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Theologia Germanica: File 2 of 2

C H A P T E R ~ XXXII

How God is a true, simple, perfect Good, and how He is a Light and a Reason and all Virtues,
and how what is highest and best, that is, God, ought to be most loved by us.

Woodcut - "I"N short, I would have you to understand, that God (in so far as He is good) is goodness as goodness, and not this or that good. But here mark one thing. Behold! what is sometimes here and sometimes there is not everywhere, and above all things and places; so also, what is to-day, or to-morrow, is not always, at all times, and above all time; and what is some thing, this or that, is not all things and above all things. Now behold, if God were some thing, this or that, He would not be all in all, and above all, as He is; and so also, He would not be true Perfection. Therefore God is, and yet He is neither this nor that which the creature, as creature, can perceive, name, conceive or express. Therefore if God (in so far as He is good) were this or that good, He would not be all good, and therefore He would not be the One Perfect Good, which He is. Now God is also a Light and a Reason (Cognition from the German), the property of which is to give light and shine, and take knowledge; and inasmuch as God is Light and Reason (Cognition from the German), He must give light and perceive. And all this giving and perceiving of light existeth in God without the creature; not as a work fulfilled, but as a substance or well-spring. But for it to flow out into a work, something really done and accomplished,(or be realized),there must be creatures through whom this can come to pass. Look ye: where this Cognition and Light is at work in a creature, it perceiveth and knoweth and teacheth what itself is; how that it is good in itself and neither this thing nor that thing. This Light and Cognition knoweth and teacheth men, that it is a true, simple, perfect Good, which is neither this nor that special good, but comprehendeth every kind of good.

Now, having declared that this Light teacheth the One Good, what doth it teach concerning it? Give heed to this. Behold! even as God is the one Good and Light and Cognition, so is He also Will and Love and Justice and Truth, and in short all virtues. But all these are in God one Substance, and none of them can be put in exercise and wrought out into deeds without the creature, for in God, without the creature, they are only as a Substance or well-spring, not as a work. But where the One, who is yet all these, layeth hold of a creature, and taketh possession of it, and directeth and maketh use of it, so that He may perceive in it somewhat of His own, behold, in so far as He is Will and Love, He is taught of Himself, seeing that He is also Light and Cognition, and He willeth nothing but that One thing which He is.

Behold! in such a creature, there is no longer anything willed or loved but that which is good, because it is good, and for no other reason than that it is good, not because it is this or that, or pleaseth or displeaseth such a one, is pleasant or painful, bitter or sweet, or what not. All this is not asked about nor looked at. And such a creature doth nothing for its own sake, or in its own name, for it hath quitted all Self, and Me, and Mine, and We and Ours, and the like, and these are departed. It no longer saith, "I love myself, or this or that, or what not." And if you were to ask Love, "What lovest thou?" she would answer, "I love Goodness." "Wherefore?" "Because it is good, and for the sake of Goodness." So it is good and just and right to deem that if there were ought better than God, that must be loved better than God. And thus God loveth not Himself as Himself, but as Goodness. And if there were, and He knew, ought better than God, He would love that and not Himself. Thus the Self and the Me are wholly sundered from God, and belong to Him only in so far as they are necessary for Him to be a Person.

Behold! all that we have said must indeed come to pass in a Godlike man, or one who is truly "made a partaker of the divine nature"; for else he would not be truly such.

 

C H A P T E R ~ XXXIII

How when a Man is made truly Godlike, his Love is pure and unmixed,
and he loveth all Creatures, and doth his best for them.

Woodcut - "H"ENCE it followeth, that in a truly Godlike man, his love is pure and unmixed, and full of kindness, insomuch that he cannot but love in sincerity all men and things, and wish well, and do good to them, and rejoice in their welfare. Yea, let them do what they will to such a man, do him wrong or kindness, bear him love or hatred or the like, yea, if one could kill such a man a hundred times over, and he always came to life again, he could not but love the very man who had so often slain him, although he had been treated so unjustly, and wickedly, and cruelly by him, and could not but wish well, and do well to him, and show him the very greatest kindness in his power, if the other would but only receive and take it at his hands. The proof and witness whereof may be seen in Christ; for He said to Judas, when he betrayed Him: "Friend, wherefore art thou come?" Just as if He had said: "Thou hatest Me, and art Mine enemy, yet I love thee and am thy friend. Thou desirest and rejoicest in My affliction, and dost the worst thou canst unto Me; yet I desire and wish thee all good, and would fain give it thee, and do it for thee, if thou wouldst but take and receive it." As though God in human nature were saying: "I am pure, simple Goodness, and therefore I cannot will, or desire, or rejoice in, or do or give anything but goodness. If I am to reward thee for thy evil and wickedness, I must do it with goodness, for I am and have nothing else." Hence therefore God, in a man who is "made partaker of His nature," desireth and taketh no revenge for all the wrong that is or can be done unto Him. This we see in Christ, when He said: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

Likewise it is God's property that He doth not constrain any by force to do or not to do anything, but He alloweth every man to do and leave undone according to his will, whether it be good or bad, and resisteth none. This too we see in Christ, who would not resist or defend Himself when His enemies laid hands on Him. And when Peter would have defended Him, He said unto Peter: "Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which My Father hath given Me, shall I not drink it?" Neither may a man who is made a partaker of the divine nature, oppress or grieve any one. That is, it never entereth into his thoughts, or intents, or wishes, to cause pain or distress to any, either by deed or neglect, by speech or silence.

 

 

C H A P T E R ~ XXXIV

How that if a Man will attain to that which is best, he must forswear his own Will;
and he who helpeth a Man to his own Will helpeth him to the worst Thing he can.

Woodcut - "S"OME may say: "Now since God willeth and desireth and doeth the best that may be to every one, He ought so to help each man and order things for him, that they should fall out according to his will and fulfil his desires, so that one might be a Pope, another a Bishop, and so forth." Be assured, he who helpeth a man to his own will, helpeth him to the worst that he can. For the more a man followeth after his own self-will, and self-will groweth in him, the farther off is he from God, the true Good, [for nothing burneth in hell but self-will. Therefore it hath been said, "Put off thine own will, and there will be no hell."] Now God is very willing to help a man and bring him to that which is best in itself, and is of all things the best for man. But to this end, all self-will must depart, as we have said. And God would fain give man His help and counsel thereunto, for so long as a man is seeking his own good, he doth not seek what is best for him, and will never find it. For a man's highest good would be and truly is, that he should not seek himself nor his own things, nor be his own end in any respect, either in things spiritual or things natural, but should seek only the praise and glory of God and His holy will. This doth God teach and admonish us.

Let him therefore who wisheth that God should help him to what is best, and best for him, give diligent heed to God's counsels and teachings, and obey His commandments; thus, and not else, will he have, and hath already, God's help. Now God teacheth and admonisheth man to forsake himself and all things, and to follow Him only. "For he who loveth his soul," that is himself, and will guard it and keep it, "he shall lose it"; that is, he who seeketh himself and his own advantage in all things, in so doing loseth his soul. "But he who hateth his soul for My sake shall keep it unto life eternal"; that is, he who forsaketh himself and his own things, and giveth up his own will, and fulfilleth God's will, his soul will be kept and preserved unto Life Eternal.

 

C H A P T E R ~ XXXV

How there is deep and true Humility and Poorness of Spirit in a Man
who is "made a Partaker of the Divine Nature."

Woodcut - "M"OREOVER, in a man who is "made a partaker of the divine nature," there is a thorough and deep humility, and where this is not, the man hath not been "made a partaker of the divine nature." So Christ taught in words and fulfilled in works. And this humility springeth up in the man, because in the true Light he seeth (as it also really is) that Substance, Life, Perceiving, Knowledge, Power, and what is thereof, do all belong to the True Good, and not to the creature; but that the creature of itself is nothing and hath nothing, and that when it turneth itself aside from the True Good in will or in works, nothing is left to it but pure evil. And therefore it is true to the very letter, that the creature, as creature, hath no worthiness in itself, and no right to anything, and no claim over any one, either over God or over the creature, and that it ought to give itself up to God and submit to Him because this is just. And this is the chiefest and most weighty matter.

Now, if we ought to be, and desire to be, obedient and submit unto God, we must also submit to what we receive at the hands of any of His creatures, or our submission is all false. From this latter article floweth true humility, as indeed it doth also from the former.(namely, God's having a right to our obedience)And unless this verily ought to be, and were wholly agreeable to God's justice, Christ would not have taught it in words, and fulfilled it in His life. And herein there is a veritable manifestation of God; and it is so of a truth, that of God's truth and justice this creature shall be subject to God and all creatures, and no thing or person shall be subject or obedient to her. God and all the creatures have a right over her and to her, but she hath a right to nothing: she is a debtor to all, and nothing is owing to her, so that she shall be ready to bear all things from others, and also if needs be to do all things for others. And out of this groweth that poorness of spirit of which Christ said: "Blessed are the poor in spirit" (that is to say, the truly humble), "for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven." All this hath Christ taught in words and fulfilled with His life.

 

C H A P T E R ~ XXXVI

How nothing is contrary to God but Sin only; and what Sin is in Kind and Act.

Woodcut - "F"URTHER ye shall mark: when it is said that such a thing or such a deed is contrary to God, or that such a thing is hateful to God and grieveth His Spirit, ye must know that no creature is contrary to God, or hateful or grievous unto Him, in so far as it is, liveth, knoweth, hath power to do, or produce ought, and so forth, for all this is not contrary to God. That an evil spirit, or a man is, liveth, and the like, is altogether good and of God; for God is the Being of all that are, and the Life of all that live, and the Wisdom of all the wise; for all things have their being more truly in God than in themselves, and also all their powers, knowledge, life, and the rest; for if it were not so, God would not be all good; And thus all creatures are good. Now what is good is agreeable to God, and He will have it. Therefore it cannot be contrary to Him.

But what then is there which is contrary to God and hateful to Him? Nothing but Sin. But what is Sin? Mark this: Sin is nothing else than that the creature willeth otherwise than God willeth, and contrary to Him. Each of us may see this in himself; for he who willeth otherwise than I, or whose will is contrary to mine, is my foe; but he who willeth the same as I, is my friend, and I love him. It is even so with God: and that is sin, and is contrary to God, and hateful and grievous to Him. And he who willeth, speaketh, or is silent, doeth or leaveth undone, otherwise than as I will, is contrary to me, and an offence unto me. So it is also with God: when a man willeth otherwise than God, or contrary to God, whatever he doeth or leaveth undone, in short all that proceedeth from him, is contrary to God and is sin. And whatsoever Will willeth otherwise than God, is against God's will. As Christ said: "He who is not with Me is against me." Hereby may each man see plainly whether or not he be without sin, and whether or not he be committing sin, and what sin is, and how sin ought to be atoned for, and wherewith it may be healed. And this contradiction to God's will is what we call, and is, disobedience. And therefore Adam, the I, the Self, Self-will, Sin, or the Old Man, the turning aside or departing from God, do all mean one and the same thing.

 

C H A P T E R ~ XXXVII

How in God, as God, there can neither be Grief, Sorrow, Displeasure, nor the like,
but how it is otherwise in a Man who is "made a Partaker of the Divine Nature."

Woodcut - "I"N God, as God, neither sorrow nor grief nor displeasure can have place, and yet God is grieved on account of men's sins. Now since grief cannot befall God without the creature, this cometh to pass where He is made man, or when He dwelleth in a Godlike man. And there, behold, sin is so hateful to God, and grieveth Him so sore, that He would willingly suffer agony and death, if one man's sins might be thereby washed out. And if He were asked whether He would rather live and that sin should remain, or die and destroy sin by His death, He would answer that He would a thousand times rather die. For to God one man's sin is more hateful, and grieveth Him worse than His own agony and death. Now if one man's sin grieveth God so sore, what must the sins of all men do? Hereby ye may consider, how greatly man grieveth God with his sins.

And therefore where God is made man, or when He dwelleth in a truly Godlike man, nothing is complained of but sin, and nothing else is hateful; for all that is, and is done, without sin, is as God will have it, and is His. But the mourning and sorrow of a truly Godlike man on account of sin, must and ought to last until death, should he live till the Day of Judgment, or for ever. From this cause arose that hidden anguish of Christ, of which none can tell or knoweth ought save Himself alone, and therefore is it called a mystery.

Moreover, this is an attribute of God, which He will have, and is well pleased to see in a man; and it is indeed God's own, for it belongeth not unto the man, he cannot make sin to be so hateful to himself. And where God findeth this grief for sin, He loveth and esteemeth it more than ought else; because it is, of all things, the bitterest and saddest that man can endure.

All that is here written touching this divine attribute, which God will have man to possess, that it may be brought into exercise in a living soul, is taught us by that true Light, which also teacheth the man in whom this Godlike sorrow worketh, not to take it unto himself, any more than if he were not there. For such a man feeleth in himself that he hath not made it to spring up in his heart, and that it is none of his, but belongeth to God alone.

 

C H A P T E R ~ XXXVIII

How we are to put on the Life of Christ from Love, and not for the sake of Reward,
and how we must never grow careless concerning it, or cast it off.

Woodcut - "N"OW, wherever a man hath been made a partaker of the divine nature, in him is fulfilled the best and noblest life, and the worthiest in God's eyes, that hath been or can be. And of that eternal love which loveth Goodness as Goodness and for the sake of Goodness, a true, noble, Christ-like life is so greatly beloved, that it will never be forsaken or cast off. Where a man hath tasted this life, it is impossible for him ever to part with it, were he to live until the Judgment Day. And though he must die a thousand deaths, and though all the sufferings that ever befell all creatures could be heaped upon him, he would rather undergo them all, than fall away from this excellent life; and if he could exchange it for an angel's life, he would not.

This is our answer to the question, "If a man, by putting on Christ's life, can get nothing more than he hath already, and serve no end, what good will it do him?" This life is not chosen in order to serve any end, or to get anything by it, but for love of its nobleness, and because God loveth and esteemeth it so greatly. And whoever saith that he hath had enough of it, and may now lay it aside, hath never tasted nor known it; for he who hath truly felt or tasted it, can never give it up again. And he who hath put on the life of Christ with the intent to win or deserve ought thereby, hath taken it up as an hireling and not for love, and is altogether without it. For he who doth not take it up for love, hath none of it at all; he may dream indeed that he hath put it on, but he is deceived. Christ did not lead such a life as His for the sake of reward, but out of love; and love maketh such a life light and taketh away all its hardships, so that it becometh sweet and is gladly endured. But to him who hath not put it on from love, but hath done so, as he dreameth, for the sake of reward, it is utterly bitter and a weariness, and he would fain be quit of it. And it is a sure token of an hireling that he wisheth his work were at an end. But he who truly loveth it, is not offended at its toil or suffering, nor the length of time it lasteth. Therefore it is written, "To Serve God and live to Him, is easy to him who doeth it." Truly it is so to him who doth it for love, but it is hard and wearisome to him who doth it for hire. It is the same with all virtue and good works, and likewise with order, laws, obedience to precepts, and the like. But God rejoiceth more over one man who truly loveth, than over a thousand hirelings.

 

C H A P T E R ~ XXXIX

How God will have Order, Custom, Measure, and the like in the Creature,
seeing that He cannot have them without the Creature,
and of four sorts of Men who are concerned with this Order, Law, and Custom.

Woodcut - "I"T is said, and truly, God is above and without custom, measure, and order, and yet giveth to all things their custom, order, measure, fitness, and the like. The which is to be thus understood. God will have all these to be, and they cannot have a being in Himself without the creature, for in God, apart from the creature, there is neither order nor disorder, custom nor chance, and so forth; therefore He will have things so that these shall be, and shall be put in exercise. For wherever there is word, work, or change, these must be either according to order, custom, measure and fitness, or according to unfitness and disorder. Now fitness and order are better and nobler than their contraries.

But ye must mark: There are four sorts of men who are concerned with order, laws, and customs. Some keep them neither for God's sake, nor to serve their own ends, but from constraint: these have as little to do with them as may be, and find them a burden and heavy yoke. The second sort obey for the sake of reward: these are men who know nothing beside, or better than, laws and precepts, and imagine that by keeping them they may obtain the kingdom of Heaven and Eternal Life, and not otherwise; and him who practiseth many ordinances they think to be holy, and him who omitteth any tittle of them they think to be lost. Such men are very much in earnest and give great diligence to the work, and yet they find it a weariness. The third sort are wicked, false-hearted men, who dream and declare that they are perfect and need no ordinances, and make a mock of them.

The fourth are those who are enlightened with the True Light, who do not practise these things for reward, for they neither look nor desire to get anything thereby, but all that they do is from love alone. And these are not so anxious and eager to accomplish much and with all speed as the second sort, but rather seek to do things in peace and good leisure; and if some not weighty matter be neglected, they do not therefore think themselves lost, for they know very well that order and fitness are better than disorder, and therefore they choose to walk orderly, yet know at the same time that their salvation hangeth not thereon. Therefore they are not in so great anxiety as the others. These men are judged and blamed by both the other parties, for the hirelings say that they neglect their duties and accuse them of being unrighteous, and the like; and the others (that is, the Free Spirits) hold them in derision, and say that they cleave unto weak and beggarly elements, and the like. But these enlightened men keep the middle path, which is also the best; for a lover of God is better and dearer to Him than a hundred thousand hirelings. It is the same with all their doings.

Furthermore, ye must mark, that to receive God's commands and His counsel and all His teaching, is the privilege of the inward man, after that he is united with God. And where there is such a union, the outward man is surely taught and ordered by the inward man, so that no outward commandment or teaching is needed. But the commandments and laws of men belong to the outer man, and are needful for those men who know nothing better, for else they would not know what to do and what to refrain from, and would become like unto the dogs or other beasts.

 

 

 

C H A P T E R ~ XL

A good Account of the False Light and its Kind.

Woodcut - "N"OW I have said that there is a False Light; but I must tell you more particularly what it is, and what belongeth thereunto. Behold, all that is contrary to the True Light belongeth unto the False. To the True Light it belongeth of necessity, that it seeketh not to deceive, nor consenteth that any should be wronged or deceived, neither can it be deceived. But the false is deceived and a delusion, and deceiveth others along with itself. For God deceiveth no man, nor willeth that any should be deceived, and so it is with His True Light. Now mark, the True Light is God or divine, but the False Light is Nature or natural. Now it belongeth to God, that He is neither this nor that, neither willeth nor desireth, nor seeketh anything in the man whom He hath made a partaker of the divine nature, save Goodness as Goodness, and for the sake of Goodness. This is the token of the True Light. But to the Creature and Nature it belongeth to be somewhat, this or that, and to intend and seek something, this or that, and not simply what is good without any Wherefore. And as God and the True Light are without all self-will, selfishness, and self-seeking, so do the I, the Me, the Mine, and the like, belong unto the natural and false Light; for in all things it seeketh itself and its own ends, rather than Goodness for the sake of Goodness. This is its property, and the property of nature or the carnal man in each of us.

Now mark how it first cometh to be deceived. It doth not desire nor choose Goodness as Goodness, and for the sake of Goodness, but desireth and chooseth itself and its own ends, rather than the Highest Good; and this is an error, and is the first deception.

Secondly, it dreameth itself to be that which it is not, for it dreameth itself to be God, and is truly nothing but nature. And because it imagineth itself to be God, it taketh to itself what belongeth to God; and not that which is God's, when He is made man, or dwelleth in a Godlike man, but that which is God's, and belongeth unto Him, as He is in eternity, without the creature. For, as it is said, God needeth nothing, is free, not bound to work, apart by Himself, above all things, and so forth (which is all true); and God is unchangeable, not to be moved by anything, and is without conscience, and what He doeth that is well done; "So will I be," saith the False Light, "for the more like God one is, the better one is, and therefore I will be like God and will be God, and will sit and go and stand at His right hand": as Lucifer the Evil Spirit also said. Now God in Eternity is without contradiction, suffering and grief, and nothing can hurt or vex Him of all that is or befalleth. But with God, when He is made Man, it is otherwise.

In a word: all that can be deceived is deceived by this False Light. Now since all is deceived by this False Light that can be deceived, and all that is creature and nature, and all that is not God nor of God, may be deceived, and since this False Light itself is nature, it is possible for it to be deceived. And therefore it becometh and is deceived by itself, in that it riseth and climbeth to such a height that it dreameth itself to be above nature, and fancieth it to be impossible for nature or any creature to get so high, and therefore it cometh to imagine itself God. And hence it taketh unto itself all that belongeth unto God, and specially what is His as He is in Eternity, and not as He is made Man. Therefore it thinketh and declareth itself to be above all works, words, customs, laws and order, and above that life which Christ led in the body which He possessed in His holy human nature. So likewise it professeth to remain unmoved by any of the creature's works; whether they be good or evil, against God or not, is all alike to it; and it keepeth itself apart from all things, like God in Eternity, and all that belongeth to God and to no creature it taketh unto itself, and vainly dreameth that this belongeth unto it; and deemeth itself well worthy of all this, and that it is just and right that all creatures should serve it, and do it homage. And thus no contradiction, suffering or grief is left unto it; indeed nothing but a mere bodily and carnal perceiving: this must remain until the death of the body, and what suffering may accrue therefrom. Furthermore, this False Light imagineth, and saith, that it has got beyond Christ's life in the flesh, and that outward things have lost all power to touch it or give it pain, as it was with Christ after His resurrection, together with many other strange and false conceits which arise and grow up from these.

And now since this False Light is nature, it possesseth the property of nature, which is to intend and seek itself and its own in all things, and what may be most expedient, easy and pleasant to nature and itself. And because it is deceived, it imagineth and proclaimeth it to be best that each should seek and do what is best for himself. It refuseth also to take knowledge of any Good but its own, that which it vainly fancieth to be Good. And if one speak to it of the One, true, everlasting Good, which is neither this nor that, it knoweth nothing thereof, and thinketh scorn of it. And this is not unreasonable, for nature as nature cannot attain thereunto. Now this False Light is merely nature, and therefore it cannot attain thereunto.

Further, this False Light saith that it hath got above conscience and the sense of sin, and that whatever it doeth is right, Yea, it was said by such a false Free Spirit, who was in this error, that if he had killed ten men he should have as little sense of guilt as if he had killed a dog. Briefly: this false and deceived Light fleeth all that is harsh and contrary to nature, for this belongeth to it, seeing that it is nature. And seeing also that it is so utterly deceived as to dream that it is God, it were ready to swear by all that is holy, that it knoweth truly what is best, and that both in belief and practice it hath reached the very summit. For this cause it cannot be converted or guided into the right path, even as it is with the Evil Spirit.

Mark further: in so far as this Light imagineth itself to be God and taketh His attributes unto itself, it is Lucifer, the Evil Spirit; but in so far as it setteth at nought the life of Christ, and other things belonging to the True Light, which have been taught and fulfilled by Christ, it is Antichrist, for it teacheth contrary to Christ. And as this Light is deceived by its own cunning and discernment, so all that is not God, or of God, is deceived by it, that is, all men who are not enlightened by the True Light and its love. For all who are enlightened by the True Light can never more be deceived, but whoso hath it not and chooseth to walk by the False Light, he is deceived.

This cometh herefrom, that all men in whom the True Light is not, are bent upon themselves, and think much of themselves, and seek and propose their own ends in all things, and whatever is most pleasant and convenient to themselves they hold to be best. And whoso declareth the same to be best, and helpeth and teacheth them to attain it, him they follow after, and maintain to be the best and wisest of teachers. Now the False Light teacheth them this very doctrine, and showeth them all the means to come by their desire; therefore all those follow after it, who know not the True Light. And thus they are together deceived.

It is said of Antichrist, that when he cometh, he who hath not the seal of God in his forehead, followeth after him, but as many as have the seal follow not after him. This agreeth with what hath been said. It is indeed true, that it is good for a man that he should desire, or come by his own good. But this cannot come to pass so long as a man is seeking, or purposing his own good; for if he is to find and come by his own highest good, he must lose it that he may find it. [As Christ said: "He who loveth his life shall lose it." That is; he shall forsake and die to the desires of the flesh, and shall not obey his own will nor the lusts of the body, but obey the commands of God and those who are in authority over him, and not seek his own, either in spiritual or natural things, but only the praise and glory of God in all things. For he who thus loseth his life shall find it again in Eternal Life. That is: all the goodness, help, comfort, and joy which are in the creature, in heaven or on earth, a true lover of God findeth comprehended in God Himself; yea, unspeakably more, and as much nobler and more perfect as God the Creator is better, nobler, and more perfect than His creature. But by these excellences in the creature the False Light is deceived, and seeketh nothing but itself and its own in all things. Therefore it cometh never to the right way. ]

Further, this False Light saith, that we should be without conscience or sense of sin, and that it is a weakness and folly to have anything to do with them: and this it will prove by saying that Christ was without conscience or sense of sin. We may answer and say: Satan is also without them, and is none the better for that. Mark what a sense of sin is. It is that we perceive how man has turned away from God in his will (this is what we call sin), and that this is man's fault, not God's, for God is guiltless of sin. Now, who is there that knoweth himself to be free from sin save Christ alone? Scarcely will any other affirm this. Now he who is without sense of sin is either Christ or the Evil Spirit.

Briefly: where this True Light is, there is a true, just life such as God loveth and esteemeth. And if the man's life is not perfect as Christ's was, yet it is framed and builded after His, and his life is loved, together with all that agreeth with decency, order, and all other virtues, and all Self-will, I, Mine, Me, and the like, is lost; nothing is purposed or sought but Goodness, for the sake of Goodness, and as Goodness. But where that False Light is, there men become heedless of Christ's life and all virtue, and seek and intend whatever is convenient and pleasant to nature. From this ariseth a false, licentious freedom, so that men grow regardless and careless of everything. For the True Light is God's seed, and therefore it bringeth forth the fruits of God. And so likewise the False Light is the seed of the Devil; and where that is sown, the fruits of the Devil spring up — nay, the very Devil himself. This ye may understand by giving heed to what hath been said.

 

C H A P T E R ~ XLI

How that he is to be called, and is truly, a Partaker of the Divine Nature,
who is illuminated with the Divine Light, and inflamed with Eternal Love,
and how Light and Knowledge are worth nothing without Love.

Woodcut - "S"OME may ask, "What is it to be a 'partaker of the divine nature,' or a Godlike man?" Answer: he who is imbued with or illuminated by the Eternal or divine Light, and inflamed or consumed with Eternal or divine love, he is a Godlike man and a partaker of the divine nature; and of the nature of this True Light we have said somewhat already.

But ye must know that this Light or knowledge is worth nothing without Love. This ye may see if ye call to mind, that though a man may know very well what is virtue or wickedness, yet if he doth not love virtue, he is not virtuous, for he obeyeth vice. But if he loveth virtue he followeth after it, and his love maketh him an enemy to wickedness, so that he will not do or practise it, and hateth it also in other men; and he loveth virtue so that he would not leave a virtue unpractised even if he might, and this for no reward, but simply for the love of virtue. And to him virtue is its own reward, and he is content therewith, and would take no treasure or riches in exchange for it. Such an one is already a virtuous man, or he is in the way to be so. And he who is a truly virtuous man would not cease to be so, to gain the whole world, yea, he would rather die a miserable death.

It is the same with justice. Many a man knoweth full well what is just or unjust, and yet neither is nor ever will become a just man. For he loveth not justice, and therefore he worketh wickedness and injustice. If he loved justice, he would not do an unjust thing; for he would feel such hatred and indignation towards injustice wherever he saw it, that he would do or suffer anything that injustice might be put an end to, and men might become just. And he would rather die than do an injustice, and all this for nothing but the love of justice. And to him, justice is her own reward, and rewardeth him with herself; and so there liveth a just man, and he would rather die a thousand times over than live as an unjust man. It is the same with truth: a man may know full well what is true or a lie, but if he loveth not the truth he is not a true man; but if he loveth, it is with truth even as with justice. Of justice speaketh Isaiah in the fifth chapter: "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!"

Thus may we perceive that knowledge and light profit nothing without Love. We see this in the Evil Spirit; he perceiveth and knoweth good and evil, right and wrong, and the like; but since he hath no love for the good that he seeth, he becometh not good, as he would if he had any love for the truth and other virtues which he seeth. It is indeed true that Love must be guided and taught of Knowledge, but if Knowledge be not followed by love, it will avail nothing. It is the same with God and divine things. Let a man know much about God and divine things, nay, dream that he seeth and understandeth what God Himself is, if he have not Love, he will never become like unto God, or a "partaker of the divine nature." But if there be true Love along with his knowledge, he cannot but cleave to God, and forsake all that is not God or of Him, and hate it and fight against it, and find it a cross and a sorrow.

And this Love so maketh a man one with God, that he can nevermore be separated from Him.

 

 

C H A P T E R ~ XLII

A Question: whether we can know God and not love Him,
and how there are two kinds of Light and Love — a true and a false.

Woodcut - "H"ERE is an honest question; namely, it hath been said that he who knoweth God and loveth Him not, will never be saved by his knowledge; the which sounds as if we might know God and not love Him. Yet we have said elsewhere, that where God is known, He is also loved, and whosoever knoweth God must love Him. How may these things agree? Here ye must mark one thing. We have spoken of two Lights -- a True and a False. So also there are two kinds of Love, a True and a False. And each kind of Love is taught or guided by its own kind of Light or Reason. Now, the True Light maketh True Love, and the False Light maketh False Love; for whatever Light deemeth to be best, she delivereth unto Love as the best, and biddeth her love it, and Love obeyeth, and fulfilleth her commands.

Now, as we have said, the False Light is natural, and is Nature herself. Therefore every property belongeth unto it which belongeth unto nature, such as the Me, the Mine, the Self, and the like; and therefore it must needs be deceived in itself and be false; for no I, Me, or Mine, ever came to the True Light or Knowledge undeceived, save once only; to wit, in God made Man. And if we are to come to the knowledge of the simple Truth, all these must depart and perish. And in particular it belongeth to the natural Light that it would fain know or learn much, if it were possible, and hath great pleasure, delight and glorying in its discernment and knowledge; and therefore it is always longing to know more and more, and never cometh to rest and satisfaction, and the more it learneth and knoweth, the more doth it delight and glory therein. And when it hath come so high, that it thinketh to know all things and to be above all things, it standeth on its highest pinnacle of delight and glory, and then it holdeth Knowledge to be the best and noblest of all things, and therefore it teacheth Love to love knowledge and discernment as the best and most excellent of all things. Behold, then knowledge and discernment come to be more loved than that which is discerned, for the false natural Light loveth its knowledge and powers, which are itself, more than that which is known. And were it possible that this false natural Light should understand the simple Truth, as it is in God and in truth, it still would not lose its own property, that is, it would not depart from itself and its own things. Behold, in this sense there is knowledge without the love of that which is or may be known.

Also this Light riseth and climbeth so high that it vainly thinketh that it knoweth God and the pure, simple Truth, and thus it loveth itself in Him. And it is true that God can be known only by God. Wherefore as this Light vainly thinketh to understand God, it imagineth itself to be God, and giveth itself out to be God, and wisheth to be accounted so, and thinketh itself to be above all things, and well worthy of all things, and that it hath a right to all things, and hath got beyond all things, such as commandments, laws, and virtue, and even beyond Christ and a Christian life, and setteth all these at nought, for it doth not set up to be Christ, but the Eternal God. And this is because Christ's life is distasteful and burdensome to nature, therefore she will have nothing to do with it; but to be God in eternity and not man, or to be Christ as He was after His resurrection, is all easy, and pleasant, and comfortable to nature, and so she holdeth it to be best. Behold, with this false and deluded Love, something may be known without being loved, for the seeing and knowing is more loved than that which is known.

Further, there is a kind of learning which is called knowledge; to wit, when, through hearsay, or reading, or great acquaintance with Scripture, some fancy themselves to know much, and call it knowledge, and say, "I know this or that." And if you ask, "How dost thou know it?" they answer, "I have read it in the Scriptures," and the like. Behold, this they call understanding, and knowing. Yet this is not knowledge, but belief, and many things are known and loved and seen only with this sort of perceiving and knowing.

There is also yet another kind of Love, which is especially false, to wit, when something is loved for the sake of a reward, as when justice is loved not for the sake of justice, but to obtain something thereby, and so on. And where a creature loveth other creatures for the sake of something that they have, or loveth God, for the sake of something of her own, it is all false Love; and this Love belongeth properly to nature, for nature as nature can feel and know no other love than this; for if ye look narrowly into it, nature as nature loveth nothing beside herself. On this wise something may be seen to be good and not loved.

But true Love is taught and guided by the true Light and Reason, and this true, eternal and divine Light teacheth Love to love nothing but the One true and Perfect Good, and that simply for its own sake, and not for the sake of a reward, or in the hope of obtaining anything, but simply for the Love of Goodness, because it is good and hath a right to be loved. And all that is thus seen by the help of the True Light must also be loved of the True Love. Now that Perfect Good, which we call God, cannot be perceived but by the True Light; therefore He must be loved wherever He is seen or made known.

 

C H A P T E R ~ XLIII

Whereby we may know a Man who is made a partaker of the divine Nature,
and what belongeth unto him;
and further, what is the token of a False Light, and a False Free-Thinker.

Woodcut - "F"URTHER mark ye; that when the True Love and True Light are in a man, the Perfect Good is known and loved for itself and as itself; and yet not so that it loveth itself of itself and as itself, but the one True and Perfect Good can and will love nothing else, in so far as it is in itself, save the one, true Goodness. Now if this is itself, it must love itself, yet not as itself nor as of itself, but in this wise: that the One true Good loveth the One Perfect Goodness, and the One Perfect Goodness is loved of the One, true and Perfect Good. And in this sense that saying is true, that "God loveth not Himself as Himself." For if there were ought better than God, God would love that, and not Himself. For in this True Light and True Love there neither is nor can remain any I, Me, Mine, Thou, Thine, and the like, but that Light perceiveth and knoweth that there is a Good which is all Good and above all Good, and that all good things are of one substance in the One Good, and that without that One, there is no good thing. And therefore, where this Light is, the man's end and aim is not this or that, Me or Thee, or the like, but only the One, who is neither I nor Thou, this nor that, but is above all I and Thou, this and that; and in Him all Goodness is loved as One Good, according to that saying: "All in One as One, and One in All as All, and One and all Good, is loved through the One in One, and for the sake of the One, for the love that man hath to the One."

 Behold, in such a man must all thought of Self, all self-seeking, self-will, and what cometh thereof, be utterly lost and surrendered and given over to God, except in so far as they are necessary to make up a person. And whatever cometh to pass in a man who is truly Godlike, whether he do or suffer, all is done in this Light and this Love, and from the same, through the same, unto the same again. And in his heart there is a content and a quietness, so that he doth not desire to know more or less, to have, to live, to die, to be, or not to be, or anything of the kind; these become all one and alike to him, and he complaineth of nothing but of sin only. And what sin is, we have said already, namely, to desire or will anything otherwise than the One Perfect Good and the One Eternal Will, and apart from and contrary to them, or to wish to have a will of one's own. And what is done of sin, such as lies, fraud, injustice, treachery, and all iniquity, in short, all that we call sin, cometh hence, that man hath another will than God and the True Good; for were there no will but the One Will, no sin could ever be committed. Therefore we may well say that all self-will is sin, and there is no sin but what springeth therefrom. And this is the only thing which a truly Godlike man complaineth of; but to him, this is such a sore pain and grief, that he would die a hundred deaths in agony and shame, rather than endure it; and this his grief must last until death, and where it is not, there be sure that the man is not truly Godlike, or a partaker of the divine nature.

Now, seeing that in this Light and Love, all Good is loved in One and as One, and the One in all things, and in all things as One and as All, therefore all those things must be loved that rightly are of good report; such as virtue, order, seemliness, justice, truth, and the like; and all that belongeth to God is the true Good and is His own, is loved and praised; and all that is without this Good, and contrary to it, is a sorrow and a pain, and is hated as sin, for it is of a truth sin. And he who liveth in the true Light and true Love, hath the best, noblest, and worthiest life that ever was or will be, and therefore it cannot but be loved and praised above any other life. This life was and is in Christ to perfection, else He were not the Christ.

And the love wherewith the man loveth this noble life and all goodness, maketh, that all which he is called upon to do, or suffer, or pass through, and which must needs be, he doeth or endureth willingly and worthily, however hard it may be to nature. Therefore saith Christ: "My yoke is easy, and My burden is light." This cometh of the love which loveth this admirable life. This we may see in the beloved Apostles and Martyrs; they suffered willingly and gladly all that was done unto them, and never asked of God that their suffering and tortures might be made shorter, or lighter or fewer, but only that they might remain steadfast and endure to the end. Of a truth all that is the fruit of divine Love in a truly Godlike man is so simple, plain, and straightforward, that he can never properly give an account of it by writing or by speech, but only say that so it is. And he who hath it not doth not even believe in it; how then can he come to know it?

On the other hand, the life of the natural man, where he hath a lively, subtle, cunning nature, is so manifold and complex, and seeketh and inventeth so many turnings and windings and falsehoods for its own ends, and that so continually, that this also is neither to be uttered nor set forth.

Now, since all falsehood is deceived, and all deception beginneth in self-deception, so is it also with this false Light and Life, for he who deceiveth is also deceived, as we have said before. And in this false Light and Life is found everything that belongeth to the Evil Spirit and is his, insomuch that they cannot be discerned apart; for the false Light is the Evil Spirit, and the Evil Spirit is this false Light. Hereby we may know this. For even as the Evil Spirit thinketh himself to be God, or would fain be God, or be thought to be God, and in all this is so utterly deceived that he doth not think himself to be deceived, so is it also with this false Light, and the Love and Life that is thereof. And as the Devil would fain deceive all men, and draw them to himself and his works, and make them like himself, and useth much art and cunning to this end, so is it also with this false Light; and as no one may turn the Evil Spirit from his own way, so no one can turn this deceived and deceitful Light from its errors. And the cause thereof is, that both these two, the Devil and Nature, vainly think that they are not deceived, and that it standeth quite well with them. And this is the very worst and most mischievous delusion. Thus the Devil and Nature are one, and where nature is conquered the Devil is also conquered, and, in like manner, where nature is not conquered the Devil is not conquered. Whether as touching the outward life in the world, or the inward life of the spirit, this false Light continueth in its state of blindness and falsehood, so that it is both deceived itself and deceiveth others with it, wheresoever it may.

From what hath here been said, ye may understand and perceive more than hath been expressly set forth. For whenever we speak of the Adam, and disobedience, and of the old man, of self-seeking, self-will, and self-serving, of the I, the Me, and the Mine, nature, falsehood, the Devil, sin; it is all one and the same thing. These are all contrary to God, and remain without God.

 

 

 

C H A P T E R ~ XLIV

How nothing is contrary to God but Self-will,
and how he who seeketh his own Good for his own sake, findeth it not;
and how a Man of himself neither knoweth nor can do any good Thing.

Woodcut - "N"OW, it may be asked; is there aught which is contrary to God and the true Good? I say, No. Likewise, there is nothing without God, except to will otherwise than is willed by the Eternal Will; that is, contrary to the Eternal Will. Now the Eternal Will willeth that nothing be willed or loved but the Eternal Goodness. And where it is otherwise, there is something contrary to Him, and in this sense it is true that he who is without God is contrary to God; but in truth there is no Being contrary to God or the true Good.

We must understand it as though God said: "He who willeth without Me, or willeth not what I will, or otherwise than as I will, he willeth contrary to Me, for My will is that no one should will otherwise than I, and that there should be no will without Me, and without My will; even as without Me, there is neither Substance, nor Life, nor this, nor that, so also there should be no Will apart from Me, and without My will." And even as in truth all beings are one in substance in the Perfect Being, and all good is one in the One Being, and so forth, and cannot exist without that One, so shall all wills be one in the One Perfect Will, and there shall be no will apart from that One. And whatever is otherwise is wrong, and contrary to God and His will, and therefore it is sin. Therefore all will apart from God's will (that is, all self-will) is sin, and so is all that is done from self-will. So long as a man seeketh his own will and his own highest Good, because it is his and for his own sake, he will never find it; for so long as he doeth this, he is not seeking his own highest Good, and how then should he find it? For so long as he doeth this, he seeketh himself, and dreameth that he is himself the highest Good; and seeing that he is not the highest Good, he seeketh not the highest Good, so long as he seeketh himself. But whosoever seeketh, loveth, and pursueth Goodness as Goodness and for the sake of Goodness, and maketh that his end, for nothing but the love of Goodness, not for love of the I, Me, Mine, Self, and the like, he will find the highest Good, for he seeketh it aright, and they who seek it otherwise do err. And truly it is on this wise that the true and Perfect Goodness seeketh and loveth and pursueth itself, and therefore it findeth itself.
     It is a great folly when a man, or any creature, dreameth that he knoweth or can accomplish aught of himself, and above all when he dreameth that he knoweth or can fulfil any good thing, whereby he may deserve much at God's hands, and prevail with Him. If he understood rightly, he would see that this is to put a great affront upon God. But the True and Perfect Goodness hath compassion on the foolish simple man who knoweth no better, and ordereth things for the best for him, and giveth him as much of the good things of God as he is able to receive. But as we have said afore, he findeth and receiveth not the True Good so long as he remaineth unchanged; for unless Self and Me depart, he will never find or receive it.

 

C H A P T E R ~ XLV

How that where there is a Christian Life, Christ dwelleth,
and how Christ's Life is the best and most admirable Life that ever hath been or can be.

Woodcut - "H"E who knoweth and understandeth Christ's life, knoweth and understandeth Christ Himself; and in like manner, he who understandeth not His life, doth not understand Christ Himself. And he who believeth on Christ, believeth that His life is the best and noblest life that can be, and if a man believe not this, neither doth he believe on Christ Himself. And in so far as a man's life is according to Christ, Christ Himself dwelleth in him, and if he hath not the one neither hath he the other. For where there is the life of Christ, there is Christ Himself, and where His life is not, Christ is not, and where a man hath His life, he may say with St. Paul, "I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me."And this is the noblest and best life; for in him who hath it, God Himself dwelleth, with all Goodness. So how could there be a better life? When we speak of obedience, of the new man, of the True Light, the True Love, or the life of Christ, it is all the same thing, and where one of these is, there are they all, and where one is wanting, there is none of them, for they are all one in truth and substance. And whatever may bring about that new birth which maketh alive in Christ, to that let us cleave with all our might and to nought else; and let us forswear and flee all that may hinder it.

 

 

 

C H A P T E R ~ XLVI

How entire Satisfaction and true Rest are to be found in God alone,
and not in any Creature; and how he who Will be obedient unto God,
must also be obedient to the Creatures, with all Quietness,
and he who would love God, must love all Things in One.

Woodcut - "I"T is said, that he who is content to find all his satisfaction in God, hath enough; and this is true. And he who findeth satisfaction in aught which is this and that, findeth it not in God; and he who findeth it in God, findeth it in nothing else, but in that which is neither this nor that, but is All. For God is One and must be One, and God is All and must be All. And now what is, and is not One, is not God; and what is, and is not All and above All, is also not God, for God is One and above One, and All and above All. Now he who findeth full satisfaction in God, receiveth all his satisfaction from One source, and from One only, as One. And a man cannot find all satisfaction in God, unless all things are One to him, and One is All, and aught and nought (anything and nothing) are alike. But where it should be thus, there would be true satisfaction, and not else.

Therefore also, he who will wholly commit himself unto God and be obedient to Him, must also resign himself to all things, and be willing to suffer them, without resisting or defending himself or calling for succour. And he who doth not thus resign or submit himself to all things in One as One, doth not resign or submit himself to God. Let us look at Christ. And he who shall and will lie still under God's hand, must lie still under all things in One as One, and in no wise withstand any suffering. Such an one were a Christ. And he who fighteth against affliction, and refuseth to endure it, is truly fighting against God. That is to say, we may not withstand any creature or thing by force of war, either in will or works. But we may indeed, without sin, prevent affliction, or avoid it, or flee from it.

Now he who shall or will love God, loveth all things in One as All, One and All, and One in All as All in One; and he who loveth somewhat, this or that, otherwise than in the One, and for the sake of the One, loveth not God; for he loveth somewhat which is not God. Therefore he loveth it more than God. Now he who loveth somewhat more than God or along with God, loveth not God, for He must be and will be alone loved, and verily nothing ought to be loved but God alone. And when the true divine Light and Love dwell in a man, he loveth nothing else but God alone, for he loveth God as Goodness and for the sake of Goodness, and all Goodness as One, and one as All; for, in truth, All is One and One is All in God.

 

C H A P T E R ~ XLVII

A Question: Whether, if we ought to love all Things, we ought to love Sin also?

Woodcut - "S"OME may put a question here and say: "If we are to love all things, must we then love sin too?" I answer: No. When I say "all things," I mean all Good; and all that is, is good, in so far as it hath Being. The Devil is good in so far as he hath Being. In this sense nothing is evil, or not good. But sin is to will, desire, or love otherwise than as God doth. And Willing is not Being, therefore it is not good. Nothing is good except in so far as it is in God and with God. Now all things have their Being in God, and more truly in God than in themselves, and therefore all things are good in so far as they have a Being, and if there were aught that had not its Being in God, it would not be good. Now behold, the willing or desiring which is contrary to God is not in God; for God cannot will or desire anything contrary to Himself, or otherwise than Himself. Therefore it is evil or not good, and is merely nought.

God loveth also works, but not all works. Which then? Such as are done from the teaching and guidance of the True Light and the True Love; and what is done from these and in these, is done in spirit and in truth, and what is thereof, is God's, and pleaseth Him well. But what is done of the false Light and false Love, is all of the Wicked One; and especially what happeneth, is done or left undone, wrought or suffered from any other will, or desire, or love, than God's will, or desire, or love. This is, and cometh to pass, without God and contrary to God, and is utterly contrary to good works, and is altogether sin.

 

 

C H A P T E R ~ XLVIII

How we must believe certain Things of God's Truth beforehand,
ere we can come to a true Knowledge and Experience thereof.

Woodcut - "C"HRIST said, "He that believeth not," or will not or cannot believe, "shall be damned." It is so of a truth; for a man, while he is in this present time, hath not knowledge; and he cannot attain unto it, unless he first believe. And he who would know before he believeth, cometh never to true knowledge. We speak not here of the articles of the Christian faith, for every one believeth them, and they are common to every Christian man, whether he be sinful or saved, good or wicked; and they must be believed in the first place, for without that, one cannot come to know them. But we are speaking of a certain Truth which it is possible to know by experience, but which ye must believe in, before that ye know it by experience, else ye will never come to know it truly. This is the faith of which Christ speaketh in that saying of His.

 

C H A P T E R ~ XLIX

Of Self-will, and how Lucifer and Adam fell away from God through Self-will.

Woodcut - "I"T hath been said, that there is of nothing so much in hell as of self-will. The which is true, for there is nothing else there than self-will, and if there were no self-will, there would be no Devil and no hell. When it is said that Lucifer fell from Heaven, and turned away from God and the like, it meaneth nothing else than that he would have his own will, and would not be at one with the Eternal Will. So was it likewise with Adam in Paradise. And when we say Self-will, we mean, to will otherwise than as the One and Eternal Will of God willeth.

 

C H A P T E R ~ L

How this present Time is a Paradise and outer Court of Heaven,
and how therein there is only one Tree forbidden, that is, Self-will.

Woodcut-"W"HAT is Paradise? All things that are; for all are goodly and pleasant, and therefore may fitly be called a Paradise. It is said also, that Paradise is an outer court of Heaven. Even so this world is verily an outer court of the Eternal, or of Eternity, and specially whatever in Time, or any temporal things or creatures, manifesteth or remindeth us of God or Eternity; for the creatures are a guide and a path unto God and Eternity. Thus this world is an outer court of Eternity, and therefore it may well be called a Paradise, for it is such in truth. And in this Paradise, all things are lawful, save one tree and the fruits thereof. That is to say: of all things that are, nothing is forbidden and nothing is contrary to God but one thing only: that is, Self-will, or to will otherwise than as the Eternal Will would have it. Remember this. For God saith to Adam, that is, to every man, "Whatever thou art, or doest, or leavest undone, or whatever cometh to pass, is all lawful and not forbidden if it be not done from or according to thy will, but for the sake of and according to My will. But all that is done from thine own Will is contrary to the Eternal Will."

It is not that every work which is thus wrought is in itself contrary to the Eternal Will, but in so far as it is wrought from a different will, or otherwise than from the Eternal and Divine Will.

 

C H A P T E R ~ LI

Wherefore God hath created Self-will, seeing that it is so contrary to Him.

Woodcut - "N"OW some may ask: "Since this tree, to wit, Self-will, is so contrary to God and the Eternal Will, wherefore hath God created it, and set it in Paradise?"

Answer: whatever man or creature desireth to dive into and understand the secret counsel and will of God, so that he would fain know wherefore God doeth this, or doeth not that, and the like, desireth the same as Adam and the Devil. For this desire is seldom from aught else than that the man taketh delight in knowing, and glorieth therein, and this is sheer pride. And so long as this desire lasteth, the truth will never be known, and the man is even as Adam or the Devil. A truly humble and enlightened man doth not desire of God that He should reveal His secrets unto him, and ask wherefore God doeth this or that, or hindereth or alloweth such a thing, and so forth; but he desireth only to know how he may please God, and become as nought in himself, having no will, and that the Eternal Will may live in him, and have full possession of him, undisturbed by any other will, and how its due may be rendered to the Eternal Will, by him and through him.

However, there is yet another answer to this question, for we may say: the most noble and delightful gift that is bestowed on any creature is that of Perception, (or Reason), and Will. And these two are so bound together, that where the one is, there the other is also. And if it were not for these two gifts, there would be no reasonable creatures, but only brutes and brutishness; and that were a great loss, for God would never have His due, and behold Himself and His attributes manifested in deeds and works; the which ought to be, and is, necessary to perfection. Now, behold, Perception and Reason are created and bestowed along with Will, to the intent that they may instruct the will and also themselves, that neither perception nor will is of itself, nor is nor ought to be unto itself, nor ought to seek or obey itself. Neither shall they turn themselves to their own advantage, nor make use of themselves to their own ends and purposes; for His they are from Whom they do proceed, and unto Him shall they submit, and flow back into Him, and become nought in themselves, that is, in their selfishness.

But here ye must consider more particularly, somewhat touching the Will. There is an Eternal Will, which is in God a first Principle and substance, apart from all works and effects, and the same will is in Man, or the creature, willing certain things, and bringing them to pass. For it belongeth unto the Will, and is its property, that it shall will something. What else is it for? For it were in vain, unless it had some work to do, and this it cannot have without the creature. Therefore there must be creatures, and God will have them, to the end that the Will may be put in exercise by their means, and work, which in God is and must be without work. Therefore the will in the creature, which we call a created will, is as truly God's as the Eternal Will, and is not of the creature.

And now, since God cannot bring His will into exercise, working and causing changes, without the creature, therefore it pleaseth Him to do so in and with the creature. Therefore the will is not given to be exerted by the creature, but only by God, who hath a right to work out His own will by means of the will which is in man, and yet is God's. And in whatever man or creature it should be purely and wholly thus, the will would be exerted not by the man but by God, and thus it would not be self-will, and the man would not will otherwise than as God willeth; for God Himself would move the will and not man. And thus the will would be one with the Eternal Will, and flow out into it, though the man would still keep his sense of liking and disliking, pleasure and pain, and the like. For wherever the will is exerted, there must be a sense of liking and disliking; for if things go according to his will, the man liketh it, and if they do not, he disliketh it, and this liking and disliking are not of the man's producing, but of God's. Now the will cometh not of man but of God, therefore liking and disliking come from Him also. But nothing is complained of, save only what is contrary to God. So also there is no joy but of God alone, and that which is His and belongeth unto Him. And as it is with the will, so is it also with perception, reason, gifts, love, and all the powers of man; they are all of God, and not of man. And wherever the will should be altogether surrendered to God, the rest would of a certainty be surrendered likewise, and God would have His right, and the man's will would not be his own. Behold, therefore hath God created the will, but not that it should be self-will.

Now cometh the Devil or Adam, that is to say, false nature, and taketh this will unto itself and maketh the same its own, and useth it for itself and its own ends. And this is the mischief and wrong, and the bite that Adam made in the apple, which is forbidden, because it is contrary to God. And therefore, so long as there is any self-will, there will never be true love, true peace, true rest. This we see both in man and in the Devil. And there will never be true blessedness either in time or eternity, where this self-will is working, that is to say, where man taketh the will unto himself and maketh it his own. And if it be not surrendered in this present time, but carried over into eternity, it may be foreseen that it will never be surrendered, and then of a truth there will never be content, nor rest, nor blessedness; as we may see by the Devil. If there were no reason or will in the creatures, God were, and must remain for ever, unknown, unloved, unpraised, and unhonoured, and all the creatures would be worth nothing, and were of no avail to God. Behold thus the question which was put to us is answered. And if there were any who, by my much writing (which yet is brief and profitable in God), might be led to amend their ways, this were indeed well-pleasing unto God.

That which is free, none may call his own, and he who maketh it his own, committeth a wrong. Now, in the whole realm of freedom, nothing is so free as the will, and he who maketh it his own, and suffereth it not to remain in its excellent freedom, and free nobility, and in its free exercise, doeth a grievous wrong. This is what is done by the Devil and Adam and all their followers. But he who leaveth the will in its noble freedom doeth right, and this doth Christ with all His followers. And whoso robbeth the will of its noble freedom and maketh it his own, must of necessity as his reward, be laden with cares and troubles, with discontent, disquiet, unrest, and all manner of wretchedness, and this will remain and endure in time and in eternity. But he who leaveth the will in its freedom, hath content, peace, rest, and blessedness in time and in eternity. Wherever there is a man in whom the will is not enslaved, but continueth noble and free, there is a true freeman not in bondage to any, one of those to whom Christ said: "The truth shall make you free"; and immediately after, he saith: "If the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed."

Furthermore, mark ye that where the will enjoyeth its freedom, it hath its proper work, that is, willing. And where it chooseth whatever it will unhindered, it always chooseth in all things what is noblest and best, and all that is not noble and good it hateth, and findeth to be a grief and offence unto it. And the more free and unhindered the will is, the more is it pained by evil, injustice, iniquity, and in short all manner of wickedness and sin, and the more do they grieve and afflict it. This we see in Christ, whose will was the purest and the least fettered or brought into bondage of any man's that ever lived. So likewise was Christ's human nature the most free and single of all creatures, and yet felt the deepest grief, pain, and indignation at sin that any creature ever felt. But when men claim freedom for their own, so as to feel no sorrow or indignation at sin and what is contrary to God, but say that we must heed nothing and care for nothing, but be, in this present time, as Christ was after His resurrection, and the like; — this is no true and divine freedom springing from the true divine Light, but a natural, unrighteous, false, and deceitful freedom, springing from a natural, false, and deluded light.

Were there no self-will, there would be also no ownership. In heaven there is no ownership; hence there are found content, true peace, and all blessedness. If any one there took upon him to call anything his own, he would straightway be thrust out into hell, and would become an evil spirit. But in hell every one will have self-will, therefore there is all manner of misery and wretchedness. So is it also here on earth. But if there were one in hell who should get quit of his self-will and call nothing his own, he would come out of hell into heaven. Now, in this present time, man is set between heaven and hell, and may turn himself towards which he will. For the more he hath of ownership, the more he hath of hell and misery; and the less of self-will, the less of hell, and the nearer he is to the Kingdom of Heaven. And could a man, while on earth, be wholly quit of self-will and ownership, and stand up free and at large in God's true light, and continue therein, he would be sure of the Kingdom of Heaven. He who hath something, or seeketh or longeth to have something of his own, is himself a slave; and he who hath nothing of his own, nor seeketh nor longeth thereafter, is free and at large, and in bondage to none.

All that hath here been said, Christ taught in words and fulfilled in works for three-and-thirty years, and He teacheth it to us very briefly when He saith: "Follow Me." But he who will follow Him must forsake all things, for He renounced all things so utterly as no man else hath ever done. Moreover, he who will come after Him, must take up the cross, and the cross is nothing else than Christ's life, for that is a bitter cross to nature. Therefore He saith: "And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after Me, is not worthy of Me, and cannot be My disciple." But nature, in her false freedom, weeneth (supposeth) she hath forsaken all things, yet she will have none of the cross, and saith she hath had enough of it already, and needeth it no longer, and thus she is deceived. For had she ever tasted the cross she would never part with it again. He that believeth on Christ must believe all that is here written.

 

C H A P T E R ~ LII

How we must take those two Sayings of Christ:
"No Man cometh unto the Father, but by Me," and
"No Man cometh unto Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him."

Woodcut - "C"HRIST saith: "No man cometh unto the Father, but by Me." Now mark how we must come unto the Father through Christ. The man shall set a watch over himself and all that belongeth to him within and without, and shall so direct, govern, and guard his heart, as far as in him lieth, that neither will nor desire, love nor longing, opinion nor thought, shall spring up in his heart, or have any abiding-place in him, save such as are meet for God and would beseem him well, if God Himself were made Man. And whenever he becometh aware of any thought or intent rising up within him that doth not belong to God and were not meet for Him, he must resist it and root it out as thoroughly and as Speedily as he may.

By this rule he must order his outward behaviour, whether he work or refrain, speak or keep silence, wake or sleep, go or stand still. In short: in all his ways and walks, whether as touching his own business, or his dealings with other men, he must keep his heart with all diligence, lest he do aught (anything), or turn aside to aught, or suffer aught to spring up or dwell within him or about him, or lest anything be done in him or through him, otherwise than were meet for God, and would be possible and seemly if God Himself were verily made Man.

Behold! he, in whom it should be thus, whatever he had within, or did without, would be all of God, and the man would be in his life a follower of Christ more truly than we can understand or set forth. And he who led such a life would go in and out through Christ; for he would be a follower of Christ: therefore also he would come with Christ and through Christ unto the Father. And he would be also a servant of Christ, for he who cometh after Him is His servant, as He Himself also saith: "If any man serve Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be." And he who is thus a servant and follower of Christ, cometh to that place where Christ Himself is; that is, unto the Father. As Christ Himself saith: "Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am." Behold, he who walketh in this path, "entereth in by the door into the sheepfold," that is, into eternal life; "and to him the porter openeth"; but he who entereth in by some other way, or vainly thinketh that he would or can come to the Father or to eternal blessedness otherwise than through Christ, is deceived; for he is not in the right Way, nor entereth in by the right Door. Therefore to him the porter openeth not, for he is a thief and a murderer, as Christ saith.

Now, behold and mark, whether one can be in the right Way, and enter in by the right Door, if one be living in lawless freedom or license, or disregard of ordinances, virtue or vice, order or disorder, and the like. Such liberty we do not find in Christ, neither is it in any of His true followers.

 

C H A P T E R ~ LIII

Considereth that other saying of Christ,
"No Man can come unto Me, except the Father, which hath sent Me, draw him."

Woodcut - "C"HRIST hath also said: "No man cometh unto Me, except the Father, which hath sent Me, draw him." Now mark: by the Father, I understand the Perfect, Simple Good, which is All and above All, and without which and besides which there is no true Substance, nor true Good, and without which no good work ever was or will be done. And in that it is All, it must be in All and above All. And it cannot be any one of those things which the creatures, as creatures, can comprehend or understand. For whatever the creature, as creature (that is, in her creature kind), can conceive of and understand, is something, this or that, and therefore is some sort of creature. And now if the Simple Perfect Good were somewhat, this or that, which the creature understandeth, it would not be the All, nor the Only One, and therefore not Perfect. Therefore also it cannot be named, seeing that it is none of all the things which the creature as creature can comprehend, know, conceive, or name. Now behold, when this Perfect Good, which is unnameable, floweth into a Person able to bring forth, and bringeth forth the Only-begotten Son in that Person, and itself in Him, we call it the Father.

Now mark how the Father draweth men unto Christ. When somewhat of this Perfect Good is discovered and revealed within the soul of man, as it were in a glance or flash, the soul conceiveth a longing to approach unto the Perfect Goodness, and unite herself with the Father. And the stronger this yearning groweth, the more is revealed unto her; and the more is revealed unto her, the more is she drawn toward the Father, and her desire quickened. Thus is the soul drawn and quickened into a union with the Eternal Goodness. And this is the drawing of the Father, and thus the soul is taught of Him who draweth her unto Himself, that she cannot enter into a union with Him except she come unto Him by the life of Christ. Behold, now she putteth on that life of which I have spoken afore.

Now see the meaning of these two sayings of Christ's. The one, "No man cometh unto the Father, but by Me"; that is, through My life, as hath been set forth. The other saying, "No man cometh unto Me, except the Father draw him"; that is, he doth not take My life upon him and come after Me, except he be moved and drawn of My Father; that is, of the Simple and Perfect Good, of which St. Paul saith; "when that which is Perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away." That is to say; in whatever soul this Perfect Good is known, felt and tasted, so far as may be in this present time, to that soul all created things are as nought compared with this Perfect One, as in truth they are; for beside or without the Perfect One, is neither true Good nor true Substance. Whosoever then hath, or knoweth, or loveth, the Perfect One, hath and knoweth all Goodness. What more then doth he want, or what is all that "is in part" to him, seeing that all the parts are united in the Perfect, in One Substance?

What hath here been said, concerneth the outward life, and is a good way or access unto the true inward life; but the inward life beginneth after this. When a man hath tasted that which is perfect as far as is possible in this present time, all created things and even himself become as nought to him. And when he perceiveth of a truth that the Perfect One is All and above All, he needs must follow after Him, and ascribe all that is good, such as Substance, Life, Knowledge, Reason, Power, and the like, unto Him alone and to no creature. And hence followeth that the man claimeth for his own neither Substance, Life, Knowledge, nor Power, Doing nor Refraining, nor anything that we can call good. And thus the man becometh so poor, that he is nought in himself, and so are also all things unto him which are somewhat, that is, all created things. And then there beginneth in him a true inward life, wherein from henceforward, God Himself dwelleth in the man, so that nothing is left in him but what is God's or of God, and nothing is left which taketh anything unto itself. And thus God Himself, that is, the One Eternal Perfectness, alone is, liveth, knoweth, worketh, loveth, willeth, doeth and refraineth in the man. And thus, of a truth, it should be, and where it is not so, the man hath yet far to travel, and things are not altogether right with him.

Furthermore, it is a good way and access unto this life, to feel always that what is best is dearest, and always to prefer the best, and cleave to it, and unite oneself to it. First: in the creatures. But what is best in the creatures? Be assured: that, in which the Eternal Perfect Goodness and what is thereof, that is, all which belongeth thereunto, most brightly shineth and worketh, and is best known and loved. But what is that which is of God, and belongeth unto Him? I answer: whatever with justice and truth we do, or might call good.

When therefore among the creatures the man cleaveth to that which is the best that he can perceive, and keepeth steadfastly to that, in singleness of heart, he cometh afterward to what is better and better, until, at last, he findeth and tasteth that the Eternal Good is a Perfect Good, without measure and number above all created good. Now if what is best is to be dearest to us, and we are to follow after it, the One Eternal Good must be loved above all and alone, and we must cleave to Him alone, and unite ourselves with Him as closely as we may. And now if we are to ascribe all goodness to the One Eternal Good, as of right and truth we ought, so must we also of right and truth ascribe unto Him the beginning, middle, and end of our course, so that nothing remain to man or the creature. So it should be of a truth, let men say what they will.

Now on this wise we should attain unto a true inward life. And what then further would happen to the soul, or would be revealed unto her, and what her life would be henceforward, none can declare or guess. For it is that which hath never been uttered by man's lips, nor hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive.

In this our long discourse, are briefly comprehended those things which ought of right and truth to be fulfilled: to wit, that man should claim nothing for his own, nor crave, will, love, or intend anything but God alone, and what is like unto Him, that is to say, the One, Eternal, Perfect Goodness.

But if it be not thus with a man, and he take, will, purpose, or crave, somewhat for himself, this or that, whatever it may be, beside or other than the Eternal and Perfect Goodness which is God Himself, this is all too much and a great injury, [and hindereth the man from a perfect life; wherefore he can never reach the Perfect Good, unless he first forsake all things and himself first of all. For no man can serve two masters, who are contrary the one to the other; he who will have the one, must let the other go. Therefore if the Creator shall enter in, the creature must depart. Of this be assured].

 

 

 

C H A P T E R ~ LIV

How a Man shall not seek his own, either in Things spiritual or natural but the Honour of God only;
and how he must enter in by the right Door, to wit, by Christ, into Eternal Life.

Woodcut - "I"F a man may attain thereunto, to be unto God as his hand is to a man, let him be therewith content, and not seek farther. [This is my faithful counsel, and here I take my stand. That is to say, let him strive and wrestle with all his might to obey God and His commandments so thoroughly at all times and in all things, that in him there be nothing, spiritual or natural, which opposeth God; and that his whole soul and body with all their members may stand ready and willing for that to which God hath created them; as ready and willing as his hand is to a man, which is so wholly in his power, that in the twinkling of an eye, he moveth and turneth it whither he will. And when we find it otherwise with us, we must give our whole diligence to amend our state; and this from love and not from fear, and in all things whatsoever, seek and intend the glory and praise of God alone. We must not seek our own, either in things spiritual or in things natural.] It must needs be thus, if it is to stand well with us. And every creature oweth this of right and truth unto God, and especially man, [to whom, by the ordinance of God, all creatures are made subject, and are servants, that he may be subject to and serve God only.]

Further, when a man hath come so far, and climbed so high, that he thinketh and weeneth he standeth sure, let him beware lest the Devil strew ashes and his own bad seed on his heart, and nature seek and take her own comfort, rest, peace, and delight in the prosperity of his soul, and he fall into a foolish, lawless freedom and licentiousness, which is altogether alien to, and at war with, a true life in God. And this will happen to that man who hath not entered, or refuseth to enter in by the right Way and the right Door (which is Christ, as we have said), and imagineth that he would or could come by any other way to the highest truth. He may perhaps dream that he hath attained thereunto, but verily he is in error.

And our witness is Christ, who declareth: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber." [A thief, for he robbeth God of His honour and glory, which belong to God alone; he taketh them unto himself, and seeketh and purposeth himself. A murderer, for he slayeth his own soul, and taketh away her life, which is God. For as the body liveth by the soul, even so the soul liveth by God. Moreover, he murdereth all those who follow him, by his doctrine and example. For Christ saith: "I came down from heaven, not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me." And again: "Why call ye Me Lord, Lord?" as if he would say, it will avail you nothing to Eternal life. And again: "Not every one that saith unto Me Lord, Lord, shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in Heaven." But He saith also: "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments." And what are the commandments? "To love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and to love thy neighbour as thyself." And in these two commandments all others are briefly comprehended.

There is nothing more precious to God, or more profitable to man, than humble obedience. In His eyes, one good work, wrought from true obedience, is of more value than a hundred thousand, wrought from self-will, contrary to obedience. Therefore he who hath this obedience need not dread Him, for such a man is in the right way, and following after Christ.

That we may thus deny ourselves, and forsake and renounce all things for God's sake, and give up our own wills, and die unto ourselves, and live unto God alone and to His will, may He help us, who gave up His will to His Heavenly Father, — Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom be blessing for ever and ever.
Amen.

FINIS.

End of Theologia Germanica


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