The Signature of All Things, by Jacob Boehem, , at sacred-texts.com
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How the Soul may attain to Divine Hearing and Vision, and what its Childship in the Natural and Supernatural Life is; and how it passeth out of Nature into God, and out of God into Nature and Self again; also what its Salvation and Perdition are.
I Cor. ii. 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15.
"We speak the hidden mystical wisdom of God, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: For had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: For the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of a man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: For they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth, or discerneth all things."
A Dialogue between a Scholar or Disciple and his Master
The disciple said to his master: Sir, how may I come to the supersensual life, so that I may see God, and may hear God speak?
The master answered and said: Son, when thou canst throw thyself into That, where no creature dwelleth, though it be but for a moment, then thou hearest what God speaketh.
Disciple. Is that where no creature dwelleth near at hand; or is it afar off?
Master. It is in thee. And if thou canst, my son, for a while but cease from all thy thinking and willing, then thou shalt hear the unspeakable words of God.
Disciple. How can I hear him speak, when I stand still from thinking and willing?
Master. When thou standest still from the thinking of self, and the willing of self; "When both thy intellect and will are quiet, and passive to the impressions of the Eternal Word and Spirit; and when thy soul is winged up, and above that which is temporal, the outward senses, and the imagination being locked up by holy abstraction," then the eternal hearing, seeing, and speaking will be revealed in thee; and so God heareth "and seeth through thee," being now the organ of his Spirit; and so God speaketh in thee, and whispereth to thy spirit, and thy spirit heareth his voice. Blessed art thou therefore if that thou canst stand still from self-thinking and self-willing, and canst stop the wheel of thy imagination and senses; forasmuch as hereby thou mayest arrive at length to see the great salvation of God, being made capable of all manner of divine sensations and heavenly communications. Since it is nought indeed but
thine own hearing and willing that do hinder thee, so that thou dost not see and hear God.
Disciple. But wherewith shall I hear and see God, forasmuch as he is above nature and creature?
Master. Son, when thou art quiet and silent, then art thou as God was before nature and creature; thou art that which God then was; thou art that whereof he made thy nature and creature: Then thou hearest and seest even with that wherewith God himself saw and heard in thee, before ever thine own willing or thine own seeing began.
Disciple. What now hinders or keeps me back, so that I cannot come to that, wherewith God is to be seen and heard?
Master. Nothing truly but thine own willing, hearing, and seeing do keep thee back from it, and do hinder thee from coming to this supersensual state. And it is because thou strivest so against that, out of which thou thyself art descended and derived, that thou thus breakest thyself off, with thine own willing, from God's willing, and with thine own seeing from God's seeing. In as much as in thine own seeing thou dost see in thine own willing only, and with thine own understanding thou dost understand but in and according to this thine own willing, as the same stands divided from the divine will. This thy willing moreover stops thy hearing, and maketh thee deaf towards God, through thy own thinking upon terrestrial things, and thy attending to that which is without thee; and so it brings thee into a ground, where thou art laid hold on and captivated in nature. And having brought thee hither, it overshadows thee with that which thou wiliest; it binds thee with thine own chains, and it keeps thee in thine own dark prison which thou makest for thyself; so that thou canst not go out thence, or come to that state which is supernatural and super-sensual.
Disciple. But being I am in nature, and thus bound, as with my own chains, and by my own natural will; pray be so kind, sir, as to tell me, how I may come through nature into the supersensual and supernatural ground, without the destroying of nature?
Master. Three things are requisite in order to this. The first is, Thou must resign up thy will to God; and must sink thyself down to the dust in his mercy. The second is, Thou must hate thy own will, and forbear from doing that to which thy own will Both drive thee. The third is, Thou must bow thy soul under the cross, heartily submitting thyself to it, that thou
mayest be able to bear the temptations of nature and creature. And if thou dost thus, know that God will speak into thee, and will bring thy resigned will into himself, in the supernatural ground; and then thou shalt hear, my son, what the Lord speaketh in thee.
Disciple. This is a hard saying, master; for I must forsake the world, and my life too, if I should do thus.
Master. Be not discouraged hereat. If thou forsakest the world, then thou comest into that out of which the world is made; and if thou losest thy life, then thy life is in that for whose sake thou forsakest it. Thy life is in God, from whence it came into the body; and as thou comest to have thine own power faint and weak and dying, the power of God will then work in thee and through thee.
Disciple. Nevertheless as God hath created man in and for the natural life, to rule over all creatures on earth, and to be a lord over all things in this world, it seems not to be at all unreasonable, that man should therefore possess this world and the things therein for his own.
Master. If thou rulest over all creatures but outwardly, there cannot be much in that. But if thou hast a mind to possess all things, and to be a lord indeed over all things in this world, there is quite another method to be taken by thee.
Disciple. Pray, how is that? And what method must I take, whereby to arrive at this sovereignty?
Master. Thou must learn to distinguish well betwixt the thing, and that which only is an image thereof; betwixt that sovereignty which is substantial, and in the inward ground or nature, and that which is imaginary, and in an outward form, or semblance; betwixt that which is properly angelical, and that which is no more than bestial. If thou rulest now over the creatures externally only, and not from the right internal ground of thy renewed nature; then thy will and ruling is verily in a bestial kind or manner, and thine at best is but a sort of imaginary and transitory government, being void of that which is substantial and permanent, the which only thou art to desire and press after. Thus by thy outwardly lording it over the creatures, it is most easy for thee to lose the substance and the reality, while thou hast nought remaining but the image or shadow only of thy first and original lordship; wherein thou art made capable to be again invested, if thou beest but wise, and takest thy investiture from the supreme lord in the right course and manner. Whereas by thy willing and ruling thus after a bestial manner, thou
bringest also thy desire into a bestial essence, by which means thou becomest infected and captivated therein, and gettest therewith a bestial nature and condition of life. But if thou shalt have put off the bestial and ferine nature, and if thou hast left the imaginary life, and quitted the low imaged condition of it; then art thou come into the super-imaginariness, and into the intellectual life, which is a state of living above images, figures, and shadows: and so thou rulest over all creatures, being re-united with thine original, in that very ground or source, out of which they were and are created; and henceforth nothing on earth can hurt thee. For thou art like all things; and nothing is unlike thee.
Disciple. O loving master, pray teach me how I may come the shortest way to be like unto all things.
Master. With all my heart. Do but think on the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, when he said, "Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." There is no shorter way than this; neither can there be a better way found. Verily, Jesus saith unto thee, Unless thou turn and become as a child, hanging upon him for all things, thou shalt not see the kingdom of God. This do, and nothing shall hurt thee; for thou shalt be at friendship with all the things that are, as thou dependest on the author and fountain of them, and becomest like him, by such dependence, and by the union of thy will with his will. But mark what I have further to say; and be not thou startled at it, though it may seem hard for thee at first to conceive. If thou wilt be like all things, thou must forsake all things; thou must turn thy desire away from them all, and not desire or hanker after any of them; thou must not extend thy will to possess that for thy own, or as thine own, which is something, whatsoever that something be. For as soon as ever thou takest something into thy desire, and receivest it into thee for thine own, or in propriety, then this very something (of what nature soever it is) is the same with thyself; and this worketh with thee in thy will, and thou art thence bound to protect it, and to take care of it, even as of thy own being. But if thou dost receive nothing into thy desire, then thou art free from all things, and rulest over all things at once, as a prince of God. For thou hast received nothing for thine own, and art nothing to all things; and all things are as nothing to thee. Thou art as a child, which understands not what a thing is; and though thou dost perhaps understand it, yet thou understandest it without mixing with it,
and without sensibly affecting or touching thy perception, even in that manner wherein God doth rule and see all things; he comprehending all, and yet nothing comprehending him.
Disciple. Ah! how shall I arrive at this heavenly understanding, at this sight of all things in God, at this pure and naked knowledge which is abstracted from the senses; at this light above nature and creature; and at this participation of the divine wisdom which oversees all things, and governs through all intellectual beings? For, alas, I am touched every moment by the things which are about me; and overshadowed by the clouds and fumes which rise up out of the earth. I desire therefore to be taught, if possible, how I may attain such a state and condition as no creature may be able to touch me to hurt me; and how my mind, being purged from sensible objects and things, may be prepared for the entrance and habitation of the divine wisdom in me?
Master. Thou desirest that I would teach thee how thou art to attain it; and I will direct thee to our master, from whom I have been taught it, that thou mayest learn it thyself from him, who alone teacheth the heart. Hear thou him. Wouldest thou arrive at this; wouldest thou remain untouched by sensibles; wouldest thou behold light in the very light of God, and see all things thereby; then consider the words of Christ, who is that light, and who is the truth. O consider now his words, who said, "Without me ye can do nothing " (John xix. 5), and defer not to apply thyself unto him, who is the strength of thy salvation, and the power of thy life; and with whom thou canst do all things, by the faith which he worketh in thee. But unless thou wholly givest thyself up to the life of our Lord Jesus Christ, and resignest thy will wholly to him, and desirest nothing and willest nothing without him, thou shalt never come to such a rest as no creature can disturb. Think what thou pleasest, and be never so much delighted in the activity of thine own reason, thou shalt find that in thine own power, and without such a total surrender to God, and to the life of God, thou canst never arrive at such a rest as this, or the true quiet of the soul, wherein no creature can molest thee, or so much as touch thee. Which when thou shalt, by grace, have attained to, then with thy body thou art in the world, as in the properties of outward nature; and with thy reason, under the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ; but with thy will thou walkest in heaven, and art at the end from whence all creatures are proceeded forth, and to which they return again. And then thou canst in this End,
which is the same with the Beginning, behold all things outwardly with reason, and inwardly with the mind; and so mayest thou rule in all things and over all things, with Christ; unto whom all power is given both in heaven and on earth.
Disciple. O master, the creatures which live in me do withhold me, that I cannot so wholly yield and give up myself as I willingly would. What am I to do in this case?
Master. Let not this trouble thee. Doth thy will go forth from the creatures? Then the creatures are forsaken in thee. They are in the world; and thy body, which is in the world, is with the creatures. But spiritually thou walkest with God, and conversest in heaven; being in thy mind redeemed from earth, and separated from creatures, to live the life of God. And if thy will thus leaveth the creatures, and goeth forth from them, even as the spirit goeth forth from the body at death; then are the creatures dead in it, and do live only in the body in the world. Since if thy will do not bring itself into them, they cannot bring themselves into it, neither can they by any means touch the soul. And hence St. Paul saith, "Our conversation is in heaven;" and also, "Ye are the temple of God, and the Spirit of God dwelleth in you." So then true Christians are the very temples of the Holy Ghost, who dwelleth in them; that is, the Holy Ghost dwelleth in the will, and the creature dwelleth in the body.
Disciple. If now the Holy Spirit doth dwell in the will of the mind, how ought I to keep myself so that he depart not from me again?
Master. Mark, my son, the words of our Lord Jesus Christ; "If ye abide in my words, then my words abide in you." If thou abidest with thy will in the words of Christ; then his word and spirit abideth in thee, and all shall be done for thee that thou canst ask of him. But if thy will goeth into the creature, then thou hast broken off thereby thyself from him: And then thou canst not any otherwise keep thyself but by abiding continually in the most resigned humility, and by entering into a constant course of penitence, wherein thou wilt be always grieved at thine own creaturely will, and that creatures do live still in thee, that is, in thy bodily appetite. If thou dost thus, thou standest in a daily dying from the creatures, and in a daily ascending into heaven in thy will; which will is also the will of thy Heavenly Father.
Disciple. O my loving master, pray teach me how I may come to such a constant course of holy penitence, and to such a daily
dying from all creaturely objects; for how can I abide continually in repentance?
Master. When thou leavest that which loveth thee, and lovest that which hateth thee; then thou mayest abide continually in repentance.
Disciple. What is it that I must thus leave?
Master. All things that love and entertain thee, because thy will loves and entertains them: All things that please and feed thee, because thy will feeds and cherishes them: All creatures in flesh and blood; in a word, all visibles and sensibles, by which either the imagination or sensitive appetite in men are delighted and refreshed. These the will of thy mind, or thy supreme part must leave and forsake; and must even account them all its enemies. This is the leaving of what loves thee. And the loving of what hates thee, is the embracing the reproach of the world. Thou must learn then to love the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, and for his sake to be pleased with the reproach of the world which hates thee and derides thee; and let this be thy daily exercise of penitence to be crucified to the world, and the world to thee. And so thou shalt have continual cause to hate thyself in the creature, and to seek the eternal rest which is in Christ. To which rest thou having thus attained, thy will may therein safely rest and repose itself, according as thy Lord Christ hath said: In me ye may have rest, but in the world ye shall have anxiety: In me ye may have peace, but in the world ye shall have tribulation.
Disciple. How shall I be now able to subsist in this anxiety and tribulation arising from the world, so as not to lose the eternal peace, or not enter into this rest? And how may I recover myself in such a temptation as this is, by not sinking under the world, but rising above it by a life that is truly heavenly and supersensual?
Master. If thou dost once every hour throw thyself by faith beyond all creatures, beyond and above all sensual perception and apprehension, yea, above discourse and reasoning, into the abyssal mercy of God, into the sufferings of our Lord, and into the fellowship of his interceding, and yieldest thyself fully and absolutely thereinto; then thou shalt receive power from above to rule over death, and the devil, and to subdue hell and the world under thee: And then thou mayest subsist in all temptations, and be the brighter for them.
Disciple. Blessed is the man that arriveth to such a state as this. But, alas! poor man that I am, how is this possible as to
me? And what, O my master, would become of me, if I should ever attain with my mind to that, where no creature is? Must I not cry out, "I am undone!"
Master. Son, why art thou so dispirited? Be of good heart still; for thou mayest certainly yet attain to it. Do but believe, and all things are made possible to thee. If it were that thy will, O thou of little courage, could break off itself for one hour, or even but for one half hour, from all creatures, and plunge itself into that where no creature is, or can be; presently it would be penetrated and clothed upon with the supreme splendour of the divine glory, would taste in itself the most sweet love of Jesus, the sweetness whereof no tongue can express, and would find in itself the unspeakable words of our Lord concerning his great mercy. Thy spirit would then feel in itself the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ to be very pleasing to it; and would thereupon love the cross more than the honours and goods of the world.
Disciple. This for the soul would be exceeding well indeed: But what would then become of the body, seeing that it must of necessity live in the creature?
Master. The body would by this means be put into the imitation of our Lord Christ, and of his body: It would stand in the communion of that most blessed body, which was the true temple of the Deity; and in the participation of all its gracious effects, virtues, and influences. It would live in the creature not of choice, but only as it is "made subject unto vanity," and in the world, as it is placed therein by the ordination of the Creator, for its cultivation and higher advancement; and as groaning to be delivered out of it in God's time and manner, for its perfection and resuscitation in eternal liberty and glory, like unto the glorified body of our Lord and his risen saints.
Disciple. But the body being in its present constitution, so "made subject to vanity," and living in a vain image and creaturely shadow, according to the life of the undergraduated creatures or brutes, whose breath goeth downwards to the earth; I am still very much afraid thereof, lest it should continue to depress the mind which is lifted up to God, by hanging as a dead weight thereto; and go on to amuse and perplex the same, as formerly, with dreams and trifles, by letting in the objects from without, in order to draw me down into the world and the hurry thereof; whereas I would fain maintain my conversation in heaven, even while I am living in the world. What therefore must I do with this body, that I may be able to keep up so
desirable a conversation; and not to be under any subjection to it any longer?
Master. There is no other way for thee that I know, but to present the body whereof thou complainest (which is the beast to be sacrificed) "a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God:" And this shall be thy "rational service," whereby this thy body will be put, as thou desirest, into the imitation of Jesus Christ, who said, his kingdom was not of this world. Be not thou then conformed to it, but be transformed by the renewing of thy mind; which renewed mind is to have dominion over the body, that so thou mayest prove, both in body and mind, what is the perfect will of God, and accordingly perform the same with and by his grace operating in thee. Whereupon the body, or the animal life would, being thus offered up, begin to die, both from without and from within. From without, that is, from the vanity and evil customs and fashions of the world: It would be an utter enemy to all the pomps thereof, and to all the gaudery, pageantry, pride, ambition, and haughtiness therein. From within, it would die as to all the lusts and appetites of the flesh, and would get a mind and will wholly new, for its government and management; being now made subject to the spirit, which would continually be directed to God, and so consequently that which is subject to it. And thus thy very body is become the temple of God and of his Spirit, in imitation of thy Lord's body.
Disciple. But the world would hate it and despise it for so doing; seeing it must hereby contradict the world, and must live and act quite otherwise than the world doth. This is most certain. And how can this then be taken?
Master. It would not take that as any harm done to it, but would rather rejoice that it is become worthy to be like unto the image of our Lord Jesus Christ, being transformed from that of the world: And it would be most willing to bear that cross after our Lord; merely that our Lord might bestow upon it the influence of his sweet and precious love.
Disciple. I do not doubt but in some this may be even so. Nevertheless for my own part, I am in a straight betwixt two, not feeling yet enough of that blessed influence upon me. O how willingly should my body bear that, could this be safely depended upon by me, according to what is urged! Wherefore pardon me, loving sir, in this one thing, if my impatience doth still further demand "what would become of it, if the anger of God from within, and the wicked world also from without, should
at once assault it, as the same really happened to our Lord Christ?"
Master. Be that unto it, even as unto our Lord Christ, when he was reproached, reviled, and crucified by the world; and when the anger of God so fiercely assaulted him for our sake. Now what did he under this most terrible assault both from without and from within? Why: He commended his soul into the hands of his Father, and so departed from the anguish of this world into the eternal joy. Do thou likewise; and his death shall be thy life.
Disciple. Be it unto me as unto the Lord Christ; and unto my body as unto his; which into his hands I have commended, and for the sake of his name do offer up, according to his revealed will. Nevertheless I am desirous to know what would become of my body in its pressing forth from the anguish of this miserable world into the power of the heavenly kingdom.
Master. It would get forth from the reproach and contradiction of the world, by a conformity to the passion of Jesus Christ; and from the sorrows and pains in the flesh, which are only the effects of some sensible impression of things without, by a quiet introversion of the spirit, and secret communion with the Deity manifesting itself for that end. It would penetrate into itself; it would sink into the great love of God; it would be sustained and refreshed by the most sweet name Jesus; and it would see and find within itself a new world springing forth as through the anger of God, into the love and joy eternal. And then should a man wrap his soul in this, even in the great love of God, and clothe himself therewith as with a garment; and should account thence all things alike; because in the creature he finds nothing that can give him without God the least satisfaction; and because also nothing of harm can touch him more, while he remains in this love, the which indeed is stronger than all things, and makes a man hence invulnerable both from within and without, by taking out the sting and poison of the creatures, and destroying the power of death. And whether the body be in hell or on earth, all is alike to him; for whether it be there or here, his mind is still in the greatest love of God; which is no less than to say, that he is in heaven.
Disciple. But how would a man's body be maintained in the world; or how would he be able to maintain those that are his, if he should by such a conversation incur the displeasure of all the world?
Master. Such a man gets greater favours than the world is
able to bestow upon him. He hath God for his friend; he hath all his angels for his friends: In all dangers and necessities these protect and relieve him; so that he need fear no manner of evil; no creature can hurt him. God is his helper; and that is sufficient. Also God is his blessing in everything: And though sometimes it may seem as if God would not bless him, yet is this but for a trial to him, and for the attraction of the divine love; to the end he may more fervently pray to God, and commit all his ways unto him.
Disciple. He loses, however, by this all his good friends; and there will be none to help him in his necessity..
Master. Nay, but he gets the hearts of all his good friends into his possession, and loses none but his enemies, who before loved his vanity and wickedness.
Disciple. How is it that he can get his good friends into his possession?
Master. He gets the very hearts and souls of all those that belong to our Lord Jesus to be his brethren, and the members of his own very life. For all the children of God are but One in Christ, which one is Christ in all: And therefore he gets them all to be his fellow members in the body of Christ, whence they have all the same heavenly goods in common; and all live in one and the same love of God, as the branches of a tree in one and the same root, and spring all from one and the same source of life in them. So that he can have no want of spiritual friends and relations, who are all rooted with him together in the love which is from above; who are all of the same blood and kindred in Christ Jesus; and who are cherished all by the same quickening sap and spirit diffusing itself through them universally from the one true vine, which is the tree of life and love. These are friends worth having; and though here they may be unknown to him, will abide his friends beyond death, to all eternity. But neither can he want even outward natural friends, as our Lord Christ when on earth did not want such also. For though indeed the high-priests and potentates of the world could not have a love to him, because they belonged not to him, neither stood in any kind of relation to him, as being not of this world; yet those loved him who were capable of his love, and receptive of his words. So in like manner, those who love truth and righteousness will love that man, and will associate themselves unto him, yea, though they may perhaps be outwardly at some distance or seeming disagreement, from the situation of their worldly affairs, or out of some certain
respects; yet in their hearts they cannot but cleave to him. For though they be not yet actually incorporated into one body with him, yet they cannot resist being of one mind with him, and being united in affection, for the great regard they bear to the truth, which shines forth in his words and in his life. By which they are made either his declared or his secret friends; and he doth so get their hearts, as they will be delighted above all things in his company, for the sake thereof, and will court his friendship, and will come unto him by stealth, if openly they dare not, for the benefit of his conversation and advice; even as Nicodemus did unto Christ, who came to him by night, and in his heart loved Jesus for the truth's sake, though outwardly he feared the world. And thus thou shalt have many friends that are not known to thee; and some known to thee, who may not appear so before the world.
Disciple. Nevertheless it is very grievous to be generally despised of the world, and to be trampled upon by men as the very offscouring thereof.
Master. That which now seems so hard and heavy to thee, thou wilt yet hereafter be most of all in love with.
Disciple. How can it be that I should ever love that which hates me?
Master. Though thou lovest the earthly wisdom now, yet when thou shalt be clothed upon with the heavenly wisdom, then thou wilt see that all the wisdom of the world is folly; and wilt see also that the world hates not so much thee, as thine enemy, which is the mortal life. And when thou thyself shalt come to hate the will thereof, by means of an habitual separation of thy mind from the world, then thou also wilt begin to love that despising of the mortal life, and the reproach of the world for Christ's sake. And so shalt thou be able to stand under every temptation, and to hold out to the end by the means hereof in a course of life above the world, and above sense. In this course thou wilt hate thyself; and thou wilt also love thyself; I say, love thyself, and that even more than ever thou didst yet.
Disciple. But how can these two subsist together, that a person should both love and hate himself?
Master. In loving thyself, thou lovest not thyself as thine own; but as given thee from the love of God thou lovest the divine ground in thee: By which and in which thou lovest the divine wisdom, the divine goodness, the divine beauty; thou lovest also by it God's works of wonders; and in this
ground thou lovest likewise thy brethren. But in hating thyself, thou hatest only that which is thine own, and wherein the evil sticks close to thee. And this thou dost, that so thou mayest wholly destroy that which thou callest thine; as when thou sayest I or Myself do this, or do that. All which is wrong, and a downright mistake in thee; for nothing canst thou properly call thine but the evil self, neither canst thou do anything of thyself that is to be accounted of. This self therefore thou must labour wholly to destroy in thee, that so thou mayest become a ground wholly divine. There is, there can be no selfishness in love; they are opposite to each other. Love, that is, divine love (of which only we are now discoursing), hates all Egoity, hates all that which we call I, or Ihood; hates all such restrictions and confinements, even all that springs from a contracted spirit, or this evil self-hood, because it is an hateful and deadly thing. And it is impossible that these two should stand together, or subsist in one person; the one driving out the other by a necessity of nature. For love possesses heaven, and dwells in itself, which is dwelling in heaven; but that which is called I, this vile self-hood possesses the world and worldly things; and dwells also in itself, which is dwelling in hell, because this is the very root of hell itself. And therefore as heaven rules the world, and as eternity rules time, even so ought love to rule the natural temporal life; for no other method is there, neither can there be of attaining to that life which is supernatural and eternal, and which thou so much desirest to be led into.
Disciple. Loving master, I am well content that this love should rule in me over the natural life, that so I may attain to that which is supernatural and supersensual; but pray tell me now, why must love and hatred, friend and foe thus be together? Would not love alone be better? Wherefore, I say, are love and trouble thus joined?
Master. If love dwelt not in trouble, it could have nothing to love: But its substance which it loves, namely, the poor soul, being in trouble and pain, it hath thence cause to love its own substance, and to deliver it from pain; that so itself may by it be again beloved. Neither could any one know what love is, if there were no hatred; or what friendship is, if there were no foe to contend with: Or in one word, if love had not something which it might love, and manifest the virtue and power of love, by working out deliverance to the beloved from all pain and trouble.
Disciple. Pray what is the virtue, the power, the height and the greatness of love?
Master. The virtue of love is Nothing and All, or that nothing visible out of which all things proceed; its power is through all things; its height is as high as God; its greatness is as great as God. Its virtue is the principle of all principles; its power supports the heavens and upholds the earth; its height is higher than the highest heavens; and its greatness is even greater than the very manifestation of the Godhead in the glorious light of the divine essence, as being infinitely capable of greater and greater manifestations in all eternity. What can I say more? Love is higher than the highest. Love is greater than the greatest. Yea, it is in a certain sense greater than God; while yet in the highest sense of all, God is Love, and love is God. Love being the highest principle, is the virtue of all virtues; from whence they flow forth. Love being the greatest majesty, is the power of all powers, from whence they severally operate: And it is the holy magical root, or ghostly power from whence all the wonders of God have been wrought by the hands of his elect servants, in all their generations successively. Whosoever finds it, finds nothing and all things.
Disciple. Dear master, pray tell me but how I may understand this.
Master. First then, in that I said, "its virtue is nothing," or that nothing which is the beginning of all things, thou must understand it thus: When thou art gone forth wholly from the creature, and from that which is visible, and art become nothing to all that is nature and creature, then thou art in that Eternal One, which is God himself: And then thou shalt perceive and feel in thy interiour, the highest virtue of love. But in that I said, "Its power is through all things," this is that which thou perceivest and findest in thy own soul and body experimentally, whenever this great love is enkindled within thee; seeing that it will burn more than the fire can do, as it did in the prophets of old, and afterwards in the apostles, when God conversed with them bodily, and when his Spirit descended upon them in the oratory of Zion. Thou shalt then see also in all the works of God, how love hath poured forth itself into all things, and penetrateth all things, and is the most inward and most outward ground in all things: Inwardly in the virtue and power of everything; and outwardly in the figure and form thereof.
And in that I said, "Its height is as high as God;" thou mayest understand this in thyself; forasmuch as it brings thee to be as high as God himself is, by being united to God: As may be seen by our beloved Lord Christ in our humanity. Which
humanity love hath brought up into the highest throne, above all angelical principalities and powers, into the very power of the Deity itself.
But in that I also said, "Its greatness is as great as God," thou art hereby to understand that there is a certain greatness and latitude of heart in love, which is inexpressible; for it enlarges the soul as wide as the whole creation of God. And this shall be truly experienced by thee, beyond all words, when the throne of love shall be set up in thy heart.
Moreover in that I said, "Its virtue is the principle of all principles," hereby it is given thee to understand, that love is the principiating cause of all created beings, both spiritual and corporeal, by virtue whereof the second causes do move and act occasionally according to certain eternal laws from the beginning implanted in the very constitution of things thus originated. This virtue which is in love, is the very life and energy of all the principles of nature, superiour and inferiour: It reaches to all worlds, and to all manner of beings in them contained, they being the workmanship of divine love; and is the first mover, and first moveable both in heaven above and in the earth beneath, and in the water under the earth. And hence there is given to it the name of the Lucid Aleph, or Alpha; by which is expressed the beginning of the alphabet of nature, and of the book of creation and providence, or the divine archetypal book, in which is the light of wisdom, and the source of all lights and forms.
And in that I said, "Its power supports the heavens;" by this thou wilt come to understand that as the heavens, visible and invisible, are originated from this great principle, so are they likewise necessarily sustained by it; and that therefore if this should be but never so little withdrawn, all the lights, glories, beauties, and forms of the heavenly worlds, would presently sink into darkness and chaos.
And whereas I further said, "that it upholds the earth; this will appear to thee no less evident than the former, and thou shalt perceive it in thyself by daily and hourly experience; forasmuch as the earth without it, even thy own earth also (that is, thy body), would certainly be without form and void. By the power thereof the earth hath been thus long upheld, notwithstanding a foreign usurped power introduced by the folly of sin: And should this but once fail or recede, there could no longer be either vegetation or animation upon it; yea, the very pillars of it be overthrown quite, and the band of union, which
is that of attraction or magnetism, called the centripetal power, being broken and dissolved, all must thence run into the utmost disorder, and falling away as into shivers, would be dispersed as loose dust before the wind.
But in that I said, "Its height is higher than the highest heavens;" this thou mayest also understand within thyself: For shouldest thou ascend in spirit through all the orders of angels and heavenly powers, yet the power of love still is undeniably superiour to them all. And as the throne of God, who sits upon the heaven of heavens, is higher than the highest of them, even so must love also be, which fills them all, and comprehends them all.
And whereas I said of the greatness of love, that it is "greater than the very manifestation of the Godhead in the light of the divine essence;" that is also true: For love enters even into that where the Godhead is not manifested in this glorious light, and where God may be said not to dwell. And entering thereinto, love begins to manifest to the soul the light of the Godhead; and thus is the darkness broken through, and the wonders of the new creation successively manifested.
Thus shalt thou be brought to understand really and fundamentally, what is the virtue and power of love, and what the height and greatness thereof is; how that it is indeed the "virtue of all virtues," though it be invisible, and as a nothing in appearance, inasmuch as it is the worker of all things, and a powerful vital energy passing through all virtues and powers natural and supernatural; and the power of all powers, nothing being able to let or obstruct the omnipotence of love, or to resist its invincible penetrating might, which passes through the whole creation of God, inspecting and governing all things.
And in that I said, "It is higher than the highest, and greater than the greatest;" thou mayest hereby perceive as in a glimpse, the supreme height and greatness of omnipotent love, which infinitely transcends all that human sense and reason can reach to. The highest archangels and the greatest powers of heaven, are in comparison of it but as dwarfs. Nothing can be conceived higher and greater in God himself, by the very highest and greatest of his creatures. There is such an infinity in it, as comprehends and surpasses all the divine attributes.
But in that it was also said, "Its greatness is greater than God;" that likewise is very true in the sense wherein it was spoken: For love, as I before observed, can there enter where God dwelleth not, since the Most High God dwelleth not in
darkness, but in the light; the hellish darkness being put under his feet. Thus for instance, when our beloved Lord Christ was in hell, hell was not the mansion of God or of Christ; hell was not God, neither was it with God, nor could it be at all with him; hell stood in the darkness and anxiety of nature, and no light of the divine majesty did there enter: God was not there; for he is not in the darkness, or in the anguish; but love was there; and love destroyed death and conquered hell. So also when thou art in anguish or trouble, which is hell within, God is not the anguish or trouble; neither is he in the anguish or trouble; but his love is there, and brings thee out of the anguish and trouble into God, leading thee into the light and joy of his presence. When God hides himself in thee, love is still there, and makes him manifest in thee. Such is the inconceiveable greatness and largeness of love; which will hence appear to thee as great as God above nature, and greater than God in nature, or as considered in his manifestative glory.
Lastly, whereas I also said, "Whosoever finds it, finds nothing and all things;" that is also certain and true. But how finds he nothing? Why, I will tell thee how. He that findeth it, findeth a supernatural supersensual abyss, which hath no ground or byss to stand on, and where there is no place to dwell in; and he findeth also nothing is like unto it, and therefore it may fitly be compared to nothing; for it is deeper than anything, and is as nothing with respect to all things, forasmuch as it is not comprehensible by any of them. And because it is nothing respectively, it is therefore free from all things; and is that only good, which a man cannot express or utter what it is; there being nothing to which it may be compared, to express it by.
But in that I lastly said, "Whosoever finds it, finds all things;" there is nothing can be more true than this assertion. It hath been the beginning of all things; and it ruleth all things. It is also the end of all things; and will thence comprehend all things within its circle. All things are from it, and in it, and by it. If thou findest it, thou comest into that ground from whence all things are proceeded, and wherein they subsist; and thou art in it a King over all the works of God.
Here the disciple was exceedingly ravished with what his master had so wonderfully and surprisingly declared, and returned his most humble and hearty thanks for that light, which he had been an instrument of conveying to him. But being desirous to hear further concerning these high matters,
and to know somewhat more particularly, he requested him, that he would give him leave to wait on him the next day again; and that he would then be pleased to shew him how and where he might find this which was so much beyond all price and value, and whereabout the seat and abode of it might be in human nature; with the entire process of the discovery and bringing it forth to light.
The master said to him: This then we will discourse about at our next conference, as God shall reveal the same to us by his Spirit, which is a searcher of all things. And if thou dost remember well what I answered thee in the beginning, thou shalt soon come thereby to understand that hidden mystical wisdom of God, which none of the wise men of the world know; and where the Mine thereof is to be found in thee, shall be given thee from above to discern. Be silent therefore in thy spirit, and watch unto prayer; that when we meet again to-morrow in the love of Christ, thy mind may be disposed for finding that noble pearl, which to the world appears nothing, but which to the children of wisdom is all things.