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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XI. The Period of the French Revolution.

IX. Blake

§ 13. His mystical Christianity

But, in his mortal pilgrimage, he is, also, sustained by spiritual influxes transmitted by “angels of providence,” such as the daughters of Beulah, through natural objects, trees, flowers, birds and insects. The supreme revelation, however, comes through the incarnation and crucifixion of Jesus, wherein the whole mystical faith is manifested to corporeal understanding, becoming subject to the conditions of mortality in order ultimately to reveal their falsity and annihilate them. But, though all this has a metaphysical reference, Blake lays most stress upon its ethical significance. In the Lambeth books, he attacks conventional morality on the ground of its inhibition of physical desire; but now, though this criticism is not entirely retracted, the emphasis shifts to the false concept of love as a religious obligation towards an extrinsic deity, whose law is essentially penal, “rewarding with hate the loving soul’ by insistence upon repentance and vicarious sacrifice. Such is the religion of Satan, symbolised by the false females, Rahab and Tirzah, or by Babylon, the harlot of Revelation. This is clearly a development of the concept of Enitharmon noticed in Europe. Against this, Blake sets the gospel of brotherhood and unconditional forgiveness, revealed to man in the incarnation of Jesus. Here, there is a reversion to the ethic of Songs of Innocence.