The Soul's Conflict with it self, and victory over itself by faith
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The soules conflict with it selfe, and victory over it self by faith, Richard Sibbs, 1635 AD
Richard Sibbs (1577-1635)
MA, D D Cantab., divine; Preacher at Gray's Inn; Master of St Catharine's Hall, Cambridge
The soules conflict with it selfe, and victory over it self by faith. A treatise of the inward disquietments of distressed spirits, with comfortable remedies to establish them, 1635 London, Dawlman pp. 141-3, 146-7, 151, 233-5
We see, that the soule hath disquiets proper to it selfe, besides those grief's of Sympathy that arise from the body; for here the soule complains of the soule itself, as when it is out of the body it hath torments and joyes of its owne. And if these troubles of the soule bee not well cured, then by way of fellowship and redundance they will affect the outward man, and so the whole man shall be inwrapt in miserie ... If there were no enemie in the world, nor Devil in hell, we carry that within us, that if it be let loose will trouble us more then all the world besides ... Therefore we must conceive in a godly man, a double self, one which must be denied, the other which must deny; one that breeds all the disquiet, and another that stilleth what the other hath raised .. .
That which most troubles a good man in all troubles, is himselfe, so farre as he is unsubdued; he is more disquieted with himselfe, than with all troubles out of himselfe; when hee hath gotten the better once of himselfe, whatsoever falls from without, is light; where the spirit is enlarged, it cares not much for outward bondage; where the spirit is lightsome, it cares not much for outward darkenesse ; where the spirit is setled, it cares not much for outward changes; where the spirit is one with it selfe, it can beare outward breaches; where the spirit is sound, it can beare outward sicknesse. Nothing can bee very ill with us, when all is well within. This is the comfort of a holy man, that though hee bee troubled with himselfe, yet by reason of the spirit in him which is his better self, he workes out by degrees, what ever is contrary . . . Hee that is at peace in himselfe, will be peaceable to others, peaceable in his family, peaceable in the Church, peaceable in the State; The soule of a wicked man is in perpetual) sedition; being alwayes troubled in it selfe, it is no wonder if it be troublesome to others. Unity in our selves is before unity with others .. .
Now the reason why imagination workes so upon the soule, is, because it stirres up the affections answerable to the good or ill which it apprehends, and our affections stir the humors of the body, so that oftentimes both our souls and bodies are troubled hereby.
Things work upon the soul in this order. 1. Some object is presented. 2. Then it is apprehended by imagination as good and pleasing, or as evill and hurtfull. 3. If good, the desire is carried to it with delight : if evil, it is rejected with distant, and so our affections are stirred up sutably to our apprehension of the object. 4. Affections stir up the spirits. 5. The spirits raise the humours, and so the whole man becomes moved and oftentimes distempered; this falleth out by reason of the Sympathy between the soul and body, whereby what offendeth one redoundeth to the hurt of the other.
And we see conceived troubles have the same effect upon us, as true. Jacob was as much troubled with the imagination of his sonnes death, as if hee had been dead indeed; imagination though it bee an empty windy. thing, yet it hath reall effects. Superstitious persons are as much troubled for neglecting any voluntarie service of mans invention, as if they had offended against the direct commandement of God : thus superstition breeds false fears, and false feare brings true vexation.
"Now this Feare did nor arise from danger of Infection, and yet it drew it on. How much more then does the fear of the fame cause work it? I need bring no Examples for proof: for in every place I hear living witnesses of such as died of the Plague, stricken only with the fear of it: And therefore I cannot think any mans ignorance can plead against it. Yet I will give a reason for it; because of all passions, Fear is the most pestilently pernicious. And this it is: Fear enforces the vital Spirits to retire inward to the heart: By which retiring they leave the outward parts infirm, as appears plainly by the paleness and trembling of one in great fear. So that the walls being forsaken (which are continually besieged by the outward ayre) in comes the enemy boldly ; the best spirits that should expelled them having cowardly founded retreat: In which with-drawing, they draw in with them such evil vapours as hang about the outward pores; even as the Sun draws toward it the vapours of the Earth. And hence is it, that Feare brings infection sooner then any other occasion. This therefore; and all other passions must (by a wife watching over our selves) be beaten off, whensoever they but offer so set upon us. But there are diseases of the soul..." p 37
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