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Saturday, February 6, 2010


Jesus taught forgiveness not vengeance. Blake rejected the God of vengeance of the Old Testament for the God of forgiveness of the New Testament.

Matthew 5:43-45 - "You have heard that it used to be said, 'You shall love your neighbour', and 'hate your enemy', but I tell you, Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Heavenly Father. For he makes the sun rise upon evil men as well as good, and he sends his rain upon honest and dishonest men alike."

Matthew 7:1-5
Judge not, that ye be not judged.
For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured unto you.
And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me cast out the mote out of thine eye; and lo, the beam is in thine own eye?
Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.

In Jerusalem, Blake explains his attitude toward taking retribution for offense. He realizes that executing vengeful punishment does greater harm to the person who has been offended than it does to the offender. Doing harm - hindering your brother - does harm within yourself and hinders your spiritual development. The person who harms others, harms himself. Forgiving your brother opens your heart to receiving God's love and mending divisions in the unity of the whole body.

Jerusalem, Plate 25, (E 169)
"But Vengeance is the destroyer of Grace & Repentance in the bosom
Of the Injurer: in which the Divine Lamb is cruelly slain:
Descend O Lamb of God & take away the imputation of Sin
By the Creation of States & the deliverance of Individuals
Evermore Amen"

Jerusalem, Plate 47, (E 193)
"What shall I [Los] do! what could I do, if I could find these Criminals
I could not dare to take vengeance; for all things are so constructed
And builded by the Divine hand, that the sinner shall always escape,
And he who takes vengeance alone is the criminal of Providence;
If I should dare to lay my finger on a grain of sand
In way of vengeance; I punish the already punishd: O whom
Should I pity if I pity not the sinner who is gone astray!
O Albion, if thou takest vengeance; if thou revengest thy wrongs
Thou art for ever lost! What can I do to hinder the Sons
Of Albion from taking vengeance? or how shall I them perswade.
These were his [Albion's] last words, and the merciful Saviour in his arms
Reciev'd him, in the arms of tender mercy and repos'd
The pale limbs of his Eternal Individuality
Upon the Rock of Ages."

Vala, Hyle, and Skofield

Blake created an image on Plate 51, which illustrates the harm which comes to the individual when he does harm to others. The three in the illustration are Vala, Hyle and Skofield; three whom Blake might consider his worst enemies. Vala is materiality, fallen Nature, the obscuring and distorting principle which hides Eternity and restrictes his imagination. Pictured as dark and frozen she bears no resemblance to the rich and glorious unfallen Nature. Hyle is Blake's representation of Hayley who wanted to prevent Blake from following his Imagination in exercising his artistic and poetic talents; pretending to be a friend he wanted to direct Blake's work to popular media. Hyle is pictured as if he were enclosed in a cube, his 'doors of perception' to this world as well as the other, are closed and locked. Skofield who brought Blake to law by false accusation, is pictured in the chains with which he hoped to manacle Blake. He is burning with the fire of wrath rather then sitting in darkness as is Vala.

But I think Blake presented these three, not as the vengeful but as 'the sinners' who 'always escape' although they have 'gone astray.'

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