minister daily food and water to all the beasts, cattle, creeping things, fowl and bird of every kind and sort, that they considered as having been confined with him, to each of them the food fit for him: besides the trouble of keeping the ark clean. I wonder the impracticability and improbability of such arduous tasks did not strike the forefathers of our Jews, so far as to persuade them that the Scripture Flood ought not to be taken in the literal sense, and to induce them to search what could be the meaning of it. For my part, baving been favoured with the information that the waters in the Bible signify instructions, I should be inconsistent with it, were I to persist to understand the Flood in the way of the Jews two thousand years ago; it seems to me that it must refer to the soul, and in applying it to ber, it appears to me more intelligible. I consider as possible that in the course of the regeneration of mankind, there may be a time when the greatest part of them, instead of using their knowledge and faculties to
improve in righteousness, turn to corruption and increase in wickedness; and a time when it pleases the Omnipotent, in His mercy that endureth for ever, to put a stop to their perversity; and, for their amendment, to destroy in them, by an overwhelming instruction or system, all the knowledge which they had received and abused, not only the philosophical, but also the spiritual; (as it appears to me from 2 Peter, 3. 5, 7,) excepting from the universal wreck, for their recall to His commandments, the soul of a just man; by making him build within himself by faith, (mind, not by hand,) Heb. 11. 7, a religious system, wherein his soul may find shelter and safety against the pourings of knowledges or opinions that destroy in others all previous notions: excepting also those souls, which being, like Noah's, moved by fear of God, enter and are closely confined in the protecting system, wherein they are fed with knowledge and understanding (Jere. 3. 15), with judgement (Ezek. 34. 16), and kept alive with the instructions of the preacher of righteousness, gathered by his spirit (Isaiah, 34. 16). It seems to me comprehensible that all the souls that remain exposed to the overflowing of powerful opinions, whether good, whether bad, being unable to confute them, may be put by them in a state of confusion that upsets all their knowledges, even those of the highest among them, and throws them into complete uncertainty and ignorance: comprehensible that, after they have been in that distressing condition long enough to feel its miseries, and to forget all that they had learnt before and that had led them astray, their Creator, out of pity for them, may send among them, or within them, a spirit (in the Latin version the word wind is translated
spiritum, Gen. 8. 1), perhaps of meditation on their errors, of repentance for their sins, of prayer, of hope in God, &c.; which by degrees assuages in their minds the too strong opinions that had unsettled, discomposed, confounded, and unrooted their former notions; and which finally relieves them entirely from the strange ideas that had overwhelmed their spirits ; leaving them in a state of mental nakedness and emptiness: comprehensible that, when by the healing spirit peace is fully restored to them, when their eyes begin to open, and when they are in a disposition of mind that qualifies them to receive new instructions, the Lord orders those whose knowledge had been spared and saved by the pious system, to come forth out of it to do good to their abased and humbled fellow-creatures; orders them to spread and manifest themselves among them, to instruct them, to console and comfort them, to give them a new knowledge, a new soul or life superior to that which they had before: comprehensible that, the man who experiences so great a favour as to have the knowledge of his soul excepted from the general destruction, does, as soon as he can, build within himself with humility of heart an altar to the Lord; and, to the best of his knowledge, offers Him solemn thanks for all His tender mercies: comprebensible that, such a sacrifice of righteousness, made in sincerity, out of love and gratitude, is acceptable to God: comprehensible that, the Spirit Creator deigns to establish a covenant or alliance with the faithful soul, and with all that comes and is to come from her and from her meek religion; and that God gives her full power over all the philosophical spirits