(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "The confessions of Jacob Boehme"

i^-vr 



V * 



. ,/ -= 


< J ■ 


J 


"' ■ :■''' 
■ \ 



V 



LIBRARY 

UNIVERSITY OF 
CALIFORNIA 

SAN 0»EGO 



(Eifc-^ 



^ 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2007 with funding from 

IVIicrosoft Corporation 



http://www.archive.org/details/confessionsofjacOObohmiala 



THE CONFESSIONS OF 
JACOB BOEHME 



THE 
CONFESSIONS OF 
JACOB BOEHME 

COMPILED AND EDITED BY 

W. SCOTT PALMER 



WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY 

EVELYN UNDERHILL 




First Published in igso 



NOTE BY THE EDITOR 

ONE day last winter, in a moment 
which I must confess to have been 
idle, I took up Dr, Alexander Whyte's 
" Appreciation " of Behmen as, following 
William Law, he calls him. There I 
found the following passage : 

" While we have nothing that can 
properly be called a biography of Jacob 
Behmen, we have ample amends made to 
us in those priceless morsels of auto- 
biography that lie scattered so plentifully 
up and down all his books. And nothing 
could be more charming than just those 
incidental and unstudied utterances of 
Behmen about himself. Into the very 
depths of a passage of the profoundest 
speculation Behmen will all of a sudden 



vi CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

throw a few verses of the most childlike 
and heart-winning confidences about his 
own mental history and his own spiritual 
experience. And thus it is that, without 
at all intending it, Behmen has left behind 
him a complete history of his great mind 
and his holy heart in those outbursts of 
diffidence, depreciation, explanation, and 
self-defence, of which his philosophical 
and theological, as well as his apologetic 
and experimental, books are all so full. 
It were an immense service done to our 
best literature if some of Behmen's 
students would go through all Behmen's 
books, so as to make a complete collection 
and composition of the best of these 
autobiographic passages. ... It would 
then be seen by all, what few, till then, 
will believe, that Jacob Behmen's mind 
and heart and spiritual experience all com- 
bine to give him a foremost place among 
the most classical masters in that great 
field." 



NOTE BY THE EDITOR vii 

I turned at once to the massive volumes 
of English translation which the eighteenth 
century has bequeathed to us. My copy 
has the name of Maurice on the title- 
page — Frederick Denison Maurice — for 
whom Boehme was, he said, "a generative 
thinker," and on the fly-leaf there is John 
Sterling, whose granddaughter gave me 
the books. There I found, where before 
I had looked for the doctrine only, the 
man himself. I determined to do my 
best to extract from the formless mass 
of writings what was necessary to show 
that man. 

The old translation was known to be as 
faithful as could fairly be hoped for, and 
nothing better existed or could now be 
made. Twentieth-century English would 
not do. So I used my own copy and 
followed it very closely. No translation is 
as sacred as an original, and I have there- 
fore allowed myself to make small changes 
in the interests of clearness and accuracy, 



viii CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

while carefully respecting both the style 
of the translator and the mind and mean- 
ing of the author. 

My task has been in the main one of 
rigorous omission ; I have kept only what 
was precious for my purpose. Everything 
that did not reveal the man himself I have 
rejected ; but some of his doctrine is emin- 
ently the man, and this I have retained. 
The outcome, I believe, is a spiritual 
autobiography which, although it is by a 
writer who was born nearly three hundred 
and fifty years ago and has been read and 
studied by thousands, has never been seen 
in its continuity before. 

W. S. P. 



Im Wasser lebt der Fisch, die Pflanze in der Erden, 
Der Vogel in der Luft, die Sonn' am Firmament, 
Der Salamander muss im Feu'r erhalten werden, 
Und Gottes Herz ist Jakob Boehmes Element. 

Angelus of Silesia. 



INTRODUCTION 

I 

JACOB BOEHME, who reveals to us 
in this book some of the secrets of 
his inner life, was among the most original 
of the great Christian mystics. With a 
natural genius for the things of the spirit, 
he also exhibited many of the character- 
istics of the psychic, the seer, and the 
metaphysician ; and his influence on philo- 
sophy has been at least as great as his 
influence on religious mysticism. 

No mystic is born ready-made. He is, 
like other men, the product of nurture no 
less than of nature. Tradition and environ- 
ment condition both his vision and its 
presentation. So, Boehme's peculiar and 



xii CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

often difficult doctrine will better be under- 
stood when we know something of his 
outer life and its influences. He was 
born of peasant stock in 1575, at a village 
near Gorlitz on the borders of Saxony and 
Silesia, and as a boy tended cattle in the 
fields. Of a pious, dreamy, and brood- 
ing disposition, even in childhood he is 
said to have had visionary experiences. 
Not being sufficiently robust for field-work, 
he was apprenticed to a shoemaker ; but, 
his severe moral ideas causing disputes 
with the other workmen, he was dismissed 
and became a travelling cobbler. During 
this enforced exile, which coincided with 
the most impressionable period of youth, 
Boehme learned something of the un- 
satisfactory religious conditions of his 
time ; the bitter disputes and mutual 
intolerance which divided Protestant 
Germany, the empty formalism which 
passed for Christianity. He also came 
into contact with the theosophic and 



INTRODUCTION xiii 

hermetic speculations which distinguished 
contemporary German thought, and seemed 
to many to offer an escape into more 
spiritual regions from the unrealities of 
institutional religion. He was himself full 
of doubts and inward conflict ; tortured not 
only by the craving for spiritual certainty 
but also by the unruly impulses and 
passionate longings of adolescence — that 
" powerful contrarium " of which he so 
constantly speaks — which are often felt 
by the mystic in their most exaggerated 
form. His religious demands were of the 
simplest kind : " I never desired to know 
anything of the Divine Majesty ... I 
sought only after the heart of Jesus Christ, 
that I might hide myself therein from the 
wrathful anger of God and the violent 
assaults of the Devil." Like St. Augustine 
in his study of the Platonists, Boehme was 
seeking "the country which is no mere 
vision, but a home " ; and in this he already 
showed himself a true mystic. H is longings 



xiv CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

and struggles for light were rewarded, as 
they have been in so many seekers at the 
beginning of their quest, by an intuition 
of reality, resolving for a time the dis- 
harmonies that tormented him. Conflict 
gave way to a new sense of stability and 
" blessed peace." This lasted for seven 
days, during which he felt himself to be 
" surrounded by the Divine Light " : an 
experience paralleled in the lives of many 
other contemplatives. 

At nineteen, Boehme returned to Gorlitz, 
where he married the butcher's daughter. 
In 1599 he became a master-shoemaker 
and settled down to his trade. In the 
following year, his first great illumination 
took place. Its character was peculiar, 
and indicative of his abnormal psychic 
constitution. Having lately passed through 
a new period of gloom and depression, he 
was gazing dreamily at a polished pewter 
dish which caught and reflected the rays 
of the sun. Thus brought, in a manner 



INTRODUCTION xv 

which any psychologist will understand, 
into a state of extreme suggestibility, the 
mystical faculty took abrupt possession of 
the mental field. It seemed to him that 
he had an inward vision of the true 
character and meaning of all created things. 
Holding this state of lucidity, so marvellous 
in its sense of renovation that he compares 
it to resurrection from the dead, he went 
out into the fields. As Fox, possessed by 
the same ecstatic consciousness, found that 
"all creation gave another smell beyond 
what words can utter," so Boehme now 
gazed into the heart of the herbs and 
grass, and perceived all nature ablaze with 
the inward light of the Divine. 

It was a pure intuition, exceeding his 
powers of speech and thought : but he 
brooded over it in secret, "labouring in 
the mystery as a child that goes to school," 
and felt its meaning " breeding within him " 
and gradually unfolding " like a young 
plant." The inward light was not constant ; 



xvi CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

his unruly lower nature persisted, and often 
prevented it from breaking through into 
the outward mind. This state of psychic 
disequilibrium and moral struggle, during 
which he read and meditated deeply, lasted 
for nearly twelve years. At last, in 1610, 
it was resolved by another experience, co- 
ordinating all his scattered intuitions in one 
great vision of reality. Boehme now felt 
a strong impulse to write some record of 
that which he had seen, and began in 
leisure hours his first book, the Aurora. 
The title of this work, which he describes 
as "the Root or Mother of Philosophy, 
Astrology, and Theology," shows the extent 
to which he had absorbed current theo- 
sophic notions : but his own vivid account 
— one of the most remarkable first-hand 
descriptions of automatic or inspirational 
writing that exists — shows too how small 
a part his surface mind played in the com- 
position of this book, which he " set down 
diligently in the impulse of God." 



INTRODUCTION xvii 

Boehme, like the ancient prophets and 
many lesser seers, was possessed by a 
spirit which, whether we choose to regard 
it as an external power or a phase of his 
own complex nature, was dissociated from 
the control of his will, and "came and 
went as a sudden shower." It poured 
itself forth in streams of strange and 
turbid eloquence, unchecked by the critical 
action of the intellect. He has told us 
that during the years when his vision was 
breeding within him he "perused many 
masterpieces of writing." These almost 
certainly included the works of Valentine 
Weigel and his disciples, and other 
hermetic and theosophic books ; and the 
fruit of these half-comprehended studies is 
manifest in the astrological and alchemical 
symbolism which adds so much to the 
obscurity of his style. Like many vision- 
aries, he was abnormally sensitive to the 
evocative power of words, using them as 
often for their suggestive quality as for 



xviii CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

their sense. A story is told of him that, 
hearing for the first time the Greek word 
" Idea," he became intensely excited, and 
exclaimed : " I see a pure and heavenly 
maiden ! " It is to this faculty that we 
must probably attribute his love of al- 
chemical symbols and the high-sounding 
magical jargon of his day. 

A copy of the manuscript of the Aurora 
having fallen into the hands of Gregorius 
Richter, the Pastor Primarius of Gorlitz, 
Boehme was violently attacked for his 
unorthodox opinions, and even threatened 
with immediate exile. Finally he was 
allowed to remain in the town but for- 
bidden to continue writing. He obeyed 
this decree for five years ; for him, a period 
of renewed struggle and gloom, during 
which he was torn between respect for 
authority and the imperative need for self- 
expression. His opinions, however, became 
known. They brought him much perse- 
cution — "shame, ignominy, and reproach," 



INTRODUCTION xix 

he says, "budding and blossoming every 
day " — but also gained him friends and 
admirers of the educated class, especially 
among the local students of hermetic 
philosophy and mysticism. It was under 
their influence that Boehme — hisvocabulary 
now much enriched and his ideas clarified as 
the result of numerous discussions — began 
in 1619 to write again. In the five years 
between this date and his death, he com- 
posed all his principal works. Their bulk 
— and also, we must confess, their frequent 
obscurities and repetitions — testify to the 
fury with which the spirit often drove 
"the penman's hand." Some, however, 
do seem to have been written with 
conscious art, to explain special points of 
difificulty ; for Boehme's first confused and 
overwhelming intuitions of reality had 
slowly given place to a more lucid vision. 
The "Aurora" had turned to "a lovely 
bright day," in which his vigorous intellect 
was able to deal with that which he had 



XX CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

seen " couched and wrapt up in the 
depths of the Deity." Thus the Forty 
Questions gives his answers to problems 
stated by the learned Dr. Walther, principal 
of the chemical laboratory at Dresden. 
His reputation had now spread through 
Germany, and eminent scholars came to 
his workshop to learn from him. In 1622 
he left off the practice of his trade and 
devoted himself entirely to writing and 
exposition. 

The publication of the beautiful Way to 
Christ, which was privately printed by one 
of these admirers in 1623, caused a fresh 
attack on the part of his old enemy Richter. 
For once, Boehme condescended to con- 
troversy, and replied with dignity to the 
violent accusations of blasphemy and 
heresy brought against him. He was 
nevertheless compelled by the magistrates 
to leave the town, where he now had a 
large number of disciples. He went first 
to the electoral court of Dresden ; there 



INTRODUCTION xxi 

meeting the chief theologians of the day, 
who were deeply impressed by his prophetic 
earnestness and intense piety, and refused 
to uphold the charge of heresy. In August 
1624, the death of Richter allowed him to 
return to Gorlitz ; but he was already 
mortally ill, and died on November 21st of 
that year, at the age of forty-nine. 

II 

In trying to estimate the character of 
Boehme's teaching, it is important to realize 
the sources of his principal conceptions. 
Though his early revelations, abruptly 
surging up from the unconscious region, 
seemed to him to owe nothing to the art 
of reason, yet it is undeniable that they 
were strongly influenced by memories of 
books read, beliefs accepted, and ex- 
periences endured. The " lightning-flash " 
in which he had his sudden visions of the 
Universe, also illuminated the furniture of 
his own mind and gave to it a fresh signifi- 



xxH CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

cance and authority. Thus it is often his 
own interior drama which he sees reflected 
on the cosmic screen ; a proceeding which 
the " theosophic " doctrine of man as the 
microcosm of the Universe helped him to 
justify. His unstable temperament, with 
its alternations between gloom and illu- 
mination, its constant sense of struggle, 
its abrupt escapes into the light — the 
"powerful contrarium" with which he 
" stood in perpetual combat " — conditions 
his picture of the eternal conflict between 
light and darkness at the very heart of 
creation ; the crude stuff of striving nature 
and the formative Spirit of God. The 
"living running fire" which he feels in 
his own spirit, is his assurance of the 
Divine fiery creative energy. 

Further, the Lutheran Christianity 
which formed the basis of his religious life 
contributed many elements to his scheme. 
Thence came the intense moral dualism, 
the Pauline opposition between the " dark- 



INTRODUCTION xxiii 

world " of unregenerate nature and the 
** light-world " of grace, the doctrines of 
the Trinity and of regeneration, and 
generally those credal symbols which he 
often uses in a theosophic sense. He is 
familiar with the Bible, making constant 
though sometimes fantastic use of its 
language and imagery. Finally, the 
German mystics and hermetic philosophers 
of the Renaissance, in whom he was deeply 
read, gave him much of the raw material 
of his philosophy. Alchemy in his day 
was still a favourite toy of speculative 
minds ; being understood partly in the 
physical, partly in the transcendental sense. 
The "doctrine of signatures," which is 
the subject of one of Boehme's later works, 
was still taken seriously as a guide to 
practical medicine ; the stuffed crocodile 
hung in the laboratory, the toad and the 
spider were carefully distilled. Yet for 
the spiritual alchemists the quest of the 
Stone was the quest of an unearthly per- 



xxiv CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

fection, and human nature was the true 
matter of the "great work." This 
"hermetic science," in which chemistry, 
magic, and mysticism were strangely com- 
bined, plainly made a strong appeal to 
Boehme ; and its influence upon his work 
was not always fortunate. But his debt to 
the more genuinely mystical writers of the 
sixteenth century, especially the Silesian re- 
former, Caspar Schwenckfeld, and Valentine 
Weigel, is of far greater importance. 
Certainly through Weigel, and perhaps also 
at first-hand, he became acquainted with 
Paracelsus, whose doctrine of humanity 
as the sum of three orders — the natural, 
the astral, and the divine — he adopts in 
the Threefold Life of Man and Three 
Principles of the Divine Essence . Through 
Weigel, too, he traces his descent from 
the great German mystics of the fourteenth 
century ; for the saintly pastor of Zschopau 
was soaked in the works of Tauler, and 
edited that pearl of Christian mysticism 



INTRODUCTION xxv 

the Theologia Germanica, Boehme, there- 
fore, was far from being an isolated spiritual 
phenomenon. He was fed from many 
sources ; but all that he received was fused 
and remade in the furnace of his own inner 
life. The result was a new creation, as 
unique as the White Stone which the 
alchemist made from his mercury, sulphur, 
and salt ; but we do it no honour by 
ignoring the elements from which it sprang. 
It is not possible to extract from 
Boehme's vast, prolix, and often difficult 
works any closed system of philosophy. 
Often he repeats himself, sometimes con- 
tradicts himself, or hides his meaning 
behind a haze of inconsistent symbols ; 
for his writing never wholly lost its 
inspirational character. But as we study 
these writings we gradually discern certain 
guiding lines, certain fixed characters, 
which help us to find our way through the 
maze. These, thoroughly grasped, enable 
us to recognize order and meaning in that 



xxvi CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

which is often an apparent chaos ; to enjoy 
and understand something of that revelation 
which transformed the little Saxon cobbler 
into a prophet of the Kingdom of God. 

Boehme's map of reality is based, like 
that of most mystics, on the number three, 
and has several interesting points of contact 
with Neoplatonism. The universe in its 
essence consists of three worlds, which are 
"none other than God Himself in His 
wonderful works." Without and beyond 
Nature is the Abyss of the Deity, "the 
Eternal Good that is the Eternal One " : 
a Plotinian definition of the Absolute which 
may have reached Boehme through 
Eckhart and his school. The three worlds 
are the trinity of emanations through which 
the transcendent Unity achieves self- 
expression. Boehme calls them the fire- 
world, the light-world, and the dark-world. 
They are not mutually exclusive spheres, 
but aspects of a whole. By them "we are 
to understand a threefold Being, or three 



INTRODUCTION xxvii 

worlds in one another " ; and all have their 
part in the production of that outward 
world of sense in which we live. 

Fire is the eternal energetic Divine will 
towards creation ; that unresting life, born 
of a craving, which inspires the natural 
world of becoming. *' What ever is to come 
to anything must have Fire " : it .is the self- 
expression of the Father. From the primal 
fire or fount of generation in its fierceness 
are born the pair of opposites through 
which the Divine energy is manifested : the 
** dark-world " of conflict, evil, and wrath 
which is Eternal Nature in itself, and the 
" light-world " of wisdom and love, which 
is Eternal Spirit in itself — the Platonic 
Nous, the Son of Christian theology. 
The dark-world represents that quality in 
life which is recalcitrant to all we call 
divine; " unregenerate nature," which was 
for Boehme no illusion but a dreadful fact. 
It is the sphere of undetermined non- 
moral striving, and of all "biting, hating, 



xxviii CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

and striking and arrogant self-will among 
men and beasts." The light-world is the 
sphere of all determined goodness and 
beauty ; the state of being towards which 
the fiery impulse of becoming should tend. 
It is the Word, or " Heart of God," as 
distinguished from His Will, and holds 
within itself all those values which we 
speak of as divine. In the Light is "the 
eternal original of all powers, colours, and 
virtues." Here again, we perceive the 
Platonic ancestry of one of Boehme's most 
characteristic ideas. In and through this 
Light the crude strivings of the fiery life- 
force are sublimated ; its titanic zest is 
transformed into " the desire of love and 
joy." The Dark is necessary to it, because 
" nothing without opposition can become 
manifest to itself." 

The outer world in which we dwell 
according to the body is the creation of 
the Fire and the Light. Ignoring the 
separate existence of the dark-world, which 



INTRODUCTION xxix 

is then looked upon as one aspect of the 
Fire, Boehme sometimes speaks of this 
physical order as the third Divine Principle, 
or sphere of the Holy Spirit, the " Lord 
and Giver of Life " ; who is thus assigned 
a position very close to the Plotinian 
Psyche, or "soul of the world." This 
outer world, he says, is "both evil and 
good, both terrible and lovely," since in it 
love and wrath strive together. " The 
Nature-life works unto Fire, and the 
Spirit-life unto Light." The business 
alike of universal and of human life, the 
essence of its " salvation," is the bringing 
of the Light out of its fiery origin — 
spiritual beauty out of the raw stuff of 
energetic nature. This perpetual shoot- 
ing up of life from nature-dark to spirit- 
light is sometimes called by Boehme the 
"new birth of Christ" and sometimes the 
"growing up of the Lily." It is happen- 
ing all the while ; the triumphant self- 
realization of the perfection of God. He 



XXX CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

sees the universe as a vast alchemic pro- 
cess, a seething pot, perpetually distilling 
the base metals into celestial gold. 

As with the cosmos, so with its micro- 
cosm man. He, too, is in process of 
becoming. The " great work " of the 
hermetists must be accomplished in him, 
and he must accept its " anguish " — the 
conflict of the fire and the light. " Man 
must be at war with himself, if he wishes 
to be a heavenly citizen." The combat is 
inevitable, and the victory is possible, be- 
cause we have the essence of all three 
worlds within us, and are " made of all 
the powers of God." The eternal Light 
" glimmers " in every consciousness. 
" When I see a right man," says Boehme, 
"there I see three worlds standing.' 
Hence human life is "a hinge between 
light and darkness ; to whichever it gives 
itself up, in that same does it burn." Its 
possibilities of adventure are infinite. The 
arc through which it may swing is as wide 



INTRODUCTION xxxi 

as the difference between hell and heaven. 
Fire — anguish, effort, and conflict — it can- 
not escape ; this is the manifestation of 
that will which is life. But it can choose 
between the torment of its own separate 
dark fire — the self-centred craving which 
is the essence of sin — and self-abandon- 
ment to the divine fire of God's unresting 
will towards perfection. The one sets up 
a whirlpool within the eternal process : the 
other contributes its store of energy and 
love to that universal work which trans- 
mutes the dark elements into the light, 
and heals the apparent cleavage between 
"nature" and "spirit." "Our whole 
teaching," says Boehme, " is nothing else 
than how a man should kindle in himself 
God's light- world." That world is here 
and now ; and his one aim was to open 
the eyes of other men to this encompass- 
ing and all-penetrating reality. All lies in 
the direction of the will : " What we make 
of ourselves, that we are." 



xxxii CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

For him, the universe was primarily a 
religious fact : its fiery energies, its impulse 
towards growth and change, were signifi- 
cant because they were aspects of the life 
of God. His cosmic vision was the direct 
outcome of spiritual experience ; he told it, 
because he wished to stimulate in all men 
the spiritual life, make them realize that 
" Heaven and Hell are present every- 
where, and it is but the turning of the will 
either into God's love or into His wrath, 
that introduceth into them." When the 
restlessness of becoming, the anxious 
craving, which should lead both cosmic 
and human life to its bourne, is turned 
back on itself and becomes a fiery self- 
devouring desire, a "wheel of anguish," 
the alchemic process goes wrong. Then 
is produced the condition which Boehme 
calls the turba ; and the turba is the 
essence of hell. But everyone who yields 
himself to the impulse of the Light stands 
by that very act in the heaven of God's 



INTRODUCTION xxxiii 

heart ; for " Heaven is nothing but a mani- 
festation of the Eternal One, wherein all 
worketh and willeth in quiet love." 

Hence at the end of this vast dynamic 
vision, this astonishing harmony of the scien- 
tific and the Christian universe, we find that 
the imperatives which govern man's entry 
into truth are moral : patience, courage, 
love, and surrender of the will. These 
evangelical virtues are the condition of our 
knowledge of reality ; for though " God 
dwells in all things, nothing comprehends 
Him unless it be one with Him." This is 
the doctrine of all the great mystics, and 
they have proved its truth in their own 
lives. Such an attunement of human to 
divine life is the real object of Christianity : 
and we must not forget that Boehme was 
before all else a practical Christian, for 
whom his religion was a vital process, not 
merely a creed. He complained that the 
orthodox of his day were content to believe 
that Christ had once died for them ; but 



xxxiv CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

such acceptance of history saved none. 
" A true Christian is not a mere historical 
new man " — he is a biological fact, the 
crown of the "great work" of spiritual 
alchemy. Christian history is only "the 
cradle of the Child " ; the framework 
within which the law of regeneration is 
perpetually manifested, and the " heavenly 
man," citizen of the eternal light- world, is 
brought forth in the world of time. This, 
says Boehme, "we heartily wish that the 
titular and Lip-Christians might once find 
by experience in themselves, and so pass 
from the history into the substance." It 
was from the fulness of his own experience 
that he wrote, as this collection of his 
personal declarations shows. In it we see 
how close was the connection between his 
inner life and his " mystical " vision ; the 
great moral demands and perpetual con- 
flicts which conditioned his intuitive know- 
ledge of reality. That knowledge was the 
fruit of the "earnest seeking" pursued 



INTRODUCTION xxxv 

from adolescence to the end of his earthly- 
life : of a will and craving persistently yet 
humbly set on the only rational object of 
desire, and turning to its purposes every 
element of his threefold nature. Such 
completeness of dedication is the founda- 
tion of all sane mysticism, and works in 
those who achieve it a veritable change 
of consciousness, an enhancement of life, 
inconceivable to other men. 

" Make trial in this manner," says 
Boehme again, " and thou wilt quickly see 
and feel another man with another sense 
and thoughts and understanding. I speak 
as I know and have found by experience ; 
a soldier knows how it is in the wars. 
This I write out of love as one who telleth 
in the spirit how it hath gone with himself, 
for an example to others, to try if any 
would follow him and find out how true 
it is." 

EVELYN UNDERHILL 



THE CONFESSIONS OF 
JACOB BOEHME 

CHAPTER I 

ART has not wrote this, neither was 
there any time to consider how to 
set it punctually down, according to the 
right understanding of letters, but all 
was ordered according to the direction of 
the Spirit, which often went in haste ; so 
that in many words letters may be wanting, 
and in some places a capital letter for a 
word. The Penman's hand, by reason he 
was not accustomed to it, did often shake ; 
and though I could have wrote in a more 
accurate, fair, and plain manner, yet the 
reason I did not was this, that the burning 
fire often forced forward with speed, and 



2 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

the hand and pen must hasten directly 
after it ; for that fire comes and goes as 
a sudden shower. I can write nothing of 
myself but as a child which neither knows 
nor understands anything, which neither 
has ever been learnt ; and I write only 
that which the Lord vouchsafes to know 
in me according to the measure as himself 
manifests in me. 

I never desired to know anything of the 
Divine Mystery, much less understood I 
the way to seek and find it. I knew 
nothing of it, which is the condition of 
poor laymen in their simplicity. 

I sought only after the heart of Jesus 
Christ, that I might hide myself therein 
from the wrathful anger of God and the 
violent assaults of the Devil. And I 
besought the Lord earnestly for his Holy 
Spirit and his grace, that he would please 
to bless and guide me in him, and take 
that away from me which turned me from 
him. I resigned myself wholly to him, 



COxNFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 3 

that I might not live to my own will, but 
his ; and that he only might lead and 
direct me, to the end I might be his child 
in his son Jesus. 

In this my earnest and Christian seek- 
ing and desire (wherein I suffered many a 
shrewd repulse, but at last resolved rather 
to put myself in hazard than leave off), the 
Gate was opened to me, that in one quarter 
of an hour I saw and knew more than if I 
had been many years together at an Uni- 
versity, at which I exceedingly admired and 
thereupon turned my praise to God for it. 

So that I did not only greatly wonder at 
it, but did also exceedingly rejoice ; and 
presently it came powerfully into my mind 
to set the same down in writing, for a 
memorial for myself, though I could very 
hardly apprehend the same in my external 
man and express it with the pen. Yet, 
however, I must begin to labour in this 
great mystery as a child that goes to 
school. 



4 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

I saw it as in a great deep in the internal ; 
for I had a thorough view of the Universe, 
as a complex moving fulness wherein all 
things are couched and wrapped up ; but it 
was impossible for me to explain the same. 

Yet it opened itself in me, from time to 
time, as in a young plant. It was with me 
for the space of twelve years, and was as 
it were breeding. I found a powerful instiga- 
tion within me before I could bring it forth 
into external form of writing ; but what- 
ever I could apprehend with the external 
principle of my mind, that I wrote down. 

Afterwards, however, the Sun shone 
upon me a good while, but not constantly, 
for sometimes the Sun hid itself, and then 
I knew not nor well understood my own 
labour. Man must confess that his know- 
ledge is not his own but from God, who 
manifests the Ideas of Wisdom to the soul, 
in what measure he pleases. 

It is not to be understood that my reason 
is greater or higher than that of all other 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME s 

men living ; but I am the Lord's twig or 
branch, and a very mean and little spark 
of his light ; he may set me where he 
pleases, I cannot hinder him in that. 

Neither is this my natural will, that I 
can do it by my own small ability ; for 
if the Spirit were withdrawn from me, 
then I could neither know nor understand 
my own writings. 

O gracious amiable Blessedness and 
great Love, how sweet art thou ! How 
friendly and courteous art thou ! How 
pleasant and lovely is thy relish and taste ! 
How ravishing sweetly dost thou smell ! 
O noble Light, and bright Glory, who can 
apprehend thy exceeding beauty ? How 
comely adorned is thy love ! How curious 
and excellent are thy colours ! And all 
this eternally. Who can express it? 

Or why and what do I write, whose 
tongue does but stammer like a child which 
is learning to speak .'* With what shall I 



6 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

compare it ? or to what shall I liken it ? 
Shall I compare it with the love of this 
world ? No, that is but a mere dark 
valley to it. 

O immense Greatness ! I cannot com- 
pare thee with any thing, but only with 
the resurrection from the dead ; there will 
the Love-Fire rise up again in us, and 
rekindle again our astringent, bitter, and 
cold, dark and dead powers, and embrace 
us most courteously and friendly. 

O gracious, amiable, blessed Love and 
clear bright Light, tarry with us, I pray 
thee, for the evening is at hand. 



CHAPTER II 

I AM a sinful and mortal man, as well 
as thou, and I must every day and 
hour grapple, struggle, and fight with the 
Devil who afflicts me in my corrupted lost 
nature, in the wrathful power which is in 
my flesh, as in all men continually. 

Suddenly I get the better of him, 
suddenly he is too hard for me ; yet, not- 
withstanding, he has not overcome or 
conquered me, though he often gets the 
advantage over me. 

If he buffets me, then I must retire and 
give back, but the divine power helps me 
again ; then he also receives a blow, and 
often loses the day in the fight. 

But when he is overcome, then the 
heavenly gate opens in my spirit, and then 



8 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

the spirit sees the divine and heavenly 
Being, not externally beyond the body, 
but in the well-spring of the heart. 
There rises up a flash of the Light 
in the sensibility or thoughts of the 
brain, and therein the Spirit does con- 
template. 

For man is made out of all the powers 
of God, out of all the seven spirits of God, 
as the angels also are. But now seeing 
he is corrupted, therefore the divine 
moving does not always unfold its 
powers and operate in him. And 
though it springs in him, and if indeed 
it shines, yet it is incomprehensible to 
the corrupted nature. 

For the Holy Ghost will not be held 
in the sinful flesh, but rises up like 
a lightning - flash, as fire sparkles and 
flashes out of a stone when a man 
strikes it. 

But when the flash is caught in the 
fountain of the heart, then the Holy Spirit 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 9 

rises up, in the seven unfolding fountain 
spirits, into the brain, like the dawning of 
the day, the morning redness. 

In that Light the one sees the other, 
feels the other, smells the other, tastes the 
other, and hears the other, and is as if the 
whole Deity rose up therein. 

Herein the spirit sees into the depth of 
the Deity ; for in God near and far off is 
all one ; and that same God is in his three- 
foldness as well in the body of a holy soul 
as in heaven. 

From this God I take my knowledge 
and from no other thing ; neither will I 
know any other thing than that same God. 
And he it is which makes that assurance 
in my spirit, that I steadfastly believe and 
trust in him. 

Though an angel from heaven should 
tell this to me, yet for all that I could 
not believe it, much less lay hold on it; 
for I should always doubt whether it was 
certainly so or no. But the Sun itself 



lo CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

arises in my spirit, and therefore I am 
most sure of it. 

The soul liveth in great danger in this 
world ; and therefore this life is very well 
called the valley of misery, full of anguish, 
a perpetual hurly-burly, pulling and hauling, 
warring, fighting, struggling and striving. 

But the cold and half-dead body does 
not always understand this fight of the 
soul. The body does not know how it is 
with it, but is heavy and anxious ; it goes 
from one business to another, and from 
one place to another ; it seeketh for ease 
and rest. 

And when it comes where it would be, 
yet it finds no such thing as that which 
it seeks. Then doubtings and unbelief 
come upon it ; sometimes it seems to it 
as if God had quite cast it off. It doth 
not understand the fight of the spirit, how 
the same is sometimes down and some- 
times uppermost. 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME ii 

Thou must know that I write not here 
as a story or history, as if it was related 
to me from another. I must continually 
stand in that combat, and I find it to be 
full of heavy strivings wherein I am often 
struck down to the ground, as well as all 
other men. 

But for the sake of the violent fight, 
and for the sake of the earnestness which 
we have together, this revelation has been 
given me, and the vehement driving or 
impulse to bring it so to pass as to set all 
down on paper. 

What the total sequel is, which may 
follow upon and after this, I do not fully 
know. Only sometimes future mysteries 
in the depth are shown to me. 

For when the flash rises up in the centre, 
one sees through and through, but cannot 
well apprehend or lay hold on it ; for it 
happens to such an one as when there is 
a tempest of lightning, where the flash of 
fire opens itself and suddenly vanishes. 



12 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

So it goes also in the soul when it 
breaks quite through in its combat. Then 
it beholds the Deity as a flash of lightning ; 
but the source and the unfolding of sins 
covers it suddenly again. For the old 
Adam belongs to the earth, and does not, 
with the flesh, belong to God. 

In this combat I had many hard trials 
to my heart's grief. My Sun was often 
eclipsed or extinguished, but did rise 
again ; and the oftener it was eclipsed the 
brighter and clearer was its rising again, 

I do not write this for my own praise, 
but to the end that the reader may know 
wherein my knowledge stands, that he 
might not seek from me that which I have 
not, or think me to be what I am not. 

But what I am, that all men are who 
wrestle in Jesus Christ our King for the 
crown of the eternal Joy, and live in the 
hope of perfection. 

I marvel that God should reveal himself 
thus fully to such a simple man, and that 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 13 

he thus impels him also to set it down in 
writing ; whereas there are many learned 
writers which could set it forth and express 
it better, and demonstrate it more exactly 
and fully than I, that am a scorn and fool 
to the world. 

But I neither can nor will oppose him ; 
for I often stood in great striving against 
him, that if it was not his impulse and 
will he would be pleased to take it from 
me ; but I find that with my striving 
against him I have merely gathered stones 
for this building. 

Now I am climbed up and mounted so 
very high that I dare not look back for 
fear a giddiness should take me ; and I 
have now but a short length of ladder to 
the mark to which it is the whole desire, 
longing, and delight of my heart to reach 
fully. When I go upward I have no 
giddiness at all ; but when I look back 
and would return, then am I giddy and 
afraid to fall. 



14 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

Therefore have I put my confidence in 
the strong God, and will venture, and see 
what will come of it. I have no more 
but one body, which nevertheless is mortal 
and corruptible ; I willingly venture that. 
If the light and knowledge of my God do 
but remain with me, then I have sufficiently 
enough for this life and the life to come. 

Thus I will not be angry with my God, 
though for his Name's sake I should endure 
shame, ignominy, and reproach, which 
springs, buds, and blossoms for me every 
day, so that I am almost inured to it : I 
will sing with the prophet David, Though 
my body and soul should faint and fail, 
yet thou, O God, art my trust and 
confidence ; also my salvation and the 
comfort of my heart. 



CHAPTER III 

ME N have always been of the opinion 
that heaven is many hundred, nay, 
many thousand, miles distant from the 
face of the earth, and that God dwells 
only in that heaven. 

Some have undertaken to measure this 
height and distance, and have produced 
many strange and monstrous devices. 
Indeed, before my knowledge and reve- 
lation of God, I held that only to be the 
true heaven which, in a round circumference, 
very azure of a light blue colour, extends 
itself above the stars ; supposing that God 
had therein his peculiar Being, and did 
rule only in the power of his Holy Spirit 
in this world. 

But when this had given me many a 



1 6 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

hard blow and repulse, doubtless from the 
Spirit, which had a great longing yearning 
towards me, at last I fell into a very deep 
melancholy and heavy sadness, when I 
beheld and contemplated the great Deep 
of this world, also the sun and stars, the 
clouds, rain and snow, and considered in 
my spirit the whole creation of the world. 

Wherein then I found, in all things, 
evil and good, love and anger ; in the 
inanimate creatures, in wood, stones, earth 
and the elements, as also in men and 
beasts. 

Moreover I considered the little spark 
of light, man, what he should be esteemed 
for with God, in comparison of this great 
work and fabric of heaven and earth. 

And finding that in all things there was 
evil and good, as well in the elements as 
in the creatures, and that it went as well 
in this world with the wicked as with the 
virtuous, honest and godly ; also that the 
barbarous people had the b§st countries in 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 17 

their possession, and that they had more 
prosperity in their ways than the virtuous, 
honest and godly had ; I was thereupon 
very melancholy, perplexed and exceed- 
ingly troubled, no Scripture could comfort 
or satisfy me though I was very well 
acquainted with it and versed therein ; at 
which time the Devil would by no means 
stand idle, but was often beating into me 
many heathenish thoughts which I will 
here be silent in. 

Yet when in this affliction and trouble I 
elevated my spirit (which then I under- 
stood very little or nothing at all what it 
was), I earnestly raised it up into God, 
as with a great storm or onset, wrapping 
up my whole heart and mind, as also all 
my thoughts and whole will and resolution, 
incessantly to wrestle with the Love and 
Mercy of God, and not to give over 
unless he blessed me, that is, unless he 
enlightened me with his Holy Spirit, 
whereby I might understand his will 



1 8 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHMfi 

and be rid of my sadness. And then 
the Spirit did break through. 

But when in my resolved zeal I gave 
so hard an assault, storm, and onset upon 
God and upon all the gates of hell, as if 
I had more reserves of virtue and power 
ready, with a resolution to hazard my 
life upon it (which assuredly were not in 
my ability without the assistance of the 
Spirit of God), suddenly my spirit did 
break through the gates of hell, even into 
the innermost moving of the Deity, and 
there I was embraced in love as a bride- 
groom embraces his dearly beloved bride. 

The greatness of the triumphing that 
was in my spirit I cannot express either 
in speaking or writing ; neither can it be 
compared to any thing but that wherein 
life is generated in the midst of death. It 
is like the resurrection from the dead. 

In this light my spirit suddenly saw 
through all, and in and by all, the creatures ; 
even in herbs and grass it knew God, 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 19 

who he is and how he is and what his 
will is. And suddenly in that light my 
will was set on by a mighty impulse to 
describe the Being of God. 

But because I could not presently ap- 
prehend the deepest movings of God and 
comprehend them in my reason, there 
passed almost twelve years before the 
exact understanding thereof was given me. 

And it was with me as with a young 
tree, which is planted in the ground and 
at first is young and tender, and flourishing 
to the eye, especially if it comes on lustily 
in its growing ; but does not bear fruit 
presently, and though it has blossoms they 
fall off: also frost and snow and many a 
cold wind beat upon it before it comes to 
any growth and bearing of fruit. 

So also it went with my spirit : the first 
fire was but a beginning and not a con- 
stant and lasting light ; since that time 
many a cold wind blew upon it, yet never 
extinguished it. 



20 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

The tree was also often tempted to try 
whether it could bear fruit, and showed 
itself with blossoms ; but the blossoms 
were struck off till this very time, wherein 
it stands in its fruit. 

From this light now it is that I have 
my knowledge, as also my will, impulse 
and driving ; and therefore I will set down 
the knowledge in writing according to my 
gift, and let God work his will. Though 
I should enrage the whole world, the 
Devil, and all the gates of hell, I will 
look on and wait what the Lord intends 
with it. 

For I am too, too weak to know his 
purpose ; and though the Spirit affords in 
the light some things to be known which 
are to come, yet according to the outward 
man I am too weak to comprehend them. 

The animated or soulish spirit, which 
unfolds its powers and unites with God, 
comprehends it well ; but the animal body 
attains only a glimpse thereof ; just as by 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 21 

a lightning-flash. This is the state of the 
innermost moving of the soul, when it 
breaks through the outermost in an eleva- 
tion by the Holy Ghost. But the outer- 
most presently closes again, for the wrath 
of God is stirred up there as fire is struck 
from the stone, and holds it captive in its 
power. 

Then the knowledge of the outward 
man is gone, and he walks up and down, 
afflicted and anxious, as a woman with 
child who is in her travail, and would 
willingly bring forth, but cannot and is 
full of throes. 

Thus it goes also with the animal body 
when it has once tasted of the sweetness 
of God. Then it continually hungers and 
thirsts after it ; but the Devil in the power 
of God's wrath opposes exceedingly, and 
so a man in such a course must continu- 
ally be anxious ; and there is nothing but 
fighting and warring for him. 

I write not this for my own glory, but 



2 2 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

for a comfort to the reader, so that if 
perhaps he be minded to walk with me 
upon my narrow bridge, he should not 
suddenly be discouraged, dismayed, and 
distrustful, when the gates of hell and 
God's wrath meet him and present them- 
selves before him. 

When we shall come together, over this 
narrow bridge of the fleshly working, to 
be in yonder green meadow to which the 
wrath of God does not reach, then we 
shall be fully requited for all our damages 
and hurts we have sustained ; though in- 
deed at present the world accounts us for 
fools, and we must suffer the Devil to 
domineer, rush, and roar over us. 

Now observe : if thou fixest thy thoughts 
concerning heaven, and wouldst willingly 
conceive in thy mind what it is and where 
it is and how it is, thou needst not to cast 
thy thoughts many thousand miles off, for 
that place, that heaven, is not thy heaven. 

And though indeed that is united with 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 23 

thy heaven as one body, and so together 
is but the one body of God, yet thou art 
not become a creature in that very place 
which is above many hundred thousand 
miles off, but thou art in the heaven of 
this world, which contains also in it such 
a Deep as is not of any human numbering. 

The true heaven is everywhere, even in 
that very place where thou standest and 
goest ; and so when thy spirit presses 
through the astral and the fleshly, and 
apprehends the innermost moving of God, 
then it is clearly in heaven. 

But that there is assuredly a pure glori- 
ous heaven in all the three movings aloft 
above the deep of this world, in which 
God's Being together with that of the holy 
angels springs up very purely, brightly, 
beauteously, and joyfully, is undeniable. 
And he is not born of God that denies it. 

Thou must know that this world in 
its innermost unfolds its properties and 
powers in union with the heaven aloft 



24 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

above us ; and so there is one Heart, 
one Being, one Will, one God, all in all. 

The outermost moving of this world 
cannot comprehend the outermost moving 
of heaven aloft above this world, for they 
are one to the other as life and death, or 
as a man and a stone are one to the other. 

There is a strong firmament dividing 
the outermost of this world from the outer- 
most of the upper heaven ; and that firma- 
ment is Death, which rules and reigns 
everywhere in the outermost in this world, 
and sets a great gulf between them. 

The second moving of this world is in 
the life ; it is the astral, out of which is 
generated the third and holy moving ; and 
therein love and wrath strive one with 
the other. 

For the second moving stands in the 
seven fountain spirits of this world, and is 
in all places and in all the creatures as in 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 25 

man. But the Holy Ghost also rules and 
reigns in that second, and helps to generate 
the third, the holy moving. 

This, the third, is the clear and holy 
heaven which unites with the Heart of 
God, distinct from and above all heavens, 
as one heart. 

Therefore, thou child of man, be not dis- 
couraged, be not so timorous and pusil- 
lanimous ; if thou in thy zeal and earnest 
sincerity sowest the seed of thy tears, thou 
dost not sow it in earth but in heaven ; 
for in thy astral moving thou sowest, and 
in thy soulish moving thou reapest, and in 
the kingdom of heaven thou possessest 
and enjoy est it. 

If man's eyes were but opened he should 
see God everywhere in his heaven ; for 
heaven stands in the innermost moving 
everywhere. 

Moreover, when Stephen saw the heaven 
opened and the Lord Jesus at the right 



26 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

hand of God, then his spirit did not 
first swing itself aloft into the upper 
heaven, but it penetrated into the inner- 
most moving wherein heaven is every- 
where. 

Neither must thou think that God is 
such a* kind of Being as is only in the 
upper heaven, and that the soul, when it 
departs from the body, goes aloft many 
hundred thousand miles off. It needs not 
do that ; it is set in the innermost moving, 
and there it is with God and in God, and 
with all the holy angels, and can suddenly 
be above and suddenly beneath ; it is not 
hindered by any thing. 

For in the innermost the upper and 
nether Deity is one body and is an open 
gate. The holy angels converse and walk 
up and down in the innermost of this world 
by and with our King Jesus Christ ; as well 
as in the uppermost, aloft in their quarters, 
courts or region. 

Where then would or should the soul 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 27 

of man rather be than with its King and 
Redeemer Jesus Christ ? For near and 
afar off in God is one thing, one compre- 
hensibility, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, 
everywhere. 

The gate of God in the upper heaven is 
no other, also no brighter, than it is in this 
world. And where can there be greater 
joy than in that place where every hour 
and moment beautiful, loving, dear, new- 
born children and angels come to Christ, 
which are passed through death into life ? 
Where can there be greater joy than where 
in the midst of death life is generated 
continually ? Does not every soul bring 
along with it a new triumph .-* and so there 
is nothing else but an exceedingly friendly 
welcoming and salutation there. 

Dost thou think my writing is too 
earthly ? If thou wert to come to this 
window of mine thou wouldst not then say 
that it is earthly. Though I must indeed 
use the earthly tongue, yet there is a true 



28 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

heavenly understanding couched under it, 
which in my outermost moving I am not 
able to express. 

I know very well that the word con- 
cerning the three movings cannot be com- 
prehended or apprehended in every man's 
heart, especially where the heart is too 
much steeped, soaked, or drowned in the 
flesh. But I cannot render it otherwise 
than as it is, for it is just so ; and though 
I write mere spirit, as indeed and in truth 
it is no other, yet such a heart understands 
only flesh. 

Thou shouldst not suppose that which 
I write here to be as a doubtful opinion, 
questionable whether it be so or no ; for 
the gate of heaven and hell stands open 
to the spirit, and in the Light it presses 
through them both and beholds them, also 
proves and examines them. 

And though the Devil cannot take the 
Light from me, yet he hides it often with 
the outward and fleshly moving, so that 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 29 

the astral is in anxiety and in a strait, as 
if it were imprisoned. 

But these are only his blows and strokes 
whereby the seed of paradise is covered 
and obscured. Concerninor which also the 
holy apostle Paul saith that a great thorn 
was given him in his flesh and he besought 
the Lord earnestly to take it from him, 
whereupon the Lord answered. Let my 
grace be sufficient for thee. 

For he also was come to this place and 
would fain have had the Light without 
obstruction or hindrance, as his own in the 
astral moving. But it could not be ; for 
wrath abides in the fleshly moving, and he 
must endure corruption there. If wrath 
should be wholly taken away from the 
astral, then in that he would be like God 
and know all things as God himself does. 

Which now in this life that soul only 
knows which unfolds its powers in union 
with the Light of God, and even that soul 
cannot perfectly bring it back again into the 



30 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

astral. Just as an apple on a tree cannot 
bring its smell and taste back again into 
the tree or into the earth, though it be 
indeed the son of the tree, so it is also in 
the nature of man. 

The holy man Moses was so high 
and deep in this Light that it glorified, 
clarified, or brightened the astral also, 
whereby the outermost of the flesh in 
his face was clarified, brightened, or 
glorified. 

He also desired to see the light of God 
perfectly in the astral ; but it could not be, 
for the bar of the wrath lies before it. 
Even the whole and universal nature of 
the astral in this world cannot comprehend 
the Light of God ; and therefore the Heart 
of God is hidden, though it dwells in all 
places and comprehends all. 

Thou seest how the wrath of God in the 
outermost of nature lies hid and rests, and 
cannot be awakened unless men themselves 
awaken it, who with their fleshly moving 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 31 

unfold their powers to stir up and unite with 
the wrath in the outermost of nature. 

Therefore if anyone should be damned 
into hell he ought not to say that God has 
done it, or that he wills it to be so. Man 
awakens the wrath-fire in himself, and this, 
if it grows burning, afterwards unites with 
God's wrath and the hellish fire, as one 
thing. 

For when thy light is extinguished, then 
thou standest in the darkness. Within 
the darkness the wrath of God is concealed, 
and if thou awakenest it, then it bums in 
thee. 

There is fire even in a stone : if you 
do not strike upon it the fire remains 
concealed ; but, if you strike it, then the 
fire springs forth, and if any combustible 
matter be near it, that will take fire and 
burn, and so there comes to be a great 
fire. Thus it is also with man, when he 
kindles the wrath-fire which is otherwise 
at rest. 



CHAPTER IV 

WHEN thou beholdest the deep above 
the earth thou oughtest not to say 
that it is not the gate of God where God 
in his holiness dwells : No, no, think not 
so, for the whole Holy Trinity, God the 
Father, Son and Holy Ghost, dwells in 
the centre under the firmament of heaven, 
though that very firmament cannot compre- 
hend him. 

Indeed all is as it were one body, the 
outermost and the innermost moving to- 
gether with the firmament of heaven, as 
also the astral moving therein, in and 
with which the wrath of God unfolds ; but 
yet they are one to another as the govern- 
ment, frame or constitution in man. 

The flesh marks the outward moving, 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 33 

which is the house of death. The second 
moving in man is the astral, in which the 
Hfe stands, and wherein love and wrath 
wrestle one with another. Thus far man 
himself knows himself, for the astral 
generates the life in the outermost, that is, 
in the flesh. The third moving is gener- 
ated between the astral and the outermost, 
and is called the animated or soulish moving, 
or the soul, and is as great as the whole 
man. 

That moving the outward man neither 
knows nor comprehends, neither does the 
astral comprehend it ; but every fountain 
spirit comprehends its innate source, which 
resembles the heaven. 

The animated or soulish man must 
press through the firmament of heaven 
to God, and live with God, else the 
whole man cannot come into heaven to 
God. 

Man cannot be wholly pure from wrath 
and sin, for the movings of the depth in 
3 



34 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

this world are not fully pure before the 
Heart of God ; always love and wrath 
wrestle one with another. 

In the second, the astral, wherein now 
the love and the wrath are against one 
another, is a spirit of the life, and of the 
firmament of heaven which is of the midst 
of the spirit. 

And the Devil can reach half into this 
moving, so far as the wrath reaches and 
no farther ; therefore the Devil cannot 
know how the other part in this moving 
has its source. This other part of the 
astral, which abides in the love, is 
the firmament of heaven holding captive 
the kindled wrath ; together with all the 
devils, for they cannot enter thereinto. 
In that heaven dwells the Holy Spirit, 
which goes forth from the Heart of 
God, and strives against the wrath, and 
generates to himself a temple in the 
midst of the fierceness of the wrath of 
God. 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 35 

And in this heaven dwells the man that 
fears God, even while alive in the body- 
here upon earth ; for that heaven is as 
well in man as in the deep above the 
earth. And as the deep above the earth 
is, so is man also, both in love and 
wrath, till after the departure of the soul ; 
but when the soul departs from the body, 
then it abides either only in the heaven of 
love or only in the wrath. 

And in this heaven the holy angels 
dwell amongst us, and the devils in the 
other part. In this heaven man lives 
between heaven and hell, and must suffer 
from the wrath and endure many hard 
blows, temptations, persecutions ; and, 
many times, torments and oppression. 

The wrath is called the Cross, and the 
love-heaven is called patience, and the 
spirit that rises up therein is called hope 
and faith, which unites with God and 
wrestles with the wrath till it overcomes 
and gets the victory. 



36 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

ye theologists, the spirit here opens a 
door and gate for you ! If you will not now 
see and feed your sheep and lambs on a 
green meadow, instead of a dry, parched 
heath, you must be accountable for it 
before the severe, earnest and wrathful 
judgement of God ; therefore look to it. 

1 take heaven to witness that I do here 
what I must. The Spirit drives me to it, 
so that I am wholly led captive thereby, 
and cannot be freed from it whatever may 
befal me hereafter, or ensue upon it. 

The third moving in the body of God in 
this world is hidden. In it is the almighty 
and holy Heart of God, wherein our King, 
Jesus Christ, with his natural body, sits at 
the right hand of God, as a King and 
Lord of the whole body of this world. 

The body of Christ is no more in the 
hard palpability, but in the divine palpa- 
bility, of nature, like the angels. Our 
bodies also at the resurrection will have no 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 37 

more such hard flesh and bones, but be 
like the angels ; and though indeed all 
forms and powers shall be therein, yet we 
shall not have the hard palpability. 

Christ says to Mary Magdalen in 
Joseph's garden at the Sepulchre, after his 
resurrection, Touch me not, for I am not 
yet ascended to my God and to your God, 
as if he would say, I have not now the 
animal body any more, although I show 
myself to thee in my form or shape which 
I had, because otherwise thou in thy 
animal body couldst not see me. 

So during the forty days after his 
resurrection he did not always walk 
visibly among the disciples, but invisibly, 
according to his heavenly and angelical 
property. When he would speak or talk 
with his disciples, then he showed himself 
in a palpable manner and form, that thereby 
he might speak natural words with them, 
for corruption cannot apprehend the divine. 
Also it sufficiently appears that his body 



38 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

was of an angelical kind, in that he went 
to his disciples through the doors, being 
shut. 

Thus thou must know that his body 
unites with all the seven spirits in nature 
in the astral moving in the part of love ; 
and holds sin, death and the Devil captive 
in its wrath part. 

Thou seest also how thou art in this 
world everywhere in heaven and also in 
hell, and dwellest between heaven and hell 
in great danger. Thou seest how heaven 
is in a holy man, and that everywhere, 
wheresoever thou standest, goest or liest, 
if thy spirit does but co-operate with God, 
then as to that part thou art in heaven and 
thy soul is in God. Therefore says Christ : 
My sheep are in my hands, no man can 
pull them away from me. 

In like manner thou seest also how thou 
art always in hell among all the devils as 
to the wrath ; if thine eyes were but open 
thou wouldst see wonderful things, but 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 39 

thou standest between heaven and hell, 
and canst see neither of them, and 
walkest upon a very narrow bridge. 

Some men have many times, in the 
astral spirit, entered in thither, being 
ravished in an ecstasy, as men term it, 
and have in this life known the gates of 
heaven and of hell, and have shown and 
declared how that many men dwell in hell 
with their living bodies. Such indeed 
have been scorned, derided or laughed at, 
but with great ignorance and indiscretion, 
for it is just so as they declare. 



CHAPTER V 

THE Simple says, God made all things 
out of nothing ; but he knows not 
God, neither does he know what he him- 
self is. When he beholds the earth 
together with the deep above the earth, 
he thinks verily all this is not God ; or 
else he thinks God is not there. He always 
imagines with himself that God dwells 
only above the azure heaven of the stars, 
and rules, as it were, by means of some 
spirit which goes forth from him into this 
world ; and that his body is not present 
here upon the earth or in the earth. 

Just such opinions and tenets I have 
read also in the books and writing^s of 
Doctors, and there are also very many 
opinions, disputations and controversies 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 41 

risen about this very thing among the 
Learned. 

But seeing God opens to me the gate 
of his Being in his great love, and re- 
members the covenants which he has 
with man, therefore I will faithfully and 
earnestly, according to my gifts, set wide 
open all the gates of God, so far as he 
will give me leave. 

It is not so to be understood, as that I 
am sufficient in these things, but only so 
far as I am able to comprehend. 

For the Being of God is like a wheel, 
wherein many wheels are made one in 
another, upwards, downwards, crossways, 
and yet continually turn all of them 
together. 

At which indeed, when a man beholds 
the wheel, he highly marvels, and cannot 
at once in its turning learn to conceive 
and apprehend it. But the more he 
beholds the wheel the more he learns its 
form ; and the more he learns the greater 



42 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

longing he has towards the wheel, for he 
continually sees something that is more 
and more wonderful, so that a man can 
neither behold nor learn it enough. 

Thus I also. What I do not fully 
describe in one place concerning this great 
mystery, that you will find in another 
place ; and what I cannot describe here 
in regard of the greatness of this mystery 
and my incapacity, that you will find else- 
where. 

For here is the first sprouting or 
vegetation of this twig, which springs in its 
mother, and is as a child which is learning 
to walk and is not able to run apace at 
the first. 

Though the spirit sees the wheel and 
would fain comprehend its form in every 
place, yet it cannot do it exactly enough 
because of the turning of the wheel. But 
when it comes about that the spirit can 
see the first apprehended form again, then 
continually it learns more and more, and 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 43 

always loves and delights in the wheel, 
and longs after it still more and more. 

Now observe : The earth has just such 
qualities and quality-expressing or fountain 
spirits as the deep above the earth, or as 
heaven has, and all of them together belong 
to one only body. The universal God is 
that one only body. But sin is the cause 
that thou dost not wholly see and know 
him. With and by sin thou, within this 
great divine body, liest shut up in the 
mortal flesh ; and the power and virtue of 
God is hidden from thee, even as the 
marrow in the bones is hidden from the 
flesh. 

But if thou in the spirit breakest through 
the death of the flesh, then thou seest the 
hidden God. For the mortal flesh belongs 
not to the moving of life, so it cannot 
receive or conceive the Life of the Light 
as proper to itself ; but the Life of the 
Light in God rises up in the flesh and 
generates to itself, from out of it, another. 



44 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

a heavenly and living, body, which knows 
and understands the Light. 

The mortal body is but a husk from 
which the new body grows, as it is with 
a grain of wheat in the earth. The husk 
shall not rise and be living again, no more 
with the body than with the grain, but 
will remain for ever in death. 

Behold the mystery of the earth : as 
that brings forth so must thou bring forth. 
The earth is not that body which is brought 
forth, but is the mother of that body ; as 
also thy flesh is not the spirit but is the 
mother of the spirit. 

And in both of them, in the earth and 
in thy flesh, the Light of the clear Deity is 
hidden, and it breaks through and gathers 
to itself a body for each after its kind. 

As the mother is, so also is the child : 
man's child is the soul which is born in 
the astral moving from the flesh ; and the 
earth's child is the grass, the herbs, the 
trees, silver, gold, and all mineral ores. 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 4S 

Out of the earth sprang grass, herbs and 
trees ; and in the earth silver, gold, and all 
manner of ore came to be. In the deep 
above the earth sprang the wonderful 
forming of power and virtue. 

I now invite all lovers of the holy and 
highly to be esteemed arts of philosophy 
and theology before this mirror wherein 
I lay open the root and ground of these 
matters. 

I use not their tables, formulas, or 
schemes, rules and ways, for I have not 
learned from them. I have another 
teacher, which is the living fountain of 
nature. 

What could I, simple layman, teach or 
write of their high art if it was not given 
to me by the Spirit of nature, in whom I 
live and am ? Should I oppose the Spirit 
that he should not open where and in whom 
he pleases ? 

O thou child of man, open the eyes of 



46 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

thy spirit, for I will show thee here the 
right and real proper gate of God. 

Behold ! that is the true, one, only God 
out of whom thou art created and in whom 
thou livest ; and when thou beholdest the 
deep and the stars and the earth, then thou 
beholdest thy God. In that same thou 
livest and hast thy being ; and that same 
God rules thee also, and from that same 
God thou hast thy senses. Thou art a 
creature from him and in him ; else thou 
wouldst never have been. 

Now perhaps thou wilt say that I write 
in a heathenish manner. Hearken and 
behold ! Observe the distinct understand- 
ing how all this is so ; for I write not 
heathenishly, but in the love of wisdom ; 
neither am I a heathen, but I have the true 
knowledge of the one only great God who 
is All. 

When thou beholdest the deep, the stars, 
the elements and the earth, then thou 
comprehendest not with thine eyes the 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 47 

bright and clear Deity, though indeed he 
is there and in them ; but thou seest and 
comprehendest, with thine eyes, first death 
and then the wrath of God. 

But if thou Hftest up thy thoughts and 
dost consider where God is, then thou shalt 
comprehend the astral moving, where love 
and wrath move one against another. 
And when by faith thou drawest near to 
God who rules in holiness in this dominion, 
then thou layest hold on him in his holy 
Heart. 

When this is done, then thou art as 
God is, who himself is heaven, earth, stars 
and the elements. 



CHAPTER VI 

WHERE will you seek for God? 
Seek him in your soul that is 
proceeded out of the eternal nature, the 
living fountain of forces wherein the divine 
working stands. 

O that I had but the pen of a man, and 
were able therewith to write down the 
spirit of knowledge ! I can but stammer 
of great mysteries like a child that is be- 
ginning to speak ; so very little can the 
earthly tongue express of that which the 
spirit comprehends. Yet I will venture to 
try whether I may incline some to seek the 
pearl of true knowledge, and myself labour 
in the works of God in my paradisical 
garden of roses ; for the longing of the 

eternal nature-mother drives nie on to write 

48, 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 49 

and to exercise myself in this my know- 
ledge. 

No money, nor goods, nor art, nor power 
can bring you to the eternal rest of the 
eternal paradise, but only the knowledge in 
which you may steep your soul. That is 
the pearl which no thief can steal away ; 
seek after it and you will find the noble 
treasure. 

Our skill and understanding are so 
cramped and narrowed that we have no 
more any knowledge of paradise at all. 
And except we be born anew, the veil of 
Moses lies continually before our eyes, and 
we suppose that was paradise whereof he 
said : God placed Adam in the garden of 
Eden which he had planted, that he might 
till it. 

O beloved man, paradise is the divine 
Joy. It is the divine and angelical Joy, 
yet it is not outside the place of this world. 
When I speak of the fountain and joy of 
paradise, and of its substance, what it is, I 
4 



50 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

have no similitude for it in this world ; I 
stand in need of angelical speech and 
knowledge to express it ; and though I had 
them yet I could never express it with this 
tongue. It is well understood in the mind, 
when the soul rides in the chariot of 
the Spirit, but I cannot express it with 
the tongue ; yet will I stammer with the 
children till another mouth be given me 
to speak with. 

And seeing somewhat is lent me from 
the grace of the power of God, that I might 
know the way to paradise, seeing also that 
it behoves everyone to work the works of 
God in which he stands, I will not neglect 
my task but will labour as much as I can 
on the way. 

Although I shall scarce be able to spell 
out the letters in this so high a way, yet my 
labour shall be enough that many will have 
to learn in it all their life long. He that 
thinks he knows it well, he has not yet 
learnt the first letter of paradise, for no 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 51 

Doctors are to be found in this school, but 
only learners. 

There is nothing that is nearer to you 
than heaven, paradise, and hell. Unto 
which of them you are inclined and towards 
which of them you walk, to that in this life- 
time you are most near. There is a moving 
between each two of them ; and you have 
both movings in you. God beckons to you 
in the one, and calls you ; and the Devil 
beckons to you in the other, and calls you ; 
with whom you go, with him you enter in. 
The Devil has in his hand power, honour, 
pleasure, and worldly happiness ; and the 
root of these is death and hell-fire. God 
has in his hands crosses, persecution, 
misery, poverty, ignominy and sorrow ; and 
the root of these is a fire also. But in this 
fire there is a light, and in the light virtue 
and in the virtue paradise. In paradise are 
the angels, and among the angels is Joy. 
Dim and fleshly eyes cannot behold it ; but 
when the Holy Ghost comes into the soul 



52 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

it is born anew in God, and then it becomes 
a child of paradise and has the key of 
paradise, and sees into the midst thereof. 

If you be born of God, then you under- 
stand God, paradise, the kingdom of 
heaven and hell, the entrance thereinto of 
the creatures and the creation of this world ; 
but if not, then the veil is before your eyes 
as it was before the eyes of Moses. 
Therefore saith Christ : Seek and ye shall 
find, knock and it shall be opened unto you. 
If you do not understand this writing, 
seek the humble lowly Heart of God, and 
that will bring a small seed from the tree of 
paradise into your soul ; and if you abide in 
patience then a great tree will grow out of 
that seed, as you will think has come to 
pass with this author. For he is to be 
esteemed as a very simple person, in com- 
parison of the great learned men ; but 
Christ saith : My power is strong in the 
weak ; yea Father, it hath so pleased thee 
to hide these things from the wise and 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 53 

prudent, and thou hast revealed them to 
babes and sucklings ; the wisdom of this 
world is foolishness in thy sight. And 
although now the children of the world are 
wiser in their generation than the children 
of light, yet their wisdom is but a corrupt- 
ible thing, and this wisdom continues 
eternally. 

Seek for the noble pearl ; it is much 
more precious than this whole world ; it will 
never more depart from you. Where the 
pearl is, there will your heart be also ; you 
need not in this life seek any further after 
paradise, joy and heavenly delight ; seek 
but the pearl, and when you find that, then 
you find paradise and the kingdom of 
heaven. 

I have perused many masterpieces of 
writing, hoping to find the high and deep 
wisdom of God, the pearl of the under- 
standing of man ; but I could find nothing 
of that which my soul lusted after. I have 
found very many contrary opinions, and at 



54 COxNFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

times I have found some who forbid me to 
search, but I cannot know with what reason 
except it be that the blind grudge at the 
eyes of them that see. 

With all this my soul is become very 
disquiet within, and has been as full of pain 
and anguish as a woman at her travail ; and 
yet to no end till I followed the words of 
Christ when he said : You must be born 
anew, if you will see the kingdom of God. 
This at first confounded me ; I supposed 
that such a thing could not be done in this 
world, but only at my departure out of this 
world. And then my soul was at first in 
anguish, longing after the pearl ; but, yield- 
ing itself, at last obtained the jewel. 
Therefore I will write, for a memorial to 
myself and for a light to them that seek. 
For Christ said : None lights a candle and 
puts it under a bushel, but sets it upon a 
table that all that are in the house may see 
by the light of it. To this end he gives 
the pearl of divine wisdom and knowledge 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 55 

to them that seek, that they should impart 
it to the desirous for their healing, as he has 
very earnestly commanded. 

Indeed Moses writes that God made man 
of the dust of the earth. And that is the 
opinion of very many. I also should not 
have known how that was to be understood, 
and I should not have learned it out of 
Moses, nor out of the glosses put upon his 
words. The veil would have continued 
still before my eyes, though I was much 
troubled thereby. But when I found the 
pearl, then I looked Moses in the face, and 
found that he had wrote very right, but 
that I had not rightly understood it. 

Now the question is : What is God's 
image? Behold, and consider the Deity, 
and then you will light upon it. God is 
not an animal man ; and man should be 
the image and similitude of God, wherein 
God may dwell. God is a spirit ; three 
principles are in him, that is, the sources 
and powers of the darkness, of the light, 



56 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

and of this world. He would make such 
an image as should have all these three 
and so be rightly a similitude of himself. 
Therefore Moses may be well understood 
to say that God created man and did not 
make him of a lump of earth. But the 
forming power in which God created him 
is the matrix of the earth, out of which the 
earth was generated ; and the matter in 
which he created him is a quintessence of 
the stars and elements, and came forth from 
the heavenly matrix which is also the root 
of the earth. 

Now the soul stands in two gates, and 
touches two principles, the eternal darkness 
and the eternal light of the Son of God, 
as God the Father himself does. Thus it 
may be in heaven and in paradise, and 
enjoy the unutterable joy of God the 
Father which he has in his Son, and it 
may hear the inexpressible words of the 
Heart of God. 

There the soul feeds on all the words of 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 57 

God, for these are the food of its life ; and 
it sings the paradisical songs of praise 
concerning the pleasant fruit of paradise 
which grows in the divine virtue and is 
the food of the heavenly and eternal body. 
Can this be no joy and rejoicing? 
Should not that be a pleasant thing, to 
eat heavenly bread with the many thousand 
sorts of angels, and to rejoice in their 
communion and fellowship ? What can 
possibly be named which can be more 
pleasant ? Where there is no fear, no 
anger, no death ; where every voice and 
speech is of the divine salvation, power, 
strength and might ; and this voice going 
forth into eternity. There is the place 
where Paul heard words unutterable that 
no man can express. 



CHAPTER VII 

THANKS be to God who has re- 
generated me, by water and the Holy 
Ghost, to be a Hving creature, so that I 
can in his Light see my great inbred vices, 
which are in my flesh. 

Thus now I Hve in the spirit of this 
world in my flesh, and my flesh serves the 
spirit of this world ; but my mind serves 
God. My flesh is generated in this world 
and is ruled by the quintessence of the 
stars and elements, which dwells in it 
and is master of the body and the out- 
ward life ; but my mind is regenerated 
in God and loves God. And although 
I cannot now comprehend and hold fast 
the divine wisdom, because my mind 

falls into sins, yet the spirit of this world 

58 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 59 

shall not always thus hold captive my 
mind. 

For the Virgin, the divine Wisdom, has 
given me her promise not to leave me in 
any misery ; she will come to help me in 
the Son of Wisdom, I must hold fast 
to him, and he will bring me to her in 
paradise. I will make the venture, and 
go through the thistles and thorns as well 
as I can, till I find my native country 
where Wisdom dwells. I rely upon her 
faithful promise, when she appeared to me, 
that she would turn all my mourning into 
great joy. When I lay upon the mountain at 
midnight, so that all the trees fell upon me 
and all the storms and winds beat upon me, 
and Antichrist gaped at me with his open 
jaws to devour me, then she came and 
comforted me and took me for her own. 

Therefore I am but the more cheerful, 
and care not for him ; he rules over me no 
further than over the transitory house of 
flesh, whose patron he is ; he may take 



6o CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

that quite away, but so I shall come into 
my native country. Yet he is not absolute 
lord over that house, he is but God's ape ; 
for as an ape plays all manner of tricks 
and pranks to make itself sport, and would 
fain seem to be the finest and the nimblest 
of beasts, so also does he. His power 
hangs on the great tree of this world, and 
a storm of wind can blow it away. 

Thou wilt ask, What is the new regenera- 
tion ? or how is that done in man ? Hear 
and see, close not thy mind, let it not be 
filled by the spirit of this world with its 
might and pomp. Lay hold upon thy 
mind and break through the spirit of this 
world entirely ; yield thy mind unto the 
kind love of God ; make thy purpose 
earnest and strong to overcome the pleasure 
of this world and not to regard it. Consider 
that thou art not at home in this world, 
but art a strange guest, made captive in a 
prison ; cry and call to him who has the 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 6i 

key of the prison ; yield thyself up to 
him in obedience, righteousness, humility, 
purity and truth. And seek not so 
eagerly after the kingdom of this world ; 
it will stick close enough to thee without 
that. Then the pure Virgin, the Wisdom 
of God, will meet thee in the height and 
depth of thy mind, and will lead thee to 
him who has the key to the gate of the 
deep. Thou must stand before him and 
he will give thee to eat of the heavenly 
manna which will quicken and refresh 
thee. Thou wilt be strong, and wilt break 
through the gate of the deep as the morn- 
ing star, and though thou liest captive here 
in the night yet the rays of the dawn will 
appear to thee in paradise, where thy pure 
Virgin stands, waiting for thee with the joy 
of the angels, who will kindly receive thee 
in thy newborn mind and spirit. And 
though indeed here thou must walk, as to 
thy body, in the dark night, yet the noble 
Virgin will help thee still. 



62 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

Look well to it, close not thy mind and 
understanding ; when thy mind says, Turn, 
then know that so thou art called by the 
Wisdom of God ; turn instantly, and con- 
sider where thou art lodged, in how hard 
a house of bondage thy soul lies im- 
prisoned ; seek thy native country from 
whence thy soul is wandered and whither 
it should return again. 

Then if thou wilt follow the counsel of 
the Wisdom of God thou wilt find in 
thyself, not only after this life, but also in 
this life in thy regeneration, that Wisdom 
will very worthily meet thee. And thou 
wilt see out of what kind of spirit this 
author has wrote. 



CHAPTER VIII 

MY beloved Reader, I tell thee this, 
that everything has its impulse in 
its own form. It always makes that very 
thing with which the spirit is impregnated ; 
and the body must always labour in that 
wherein the spirit is kindled. When I 
consider and think why I thus write many 
wonders and leave them not for other 
sharper wits, I find that my spirit is 
kindled in this matter whereof I write ; 
for there is a living running fire of these 
things in my spirit, and thereupon (let me 
purpose what I will) yet they continually 
come uppermost, so that I am made captive 
thereby, and it is laid upon me as a work 
which I must do. Therefore, seeing it is 

my work wherein my spirit drives, I will 

63 



64 COx\FESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

write it down for a memorial in such a 
manner as I know it in my spirit and as I 
attained to it ; I will set down no other thing 
than that I myself have tried and known, 
that I be not found a liar before God. 

Now, then, if there be any that have a 
desire to follow me and would fain have 
the knowledge whereof I write, I advise 
him to accompany me in this way, not at 
present with the pen, but with the labour 
of his mind ; and then he shall find how I 
could come to write thus. 

Seeing I have in hand the matter of 
repentance, therefore I certify the reader 
than in my earnestness this pen was given 
me, which the Oppressor would have 
broke. With him I began an earnest 
fight, insomuch that he would have cast 
me down to the ground under his feet had 
not the Spirit of God helped me, so that 
now I stand up. 

Therefore, if we will speak of this most 
serious matter, we must go from Jerusalem 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 65 

to Jericho, and see how we lie among 
murderers who have so wounded and 
beaten us that we are half dead ; and 
must look about us for the Samaritan with 
his beast, that he may dress our wounds 
and bring us into his inn. O how lament- 
able and miserable it is, that although we 
are so beaten by the murderer that we are 
half dead, yet we feel our smart no more ! 
Oh, if the physician would come and dress 
our wounds, that our soul might revive 
and live, how we should rejoice ! Thus 
speaks desire, and has such longing heart- 
felt wishes ; yet although the physician is 
here, the mind can in no wise apprehend 
him, because it is so much wounded and 
lies half dead. 

My dear Mind, thou supposest thou art 
very sound, but thou art so beaten that 
thou feelest thy disease no more. Art 
thou not very near unto death ? How 
then canst thou account thyself to be 
sound? O my dear Soul, boast not of 
5 



66 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

thy soundness. Thou liest fettered in 
heavy bonds, yea, in a very dark dungeon ; 
thou swimmest in a deep water which rises 
up to thy very lips, and thou must continu- 
ally expect death. Besides, the Oppressor, 
thine own corrupt nature, is behind thee 
with a great company of thy worst enemies, 
whereby he draws thee continually down 
by his chains towards the horrible deep, 
the abyss of hell ; and his crew assault 
thee, and run upon thee on all sides, as 
hounds upon their quarry. 

Then says Reason, Why do they so ? 
O my dear Soul, they have great cause 
for it ; thou hast been their hind, and thou 
art broken out of their park ; besides thou 
art so strong that thou hast broken down 
their park-wall and taken possession of 
their dwelling. Thou art their worst 
enemy and they thine ; and if thou wast 
but gone out of their enclosure they would 
be content, but thou being in it still the 
strife continues, and has no end till the 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 67 

Ancient of Days comes, who will part you 
asunder. 

Dost thou suppose that I am mad that 
I write thus. If I did not see and know 
it I should be silent. Dost thou still say 
thou art in the garden of roses? If thou 
thinkest thou art there, see well whether 
thou art not in the Devil's pasture, and art 
his most beloved hind which he fattens to 
the slaughter for his food. 

O dear Soul, turn, and let not the Devil 
capture thee ; regard not the scorn of the 
world ; all thy sorrow must be turned into 
great joy. And though in this world thou 
hast not great honour, power and riches, 
that is nothing ; thou knowest not whether 
to-morrow it will come to be thy turn to 
die. Why then dost thou contend and 
strive so much after worldly honour that is 
transitory ? Rather endeavour after the 
tree of paradise, which thou mayst carry 
with thee and wherein thou shalt rejoice 
eternally for its growth and fruit. 



68 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

Oh ! is not that a blessed welfare 
when the soul dares to look into the 
Holy Trinity, wherewith it is filled, so 
that its powers grow and blossom in 
paradise, where songs of praise break 
forth, where the ever-growing fruit springs 
up endlessly according to thy desire, where 
there is no fear, envy, nor sorrow, where 
there is love one of another, where every- 
one rejoices in the form and beauty of 
another ? 

Beloved Mind, if thou hast a desire to 
this way and wouldst attain it, then thou 
must use great earnestness ; it must be no 
lip-labour, with the heart elsewhere. No, 
thou canst not attain it thus. Thou must 
collect thy mind with all thy purposes and 
reason, wholly together in one will and 
resolution, and desire to turn from thy 
abominations ; and thou must set thy 
thoughts upon God and goodness with a 
steadfast confidence in his mercy. Then 
thou wilt attain it. 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 69 

Thou must continue steadfast in this 
resolute purpose ; and though thou gainest 
no strength into thy heart, and though 
the Devil should beat down thy tongue so 
that thou canst not pray to God, yet thou 
must continually hold and go on in this 
thought and purpose. The more thou 
pressest forward the weaker the Devil is ; 
the more earnestly thou pressest forth from 
the Devil and thy sins, the more mightily 
does the kingdom of God press into thee. 
Have a care that thou dost not depart from 
this thy will before thou hast received the 
jewel, the pearl of divine wisdom and 
knowledge ; though it holds off from 
morning till night, and still from day to 
day, if thy earnestness be great, then thy 
jewel will also be great which thou shalt 
receive in thy victory. 

None knows what it is but he that has 
found it by experience. It is a most 
precious guest ; when it enters into the 
soul there is a very wonderful triumph 



70 CONFESSIOxNS OF JACOB BOEHME 

there ; the bridegroom embraces his be- 
loved bride, the hallelujah of paradise 
sounds. Oh ! must not the earthly body 
needs tremble and shake at it? Yet 
though it knows not what it is, all its 
members rejoice. What beauteous know- 
ledge does the Virgin of the Divine 
Wisdom bring with her ! She makes 
learned indeed ; and though one were 
dumb, yet the soul is crowned in God's 
works of wonder, and must speak of his 
wonder ; there is nothing in the soul but 
longing to do so ; the Devil must begone, 
he is quite weary and faint. 

Thus the seed of paradise is sown. But 
observe it well ; it is not instantly become 
a tree. How many storms must the soul 
undergo and endure ! How often is it 
overwhelmed by sins ! For all in this 
world is against it, it is as it were left 
alone and forsaken ; even the children of 
God themselves assault it ; and the Devil 
does plague the poor soul, trying to lead 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 71 

it astray, either with flattery that it may 
flatter itself, or else with the burden of 
sins in the conscience. He never ceases, 
and thou must always strive against him ; 
for so the tree of paradise grows, as corn 
does in the tempestuous winds. If it 
grows high and comes to blossom, then 
thou wilt enjoy the fruit ; and thou wilt 
understand better what this pen has written 
and what moved me to write. For I was 
a long time in this condition, many storms 
went over my head. Therefore this shall 
be for a lasting memorial and continual 
remembrance to me. 

Now, says Reason, I see no more in 
thee, nor in any such as thou art, than in 
other poor sinners ; thine must needs be 
but a hypocritical pretence ; besides, says 
Reason, I also have been in such a way, 
and yet remain in wickedness still and do 
that which I would not do ; I am still 
moved to anger, covetousness and malice. 
What is the matter that a man does not 



72 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

perform what he purposes, but that he 
does even what himself reproves in others, 
and that which he knows is not right ? 

Here the tree of paradise is not dis- 
cerned. Behold, my beloved Reason, this 
tree is not sown into the outward man, he 
is not worthy of it, he belongs to the 
earth ; and the poor soul is often brought 
into sins to which it does not consent, the 
body being drawn into that which the soul 
rejects. Now when this is so, it is not 
the soul that works it. The soul says, 
This is not right, nor well ; but the body 
says, We must have it that we may live 
and have enough. So it is, one time after 
another. And a true Christian knows 
not himself ; how then should he be known 
by others ? Also the Devil can hide him 
sufficiently that he may not be known ; 
that is his masterpiece, when he can 
bring a true Christian into wickedness, 
to fall into sins, while this is not dis- 
cerned by him, but he reproves the 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 73 

sins of others yet is sinning, outwardly, 
himself. 

I do not say that sin in the old man 
is no hurt ; though indeed it cannot sway 
the new man yet it scandalizes him. We 
must with the new man live to God and 
serve him, though it is not possible to be 
perfect in this world ; we must continually 
go on and hold out : the new man is in 
a field where the ground is cold, bitter, 
sour and void of life. 



CHAPTER IX 

THOU Sophister, I know thou wilt 
accuse me of pride because I saw 
so far into the Deep. But it is said that 
you look only upon the wisdom of this 
world : I do not esteem it or care for it ; 
it affords me no joy at all. I rejoice at 
this, that my soul moveth in wonders to 
the praise of God, so that I know his 
wondrous works, in which my soul de- 
lighteth. 

Now, since I know the wonders shall I 
be silent ? Am I not born to this, as are 
all creatures, that I should open the wonders 
of God? Therefore now I labour in my 
work and another in his ; and thou, proud 
Sophister, in thine. 

We stand all in God's field, and we 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 75 

grow to God's glory and to his works of 
wonder, as well the wicked as the godly. 
But every fruit groweth in its own manner : 
when the mower shall cut it down, then 
every fruit shall come into its own barn, 
each receiveth that which is its own. 
Then the field in its nature, out of which 
each is grown, shall be made manifest ; 
there are two centres in eternity, the love 
and the wrath, and each centre brings forth 
its own crop. 

Therefore consider, O man, what you 
condemn, that you fall not upon the sword 
of the Spirit of God, and that your work 
be not consumed in the fire of wrath. 

Thou, Sophister, runnest on wittingly 
to the Devil, for thine own profit, for thy 
transitory voluptuousness and honour, and 
dost not see the open gate which the 
Spirit showeth thee. If thou wilt not, 
then it is as was said : We have piped unto 
you but ye have not danced. We have 
called you, but you are not come to us ; 



^6 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

I have been hungry after you, but you 
have not fed me ; you are not grown in 
my garden of roses, therefore you are none 
of my food ; your heart hath not been 
found in my praise, therefore you are not 
my food. And the bridegroom passeth 
by ; then cometh the other, and gathereth 
what he findeth into his barn. 

O dear children, if you understood this, 
how would you tread underfoot the con- 
tentions of the Sophisters ! Much consisteth 
therein which shall hereafter be shown 
you, so far as we ought ; let none be 
wilfully blinded, nor be offended by the 
simplicity of this hand. 

If we will enter into the kingdom of 
heaven we must be children, and not 
cunning and wise in the understanding 
of this world ; we must depart from 
our earthly reason and enter into obedi- 
ence to our eternal first Mother. So we 
shall receive the spirit and life of our 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME ^^ 

Mother, and then also we shall know her 
habitation. 

No wit of our own attaineth the crown 
of the mystery of God. It is indeed 
revealed in the writings of the Saints, 
but the spirit of this world apprehendeth 
it not. No Doctors, though they have 
studied ever so much, have any ability in 
their own wit to attain the crown of God's 
hidden mysteries. 

No one can in his own power apprehend 
anything of the depths of God and teach 
it to another ; all are children and scholars 
in their ABC. Although I write and 
speak in high fashion thereof, yet the 
understanding is not my own ; the spirit 
of the Mother speaketh out of her children 
what it will ; it revealeth itself in many 
ways, in one otherwise than in another, 
for its wondrous wisdom is a deep without 
measure, and you should not marvel that 
the children of God have not one manner 
of speech and word, for each speaketh 



78 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

out of the wisdom of the eternal Nature- 
Mother whose diversity is infinite. 

But the goal is the Heart of God ; they 
all run thither, and herein lies the test 
whereby you shall know whether the spirit 
of a man speaketh from God or from the 
Devil. 

Hereby we know that we are God's 
children and generated of God. God is 
himself the Being of all beings ; and we 
are as Gods in him, through whom he 
revealeth himself. 

Now therefore I set before you the 
ground of the heavens, the stars and 
elements, that you may see what is 
heavenly and what is earthly, what is 
transitory and mortal, and what is eternal 
and enduring. To which end I have now 
purposed to myself to write ; not to boast 
of my high knowledge but out of love in 
Christ, as a servant and minister of Christ. 

For the Lord hath both the willing and 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 79 

the doing in his hands ; I am able to do 
nothing; also my earthly reason under- 
standeth nothing : I am yielded into our 
Mother's bosom and do as the Mother 
showeth me ; I know not from anybody 
else, I am not born with knowledge from 
the wisdom of this world, neither do I 
understand it ; but what is bestowed upon 
me that I bestow again. I have no other 
purpose herein, neither do I know to what 
end I must write these high things : what 
the Spirit showeth me, that I set down. 

Thus I labour in my vineyard, in which 
the Master of the house hath put me ; 
hoping also to eat of the pleasant sweet 
grapes, which indeed I have very often 
received out of the paradise of God. I 
will so speak as for the use of many, and 
yet I think I write it but for myself : the 
fiery driving will have it so as if I did 
speak of and for many ; and yet I know 
nothing of this while I write. 

Therefore if it shall happen to be read, 



8o CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

let none account it for a work of the out- 
ward reason ; for it hath proceeded from 
the inward hidden man, according to 
which this hand hath written it without 
respect of any person. 

I exhort the reader that he will enter 
into himself and behold himself in the 
inward man ; then I shall be welcome to 
him. This I speak seriously and faithfully. 

When we consider ourselves aright in 
this knowledge we see clearly that we have 
been locked up and led as it were blind- 
fold. The wise of this world have shut 
and barred us up in their art and reason, 
so that we are made to see with their eyes. 
And this spirit which hath so long led us 
captive may well be called Antichrist ; I 
find no other name in the light of nature, 
which I can call it by, but Antichrist in 
Babel. 



CHAPTER X 

THE law of God and also the way to 
life is written in our hearts ; it lies 
in no man's supposing, nor in any historical 
opinion, but in a good will and well doing. 
The will leadeth us to God or to the Devil ; 
it availeth not that thou hast the name of 
a Christian, salvation doth not consist there- 
in. A heathen and a Turk is as near to 
God as thou who art under the name of 
Christ ; if thou bringest forth a false un- 
godly will in thy deeds, thou art as much 
without God as a heathen that hath no 
desire nor will to him. And if a Turk 
seeketh God with earnestness, though he 
walketh in blindness, yet he is of the 
company of those that are children with- 
out understanding, and he reacheth to God 



82 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

with the children which do not yet know 
what they speak ; for this lies not in the 
knowing but in the will. 

We are all blind concerning God ; but 
we put our earnest will into him and into 
goodness, and so desire him ; then we 
receive him into our will, so that we are 
born in him in our will. 

Dost thou boast of thy calling, that thou 
art a Christian ? Indeed let thy conversa- 
tion be accordingly, or else thou art but a 
heathen in the will and in the deed. He 
that knoweth his Master's will and doeth 
it not must receive many stripes. 

Dost thou not know what Christ said 
concerning the two sons ? When the 
father says to one of them, Go and do 
such a thing, and he said he would ; and 
the other said. No ; the first went away 
and did it not, but the other, that said 
No, went away and did it, and so did the 
will of his father ; the one that was under 
the name of obedience did it not 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 83 

And we are all such, one and another ; 
we bear the name of Christ and are called 
Christians and are within his covenant : 
we have said, Yes, we will do it ; but they 
that do it not are unprofitable servants and 
live without the will of the Father. 

But if the Turks, as also the Jews, do 
the Father's will, who say to Christ, No, 
and discern him not ; who is now their 
judge to thrust them out from the will of 
the Father? Is not the Son the Heart of 
the Father? If they honour the Father 
they lay hold also on his Heart, for 
beyond his Heart there is no God. 

Dost thou suppose that I encourage 
them in their blindness that they should 
go on as they do ? No : I show thee thy 
blindness, O thou that bearest the name of 
Christ ! Thou judgest others, and yet dost 
the same thing which thou judgest in 
others, and so thou wilfully bringest the 
judgement of God upon thyself. 

He that saith : Love your enemies, do 



84 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

well to them that persecute you, doth not 
teach you to condemn and despise, but he 
teacheth you the way of meekness ; you 
should be a light to the world, that 
heathens may see that you are the 
children of God. 

If we consider ourselves according to 
the true man, who is a similitude and 
image of God, then we find God in us, 
yet ourselves without God. And the only 
remedy consisteth herein, that we enter 
again into ourselves and so enter into God 
in our hidden man. If we incline our wills 
in true earnest singleness of mind to God, 
then we go with Christ out from this world, 
out from the stars and elements, and enter 
into God ; for in the will of earthly reason 
we are children of the stars and elements, 
and the spirit of this world ruleth over us. 

But if we go out from the will of this 
world and enter into God, then the spirit 
of God ruleth in us and establisheth us for 
his children. Then also the garland of 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 85 

paradise is set upon the soul, and it 
becometh a child without understanding 
after this world. It hath lost the ruler of 
this world, who once ruled it and led it in 
the earthly reason. 

O man ! consider who leadeth and 
driveth thee, for eternally without end is 
very long. Temporal honour and goods 
are but dross in the sight of God ; it all 
falleth into the grave with thee and 
Cometh to nothing : but to be in the 
will of God is eternal riches and honour ; 
there, there is no more care, but our 
Mother careth for us in whose bosom we 
live as children. 

Thy temporal honour is thy snare and 
thy misery ; in divine hope and confidence 
is thy garden of roses. 

Dost thou suppose again that I speak 
from hearsay ? No, I speak the very life 
in my own experience ; not in an opinion 
from the mouth of another, but from my 
own knowledge. I see with my own eyes ; 



86 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

which I boast not of, for the power is the 
Mother's. I exhort thee to enter into the 
bosom of the Mother, and learn also to 
see with thy own eyes : so long as thou 
dost suffer thyself to be rocked in a cradle 
and dost desire the eyes of others thou 
art blind. But if thou risest up from the 
cradle and dost go to the Mother, then 
thou shalt discern the Mother and her 
children. 

O how good it is to see with one's own 
eyes ! We are all asleep in the outward 
man, we lie in the cradle and suffer our- 
selves to be rocked asleep by the outward 
reason ; we see with the eyes of the dis- 
simulation of our play-actors, who hang 
bells and baubles about our ears and 
cradles, that we may be lulled asleep or 
at least play with baubles, and they may 
be lords and masters in the house. 

Rise up from thy cradle : art thou not 
a child of the Mother, and moreover a 
child and lord of the house, and an heir 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 87 

to its goods ? Why sufferest thou thy 
servants thus to use thee ? Christ saith : 
I am the Light of the World, he that 
followeth me shall have the light of the 
eternal life. He doth not direct us to the 
play-actors, but only to himself. With the 
inward eyes we must see in his light : so 
we shall see him, for he is the Light ; and 
when we see him then we walk in the 
light. He is the Morning Star and is 
generated in us and riseth in us, and 
shineth in our bodily darkness. 

how great a triumph is there in the 
soul when he ariseth ! Then a man seeth 
with his own eyes, and knoweth that he 
is in a strange lodging, concerning which 
I here write what I see and know in the 
light. 

1 declare unto you that the eternal 
Being, and also this world, is like man. 
Eternity bringeth to birth nothing but 
that which is like itself ; as you find man 
to be, just so is eternity. Consider man 



88 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

in body and soul, in good and evil, in joy 
and sorrow, in light and darkness, in power 
and weakness, in life and death : all is in 
man, both heaven and the earth, stars, and 
elements ; also the threefold God. 

O man ! seek thyself and thou shalt 
find thyself. Open the eyes of thy inward 
man and see rightly. 

This is the noble precious stone, the 
philosopher's stone, which wise men find. 
O thou bright crown of pearl, art thou not 
brighter than the sun ? There is nothing 
like thee ; thou art so very manifest, and 
yet so very secret that among many 
thousand in this world thou art scarce 
rightly known of anyone. Yet thou art 
borne by many that know thee not. 

Christ saith. Seek and thou shalt find. 
The noble stone must be sought for ; a 
lazy man findeth it not ; though he carrieth 
it about with him he knoweth it not. To 
whomsoever it revealeth itself, he hath all 
joy therein, for its virtue is endless. He 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 89 

that hath it doth not give it away ; if he 
doth impart it to any it is not profitable 
to him that is lazy, who diveth not into its 
virtue to learn that. 

The seeker findeth the stone and its 
virtue and benefit together. When he 
findeth it and knows that he is certain 
of it, there is greater joy in him than the 
world is able to apprehend ; no pen can 
describe nor any tongue express it in the 
manner of the world. 

It is accounted in the world's eyes the 
meanest of all stones and is trodden under 
foot. If a man light upon it he casteth 
it away as an unprofitable thing. None 
enquire after it, though there is none upon 
earth but desires it. All great ones and 
wise seek it. Indeed they find one and 
think it the true stone ; but they mistake 
it. They ascribe power and virtue to it 
and think they have it and will keep it. 
But the true stone is not thus : it needeth 
no virtue to be ascribed to it, all virtue 



90 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

lies hid in it. He who has it, and has 
knowledge of it, if he seeks, may find all 
things whatsoever, in heaven and in earth. 
It is the stone which is rejected of the 
builders, the chief corner-stone. 

you Sophisters ! that out of envy 
often revile honest hearts according to 
your own pleasure, how will you be able 
to stand with those lambs whom you 
should have led into the fresh green 
pastures of the way of Christ, into love, 
purity and humility ? 

1 speak not this out of a desire to 
reproach any man ; I discover only the 
smoky pit of the Devil that it may be 
seen what is in man, as well in one as 
in another, unless he be born anew and 
resisteth the spirit of the Devil and 
thrusteth it away from him. 

There is another Devil more crafty 
and cunning than this, a glistering angel 
with cloven feet, He, when he seeth a 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 91 

poor soul afraid, and desiring to repent 
and amend, saith. Pray, and be devout ; 
repent for once in a way. But when the 
poor soul goes about to pray, he slippeth 
into his heart and taketh away the under- 
standing of the heart, and putteth it into 
mere doubting, as if God did not hear it. 

So the heart standeth and repeateth 
over the words of a prayer, as if it were 
learning to say something without book ; 
and the soul cannot reach the centre of 
nature ; it hath only rehearsed words, not 
in the spirit of a soul in the centre where 
the fire is kindled, but only in the mouth, 
in the spirit of this world. Its words 
vanish in the air or as those wherein 
God's name is taken in vain. 

There belongeth great earnestness to 
prayer ; for praying is calling upon God, 
entreating him and speaking with him, 
going out of the house of sin and enter- 
ing the house of God. If the Devil offers 
to hinder it, then storm his hell. Set 



92 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

thyself against him as he setteth himself 
against thee, and then thou shalt find what 
is here told thee. If he opposes strongly, 
then oppose thou the more strongly ; thou 
hast, in Christ, greater power than he. 

Do but fix thy trust and confidence 
upon the promise of Christ, and let thy 
storming be grounded in the death of 
Christ, in his sufferings and wounds, and 
in his love. Dispute no further about thy 
sins, for the Devil involveth himself therein 
and upbraideth thee for them, that thou 
mightest despair. If thou doubtest of the 
grace of God thou dost sin greatly, for he 
is always merciful ; there is no other will 
in him at all but to be merciful. He 
cannot do otherwise ; his arms are spread 
abroad day and night towards the poor 
sinner. 

Make trial in this manner, and thou wilt 
quickly see and feel another man, with 
another sense and thoughts and under- 
standing. I speak as I know and have 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 93 

found by experience ; a soldier knows how 
it is in the wars. This I write out of love, 
as one who telleth in the spirit how it 
hath gone with himself, for an example to 
others, to try if any would follow him and 
find out how true it is. 



CHAPTER XI 

GOD has set light and darkness be- 
fore everyone ; thou mayest embrace 
which thou wilt, thou dost not thereby 
move God in his being. His Spirit goes 
forth from him and meets all those that 
seek him. Their seeking is his seeking, in 
which he desireth humanity ; for humanity 
is his image, which he has created accord- 
ing to his whole being, and wherein he 
will see and know himself. Yea, he dwells 
in man, why then are we men so long 
a-seeking? Let us but seek to know 
ourselves, and when we find ourselves 
we find all ; we need run nowhere to 
seek God, for we can thereby do him no 
service ; if we do but seek and love one 
another, then we love God ; what we do 



CONFESSIOxNS OF JACOB BOEHME 95 

to one another, that we do to God ; 
whosoever seeketh and findeth his brother 
and sister hath sought and found God. 
In him we are all one body of many 
members, everyone having its own office, 
government and work ; and that is the 
wonder of God. 

Before the time of this world we were 
known in his wisdom, and he created us 
that there might be a sport in him. 
Children are our schoolmasters ; in all 
our wit and cunning we are but fools to 
them ; their first lesson is to learn to play 
with themselves, and when they grow 
bigger they play one with another. Thus 
hath God from eternity in his wisdom, in 
our hidden childhood, played with us : 
when he created us in knowledge and 
skill we should then have played one 
with another ; but the Devil grudged us 
that and made us fall out at our sport. 
Therefore it is that we are always at 
variance, in contention ; but we have 



96 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

nothing to contend about but our sport ; 
when that is at an end we lie down to 
our rest and go to our own place. Then 
come others to play and strive and con- 
tend also till the evening, till they go to 
sleep and into their own country out of 
which they are come. 

Dear children, what do we mean that 
we are so obedient to the Devil ? Why 
do we so contend about a tabernacle which 
we have not made? Here we contend 
about a garment, because one brother has 
a fairer garment than another ; are we not 
all our Mother's children ? Let us be 
obedient children, and then we shall rejoice. 

We go into the garden of roses, and 
there are lilies and flowers enough ; we 
will make a garland for our sister, and 
then she will rejoice with us ; we have a 
round to dance and we will all hold hands 
together. Let us be very joyful ; there 
is no more might to hurt us, our Mother 
taketh care for us. We will go under 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 97 

the fig-tree, how abundant is its fruit ! 
How fair are the pine trees in Lebanon ! 
Let us be glad and rejoice that our Mother 
may have joy of us. 

We will sing a song of the Oppressor 
who hath set us at variance. How is he 
made captive ! Where is his power ? 
How poor he is ! He domineered over 
us, but now he is fast bound. O great 
Power, how art thou thus brought to 
scorn ! Thou that didst fly aloft above 
the cedars art now laid underfoot and art 
void of thy power. Rejoice, ye heavens 
and ye children of God ; for he that was 
our oppressor, who plagued us day and 
night, is made captive. Rejoice, ye angels 
of God, for men are delivered, and malice 
and wickedness laid low. 

Dear children and brethren in Christ, 
let us in this world join our hearts, minds 
and wills in humility into one love, that 
we may be one in Christ. If thou art 

7 



98 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

highly advanced to power, authority and 
honour, then be humble, despise not the 
simple and miserable ; grind not the 
oppressed, afflict not the afflicted. If 
thou art fair, beautiful and comely of 
body, be not proud ; be humble that thy 
brother and sister may rejoice in thee, 
and present thy beauty to the praise of 
God. 

Thou that art rich, let thy streams flow 
into the houses of the miserable that their 
soul may bless thee. 

Dear brethren and sisters in the con- 
gregation of Christ, bear with me ; let us 
a little rejoice one with another : I bear 
a hearty love towards you and speak out 
of the Spirit of the eternal Wisdom of 
God. 

Christ earnestly teaches us love, humility 
and mercifulness ; and the cause why God 
is become man is for our salvation and 
happiness' sake, that we should not turn 
back from his love : God has spent his 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 99 

heart that we may be his children and 
remain so for ever. Therefore, dearly 
beloved children, do not so reject and 
cast from you the love and grace of God, 
else you will lament it for ever. Learn 
divine wisdom, and learn to know what 
God is ; do not set any image of any 
thing before you ; there is no image of 
him but in Christ. We live and are in 
God ; we have heaven and hell in our- 
selves. What we make of ourselves that 
we are : if we make of ourselves an angel, 
and dwell in the Light and Love of God 
in Christ, we are so ; but if we make of 
ourselves a fierce, false and haughty devil 
which contemns all love and meekness in 
mere covetousness, greedy hunger and 
thirst, then also we are so. After this 
life it is otherwise with us than here ; 
what the soul here embraces that it 
has there ; and so, though the outward 
breaks in death, yet the will retains that 
embraced thing as its own and feeds upon 



loo CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

it. How that will subsist in the paradise 
of God and before his angels, you your- 
self may consider : I would faithfully set 
it before you for a warning, as it is given 
to me. 



CHAPTER XII 

WHEN Christ asked his disciples, 
Whom do the people say that the 
Son of Man is ? they answered : Some 
say thou art Elijah, some, that thou art 
John the Baptist. Then he asked them 
and said : Whom say ye that I am ? Peter 
answered him, Thou art Christ the Son of 
the living God. And he answered them 
and said, Of a truth, flesh and blood hath 
not revealed it unto thee, but my Father 
in heaven. 

Seeing it is a familiar, intimate and 
native work to the children of God, where- 
with they should exercise themselves daily 
and hourly, go forth from the earthly 
reason to enter into the incarnation of 
Christ, and so in this miserable life be 



I02 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

born in the birth of Christ ; I have there- 
fore undertaken to write of this high 
mystery, according to my knowledge and 
gifts, for a memorial. Seeing that I also, 
together with others the children of God 
and Christ, stand in this birth, I have 
undertaken it as an exercise of faith, 
whereby my soul may thus, as a branch 
in its tree Jesus Christ, quicken itself from 
his sap and virtue. 

And that not with wise and high 
eloquence of art, or from the reason of 
this world, but according to the knowledge 
which I have from Christ. But though 
I search sublimely and deep, and shall set 
it down very clearly, yet this must be said 
to the reader, that without the Spirit of 
God it will be to him a hidden mystery. 

We should rightly understand the incar- 
nation of Christ, the Son of God, thus : he 
is not become man in the Virgin Mary 
only, so that his divinity was confined 
thereto. No, it is in another manner. 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 103 

As little as God, who is the fulness of 
all things, dwells alone in one only place, 
so little also has God manifested himself 
by one spark of his light. 

God is not measurable ; for him is no 
place found unless he makes a place for 
himself in a creature ; yet he is totally 
within the creature and without and beyond 
the creature. He is not divisible, but total 
everywhere ; where he manifests himself 
there he is totally manifest. 

Understand it right : God has longed 
to become flesh and blood ; and although 
the pure clear Deity continues Spirit, yet 
it is become the Spirit and Life of flesh 
and works in the flesh. So we may say 
that when we with our imagination enter 
into God, and wholly give up ourselves 
unto him, we enter into God's flesh and 
blood and live in God. For the Word is 
become man, and God is the Word. 

We do not thus take away the creature 
of Christ, that he should not be a creature ; 



I04 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

I will give you a similitude thereof in the 
sun and its lustre and take it thus : in a 
similitude we liken the sun to the creature 
of Christ, which is indeed a body ; and we 
liken the whole deep of this world to the 
eternal Word in the Father. 

Now we see plainly that the sun shines 
in the whole deep, and gives it warmth 
and power. But we cannot say that in 
the deep beyond the body of the sun there 
is not also the power of the sun ; if that 
was not there then would the deep not 
receive the power and lustre of the sun. 
One power and one lustre receives the 
other ; the deep with its lustre is hidden. 

If God would please, the whole deep 
would be a mere sun ; then would the 
lustre of the sun shine everywhere. 

Know also that I understand that the 
Heart of God hath rested from eternity ; 
but that with the moving and entering into 
the Wisdom it is become manifested in all 
places ; though in God there is neither 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 105 

place nor mark but merely in the creature 
of Christ, where the total holy Trinity has 
manifested itself in a creature and so by 
the creature through the whole heaven. 

He is gone thither and has prepared the 
place for us, where we shall see his light 
and dwell in his wisdom and share in his 
divine substantiality. 

Were we not in the beginning made out 
of God's substantiality ? Why should we 
not also abide therein ? 

For this has the Heart of God moved 
itself, destroyed death, and regenerated 
the Life. 

Thus now to us the birth and incarnation 
of Christ is a joyful and very weighty 
matter. The abyssal Heart of God hath 
moved itself; and therewith the heavenly 
substantiality, which was shut up in death, 
is become living again. 

So we may now say with good ground 
that God himself hath withstood his anger, 
and with the centre of his Heart, which 



io6 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

filleth eternity, has again opened himself, 
taken away the power of death, and broke 
the sting of the fierce wrath, inasmuch as 
love has opened itself and quenched the 
power of the fire. 

In our imagination we become impreg- 
nated of his opened Word and of the power 
of the heavenly and divine substantiality, 
which indeed is not strange to us though 
it seems strange to our earthliness. 

The Word has opened itself everywhere, 
in every man's light of life ; and there is 
wanting only this, that the soul-spirit give 
itself up thereto. In that soul-spirit God 
is born. 



CHAPTER XIII 

OUTWARD reason saith, How may 
a man in this world see into God, 
into another world, and declare what God 
is ? That cannot be : it must needs be 
a fancy wherewith the man amuses and 
deceives himself. 

Thus far such reason comes : it cannot 
search further that it might rest ; and if I 
staid in that same art, then would I also 
say the same ; for he who sees nothing 
says nothing is there ; what he sees, 
that he knows, and further he knows of 
nothing but that which is before his 
eyes. 

I would have the scorner and wholly 
earthly man asked whether the heaven is 

blind, as also hell and God himself. 

107 



io8 CONFESSIONS OF .JACOB BOEHME 

Or whether there is any seeing in the 
divine world ; whether also the Spirit 
of God sees both in the love-light world 
and in the fierce wrath in the anger- 
world. 

Does he say there is a seeing therein ? 
as indeed is very true : then he should 
look to it that he himself does not often 
see with the Devil's eyes in his purposed 
malice. 

If he would drive the Devil out, then 
he would see his great folly which the 
Devil has prompted him to. Yet he is so 
blinded that he knows not that he sees 
with the Devil's eyes. 

In like manner the holy man sees with 
God's eyes ; what God purposes, that the 
Spirit of God in the new birth sees out of 
the right human eyes of the image of 
God. It is to the wise a seeing and also 
a doing. 

In the way through the death of Christ 
the new man sees into the angelical world ; 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 109 

it is to him much easier and clearer to 
apprehend than the earthly world ; it is 
done naturally, not with fancying but with 
seeing eyes, with eyes of that spirit which 
goes forth out of the soul's fire. 

That spirit sees into heaven ; it beholds 
God and eternity. It is the noble image 
according to the similitude of God. 

Out of such seeing has this pen written, 
not from other masters, nor out of con- 
jecture whether it be true or no. 

Though now indeed a creature is but a 
piece and not a total consummation, so 
that we see only in part, yet what is 
written here is to be searched into, and is 
fundamental. 

The Wisdom of God suffers not itself 
to be written, for it is endless, without 
number and comprehension ; we know 
only in part. 

And though indeed we know much 
more, yet the earthly tongue cannot exalt 
itself and declare it : it speaks only words 



no CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

of this world and not words of the inward 
world, though the mind retains them in 
the hidden man. 

Therefore one always understands other- 
wise than another, according as each is 
endued with the Wisdom ; and so also he 
apprehends and explains it. 

Everyone will not understand my writ- 
ings according to my meaning and sense ; 
indeed there may not be one who does so ; 
but everyone will understand according to 
his gifts, for his benefit ; one more than 
another, according as the Spirit has its 
property in him. 

For the Spirit of God is often subject 
to the spirits of men, if they will that which 
is good or well ; and it furthers what man 
wills, that his good work be not hindered, 
but that everywhere, above all, God's 
willing and desire be done. 

What is there now that is stranofe to us 
or in us, that we cannot see God ? This 
world and the Devil are the cause that we 



COxNFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME in 

see not with God's eyes, else there is no 
hindrance. 

Now if anyone saith I see nothing 
divine, he should consider that flesh and 
blood, together with the subtlety and craft 
of the Devil, is oftentimes a hindrance to 
him, in that he willeth in his high-minded- 
ness for his own honour to see God, and 
oftentimes in that he is filled and blinded 
with earthly malignity. 

Let him look into the footsteps of Christ 
and enter into a new life, and give himself 
to be under the Cross of Christ, and desire 
only the entrance of Christ into himself ; 
what shall hinder him then from seeing 
the Father, his Saviour Christ, and the 
Holy Spirit? 

Is the Holy Spirit blind when he dwells 
in man ? Or write I this for my own 
boasting ? 

Not so, but that the reader may forsake 
his error, and that with the divine eyes he 
may see the wonders of God, and so God's 



112 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

will may be done. To which end this pen 
has written very much, and not for its own 
honour or for the sake of the pleasures of 
this life. 

Dear children of God, you who seek 
with much sighing and tears, I say to you 
in earnest sincerity : Our sight and know- 
ledge is in God ; he manifests to everyone 
in this world as much as he will, as much 
as he knows is profitable for the man. 

He that sees from God, he has God's 
work to manage ; he should and must 
order, speak, and do that which he sees, 
else his sight will be taken from him ; for 
this world is not worthy of God's vision. 

But for the sake of the wonders and of 
the revelation of God it is given to many 
to see ; that the Name of God may be 
manifested to the world. We are not 
our own, but his whom we serve in his 
light. We know nothing of God ; he, God 
himself, is our knowing and seeing ; we 
are nothing that he may be all in us. We 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 1 1 3 

should be blind, deaf and dumb, and know 
no life in us, that he may be our life and 
vision, and our work be his. 

If we have done anything that is good, 
our tongue should not say, This have we 
done, but, This hath the Lord in us done ; 
his name be highly praised. 

But what does this evil world now ? If 
anyone says. This has God in me done ; 
if it be good, then saith the world. Thou 
fool ! thou hast done it ; God is not in 
thee ; thou liest. Thus they make fool 
and liar of the Spirit of God. 

When you see that the world fighteth 
against you, persecutes you, despises, 
slanders you because of your knowledge 
and the Name of God, then consider that 
you have the black Devil before you. 
Then sigh, and long that God's kingdom 
may come to us, and the Devil's sting may 
be destroyed, that the man, so influenced 
by the Devil, may through your longing, 
sighing and prayer be released. Then you 



114 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

labour rightly in God's vineyard and pre- 
vent the Devil of his kingdom. 

In love and meekness we become new- 
born out of the wrath of God ; in love and 
meekness we must strive and fight against 
the Devil in this world. For love is his 
poison ; it is a fire of terror to him wherein 
he cannot stay. If he knew the least spark 
of love in himself he would cast it away, 
or would destroy himself that he might be 
rid of it. Therefore is love and meekness 
our sword, wherewith we can fight with 
the Devil and the world. 

Love is God's fire ; the Devil and the 
world are an enemy to it. Love hath 
God's eyes and sees in God ; anger has 
the eyes of the fierce wrath that sees in 
hell, in torment and in death. 

The world supposes merely that a man 
must see God with the earthly and the 
starry eyes ; it knows not that God dwells 
in the inward and not in the outward. 

If it sees nothing admirable or wonder- 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 115 

ful in God's children it says, Oh, he is a 
fool, he is an idiot, he is melancholy ; thus 
much it knows. 

O hearken, I know well what melancholy 
is ; I know also well what is from God. 
I know them both, and thee also in thy 
blindness ; but such knowledge is not 
purchased by melancholy, only by a 
wrestling to victory. 

It is given to none without striving, 
unless he is a vessel chosen of God ; 
otherwise he must strive for the garland. 

Indeed many a man is chosen to it in 
his mother's womb, chosen to open and 
disclose the wonders which God intends ; 
but not all are chosen thus. Many are 
accepted out of their zealous seeking ; for 
Christ saith. Seek and ye shall find, knock 
and so it will be opened unto you. Also, 
whosoever come to me, those I will not 
cast out. 

Herein lies the seeing out of Christ's 
spirit, out of God's kingdom, in the power 



Ii6 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

of the Word, with the eyes of God and not 
with the eyes of this world and of the out- 
ward flesh. 

Thus, thou bHnd world, know wherewith 
we see when we speak and write of God, 
and let thy false judging alone : see thou 
with thine eyes and let God's children see 
with their eyes ; see from out thy gifts, let 
another see from out his gifts. 

As everyone is called, so let him see ; 
and so let him converse. We manage not 
all one and the same conversation, but 
everyone according to his gift, and his 
calling to serve God's honour and wonders. 

The Spirit of God suffers not itself to 
be tied or bound up, as outward reason 
supposes, with decrees, canons and councils, 
whereby always one chain of Antichrist is 
linked to another so that men come to judge 
about God's Spirit, and to hold their own 
conceits or opinions to be God's covenant, 
as if God was not at home in this world, or 
as if they were Gods upon earth. 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 117 

I say that all such compacts and binding 
is Antichrist and unbelief, let it seem or 
flatter how it will. God's Spirit is unbound, 
he enters not into such compacts or obliga- 
tions, but enters freely the seeking, humble, 
lowly mind, according to its gift and 
capacity. 

He is also even subjected to it, if it does 
but earnestly desire him ; what then can 
institutions in human wit and prudence of 
this world do for that mind, since it belongs 
to the honour of God ? 

Friendly conference and colloquy is very 
good and necessary, wherein one presents 
or imparts his gifts to another ; but com- 
pacts are a chain against God. 

God has once made one covenant with 
us in Christ ; that is enough for eternity, 
he makes no more. He has once taken 
mankind into the covenant and sealed it 
by blood and death ; there is enough in 
that. 

It is not so slight a thing to be a right 



ii8 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

true Christian, it is the very hardest thing 
of all ; the will must be a soldier, and fight 
against the corrupted will. It must sink 
itself down out of the earthly reason into 
the death of Christ, and break the power of 
the earthly will. 

This must be with so hardy and bold a 
courage that it will hazard the earthly life 
upon it and not give over till it has broke 
the earthly will ; which indeed has been a 
strong battle with me. 

It is no slight matter to fight for the 
garland of victory ; for no one wins that 
unless he overcomes ; which yet of his own 
might he cannot do. 

He must make his will as it were dead, 
and so he lives to God and sinks into God's 
love ; though he lives now in the outward 
kingdom. 

I speak of the garland of victory which 
he getteth in the paradise world if he once 
presses in ; for there the noble seed is sown, 
and he receives the highly precious pledge 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 119 

and earnest of the Holy Spirit, which after- 
wards leads and directs him. 

And though he must in this world wander 
through a dark valley, wherein the Devil 
and the world's wickedness continually rush 
and roar tumultuously upon him, and often 
cast the outward man into evils and so hide 
the noble seed, yet it will not suffer itself to 
be kept back. 

Thence it sprouts forth, and a tree grows 
out of it in God's kingdom, despite all the 
raging and raving of the Devil and his 
followers and dependents. 

And the more the noble tree is cherished, 
the more swiftly and strongly it grows ; it 
suffers not itself to be destroyed though it 
costs the outward life. 

God is in Christ become man, and the 
faith-spirit is also in Christ born man. In 
that the will-spirit converses or walks in 
God, for it is one spirit with God, and 
works with God divine works. 

And though it may be that the earthly 



120 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

life so hides it that a man knows not his 
work which he has generated in the faith, 
yet in breaking the earthly body it will be 
manifest. Seeing we know this we should 
let no fear or terror keep us back, for we 
shall well reap and enjoy eternally. What 
we have here sown in anguish and weari- 
ness, that will comfort us eternally. Amen. 



CHAPTER XIV 

WE cannot say that the outward world 
is God, or the speaking Word ; or 
that the outward man is God. That is 
only the expressed Word, which has 
stiffened itself in union with the elements. 
I say, the inward world is the heaven where 
God dwells ; and the outward world is 
expressed out of the inward, through the 
moving of the eternal speaking Word, 
and enclosed between a beginning and 
an end. 

The inward world abides in the eternal 
speaking Word. The eternal Word 
speaks it into Being through Wisdom, out 
of its own powers, colours, and virtue, as a 
great mystery from eternity. This Being 
is a breathing from the Word in the 



122 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

Wisdom ; it has the power of generation 
in itself, and introduces itself into forms, 
after the manner of the generation of the 
eternal Word, or, as I might say, out of the 
Wisdom in the Word. 

Therefore there is nothing nigh unto or 
far off from God ; one world is in the other 
and all are one as soul and body are in 
each other, and time and eternity. The 
eternal speaking Word rules through and 
over all ; it works from eternity to eternity ; 
and though it can neither be apprehended 
nor conceived, yet its work is conceived, 
for this is the formed Word, of which the 
working Word is the life. 

The eternal speaking Word is the divine 
understanding or sound. That which is 
brought forth from the love-desire into 
forms, that, I say, is the natural and 
creaturely understanding and sound which 
was in the Word; as it is said, In him 
was life, and that life was the light of men. 

The harmony of hearing, seeing, feeling. 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 123 

tasting, and smelling, is the true intellective 
life. When one power enters into another, 
then they embrace each other in the sound ; 
and when they are become one they mutu- 
ally awaken and know each other. In 
this knowledge consists the true under- 
standing, which, according to the nature 
of the eternal wisdom, is immeasurable 
and abyssal, being of the One which 
is All. 

Therefore one only will, if it has divine 
light in it, may draw from this fountain 
and behold infinity. From which con- 
templation this pen has wrote. 

In the light of God (which is called the 
kingdom of heaven) the sound is wholly 
soft, pleasant, lovely and pure ; yea, as a 
stillness in comparison with our outward 
gross speaking and sounding. It is as if 
the mind did play and melodize in a 
kingdom of joy within itself, and did then 
hear in a most entire inward manner a 
sweet, pleasing melody and tune ; and 



124 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

yet outwardly did neither hear nor under- 
stand it. For in the divine Hght all is 
subtle, in manner as the thoughts play 
and make mutual melody in one an- 
other. 

And yet there is a real, intelligible, dis- 
tinct sound and speech used by the angels, 
according to their own property, in the 
kingdom of glory. The powers of the 
formed and manifested Word, in their 
love - desire, do introduce themselves, 
according to the property of all the 
powers, into an external being, where, as 
in a mansion, they may act their love-play, 
and so have somewhat wherewith and 
wherein mutually to play and melodize 
one with another, in their wrestling sport 
of love. 

God, who is a Spirit, has by and through 
his manifestation introduced himself into 
distinct spirits, which are the voices of his 
eternal pregnant harmony in the mani- 
fested Word of his great kingdom of joy : 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 125 

they are God's instrument, in which his 
Spirit melodizes in his kingdom of joy ; 
they are angels, the flames of fire 
and light, in a living, understanding 
dominion. 

We are not to think that the holy angels 
dwell only above the stars beyond the 
place of this world, as the outward reason, 
which knows nothing of God, fancies. 
Indeed they dwell beyond the dominion of 
this world, but the place of this world 
(although there is no place in eternity), 
and also the place beyond this world, is 
all one to them. We men see not the 
angels or the devils with our eyes ; yet 
they are about us and among us. The 
evil and the good angels dwell near one 
another, and yet there is the greatest 
immense distance between them. For 
heaven is in hell and hell is in heaven, 
and yet the one is not manifest to the 
other. Although the Devil should go 
many millions of miles, desiring to enter 



126 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

heaven and to see it, yet he would still be 
in hell and not see it. 

If evil was not known, joy would not be 
manifest. But if joy be manifest, then is 
the eternal Word spoken in joy, to which 
end the Word, with nature, has brought 
itself into a creation. Whosoever rightly 
sees and understands this has no further 
question about any thing, for he sees that 
he lives and subsists in God, and that he 
may further know and will through him 
and speak what and how he will. Such 
a man seeks only the estate of lowli- 
ness, that God may alone be accounted 
high. 

My will-spirit, which now is in Christ's 
humanity, lives in Christ's spirit, that shall 
in his power give sap to the dry tree, that 
it may arise in the sound of the trumpet 
of the divine breath in Christ's voice, 
which is also my voice in his breath, and 
spring afresh in paradise. Paradise shall 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 127 

be in me ; all whatever God has and is 
shall appear in me as an image of the 
divine world's being ; all colours, powers 
and virtues of his eternal Wisdom shall be 
manifest in me, as in his likeness. I shall 
be the manifestation of the divine and 
spiritual world and an instrument of 
God's Spirit, wherein he makes melody 
with himself, with this voice which I my- 
self am. I shall be his instrument, an 
organ of his expressed Word and Voice ; 
and not only I, but all my fellow-members 
in the glorious choir and instrument of 
God. We are all strings in the concert of 
his joy ; the spirit from his mouth strikes 
the note and tune of our strings. 

Therefore God became man, that he 
might repair his glorious instrument of 
praise, which would not sound according 
to the desire of his joy and of his love. 
He would bring again the true love-sound 
into the strings ; he has brought the voice 
which sounds in his presence again into 



128 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

us ; he is become that which I am and 
has made me that which he is, so I may 
say that in my humility I am in him his 
trumpet and the sound of his instrument 
and his divine voice. 



CHAPTER XV 

I WILL now speak to those who feel 
indeed in themselves a desire to 
repent, and yet cannot come to acknow- 
ledge and bewail their committed sins ; 
the flesh saying continually to the soul, 
Stay awhile, it is well enough, or. It is 
time enough to-morrow ; and when to- 
morrow is come then the flesh says again. 
To-morrow ; the soul in the meanwhile, 
sighing and fainting, conceiveth neither 
any true sorrow for the sins it hath com- 
mitted nor any comfort. Unto such an 
one, I say, I will write a process or way, 
which I myself have gone, that he may 
know what he must do and how it went 
with me, if peradventure he be inclined to 
enter into and pursue the same way. 
9 



I30 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

When any man findeth in himself, 
pressed home upon his mind and con- 
science, a hunger or desire to repent, and 
yet feeleth no true sorrow in himself for his 
sins which he hath committed, but only an 
hunger or desire of such sorrow ; so that 
the poor captive soul continually sighs, 
fears, and must needs acknowledge itself 
guilty of sins before the judgement of God ; 
such an one, I say, can take no better 
course than this, namely, to wrap up his 
senses, mind and reason together, and 
make to himself instantly, as soon as ever 
he perceiveth in himself the desire to re- 
pent, a mighty strong purpose and resolu- 
tion that he will that very hour, nay, that 
minute, immediately enter into repentance, 
and go forth from his wicked way, not at 
all regarding the power and respect of the 
world. Yea, and if it should be required, 
that he will forsake and disesteem all things 
for true repentance sake ; and never depart 
from that resolution again though he 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 131 

should be made the fool and scorn of all 
the world for it ; that with the full bent 
and strength of his mind he will go forth 
from the glory and pleasure of the world, 
and patiently enter into the passion and 
death of Christ, and set all his hope and 
confidence upon the life to come ; that 
even now in righteousness and truth he 
will enter into the vineyard of Christ and 
therein do the will of God ; that in the 
Spirit and will of Christ he will begin and 
finish all his actions in this world ; and for 
the sake of Christ's word and promise, 
which holds forth to us a heavenly reward, 
willingly take up and bear every adversity 
and cross, so that he may be admitted into 
the communion and fellowship of the 
children of Christ. 

He must firmly imagine to himself, 
wholly wrapping up his soul in this per- 
suasion, that in such his purpose he shall 
obtain the love of God in Christ Jesus, 
and that God will give unto him that 



132 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

noble pledge, the Holy Ghost, for an 
earnest ; that in the humanity of Christ 
he himself shall be born again, and that 
the Spirit of Christ will renew his mind 
with love and power and strengthen his 
weak faith. Also that in his divine hunger 
he shall receive the flesh and blood of 
Christ for food and drink in the desire 
of his soul, which hungereth and thirsteth 
after it as its proper nutriment ; and with 
the thirst of the soul drink the water of 
eternal life out of the pure fountain of 
Jesus Christ. 

He must also wholly and firmly imagine 
to himself and set before him the great 
love of God. He must persuade himself 
that God in Christ will much more readily 
hear him and receive him to grace than 
he come ; that God in the love of Christ, 
in the most dear and precious name Jesus, 
cannot will any evil ; and that there is no 
angry countenance at all in this Name, 
but only the highest and deepest love 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 133 

and faithfulness, the greatest sweetness 
of God. 

In this consideration he must firmly 
imagine to himself that this very hour and 
instant God is really present within and 
without him. He must know and believe 
that in his inward man he standeth really 
before God on whom his soul hath turned 
its back ; and he must, with the eyes of 
his mind cast down in fear and deepest 
humility, begin to confess his sins and 
unworthiness before the face of God in 
some such manner as the following : 

O thou great unsearchable God, Lord 
of all things ; thou who in Christ Jesus, 
of thy great love towards us, hath mani- 
fested thyself in our humanity : I, poor, 
unworthy, sinful wretch, come before thy 
presence, though I am not worthy to lift 
up mine eyes unto thee, acknowledging 
and confessing that I am guilty of breaking 
off from thy great love and the grace 
which thou hast freely bestowed upon us. 



134 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

My soul knoweth not itself because of the 
mire of sin ; but accounteth itself a strange 
child before thee, not worthy to desire 
thy grace. 

O God in Christ Jesus, thou who for 
poor sinners' sake didst become man to 
help them, to thee I complain. The 
Devil hath poisoned me so that I know 
not my Saviour ; I am become a wild 
branch on thy tree. In myself I am 
become a fool ; I am naked and bare, 
my shame stands before mine eyes, I 
cannot hide it ; thy judgement waiteth 
for me. What shall I say before 
thee, who art the Judge of all the 
world ? 

O merciful God, it is owing to thy love 
and longsuffering that I lie not already in 
hell. I lie before thee as a dying man 
whose life is passing from his lips, as a 
spark of life going out ; kindle it, O Lord, 
and lift up the breath of my soul before 
thee. 



CONFESSIOxNS OF JACOB BOEHME 135 

A man must bring a serious mind to 
this work. If ever he would obtain the 
divine love, and union with the noble 
Wisdom of God, he must make an earnest 
vow in his purpose and mind. 

Beloved Reader, out of love to thee I 
will not conceal from thee what is made 
known to me. If thou lovest the vanity 
of the flesh still, and art not in an earnest 
purpose on the way to the new birth, 
intending to become a new man, then 
leave the above-written words in that 
prayer unspoken ; else they will turn to 
a judgement of God in thee. Thou must 
not take the holy names in vain ; they 
belong to the thirsty soul. But if thy 
soul be indeed athirst it shall find by 
experience what words they are. 

Beloved Soul; Christ was tempted in 
the wilderness, and, if thou wilt put on 
him, thou must go through his whole 
progress even from his incarnation to his 
ascension. Though thou art not able 



136 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

nor required to do that which he hath 
done, yet thou must enter wholly into his 
process and therein die continually from 
corruption. For the Virgin, the Holy 
Wisdom, expouseth not herself to the 
soul except the soul, through the death 
of Christ, spring up as a new plant, 
standing in heaven. 

Therefore take heed what thou doest : 
when thou hast made thy promise keep 
it ; then Wisdom will crown thee more 
readily than thou wouldst be crowned. But 
thou must be sure, when the Tempter 
Cometh to thee with the pleasure and 
glory of the world, that thy mind reject 
it. The free will of thy soul must stand 
the brunt as a warrior and champion. If 
the Devil cannot prevail against thy soul 
with vanity, then he cometh against it 
with its unworthiness and its catalogue 
of sins. There thou must fight hard, for 
in this conflict it goeth so terribly with 
many a poor sinner that outward reason 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 137 

thinketh him to be distracted, or possessed 
by an evil spirit. In this kind of combat 
heaven and hell are fighting one against 
the other. Yet a soldier who hath been 
in the wars can tell how to fight, and can 
teach another that may be in the like 
condition. 

I have set down here for the help of 
the reader a very earnest prayer in temp- 
tation, that he may know what to do if 
the same should befall him : 

Most deep Love of God in Christ Jesus, 
leave me not in this distress. I confess I 
am guilty of the sins which now rise up 
in my mind and conscience ; if thou forsake 
me I must perish. But hast thou not 
promised me in thy word, saying, If a 
mother could forget her child (which can 
hardly be), yet thou wilt not forget me ? 
Thou hast set me as a sign in thy hands 
which were pierced through with sharp 
nails, and in thy open side whence blood 
and water gushed out. Poor wretch that 



138 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

I am ! I can in my own ability do nothing 
before thee ; I sink myself down into thy 
wounds and death ; into thee I sink down 
in the anguish of my conscience ; do with 
me what thou wilt. 

Beloved Reader, this is no light matter ; 
he that accounteth it so hath not yet passed 
through the trial. His conscience is still 
asleep. Happy is he who passeth through 
this fire in the time of his youth, before 
the Devil buildeth up in him a stronghold ; 
he may prove a labourer in the heavenly 
vineyard, and sow his seed in the garden 
of Christ, where in due time he shall reap 
the fruit. This trial continueth a long 
while with many a poor soul, several years 
if he do not earnestly and early put on 
the armour of Christ. But to him who 
with a firm purpose striveth to depart from 
his evil ways the temptation will not be 
so hard, neither will it continue so long. 
Yet he must stand out valiantly till victory 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 139 

be gotten over the Devil. He shall be 
mightily assisted, and all shall end in the 
best for him ; so that afterwards, when the 
day breaketh in his soul, he turneth all to 
the great praise and glory of God. 



CHAP:TER XVI 

ALL sorrow, anguish, and fear concern- 
ing spiritual things, whereby a man 
is dejected and terrified in himself, pro- 
ceedeth from the soul. The outward 
spirit, which is from the stars and 
elements, is not thus disturbed and per- 
plexed ; because it liveth in its own matrix 
from which it had its birth. But the poor 
soul is entered into a strange lodging, into 
the spirit of this world, which is not its 
proper home. Whereby that fair creature 
is obscured and defaced, and is also held 
captive therein, as in a dark dungeon. 

The soul is in its first being a magical 
fire-source from God's nature. It is an 
intense and incessant desire after the 
divine Light. 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 141 

So then, the soul, being of itself 
a hungry magical fire-spirit, desireth 
spiritual virtue in order to sustain and 
preserve thereby its fire-life and allay the 
hunger of its source. 

But seeing that the hungry soul, from 
the mother's womb, is involved in the 
spirit of the great world and its own 
temperament ; therefore it feedeth, im- 
mediately from its birth, yea, even in the 
mother's womb, of the spirit of this world. 

The soul eateth spiritual food accord- 
ing to its temperament ; it is the kindling 
of its fire. The fuel of its fire must be 
either its temperament or a divine susten- 
ance from God. 

Hence we may understand the cause of 
that infinite variety which there is in the 
wills and actions of men. Of whatever the 
soul eateth, wherewith its fire-life is fed, 
according to that the soul's life is led and 
governed. 

If it goes out from its own temperament 



142 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

into God's love-fire, into the heavenly 
substantiality which is Christ's, then it 
eateth of Christ and of the meekness of 
the light of his majesty, wherein is the 
fountain of eternal life. 

From thence the soul getteth a divine 
will, and bringeth the body to do that 
which, according to its natural inclination 
and the spirit of this world, it would not do. 
In such a soul the temperament ruleth not ; 
it bears sway only over the outward body. 
Such a man hath a continual longing after 
God. 

Oftentimes when his soul eateth of the 
divine love-essence, it bringeth to him an 
exulting triumph, and a divine taste into 
the temperament itself. So that the whole 
body is thereby affected and even trembleth 
for joy, being lifted up to such a degree of 
divine sensation, as if it was on the very 
borders of paradise. 

But this rapturous state rarely continueth 
long. The soul is soon clouded with some- 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 143 

what of another nature from the spirit of 
this world, of which it maketh a looking- 
glass wherein it begins to speculate with 
its outward imagination. Thus it goeth 
out from the Spirit of God and is often 
bemired in the dirt of the world, if the 
Virgin of Divine Wisdom doth not call it 
back again to repent and return to its first 
love. Then, if the soul washeth itself 
anew in the water of eternal life, through 
earnest repentance, it becometh renewed 
again in the love-fire of God's meekness 
and in the Holy Spirit, as a new child ; 
and beginneth again to drink of that water 
and recovereth at length its life in God. 

There is no temperament in which the 
Devil's will and suggestions may be more 
clearly discovered, if the soul be once en- 
lightened, than in the melancholy, as the 
tempted, who have resolutely and success- 
fully stormed his stronghold, very well 
know. 

O how subtilly and maliciously doth the 



144 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

Devil spread his nets for such a soul, as a 
fowler for the birds ! Oftentimes he terri- 
fieth it in its prayers, especially in the night, 
when it is dark, injecting his suggestions 
into it and filling it with fearful apprehen- 
sions that the wrath of God is ready to 
seize and destroy it. Thus he maketh a 
show as if he had power over the soul of 
the man, and it was his property, whereas 
he hath not power to touch a hair of his 
head. Unless the soul itself despaireth, 
and by that means giveth itself up to him, 
he dareth not spiritually and really to seize 
or even touch it. 

He hath more than one temptation for 
the melancholy soul. For, if he cannot 
persuade it absolutely to despair and so to 
give itself up to him that way, he bringeth 
it, when over-burthened with fears and 
sad apprehensions about its present state 
and future doom, and impatient under the 
weight thereof, to thoughts and designs 
of self-murder. He dareth not destroy a 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 145 

man ; the man himself must do that. For 
the soul hath freedom. If it resisteth the 
Devil and will not do as he counselleth, 
then, however he may tempt, yet hath he 
not power to touch even the outward and 
sinful body. 

The trouble of mind here spoken of is 
rather a subject of God's pity than of 
wrath. He will not break the bruised 
reed, nor extinguish the smoking flax. 
Our Lord Jesus Christ, in his blessed call 
and promise, saith, Come unto me, all ye 
that are weary and heavy laden, and I will 
give you rest. Take my yoke upon you 
and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly 
in heart, so shall ye find rest unto your 
souls. 

This yoke of Christ is no other than the 

Cross of nature and providence. This is 

the yoke which a man is required to take 

up and carry after Christ with patience, 

and with full submission thereto. Then 

the affliction, whatever it be, is so far from 
10 



146 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

hurting the soul that it doeth it much good. 
For while it standeth in the house of sorrow 
it is not in the house of sin, or in the pride, 
pomp, and pleasure of the world. God 
holdeth it with tribulation, as with a 
father's restraint, from the sinful pleasure 
of this world. 

The troubled soul is apt to perplex and 
torment itself because it cannot open by- 
its desire the spring of divine joy in the 
heart. It sigheth, lamenteth, and feareth 
that God will have nothing to do with it, 
because it cannot feel the comfort of his 
visible presence. 

Before the time of my illumination and 
high knowledge it was just so with me. I 
went through a long and sore conflict 
before I obtained my noble garland. Then 
did I first learn to know how God dwelleth 
not in the outward fleshly heart, but in the 
centre of the soul in himself, in his own 
principle. 

Then also I first perceived in my inward 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 147 

spirit that it was God himself who had 
drawn me to him in and by desire. Which 
I understood not before, but thought the 
good desire had been my proper own and 
that God was far distant from us men. 
But afterwards I clearly found, and re- 
joiced to find, how it is that God is so 
gracious to us. Therefore I write this for 
an example and a caution to others, not in 
the least to give way to despair when the 
Comforter delayeth his coming, but rather 
to think of the consolatory encouragement 
given in David's psalm, Heaviness may 
endure for a night, but joy cometh in the 
morning. 

It hath fared no otherwise with the 
greatest saints of God. They were forced 
to wrestle long and earnestly for the noble 
garland. With which indeed no man will 
be crowned unless he strive for it and 
overcome. 

It is indeed laid up in the soul, but if a 
man will put on that crown in the time of 



148 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

this mortal life he must wrestle for it. 
Then, if he doth not obtain it in this world, 
yet he will certainly receive it after he has 
put off this earthly tabernacle. For Christ 
saith. In the world ye shall have anxiety 
and trouble, but in me peace. And, Be 
of good comfort, I have overcome the 
world. 

I have neither pen that can write nor 
words that can express what the exceeding 
sweet grace of God in Christ is. I myself 
have found it by experience in this my way 
and course, and therefore certainly know 
that I have a sure ground from which I 
write. And I would from the bottom of 
my heart most willingly impart the same 
to my brethren in the love of Christ, who, 
if they will follow my faithful child-like 
counsels, will find by experience in them- 
selves from whence it is that my simple 
mind knows and understands great 
mysteries. 



CHAPTER XVII 

THE disciple said to his Master: Sir, 
how may I come to the supersensual 
life, so that I may see God, and 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. 

When thou standest still from the 
thinking of self and the willing of self; 
when both thy intellect and thy will are 
quiet, and passive to the impress of the 
eternal Word and Spirit ; and when thy 
soul is winged up above that which is 
temporal, the outward senses and the 
imagination being locked up in holy ab- 



I50 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

straction, then the eternal hearing, seeing, 
and speaking will be revealed in thee. So 
God heareth and seeth through thee who 
art now the organ of his Spirit ; so God 
speaketh in thee and whispereth to thy 
spirit, and thy spirit heareth his voice. 

Three things are requisite in order to 
this. The first is, Thou must resign 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 doth 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 the creature. And if thou doest this, 
then thou shalt hear, my Son, what the 
Lord speaketh in thee. 

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 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 151 

is folly. So shalt thou be able to stand 
under every temptation and to hold out to 
the end 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. 

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 God's 
works of wonder, and in this same ground 
thou lovest thy brethren. In hating thyself 
thou hatest only that wherein the evil sticks 
close to thee. There is, there can be, no 
selfishness in love ; they are opposed one 
to another. Love, that is, divine love (of 
which alone we are now discoursing) hates 
all evil selfhood. It is impossible that these 
two should subsist in one person ; by a neces- 
sity of nature the one drives out the other. 



152 CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 

The height of love is as high as God ; 
it brings thee to be as high as God himself 
is, by uniting thee with God. Its greatness 
is as great as God : there is a latitude of 
heart in love which cannot be expressed ; 
it enlarges the soul as wide as the whole 
creation of God. This shall be experienced 
by thee, beyond the compass of all words, 
when the throne of love shall be set up in 
thy heart. Its power supports the heavens 
and upholds the earth ; its virtue is the 
principle of all principles, the virtue of all 
virtues. It is the worker of all things and 
a vital energy through all powers natural 
and supernatural. It is the power of all 
powers, nothing being able to let or hinder 
the omnipotence of love, or resist its 
penetrating might. If thou findest it thou 
comest into that fountain from whence all 
things are proceeded, into that ground 
wherein they subsist; and thou art a King 
over all the works of God. 

Be silent therefore and watch unto 



CONFESSIONS OF JACOB BOEHME 153 

prayer, that thy mind may be disposed 
for finding that jewel, which to the world 
appears as nothing, but which to the 
children of Wisdom is all things. The way 
to the love of God is folly to the world, 
but wisdom to the children of God, for 
whom that which is despised of the world 
is the most precious treasure ; yea, so 
great a treasure it is, that no life can 
express, nor tongue so much as name, 
what this inflaming, 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 
nourishment than any food, more cheering 
to the heart than wine, more pleasant than 
all the pleasantness of this world. Whoso- 
ever obtaineth it is richer than any monarch 
on earth, and he who winneth it is nobler 
than an emperor and more potent and 
absolute than all earthly powers and 
authorities. 



PRINTED BY 

MORRISON AND GIBB LTD. 

EDINBURGH 



5 ^^ -2 ^ 



3I0NAL LIBRARY FACILITY 




University of California 

SOUTHERN REGIONAL LIBRARY FACILITY 

305 De Neve Drive • Parking Lot 17 • Box 951388 

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA 90095-1388 

Return this material to the library from which it was borrowed. 



.OCT 10 2005 

UCLA -._ 18 ^_ - « 



2005