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THE SOUL'S ENEMIES.
"A man's enemies are the men of his own house."— Micah vii. 6.
When the soul declines from the order of life established by infinite wisdom, two effects inevitably follow. The first effect is a loss of life. This loss is always measured by the degree of its departure from the orderly means by which life is received. The Lord does not withhold His life. He does not inflict pain or death. Life is excluded by the soul's own action, as the eye excludes light by closing itself against it. Life can be received only by obedience to the laws of life. "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments," is an injunction that applies to every soul at all times and in all states. Conversely, every violation of a commandment of life is a step toward death.
The second effect of disobedience to the
laws of the soul's life is the creation of enemies
which seek to destroy it. This is the subject 116
to which I now invite your attention—The soul's enemies: Who are they? and how are they made?
Let us clearly understand in the outset that the Lord is not the enemy of the soul. He never was and never can be the soul's enemy. He created the soul to be the object of His love. He made everything to supply its wants and minister to its delights. He has always watched over it with sleepless vigilance, and He has left nothing undone which infinite love could suggest, or infinite wisdom could provide, to save it from the hand of its enemies and fill it with the blessings of His goodness. The Lord is the soul's Friend; its unchanging and almighty Friend; He never can be its enemy. His friendship does not depend upon our knowledge or character. He does not desert us because we desert Him. He does not change with our changing state. "His mercy is forever."
Who, then, are the soul's enemies?
Every false principle is an enemy to the soul. Truth is the path which leads to life. The laws of the Divine order are truths. Every truth, therefore, is the soul's friend. because it teaches how to attain its highest good. Truth is the way. Spiritual truth bears the same relation to the soul that natural or scientific truth does to the material body and natural life.
Falsity is the opposite of the truth. It is the path which leads away from life. It is the perversion of the Divine order. It disturbs its harmonies. It distorts its forms. It destroys its methods. It closes the understanding to spiritual light and fills the soul with darkness. When it has put out the true light of the understanding, it seeks to lead the soul by the fallacies of the senses. Thus it subverts the whole order of the soul's activities, closes its higher and interior forms against the influx of life, and continually tends to sensualize and brutalize it. Every falsity has this effect to the extent of its influence. It must, therefore, be an enemy to the soul.
Evil is another enemy, and a more wily and deadly one than falsity. Evil corrupts and disorganizes the soul and saps its very life. The will is the first conscious receptacle of life from the Lord. The Divine life in the will is the soul's love, its controlling principle and moving power. Its various derivative forms are the affections. The constant effort and tendency of the will is to bring the understanding and all the thoughts, affections, and actions into harmony with itself. When it is evil it changes the Divine love into the love of self and of the world and subverts the whole order and nature of human life. It turns the soul away from the Lord and calls good evil and evil good; it mistakes infernal delights for heavenly delights; makes itself the centre and calls everything good that ministers to its delights, and everything evil that opposes them. Evil, therefore, becomes the most deadly enemy of the soul. It corrupts its heart. It poisons the currents of its life at the fountain, seduces the soul from its allegiance to the Lord, and arrays it against its real friends. It so changes its whole nature, that the very provisions which the Lord had made to minister to its highest delights become the instruments of pain, disease, and death. It is to the soul what paralysis of the heart is to the physical body.
But there are no abstract evils or falsities. We may conceive of them without thinking of their embodiment in persons, but they exist only in human beings. By turning away from the Lord the soul makes enemies of other souls. So far as it becomes the embodiment of false and evil principles, it arrays itself against all others, and all others become arrayed against it. This is one of the terrible consequences of sin. It places the soul in real antagonism to every influence, force, and being in the universe. Man has always been the great enemy of man. Soul arrays itself against soul. Hence arise struggles, conflicts, wars, and destruction.
The elements also become hostile to the soul. The ground is cursed for man's sake, that is, by the evil influences which proceed from him. We cannot admit that the Lord created anything that is in itself injurious to the soul. On the contrary, He made every substance and form in the universe to serve man. The material body was made for the soul. It is its material garment, woven of the finest substances of nature. It fits it so perfectly and acts so fully in accord with it, that it seems to have life in itself, and multi