A good Account of the False Light and its Kind.
Now I have said that there is a False Light; but I must tell you more particularly what it is, and what belongeth thereunto. Behold, all that is contrary to the True Light belongeth unto the False. To the True Light it belongeth of necessity, that it seeketh not to deceive, nor consenteth that any should be wronged or deceived, neither can it be deceived. But the false is deceived and a delusion, and deceiveth others along with itself. For God deceiveth no man, nor willeth that any should be deceived, and so it is with His True Light. Now mark, the True Light is God or divine, but the False Light is Nature or natural. Now it belongeth to God, that He is neither this nor that, neither willeth nor desireth, nor seeketh anything in the man whom He hath made a partaker of the divine nature, save Goodness as Goodness, and for the sake of Goodness. This is the token of the True Light. But to the Creature and Nature it belongeth to be somewhat, this or that, and to intend and seek something, this or that, and not simply what is good without any Wherefore. And as God and the True Light are without all self-will, selfishness, and self-seeking, so do the I, the Me, the Mine, and the like, belong unto the natural and false Light; for in all things it seeketh itself and its own ends, rather than Goodness for the sake of Goodness. This is its property, and the property of nature or the carnal man in each of us.
Now mark how it first cometh to be deceived. It doth not desire nor choose Goodness as Goodness, and for the sake of Goodness, but desireth and chooseth itself and its own ends, rather than the Highest Good; and this is an error, and is the first deception.
Secondly, it dreameth itself to be that which it is not, for it dreameth itself to be God, and is truly nothing but nature. And because it imagineth itself to be God, it taketh to itself what belongeth to God; and not that which is God’s, when He is made man, or dwelleth in a Godlike man, but that which is God’s, and belongeth unto Him, as He is in eternity, without the creature. For, as it is said, God needeth nothing, is free, not bound to work, apart by Himself, above all things, and so forth (which is all true); and God is unchangeable, not to be moved by anything, and is without conscience, and what He doeth that is well done; ’So will I be,’ saith the False Light, ’for the more like God one is, the better one is, and therefore I will be like God and will be God, and will sit and go and stand at His right hand’: as Lucifer the Evil Spirit also said. Now God in Eternity is without contradiction, suffering and grief, and nothing can hurt or vex Him of all that is or befalleth. But with God, when He is made Man, it is otherwise.
In a word: all that can be deceived is deceived by this False Light. Now since all is deceived by this False Light that can be deceived, and all that is creature and nature, and all that is not God nor of God, may be deceived, and since this False Light itself is nature, it is possible for it to be deceived. And therefore it becometh and is deceived by itself, in that it riseth and climbeth to such a height that it dreameth itself to be above nature, and fancieth it to be impossible for nature or any creature to get so high, and therefore it cometh to imagine itself God. And hence it taketh unto itself all that belongeth unto God, and specially what is His as He is in Eternity, and not as He is made Man. Therefore it thinketh and declareth itself to be above all works, words, customs, laws and order, and above that life which Christ led in the body which He possessed in His holy human nature. So likewise it professeth to remain unmoved by any of the creature’s works; whether they be good or evil, against God or not, is all alike to it; and it keepeth itself apart from all things, like God in Eternity, and all that belongeth to God and to no creature it taketh unto itself, and vainly dreameth that this belongeth unto it; and deemeth itself well worthy of all this, and that it is just and right that all creatures should serve it, and do it homage. And thus no contradiction, suffering or grief is left unto it; indeed nothing but a mere bodily and carnal perceiving: this must remain until the death of the body, and what suffering may accrue therefrom. Furthermore, this False Light imagineth, and saith, that it has got beyond Christ’s life in the flesh, and that outward things have lost all power to touch it or give it pain, as it was with Christ after His resurrection, together with many other strange and false conceits which arise and grow up from these.
And now since this False Light is nature, it possesseth the property of nature, which is to intend and seek itself and its own in all things, and what may be most expedient, easy and pleasant to nature and itself. And because it is deceived, it imagineth and proclaimeth it to be best that each should seek and do what is best for himself. It refuseth also to take knowledge of any Good but its own, that which it vainly fancieth to be Good. And if one speak to it of the One, true, everlasting Good, which is neither this nor that, it knoweth nothing thereof, and thinketh scorn of it. And this is not unreasonable, for nature as nature cannot attain thereunto. Now this False Light is merely nature, and therefore it cannot attain thereunto.
Further, this False Light saith that it hath got above conscience and the sense of sin, and that whatever it doeth is right, Yea, it was said by such a false Free Spirit, who was in this error, that if he had killed ten men he should have as little sense of guilt as if he had killed a dog. Briefly: this false and deceived Light fleeth all that is harsh and contrary to nature, for this belongeth to it, seeing that it is nature. And seeing also that it is so utterly deceived as to dream that it is God, it were ready to swear by all that is holy, that it knoweth truly what is best, and that both in belief and practice it hath reached the very summit. For this cause it cannot be converted or guided into the right path, even as it is with the Evil Spirit.
Mark further: in so far as this Light imagineth itself to be God and taketh His attributes unto itself, it is Lucifer, the Evil Spirit; but in so far as it setteth at nought the life of Christ, and other things belonging to the True Light, which have been taught and fulfilled by Christ, it is Antichrist, for it teacheth contrary to Christ. And as this Light is deceived by its own cunning and discernment, so all that is not God, or of God, is deceived by it, that is, all men who are not enlightened by the True Light and its love. For all who are enlightened by the True Light can never more be deceived, but whoso hath it not and chooseth to walk by the False Light, he is deceived.
This cometh herefrom, that all men in whom the True Light is not, are bent upon themselves, and think much of themselves, and seek and propose their own ends in all things, and whatever is most pleasant and convenient to themselves they hold to be best. And whoso declareth the same to be best, and helpeth and teacheth them to attain it, him they follow after, and maintain to be the best and wisest of teachers. Now the False Light teacheth them this very doctrine, and showeth them all the means to come by their desire; therefore all those follow after it, who know not the True Light. And thus they are together deceived.
It is said of Antichrist, that when he cometh, he who hath not the seal of God in his forehead, followeth after him, but as many as have the seal follow not after him. This agreeth with what hath been said. It is indeed true, that it is good for a man that he should desire, or come by his own good. But this cannot come to pass so long as a man is seeking, or purposing his own good; for if he is to find and come by his own highest good, he must lose it that he may find it. As Christ said: ’He who loveth his life shall lose it.’ That is; he shall forsake and die to the desires of the flesh, and shall not obey his own will nor the lusts of the body, but obey the commands of God and those who are in authority over him, and not seek his own, either in spiritual or natural things, but only the praise and glory of God in all things. For he who thus loseth his life shall find it again in Eternal Life. That is: all the goodness, help, comfort, and joy which are in the creature, in heaven or on earth, a true lover of God findeth comprehended in God Himself; yea, unspeakably more, and as much nobler and more perfect as God the Creator is better, nobler, and more perfect than His creature. But by these excellences in the creature the False Light is deceived, and seeketh nothing but itself and its own in all things. Therefore it cometh never to the right way.
Further, this False Light saith, that we should be without conscience or sense of sin, and that it is a weakness and folly to have anything to do with them: and this it will prove by saying that Christ was without conscience or sense of sin. We may answer and say: Satan is also without them, and is none the better for that. Mark what a sense of sin is. It is that we perceive how man has turned away from God in his will (this is what we call sin), and that this is man’s fault, not God’s, for God is guiltless of sin. Now, who is there that knoweth himself to be free from sin save Christ alone? Scarcely will any other affirm this. Now he who is without sense of sin is either Christ or the Evil Spirit.
Briefly: where this True Light is, there is a true, just life such as God loveth and esteemeth. And if the man’s life is not perfect as Christ’s was, yet it is framed and builded after His, and his life is loved, together with all that agreeth with decency, order, and all other virtues, and all Self-will, I, Mine, Me, and the like, is lost; nothing is purposed or sought but Goodness, for the sake of Goodness, and as Goodness. But where that False Light is, there men become heedless of Christ’s life and all virtue, and seek and intend whatever is convenient and pleasant to nature. From this ariseth a false, licentious freedom, so that men grow regardless and careless of everything. For the True Light is God’s seed, and therefore it bringeth forth the fruits of God. And so likewise the False Light is the seed of the Devil; and where that is sown, the fruits of the Devil spring up -- nay, the very Devil himself. This ye may understand by giving heed to what hath been said.
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