By Jacob Boehme
THE SECOND CHAPTER
Here Reason will object and say, Is it not right for a Man to attain the Light of God, and also the Light of the outward Nature and Reason, that he may be able to order his Life wisely, as the Scripture directeth?
2. Yes, it is very right; nothing can be more profitable to a Man, neither is he capable of any Thing better; nay, it is a Treasure above all Earthly Treasures for a Man to have the Light of God and of Time, for it is the Eye of Time and of Eternity.
3. But mark how thou oughtest to use it; when the Light of God first manifesteth itself in the Soul, it shineth forth as Light from a Candle, and kindleth the outward Light of Reason immediately; yet it yieldeth not itself wholly up to Reason, so as to be under the Dominion of the outward Man. No, the outward Man beholdeth himself in this through-shining Lustre, as he doth his Likeness in a Looking-Glass, whereby he presently learneth to know himself, which is good and profitable to him.
4. Now, when he doth so, Reason, which is the creaturely SELF, cannot do better than to behold itself in the SELF of the Creature, and not enter with the Will of the Desire into the Center in seeking itself. If it doth, it breaketh itself off from the Substance of God, (which riseth together with the Light of God, of which the Soul ought to eat, and refresh itself therewith,) and eateth of the outward Substance and Light, and thereby draweth the Venom into itself again.
5. The Will of the Creature ought to sink wholly into itself with all its Reason and Desire, accounting itself an unworthy Child that is no whit worthy of this so high a Grace; nor should it arrogate any Knowledge or Understanding to itself, or desire of God to have any Understanding in its creaturely SELF; but sincerely and simply sink down into the Grace and Love of God in Christ Jesus, and desire to be as it were dead to itSELF and its own Reason, in the Divine Life, and wholly resign itself to the Spirit of God in Love, that He may do how and what He will with it as with His own Instrument.
6. Its own Reason ought not enter upon any Speculation as to the Ground of Divine or human Matters; nor to will and desire any Thing but the Grace of God in Christ. And as a Child continually longeth after the Breasts of the Mother, so must its Hunger be continually entering into the Love of God, and not suffer itself to be broken off from that Hunger by any Means. When the outward Reason or SELF riseth up and triumpheth in the Light, saying, I have the true Child, then the Will of the Desire must bow itSELF down to the Earth, and bring itself into the deepest Humility and most simple Ignorance, and say, Thou art foolish, and hast nothing but the Grace of God. Thou must wrap thySELF up in that Belief with great Humility, and become nothing at all in thySELF, and neither know nor love thy SELF. All that thou hast, or is in thee, must esteem itSELF as nothing but a mere Instrument of God; and thou must bring thy Desire only into God's Mercy, and go forth from all thy OWN Knowing and Willing; and esteem it as nothing at all, nor ever entertain any Will to enter into it again.
7. As soon as this is done the natural Will becometh weak and faint, and then the Devil is not able to sift it thus any more with his evil Desire, for the Places of his Rest become very powerless, barren and dry; and then the Holy Spirit proceeding from God, taketh Possession of the Forms of Life, and maketh His Dominion to prevail. He kindleth the Forms of Life with His Flames of Love, and then the high Knowledge of the Center of all Things ariseth, according to the inward and outward Constellation or Complexion of the Creature, in a very subtle drying Fire, attended with great Delight. Whereupon the humbled Soul presently desires to sink down into that Light, and esteems itself to be nothing and quite unworthy of It.
8. And thus its own Desire pierceth into that nothing, viz.(into that wherein God createth) and doth what God wills therein, and the Spirit of God springeth forth through the Desire of the resigned Humility, and so the human Self immediately followeth the Spirit of God in Trembling and humble Joy; and thus it may behold what is in Time and Eternity, for All is present before it.
9. When the Spirit of God riseth up as a Fire and Flame of Love, then the Sprit of the Soul descendeth, and saith, Lord, Glory be to Thy Name, not to me; Thou art able to take to Thyself Virtue, Power, Strength, Wisdom, and Knowledge; do as Thou wilt; I can do nothing; I know nothing; I will go no whither but whither Thou leadest me as Thy Instrument; do Thou in me and with me what Thou wilt.
10. In such a humble and total Resignation the Spark of Divine Power falleth into the Center of the Forms of Life, as a Spark into Tinder, and kindleth it, viz. the Fire of the Soul, which Adam had made to be a dark Coal in himself, so that it glimmereth. And when the Light of Divine Power hath kindled itself therein, the Creature must go on as an Instrument of God's Spirit, and speak what the Spirit of God dictateth to it; and then it is no more in its own proper Possession, but is the Instrument of God.
11. But the Will of the Soul must without ceasing, in this fiery driving, sink into nothing, viz. into the deepest Humility in the Sight of God. For no sooner doth the Will of the Soul in the least Measure go on in its OWN Speculation or Searching, but Lucifer layeth hold of it in the Center of the Forms of Life, and sifteth it so that it entereth into SELF. It must therefore continue close to resigned Humility, as a Well doth to its Spring, and must suck and drink of God's Fountain, and not depart from the Ways of God at all.
12. For as soon as the Soul eateth of SELF, and of the Light of outward Reason, it goeth on in its OWN Opinion; and then its Doings, which it sets forth for Divine, are but from the outward Constellation, or Influence of the Stars, which presently layeth hold on the Soul, and maketh it dry. And then the Soul goeth on in Errors, till it yield itSELF up again into Resignation, and acknowledging itSELF anew to be a defiled Child, resisteth Reason and so getteth the Love of God again. Which is harder to do in that Case than it was at first; for the Devil bringeth in strong Doubts now, and will not easily leave his Fort of Prey.
13. This may be seen clearly in the Saints of God from the Beginning of the World. For many who have been driven by the Spirit of God, have yet oftentimes departed from Resignation into SELF, viz. into their OWN Reason and Will, in which Satan hath cast them into Sins, and into the Anger of God; as appeareth by David and Solomon, also by the Patriarchs, Prophets, and Apostles; who have oftentimes committed great Errors when they have departed from Resignation into SELF, viz. into their own Reason and Lust.
14. Therefore, it is necessary for the Children of God to know how to behave themselves when they will learn the WAY of God. They must beat down and cast away their very Thoughts; and desire nothing, nor have the least Will to learn any Thing, unless they find themselves to be in true Resignation; so that God's Spirit leadeth, teacheth, and guideth Man's Spirit, and that the human Will which is attached to itSELF, be wholly broken off from its OWN Lust, and resigned to God.
15. All Speculation in the Wonders of God is very dangerous, for the Spirit of the Will may soon be captivated therewith, unless the Spirit of the Will goeth or walketh after the Spirit of God, and then it hath Power in the resigned Humility to behold the Wonders of God.
16. I do not say that a Man should search and learn nothing in natural Arts and Sciences. No; such Knowledge is useful to him; but a Man must not begin with his OWN Reason. Man ought not only to govern his Life by the Light of outward Reason, which is good in itself; but should sink with that Light into the deepest Humility before God, and set the Spirit and Will of God foremost in all his searching, so that the Light of Reason may see and know Things through the Light of God. And though Reason may be very wise in its own Sphere, and help a Man to much Knowledge, yet it must not arrogate such Wisdom and Knowledge to itSELF, as if they were in its OWN Possession, but give the Glory thereof to God, to Whom alone all Wisdom and Knowledge belongeth.
17. For the more deeply Reason sinketh itSELF down into simple Humility in the Sight of God, and the more unworthy it accounts itSELF in His Sight; the more truely it dieth from SELF-desire and the more thoroughly the Spirit of God penetrateth it, and bringeth it into the highest Knowledge, so that at length it may come to behold the great Mysteries and Wonders of God. For the Spirit of God worketh only in resigned Humility, in that which neither seeketh nor desireth itSELF. The Spirit of God taketh hold of whatsoever desireth to be simple and lowly before Him, and bringeth it into His Wonders. He hath Pleasure only in those that fear and bow themSELVES before Him.
18. For God hath not created us for ourSELVES only, but to be Instruments of His Wonders, by which He desireth to manifest His Wonders. The resigned Will trusteth God, and expecteth all Good from Him alone; but SELF-Will ruleth itself, for it is broken off from God. All that SELF-Will doeth is Sin and is against God; for it is gone out of that Order wherein He created it, into Disobedience, and desireth to be its OWN Lord and Master.
19. When a Man's OWN Will dieth from itSELF, then it is free from Sin, for it desireth nothing but that which God desireth of His Creature; it desireth only to do that for which God hath created it and that which God will do by it; and though it is and must be involved in the Doing, yet it is but the Instrument of the Doing, by which God doth what He will.
20. For this is the true Faith in Man, viz. to die from himSELF; that is, from his OWN Desire; and in all his Undertakings and Designs to bring his Desire into the Will of God, and arrogate the doing of nothing to himSELF, but esteem himSELF in all his Doings to be a Servant or Minister of God, and to think that all he doeth, and undertaketh, is for God. For in such a Disposition the Spirit of God leadeth him into true Uprightness and Faithfullness towards his Neighbor. For he thinketh thus within himself, I do my Work not for myself, but for God, Who hath called and appointed me to do it; I am but a Servant in His Vineyard. He listeneth continually after the Voice of his Master, Who within him commandeth him what he shall do. The Lord speaketh in him, and biddeth him do what He would have to be done by him.
21. But SELF doeth what outward Reason from the Stars commandeth, into which Reason the Devil flyeth with his Desire. All whatever SELF doth is without the Will of God, and is done altogether in the Fantasy, that the Anger of God may accomplish its Pastime therewith.
22. No Work done without the Will of God can reach the Kingdom of God; it is all but an unprofitable Imagery, or SELF-wrought work, in this great Agitation of Mankind. For nothing is pleasing to God, but what He Himself doth by the resigned Will, as His Instrument. For there is but one only God in the Essence of all Essences, and all that which worketh with Him in that Essence, is one Spirit with Him; but that which worketh in itSELF only, in its OWN Will, is in itSELF only, and not in His Dominion. It is indeed under that universal Dominion of Nature, whereby He holdeth subject to Him every Life, evil and good, but not under that special Divine Government in Himself, which comprehendeth the Good only. Nothing is Divine which walketh and worketh not in the Will of God.
23. Christ saith, Every Plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted out and burned in the Fire. All the works of Man, which he hath wrought without the Will of God, shall be burnt up in the last Fire and given to the Wrath of God, viz. to the Pit of Darkness to recreate itself withal. For Christ saith, He that is not with Me is against Me; and he that gathereth not with Me scattereth. Whosoever worketh, and doeth it not in a resigned Will with Confidence in God, doeth but make desolate and scatter; it is not acceptable to God. For nothing is pleasing to Him but that which He willeth with His Spirit, and doeth by His own Instrument.
24. Therefore, whatsoever is done by the Conclusions of human SELF in Matters of Religion, is a mere Fiction. It is Babel, and but a Work of the Stars, and of the outward World, and not acknowledged by God to be His Work. It is only the Play of the wrestling Wheel of Nature, wherein Good and Evil wrestle one with the other; what the one buildeth, the other destroyeth. And this is the great Misery of the vain Turmoiling of Men, the Issue whereof must be left to the Judgement of God.
25. Whosoever therefore stirreth or laboreth much in such Turmoilings, worketh but for the Judgement of God; for no whit of it is perfect and permanent. It must all be separated in the Putrefaction. For that which is wrought in the Anger of God will be received thereby, and kept in the Mystery of its Desire to the Day of God's Judgement, when Evil and Good shall be severed.
26. But if a Man turn and go forth from himSELF, and enter into the Will of God, then also that Good which hath been wrought in and by him, shall be freed from the Evil which he hath wrought. As Isaiah saith, Though your Sins be as red as Scarlet, yet if ye turn and repent, they shall become as Wool, yea, as white as Snow. For the Evil shall be swallowed up in the Wrath of God into Death, and the Good shall spring forth as a Sprout out of the wild Earth.