William Blake's Jerusalem Explained.

Chapter 2: Plate 35

Then the Divine hand found the Two Limits, Satan and Adam,
In Albions bosom: for in every Human bosom those Limits stand.
And the Divine voice came from the Furnaces, as multitudes without
Number! the voices of the innumerable multitudes of Eternity.
And the appearance of a Man was seen in the Furnaces;
Saving those who have sinned from the punishment of the Law,
(In pity of the punisher whose state is eternal death,)
And keeping them from Sin by the mild counsels of his love.

Albion goes to Eternal Death! In Me all Eternity,
Must pass thro' condemnation, and awake beyond the Grave!
No individual can keep these Laws, for they are death
To every energy of man, and forbid the springs of life;

Albion hath enterd the State Satan! Be permanent O State!
And be thou for ever accursed! that Albion may arise again!
And be thou created into a State! I go forth to Create
States! to deliver Individuals evermore! Amen.

So spoke the voice from the Furnaces, descending into Non-Entity

Plate 35: Analysis.

Then the Divine hand found the Two Limits, Satan and Adam,
In Albions bosom: for in every Human bosom those Limits stand.
And the Divine voice came from the Furnaces, as multitudes without
Number! the voices of the innumerable multitudes of Eternity.
And the appearance of a Man was seen in the Furnaces;
Saving those who have sinned from the punishment of the Law,
(In pity of the punisher whose state is eternal death,)
And keeping them from Sin by the mild counsels of his love.

1-8

The "Divine Hand found the two limits, Satan and Adam," to limit the devolution of human perception. This sets a double matrix upon Albion's regression into primordial chaos: one moral, Satan, and one physical, Adam. This means that human psychophysical perception is contained finitely in these contracted states: Albion's moral regression is contained finitely in the opacity of Satan, and symbolised by Rueben's contracted senses, the limit of Adam is universalised throughout humanity. Thus, in "every Human bosom those limits stand" as limits of contraction and opacity

The "Divine Vision", the "Voice Divine", had prophesised the Reactor, Albion's sleep of death, the coming of Christ and Albion arisen (2: 29: 6-26). Error must take on form that it may be cast out. Here, "the Divine voice came from the furnaces" (restored by Los at the stone of London), "as multitudes without number! the voices of the innumerable multitudes of Eternity".

To Blake, it seems the Divine family, within and without each other in Divine circularity, in the unity of Divine love in Christ, speaks as the Divine voice: "And the appearance of a Man was seen in the Furnaces". As in Daniel, Blake's archetype here, the incarnation is adumbrated.

God's salvic justice governs all, through mercy: "Saving those who have sinned from the punishment of the Law". For Blake, consistent with dogmatic tradition, law is for the lawless: the glorified Christ is the law and the law is Christ; they are one and the same. By contrast, Albion's law is the moral code of hardened ‘holy righteousness'. In this state of narcissistic ecstasy he is the "punisher whose state is eternal death": and the Divine vision and voice thus seeks to keep humanity "from sin by the mild councils" of Christ's "love".


Albion goes to Eternal Death! In Me all Eternity,
Must pass thro' condemnation, and awake beyond the Grave!
No individual can keep these Laws, for they are death
To every energy of man, and forbid the springs of life;

9-12

Albion "goes to Eternal Death". That is the consequence of his self-exile from Christ's presence. It is ordained that Albion must experience and exhaust all possibilities of his auto-idolatry. As a created being, self-salvation is impossible and his self-deluded attempt must terminate in "Eternal Death". Only when dead can Albion be resurrected: in Christ "all Eternity/Must pass thro' condemnation and awake beyond the Grave". There are no exceptions to Albion's despotic governance.

As noted, for Albion, sin is universal and for him all are guilty; no person can live within Albion's inverted moral law, which is why even Christ is crucified. By contrast, the Divine voice reveals Albion's murderous quasi-justice: "No individual can keep these Laws, for they are death/To every energy of man". For Blake, zealot moral and legal codes killed Christ. The savage injustices of moral self-righteousness, of simony and zealotry, "forbid the springs of life": and the incarnation reveals the murderous hypocrisy of Albion's laws. As, noted, in truth, Christ is the law and the law is Christ.

Albion hath enterd the State Satan! Be permanent O State!
And be thou for ever accursed! that Albion may arise again!
And be thou created into a State! I go forth to Create
States! to deliver Individuals evermore! Amen.

So spoke the voice from the Furnaces, descending into Non-Entity

13-17

Blake's poetic soteriology and theodicy distinguishes between states and individuals. This distinction is maintained throughout Blake's prophetic visions and poetry. Thus "Albion hath enter'd the State Satan": a psychic sub-state of emptied abstraction is the matrix for the limit of opacity in Satan. Its absolute emptiness of life seals the moral self-destruction of Albion's auto-idolatry. He is self-condemned. This seems to me to be a significant picture of Blake's poetic theodicy. Yet Divine mercy surrounds Albion: "Be permanent O State/And be thou for ever accursed! That Albion may arise again", ordains the Divine voice, "I go forth to Create/States: to deliver Individuals evermore".

As promised, Albion will be saved: "so spoke the voice from the Furnaces". Christ's salvic presence freely self-manifests in the furnace of Los at the centre of Albion's inner universe. The "voice" descends "into Non-Entity". In Blake's myth, no contingent being is ‘outside' of God's essence and energy. To him God is infinitely within and infinitely without all contingent possibility, including negation and non-entity.

By contrast, the Reactor's nature is negation. It can assume infinitely negative absoluteness only when confronted by, and negating, infinitely creative absoluteness. In this state of infinitely negating infinite creativity, it condenses into the "State of Satan", finite; and it will be infinitely cast off by the incarnation.