[Herod's Gate, Jerusalem]George Herbert: "The Church-porch"

Day 3: Morning


If God had laid all common, certainly

Man would have been th' incloser: but since now

God hath impal'd us, on the contrarie

Man breaks the fence, and every ground will plough.

     O what were man, might he himself misplace!

     Sure to be crossed he would shift feet and face.

     [Humanity is so contrary that] if God had said, "There are no laws. No rules. You can do whatever you like. There are no moral principles, no precepts by which to relate to one another and to Me," men and women would have set down the restrictions, put up the fences and built the enclosures. But because, and perhaps only because, God has set limits, man must break down the restraint and upturn the earth with his adolescent perversity. With his own nature as the only guide, he would lose himself, and he would use any  means to do it.

[Second Temple Wall]     Freedom. They oppose anyone who would set up laws and rules for them that would restrict their liberty. Not even common sense, the injury to others or the common good dictates to them. And certainly not God. Only the punishment of law teaches anything. No inner restraint governs them. Only the law and physical force deters any one from enforcing their will. Nothing in their human nature conforms them to follow their divine nature - except themselves.

     Man’s law becomes mixed up with God’s law. Man’s laws cover the serious offender, the antisocial habits. They eliminate the absolute forbidden and totally unacceptable actions. Social rules and laws of the country limit some and discourage others. These are the "Thou shalt not's," the negatives and prohibitions to human behavior. They seem to cause two basic responses: abject submission or rebellion, secret or blatant. With God’s law neither is good enough. The soul should willingly accept and perform the will of God because, as C. S. Lewis* knew "Obedience is a dance, not a drill."

* That Hideous Strength
Ancillary note: Regarding rules and poetry see "Rhyme as Reason in The Temple."

© 1997 J. R. Arner

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