By Jacob Boehme
Herein is described and set forth the Manner of passing the Gulf which divides betwixt the two Principles or States of Heaven and Hell: and it is particularly shewn how this Transaction is carried on in the Soul; what the Partition Wall therein is, which separates from God.
What the breaking down of this Partition Wall, and how effected; what the Centre of Light is, and the pressing into that Centre is; What the Light of God, and the Light of Nature are; how they are operative in their several Spheres, and how to be kept from interfering with each other; with some Account of the two Wills and their Contraposition in the Fallen State; of the Magical Wheel of the Will, and how the Motion thereof may be regulated; of the Eye in the Midst thereof, what the Right Eye is to the Soul, and what the Left is, but especially what the Single Eye is, and in what Manner it is to be obtained; of Purification from the Contagion of Matter, of the Destruction of Evil, and of the very Annihilation of it, by the Subsidence of the Will from its own Something into Nothing; of the Naked and Magical Faith, and the Attraction thereby of a certain Divine Substantiality and Vestment; how all consists in the Will, and proceeds but from one Point; where that Point is placed, and how it may be found out; and which is both the safest and nearest Way to attain to the high supersensual State, and the internal Kingdom of Christ, according to the true Heavenly Magia or Wisdom.
The Disciple being very earnest to be more fully instructed how he might arrive at the supersensual Life, and how, having found all Things, he might come to be a king over all God's Works, came again to his Master the next Morning, having watched the Night in Prayer, that he might be disposed to receive and apprehend the Instructions that should be given him by Divine Irradiation upon his Mind. And the Disciple after a little Space of Silence, bowed himself, and thus brake forth:
Disciple. O my Master! my Master! I have now endeavoured so to recollect my Soul in the Presence of God, and to cast myself into that Deep where no Creature doth nor can dwell; that I might hear the Voice of my Lord speaking in me; and be initiated into that high Life, whereof I heard yesterday such great and amazing Things pronounced. But, alas! I neither hear nor see as I should: There is still such a Partition Wall in me which beats back the Heavenly Sounds in their Passage, and obstructs the Entrance of that Light by which alone Divine Objects are discoverable, as till this be broken down, I can have but small Hopes, yea, even none at all, of arriving at those glorious Attainments which you pressed me to, or of entering into that where no Creature dwells, and which you call Nothing and All Things. Wherefore be so kind as to inform me what is required on my Part, that this Partition which hinders may be broken or removed.
Master. This Partition is the Creaturely Will in thee: and this can be broken by nothing but by the Grace of Self-Denial, which is the Entrance into the true following of Christ; and totally removed by nothing but a perfect Conformity with the Divine Will.
Disciple. But how shall I be able to break this Creaturely Will which is in me, and is at Enmity with the Divine Will? Or, what shall I do to follow Christ in so difficult a Path, and not to faint in a continual Course of Self-Denial and Resignation to the Will of God?
Master. This is not to be done by thyself, but by the Light and Grace of God received into thy Soul, which will if thou gainsay not, break the Darkness that is in thee, and melt down thine own Will, which worketh in the Darkness and Corruption of Nature, and bring it into the Obedience of Christ, whereby the Partition of the Creaturely Self is removed from betwixt God and thee.
Disciple. I know that I cannot do it of myself. But I would fain learn how I must receive this Divine Light and Grace into me, which is to do it for me, if I hinder it: not my own self. What is then required of me in order to admit this Breaker of the Partition and to Promote the Attainment of the Ends of such Admission?
Master. There is nothing more required of thee at first, than not to resist this Grace, which is manifested in thee, and nothing in the whole Process of thy Work, but to be obedient and passive to the Light of God shining through the Darkness of thy Creaturely Being, which comprehendeth it not, as reaching no higher than the Light of Nature.
Disciple. But is it not for me to attain, if I can, both the Light of God, and the Light of the outward Nature too: And to make use of them both for the ordering my Life wisely and prudently?
Master. It is right, I confess, so to do. And it is indeed a Treasure above all earthly Treasures, to be possessed of the Light of God and Nature, operating in their Spheres; and to have both the Eye of Time and Eternity at once open together, and yet not to interfere with each other.
Disciple. This is a great Satisfaction to me to hear; having been very uneasy about it for some Time. But how this can be without interfering with each other, there is the Difficulty: Wherefore fain would I know, if it were lawful, the Boundaries of the one and the other; and how both the Divine and the Natural Light may in their several Spheres respectively act and operate, for the Manifestation of the Mysteries of God and Nature, and for the Conduct of my outward and inward Life?
Master. That each of these may be preserved distinct in their several Spheres, without confounding Things Heavenly and Things Earthly, or breaking the golden Chain of Wisdom, it will be necessary, my Child, in the first Place to wait for and attend the Supernatural and Divine Light, as that superior Light appointed to govern the Day, rising in the true East, which is the Centre of Paradise; and in great Might breaking forth as out of the Darkness within thee, through a Pillar of Fire and Thunder Clouds, and thereby also reflecting upon the inferior Light of Nature a Sort of Image of itself, whereby only it can be kept in its due Subordination, that which is below being made subservient to that which is above; and that which is without to that which is within. Thus there will be no Danger of interfering; but all will go right, and every Thing abide in its proper Sphere.
Disciple. Therefore, unless Reason or the Light of Nature be sanctified in my Soul, and illuminated by this superior Light, as from the central East of the holy Light-World, by the Eternal and Intellectual Sun; I perceive there will be always some Confusion, and I shall never be able to manage aright either what concerneth Time or Eternity: But I must always be at a Loss, or break the Links of Wisdom's Chain.
Master. It is even so as thou hast said. All is Confusion, if thou hast no more but the dim Light of Nature, or unsanctified and unregenerated Reason to guide thee by; and if only the Eye of Time be opened in thee, which cannot pierce beyond its own Limit. Wherefore seek the Fountain of Light, waiting in the deep Ground of thy Soul for the rising there of the Sun of Righteousness, whereby the Light of Nature in thee, with the Properties thereof, will be made to shine seven Times brighter than ordinary. For it shall receive the Stamp, Image, and Impression of the Supersensual and Supernatural; so that the sensual and rational Life will hence be brought into the most perfect Order and Harmony.
Disciple. But how am I to wait for the rising of this glorious Sun, and how am I to seek in the Centre, this Fountain of Light, which may enlighten me throughout, and bring all my Properties into perfect Harmony? I am in Nature as I said before; and which Way shall I pass through Nature, and the Light thereof, so that I may come into that Supernatural and Supersensual Ground, whence this true Light, which is the Light of Minds, doth arise; and this, without the Destruction of my Nature, or quenching the Light of it, which is my Reason?
Master. Cease but from thine own Activity, steadfastly fixing thine eye upon one point, and with a strong purpose relying upon the promised grace of God in Christ, to bring thee out of thy darkness into His marvellous light. For this end gather in all thy thoughts, and by faith press into the Centre, laying hold upon the Word of God, which is infallible, and which hath called thee. Be thou then obedient to this call; and be silent before the Lord, sitting alone with Him in thy inmost and most hidden cell, thy mind being centrally united in itself, and attending His will in the patience of Hope. So shall thy light break forth as the morning; and after the redness thereof is passed, the Sun Himself, which thou waitest for, shall arise unto thee, and under His most healing wings thou shalt greatly rejoice; ascending and descending in His bright and salutiferous beams. Behold this is the true supersensual ground of life.
Disciple. I believe it indeed to be even so. But will not this destroy Nature? Will not the Light of Nature in me be extinguished by this greater Light? Or, must not the outward Life hence perish with the earthly Body which I carry?
Master. By no Means at all. It is true, the evil Nature will be destroyed by it; but by the Destruction thereof you can be no Loser, but very much a Gainer. The Eternal Band of Nature is the same afterward as before; and the Properties are the same. So that Nature hereby is only advanced and meliorated; and the Light thereof, or human Reason, by being kept within its due Bounds, and regulated by a superior Light, is only made useful.
Disciple. Pray therefore let me know how this inferior Light ought to be used by me how it is to be kept within its due Bounds and after what Manner the superior Light doth regulate it and ennoble it.
Master. Know then, my beloved Son, that if thou wilt keep the Light of Nature within its own proper Bounds, and make use thereof in just Subordination to the Light of God: thou must consider that there are in the Soul two Wills, an inferior Will, which is for driving thee to Things without and below; and a superior Will, which is for drawing to Things within and above. These two Wills are now set together, as it were, Back to Back, and in a direct Contrariety to each other; but in the Beginning it was not so. For this Contraposition of the Soul in these two is no more than the Effect of the Fallen State; since before that they were placed one under the other, that is, the superior Will Above, as the Lord, and the inferior Below, as the Subject. And thus it ought to have continued. Thou must also further consider, that answering to these two Wills there are likewise two Eyes in the Soul, whereby they are severally directed; forasmuch as these Eyes are not united in one single View, but look quite contrary Ways at once. They are in a like Manner set one against the other, without a common Medium to join them. And hence, so long as this Double-sightedness doth remain, it is impossible there should be any Agreement in the Determination of this or that Will. This is very plain: And it sheweth the Necessity that this Malady, arising from the Dis-union of the Rays of Vision be some Way remedied and redressed, in order to a true Discernment in the Mind. Both these Eyes therefore must be made to unite by a Concentration of Rays; there being nothing more dangerous than for the Mind to abide thus in the Duplicity, and not to seek to arrive at the Unity. Thou perceivest, I know, that thou hast two Wills in thee, one set against the other, the superior and the inferior; and that thou hast also two Eyes within, one against another whereof the one Eye may be called the Right Eye, and the other the Left Eye. Thou perceivest too, doubtless, that it is according to the Right Eye that the Wheel of the superior Will is moved; and that it is according to the Motion of the Left Eye, that the contrary Wheel in the lower is turned about.
Disciple. I perceive this, Sir, to be very true; and this it is which causeth a continual Combat in me, and createth to me greater Anxiety than I am able to express. Nor am I unacquainted with the Disease of my own Soul, which you have so clearly declared. Alas! I perceive and lament this Malady, which so miserably disturbeth my Sight; whence I feel such irregular and convulsive Motions drawing me on this Side and that Side. The Spirit seeth not as the Flesh seeth; neither doth, or can the Flesh see, as the Spirit seeth. Hence the Spirit willeth against the Flesh; and the Flesh willeth against the Spirit in me. This hath been my hard Case. And how shall it be remedied? O how may I arrive at the Unity of Will, and how come into the Unity of Vision!
Master. Mark now what I say: The Right Eye looketh forward in thee into Eternity. The Left Eye looketh backward in the into Time. If now thou sufferest thyself. to be always looking into Nature, and the Things of Time, and to be leading the Will and to be seeking somewhat for itself in the Desire, it will be impossible for thee ever to arrive at the Unity, which thou wishest for Remember this; and be upon thy watch, Give not thy Mind leave to enter in, nor to fill itself with, that which is without thee: neither look thou backward upon thyself; but quit thyself, and look forward upon Christ. Let not thy Left Eye deceive thee, by making continually one Representation after another, and stirring up thereby an earnest Longing in the Self-Propriety; but let thy Right Eye command back this Left, and attract it to thee, so that it may not gad abroad into the Wonders and Delights of Nature. Yea, it is better to pluck it quite out, and to cast it from thee, than to suffer it to proceed forth without Restraint into Nature, and to follow its own Lusts: However there is for this no necessity, since both Eyes may become very useful, if ordered aright; and both the Divine and natural Light may in the Soul subsist together, and be of mutual Service to each other. But never shalt thou arrive at the Unity of Vision or Uniformity of Will, but by entering fully into the Will of our Saviour Christ, and therein bringing the Eye of Time into the Eye of Eternity; and then descending by Means of this united through the Light of God into the Light of Nature.
Disciple. So then if I can but enter into the Will of my Lord, and abide therein, I am safe, and may both attain to the Light of God in the Spirit of my Soul, and see with the Eye of God, that is, the Eye of Eternity in the Eternal Ground of my Will; and may also at the same Time enjoy the Light of this World nevertheless; not degrading, but adorning the Light of Nature; and beholding as with the Eye of Eternity Things Eternal, so with the Eye of Nature Things natural, and both contemplating therein the Wonders of God, and sustaining also thereby the Life of my outward Vehicle or body.
Master. It is very right. Thou hast well understood; and thou desirest now to enter into the Will of God, and to abide therein as in the Supersensual Ground of Light and Life, where thou mayest in His Light behold both Time and Eternity, and bring all the Wonders created of God for the exterior into the interior Life, and so eternally rejoice in them to the Glory of Christ; the Partition of thy Creaturely Will being broken down, and the Eye of thy Spirit simplified in and through the Eye of God manifesting itself in the Centre of thy Life. Let this be so now; for it is God's Will.
Disciple. But it is very hard to be always looking forwards into Eternity; and consequently to attain to this single Eye, and Simplicity of Divine Vision. The Entrance of a Soul naked into the Will of God, shutting out all Imaginations and Desires, and breaking down the strong Partition which you mention, is indeed somewhat very terrible and shocking to human Nature, as in its present State. O what shall I do, that I may reach this which I so much long for?
Master. My Son, let not the Eye of Nature with the Will of the Wonders depart from that Eye which is introverted into the Divine Liberty, and into the Eternal Light of the holy Majesty: but let it draw to thee those Wonders by Union with that heavenly internal Eye, which are externally wrought out and manifested in visible Nature. For while thou art in the World, and hast an honest Employment, thou art certainly by the Order of Providence obliged to labour in it, and to finish the Work given thee, according to thy best Ability, without repining in the least; seeking out and manifesting for God's Glory, the Wonders of Nature and Art. Since let the Nature be what it will, it is all the Work and Art of God: and let the Art also be what it will, it is still God's Work; and His Art, rather than any Art or Cunning of Man. And all both in Art and Nature serveth but abundantly to manifest the wonderful Works of God; that He for all, and in all may be glorified. Yea, all serveth, if thou knowest rightly how to use them, but to recollect thee more inwards, and to draw thy Spirit into that majestic Light, wherein the original Patterns and Forms of Things visible are to be seen. Keep therefore in the Centre, and stir not out from the Presence of God revealed within thy Soul; let the World and the Devil make never so great a Noise and Bustle to draw thee out, mind them not; they cannot hurt thee. It is permitted to the Eye of thy Reason to seek Food, and to thy Hands, by their Labour, to get Food for the terrestrial Body: But then this Eye ought not with its Desire to enter into the Food prepared, which would be covetousness; but must in Resignation simply bring it before the Eye of God in thy Spirit, and then thou must seek to place it close to this very Eye, without letting it go. Mark this Lesson well.
Let the Hands or the Head be at Labour, thy Heart ought nevertheless to rest in God. God is a Spirit; dwell in the Spirit, work in the Spirit, pray in the Spirit, and do every Thing in the Spirit; for remember thou also art a Spirit, and thereby created in the Image of God: Therefore see thou attract not in thy Desire Matter unto thee, but as much as possible abstract thyself from all Matter whatever; and so, standing in the Centre, present thyself as a naked Spirit before God, in Simplicity and Purity; and be sure thy Spirit draw in nothing but Spirit.
Thou wilt yet be greatly enticed to draw Matter, and to gather that which the World calls Substance, thereby to have somewhat visible to trust to: But by no Means consent to the Tempter, nor yield to the Lustings of thy Flesh against the Spirit. For in so doing thou wilt infallibly obscure the Divine Light in thee; thy Spirit will stick in the dark covetous Root, and from the fiery Source of thy Soul will it blaze out in Pride and Anger; thy Will shall be chained In Earthliness, and shall sink through the Anguish into Darkness and Materiality; and never shalt thou be able to reach the still Liberty, or to stand before the Majesty of God. Since this is opening a Door for him who reigneth in the Corruption of Matter, possibly the Devil may roar at thee for this Refusal; because nothing can vex him worse than such a silent Abstraction of the Soul, and Controversion thereof to the Point of Rest from all that is worldly and circumferential: But regard him not; neither admit the least Dust of that Matter into which he may pretend any Claim to. It will be all Darkness to thee, as much Matter as is drawn in by the Desire of thy Will: It will darken God's Majesty to thee; and will close the seeing Eye, by hiding from thee the Light of His beloved Countenance. This the Serpent longeth to do; but in vain except thou permittest thy Imagination, upon his Suggestion, to receive in the alluring Matter; else he can never get in. Behold then, if thou desirest to see God's Light in thy Soul, and be divinely illuminated and conducted; this is the short Way that thou art to take not to let the Eye of thy Spirit enter into Matter, or fill itself with any Thing whatever; either in Heaven or Earth; but to let it enter by a naked Faith into the Light of the Majesty; and so receive by pure Love the Light of God, and attract the Divine Power into itself, putting on the Divine Body, and growing up in it to the full Maturity of the Humanity of Christ.
Disciple. As I said before, so I say again, this is very hard. I conceive indeed well enough that my Spirit ought to be free from the Contagion of Matter, and wholly empty, that it may admit into it the Spirit of God. Also, that this Spirit will not enter, but where the Will entereth into Nothing, and resigneth itself up in the Nakedness of Faith, and in the Purity of Love, to its Conduct; feeding magically upon the Word of God, and clothing itself thereby with a Divine Substantiality. But, alas, how hard is it for the Will to sink into nothing, to attract nothing, to imagine nothing!
Master. Let it be granted that it is so. Is it not surely worth thy while, and all that thou canst ever do?
Disciple. It is so, I must needs confess.
Master. But perhaps it may not be so hard as at first it appeareth to be; make but the Trial, and be in earnest. What is there required of thee, but to stand still, and see the Salvation of thy God? And couldst thou desire any Thing less? Where is the Hardship in this? Thou hast nothing to care for, nothing to desire in this Life, nothing to imagine or attract: Thou needest only cast thy Care upon God, Who careth for thee, and leave Him to dispose of thee according to His Good Will and Pleasure, even as if thou hadst no Will at all in thee. For He knoweth what is best; and if thou canst but trust Him, He will most certainly do better for thee, than if thou wert left to thine own Choice.
Disciple. This I most firmly believe.
Master. If thou believest, then go and do accordingly, All is in the Will, as I have shown thee. When the Will imagineth after somewhat, then entereth it into that somewhat, and this somewhat taketh presently the Will into itself, and overcloudeth it, so as it can have no Light, but must dwell in Darkness, unless it return back out of that somewhat into nothing. But when the Will imagineth or lusteth after nothing, then it entereth into nothing, where it receiveth the Will of God into itself, and so dwelleth in Light, and worketh all its Works in it.
Disciple. I am now satisfied that the main Cause of any one's spiritual Blindness, is his letting his Will into somewhat, or into that which he hath wrought, of what Nature soever it be, Good or Evil, and his setting his Heart and Affections upon the Work of his own Hands or Brain; and that when the earthly Body perisheth, then the Soul must be imprisoned in that very Thing which it shall have received and let in; and if the Light of God be not in it, being deprived of the Light of this World, it cannot but be found in a dark Prison.
Master. This is a very precious Gate of Knowledge; I am glad thou takest it into such Consideration. The understanding of the whole Scripture is contained in it; and all that hath been written from the Beginning of the World to this Day, may be found herein, by him that having entered with his Will into Nothing, hath there found All Things, by finding God; from Whom, and to Whom, and in Whom are All Things. By this Means thou shalt come to hear and see God; and after this earthly Life is ended, to see with the Eye of Eternity all the Wonders of God and of Nature, and more particularly those which shall be wrought by thee in the Flesh, or all that the Spirit of God shall have given thee to labour out for thyself and thy Neighbour, or all that the Eye of Reason enlightened from above, may at any Time have manifested to thee. Delay not therefore to enter in by this Gate, which if thou seest in the Spirit, as some highly favoured Souls have seen it, thou seest in the Supernatural Ground, all that God is, and can do; thou seest also therewith, as one hath said who was taken thereinto, through Heaven, Hell and Earth; and through the Essence of all Essences. Whosoever findeth it, hath found all that he can desire. Here is the Virtue and Power of the Love of God displayed. Here is the Height and Depth; here is the Breadth and Length thereof manifested, as ever the Capacity of thy Soul can contain. By this thou shalt come into that Ground out of which all Things are originated, and in which they subsist; and in it thou shalt reign over all God's Works, as a Prince of God.
Disciple. Pray tell me, dear Master where dwelleth it in man?
Master. Where Man dwelleth not: there hath it its seat in Man.
Disciple. Where is that in a Man, where Man dwelleth not in himself?
Master. It is the resigned Ground of a Soul to which nothing cleaveth.
Disciple. Where is the Ground in any Soul, to which there will nothing stick? Or, where is that which abideth and dwelleth not in something?
Master. It is the Centre of Rest and Motion in the resigned Will of a truly contrite Spirit, which is crucified to the World. This Centre of the Will is impenetrable consequently to the World, the Devil, and Hell: Nothing in all the World can enter into it, or adhere to it, though never so many Devils should be in the Confederacy against it; because the Will is dead with Christ unto the World, but quickened with Him in the Centre thereof, after His blessed Image. Here it is where Man dwelleth not; and where no Self abideth, or can abide.
Disciple. O where is this naked Ground of the Soul void of all Self? And how shall I come at the hidden Centre where God dwelleth, and not man? Tell me plainly, loving Sir, where it is, and how it is to be found of me, and entered into?
Master. There where the Soul hath slain its own Will, and willeth no more any Thing as from itself, but only as God willeth, and as His Spirit moveth upon the Soul, shall this appear: Where the Love of Self is banished, there dwelleth the Love of God. For so much of the Soul's own Will as is dead unto itself, even so much room hath the Will of God, which is His Love, taken up in that Soul. The Reason whereof is this: Where its own Will did before sit, there is now nothing; and where nothing is, there it is that the Love of God worketh alone.
Disciple. But how shall I comprehend it?
Master. If thou goest about to comprehend it, then it will fly away from thee; but if thou dost surrender thyself wholly up to it, then it will abide with thee, and become the Life of thy Life, and be natural to thee.
Disciple. And how can this be without dying, or the whole Destruction of my Will?
Master. Upon this entire Surrender and yielding up of thy Will, the Love of God in thee becometh the Life of thy Nature; it killeth thee not, but quickeneth thee, who art now dead to thyself in thine own Will, according to its proper Life, even the Life of God. And then thou livest, yet not to thy own Will; but thou livest to its Will; forasmuch as thy Will is henceforth become its Will. So then it is no longer thy Will, but the Will of God; no longer the Love of thyself, but the Love of God, which moveth and operateth in thee; and then, being thus comprehended in it, thou art dead indeed as to thyself, but art alive unto God. So being dead thou livest, or rather God liveth in thee by His Spirit; and His Love is made to thee Life from the Dead. Never couldest thou with all thy seeking, have comprehended it; but it hath apprehended thee. Much less couldest thou have comprehended it: But now it hath comprehended thee; and so the Treasure of Treasures is found.
Disciple. How is it that so few Souls do find it when yet all would be glad enough to have it?
Master. They all seek it in somewhat, and so they find it not: For where there is somewhat for the Soul to adhere to, there the Soul findeth but that somewhat only, and taketh up its Rest therein, until it seeth that it is to be found in nothing, and goeth out of the somewhat into nothing, even into that nothing out of which all Things may be made. The Soul here saith, "I have nothing, for I am utterly naked and stripped of every Thing: I can do nothing; for I have no Manner of Power, but am as Water poured out: I am nothing; for all that I am is no more than an Image of Being, and only God is to me I AM; and so sitting down in my own Nothingness, I give Glory to the Eternal Being, and will nothing myself, that so God may will All in me, being unto me my God and All Things." Herein now it is that so very few find this most precious Treasure in the Soul, though every one would so fain have it; and might also have it, were it not for this somewhat in every one which letteth.
Disciple. But if the Love should proffer itself to a Soul, could not that Soul find it, nor lay hold on it, without going for it into Nothing?
Master. No verily. Men seek and find not, because they seek it not in the naked Ground where it lieth; but in something or other where it never will be, neither can be. They seek it in their own Will, and they find it not. They seek it in their Self-Desire, and they meet not with it. They look for it in an Image, or in an Opinion, or in Affection, or a natural Devotion and Fervour, and they lose the Substance by thus hunting after a Shadow. They search for it in something sensible or imaginary, in somewhat which they may have a more peculiar natural Inclination for, and Adhesion to; and so they miss of what they seek, for Want of diving into the Supersensual and Supernatural Ground where the Treasure is hid. Now, should the Love graciously condescend to Proffer itself to such as these, and even to present itself evidently before the Eye of their Spirit, yet would it find no Place in them at all, neither could it be held by them, or remain with them.
Disciple. Why not, if the Love should be willing and ready to offer itself, and to stay with them?
Master. Because the Imaginariness which is in their own Will hath set up itself in the Place thereof: And so this Imaginariness would have the Love in it; but the Love fleeth away, for it is its Prison. The Love may offer itself; but it cannot abide where the Self-Desire attracteth or imagineth. That Will which attracteth nothing, and to which nothing adhereth, is only capable of receiving it; for it dwelleth only in nothing, as I said, and therefore they find it not.
Disciple. If it dwell only in nothing, what is now the Office of it in nothing?
Master. The Office of the Love here is to penetrate incessantly into something; and if it penetrate into, and find a Place in something which is standing still and at Rest, then its Business is to take Possession thereof. And when it hath there taken Possession, then it rejoiceth therein with its flaming Love-Fire, even as the Sun doth in the visible World. And then the Office of it, is without Intermission to enkindle a Fire in this something, which may burn it up; and then, with the Flames thereof exceedingly to enflame itself, and raise the Heat of the Love-Fire by it, even seven Degrees higher.
Disciple. O, loving Master, how shall I understand this?
Master. If it but once kindle a Fire within thee, my Son, thou shalt then certainly feel how it consumeth all that which it toucheth; thou shalt feel it in the burning up thyself, and swiftly devouring all Egoity, or that which thou callest I and Me, as standing in a separate Root, and divided from the Deity, and Fountain of thy Being. And when this enkindling is made in thee, then the Love doth so exceedingly rejoice in thy Fire, as thou wouldst not for all the World be out of it; yea, would rather suffer thyself to be killed, than to enter into thy something again. This Fire now must grow hotter and hotter, till it shall have perfected its Office with respect to thee, and therefore will not give over, till it come to the seventh Degree. Its Flame hence also will be so very great, that it will never leave thee, though it should even cost thee thy temporal Life; but it would go with thee in its sweet loving Fire into Death; and if thou wentest also into Hell, it would break Hell in Pieces also for thy Sake, Nothing is more certain than this; for it is stronger than Death and Hell.
Disciple. Enough, my dearest Master, I can no longer endure that any Thing should divert me from it. But how shall I find the nearest Way to it?
Master. Where the Way is hardest, there go thou; and what the World casteth away, that take thou up. What the World doth, that do thou not; but in all Things walk thou contrary to the World. So thou comest the nearest Way to that which thou art seeking.
Disciple. If I should in all Things walk contrary to other People, I must needs be in a very unquiet and sad State; and the World would not fail to account me for a Madman.
Master. I bid thee not, Child, to do Harm to any one, thereby to create to thyself any Misery or Unquietness. This is not what I mean by walking contrary in every Thing to the World. But because the World, as the World, loveth only Deceit and Vanity, and walketh in false and treacherous Ways; thence, if thou hast a Mind to act a clean contrary Part to the Ways thereof, without any Exception or Reserve whatsoever, Walk thou only in the right Way, which is called the Way of Light, as that of the World is properly the Way of Darkness. For the right Way, even the path of Light is contrary to all the ways of the World.
But whereas thou art afraid of creating to thyself hereby Trouble and Inquietude, that indeed, will be according to the Flesh. In the World thou must have Trouble, and thy Flesh will not fail to be unquiet, and to give thee Occasion of continual Repentance. Nevertheless in this very Anxiety of Soul, arising either from the World or the Flesh, the Love doth most willingly enkindle itself, and its cheering and conquering Fire is but made to blaze forth with greater Strength for the Destruction of that Evil. And whereas thou dost also say, that the World will for this esteem thee mad; it is true the World will be apt enough to censure thee for a Madman in walking contrary to it: And thou art not to be surprised if the Children thereof laugh at thee, calling thee silly Fool.
For the way to the Love of God is Folly to the World, but is Wisdom to the Children of God. Hence, whenever the World perceiveth this Holy Fire of Love in God's Children, it concludeth immediately that they are turned Fools, and are besides themselves. But to the Children of God, that which is despised of the World is the Greatest Treasure; yea, so great a Treasure it is, as no Life can express, nor Tongue so much as name what this enflaming, all-conquering Love of God is. It is brighter than the Sun; it is sweeter than any Thing that is called sweet; it is stronger than all Strength; it is more nutrimental than Food; more cheering to the Heart than Wine, and more pleasant than all the Joy and Pleasantness of this World. Whosoever obtaineth it, is richer than any Monarch on Earth and he who getteth it, is nobler than any Emperor can be, and more potent and absolute than all Power and Authority.