Tuesday, August 02, 2011
TO THE CHRISTIANS
Jerusalem, Plate 76
Yale Center for British Art
In the fourth of the full page illustrations (from the British Museum - notice the names Albion and Jesus on this copy) used as chapter heads for Blake's Jerusalem, he pictured Jesus crucified on the tree of mystery above the worshiping Albion. The image may be taken as a picture of Albion achieving recognition of the love and sacrifice of Jesus who as the Breath Divine stirred Albion back to life. However the image also reminds us of the traditional representation of the crucified Christ of organized religion. The Jesus Blake recognized was within his heart and mind, the 'bright Preacher of Life' not the 'dark Preacher of Death'.
Blake did not think well of organized religion, including organized Christianity. He practiced the religion of Jesus, a religion which directly connects man to the Eternal Reality, the indwelling word, Christ or the Holy Spirit. Such religion requires no buildings, moral codes, ceremonies, priests or judges. Blake's argument was that the self-appointed authorities, the 'priests', had assumed leadership of Jesus' legacy of spiritual experience and teaching and had made it into a worldly, material institution. The loss of the initial revelation which had come through Jesus was accompanied by the equally damaging development of a religion of chastity, accusation of sin, and projection of the deity onto an entity distant in time and space.
Jerusalem, Plate 77, (E 232)
"I stood among my valleys of the south
And saw a flame of fire, even as a Wheel
Of fire surrounding all the heavens: it went
From west to cast against the current of
Creation and devourd all things in its loud
Fury & thundering course round heaven & earth
By it the Sun was rolld into an orb:
By it the Moon faded into a globe,
Travelling thro the night: for from its dire
And restless fury, Man himself shrunk up
Into a little root a fathom long.
And I asked a Watcher & a Holy-One
Its Name? he answerd. It is the Wheel of Religion
I wept & said. Is this the law of Jesus
This terrible devouring sword turning every way
He answerd; Jesus died because he strove
Against the current of this Wheel: its Name
Is Caiaphas, the dark Preacher of Death
Of sin, of sorrow, & of punishment;
Opposing Nature! It is Natural Religion
But Jesus is the bright Preacher of Life
Creating Nature from this fiery Law,
By self-denial & forgiveness of Sin.
Go therefore, cast out devils in Christs name
Heal thou the sick of spiritual disease
Pity the evil, for thou art not sent
To smite with terror & with punishments
Those that are sick, like the Pharisees
Crucifying &,encompassing sea & land
For proselytes to tyranny & wrath,
But to the Publicans & Harlots go!
Teach them True Happiness, but let no curse
Go forth out of thy mouth to blight their peace
For Hell is opend to heaven; thine eyes beheld
The dungeons burst & the Prisoners set free."
 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.
 And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,
 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
 And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.
 And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.
 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.
Three other posts have also highlighted full page illustration at beginnings of
the chapters of Jerusalem:
TO THE PUBLIC
TO THE JEWS
TO THE DEISTS.