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and void, and in Jeremiah, 4. 23. that the heavens had no light; which I think to have been the condition of both the heavenly and the worldly spirits in man, before the creation of the light: to observe, I say, that I understand that the spiritual opinion and the philosophical opinion are created at first in an imperfect state, and form in man but an imperfect spirit, in want of the seven Scriptural days or lights, by which it becomes a perfect image of God, and a living soul. There are some who understand that Christ is the beginning, in whom God created the heaven and the earth. It seems to me that to be consistent with that opinion, which may be right, they ought to have of the Scriptural heaven and earth, and of all that comes from them, very dif ferent ideas from those that are generally entertained about them, and quite another religious system than any of those that have obtained in this world. The first regenerate man being the first instrument used for our regeneration, I think that he may be considered likewise as the beginning in which God created the heaven and the earth. It is possible also that the word beginning alludes to the state of a man, before God creates in him the two opinions, for the formation of his spirit. If you wish to know what I suppose that state can be, this is the answer that I shall venture.

When a potter sets to work, he takes dust or clay, whereof he makes a vessel, to which he gives whatever

In consequence of the new translation that has been given to me of the first verse of the Bible, I have made a few alterations in my interpretations, and spoken of the substance of the heaven and of the earth where I have thought it would elucidate the sense.

shape and colour he likes. At first it is empty; then he puts into it whatsoever things he pleases, either apparently perfect, or more or less imperfect, which afterwards he improves, changes, or takes away, as he thinks fit.

It is universally admitted that there is a something unknown to us, which we call either spirit, mind, soul, or genius, that is inserted somewhere in our body, its vessel to guide it, and possesses faculties superior to those of the body. It seems that in its first state that moral thing is quite ignorant; but that afterwards it receives, by the grace of God, through education, meditation, and experience, a variety of notions; some concerning our Creator and the worship due to Him, and many relating to this earth and our existence upon her: which notions being coalesced and consolidated with the inward ruling power, constitute, as it appears, its form, knowledge, and qualities; its being, the modification whereof in every creature differs in some respects from that of all others.

In Ecclesiastes, 1. 11. it is said There is no remembrance of former things; and in 1 Timothy, 6. 7. For we brought nothing into this world; (which seems to imply that men, before their coming into the Scripture world, had been in another, of which they have no remembrance;) and it is certain we can carry nothing out. Taking, as I have mentioned, this earth for an emblem, perhaps but a shadow of the Scriptural world, I think that, the same as we brought nothing and no knowledge upon her, so we can carry nothing out, Psalm 49. 17. not even the remembrance of our present existence; and that when our spirit is parted from its

vessel, it leaves behind whatever opinions, knowledge, sentiments, and talents it had entertained and acquired on this earth, as being probably of no use in the place whereto it is sent, and that it arrives there in a state of complete nakedness or ignorance. Now the same as that spirit had received, during its momentary exile on this earth, an education fit for the purposes of this world, can I not be allowed to suppose that in its new abode, let it be good or bad, superior or inferior to this, a state of happiness or one of infelicity, it may receive a new education suitable to its then habitation: new information respecting its Creator and itself, as a new spirit of heaven or spiritual mind, and a new spirit of earth or human mind: both in an imperfect state at first; but which, by seven increasing instructions, lights, or days, might be so much improved as to form, in the course of time, a perfect system, spirit, or soul, completely regenerated by philosophical and by spiritual knowledge, and above all by the humility of heart that proceeds from the right knowledge of God and faith in Him, and likewise from a judicious knowledge of oneself, that is constantly attended with fear and love of God: at which happy state those who had been good might arrive easily by the means of gentle instructions; and those who had been bad, only through great difficulties, through instructions enforced by severe, lamentable, but necessary corrections. Such seems to me to be the whole aim of the Scripture, which, I believe, teaches, from the beginning to the end, the progressive way by which regeneration may be attained by us: (perhaps even on this earth, and though encumbered with a body made of coarse matter, and liable to corruption;) after

we should have previously divested our mind of the errors, prejudices, and follies of this world, and made it simple like that of children, which is not yet infected with false notions, that are as many obstacles to the reception of the truth. I believe, also, that it presents to us an instructive and faithful history of the various circumstances that happen within the soul, during the process of her regeneration.

Having explained to you, as well as I can, the way that I understand the important first verse of the Bible, which, I am afraid, has been but little inquired into, I shall now submit to your investigation my present intelligence of many of those that, in my opinion, cannot be comprehended literally; and of others which I think bear no material sense, though it seem admissible. You will remark that I omit some of those which I have quoted in the first part, and that I do not try to explain the whole of many, from want of sufficient abilities. However, I hope I shall say enough to make you perceive the possibility,-nay, the advantage, of understanding the whole of the Sacred History, without any regard to the vulgar sense; enough to induce you to meditate upon it, and to search not only what can be the meaning of the passages where the literal sense appears doubtful and inadmissible, but even that of the verses where seeming plain and comprehensible, it has generally received, without examining whether it was consistent or not with the spirit of the Scriptures.

In speaking of the world, of the earth, and of the dry land, I shall use, as it will seem to me best, the expressions of the spirit of the world, the spirit of the earth, the opinion of one's self, the philosophical spirit, the philoso

phical state, the knowlege of good and evil, the human philosophy, the natural philosophy, the human mind, the human heart, the human system, the human knowledge, the philosophical knowledge, the philosophical system, the dry opinion, the dry philosophy, the spirit of Adam, the word man, and also the soul, as she appears to me to be an earth and a world, by her being composed partly of the spirit of the earth or of the world.

I have been told that the waters in the Scripture mean instructions; I shall, then, understand them as philosophical instructions, human opinions, persuasive philosophical knowledges, penetrating instructions, deep opinions, deep philosophical knowledges, deep human instructions, the deep human and philosophical system. As there is simplicity in that part of the human philosophy, I shall speak of it as the simple philosophy, simple knowledge, simple instructions, simple opinions. The sea, the lakes, pools, rivers, brooks, springs, fountains, and wells, I consider as expressing various degrees of the simple human knowledge, which is instructing and refreshing to the human mind and to the soul. They may represent also philosophers of different degrees in the simple knowledge, or in simplicity of heart. I have reasons to understand the human heart by the word the deep. For the rain, the dew, and the clouds, I shall use the denomination of spiritual instructions as coming from above. The clouds may also mean spiritual creatures.

It is likely to me that you will find many of the applications I shall make of those meanings very far from being accurate. You know that you cannot expect but great imperfection from an ignorant mind, such as mine, groping along in darkness, like many others. Happy


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