THINKING AND WILLING ARE ETERNAL

The following is an extended quote taken from “An Appeal” by William Law.

Thinking and willing are eternal, they never began to be. Nothing can think or will now, in which there was not will and thought from all eternity. For it is as possible for thought in general to begin to be, as for that which thinks in a particular creature to begin to be of a thinking nature: therefore, the soul, which is a thinking, willing being, is come forth or created out of that which hath willed and thought in God from all eternity. The created soul is a creature of time and had its beginning on the sixth day of the creation; but the essences of the soul, which were then formed into a creature and into a state of distinction from God, had been in God from all eternity, or they could not have been breathed forth from God into the form of a living creature.

And herein lies the true ground and depth of the uncontrollable freedom of our will and thoughts: they must have a self-motion and self-direction, because they came out of the self-existent God. They are eternal, divine powers that never began to be, and therefore cannot begin to be in subjection to anything. That which thinks and wills in the soul is that very same unbeginning breath which thought and willed in God, before it was breathed into the form of a human soul; and therefore it is, that will and thought cannot be bounded or constrained.

Herein also appears the high dignity and never-ceasing perpetuity of our nature. The essences of our souls can never cease to be, because they never began to be: and nothing can live eternally, but that which hath lived from all eternity. The essences of our soul were a breath in God before they became a living soul. They lived in God before they lived in the created soul, and therefore the soul is a partaker of the eternity of God and can never cease to be. Here, O man, behold the great original and the high state of thy birth, here let all that is within thee praise thy God, who has brought thee into so high a state of being, who has given thee powers as eternal and boundless as His own attributes, that there might be no end or limits of thy happiness in Him. Thou begannest as time began, but as time was in eternity before it became days and years, so thou wast in God before thou wast brought into the creation: and as time is neither a part of eternity, nor broken off from it, yet come out of it; so thou art not a part of God, nor broken off from Him, yet born out of Him. Thou shouldst only will that which God willeth, only love that which He loveth, co-operate and unite with Him in the whole form of thy life, because all that thou art, all that thou hast, is only a spark of His own life and spirit derived into thee. If thou desirest, inclinest, and turnest to God, as the flowers of the field desire and turn towards the sun, all the blessings of the Deity will spring up in thee; Father, Son, and Holy Ghost will make their abode with thee. If thou turnest in towards thyself, to live to thyself, to be happy in the workings of an own will, to be rich in the sharpness and acuteness of thy own reason, thou choosest to be a weed, and canst only have such a life, spirit and blessing from God as a thistle has from the sun.”

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