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Title: Jacob Behmen
       an appreciation


Author: Alexander Whyte



Release Date: July 16, 2005  [eBook #16306]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-646-US (US-ASCII)


***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK JACOB BEHMEN***





Transcribed from the 1895 Oliphant Anderson & Ferrier edition by David
Price, email ccx074@coventry.ac.uk





Jacob Behmen
an Appreciation
by Alexander Whyte


author of 'Characters and Characteristics of William Law' etc.

Oliphant Anderson & Ferrier
30 St. Mary Street, Edinburgh, and
24 Old Bailey, London
1895

This lecture was delivered at the opening of my Classes for the study of
the pre-Reformation, Reformation, and post-Reformation Mystics during
Session 1894-5.  A Lecture on WILLIAM LAW was delivered at the opening of
a former Session as an Introduction to the whole subject of Mysticism.

A. W.

ST. GEORGE'S FREE CHURCH,
5_th November_ 1894.




Jacob Behmen


Jacob Behmen, the greatest of the mystics, and the father of German
philosophy, was all his life nothing better than a working shoemaker.  He
was born at Old Seidenberg, a village near Goerlitz in Silesia, in the
year 1575, and he died at Goerlitz in the year 1624.  Jacob Behmen has no
biography.  Jacob Behmen's books are his best biography.  While working
with his hands, Jacob Behmen's whole life was spent in the deepest and
the most original thought; in piercing visions of GOD and of nature; in
prayer, in praise, and in love to GOD and man.  Of Jacob Behmen it may be
said with the utmost truth and soberness that he lived and moved and had
his being in GOD.  Jacob Behmen has no biography because his whole life
was hid with CHRIST in GOD.

* * * * *

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
autobiography 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 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, deprecation, 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 those autobiographic passages.  Such a book, if it were well
done, would at once take rank with _The Confessions_ of ST. AUGUSTINE,
_The Divine Comedy_ of DANTE, and the _Grace Abounding_ of JOHN BUNYAN.
It would then be seen by all, what few, till then, will believe, that
Jacob Behmen's mind and heart and spiritual experience all combine to
give him a foremost place among the most classical masters in that great
field.

In the nineteenth chapter of the _Aurora_ there occurs a very important
passage of this autobiographic nature.  In that famous passage Behmen
tells his readers that when his eyes first began to be opened, the sight
of this world completely overwhelmed him.  ASAPH'S experiences, so
powerfully set before us in the seventy-third Psalm, will best convey, to
those who do not know Behmen, what Behmen also passed through before he
drew near to GOD.  Like that so thoughtful Psalmist, Behmen's steps had
well-nigh slipped when he saw the prosperity of the wicked, and when he
saw how waters of a full cup were so often wrung out to the people of
GOD.  The mystery of life, the sin and misery of life, cast Behmen into a
deep and inconsolable melancholy.  No Scripture could comfort him.  His
thoughts of GOD were such that he will not allow himself, even after they
are long past, to put them down on paper.  In this terrible trouble he
lifted up his heart to GOD, little knowing, as yet, what GOD was, or what
his own heart was.  Only, he wrapped up his whole heart, and mind, and
will, and desire in the love and the mercy of GOD: determined not to give
over till GOD had heard him and had helped him.  'And then, when I had
wholly hazarded my life upon what I was doing, my whole spirit seemed to
me suddenly to break through the gates of hell, and to be taken up into
the arms and the heart of GOD.  I can compare it to nothing else but the
resurrection at the last day.  For then, with all reverence I say it,
with the eyes of my spirit I saw GOD.  I saw both what GOD is, and I saw
how GOD is what He is.  And with that there came a mighty and an
incontrollable impulse to set it down, so as to preserve what I had seen.
Some men will mock me, and will tell me to stick to my proper trade, and
not trouble my mind with philosophy and theology.  Let these high matters
alone.  Leave them to those who have both the time and the talent for
them, they will say.  So I have often said to myself, but the truth of
GOD did burn in my bones till I took pen and ink and began to set down
what I had seen.  All this time do not mistake me for a saint or an
angel.  My heart also is full of all evil.  In malice, and in hatred, and
in lack of brotherly love, after all I have seen and experienced, I am
like all other men.  I am surely the fullest of all men of all manner of
infirmity and malignity.'  Behmen protests in every book of his that what
he has written he has received immediately from GOD.  'Let it never be
imagined that I am any greater or any better than other men.  When the
Spirit of GOD is taken away from me I cannot even read so as to
understand what I have myself written.  I have every day to wrestle with
the devil and with my own heart, no man in all the world more.  Oh no!
thou must not for one moment think of me as if I had by my own power or
holiness climbed up into heaven or descended into the abyss.  Oh no! hear
me.  I am as thou art.  I have no more light than thou hast.  Let no man
think of me what I am not.  But what I am all men may be who will truly
believe, and will truly wrestle for truth and goodness under JESUS
CHRIST.  I marvel every day that GOD should reveal both the Divine Nature
and Temporal and Eternal Nature for the first time to such a simple and
unlearned man as I am.  But what am I to resist what GOD will do?  What
am I to say but, Behold the son of thine handmaiden!  I have often
besought Him to take these too high and too deep matters away from off
me, and to commit them to men of more learning and of a better style of
speech.  But He always put my prayer away from Him and continued to
kindle His fire in my bones.  And with all my striving to quench GOD'S
spirit of revelation, I found that I had only by that gathered the more
stones for the house that He had ordained me to build for Him and for His
children in this world.'

Jacob Behmen's first book, his _Aurora_, was not a book at all, but a
bundle of loose leaves.  Nothing was further from Behmen's mind, when he
took up his pen of an evening, than to make a book.  He took up his pen
after his day's work was over in order to preserve for his own memory and
use in after days the revelations that had been made to him, and the
experiences and exercises through which GOD had passed him.  And,
besides, Jacob Behmen could not have written a book even if he had tried
it.  He was a total stranger to the world of books; and then, over and
above that, he had been taken up into a world of things into which no
book ever written as yet had dared to enter.  Again, and again, and
again, till it came to fill his whole life, Behmen would be sitting over
his work, or walking abroad under the stars, or worshipping in his pew in
the parish church, when, like the captive prophet by the river of Chebar,
he would be caught up by the hair of the head and carried away into the
visions of GOD to behold the glory of GOD.  And then, when he came to
himself, there would arise within him a 'fiery instigation' to set down
for a 'memorial' what he had again seen and heard.  'The gate of the
Divine Mystery was sometimes so opened to me that in one quarter of an
hour I saw and knew more than if I had been many years together at a
university.  At which I did exceedingly admire, and, though it passed my
understanding how it happened, I thereupon turned my heart to GOD to
praise Him for it.  For I saw and knew the Being of all Beings; the Byss
and the Abyss; as, also, the Generation of the Son and the Procession of
the Spirit.  I saw the descent and original of this world also, and of
all its creatures.  I saw in their order and outcome the Divine world,
the angelical world, paradise, and then this fallen and dark world of our
own.  I saw the beginning of the good and the evil, and the true origin
and existence of each of them.  All of which did not only cause me great
wonder but also a great joy and a great fear.  And then it came with
commanding power into my mind that I must set down the same in pen and
ink for a memorial to myself; albeit, I could hardly contain or express
what I had seen.  For twelve years this went on in me.  Sometimes the
truth would hit me like a sudden smiting storm of rain; and then there
would be the clear sunshine after the rain.  All which was to teach me
that GOD will manifest Himself in the soul of man after what manner and
what measure it pleases Him and as it seems good in His sight.'

No human being knew all this time what Jacob Behmen was passing through,
and he never intended that any human being should know.  But, with all
his humility, and all his love of obscurity, he could not remain hidden.
Just how it came about we are not fully told; but, long before his book
was finished, a nobleman in the neighbourhood, who was deeply interested
in the philosophy and the theology of that day, somehow got hold of
Behmen's papers and had them copied out and spread abroad, to Behmen's
great surprise and great distress.  Copy after copy was stealthily made
of Behmen's manuscript, till, most unfortunately for both of them, a copy
came into the hands of Behmen's parish minister.  But for that accident,
so to call it, we would never have heard the name of GREGORY RICHTER,
First Minister of Goerlitz, nor could we have believed that any minister
of JESUS CHRIST could have gone so absolutely mad with ignorance and envy
and anger and ill-will.  The libel is still preserved that Behmen's
minister drew out against the author of _Aurora_, and the only thing it
proves to us is this, that its author must have been a dull-headed,
coarse-hearted, foul-mouthed man.  Richter's persecution of poor Behmen
caused Behmen lifelong trouble; but, at the same time, it served to
advertise his genius to his generation, and to manifest to all men the
meekness, the humility, the docility, and the love of peace of the
persecuted man.  'Pastor-Primarius Richter,' says a bishop of his own
communion, 'was a man full of hierarchical arrogance and pride.  He had
only the most outward apprehension of the dogmatics of his day, and he
was totally incapable of understanding Jacob Behmen.'  But it is not for
the limitations of his understanding that Pastor Richter stands before us
so laden with blame.  The school is a small one still that, after two
centuries of study and prayer and a holy life, can pretend to understand
the whole of the _Aurora_.  WILLIAM LAW, a man of the best understanding,
and of the humblest heart, tells us that his first reading of Behmen put
him into a 'perfect sweat' of astonishment and awe.  No wonder, then,
that a man of Gregory Richter's narrow mind and hard heart was thrown
into such a sweat of prejudice and anger and ill-will.

I do not propose to take you down into the deep places where Jacob Behmen
dwells and works.  And that for a very good reason.  For I have found no
firm footing in those deep places for my own feet.  I wade in and in to
the utmost of my ability, and still there rise up above me, and stretch
out around me, and sink down beneath me, vast reaches of revelation and
speculation, attainment and experience, before which I can only wonder
and worship.  See Jacob Behmen working with his hands in his solitary
stall, when he is suddenly caught up into heaven till he beholds in
enraptured vision The Most High Himself.  And then, after that, see him
swept down to hell, down to sin, and down into the bottomless pit of the
human heart.  Jacob Behmen, almost more than any other man whatsoever, is
carried up till he moves like a holy angel or a glorified saint among
things unseen and eternal.  Jacob Behmen is of the race of the seers, and
he stands out a very prince among them.  He is full of eyes, and all his
eyes are full of light.  It does not stagger me to hear his disciples
calling him, as HEGEL does, 'a man of a mighty mind,' or, as LAW does,
'the illuminated Behmen,' and 'the blessed Behmen.'  'In speculative
power,' says dry DR. KURTZ, 'and in poetic wealth, exhibited with epic
and dramatic effect, Behmen's system surpasses everything of the kind
ever written.'  Some of his disciples have the hardihood to affirm indeed
that even ISAAC NEWTON ploughed with Behmen's heifer, but had not the
boldness to acknowledge the debt.  I entirely accept it when his
disciples assert it of their master that he had a privilege and a
passport permitted him such as no mortal man has had the like since
JOHN'S eyes closed upon his completed Apocalypse.  After repeated and
prolonged reading of Behmen's amazing books, nothing that has been said
by his most ecstatic disciples about their adored master either
astonishes or offends me.  Dante himself does not beat such a soaring
wing as Behmen's; and all the trumpets that sound in _Paradise Lost_ do
not swell my heart and chase its blood like Jacob Behmen's broken
syllables about the Fall.  I would not wonder to have it pointed out to
me in the world to come that all that Gichtel, and St. Martin, and Hegel,
and Law, and Walton, and Martensen, and Hartmann have said about Jacob
Behmen and his visions of GOD and Nature and Man were all but literally
true.  No doubt,--nay, the thing is certain,--that if you open Jacob
Behmen anywhere as Gregory Richter opened the _Aurora_; if a new idea is
a pain and a provocation to you; if you have any prejudice in your heart
for any reason against Behmen; if you dislike the sound of his name
because some one you dislike has discovered him and praised him, or
because you do not yourself already know him and love him, then, no
doubt, you will find plenty in Behmen at which to stumble, and which will
amply justify you in anything you wish to say against him.  But if you
are a true student and a good man; if you are an open-minded and a humble-
minded man; if you are prepared to sit at any man's feet who will engage
to lead you a single step out of your ignorance and your evil; if you
open Behmen with a predisposition to believe in him, and with the
expectation and the determination to get good out of him,--then, in the
measure of all that; in the measure of your capacity of mind and your
hospitality of heart; in the measure of your humility, seriousness,
patience, teachableness, hunger for truth, hunger for righteousness,--in
that measure you will find Jacob Behmen to be what MAURICE tells us he
found him to be, 'a generative thinker.'  Out of much you cannot
understand,--wherever the blame for that may lie,--out of much slag and
much dross, I am mistaken if you will not lay up some of your finest
gold; and out of much straw and chaff some of the finest of the wheat.
The Divine Nature, human nature, time, space, matter, life, love, sin,
death, holiness, heaven, hell,--Behmen's reader must have lived and moved
all his days among such things as these: he must be at home, as far as
the mind of man can be at home, among such things as these, and then he
will begin to understand Behmen, and will still strive better and better
to understand him; and, where he does not as yet understand him, he will
set that down to his own inattention, incapacity, want of due
preparation, and want of the proper ripeness for such a study.

At the same time let all intending students of Jacob Behmen take warning
that they will have to learn an absolutely new and an unheard-of language
if they would speak with Behmen and have Behmen speak with them.  For
Behmen's books are written neither in German nor in English of any age or
idiom, but in the most original and uncouth Behmenese.  Like John Bunyan,
but never with John Bunyan's literary grace, Behmen will borrow, now a
Latin word or phrase from his reading of learned authors, or, more often,
from the conversations of his learned friends; and then he will take some
astrological or alchemical expression of AGRIPPA, or PARACELSUS, or some
such outlaw, and will, as with his awl and rosin-end, sew together a
sentence, and hammer together a page of the most incongruous and unheard-
of phraseology, till, as we read Behmen's earlier work especially, we
continually exclaim, O for a chapter of John Bunyan's clear, and sweet,
and classical English!  The _Aurora_ was written in a language, if
writing and a language it can be called, that had never been seen written
or heard spoken before, or has since, on the face of the earth.  And as
our students learn Greek in order to read Homer and Plato and Paul and
John, and Latin in order to read Virgil and Tacitus, and Italian to read
Dante, and German to read Goethe, so William Law tells us that he learned
Behmen's Behmenite High Dutch, and that too after he was an old man, in
order that he might completely master the _Aurora_ and its kindred books.
And as our schoolboys laugh and jeer at the outlandish sounds of Greek
and Latin and German, till they have learned to read and love the great
authors who have written in those languages, so WESLEY, and SOUTHEY, and
even HALLAM himself, jest and flout and call names at Jacob Behmen,
because they have not taken the trouble to learn his language, to master
his mind, and to drink in his spirit.  At the same time, and after all
that has been said about Behmen's barbarous style, Bishop Martensen tells
us how the readers of SCHELLING were surprised and enraptured by a wealth
of new expressions and new turns of speech in their mother tongue.  But
all these belonged to Behmen, or were fashioned on the model of his
symbolical language.  As it is, with all his astrology, and all his
alchemy, and all his barbarities of form and expression, I for one will
always take sides with the author of _The Serious Call_, and _The Spirit
of Prayer_, and _The Spirit of Love_, and _The Way to Divine Knowledge_,
in the disputed matter of Jacob Behmen's sanity and sanctity; and I will
continue to believe that if I had only had the scholarship, and the
intellect, and the patience, and the enterprise, to have mastered,
through all their intricacies, the Behmenite grammar and the Behmenite
vocabulary, I also would have found in Behmen all that Freher and Pordage
and Law and Walton found.  Even in the short way into this great man that
I have gone, I have come upon such rare and rich mines of divine and
eternal truth that I can easily believe that they who have dug deeper
have come upon uncounted riches.  'Next to the Scriptures,' writes
William Law, 'my only book is the illuminated Behmen.  For the whole
kingdom of grace and nature was opened in him.  In reading Behmen I am
always at home, and kept close to the kingdom of GOD that is within me.'
'I am not young,' said CLAUDE DE ST. MARTIN, 'being now near my fiftieth
year, nevertheless I have begun to learn German, in order that I may read
this incomparable author in his own tongue.  I have written some not
unacceptable books myself, but I am not worthy to unloose the shoestrings
of this wonderful man.  I advise you to throw yourself into the depths of
Jacob Behmen.  There is such a profundity and exaltation of truth in
them, and such a simple and delicious nutriment.'

The Town Council of Goerlitz, hounded on by their Minister, sentenced
Behmen to be banished, and interdicted him from ever writing any more.
But in sheer shame at what they had done they immediately recalled Behmen
from banishment; only, they insisted that he should confine himself to
his shop, and leave all writing of books alone.  Behmen had no ambition
to write any more, and, as a matter of fact, he kept silence even to
himself for seven whole years.  But as those years went on it came to be
with him, to use his own words, as with so much grain that has been
buried in the earth, and which, in spite of storms and tempests, will,
out of its own life, spring up, and that even when reason says it is now
winter, and that all hope and all power is gone.  And thus it was that,
under the same instigation which had produced the _Aurora_, Behmen at a
rush wrote his very fine if very difficult book, _The Three Principles of
the Divine Essence_.  He calls _The Three Principles_ his A B C, and the
easiest of all his books.  And William Law recommends all beginners in
Behmen to read alone for some sufficient time the tenth and twelfth
chapters of _The Three Principles_.  I shall let Behmen describe the
contents of his easiest book in his own words.  'In this second book,' he
says, 'there is declared what GOD is, what Nature is, what the creatures
are, what the love and meekness of GOD are, what GOD'S will is, what the
wrath of GOD is, and what joy and sorrow are.  As also, how all things
took their beginning: with the true difference between eternal and
transitory creatures.  Specially of man and his soul, what the soul is,
and how it is an eternal creature.  Also what heaven is, wherein GOD and
the holy angels and holy men dwell, and hell wherein the devils dwell:
and how all things were originally created and had their being.  In sum,
what the Essence of all Essences is.  And thus I commit my reader to the
sweet love of GOD.'  _The Three Principles_, according to CHRISTOPHER
WALTON, was the first book of Behmen's that William Law ever held in his
hand.  That, then, was the title-page, and those were the contents, that
threw that princely and saintly mind into such a sweat.  It was a great
day for William Law, and through him it was, and will yet be acknowledged
to have been, a great day for English theology when he chanced, at an old
bookstall, upon _The Three Principles_, Englished by a Barrister of the
Inner Temple.  The picture of that bookstall that day is engraven in
lines of light and love on the heart of every grateful reader of Jacob
Behmen and of William Law's later and richer and riper writings.

In three months after he had finished _The Three Principles_, Behmen had
composed a companion treatise, entitled _The Threefold Life of Man_.
Modest about himself as Behmen always was, he could not be wholly blind
about his own incomparable books.  And he but spoke the simple truth
about his third book when he said of it--as, indeed, he was constantly
saying about all his books--that it will serve every reader just
according to his constellation, his inclination, his disposition, his
complexion, his profession, and his whole condition.  'You will be soon
weary of all contentious books,' he wrote to CASPER LINDERN, 'if you
entertain and get _The Threefold Life of Man_ into your mind and heart.'
'The subject of regeneration,' says Christopher Walton, 'is the pith and
drift of all Behmen's writings, and the student may here be directed to
begin his course of study by mastering the first eight chapters of _The
Threefold Life_, which appear to have been in great favour with Mr. Law.'

Behmen's next book was a very extraordinary piece of work, and it had a
very extraordinary origin.  A certain BALTHAZAR WALTER, who seems to have
been a second Paracelsus in his love of knowledge and in his lifelong
pursuit of knowledge, had, like Paracelsus, travelled east, and west, and
north, and south in search of that ancient and occult wisdom of which so
many men in that day dreamed.  But Walter, like his predecessor
Paracelsus, had come home from his travels a humbler man, a wiser man,
and a man more ready to learn and lay to heart the truth that some of his
own countrymen could all the time have taught him.  On his return from
the east, Walter found the name of Jacob Behmen in everybody's mouth;
and, on introducing himself to that little shop in Goerlitz out of which
the _Aurora_ and _The Threefold Life_ had come, Walter was wise enough to
see and bold enough to confess that he had found a teacher and a friend
there such as neither Egypt nor India had provided him with.  After many
immensely interested visits to Jacob Behmen's workshop, Walter was more
than satisfied that Behmen was all, and more than all, that his most
devoted admirers had said he was.  And, accordingly, Walter laid a plan
so as to draw upon Behmen's profound and original mind for a solution of
some of the philosophical and theological problems that were agitating
and dividing the learned men of that day.  With that view Walter made a
round of the leading universities of Germany, conversed with the
professors and students, collected a long list of the questions that were
being debated in that day in those seats of learning, and sent the list
to Behmen, asking him to give his mind to them and try to answer them.
'Beloved sir,' wrote Behmen, after three months' meditation and prayer,
'and my good friend: it is impossible for the mind and reason of man to
answer all the questions you have put to me.  All those things are known
to GOD alone.  But, that no man may boast, He sometimes makes use of very
mean men to make known His truth, that it may be seen and acknowledged to
come from His own hand alone.'  It is told that when Charles the First
read the English translation of Behmen's answers to the _Forty
Questions_, he wrote to the publisher that if Jacob Behmen was no
scholar, then the Holy Ghost was still with men; and, if he was a learned
man, then his book was one of the best inventions that had ever been
written.  The _Forty Questions_ ran through many editions both on the
Continent and in England, and it was this book that gained for Jacob
Behmen the denomination of the Teutonic Philosopher, a name by which he
is distinguished among authors to this day.  The following are some of
the university questions that Balthazar Walter took down and sent to
Jacob Behmen for his answer: 'What is the soul of man in its innermost
essence, and how is it created, soul by soul, in the image of GOD?  Is
the soul propagated from father to son like the body? or is it every time
new created and breathed in from GOD?  How comes original sin into each
several soul?  How does the soul of the saint feed and grow upon the word
of GOD?  Whence comes the deadly contrariety between the flesh and the
spirit?  Whither goes the soul when it at death departs from the body?  In
what does its rest, its awakening, and its glorification consist?  What
kind of body shall the glorified body be?  The soul and spirit of CHRIST,
what are they? and are they the same as ours?  What and where is
Paradise?'  Through a hundred and fourteen large quarto pages Behmen's
astonishing answers to the forty questions run; after which he adds this:
'Thus, my beloved friend, we have set down, according to our gifts, a
round answer to your questions, and we exhort you as a brother not to
despise us.  For we are not born of art, but of simplicity.  We
acknowledge all who love such knowledge as our brethren in CHRIST, with
whom we hope to rejoice eternally in the heavenly school.  For our best
knowledge here is but in part, but when we shall attain to perfection,
then we shall see what GOD is, and what He can do.  Amen.'

_A Treatise of the Incarnation of the Son of God_ comes next, and then we
have three smaller works written to clear up and to establish several
difficult and disputed matters in it and in some of his former works.  To
write on the Incarnation of the Son of GOD would need, says Behmen, an
angel's pen; but his defence is that his is better than any angel's pen,
because it is the pen of a sinner's love.  The year 1621 saw one of
Behmen's most original and most powerful books finished,--the _Signatura
Rerum_.  In this remarkable book Behmen teaches us that all things have
two worlds in which they live,--an inward world and an outward.  All
created things have an inner and an invisible essence, and an outer and a
visible form.  And the outward form is always more or less the key to the
inward character.  This whole world that we see around us, and of which
we ourselves are the soul,--it is all a symbol, a 'signature,' of an
invisible world.   This deep principle runs through the whole of
creation.  The Creator went upon this principle in all His work; and the
thoughtful mind can see that principle coming out in all His work,--in
plants, and trees, and beasts.

   As German Boehme never cared for plants
   Until it happed, a-walking in the fields,
   He noticed all at once that plants could speak,
   Nay, turned with loosened tongue to talk with him.
   That day the daisy had an eye indeed--
   Colloquized with the cowslips on such themes!
   We find them extant yet in Jacob's prose.

But, best of all, this principle comes out clearest in the speech,
behaviour, features, and face of a man.  Every day men are signing
themselves from within.  Every act they perform, every word they speak,
every wish they entertain,--it all comes out and is fixed for ever in
their character, and even in their appearance.  'Therefore,' says Behmen
in the beginning of his book, 'the greatest understanding lies in the
signature.  For by the external form of all creatures; by their voice and
action, as well as by their instigation, inclination, and desire, their
hidden spirit is made known.  For Nature has given to everything its own
language according to its innermost essence.  And this is the language of
Nature, in which everything continually speaks, manifests, and declares
itself for what it is,--so much so, that all that is spoken or written
even about GOD, however true, if the writer or speaker has not the Divine
Nature within himself, then all he says is dumb to me; he has not got the
hammer in his hand that can strike my bell.'

_The Way to Christ_ was Behmen's next book, and in the four precious
treatises that compose that book our author takes an altogether new
departure.  In his _Aurora_, in _The Three Principles_, in the _Forty
Questions_, and in the _Signatura Rerum_, Jacob Behmen has been writing
for philosophers and theologians.  Or, if in all these works he has been
writing for a memorial to himself in the first place,--even then, it has
been for himself on the philosophical and theological side of his own
mind.  But in _The Way to Christ_ he writes for himself under that
character which, once taken up by Jacob Behmen, is never for one day laid
down.  Behmen's favourite Scripture, after our Lord's promise of the Holy
Spirit to them that ask for Him, was the parable of the Prodigal Son.  In
all his books Behmen is that son, covered with wounds and bruises and
putrefying sores, but at last beginning to come to himself and to return
to his Father.  _The Way to Christ_ is a production of the very greatest
depth and strength, but it is the depth and the strength of the heart and
the conscience rather than the depth and the strength of the
understanding and the imagination.  This nobly evangelical book is made
up of four tracts, entitled respectively, _Of True Repentance_, _Of True
Resignation_, _Of Regeneration_, and _Of the Supersensual Life_.  And a
deep vein of autobiographic life and interest runs through the four
tracts and binds them into a quick unity.  'A soldier,' says Behmen, 'who
has been in the wars can best tell another soldier how to fight.'  And
neither Augustine nor Luther nor Bunyan carries deeper wounds, or broader
scars, nor tells a nobler story in any of their autobiographic and
soldierly books than Behmen does in his _Way to Christ_.  At the
commencement of _The True Repentance_ he promises us that he will write
of a process or way on which he himself has gone.  'The author herewith
giveth thee the best jewel that he hath.'  And a true jewel it is, as the
present speaker will testify.  If _The True Repentance_ has a fault at
all it is the fault of Rutherford's _Letters_.  For the taste of some of
his readers Behmen, like Rutherford, draws rather too much on the
language and the figures of the married life in setting forth the love of
CHRIST to the espoused soul, and the love of the espoused soul to CHRIST.
But with that, and all its other drawbacks, _The True Repentance_ is such
a treatise that, once discovered by the proper reader, it will be the
happy discoverer's constant companion all his earthly and penitential
days.  As the English reader is carried on through the fourth tract, _The
Supersensual Life_, he experiences a new and an increasing sense of ease
and pleasure, combined with a mystic height and depth and inwardness all
but new to him even in Behmen's books.  The new height and depth and
inwardness are all Jacob Behmen's own; but the freedom and the ease and
the movement and the melody are all William Law's.  In his preparations
for a new edition of Behmen in English, William Law had re-translated and
paraphrased _The Supersensual Life_, and the editor of the 1781 edition
of Behmen's works has incorporated Law's beautiful rendering of that
tract in room of JOHN SPARROW'S excellent but rather too antique
rendering.  We are in John Sparrow's everlasting debt for the immense
labour he laid out on Behmen, as well as for his own deep piety and
personal worth.  But it was service enough and honour enough for Sparrow
to have Englished Jacob Behmen at all for his fellow-countrymen, even if
he was not able to English him as William Law would have done.  But take
Behmen and Law together, as they meet together in _The Supersensual
Life_, and not A Kempis himself comes near them even in his own proper
field, or in his immense service in that field.  There is all the
reality, inwardness, and spirituality of _The Imitation_ in _The
Supersensual Life_, together with a sweep of imagination, and a grasp of
understanding, as well as with both a sweetness and a bitterness of heart
that even A Kempis never comes near.  _The Supersensual Life_ of Jacob
Behmen, in the English of William Law, is a superb piece of spiritual
work, and a treasure-house of masculine English.  (If Christopher Walton
is right, we must read 'Lee' for 'Law' in this passage.  If Walton is
right, then there was a master of English in those days we had not before
been told of.)

_A Treatise of the Four Complexions_, or _A Consolatory Instruction for a
Sad and Assaulted Heart_, was Behmen's next book.  The four complexions
are the four temperaments--the choleric, the sanguine, the phlegmatic,
and the melancholy.  Behmen's treatise has been well described by Walton
as containing the philosophy of temptation; and by Martensen as
displaying a most profound knowledge of the human heart.  Behmen sets
about his task as a _ductor dubitantium_ in a masterly manner.  He takes
in hand the comfort and direction of sin-distressed souls in a
characteristically deep, inward, and thorough-going way.  The book is
full of Behmen's observation of men.  It is the outcome of a close and
long-continued study of character and conduct.  Every page of _The Four
Complexions_ gleams with a keen but tender and wistful insight into our
poor human nature.  As his customers came and gave their orders in his
shop; as his neighbours collected, and gossiped, and debated, and
quarrelled around his shop window; as his minister fumed and raged
against him in the pulpit; as the Council of Goerlitz sat and swayed,
passed sentence upon him, retracted their sentence, and again gave way
under the pressure of their minister, and pronounced another
sentence,--all this time Behmen was having poor human nature, to all its
joints and marrow, and to all the thoughts and instincts of its heart,
laid naked and open before him, both in other men and in himself.  And
then, as always with Behmen, all this observation of men, all this
discovery and self-discovery, ran up into philosophy, into theology, into
personal and evangelical religion.  In all that Behmen better and better
saw the original plan, constitution, and operation of human nature; its
aboriginal catastrophe; its weakness and openness to all evil; and its
need of constant care, protection, instruction, watchfulness, and Divine
help.  Behmen writes on all the four temperaments with the profoundest
insight, and with the fullest sympathy; but over the last of the four he
exclaims: 'O hear me! for I know well myself what melancholy is! I also
have lodged all my days in the melancholy inn!'  As I read that light and
elastic book published the other day, _The Life and Letters of Erasmus_,
I came on this sentence, 'Erasmus, like all men of real genius, had a
light and elastic nature.'  When I read that, I could not believe my
eyes.  I had been used to think of light and elastic natures as being the
antipodes of natures of real genius.  And as I stopped my reading for a
little, a procession of men of real and indisputable genius passed before
me, who had all lodged with Behmen in the melancholy inn.  Till I
remembered that far deeper and far truer saying, that 'simply to say man
at all is to say melancholy.'  No: with all respect, the real fact is
surely as near as possible the exact opposite.  A light, elastic, Erasmus-
like nature, is the exception among men of real genius.  At any rate,
Jacob Behmen was the exact opposite of Erasmus, and of all such light and
elastic men.  Melancholy was Jacob Behmen's special temperament and
peculiar complexion.  He had long studied, and watched, and wrestled
with, and prayed over that complexion at home.  And thus it is, no doubt,
that he is so full, and so clear, and so sure-footed, and so impressive,
and so full of fellow-feeling in his treatment of this special
complexion.  Behmen's greatest disciple has assimilated his master's
teaching in this matter of complexion also, and has given it out again in
his own clear, plain, powerful, classical manner, especially in his
treatise on _Christian Regeneration_.  Let all preachers and pastors who
would master the _rationale_ of temptation, and who would ground their
directions and their comforts to their people in the nature of things, as
well as in the word of GOD, make Jacob Behmen and William Law and
Prebendary Clark their constant study.  'I write for no other purpose,'
says Behmen, 'than that men may learn how to know themselves.  Seek the
noble knowledge of thyself.  Seek it and you will find a heavenly
treasure which will not be eaten by moths, and which no thief shall ever
take away.'

I shall not attempt to enter on the thorny thicket of Jacob Behmen's
polemical and apologetical works.  I shall not even load your mind with
their unhappy titles.  His five apologies occupy in bulk somewhere about
a tenth part of his five quarto volumes.  And full as his apologies and
defences are of autobiographic material, as well as of valuable
expansions and explanations of his other books, yet at their best they
are all controversial and combative in their cast and complexion; and,
nobly as Behmen has written on the subject of controversy, it was not
given even to him, amid all the misunderstandings, misrepresentations,
injuries, and insults he suffered from, always to write what we are glad
and proud and the better to read.

About his next book Behmen thus writes: 'Upon the desire of some high
persons with whom I did converse in the Christmas holidays, I have
written a pretty large treatise upon Election, in which I have done my
best to determine that subject upon the deepest grounds.  And I hope that
the same may put an end to many contentions and controversies, especially
of some points betwixt the Lutherans and Calvinists, for I have taken the
texts of Holy Scripture which speak of GOD'S will to harden sinners, and
then, again, of His unwillingness to harden, and have so tuned and
harmonised them that the right understanding and meaning of the same may
be seen.'  'This author,' says John Sparrow, 'disputes not at all.  He
desires only to confer and offer his understanding of the Scriptures on
both sides, answering reason's objections, and manifesting the truth for
the conjoining, uniting, and reconciling of all parties in love.'  And
that he has not been wholly unsuccessful we may believe when we hear one
of Behmen's ablest commentators writing of his _Election_ as 'a
superlatively helpful book,' and again, as a 'profoundly instructive
treatise.'  The workman-like way in which Behmen sets about his treatment
of the _Election of Grace, commonly called Predestination_, will be seen
from the titles of some of his chapters.  Chap. i.  What the One Only GOD
is.  Chap. ii.  Concerning GOD'S Eternal Speaking Word.  Chap. v.  Of the
Origin of Man; Chap. vi.  Of the Fall of Man.  Chap. viii.  Of the
sayings of Scripture, and how they oppose one another.  Chap. ix.
Clearing the Right Understanding of such Scriptures.  Chap. xiii.  A
Conclusion upon all those Questions.  And then, true to his constant
manner, as if wholly dissatisfied with the result of all his labour in
things and in places too deep both for writer and reader, he gave all the
next day after he had finished his _Election_ to an _Appendix on
Repentance_, in order to making his own and his reader's calling and
election sure.  And it may safely be said that, than that day's work,
than those four quarto pages, not Augustine, not Luther, not Bunyan, not
Baxter, not Shepard has ever written anything of more evangelical depth,
and strength, and passion, and pathos.  It is truly a splendid day's
work!  But it might not have been possible even for Behmen to perform
that day's work had he not for months beforehand been dealing day and
night with the deepest and the most heart-searching things both of GOD
and man.  What a man was Jacob Behmen, and chosen to what a service!  At
work all that day in his solitary stall, and then all the night after
over his rush-light writing for a memorial to himself and to us his
incomparable _Compendium of Repentance_.

In a letter addressed to one of the nobility in Silesia, and dated
February 19, 1623, Behmen says: 'When you have leisure to study I shall
send you something still more deep, for I have written this whole autumn
and winter without ceasing.'  And if he had written nothing else but his
great book entitled _Mysterium Magnum_ that autumn and winter, he must
have written night and day and done nothing else.  Even in size the
_Mysterium_ is an immense piece of work.  In the English edition it
occupies the whole of the third quarto volume of 507 pages; and then for
its matter it is a still more amazing production.  To say that the
_Mysterium Magnum_ is a mystical and allegorical commentary upon the Book
of Genesis is to say nothing.  Philo himself is a tyro and a timid
interpreter beside Jacob Behmen.  'Which things are an allegory,' says
the Apostle, after a passing reference to Sarah and Hagar and Isaac and
Ishmael; but if you would see actually every syllable of Genesis
allegorised, spiritualised, interpreted of CHRIST, and of the New
Testament, from the first verse of its first chapter to the last verse of
its last chapter, like the nobleman of Silesia, when you have leisure,
read Behmen's deep _Mysterium Magnum_.  I would recommend the
enterprising and unconquerable student to make leisure so as to master
Behmen's Preface to the _Mysterium Magnum_ at the very least.  And if he
does that, and is not drawn on from that to be a student of Behmen for
the rest of his days, then, whatever else his proper field in life may
be, it is not mystical or philosophical theology.  It is a long step both
in time and in thought from Behmen to SCHOPENHAUER; but, speaking of one
of Schelling's books, Schopenhauer says that it is all taken from Jacob
Behmen's _Mysterium Magnum_; every thought and almost every word of
Schelling's work leads Schopenhauer to think of Behmen.  'When I read
Behmen's book,' says Schopenhauer, 'I cannot withhold either admiration
or emotion.'   At his far too early death Behmen left four treatises
behind him in an unfinished condition.  The _Theoscopia_, or _Divine
Vision_, is but a fragment; but, even so, the study of that fragment
leads us to believe that, had Behmen lived to the ordinary limit of human
life, and had his mind continued to grow as it was now fast growing in
clearness, in concentration, and in simplicity, Behmen would have left to
us not a few books as classical in their form as all his books are
classical in their substance; in their originality, in their truth, in
their depth, and in their strength.  As it is, the unfinished, the
scarcely-begun, _Theoscopia_ only serves to show the student of what a
treasure he has been bereft by Behmen's too early death.  As I read and
re-read the _Theoscopia_ I felt the full truth and force of Hegel's
generous words, that German philosophy began with Behmen.  This is both
German and Christian philosophy, I said to myself as I revelled in the
_Theoscopia_.  Let the serious student listen to the titles of some of
the chapters of the _Theoscopia_, and then let him say what he would not
have given to have got such a book from such a pen in its completed
shape:  'What GOD is, and how we men shall know the Divine Substance by
the Divine Revelation.  Why it sometimes seems as if there were no GOD,
and as if all things went in the world by chance.  Why GOD, who is Love
itself, permits an evil will contrary to His own.  The reason and the
profit, why evil should be found along with good.  Of the mind of man,
and how it is the image of GOD, and how it can still be filled with God.
Why this Temporal Universe is created; to what it is profitable; and how
God is so near unto all things': and so on.  'But no amount of
quotation,' says Mrs. Penney, that very able student of Behmen, lately
deceased, 'can give an adequate glimpse of the light which streams from
the _Theoscopia_ when long and patiently studied.'

Another unfinished fragment that Behmen's readers seek for and treasure
up like very sand of gold is his _Holy Week_.  This little work, its
author tells us, was undertaken upon the entreaty and desire of some
loving and good friends of his for the daily exercise of true religion in
their hearts and in the little church of their families.  The following
is Behmen's method of prayer for Monday, which is the only day's prayer
he got finished before his death:  'A short prayer when we awake early
and before we rise.  A prayer and thanksgiving after we are risen.  A
prayer while we wash and dress.  A prayer when we begin to work at our
calling.  A prayer at noon.  A prayer toward evening.  A prayer when we
undress.  A prayer of thanks for the bitter passion and dying of JESUS
CHRIST.'  What does the man mean? many of his contemporaries who came
upon his _Holy Week_ would say, What does the madman mean?  Would he have
us pray all day?  Would he have us pray and do nothing else?  Yes; it
would almost seem so.  For in his _Supersensual Life_ the Master says to
the disciple who has asked, 'How shall I be able to live aright amid all
the anxiety and tribulation of this world?': 'If thou dost once every
hour throw thyself by faith beyond all creatures into the abysmal mercy
of GOD, into the sufferings of CHRIST, and into the fellowship of His
intercession, then thou shalt receive power from above to rule over the
world, and death, and the devil, and hell itself.'  And again, 'O thou of
little courage, if thy will could but break itself off every half-hour
from all creatures, and plunge itself into that where no creature is or
can be, presently it would be penetrated with the splendour of the Divine
glory, and would taste a sweetness no tongue can express.  Then thou
wouldst love thy cross more than all the glory and all the goods of this
world.'  The author had begun a series of reflections and meditations on
the Ten Commandments for devotional use on Tuesday, but got no further
than the Fifth.  Behmen is so deep and so original in his purely
philosophical, theological, and speculative books, that in many places we
can only stand back and wonder at the man.  But in his _Holy Week_ Behmen
kneels down beside us.  Not but that his characteristic depth is present
in his prayers also; but we all know something of the nature, the manner,
and the blessedness of prayer, and thus it is that we are so much more at
home with Behmen, the prodigal son, than we are with Behmen, the
theosophical theologian.  When Behmen begins to teach us to pray, and
when the lesson comes to us out of his own closet, then we are able to
see in a nearer light something of the originality, the greatness, the
strength, and the true and genuine piety of the philosopher and the
theologian.  When Behmen's philosophy and theology become penitence,
prayer, and praise, then by their fruits we know how good his philosophy
and his theology must be, away down in their deepest and most hidden
nature.  I agree with Walton that those prayers are full of unction and
instruction, and that some of them are of the 'highest magnetical power';
and that, as rendered into modern phraseology, they are most beautiful
devotional compositions, and very models of all that a divinely
illuminated mind would address to GOD and CHRIST.  For myself,
immediately after the Psalms of David I put Jacob Behmen's _Holy Week_
and the prayers scattered up and down through his _True Repentance_, and
beside Behmen I put Bishop Andrewes' _Private Devotions_.  I have
discovered no helps to my own devotional life for a moment to set beside
Behmen and Andrewes.

_A Treatise on Baptism and the Lord's Supper_; _A Key to the Principal
Points and Expressions in the Author's Writings_; and then a most
valuable volume of letters--_Epistolae Theosophicae_--complete the
extraordinarily rich bibliography of the illuminated and blessed Jacob
Behmen.

Though there is a great deal of needless and wearisome repetition in
Jacob Behmen's writings, at the same time there is scarcely a single
subject in the whole range of theology on which he does not throw a new,
an intense, and a brilliant light.  In his absolutely original and
magnificent doctrine of GOD, while all the time loyally true to it,
Behmen has confessedly transcended the theology of both the Latin and the
Reformed Churches; and, absolutely unlettered man though he is, has taken
his stand at the very head of the great Greek theologians.  The Reformers
concentrated their criticism upon the anthropology and soteriology of the
Church of Rome, and especially upon the discipline and worship connected
therewith.  They saw no need for recasting any of the more fundamental
positions of pure theology.  And while Jacob Behmen, broadly speaking,
accepts as his own confession of faith all that Luther and Calvin and
their colleagues taught on sin and salvation, on the corruption and guilt
of sinners, and on the redeeming work of our LORD, he rises far above the
greatest and best of his teachers in his doctrine of the GODHEAD.  Not
only does he rise far higher in that doctrine than either Rome or Geneva,
he rises far higher and sounds far deeper than either Antioch, or
Alexandria, or Nicomedia, or Nice.  On this profound point Bishop
Martensen has an excellent appreciation of Behmen.  After what I have
taken upon me to say about Behmen, the learned Bishop's authoritative
passage must be quoted:--'If we compare Behmen's doctrine of the
Trinity,' says the learned and evangelical Bishop, 'with that which is
contained in the otherwise so admirable Athanasian Creed, the latter but
displays to us a most abstruse metaphysic; a GOD for mere thought, and in
whom there is nothing sympathetic for the heart of man.  Behmen, on the
contrary, reveals to us the LIVING GOD, the GOD of Goodness, the Eternal
Love, of which there is absolutely no hint whatever in the hard
Athanasian symbol.  By this attitude of his to the affections of the
human heart, Behmen's doctrine of the Trinity is in close coherence with
the Reformation, and with its evangelical churches. . . . Behmen is
anxious to state a conception of GOD that will fill the hiatus between
the theological and anthropological sides of the dogmatical development
which was bequeathed by the Reformation; he seeks to unite the
theological and the anthropological. . . . From careful study of Behmen's
theology,' continues Bishop Martensen, 'one gains a prevailing impression
that Behmen's GOD is, in His inmost Being, most kindred to man, even as
man in his inmost being is still kindred to GOD.  And, besides, we
recognise in Behmen throughout the pulse-beat of a believing man, who is
in all his books supremely anxious about his own salvation and that of
his fellow-men.'  Now, it is just this super-confessional element in
Behmen, both on his speculative and on his practical side, taken along
with the immediate and intensely practical bearing of all his
speculations, it is just this that is Behmen's true and genuine
distinction, his shining and unshared glory.  And it is out of that
supreme, solitary, and wholly untrodden field of Behmen's
super-confessional theology that all that is essential, characteristic,
distinctive, and fruitful in Behmen really and originally springs.  The
distinctions he takes within, and around, and immediately beneath the
Godhead, are of themselves full of the noblest light.  The Divine Nature,
Eternal Nature, Temporal Nature, Human Nature, when evolved out of one
another, and when related to one another, as Behmen sees them evolved and
related, are categories of the clearest, surest, most necessary, and most
intensely instructive kind.  And if the height and the depth, the
massiveness, the stupendousness, and the grandeur, as well as the
sweetness, and the beauty, and the warmth, and the fruitfulness of a
doctrine of GOD is any argument or evidence of its truth, then Behmen's
magnificent doctrine of the GODHEAD is surely proved to demonstration and
delight.  GOD is the Essence of all Essences to Behmen.  GOD is the
deepest Ground, the living and the life-giving Root of all existence.  At
the same time, the Divine Nature is so Divine; It is so high and so deep;
It is so unlike all that is not Itself; It is so beyond and above all
language, and all thought, and all imagination of man or angel, that
universe after universe have had to come into existence, and have had to
be filled, each successive universe after its own kind, with all the
fulness of GOD, before that universe of which we form a part, and to
which our utmost imagination is confined, could have come into existence,
and into recognition of itself.  Behmen's Eternal Nature must never be
taken for the Eternal GOD.  The Divine Nature, the Eternal Godhead,
exists in the Father, in the Son, and in the Holy Ghost; and then, after
the Eternal Generation of the Son, and the Eternal Procession of the Holy
Ghost, there comes up in order of existence Eternal Nature.  Eternal
Nature is not the Divine Nature, but it is as near to the Divine Nature
in its qualities and in its powers as any created thing can ever by any
possibility be.  Now, if we are still to follow Behmen, we must not let
ourselves indolently think of the production of Eternal Nature as a
divine act done and completed in any past either of time or of eternity.
There is neither past nor future where we are now walking with Behmen.
There is only an everlasting present where he is now leading us.  For, as
GOD the Father generates the Son eternally and continually; and as the
Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son eternally and
continually, so GOD the Word eternally and continually says, 'Let this
Beginning of all things be, and let it continue to be.'  And, as He
speaks, His Word awakens the ever-dawning morning of the ever new-created
day.  And He beholds Eternal Nature continually rising up before Him, and
He pronounces it very good.  The Creator so transcends the creation, and,
especially, that late and remote creation of which we are a part, that,
as the Creator's first step out of Himself, and as a step towards our
creation, is His creation, generation, or other production of a nature or
universe that shall be capable of receiving immediately into itself all
that of the Creator that He has purposed to reveal and to communicate to
creatures,--a nature or universe which shall at the same time be itself
the beginning of creation, and the source, spring, and quarry out of
which all that shall afterwards come can be constructed.  Eternal Nature
is thus the great storehouse and workshop in which all the created
essences, elements, principles, and potentialities of all possible worlds
are laid up.  Here is the great treasury and laboratory into which the
Filial Word enters, when by Him GOD creates, sustains, and perfects the
worlds, universe after universe.  Here, says Behmen, is the great and
universal treasury of that heavenly clay of which all things, even to
angels and men, are made; and here is the eternal turning-wheel with
which they are all framed and fashioned.  Eternal Nature is an invisible
essence, and it is the essential ground out of which all the visible and
invisible worlds are made.  For the things which are seen were not made
of things which do appear.  In that radiant original universe also all
the thoughts of GOD which were to usward from everlasting, all the Divine
ideas, patterns, and plans of things, are laid open, displayed, copied
out and sealed up for future worlds to see carried out.  'Through this
Kingdom of Heaven, or Eternal Nature,' says William Law, in his _Appeal
to all that Doubt_, 'is the invisible GOD eternally breaking forth and
manifesting Himself in a boundless height and depth of blissful wonders,
opening and displaying Himself to all His heavenly creatures in an
infinite variety and an endless multiplicity of His powers, beauties,
joys, and glories.  So that all the inhabitants of heaven are for ever
knowing, seeing, hearing, feeling, and variously enjoying all that is
great, amiable, infinite, and gracious in the Divine Nature.'  And again,
in his _Way to Divine Knowledge_: 'Out of this transcendent Eternal
Nature, which is as universal and immense as the Godhead itself, do all
the highest beings, cherubims and seraphims, all the hosts of angels, and
all intelligent spirits, receive their birth, existence, substance, and
form.  And they are one and united in one, GOD in them, and they in GOD,
according to the prayer of CHRIST for His disciples, that they, and He,
and His Holy Father might be united in one.'  A little philosophy,
especially when the philosopher does not yet know the plague of his own
heart, tends, indeed, to doubt and unbelief in the word of GOD and in the
work of CHRIST.  But the philosophy of Behmen and Law will deepen the
mind and subdue the heart of the student till he is made a prodigal son,
a humble believer, and a profound philosopher, both in nature and in
grace, like his profound masters.

Behmen's teaching on human nature, his doctrine of the heart of man, and
of the image of GOD in the heart of man, has a greatness about it that
marks it off as being peculiarly Behmen's own doctrine.  He agrees with
the catechisms and the creeds in their teaching that the heart of man was
at first like the heart of GOD in knowledge, righteousness, and true
holiness.  But Behmen is above and beyond the catechisms in this also, in
the way that he sees the heart of man still opening in upon the Divine
Nature, as also upon Eternal and Temporal Nature, somewhat as the heart
of GOD opens on all that He has made.  On every page of his, wherever you
happen to open him, Behmen is found teaching that GOD and CHRIST, heaven
and hell, life and death, are in every several human heart.  Heaven and
all that it contains is every day either being quenched and killed in
every human heart, or it is being anew generated, rekindled, and accepted
there; and in like manner hell.  'Yea,' he is bold to exclaim, 'GOD
Himself is so near thee that the geniture of the Holy Trinity is
continually being wrought in thy heart.  Yea, all the Three Persons are
generated for thee in thy heart.'  And, again: 'GOD is in thy dark heart.
Knock, and He shall come out within thee into the light.  The Holy Ghost
holds the key of thy dark heart.  Ask, and He shall be given to thee
within thee.  Do not let any sophister teach thee that thy GOD is far
aloft from thee as the stars are.  Only offer at this moment to GOD thine
heart, and CHRIST, the Son of GOD, will be born and formed within thee.
And then thou art His brother, His flesh, and His spirit.  Thou also art
a child of His Father.  GOD is in thee.  Power, might, majesty, heaven,
paradise, elements, stars, the whole earth--all is thine.  Thou art in
CHRIST over hell, and all that it contains.'  'Behmen's speculation,'
Martensen is always reminding us, 'streams forth from the deepest
practical inspiration.  His speculations are all saturated with a
constant reference to salvation.  His whole metaphysic is pervaded by
practical applications.'  And conspicuously so, we may here point out, is
his metaphysic of GOD and of the heart of man.  The immanence of GOD, as
theologians and philosophers call it; the indwelling of GOD, as the
psalmists and the apostles and the saints call it; the Divine Word
lightening every man that comes into the world, as John has it,--of the
practical and personal bearings of all that Behmen's every book is full.
Dost thou not see it and feel it? he continually calls to his readers.
Heaven, be sure, is in every holy man, and hell in every bad man.  When
thou dost work together with GOD then thou art in heaven, and thy soul
dwells in GOD.  In like manner, also, thou art in hell and among the
devils when thou art in any envy, malice, anger, or ill-will.  Thou
needest not to ask where is heaven or where is hell.  Both are within
thee, even in thy heart.  Now, then, when thou prayest, pray in that
heaven that is within thee, and there the Holy Ghost shall meet with thee
and will help thee, and thy soul shall be the whole of heaven within
thee.  It is a fundamental doctrine of Behmen's that the fall would have
been immediate and eternal death to Adam and Eve had not the Divine Word,
the Seed of the woman, entered their hearts, and kept a footing in their
hearts, and in the hearts of all their children, against the fulness of
time when He would take our flesh and work out our redemption.  And thus
it is that Behmen appeals to all his readers, that if they will only go
down deep enough into their own hearts--then, there, down there, deeper
than indwelling sin, deeper than original sin, deep down and seated in
the very substance and centre of their souls--they will come upon secret
and unexpected seeds of the Divine Life.  Seeds, blades, buddings, and
new beginnings of the very life of GOD the Son, in their deepest souls.
Secret and small, Behmen exclaims, as those seeds of Eden are, despise
them not; destroy them not, for a blessing for thee is in them.  Water
those secret seeds, sun them, dig about them, and they will grow up in
you also.  The Divine Life is in you, quench it not, for it is of GOD.
Nay, it is GOD Himself in you.  It depends upon yourself whether or no
that which is at this moment the smallest of all seeds is yet to become
in you the greatest and the most fruitful of all trees.

'Man never knows how anthropomorphic he is,' is a characteristic saying
of a fellow-countryman of Behmen's.  And Behmen's super-confessional and
almost super-scriptural treatment of that frequent scriptural
anthropomorphism,--'unavoidable and yet intolerable,'--the wrath of GOD,
must be left by me in Behmen's own bold pages.  Strong meat belongeth to
them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their
senses exercised to discern both good and evil.  Behmen's philosophical,
theological, and experimental doctrine of sin also, with one example,
must be wholly passed by.  'If all trees were clerks,' he exclaims in one
place, 'and all their branches pens, and all the hills books, and all the
water ink, yet all would not sufficiently declare the evil that sin hath
done.  For sin has made this house of heavenly light to be a den of
darkness; this house of joy to be a house of mourning, lamentation, and
woe; this house of all refreshment to be full of hunger and thirst; this
abode of love to be a prison of enmity and ill-will; this seat of
meekness to be the haunt of pride and rage and malice.  For laughter sin
has brought horror; for munificence, beggary; and for heaven, hell.  Oh,
thou miserable man, turn convert.  For the Father stretches out both His
hands to thee.  Do but turn to Him and He will receive and embrace thee
in His love.'  It was the sin and misery of this world that first made
Jacob Behmen a philosopher, and it was the sinfulness of his own heart
that at last made him a saint.  Behmen's full doctrine and practice of
prayer also; his fine and fruitful treatment of what he always calls 'the
process of CHRIST'; and, intimately connected with that, his still super-
confessional treatment of imputation,--of all that, and much more like
that, I cannot now attempt to speak.  Nor yet of his superb teaching on
love.  'Throw out thy heart upon all men,' he now commands and now
beseeches us.  'Throw open and throw out thy heart.  For unless thou dost
exercise thy heart, and the love of thy heart, upon every man in the
world, thy self-love, thy pride, thy contempt, thy envy, thy distaste,
thy dislike will still have dominion over thee.  The Divine Nature will
be quenched and extinguished in thee, till nothing but self and hell is
left to thee.  In the name, and in the strength of GOD, love all men.
Love thy neighbour as thyself, and do to thy neighbour as thou doest to
thyself.  And do it now.  For now is the accepted time; and now is the
day of salvation!'

Jacob Behmen died in his fiftieth year.  He was libelled and maligned,
harassed and hunted to death by a world that was not worthy of such a
gift of GOD.  A sudden and severe sickness came upon Behmen till he sank
in death with his _Aurora_ and his _Holy Week_ and his _Divine Vision_
all lying still unfinished at his bedside.  'Open the door and let in
more of that music,' the dying man said to his weeping son.  Behmen was
already hearing the harpers harping with their harps.  He was already
taking his part in the song they sing in heaven to Him who loved them,
and washed them from their sins in His own blood.  'And now,' said the
prodigal son, the blessed Behmen, 'I go to-day to be with my Redeemer and
my King in Paradise,' and so died.



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