John Smith: Discurso II - Busca
sexta-feira 25 de março de 2022
To seek our divinity merely in books and writings, is to seek the living among the dead: we do but in vain seek God many times in these, where His truth too often is not so much enshrined as entombed: — no; intra te quaere Deum, seek for God within thine own soul; He is best discerned noera epaphe as Plotinus phraseth it, — by an intellectual touch of Him — we must see with our eyes, and hear with our ears, and our hands must handle the word of life, that I may express it in St. John’s words. The soul itself hath its sense, as well as the body; and therefore David , when he would teach us how to know what the Divine goodness is, calls not for speculation but sensation: " Taste and see how good the Lord is." That is not the best and truest knowledge of God which is wrought out by the labour and sweat of the brain, but that which is kindled within us by a heavenly warmth in our hearts. As, in the natural body, it’is the heart that sends up good blood and warm spirits into the head, whereby it is best enabled to perform its several functions; so that which enables us to know and understand aright in the things of God, must be a living principle of holiness within us. When the tree of knowledge is not planted by the tree of life, and sucks not up sap from thence, it may as well be fruitful with evil as with good, and bring forth bitter fruit as well as sweet. If we would indeed have our knowledge thrive and nourish, we must water the tender plants of it with holiness. When Zoroaster’s scholars asked him what they should do to get winged souls, such as might soar aloft in the bright beams of Divine truth, he bids them bathe themselves in the waters of life: they asking what they were, he tells them, the four cardinal virtues, which are the four rivers of Paradise. It is but a thin, airy knowledge that is got by mere speculation, which is ushered in by syllogisms and demonstrations; but that which springs forth from true goodness is theioteron ti pases apodeixeos, as Origen speaks — it brings such a Divine light into the soul, as is more clear and convincing than any demonstration. The reason why, notwithstanding all our acute reasons and subtile disputes, truth prevails no more in the world, is, we so often disjoin truth and true goodness, which in themselves can never be disunited; they grow both from the same root, and live in one another. We may, like those in Plato ’s deep pit, with their faces bended downwards, converse with sounds and shadows, but not with the life and substance of truth, while our souls remained denied with any vice or lusts. These are the black Lethe lake which drench the souls of men: he that wants true virtue, in heaven’s logic, is blind, and cannot see afar off (2Peter I,9 ). Those filthy mists that arise from impure and terrene minds, like an atmosphere, perpetually encompass them, that they cannot see that sun of Divine truth that shines about them, but never shines into any unpurged souls; the darkness comprehends it not, the foolish man understands it not. All the light and knowledge that may seem sometimes to rise up in unhallowed minds, is but like those fuliginous flames that rise up from our culinary fire, that are soon quenched in their own smoke; or like those foolish fires that fetch their birth from terrene exudations, that do but hop up and down, and flit to and fro upon the surface of this earth, where they were first brought forth; and serve not so much to enlighten, as to delude us; not to direct the wandering traveller into his way, but to lead him farther out of it. While we lodge any filthy vice in us, this will be perpetually twisting up itself into the thread of our finest-spun speculations; it will be continually climbing up into the to Hegemonikon — the hegemonical powers of the soul, into the bed of reason, and defile it: like the wanton ivy twisting itself about the oak, it will twine about our judgments and understandings, till it hath sucked out the life and spirit of them. I cannot think such black oblivion should possess the minds of some, as to make them question that truth which to good men shines as bright as the sun at noonday, had they not foully denied their own souls with some hellish vice or other, how fairly soever it may be they may dissemble it. There is a benumbing spirit, a congealing vapour that ariseth from sin and vice, that will stupefy the senses of the soul; as the naturalists say there is from the torpedo, that smites the senses of those that approach it. This is that venomous solarium—that deadly nightshade that infuses its cold poison into the understandings of men.