Sunday, February 22, 2015

BLAKE & DEISM

In Blake's day Deism was on the rise. Although Deism is not an organized religion, its influence was replacing religion especially among the educated populace. Since its tenents were diametrically opposed to the religion of Jesus to which Blake ascribed, he spoke out against it. The third chapter of Jerusalem is addressed to the Deists whose error Blake wanted to expose and correct.

Yale Center for British Art
 Jerusalem, Plate 75
"And Rahab Babylon the Great hath destroyed Jerusalem"

The popular attraction of Deism was that it appealed to reason and postulated a God who did not interfere in the operation of the world. The transitions that the culture was undergoing from an agrarian to an industrialized economy, and from an authoritarian to an egalitarian political structure, were supported by the philosophies promulgated by Deists. Although there was not a uniform belief system among Deists, they undermined the belief among the masses that God could be turned to for guidance and assistance.

Blake saw that man was in danger of losing the spiritual foundations on which a society of brotherhood, community and faith could be sustained. Blake's desire was that man should awake to the possibilities within himself to reflect the benevolence, mercy, forgiveness and imagination of God. Man to Blake was Human because God was in Man and Man was in God. To him, a God who did not involve himself with man was no God at all; a society without a connection to the Divine would crumble into chaos.

Jerusalem, Plate 52, (E 200)                                                                
"                                                     |The Spiritual States of
                                                      |the Soul are all Eternal  
Rahab is an   |   To the Deists.      |Distinguish between the 
Eternal State |                               |Man, & his present State  
         
  He never can be a Friend to the Human Race who is the Preacher
of Natural Morality or Natural Religion. he is a flatterer who
means to betray, to perpetuate Tyrant Pride & the Laws of that
Babylon which he foresees shall shortly be destroyed, with the
Spiritual and not the Natural Sword: He is in the State named
Rahab: which State must be put off before he can be the Friend of
Man.
  You O Deists profess yourselves the Enemies of Christianity:
and you are so: you are also the Enemies of the Human Race & of
Universal Nature.  Man is born a Spectre or Satan & is altogether
an Evil, & requires a New Selfhood continually & must continually
be changed into his direct Contrary.  But your Greek Philosophy
(which is a remnant of Druidism) teaches that Man is Righteous in
his Vegetated Spectre: an Opinion of fatal & accursed consequence
to Man, as the Ancients saw plainly by Revelation to the intire
abrogation of                  
Experimental Theory. and many believed what they saw, and
Prophecied of Jesus.
  Man must & will have Some Religion; if he has not the Religion
of Jesus, he will have the Religion of Satan, & will erect the
Synagogue of Satan. calling the Prince of this World, God; and
destroying all who do not worship Satan under the Name of God. 
Will any one say: Where are those who worship Satan under the
Name of God! Where are they? Listen! Every Religion that Preaches
Vengeance for Sins the Religion of the Enemy & Avenger; and not
the Forgiver of Sin, and their God is Satan, Named by the Divine
Name   Your Religion O Deists: Deism, is the Worship of the God
of this World by the means of what you call Natural Religion and
Natural Philosophy, and of Natural Morality or
Self-Righteousness, the Selfish Virtues of the Natural Heart. 
This was the Religion of the Pharisees who murderd Jesus.  Deism
is the same & ends in the same.
  Voltaire Rousseau Gibbon Hume. charge the Spiritually Religious
with Hypocrisy! but how a Monk or a Methodist either, can be a
Hypocrite: I cannot concieve.  We are Men of like passions with
others & pretend not to be holier than others: therefore, when a
Religious Man falls into Sin, he ought not to be calld a
Hypocrite: this title is more properly to be given to a Player
who falls into Sin; whose profession is Virtue & Morality & the
making Men Self-Righteous.  Foote in calling Whitefield,
Hypocrite: was himself one: for Whitefield pretended not to be
holier than others: but confessed his Sins before all the World;
Voltaire! Rousseau! You cannot escape my charge that you are
Pharisees & Hypocrites, for you are constantly talking of the
Virtues of the Human Heart, and particularly of your own, that
you may accuse others & especially the Religious, whose errors,
you by this display of pretended Virtue, chiefly design to
expose.  Rousseau thought Men Good by Nature; he found them Evil
& found no friend.  Friendship cannot exist without Forgiveness
of Sins continually.  The Book written by Rousseau calld his
Confessions is an apology & cloke for his sin & not a confession.
  But you also charge the poor Monks & Religious with being the
causes of War: while you acquit & flatter the Alexanders &
Caesars, the Lewis's & Fredericks: who alone are its causes & its
actors.  But the Religion of Jesus, Forgiveness of Sin, can never
be the cause of a War nor of a single Martyrdom.
  Those who Martyr others or who cause War are Deists, but never
can be Forgivers of Sin.  The Glory of Christianity is, To
Conquer by Forgiveness.  All the Destruction therefore, in
Christian Europe has arisen from Deism, which is Natural
Religion."                        

Jerusalem, Plate 74, (E 229)
"The Four Zoa's clouded rage; Urizen stood by Albion
With Rintrah and Palamabron and Theotormon and Bromion
These Four are Verulam & London & York & Edinburgh
And the Four Zoa's are Urizen & Luvah & Tharmas & Urthona
In opposition deadly, and their Wheels in poisonous              
And deadly stupor turn'd against each other loud & fierce
Entering into the Reasoning Power, forsaking Imagination
They became Spectres; & their Human Bodies were reposed
In Beulah, by the Daughters of Beulah with tears & lamentations

The Spectre is the Reasoning Power in Man; & when separated      
From Imagination, and closing itself as in steel, in a Ratio
Of the Things of Memory. It thence frames Laws & Moralities
To destroy Imagination! the Divine Body, by Martyrdoms & Wars

Teach me O Holy Spirit the Testimony of Jesus! let me
Comprehend wonderous things out of the Divine Law                
I behold Babylon in the opening Street of London, I behold
Jerusalem in ruins wandering about from house to house
This I behold the shudderings of death attend my steps
...
I see a Feminine Form arise from the Four terrible Zoas
Beautiful but terrible struggling to take a form of beauty
Rooted in Shechem: this is Dinah, the youthful form of Erin
The Wound I see in South Molton Street & Stratford place  
Whence Joseph & Benjamin rolld apart away from the Nations
In vain they rolld apart; they are fixd into the Land of Cabul
Plate 75
And Rahab Babylon the Great hath destroyed Jerusalem"

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