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Spiritual Reformers In The 16th And 17th Centuries by Rufus M. Jones


It is a central idea of mysticism that there is a way to God through the human soul. The gate to Heaven is thus kept, not by St. Peter or by any other saint of the calendar; it is kept by each individual person himself as he opens or closes within himself the spiritual circuit of connection with God. The door into the Eternal swings within the circle of our own inner life, and all things are ours if we learn how to use the key that opens, for |to open| and |to find God| are one and the same thing. The emphasis in |Nature Mysticism| lies not so much on this direct pathway to God through the soul as upon the symbolic character of the world of Nature as a visible revelation of an invisible Universe, and upon the idea that man is a microcosm, a little world, reproducing in epitome, point for point, though in miniature, the great world, or macrocosm. On this line of thought, everything is double. The things that are seen are parables of other things which are not seen. They are like printed words which mean something vastly more and deeper than what the eye sees as it scans mere letters. One indwelling Life, one animating Soul, lives in and moves through the whole mighty frame of things and expresses its Life through visible things in manifold ways, as the invisible human soul expresses itself through the visible body. Everything is thus, in a fragmentary way, a focus of revelation for the Divine Spirit, whose garment is this vast web of the visible world. But man in a very special way, as a complete microcosm, is a concentrated extract, a {134} comprehensive quintessence of the whole cosmos, visible and invisible -- an image of God and a mirror of the Universe.

These views have a very ancient history and unite many strands of historic thought. They came to light in the sixteenth century with the revival through Greek literature of Stoic, Neo-Platonic, and Neo-Pythagorean ideas. But the Greek stream of thought as it now reappeared was fused with streams of thought from many other sources -- medieval mysticism, Persian astrology, Arabian philosophy, and the Jewish Cabala, which, in turn, was a fusing of many elements -- and the mixture was honestly believed to be genuine, revived Christianity, and Christ, as the new Adam, is throughout the central Figure of these systems.

Marsilius Ficino, the Italian Humanist, who translated Plato and the writings of the Neo-Platonists into Latin and so made them current for the readers of the sixteenth century, gave a profoundly mystical colouring to the revived classical philosophy and identified it with pure and unadulterated Christianity. His contemporary, Pico of Mirandola (1463-94), joined the teachings of the Cabala with his Neo-Platonized Christianity and so produced a new blend. Johann Reuchlin (1455-1522), great German classical and Hebrew scholar, brave opponent of obscurantism, forerunner of the Reformation, introduced the Neo-Platonic and Cabalistic blend of ideas into German thought.

The Cabala, it may be said briefly, in the primary meaning of the word, is the doctrine received by oral tradition as an important supplement to the written Jewish Scriptures, but the Cabala as we know it is an esoteric system which was formed under the influence of many streams of ancient thought-systems, and which came into vogue about the thirteenth century, though its devout adherents claimed that it had been orally transmitted through the intervening ages from Adam in Paradise. According to the teaching of the Cabala, the original Godhead, called En-Soph, the Infinite, is in essence {135} incomprehensible and immutable, and capable of description only in negations. God, the En-Soph, is above and beyond contact with anything finite, material, or imperfect. It would be blasphemous to suppose that God the infinitely perfect, God the absolutely immutable One, by direct act made a world of matter or created a realm of existence marked with evil as this lower realm of ours is. Instead of supposing a creative act, therefore, the Cabala supposes a series of emanations, or overflows of divine splendour, arranged in three groups of threes, called Sephiroth, which reveal all that is revealable in God, and by means of which invisible and visible worlds come into being. These Sephiroth, or orders of emanation, are thoughts of the Wisdom of God become objectively and permanently real, just because He thought them; and though He is vastly, inexhaustibly more than they, yet He is actually immanent in them and the ground of their being. They are (1) the intelligible world, or world of creative ideas; (2) the world of spiritual forms, such as the hierarchies of angels, souls, and the entire universe of immaterial beings, the world of astral substance or of creative soul-matter; and (3) the natural world, in which the divine plan of Wisdom, the creative ideas, and the astral soul become visibly and concretely revealed. Man unites all the worlds in himself, and in his unfallen state as Adam-Cadmon combined all men in one ideal, undifferentiated Man. The visible world is full of hints and symbols of the invisible, and the initiated learn to read the signs of things seen, the meanings of sacred letters, and so to discover the secrets and mysteries of the inner world. The Cabala is full of unrestrained oriental imagination, of fancies run riot, and of symbolisms ridden to death. Its confusion of style and thought and its predilection for magic unfortunately proved contagious, and played havoc with the productions of those who came under its spell. Its marvels, however, powerfully impressed the minds of its German readers. Through it they believed they were privileged to share in mysteries which had been hid from the creation of the world, and {136} they conceived the idea that they had at last discovered a clue that would eventually lead them into all the secrets of the universe.

Cornelius Agrippa of Nettesheim (1487-1535) by his writings increased the prevailing fascination for occult knowledge and pushed this particular line of speculation into an acute stage. He was a man of large learning and of heroic temper, and, possessed as he was of undoubted gifts, in a different period and in a different environment he would, no doubt, have played a notable part in the development of human thought. But he became enamoured in his youth with the adventurous quest for the discovery of Nature's stupendous secrets, and under the spell of the Cabala, and under the influence of eager expectations entertained in his day by men of rank and learning, that fresh light was about to dawn upon the ancient mysteries of the world, he took the false path of magic as the way to the conquest of the great secret. It was, however, not the crude, cheap magic of popular fancy, a magic of mad and lawless caprice, to which he was devoted; it was a magic grounded in the nature of the deeper inner world which he believed was the Soul of the world we see and touch. The English translator of Agrippa's Occult Philosophy in 1651 very clearly apprehended and stated in his quaint |Preface to the Judicious Reader,| the foundation idea of Agrippa's magic: |This is,| he says, |true and sublime Occult Philosophy -- to understand the mysterious influence of the intellectual world upon the celestial world, and of both upon the terrestrial world, and to know how to dispose and fit ourselves so as to be capable of receiving the superior operations of these worlds, whereby we may be enabled to operate wonderful things by a natural power.| That saying precisely defines Agrippa's faith. There are, he thinks, {137} three worlds: (1) the Intellectual world; (2) the Celestial, or Astral, world; and (3) the Terrestrial world; and man, who is a microcosm embodying in himself all these worlds, may, in the innermost ground of his being, come upon a divine knowledge which will enable him to unlock the mysteries of all worlds and to |operate wonderful things.| In quite other ways than Agrippa dreamed, science has found the keys to many of these mysteries, and has learned how to |operate wonderful things by a natural power.| His enthusiasm and passion were right, but he had not learned the slow and patient and laborious way.

A still greater figure in this field of occult knowledge and of nature mysticism was the far-travelled man and medical genius, Aureolus Theophrastus Bombast, of Hohenheim, generally known as Paracelsus. He was born in 1493 in the neighbourhood of Einsiedeln, not far from Zurich, the son of a physician of repute. He studied in the University of Basle, and later was instructed by Trithemius, Abbot of St. Jacobs at Wurtzburg, an adept in magic, alchemy, and astrology. He passed a long period -- probably ten years -- of his later youth in travel, studying humanity at close range, gathering all sorts of information, forming his theories of diseases and their cure, and learning to know Nature |by treading her Books, through land after land, with his feet,| which, he once testified, is the only way of knowing her truly.

In 1525 he settled in Basle, and, on the recommendation of OEcolampadius was appointed professor of physic, medicine, and surgery in 1527, but his revolutionary teaching and practice, his scorn for traditional methods, his attacks on the ignorance and greed of apothecaries raised a storm which he could not weather, and he secretly left the city in 1528. Again he became a wanderer, having extraordinary experiences of success and defeat, treating all manner of diseases, writing books on medicine and on the fundamental nature of things, and finally died at Salzburg in Bavaria in 1541.

Paracelsus is a strange and baffling character. He had {138} much of the spirit of the new age, tangled with many of the ideas and fancies of his time. His aspirations were lofty, his medical skill was unique for his day, he was in large measure liberated from tradition, and he was dedicated, as Browning truly represents him, to his mission, but he was still under the spell of |mystic| categories, and he still held the faith that Nature's secrets were to be suddenly surprised by an inward way and by an inward Light:

Truth is within ourselves; it takes no rise
From outward things, whate'er you may believe.
There is an inmost centre in us all,
Where truth abides in fulness; and around,
Wall upon wall, the gross flesh hems it in,
This perfect, clear perception -- which is truth,
A baffling and perverting carnal mesh
Binds it, and makes all error: and, to KNOW,
Rather consists in opening out a way
Whence the imprisoned splendour may escape,
Than in effecting entry for a light
Supposed to be without.

There are, again, in his Universe, as in the other occult systems, three elemental worlds -- the spiritual or intellectual world, the astral world or universal Soul, and the terrestrial world; and all three worlds are man's |mothers.| Man is a quintessence of all the elements, visible and invisible. He has a spiritual essence within him which is an emanation of God; he has an astral-soul essence, from the Soul of the world; and he partakes, too, of the material and earthly world. His supreme aim in life should be to establish, or rather re-establish, a harmony between his own little world and the great Universe, so that all the worlds have their right proportions in him, and so that through his highest essence he can win the secrets of the lower worlds -- the astral and the material. To accomplish that is to be spiritual, to become like Adam, {139} a paradisaical Man, or like Christ the new Adam. Even the lowest world is penetrated with the spiritual |seed| or |element.| The very basic substances of which it is composed -- sulphur, mercury, and salt -- are in essence spiritual principles, elemental forces, rather than crude matter, and the lower world is written over, like a palimpsest, with |signatures| of the divine world to which it belongs. All doors into all the worlds of God open to faith and prayer, and he who subordinates lower elements in himself to higher has power and potency in all realms.

But far more important for the development of spiritual religion, and far more important as a living link between Reformers like Denck, Schwenckfeld, and Franck of the sixteenth century, and Jacob Boehme and the spiritual interpreters of the English Commonwealth, was Valentine Weigel, Pastor of Zschopau. Like so many of the men who figure in these chapters, he is little known, seldom read, not a quick and powerful name in the world, but he is worth knowing, and he was the bearer of a burning and kindling torch of truth. He was born at Naundorf, a suburb of Grossenhain, District of Meissen, in 1533. He received the Bachelor's and Master's degree of the University of Leipzig, and he pursued his studies still further in the University of Wittenberg, his study-period having continued until 1567. In the autumn of that year he was ordained and called to be Pastor of Zschopau, where he passed as a minister his entire public life, which came to a peaceful end in 1588. He was an ideal pastor and true shepherd of his flock -- loving them and being beloved by them. His ministry was fresh and vital, and made his hearers feel the presence and the power of the Spirit of God.

There was, so far as I can discover the facts, only one blemish on his really beautiful character. He lacked that robust, unswerving conscience which compels a man who sees a new vision of the truth to proclaim it, to champion it, and to suffer and even die for it when it comes into collision with views which his own soul has outgrown. {140} Weigel was resolved not to have his heart's deepest faith, his mind's most certain truth, known, at least during his lifetime, by the persons who were the guardians of orthodoxy. He signed the |Confessions| of his time as though they expressed his own convictions; he counted it a duty of the first importance to guard his pastoral flock from the distractions and assaults of heresy-hunters, and he left his matured and deeply meditated views for posterity to discover. How far he was personally timid cannot now be determined. It would seem, however, from his own words, that he was especially concerned for the safety and welfare of his own flock, who would suffer if he were cried down as an enthusiast or a spiritual prophet. But even so, it is very doubtful if any man can rightly permit anything on earth to take precedence to his own loyalty to the vision of truth which his soul sees. As a result, however, of the course he took, he died in good odour of sanctity, and the epigones of that day had no suspicion of the ideas that were swarming in the mind of the quiet Pastor of Zschopau, or of the mass of manuscripts proclaiming his faith in the inner Word which he was leaving behind him, to fly over the world like the loose leaves of the Sibyl.

His writings were not printed until 1609 and onwards, and as his disciples went on producing writings, somewhat in the style and spirit of the master who inspired them, the list of books in Weigel's name is considerably larger than the actual number of manuscripts extant at his death in 1588. It is not always easy to distinguish the pseudo-writings from the genuine ones, but there is a vividness and pregnancy of style, a spiritual depth and power in the earlier writings which are lacking in the later group, and there is an emphasis on the magical and occult in the secondary writings that is largely absent in the primary ones. The most important of his books will be referred to and quoted from as I present his type of religion and his message, but I shall draw especially upon his little {141} book, Von dem Leben Christi, das ist, vom wahren Glauben (|On the Life of Christ, or True Faith|), as it is the one of Weigel's writings which, in English translation, most deeply influenced kindred spirits in the English Commonwealth.

His spiritual conception of Christianity was formed and fed by the sermons of Tauler, and by that little book which was |the hidden Manna| for all the spiritual leaders of these two centuries -- the German Theology. Weigel edited it with an introduction. He calls it |a precious little book,| |a noble book|; but he tells his readers that they can understand it and find it fruitful only if they read it |with a pure eye| and with |the key of David,| i.e. with a personal experience. But while he loved the golden book of mysticism and the sermons of the great Strasbourg preacher, and was led by the hand of these guides, he drew also from many other sources and finally arrived at a type of religion, still interior and personal, but less negative and abstract than that of the fourteenth-century mystics, and more penetrated and informed with the presence of the Christ of the Gospels. He insists always that in the last analysis it is Christ in us that saves us, but it was Christ in the flesh, the Christ of Galilee and Golgotha, that revealed to men the way to apprehend the inward and eternal Christ of God. |The indwelling Christ,| he wrote, |is all in all. He saves thee. He is thy peace and thy comfort. The outward Christ, the Christ in the flesh, and according to the flesh, cannot save thee in an external way. He must be in thee and thou must abide in Him. Why then did He become man and suffer on the Cross? There are many reasons why, but it was especially that God by the death and suffering of Christ might take the wrath and hostility out of our hearts, on account of which we falsely conceive of God as a wrathful enemy to us. He had to deal that way with poor blind men like us and so reconcile us with Himself. {142} There was no need of it on His part. He was always Love and He always loved us, even when we were enemies to Him, but we should never have known it if God had not condescended to show Himself to us in His Son and had not suffered for us.|

Weigel everywhere maintains Christ's double identity -- an identity with God, so that in Christ we see God; and an equal identity with man, so that Christ is man revealed in his fulfilled possibilities. In Him God and man are one. In this deep-lying and fundamental idea of his entire Christianity he was undoubtedly influenced, profoundly influenced, by Schwenckfeld. He presents in chapter i. of his Life of Christ the Schwenckfeldian view that Christ is God and Man in one. But He is Man not in the crass, crude and earthly form: He is not composed of mortal and earthly substance as our |Adamical bodies| are. He is wholly and absolutely composed of heavenly, spiritual, divine substance. His flesh and blood are as divine and spiritual in origin as is His spirit, so that His resurrection and ascension are the normal outcome of His nature. It was as natural for Him to rise into life and to ascend into glory as it is for heavy things to fall. But that divine, spiritual, heavenly nature, which appeared in Him, is the true, original, consummate nature of Man. Man, as we know him, is cloudy, or even muddy, with a vesture of decay, but that is not a feature of his real nature -- either in its original or its potential form -- and all who |put on Christ,| all who have |Christ in them,| become one flesh with Him and gain an indestructible and permanent inward substance like His.

Consistently with this view, Weigel declares that here lies the significance of Christ's saying, |I am Bread|; |I am Meat and Drink.| The only adequate Supper of the Lord, he says, is real feeding upon His spiritual, life-giving flesh and blood, so that Salvation is not tied to external sacraments, but stands only in the faith that Christ feeds us with Himself. There are, he proceeds to show, two radically diverse natures, the traits and {143} characteristics of which he arranges in opposing pairs, in two parallel columns as follows:

A. The Nature of Christ and B. The nature of Adam and of those who live in Him those who live by him, and by Him. i.e. those who live the natural, earthly life.

1. This Nature turns from 1. This nature turns from God creatures to God. to creatures.

2. This Nature hates itself and 2. This nature loves itself loves others. more than it loves God or others.

3. This Nature abhors all it 3. This nature delights only itself does or omits. in itself and in things of self.

4. This Nature seeks to lose 4. This nature seeks itself in self. everything.

5. This Nature denies self. 5. This nature cleaves to self.

6. This Nature patiently bears 6. This nature thrusts the the Cross. Cross away.

15. This Nature desires to be 15. This nature desires to be conformed to Christ and equal with God without His Cross in all things. any humility at all.

Christ is thus for Weigel entirely a new order of Being -- the Beginner of a new race. Adam had in himself all the possibilities which Christ realized, but the former failed and the latter succeeded and so has become the Head of a divine and heavenly type of humanity. By |a new nativity,| a rebirth from above, any man in the world who wills it in living faith may be a recipient of the divine-principle, the Christ-Life, and may thereby be raised to membership in the Kingdom of the Christ-Humanity, which is as far above the Adam-Humanity as the flower is above the soil from which it first sprang. When Christ is formed within and the Humanity which He produces appears in the world, then a new way of living comes into operation. Love is the supreme |sign| of the new type or order. |The man who has the Christ-Life in him does not quarrel; he does not go to law for temporall goods; he does not kill; he lets his coat and cloke go rather than oppose another.| |If Christ were of the seed of Adam, He would have the {144} nature and inclinations of Adam. He would hang thieves, behead adulterers, rack murderers with the wheel, kill hereticks, and put corporeally to death all manner of sinners; but now He is tender, kind, loving. He kills no one. The Lamb kills no woolf.| Weigel goes the whole bold way in his revolt from legalism, and he accepts the principle of love as a structural principle of the society which Christ is forming in the world: |Where the Life of Christ is, there is no warre made with corporall weapons.| |The world wars but Christ doth not so. His warfare is spiritual.| |He that maketh warre is no Christian but a woolf, ana belongs not to the sheepfold nor hath he anything to expect of the Kingdom of God, nor may the warrs of the Old Testament, of the time of darknesse serve his turne, for Christians deal not after a Mosaicall, earthly fashion, but they walke in the Life of Christ, without all revenge.| |We walk no longer under Moses but under Christ.|

The Christian man, however, even with his new |nativity| and with his re-created spirit of love, differs in one respect from Christ. Christ is wholly heavenly, His Nature is woven throughout of spiritual and divine substance. There is no rent nor seam in it. Man, on the other hand, is double, and throughout his temporal period he remains double. By his new |nativity| man can become inwardly spirit though he remains outwardly composed of flesh.

Before the |fall| Adam was unsundered from God. It was sin which made the cleft or rent which separated God and man. Through Christ, the new and heavenly Adam, the junction may be formed again in man's inner self, and once again God and man in us may be unsundered. The flesh is not destroyed, but it ceases to be the dominating factor. It serves now merely as the |habitation| of an invisible spirit, and it exists for the spirit, not the spirit for it. Not only is the body a {145} |habitation| for the Christ-formed soul, but the world now becomes to the enlightened soul an Inn for a transient guest rather than a permanent abiding-place: |like as in an Inne there is meat set before the guest and bedding is allowed to him, even so Christians are in this world guests and their country is above.| |It is not fitting for a guest that comes into an Inne, where nothing is his own, that he should appropriate things to himself and quarrel about them!|

As fast as Christ is formed within, as the Life of one's life, the believer attains thereby a peace and a power which make the |rent| between flesh and spirit ever less disturbing, though it still remains until the fleshly tabernacle dissolves. The goal of the spiritual life here on earth is the attainment of |the silent Sabbath of the soul,| in which God becomes so completely the soul's sufficiency that the flesh has little scope or sway any more, and there is no longer need of furious struggle against it, |like a serpent between two rocks, trying to pull off his old skin!| In his Heavenly Jerusalem in Us, he says: |It is an attribute of God that He is the Eternal Peace which is longed for by us men, but found by few because they do not mind Christ, who is the Way. God has not grounded either thy Peace or thy Salvation on thy running hither and yon, nor on thy works and thy creaturely activities, but on an inner calm and quiet, on a Sabbath of the soul, in which thou canst hear, with the simple and the tender-minded, what the Lord is saying and doing.|

In close conformity to the teaching of Sebastian Franck, Weigel thinks of the Church of God as an invisible Assembly of all true Believers in the entire world, united, not outwardly but inwardly, in the unity of the Spirit and by the bond of Love and Peace. There are for him, as for Franck and other |Spirituals,| two kinds of churches: (1) The church composed of a visible group, {146} |to be pointed out with the finger,| located in a definite country, allied with a temporal government, held together by a body of doctrine, |tied to| certain sacraments and possessed of force to constrain men, by |carnall perswasions,| to conform. Then there is (2) the real Church of God, |the upper Jerusalem,| a body visible in no one locality, but dispersed over the earth like wheat in chaff, held together by no declarations of doctrine, tied to no sacraments, dependent on no earthly Lieutenant or Vice-gerent, and on no university-trained Doctors, which recognizes Prince and Ploughman alike, and secures its unity through Christ and through the invisible cement of Love. |To this Assembly,| writes Weigel, |doe I stick; in this holy Church doe I rejoice to be. . . . Jesus Christ is my Head, my Teacher. He is everywhere with me and in me, and I in Him. Although the Protestants should chase me amongst Papists or Atheists, yet I should still be in the holy Church and should have all the heavenly Gifts common to all Believers, and although the Papists should banish me into Turkey, yet even there should I be in the holy Church.|

No book appeared in England before 1648 -- the date of the translation of Weigel's Life of Christ -- which more closely approached the Quaker position. That religion must have an inward seat and origin; that divine things must be learned of God, are taken as axiomatic truths throughout this book. If a man is to see, he must have eyes of his own; if he is to teach, he must have the Word of God within him. People say that |there can be no true Faith without outward preaching ministry.| That is not so, Weigel declares. The way to heaven is open to hungry penitent souls everywhere, although, as is the case with infants, they may hear no sermons at all: |Faith comes by inward hearing. Good books, outward verbal ministry have their place, they testify to the real Treasure, they are witnesses to the inner Word within us, but Faith is not tied to books; it is a new nativity which {147} cannot be found in a book. He who hath the inward Schoolmaster loseth nothing of his Salvation although all preachers should be dead and all books burned.| Many take great pains to be baptized, and |to hear sermons of their hired priests,| and to use the Lord's Supper, and to read theological books, who, nevertheless, show no |spiritual profit| therefrom. The reason is that |Truth runs into no one by a pipe!| |In the Church of men -- the man-made Church -- the measuring-line,| or standard, he says, is the written Scripture, according to one's own interpretation, or according to books, or according to University men; but in the true Church the measuring-reed is the inward Word, the Spirit of Christ, within the believer. Those who are in the Universities and Churches of men have Christ in their mouths, and they have a measuring-reed by their side -- the inhabitants of God's Church on the other hand have the Life of Christ and the testing-standard within themselves. Those who are |nominal professors| hang salvation on a literal knowledge of the merit secured by Christ's death; the true believer knows that salvation is never a purchase, is never outwardly effected, but is a new self, a new spirit, a new relation to God: |Man must cease to be what he is before he can come to be another kind of person.| Outward baptism and external supper may, if one wishes, be used as symbols of the soul's supreme events, but they cannot rightly be thought of as effecting any change of themselves in the real nature of the man; only Christ the Life-bringer, only the resident work of God within the soul, can produce the transformation from old self to new self. |Salvation is not tyed to sacraments.|

It is a well-settled view of Weigel's that Heaven and Hell are primarily in the soul of man. He says, in Know Thyself, that both the Trees of Paradise are in us; and in his Ort der Welt he declares that |the Eternal Hell of the lost will be their own Hell.| And in his Christliches {148} Gespraech he insists that the holy Spirit, the present Christ, does not need to come down from Heaven to meet with us, for when He is in our hearts there then is Heaven. No person can ever be in Heaven until Heaven is in him.

In Der gueldene Griff and elsewhere Weigel works out a very interesting theory of knowledge, which fits well with the inwardness of his religious views. He holds that in sense perception the percipient brings forth his real knowledge from within. The external |object,| or the outward stimulus, is the soliciting occasion, or suggestion, or the sign for the experience, but what we see is determined from within rather than from without. All real knowledge is in the knower. Both external world and written scriptures are in themselves shadows until the inward spirit interprets them, and through them comes to the Word of God which they suggest and symbolize.

Weigel plainly arrived at his ground ideas under the formative influence of Schwenckfeld and Franck, but he also reveals, especially in his conception of the deeper inner world and of the microcosmic character of man, the influence of Paracelsus and of the nature mystics of his time. He was himself, in turn, a most important influence in the development of the religious ideas of Jacob Boehme, and he is historically one of the most significant men of the entire spiritual group before the great Silesian mystic.

This chapter cannot come to a proper close without some consideration of a Weigelean book which was translated into English in 1649, under the title, |Astrologie Theologized: That the Inward man by the Light of Grace, through possession and practice of a holy life, is to be acknowledged and live in us: which is the only means to keep the true Sabbath in inward holinesse.| {149} The anonymous translator ascribes the book to Weigel. It is, in fact. Part Two of [Greek] Gnothi Seauton, but it is uncertain whether it was written by Weigel himself. But whether written by Weigel or later by one of his school, it is a good illustration of the way in which mystically inclined Christians of that period endeavoured to make spiritual conquest of the prevailing Astrology and, through its help, to discover the nature of the inner, hidden universe. Astrology, this little book declares, is |conversant with the secrets of God which are hidden in the natural things of creation.| It is the science of reading the unseen through the seen, for, according to the teaching of this book, everything visible is an unveiling of something invisible. Man -- who is a centre of the whole universe, who has in himself elements of all the worlds, inner and outer -- |is created to be a visible Paradise, Garden, Tabernacle, Mansion, House, Temple and Jerusalem of God.| All the wisdom, power, virtue, and glory of God are hidden and are slumbering in man. There is nothing so near to man as God is -- |He is nearer to us than we are to ourselves| -- and the only reason we do not find Him and know Him and open out our life interiorly, so that the true Sabbath comes to the soul, is due to our |vagabond and unquiet ways of keeping busy with our own will, outside our internal country.| If I could desist from the things with which I vex and worry myself, and study to be at rest in my God who dwells with me; if I could accustom my mind to spiritual tranquillity and cease to wander in a maze of thoughts, cares, and affections; if I could be at leisure from the external things and creatures of this world, and chiefly from myself; if, in short, I might |come into a plenary dereliction of myself,| I should at once |begin to see and know of the most present habitation of God in me and so I should eat of the Tree of Life in the midst of the Paradise, which Paradise I myself am, and be a Guest of God.| Adam, who was |the Protoplast| and begetter of all men, and who, like everything else in the universe, was |double,| {150} allowed himself to live toward the outward instead of toward the inward, permitted the seed of the serpent to grow in him instead of the divine seed, and so came under the dominance of the natural, elemental world, with its |lesser light| of knowledge and with its |tree of death.| But the Paradise, with its greater Light of Wisdom and with its Tree of Life, is always near to man and can be repossessed and regained by him. The outer elements, and the astral world with its visible stars, rule no one, determine no one. Each man's |star| is in his own breast. It lies in his own power to |theologize his astrologie,| to turn his universe into spiritual forces. By |a new nativity,| initiated by obedient response to the inward Light -- the spiritual Star, not of earth and not of the astral universe, but of God the indwelling Spirit -- he may put on the new man, created after the likeness of God, and become the recipient of heavenly Wisdom springing up within him from the Life of the Spirit.

There can be no question in the mind of any one who is familiar with the literature and religious thought of seventeenth-century England, that the ideas set forth in this chapter exerted a wide and profound influence, and were a part of the psychological climate of the middle decades of that century. The channel here indicated was only one of the ways through which these ideas came in. In due time we shall discover other channels of this spiritual message.

Ficino is dealt with at greater length in Chapter XIII.

The Cabala was, as I have tried to make clear, only one of the influences which produced this new intellectual climate. The rediscovered |Hermes Trismegistus,| the mystically coloured Platonism, as it came from Italy, the awakened interest in Nature and in man, and the powerful message of the German Mystics all played an important part toward the formation of the new Weltanschauung.

Three Books of Occult Philosophy, translated by J. F. (London, 1651).

Stoddart's Life of Paracelsus (London, 1911), p.76.

Browning, Paracelsus, B. i. This passage fairly represents Paracelsus' general position. |There is,| he says in his Philosophia sagax, |a Light in the spirit of man which illuminates everything. . . . The quality of each thing created by God, whether it be visible or invisible to the senses, may be perceived and known. If man knows the essence of things, their attributes, their attractions, and the elements of which they consist, he will be a Master of nature, of the elements, and of the spirits.|

Christliches Gespraech, chap. iii.

There is an excellent critical study of Weigel's writings by A. Israel, entitled, Weigels Leben und Schriften nach den Quellen dargestellt (Zschopau, 1888).

|Of the Life of Christ, That is, Of True Faith which is the Rule, Square, Levell or Measuring Line of the Holy City of God and of the Inhabitants thereof here on Earth. Written in the German Language by Valentine Weigelus.| (London, Giles Calvert, 1648.)

Quoted from Israel, op. cit. p.107.

On the Life of Christ, part i. chap. ii.

On the Life of Christ, part i. chap. iii.

Ibid. part i. chap. viii.

On the Life of Christ, part i. chap. ix.

Ibid. part ii. chap. ix.; part i. chap. x.; part ii. chap. x.; and part. i. chap. xiv.

Ibid. part ii. chaps. iii. and iv.

This is the view set forth in his [Greek] Gnothi Seauton [Know Thyself].

On the Life of Christ, part ii. chaps. v. and vii.

Ibid. part i. chap. viii.

Vom himmlischen Jerusalem in uns, chap. viii.

Weigel enjoins his readers to read Franck's book on |the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.| See On the Life of Christ, part ii. p.57.

|Faith,| he says, |cannot be forced into any person by gallows or pillory.| On the Life of Christ, part i. chap. xv.

Ibid. part ii. chap. xiv. This is built on a passage in Franck's Apologia.

On the Life of Christ, part i. chaps. iv. and v.

Ibid. part i. chap. vi.

Ibid. part i. chaps. xii. and xiii.

Quoted from Tauler by Weigel, ibid. chap. vii. See also part iii. chap. i.

Ibid. part ii. chap. ii.

Op. cit. chap. xx.

Christ. Gespraech, chap. ii.

In his Der gueldene Griff, he tells of a personal spiritual |opening| which is very similar to the one which occurred later in the life of Boehme. He found himself astray in |a wilderness of darkness| and he cried to God for Light to enlighten his soul. |Suddenly,| he says, |the Light came and my eyes were opened so that I saw more clearly than all the teachers in all the world with all their books could teach me.| Chap. xxiv.

Astrologie Theologized, p.8.

Ibid. pp.16-17.

This little book refers with much appreciation to Theophrastus Paracelsus. It uses his theory of |first matter| and his doctrine of |the seven governours of the world,| which we shall meet in a new form in Boehme. Another book which carried astrological ideas into religious thought in a much cruder way was Andreas Tentzel's De ratione naturali arboris vitae et scientiae boni et mali, etc., which was Pars Secunda of his Medicinii diastatica (Jena, 1629). It was translated into English in 1657 by N. Turner with the title: |The Mumial Treatise of Tentzelius, being a natural account of the Tree of Life and of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, with a mystical interpretation of that great Secret, to wit, the Cabalistical Concordance of the Tree of Life and Death, of Christ and Adam.| Tentzel was a famous doctor and disciple of Paracelsus and |flourished| in Germany during the first half of the seventeenth century.

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