The Labyrinth of the World and the Paradise of the Heart (1901)/Chapter 44

CHAPTER XLIV

THE REGULATIONS OF THE INWARD CHRISTIANS

(God's Laws are brief.)

Free, indeed, the Lord God wishes His children to be, but not wilful. Therefore has He hedged them in by certain regulations in a fashion better and more perfect than anything that I had ever beheld in the world. There everything was full of disorder, partly because they had no certain rules, partly because, as I saw, even when they had rules they did not heed them. But those who dwelt behind the curtain had most noble rules, and also obeyed them. They have, indeed, laws given by God Himself that are full of justice, and by which it is decreed: 1. That everyone who is devoted to God should acknowledge and know Him as the only God. 2. That he should serve Him in the spirit and in the truth without vainly imagining corporal things. 3. He should use his tongue, not for the purpose of offence, but for the glorification of God's holy name. 4. The times and hours that are ordained for God's service he shall employ for nothing but His inward and outward service. 5. He shall obey his parents and others whom God has placed over him. 6. He shall not injure the life of his fellow-men. 7. He shall preserve the purity of his body. 8. He shall not seize the property of others. 9. He shall beware of falsehood and deceit. 10. And lastly, he shall maintain his mind within barriers and the ordained boundaries.

(A Summing-up in Two Words.)

2. The summa of everything is that everyone should love God above all things that can be named, and that he should sincerely wish well to his fellow-men, as to himself. And this summing-up of the contents of God's Word was, as I heard, greatly praised; indeed, I myself found and felt that it was more valuable than the countless worldly laws, rules, and decrees, for it was a thousand times more perfect.

(The True Christian requires not Copious Laws.)

3. To him who verily loves God with his whole heart, it is not necessary to give many commandments as to when, where, how, and how often he should serve God, worship and honour Him; for his hearty union with God, and his readiness to obey Him is the fashion in which he honours God best, and it leads a man to ever and everywhere praise God in his mind, and to strive for His glory in all his deeds. He also who loves his fellow-men as himself requires not copious commandments as to where, when, and wherein he should serve them, how he should avoid to injure them, and return to them what is due to them. This love for his fellow-men will in itself tell him fully, and show him how he should bear himself towards them. It is the sign of the evil man that he always demands rules, and wishes to know only from the books of law what he should do; yet at home in our heart God's finger shows us that it is our duty to do unto our neighbours that which we wish that they should do unto us. But as the world cares not for this inward testimony of our own conscience, but heeds external laws only, therefore is there no true order in the world; there is but suspicion, distrust, misunderstanding, ill-will, discord, envy, theft, murder, and so forth. Those who are truly subject to God heed but their own conscience; what it forbids them they do not, but they do that which it tells them they may do; of gain, favour, and such things they take no care.

(There is Unanimity among True Christians.)

4. There is therefore equality among them, and great similitude also, as if they had all been cast in one mould; all think the same things, believe the same things, all like and dislike the same things, for all are taught by one and the same spirit.

And it is worthy of wonder that—as I here saw with pleasure—men who had never seen each other, heard each other, and who were separated by the whole world, were quite similar the one to the other; for as if one had been in the body of the other, they spoke alike, saw alike, felt alike. Thus, though there was a great variety in their gifts, just as on a musical instrument the sound of the strings or pipes differs, and is now weaker, now stronger, yet a delightful harmony resounded among them. This is the purpose of the Christian unity,[1] and the foretoken of eternity, when everything will be done in one spirit.

(Sympathy among True Christians.)

5. From this equality sympathy among them arises; thus all rejoiced with those who rejoiced, were doleful with those who had dole. I had in the world seen a most evil thing that had grieved me not once: if one fared ill, the others rejoiced; if he erred, the others laughed; if he suffered injury, the others sought gain therefrom; indeed, for the sake of their own gain, pleasure, and amusement, they themselves led a fellow-man to his downfall and injury.

But among the holy men I found everything otherwise; for every man strove as bravely and as diligently to avert unhappiness and discomfort from his neighbours as from himself. Could he not avert it, he grieved not otherwise than if the misfortune had befallen himself, and he grieved because all were one heart, one soul. As the iron needles of a compass, when once they have been touched by the magnet-stone, all point to one and the same direction of the world, so the souls of all these men, touched by the spirit of love, all turn to one and the same direction; in case of happiness to joy, in case of unhappiness to dole. And here also did I understand that those are false Christians who indeed busy themselves carefully with their own matters, but care not for those of their neighbours. They steadfastly turn aside from the hand of God, and preserving carefully their own nest, they leave the others outside in the wind and rain. But different, far different, I found things here. If one suffered, the others did not rejoice; if one hungered, the others did not feast; if one was warring, the others did not sleep; everything was done in common, and it was delightful to behold this.

(There is Community in all Good Things among the True Christians.)

6. As regards possessions, I saw that, though most of them were poor, had but little of the things the world calls treasures, and cared but little for them, yet almost everyone had something that was his own. But he did not hide this, nor conceal it from the others (as is the world's way); he held it as in common, readily and gladly granting and lending it to him who might require it. Thus they all dealt with their possessions not otherwise than those who sit together at one table deal with the utensils of the table, which all use with equal right. Seeing this, I thought with shame that with us everything befalls in contrary fashion. Some fill and overfill their houses with utensils, clothing, food, gold, and silver, as much as they can; meanwhile others, who are equally servants of God, have hardly wherewith to clothe and feed themselves. But, I must say, I understood that this was by no means the will of God; rather is it the way of the world, the perverse world, that some should go forth in festive attire, others naked; that some should belch from overfilling, while others yawn from hunger; some should laboriously earn silver, some vainly squander it; some make merry, others wail. Thence there sprung up among the one, pride and contempt of the others; and among these again, fury, hatred, and misdeeds. But here there was nothing such. All were in community with all; indeed, their souls also.

(There is Intimacy among True Christians.)

7. Therefore is there great intimacy among them, openness, and holy companionship; therefore all, however different their gifts and their callings may be, consider and hold themselves as brethren; for they say that we have all sprung from the same blood, have been redeemed and cleansed by the same blood, that we are children of one Father, approach the same table,[2] await the same inheritance in heaven, and so forth. Except as regards non-essential matters, one man hath not more than another. Therefore I saw that they surpassed each other in kindness and modesty, gladly served one another, and each one employed his own powers for the benefit of the others. He who had judgment counselled; he who had learning taught; he who had strength defended the others; he who had power maintained order among them. If one erred in some things, they admonished him; if he sinned, they punished him; and each one gladly accepted admonition and punishment, and was ready to amend everything according to what was told him, and even to forfeit his life when it was shown to him that it was not his own.[3]

  1. Komensky here obviously alludes to the religious community to which he belonged.
  2. I.e., at Communion.
  3. I.e., that it belonged to God.