Saturday, 6 May 2017

Two selves in every man

There are two selves in every man, never at unity with one another, although theirs is a brotherhood closer than that of Castor and Pollux of old; striving continuously, not because love is wanting, but because contention is their very nature. That duality in man is the outcome of sin. If he could be saved from it, sin with all its consequences would cease to enthral him. And there is a release, as I found out in those darkened days. We wrestled without a hope of conciliation. There is not a more stiff-necked or inflexible being than what is called the better self. Not one iota would it yield, but I was to give up everything, should strip myself entirely to the death even of self. But I would not, and perhaps I could not.

Yes, I could, if I would! For presently, I perceived that we were not two but three; two warring, and a third one trying to mediate in earnest love. I could oppose the better self, but Him I dared not contradict. I felt it too plainly that He was right, and that through Him only I could be at peace with myself and begin a new life. I knew who He was, the one Mediator, not only between me and that other self, but between me and the righteous God—the only-begotten Son, once born in the flesh.

In those days, I was His prisoner. There was no escaping in the dark corner in which He faced me—the Good Shepherd had found the wandering sheep, His arms were about me, and He was ready to take me home. But the willingness was only on His side; I cared not, suffering Him with a negative endurance merely, and not wanting to be kept fast. There was something within me waiting but for opportunity to break away from the Shepherd's hold.

Nor was opportunity wanting; it is ever at hand when looked for by perversity. The evil one had nowise yielded his part in me, and required but little effort to assert it.

He invented an amusement that needed no light. One of my friends was his messenger, and I received him open-armed as a very liberator. Delightful pastime—that game of hazard—that could be played in the dark!

We played, my friend and I—no, the enemy and myself; for my companion was no other than the prince of darkness; the stakes—I knew it not then, but I know it now—being nothing less than my soul's salvation. With such an expert I could, of course, not compete; he won—I lost.

Letters from Hell, L. W. J. S., Richard Bentley & Son, London, 1889