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[From The Fourth Dialogue.]

Philoth. I commend your provi <27> dence, Philopolis, and desire you to persist in this freedome of calling us back to those subjects you have the greatest mind to be satisfied in, as often as we stray: For this last Evening is wholly dedicated to your service. But however, for all the haste I affect to enter upon that Point you chiefly aim at, namely, [1] What the Kingdome of God is signally so called, I must first mention a Division, before I fall upon that Definition. For the Kingdome of God, as it respects Men also, is either Internall or Externall; according as our Saviour has declared,[2] Neither shall they say, Lo here, or, Lo there; for behold, the Kingdome of God is within you.

Cuph. I suppose this Kingdome is much-what the same with the Philosophicall Kingdome of the Stoicks, who make their wise man a King and Emperour, and what not? and count it their chief happiness to have a full dominion over their Passions, especially the more grim and harsh ones, that they may enjoy themselves in quiet.

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Philoth. O no, Cuphophron, there is no sameness at all betwixt this Kingdome of the Stoicks and the Kingdome of God. For this Kingdome of the Stoicks is the Kingdome of Selfishness, and Self-love sways the Sceptre there and wears the Diademe: But in the Kingdome of God, God himself, who is that pure, free, and perfectly-unselfed Love, has the full dominion of the Soul, and the ordering and rule of all the Passions. It is a wonderful thing to consider how multifarious the Impostures and false pretensions to this inward Kingdome are discovered to be by those that are really possessed thereof; how one Passion (as suppose Pride or Covetousness) subdues all the rest unto it self, and rules in stead of the Divine Love; how all the Passions are brought into a demure subjection to the sense of some externall Interest, especially if it bear the Title of Sacred or Holy; and how men may be disciplin'd or educated thereto, as Setting-dogs for the Game, whenas the Soul in such a <29> case has subdued all her affections, onely to surrender her self a more absolute slave to the will of those men whose business it is to bring the World into blinde obedience (by studied Impostures and Hypocrisies) to such Laws as are made for their carnal Interest, and, in stead of propagating the Kingdome of God, to plant the Kingdome of the Devil or Antichrist amongst men. Let the Soul in such cases as these have never so great a command over her affections, this is no Kingdome of God, but a presumptuous and tyrannical Usurpation of some petty Masters against the Right of his Kingdome. Unless this internall Kingdome be established in the Love and Peace and Patience of the Lord Jesus, it is but the Reign of mere self-seeking Nature, or the Kingdome of the Devil. The Kingdome of God in the Soul is the Empire of the Divine Love, which equally affects the good of all men, [3] rejoyces with them that rejoyce, and weeps with them that weep: It is that state of the Soul <30> whereby a man [4] loves God with all his heart and all his soul, and his neighbour as himself, and[5] deals with others as himself would be dealt with; whereby a man earnestly desires the common good of all men, and finds himself concern'd in repelling or preventing any publick evil. To be brief, It is the Rule of the Spirit of God in the Soul, who takes the rains of all our Powers, Faculties and Affections into his own hand, and curbs them and excites them according to his own most holy will, that is carried to no particular Self-interest, but ever directs to that which is simply and absolutely the best. This also is the Kingdome of Christ in the Inward man,[6] the mystical Melchizedek, who is first King of Righteousness, as the word signifies, that is, of impartial Rectitude and Uprightness, without all Self-respects, and then King of Salem, that is, Prince of Peace. Finally, it is that Kingdome which consists not in externall Superstitions, but, as the Apostle speaks,[7] in righteousness, <31> and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

Philop. [8] This Internall Kingdome of God, O Philotheus, is so lovely and desirable, that I cannot but request you to intimate the means of acquiring it, before you proceed to the Externall.

Philoth. O how I love you, Philopolis, for this motion, forasmuch as I perceive that it cannot proceed from any vain curiosity, but from a sincere desire of entring into life and holiness! The most effectual means in the general is intimated up and down in the Gospels by our Blessed Saviour. As where he compares the Kingdome of Heaven to[9] a Treasure hid in the field, and to a single Pearl of great price, for which one sells all that he has to purchase it; and where he tells us that[10] the Kingdome of God suffers violence, and that the violent take it by force; and again, where he declares that[11] he that lays his hand to the plough, and looketh back, is not fit for the Kingdome of God, and in like passages. For all these <32> signifie thus much to us, That whosoever would acquire so excellent a state of the Soul as this which we call the Kingdome of God, he must forthwith quit all things else whatsoever that stand in competition with it; That he must with all imaginable earnestness of spirit and with a kind of holy violence reach at it, and endeavour the taking of it through all dangers, hardships and resistences whatsoever, as he that would scale the walls of a City to obtain the Crown; and, lastly, That this pursuit be without any intermissions or lazy relapses into the power of the World or the Flesh again, but that it be peremptory, constant and continued, till we have wone the prize, and finde all that fulfilled in us which we desired or expected; which is the perfect subduing of all our corruptions, and the establishing of the Reign of the true Melchizedek in us, the living Righteousness of God, and the replenishing of our hearts with purity, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

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Philop. This is excellently good in the general, O Philotheus. But have you no farther directions more particularly to recommend to us?

Philoth. Truth lies in a little room, especially that of it that is most usefull, O Philopolis. And therefore I will trouble you with no farther instructions then what are comprized in these few Principles. As first, That we have a firm and unshaken Faith in the Power of God, and in the assistence of the Spirit of the Lord Jesus, for the subduing all Envy, Pride, Lust, all Worldliness and Selfishness, and what-ever is contrary to the Kingdome of God in us, that we may have a comfortable conquest over these and all like corruptions through him that strengthens us. This is the first necessary Principle we ought to be imbued with, if we mean seriously to set our selves to the atchieving so great and weighty an enterprise: This, I say, is the first necessary Principle, namely, A full and firm belief that the Atchievement <34> is possible. The second is, That we believe it to be our duty to arrive to this blessed state, and not to satisfie our selves with any condition on this side of it, much less, out of any Antinomian Sophistrie or Witchcraft, to phansie our selves released from all obligation to any real and living Righteousness in us; but to be entirely obedient to the voice of Wisedome and Truth,[12] Be ye perfect, as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect; and to remember, that it was the end of Christ's coming into the world,[13] to pluck up every plant that was not of his Father's planting, and to raise such a seed upon earth as[14] have neither spot nor wrinkle, nor any such thing, but are holy and without blemish. If either of these two Principles be wanting, the defect will be notorious in the success. For who can with any courage attempt such difficulties as he thinks either impossible to be overmastered, or not his duty to grapple with. Wherefore being sound in these, Philopolis, he must <35> adde Meditation, Circumspection, and Devotion. Meditation in private especially. Circumspection in his dealing with externall objects, whether men or things, that he be not carried away unawares against those rules and resolutions he made to himself in private, but ever stand upon his guard; and if he be assaulted with any temptation, to call to Heaven for succour, and to trust in the strength of God against the surprize. Which I think is the true meaning of praying continually. But in a more particular manner, to adde to your private Meditation the fervency of Devotion, and earnestly to beg of God, that he would every day more and more discover to you the ugliness of Sin, and the amiableness of Righteousness, and that your hatred may be more keenly edged against the one, and your love more highly inflamed towards the other; that the work of the Heart may go on, and not those umbratile skirmishes of the Brain in Phancie and exteriour Rea <36> son, but that we may effectually feel the difference of the contrary actings of the Powers of the Kingdome of Light and the Kingdome of Darkness, charging one another in the field, Life against life, and Substance against substance, till Hell and Death be absorpt into victory, and the evil Nature be quite consumed into a glorious flame of Love and Triumph. These all are the Mysteries of the Heart, O Philopolis, not of the Head, which, in comparison, is but an outward Shop of Phancies and fine Pictures; but the transactions of substantial life and Reality are in that other part, which is the secret Tabernacle of God, and hidden Temple for most effectual Prayer. For the Heart is the proper Pavilion of either the spirit of the World, or the Spirit of God, which kindles there the holy desire and thirst after Righteousness: Which vehement, sincere and cordial desire, the true gift and fruit of the Spirit, is the very soul and substance of Prayer, and a certain Divine Magick, <37> that draws all the heavenly Powers into the centre of our Souls, imbibing the comfortable dews of Paradise, to the ineffable refreshing of the Garden of God. Through this sluce is let in all the nourishment to the new Birth, and it is the seat of the first living seed thereof. Whence the Centre of our Soul in the Heart requires more diligent observation then that more peculiar one in the Head. For though this seems more peculiarly ours, yet the other joyns us with that which is more to us then we are to our selves, whether it be the spirit of the world or of God, and makes us feelingly communicate with Life and Substance; whenas the other without this would onely lead us into a field of Shadows and Dreams.

Wherefore, O Philopolis, he that is a Candidate for the Kingdome of God, let him above all things cultivate the Heart; for through this onely is the Inlet into the Kingdome of Light.[15] Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God. Blessed are <38> they that hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be satisfied.[16] I stretch forth my hands unto thee; my Soul gaspeth unto thee, as a thirsty Land where no water is. And again,[17] Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee, in whose heart are thy ways; Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a Well, and the rain filleth the pools with water. They go from strength to strength, till every one of them appear before God in Sion. By which is intimated, that firm Faith and holy desire brings us at last to the fruition of God and his Kingdome.

To all which I need not adde, for a conclusion, the perpetuall and constant performance of what-ever we find our selves able and bound in duty to perform. For he that has this Faith and sincere desire can never sin against the Power of God and the Dictates of his own Conscience. This, Philopolis, is a brief, but faithfull, direction for the obtaining that great prize, the Kingdome of God within us.

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Philop. And I am infinitely obliged to you, Philotheus, for your hearty and serious Instructions in so important a Mysterie. I hope they will never slip out of my mind.

Cuph. I am sure his Indoctrinations touching the Centre of the Soul in the Heart stick so fast in mine, that I shall never forget them. But I beseech you, Philotheus, what will become of that Centre of the Soul in the other state, when we have left our Hearts behind us?

Philoth. It is much, O Cuphophron, that your Philosophy should scruple at this, unless you be also at a loss what will become of the other Centre of the Soul, because we leave our Brains behind us. They retain the same offices still, the one to joyn us with the Spirit of the World, or else with the Spirit of God, the other to be our common Percipient.

[1] VIII. The Kingdome of God within us, what it is.

[2] Luk. 17.21

[3] Rom. 12. 15.

[4] Matt. 22. 37.

[5] Matt. 7. 12.

[6] Hebr. 7.2.

[7] Rom. 14.7.

[8] IX. The means of acquiring it.

[9] Matt. 13. 44, 45.

[10] Matt. 11. 12.

[11] Luk. 9. 62.

[12] Matt. 5. 48.

[13] Matt. 15. 13.

[14] Ephes. 5. 27.

[15] Matt. 5. 6, 8.

[16] Psalm. 143.6.

[17] Psalm 84. 5, 6, 7.

Cite as: Henry More, The Two Last Dialogues (1668), pp. 26-39, http://www.cambridge-platonism.divinity.cam.ac.uk/view/texts/diplomatic/More1668B-excerpt001, accessed 2020-10-21.