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Christian Mysticism
by William Ralph Inge
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[Footnote 193: "Ipse se ipsum circumterminavit."]

[Footnote 194: De Trin. vii. 4. 7; de Doctr. Christ. i. 5. 5; Serm. 52. 16; De Civ. Dei, ix. 16.]

[Footnote 195: Contr. Adim. Man. 11.]

[Footnote 196: De Ord. ii. 16. 44, 18. 47.]

[Footnote 197: Enarrat. in Ps. 85. 12.]

[Footnote 198: Conf. vii. 13 ad fin.]

[Footnote 199: Compare with this sentence of the Confessions the statement of Erigena quoted below, that "the things which are not are far better than those which are."]

[Footnote 200: Ep. 120. 20. St. Augustine wrote in early life an essay "On the Beautiful and Fit," which he unhappily took no pains to preserve.]

[Footnote 201: De Ord. ii. 16. 42, 59; Plot. Enn. i. 6. 4.]

[Footnote 202: De Lib. Arb. ii. 16. 41; Plot. Enn. i. 6. 8, iii. 8. 11.]

[Footnote 203: Enarr. in Ps. xliv. 3; Ep. 120. 20. Plot. Enn. i. 6. 4, says with more picturesqueness than usual [Greek: kalon to tes dikaiosynes kai sophrosynes prosopon, kai oute hesperos oute eoos outo kala]. (From Aristotle, Eth. v. 1. 15.)]

[Footnote 204: Ench. iii. "etiam illud quod malum dicitur bene ordinatum est loco suo positum; eminentius commendat bona." St. Augustine also says (Ench. xi.), "cum omnino mali nomen non sit nisi privationis boni"; cf. Plot. Enn. iii. 2. 5, [Greek: holos de to kakon elleipsin tou agathou theteon.] St. Augustine praises Plotinus for his teaching on the universality of Providence.]

[Footnote 205: De Civ. Dei, iv. 12, vii. 5.]

[Footnote 206: De Quantitate Animae, xxx.]

[Footnote 207: Conf. vii. 10. I have quoted Bigg's translation.]

[Footnote 208: Conf. xi. 9.]

[Footnote 209: St. Augustine does not reject the belief that visions are granted by the mediation of angels, but he expresses himself with great caution on the subject. Cf. De Gen. ad litt. xii. 30, "Sunt quaedam excellentia et merito divina, quae demonstrant angeli miris modis: utrum visa sua facili quadam et praepotenti iunctione vel commixtione etiam nostra esse facientes, an scientes nescio quo modo nostram in spiritu nostro informar visionem, difficilis perceptu et difficilior dictu res est."]

[Footnote 210: See Lotze, Microcosmus, bk. viii. chap. 4, and other places. We may perhaps compare the Johannine [Greek: kosmos] with the Synoptic [Greek: aion] as examples of the two modes of envisaging reality.]

[Footnote 211: Eriugena is, no doubt, the more correct spelling, but I have preferred to keep the name by which he is best known.]

[Footnote 212: Erigena quotes also Origen, the two Gregorys, Basil, Maximus, Ambrose, and Augustine. Of pagan philosophers he puts Plato first, but holds Aristotle in high honour.]

[Footnote 213: Stoeckl calls him "ein faelscher Mystiker," because the Neoplatonic ("gnostic-rationalistic") element takes, for him, the place of supernaturalism. This, as will be shown later, is in accordance with the Roman Catholic view of Mysticism, which is not that adopted in these Lectures. For us, Erigena's defect as a mystic is rather to be sought in his extreme intellectualism.]

[Footnote 214: "Dum vero (divina bonitas) incomprehensibilis intelligitur, per excellentiam non immerito nihilum vocitatur."]

[Footnote 215: This is really a revival of "modalism." The unorthodoxy of the doctrine becomes very apparent in some of Erigena's successors.]

[Footnote 216: De Div. Nat. i. 36: "Iamdudum inter nos est confectum omnia quae vel sensu corporeo vel intellectu vel ratione cognoscuntur de Deo merito creatore omnium, posse praedicari, dum nihil eorum quae de se praedicantur pura veritatis contemplatio eum approbat esse." All affirmations about God are made "non proprie sed translative"; all negations "non translative sed proprie." Cf. also ibid. i. 1. 66, "verius fideliusque negatur in omnibus quam affirmatur"; and especially ibid. i. 5. 26, "theophanias autem dico visibilium et invisibilium species, quarum ordine et pulcritudine cognoscitur Deus esse et invenitur non quid est, sed quia solummodo est." Erigena tries to say (in his atrocious Latin) that the external world can teach us nothing about God, except the bare fact of His existence. No passage could be found to illustrate more clearly the real tendencies of the negative road, and the purely subjective Mysticism connected with it. Erigena will not allow us to infer, from the order and beauty of the world, that order and beauty are Divine attributes.]

[Footnote 217: But it must be remembered that Erigena calls God "nihilum." His words about creation are, "Ac sic de nihilo facit omnia, de sua videlicet superessentialitate producit essentias, de supervitalitate vitas, de superintellectualitate intellectus, de negatione omnium quae sunt et quae non sunt, affirmationes omnium quae sunt et quae non sunt."]

[Footnote 218: So Kaulich shows in his monograph on the speculative system of Erigena.]

[Footnote 219: Erigena was roused by a work on predestination, written by Gotteschalk, and advocating Calvinistic views, to protest against the doctrine that God, who is life, can possibly predestine anyone to eternal death.]

[Footnote 220: Berengar objected to the crudely materialistic theories of the real presence which were then prevalent. He protested against the statement that the transmutation of the elements takes place "vere et sensualiter," and that "portiunculae" of the body of Christ lie upon the altar. "The mouth," he said, "receives the sacrament, the inner man the true body of Christ."]

[Footnote 221: Similar teaching from the sacred books of the East is quoted by E. Caird, Evolution of Religion, vol. i. p. 355.]

[Footnote 222: This is the accepted phrase for the work of the twelfth and thirteenth century theologians. We might also say that they modified uncompromising Platonic Realism by Aristotelian science. Cf. Harnack, History of Dogma, vol. vi. p. 43 (English translation): "Under what other auspices could this great structure be erected than under those of that Aristotelian Realism, which was at bottom a dialectic between the Platonic Realism and Nominalism; and which was represented as capable of uniting immanence and transcendence, history and miracle, the immutability of God and mutability, Idealism and Realism, reason and authority."]

[Footnote 223: The great importance of Bernard in the history of Mysticism does not lie in the speculative side of his teaching, in which he depends almost entirely upon Augustine. His great achievement was to recall devout and loving contemplation to the image of the crucified Christ, and to found that worship of our Saviour as the "Bridegroom of the Soul," which in the next centuries inspired so much fervid devotion and lyrical sacred poetry. The romantic side of Mysticism, for good and for evil, received its greatest stimulus in Bernard's Poems and in his Sermons on the Canticles. This subject is dealt with in Appendix E.]

[Footnote 224: Stoeckl says of Hugo that the course of development of mediaeval Mysticism cannot be understood without a knowledge of his writings. Stoeckl's own account is very full and clear.]

[Footnote 225: The "eye of contemplation" was given us "to see God within ourselves"; this eye has been blinded by sin. The "eye of reason" was given us "to see ourselves"; this has been injured by sin. Only the "eye flesh" remains in its pristine clearness. In things "above reason" we must trust to faith, "quae non adiuvatur ratione ulla, quoniam non capit ea ratio."]

[Footnote 226: Richard, who is more ecstatic than Hugo, gives the following account of this state: "Per mentis excessum extra semetipsum ductus homo ... lumen non per speculum in aenigmate sed in simplici veritate contemplatur." In this state "we forget all that is without and all that is within us." Reason and all other faculties are obscured. What then is our security against delusions? "The transfigured Christ," he says, "must be accompanied by Moses and Elias"; that is to say, visions must not be believed which conflict with the authority of Scripture.]

[Footnote 227: See, especially, Stoeckl, Geschichte der Philosophie des Mittelalters, vol. i. pp. 382-384.]

[Footnote 228: It is hardly necessary to point out that St. Paul's distinction between natural and spiritual (see esp. 1 Cor. ii.) is wholly different.]

[Footnote 229: Contrast the Plotinian doctrine of ecstasy with the following: "Dieu eleve a son gre aux plus hauts sommets, sans aucun merite prealable. Osanne de Mantoue recoit le don de la contemplation a peine agee de six ans. Christine est fiancee a dix ans, pendant une extase de trois jours; Marie d'Agreda recut des illuminations des sa premiere enfance" (Ribet). Since Divine favours are believed to be bestowed in a purely arbitrary manner, the fancies of a child left alone in the dark are as good as the deepest intuitions of saint, poet, or philosopher. Moreover, God sometimes "asserts His liberty" by "elevating souls suddenly and without transition from the abyss of sin to the highest summits of perfection, just as in nature He asserts it by miracles" (Ribet). Such teaching is interesting as showing how the admission of caprice in the world of phenomena reacts upon the moral sense and depraves our conception of God and salvation. The faculty of contemplation, according to Roman Catholic teaching, is acquired "either by virtue or by gratuitous favour." The dualism of natural and supernatural thus allows men to claim independent merit, while the interventions of God are arbitrary and unaccountable.]

[Footnote 230: Those who are interested to see how utterly defenceless this theory leaves us against the silliest delusions, may consult with advantage the Dictionary of Mysticism, by the Abbe Migne (passim), or, if they wish to ascend nearer to the fountain-head of these legends, there are the sixty folio volumes of Acta Sanctorum, compiled by the Bollandists. Goerres and Ribet are also very full of these stories.]

[Footnote 231: See Appendix C.]

[Footnote 232: The difference between contemplation and meditation is explained by all the mediaeval mystics. Meditation is "discursive," contemplation is "mentis in Deum suspensae elevatio." Richard of St. Victor states the distinction epigrammatically—"per meditationem rimamur, per contemplationem miramur." ("Admiratio est actus consequens contemplationem sublimis veritatis."—Thomas Aquinas.)]

[Footnote 233: This arbitrary schematism is very characteristic of this type of Mysticism, and shows its affinity to Indian philosophy. Compare "the eightfold path of Buddha," and a hundred other similar classifications in the sacred books of the East.]

[Footnote 234: The date usually given, 1260, is probably too late; but the exact year cannot be determined.]

[Footnote 235: Prof. Karl Pearson (Mina, 1886) says, "The Mysticism of Eckhart owes its leading ideas to Averroes." He traces the doctrine of the [Greek: Nous poietikos] from Aristotle, de Anima, through the Arabs to Eckhart, and finds a close resemblance between the "prototypes" or "ideas" of Eckhart and the "Dinge an sich" of Kant. But Eckhart's affinities with Plotinus and Hegel seem to me to be closer than those which he shows with Aristotle and Kant. On the connexion with Averroes, Lasson says that while there is a close resemblance between the Eckhartian doctrine of the "Seelengrund" and Averroes' Intellectus Agens as the universal principle of reason in all men (monopsychism), they differ in this—that with Averroes personality is a phase or accident, but with Eckhart the eternal is immanent in the personality in such a way that the personality itself has a part in eternity (Meister Eckhart der Mystiker, pp. 348, 349). Personality is for Eckhart the eternal ground-form of all true being, and the notion of Person is the centre-point of his system. He says, "The word I am none can truly speak but God alone." The individual must try to become a person, as the Son of God is a Person.]

[Footnote 236: Denifle has devoted great pains to proving that Eckhart in his Latin works is very largely dependent upon Aquinas. His conclusions are welcomed and gladly adopted by Harnack, who, like Ritschl, has little sympathy with the German mystics, and considers that Christian Mysticism is really "Catholic piety." "It will never be possible," he says, "to make Mysticism Protestant without flying in the face of history and Catholicism." No one certainly would be guilty of the absurdity of "making Mysticism Protestant"; but it is, I think, even more absurd to "make it (Roman) Catholic," though such a view may unite the suffrages of Romanists and Neo-Kantians. See Appendix A, p. 346.]

[Footnote 237: Preger (vol. iii. p. 140) says that Eckhart did not try to be popular. But it is clear, I think, that he did try to make his philosophy intelligible to the average educated man, though his teaching is less ethical and more speculative than that of Tauler.]

[Footnote 238: Sometimes he speaks of the Godhead as above the opposition of being and not being; but at other times he regards the Godhead as the universal Ground or Substance of the ideal world. "All things in God are one thing." "God is neither this nor that." Compare, too, the following passage: "(Gottes) einfeltige natur ist von formen formlos, von werden werdelos, von wesen wesenlos, und von sachen sachelos, und darum entgeht sie in allen werdenden dingen, und die endliche dinge muessen da enden."]

[Footnote 239: I here agree with Preger against Lasson. It seems to me to be one of the most important and characteristic parts of Eckhart's system, that the Trinity is not for him (as it was for Hierotheus) an emanation or appearance of the Absolute. But it is not to be denied that there are passages in Eckhart which support the other view.]

[Footnote 240: Compare Spinoza's "natura naturata."]

[Footnote 241: The ideas are "uncreated creatures"; they are "creatures in God but not in themselves." Preger states Eckhart's doctrine thus: "Gott denkt sein Wesen in untergeordnete Weise nachahmbar, und der Reflex dieses Denkens in dem goettlichen Bewusstsein, die Vorstellungen hievon, sind die Ideen." But in what sense is the ideal world "subordinate"? The Son in Eckhart holds quite a different relation to the Father from that which the [Greek: Nous] holds to "the One" in Plotinus, as the following sentence will show: "God is for ever working in one eternal Now; this working of His is giving birth to His Son; He bears Him at every moment. From this birth proceed all things. God has such delight therein that He uses up all His power in the process. He bears Himself out of Himself into Himself. He bears Himself continually in the Son; in Him He speaks all things." The following passage from Ruysbroek is an attempt to define more precisely the nature of the Eckhartian Ideas: Before the temporal creation God saw the creatures, "et agnovit distincte in seipso in alteritate quadam—non tamen omnimoda alteritate; quidquid enim in Deo est Deus est." Our eternal life remains "perpetuo in divina essentia sine discretione," but continually flows out "per aeternam Verbi generationem." Ruysbroek also says clearly that creation is the embodiment of the whole mind of God: "Whatever lives in the Father hidden in the unity, lives in the Son 'in emanatione manifesta.'"]

[Footnote 242: It is true that Eckhart was censured for teaching "Deum sine ipso nihil facere posse"; but the notion of a real becoming of God in the human mind, and the attempt to solve the problem of evil on the theory of evolutionary optimism, are, I am convinced, alien to his philosophy. See, however, on the other side, Carriere, Die philosophische Weltanschauung der Reformationszeit, pp. 152-157.]

[Footnote 243: See Lasson, Meister Eckhart, p. 351. Eckhart protests vigorously against the misrepresentation that he made the phenomenal world the Wesen of God, and uses strongly acosmistic language in self-defence. But there seems to be a real inconsistency in this side of his philosophy.]

[Footnote 244: I mean that a pantheist may with equal consistency call himself an optimist or a pessimist, or both alternately.]

[Footnote 245: As when he says, "In God all things are one, from angel to spider." The inquisitors were not slow to lay hold of this error. Among the twenty-six articles of the gravamen against Eckhart we find, "Item, in omni opere, etiam malo, manifestatur et relucet aequaliter gloria Dei." The word aequaliter the stamp of true pantheism. Eckhart, however, whether consistently or not, frequently asserts the transcendence of God. "God is in the creatures, but above them." "He is above all nature, and is not Himself nature," etc. In dealing with sin, he is confronted with the obvious difficulty that if it is the nature of all phenomenal things to return to God, from whom they proceeded, the process which he calls the birth of the Son ought logically to occur in every conscious individual, for all have a like phenomenal existence. He attempts to solve this puzzle by the hypothesis of a double aspect of the new birth (see below). But I fear there is some justice in Professor Pearson's comment, "Thus his phenomenology is shattered upon his practical theology."]

[Footnote 246: Other scholastics and mystics had taught that there is a residue of the Godlike in man. The idea of a central point of the soul appears in Plotinus and Augustine, and the word scintilla had been used of this faculty before Eckhart. The "synteresis" of Alexander of Hales, Bonaventura, Albertus Magnus, and Thomas Aquinas, was substantially the same. But there is this difference, that while the earlier writers regard this resemblance to God as only a residue, Eckhart regards it as the true Wesen of the soul, into which all its faculties may be transformed.]

[Footnote 247: The following passage from Amiel (p. 44 of English edition) is an admirable commentary on the mystical doctrine of immanence:—"The centre of life is neither in thought nor in feeling nor in will, nor even in consciousness, so far as it thinks, feels, or wishes. For moral truth may have been penetrated and possessed in all these ways, and escape us still. Deeper even than consciousness, there is our being itself, our very substance, our nature. Only those truths which have entered into this last region, which have become ourselves, become spontaneous and involuntary, instinctive and unconscious, are really our life—that is to say, something more than our property. So long as we are able to distinguish any space whatever between the truth and us, we remain outside it. The thought, the feeling, the desire, the consciousness of life, are not yet quite life. But peace and repose can nowhere be found except in life and in eternal life, and the eternal life is the Divine life, is God. To become Divine is, then, the aim of life: then only can truth be said to be ours beyond the possibility of loss, because it is no longer outside of us, nor even in us, but we are it, and it is we; we ourselves are a truth, a will, a work of God. Liberty has become nature; the creature is one with its Creator—one through love."]

[Footnote 248: No better exposition of the religious aspect of Eckhart's doctrine of immanence can be found than in Principal Caird's Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion, pp. 244, 245, as the following extract will show: "There is therefore a sense in which we can say that the world of finite intelligence, though distinct from God, is still, in its ideal nature, one with Him. That which God creates, and by which He reveals the hidden treasures of His wisdom and love, is still not foreign to His own infinite life, but one with it. In the knowledge of the minds that know Him, in the self-surrender of the hearts that love Him, it is no paradox to affirm that He knows and loves Himself. As He is the origin and inspiration of every true thought and pure affection, of every experience in which we forget and rise above ourselves, so is He also of all these the end. If in one point of view religion is the work of man, in another it is the work of God. Its true significance is not apprehended till we pass beyond its origin in time and in the experience of a finite spirit, to see in it the revelation of the mind of God Himself. In the language of Scripture, 'It is God that worketh in us to will and to do of His good pleasure: all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to Himself.'"]

[Footnote 249: Eckhart sees this (cf. Preger, vol. i. p. 421): "Personality in Eckhart is neither the faculties, nor the form (Bild), nor the essence, nor the nature of the Godhead, but it is rather the spirit which rises out of the essence, and is born by the irradiation of the form in the essence, which mingles itself with our nature and works by its means." The obscurity of this conception is not made any less by the distinction which Eckhart draws between the outer and inner consciousness in the personality. The outer consciousness is bound up with the earthly life; to it all images must come through sense; but in this way it can have no image of itself. But the higher consciousness is supra-temporal. The potential ground of the soul is and remains sinless; but the personality is also united to the bodily nature; its guilt is that it inclines to its sinful nature instead of to God.]

[Footnote 250: Eckhart distinguishes the intellectus agens (diu wirkende Vernunft) from the passive (lidende) intellect. The office of the former is to present perceptions to the latter, set out under the forms of time and space. In his Strassburg period, the spark or Ganster, the intellectus agens, diu oberste Vernunft, and synteresis, seem to be identical; but later he says, "The active intellect cannot give what it has not got. It cannot see two ideas together, but only one after another. But if God works in the place of the active intellect, He begets (in the mind) many ideas in one point." Thus the "spark" becomes supra-rational and uncreated—the Divine essence itself.]

[Footnote 251: The following sentence, for instance, is in the worst manner of Dionysius: "Thou shalt love God as He is, a non-God, a non-Spirit, a non-Person, a non-Form: He is absolute bare Unity." This is Eckhart's theory of the Absolute ("the Godhead") as distinguished from God. In these moods he wishes, like the Asiatic mystics, to sink in the bottomless sea of the Infinite. He also aspires to absolute [Greek: apatheia] (Abgeschiedenheit). "Is he sick? He is as fain to be sick as well. If a friend should die—in the name of God. If an eye should be knocked out—in the name of God." The soul has returned to its pre-natal condition, having rid itself of all "creatureliness."]

[Footnote 252: Many passages might be quoted. The ordinary conclusion is that Mary chose the better part, because activity is confined to this life, while contemplation lasts for ever. Augustine treats the story of Leah and Rachel in the same way (Contra Faust. Manich. xxii. 52): "Lia interpretatur Laborans, Rachel autem Visum principium, sive Verbum ex quo videtur principium. Actio ergo humanae mortalisque vitae ... ipsa est Lia prior uxor Jacob; ac per hoc et infirmis oculis fuisse commemoratur. Spes vero aeternae contemplationis Dei, habens certam et delectabilem intelligentiam veritatis, ipsa est Rachel, unde etiam dicitur bona facie et pulcra specie," etc.]

[Footnote 253: Moreover, he is never tired of insisting that the Will is everything. "If your will is right, you cannot go wrong," he says. "With the will I can do everything." "Love resides in the will—the more will, the more love." "There is nothing evil but the evil will, of which sin is the appearance." "The value of human life depends entirely on the aim which it sets before itself." This over-insistence on purity of intention as the end, as well as the beginning, of virtue, is no doubt connected with Eckhart's denial of reality and importance to the world of time; he tries to show that it does not logically lead to Antinomianism. His doctrine that good works have no value in themselves differs from those of Abelard and Bernard, which have a superficial resemblance to it. Eckhart really regards the Catholic doctrine of good works much as St. Paul treated the Pharisaic legalism; but he is as unconscious of the widening gulf which had already opened between Teutonic and Latin Christianity, as of the discredit which his own writings were to help to bring upon the monkish view of life.]

[Footnote 254: As an example of his free handling of the Old Testament, I may quote, "Do not suppose that when God made heaven and earth and all things, He made one thing to-day and another to-morrow. Moses says so, of course, but he knew better; he only wrote that for the sake of the populace, who could not have understood otherwise. God merely willed and the world was."]

[Footnote 255: E.g. "Da der vatter seynen sun in mir gebirt, da byn ich der selb sun und nitt eyn ander."]

[Footnote 256: So Hermann of Fritslar says that the soul has two faces, the one turned towards this world, the other immediately to God. In the latter God flows and shines eternally, whether man is conscious of it or not. It is therefore according to man's nature as possessed of this Divine ground, to seek God, his original; and even in hell the suffering there has its source in hopeless contradiction of this indestructible tendency. See Vaughan, vol. i. p. 256; and the same teaching in Tauler, p. 185.]



LECTURE V

[Greek: "Ho thronos tes theiotetos ho nous estin emon."]

MACARIUS.

"Thou comest not, thou goest not; Thou wert not, wilt not be; Eternity is but a thought By which we think of Thee."

FABER.

"Werd als ein Kind, werd taub und blind, Dein eignes Icht muss werden nicht: All Icht, all Nicht treib ferne nur; Lass Statt, lass Zeit, auch Bild lass weit, Geh ohne Weg den schmalen Steg, So kommst du auf der Wueste Spur. O Seele mein, aus Gott geh ein, Sink als ein Icht in Gottes Nicht, Sink in die ungegruendte Fluth. Flich ich von Dir, du kommst zu mir, Verlass ich mich, so find ich Dich, O ueberwesentliches Gut!"

Mediaeval German Hymn.

"Quid caelo dabimus? quantum est quo veneat omne? Impendendus homo est, Deus esse ut possit in ipso."

MANILIUS.



PRACTICAL AND DEVOTIONAL MYSTICISM

"We all, with unveiled face reflecting as a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image, from glory to glory."—2 COR. iii. 18.

The school of Eckhart[257] in the fourteenth century produced the brightest cluster of names in the history of Mysticism. In Ruysbroek, Suso, Tauler, and the author of the Theologia Germanica we see introspective Mysticism at its best. This must not be understood to mean that they improved upon the philosophical system of Eckhart, or that they are entirely free from the dangerous tendencies which have been found in his works. On the speculative side they added nothing of value, and none of them rivals Eckhart in clearness of intellect. But we find in them an unfaltering conviction that our communion with God must be a fact of experience, and not only a philosophical theory. With the most intense earnestness they set themselves to live through the mysteries of the spiritual life, as the only way to understand and prove them. Suso and Tauler both passed through deep waters; the history of their inner lives is a record of heroic struggle and suffering. The personality of the men is part of their message, a statement which could hardly be made of Dionysius or Erigena, perhaps not of Eckhart himself.

John of Ruysbroek, "doctor ecstaticus," as the Church allowed him to be called, was born in 1293, and died in 1381. He was prior of the convent of Gruenthal, in the forest of Soignies, where he wrote most of his mystical treatises, under the direct guidance, as he believed, of the Holy Spirit. He was the object of great veneration in the later part of his life. Ruysbroek was not a learned man, or a clear thinker.[258] He knew Dionysius, St. Augustine, and Eckhart, and was no doubt acquainted with some of the other mystical writers; but he does not write like a scholar or a man of letters. He resembles Suso in being more emotional and less speculative than most of the German school.

Ruysbroek reverts to the mystical tradition, partially broken by Eckhart, of arranging almost all his topics in three or seven divisions, often forming a progressive scale. For instance, in the treatise "On the Seven Grades of Love," we have the following series, which he calls the "Ladder of Love": (1) goodwill; (2) voluntary poverty; (3) chastity; (4) humility; (5) desire for the glory of God; (6) Divine contemplation, which has three properties—intuition, purity of spirit, and nudity of mind; (7) the ineffable, unnameable transcendence of all knowledge and thought. This arbitrary schematism is the weakest part of Ruysbroek's writings, which contain many deep thoughts. His chief work, Ordo spiritualium nuptiarum, is one of the most complete charts of the mystic's progress which exist. The three stages are here the active life (vita actuosa), the internal, elevated, or affective life, to which all are not called, and the contemplative life, to which only a few can attain. The three parts of the soul, sensitive, rational, and spiritual, correspond to these three stages. The motto of the active life is the text, "Ecce sponsus venit; exite obviam ei." The Bridegroom "comes" three times: He came in the flesh; He comes into us by grace; and He will come to judgment. We must "go out to meet Him," by the three virtues of humility, love, and justice: these are the three virtues which support the fabric of the active life. The ground of all the virtues is humility; thence proceed, in order, obedience, renunciation of our own will, patience, gentleness, piety, sympathy, bountifulness, strength and impulse for all virtues, soberness and temperance, chastity. "This is the active life, which is necessary for us all, if we wish to follow Christ, and to reign with Him in His everlasting kingdom."

Above the active rises the inner life. This has three parts. Our intellect must be enlightened with supernatural clearness; we must behold the inner coming of the Bridegroom, that is, the eternal truth; we must "go out" from the exterior to the inner life; we must go to meet the Bridegroom, to enjoy union with His Divinity.

Finally, the spirit rises from the inner to the contemplative life. "When we rise above ourselves, and in our ascent to God are made so simple that the love which embraces us is occupied only with itself, above the practice of all the virtues, then we are transformed and die in God to ourselves and to all separate individuality." God unites us with Himself in eternal love, which is Himself. "In this embrace and essential unity with God all devout and inward spirits are one with God by living immersion and melting away into Him; they are by grace one and the same thing with Him, because the same essence is in both." "For what we are, that we intently contemplate; and what we contemplate, that we are; for our mind, our life, and our essence are simply lifted up and united to the very truth, which is God. Wherefore in this simple and intent contemplation we are one life and one spirit with God. And this I call the contemplative life. In this highest stage the soul is united to God without means; it sinks into the vast darkness of the Godhead." In this abyss, he says, following his authorities, "the Persons of the Trinity transcend themselves"; "there is only the eternal essence, which is the substance of the Divine Persons, where we are all one and uncreated, according to our prototypes." Here, "so far as distinction of persons goes, there is no more God nor creature"; "we have lost ourselves and been melted away into the unknown darkness." And yet we remain eternally distinct from God. The creature remains a creature, and loses not its creatureliness. We must be conscious of ourselves in God, and conscious of ourselves in ourselves. For eternal life consists in the knowledge of God, and there can be no knowledge without self-consciousness. If we could be blessed without knowing it, a stone, which has no consciousness, might be blessed.

Ruysbroek, it is plain, had no qualms in using the old mystical language without qualification. This is the more remarkable, because he was fully aware of the disastrous consequences which follow from the method of negation and self-deification. For Ruysbroek was an earnest reformer of abuses. He spares no one—popes, bishops, monks, and the laity are lashed in vigorous language for their secularity, covetousness, and other faults; but perhaps his sharpest castigation is reserved for the false mystics. There are some, he says, who mistake mere laziness for holy abstraction; others give the rein to "spiritual self-indulgence"; others neglect all religious exercises; others fall into antinomianism, and "think that nothing is forbidden to them"—"they will gratify any appetite which interrupts their contemplation": these are "by far the worst of all." "There is another error," he proceeds, "of those who like to call themselves 'theopaths.' They take every impulse to be Divine, and repudiate all responsibility. Most of them live in inert sloth." As a corrective to these errors, he very rightly says, "Christ must be the rule and pattern of all our lives"; but he does not see that there is a deep inconsistency between the imitation of Christ as the living way to the Father, and the "negative road" which leads to vacancy.[259]

Henry Suso, whose autobiography is a document of unique importance for the psychology of Mysticism, was born in 1295[260]. Intellectually he is a disciple of Eckhart, whom he understands better than Ruysbroek; but his life and character are more like those of the Spanish mystics, especially St. Juan of the Cross. The text which is most often in his mouth is, "Where I am, there shall also My servant be"; which he interprets to mean that only those who have embraced to the full the fellowship of Christ's sufferings, can hope to be united to Him in glory. "No cross, no crown," is the law of life which Suso accepts in all the severity of its literal meaning. The story of the terrible penances which he inflicted on himself for part of his life is painful and almost repulsive to read; but they have nothing in common with the ostentatious self-torture of the fakir. Suso's deeply affectionate and poetical temperament, with its strong human loves and sympathies, made the life of the cloister very difficult for him. He accepted it as the highest life, and strove to conform himself to its ideals; and when, after sixteen years of cruel austerities, he felt that his "refractory body" was finally tamed, he discontinued his mortifications, and entered upon a career of active usefulness. In this he had still heavier crosses to carry, for he was persecuted and falsely accused, while the spiritual consolations which had cheered him in his early struggles were often withdrawn. In his old age, shortly before his death in 1365, he published the history of his life, which is one of the most interesting and charming of all autobiographies. Suso's literary gift is very remarkable. Unlike most ecstatic mystics, who declare on each occasion that "tongue cannot utter" their experiences, Suso's store of glowing and vivid language never fails. The hunger and thirst of the soul for God, and the answering love of Christ manifested in the inner man, have never found a more pure and beautiful expression. In the hope of inducing more readers to become acquainted with this gem of mediaeval literature, I will give a few extracts from its pages.

"The servitor of the eternal Wisdom," as he calls himself throughout the book, made the first beginning of his perfect conversion to God in his eighteenth year. Before that, he had lived as others live, content to avoid deadly sin; but all the time he had felt a gnawing reproach within him. Then came the temptation to be content with gradual progress, and to "treat himself well." But "the eternal Wisdom" said to him, "He who seeks with tender treatment to conquer a refractory body, wants common sense. If thou art minded to forsake all, do so to good purpose." The stern command was obeyed.[261] Very soon—it is the usual experience of ascetic mystics—he was encouraged by rapturous visions. One such, which came to him on St. Agnes' Day, he thus describes:—"It was without form or mode, but contained within itself the most entrancing delight. His heart was athirst and yet satisfied. It was a breaking forth of the sweetness of eternal life, felt as present in the stillness of contemplation. Whether he was in the body or out of the body, he knew not." It lasted about an hour and a half; but gleams of its light continued to visit him at intervals for some time after.

Suso's loving nature, like Augustine's, needed an object of affection. His imagination concentrated itself upon the eternal Wisdom, personified in the Book of Proverbs in female form as a loving mistress, and the thought came often to him, "Truly thou shouldest make trial of thy fortune, whether this high mistress, of whom thou hast heard so much, will become thy love; for in truth thy wild young heart will not remain without a love." Then in a vision he saw her, radiant in form, rich in wisdom, and overflowing with love; it is she who touches the summit of the heavens, and the depths of the abyss, who spreads herself from end to end, mightily and sweetly disposing all things. And she drew nigh to him lovingly, and said to him sweetly, "My son, give me thy heart."

At this season there came into his soul a flame of intense fire, which made his heart burn with Divine love. And as a "love token," he cut deep in his breast the name of Jesus, so that the marks of the letters remained all his life, "about the length of a finger-joint."

Another time he saw a vision of angels, and besought one of them to show him the manner of God's secret dwelling in the soul. An angel answered, "Cast then a joyous glance into thyself, and see how God plays His play of love with thy loving soul." He looked immediately, and saw that his body over his heart was as clear as crystal, and that in the centre was sitting tranquilly, in lovely form, the eternal Wisdom, beside whom sat, full of heavenly longing, the servitor's own soul, which leaning lovingly towards God's side, and encircled by His arms, lay pressed close to His heart.

In another vision he saw "the blessed master Eckhart," who had lately died in disfavour with the rulers of the Church. "He signified to the servitor that he was in exceeding glory, and that his soul was quite transformed, and made Godlike in God." In answer to questions, "the blessed Master" told him that "words cannot tell the manner in which those persons dwell in God who have really detached themselves from the world, and that the way to attain this detachment is to die to self, and to maintain unruffled patience with all men."

Very touching is the vision of the Holy Child which came to him in church on Candlemas Day. Kneeling down in front of the Virgin, who appeared to him, "he prayed her to show him the Child, and to suffer him also to kiss it. When she kindly offered it to him, he spread out his arms and received the beloved One. He contemplated its beautiful little eyes, he kissed its tender little mouth, and he gazed again and again at all the infant members of the heavenly treasure. Then, lifting up his eyes, he uttered a cry of amazement that He who bears up the heavens is so great, and yet so small, so beautiful in heaven and so childlike on earth. And as the Divine Infant moved him, so did he act toward it, now singing now weeping, till at last he gave it back to its mother."

When at last he was warned by an angel, he says, to discontinue his austerities, "he spent several weeks very pleasantly," often weeping for joy at the thought of the grievous sufferings which he had undergone. But his repose was soon disturbed. One day, as he sat meditating on "life as a warfare," he saw a vision of a comely youth, who vested him in the attire of a knight,[262] saying to him, "Hearken, sir knight! Hitherto thou hast been a squire; now God wills thee to be a knight. And thou shalt have fighting enough!" Suso cried, "Alas, my God! what art Thou about to do unto me? I thought that I had had enough by this time. Show me how much suffering I have before me." The Lord said, "It is better for thee not to know. Nevertheless I will tell thee of three things. Hitherto thou hast stricken thyself. Now I will strike thee, and thou shalt suffer publicly the loss of thy good name. Secondly, where thou shalt look for love and faithfulness, there shalt thou find treachery and suffering. Thirdly, hitherto thou hast floated in Divine sweetness, like a fish in the sea; this will I now withdraw from thee, and thou shalt starve and wither. Thou shalt be forsaken both by God and the world, and whatever thou shalt take in hand to comfort thee shall come to nought." The servitor threw himself on the ground, with arms outstretched to form a cross, and prayed in agony that this great misery might not fall upon him. Then a voice said to him, "Be of good cheer, I will be with thee and aid thee to overcome."

The next chapters show how this vision or presentiment was verified. The journeys which he now took exposed him to frequent dangers, both from robbers and from lawless men who hated the monks. One adventure with a murderer is told with delightful simplicity and vividness. Suso remains throughout his life thoroughly human, and, hard as his lot had been, he is in an agony of fear at the prospect of a violent death. The story of the outlaw confessing to the trembling monk how, besides other crimes, he had once pushed into the Rhine a priest who had just heard his confession, and how the wife of the assassin comforted Suso when he was about to drop down from sheer fright, forms a quaint interlude in the saint's memoirs. But a more grievous trial awaited him. Among other pastoral work, he laboured much to reclaim fallen women; and a pretended penitent, whose insincerity he had detected, revenged herself by a slander which almost ruined him.[263] Happily, the chiefs of his order, whose verdict he had greatly dreaded, completely exonerated him, after a full investigation, and his last years seem to have been peaceful and happy. The closing chapters of the Life are taken up by some very interesting conversations with his spiritual "daughter," Elizabeth Staeglin, who wished to understand the obscurer doctrines of Mysticism. She asks him about the doctrine of the Trinity, which he expounds on the general lines of Eckhart's theology. She, however, remembers some of the bolder phrases in Eckhart, and says, "But there are some who say that, in order to attain to perfect union, we must divest ourselves of God, and turn only to the inwardly-shining light." "That is false," replies Suso, "if the words are taken in their ordinary sense. But the common belief about God, that He is a great Taskmaster, whose function is to reward and punish, is cast out by perfect love; and in this sense the spiritual man does divest himself of God, as conceived of by the vulgar. Again, in the highest state of union, the soul takes no note of the Persons separately; for it is not the Divine Persons taken singly that confer bliss, but the Three in One." Suso here gives a really valuable turn to one of Eckhart's rashest theses. "Where is heaven?" asks his pupil next. "The intellectual where" is the reply, "is the essentially-existing unnameable nothingness. So we must call it, because we can discover no mode of being, under which to conceive of it. But though it seems to us to be no-thing, it deserves to be called something rather than nothing." Suso, we see, follows Dionysius, but with this proviso. The maiden now asks him to give her a figure or image of the self-evolution of the Trinity, and he gives her the figure of concentric circles, such as appear when we throw a stone into a pond. "But," he adds, "this is as unlike the formless truth as a black Moor is unlike the beautiful sun." Soon after, the holy maiden died, and Suso saw her in a vision, radiant and full of heavenly joy, showing him how, guided by his counsels, she had found everlasting bliss. When he came to himself, he said, "Ah, God! blessed is the man who strives after Thee alone! He may well be content to suffer, whose pains Thou rewardest thus. God help us to rejoice in this maiden, and in all His dear friends, and to enjoy His Divine countenance eternally!" So ends Suso's autobiography. His other chief work, a Dialogue between the eternal Wisdom and the Servitor, is a prose poem of great beauty, the tenor of which may be inferred from the above extracts from the Life. Suso believed that the Divine Wisdom had indeed spoken through his pen; and few, I think, will accuse him of arrogance for the words which conclude the Dialogue. "Whosoever will read these writings of mine in a right spirit, can hardly fail to be stirred in his heart's depths, either to fervent love, or to new light, or to longing and thirsting for God, or to detestation and loathing of his sins, or to that spiritual aspiration by which the soul is renewed in grace."

John Tauler was born at Strassburg about 1300, and entered a Dominican convent in 1315. After studying at Cologne and Paris, he returned to Strassburg, where, as a Dominican, he was allowed to officiate as a priest, although the town was involved in the great interdict of 1324. In 1339, however, he had to fly to Basel, which was the headquarters of the revivalist society who called themselves "the Friends of God." About 1346 he returned to Strassburg, and was devoted in his ministrations during the "black death" in 1348. He appears to have been strongly influenced by one of the Friends of God, a mysterious layman, who has been identified, probably wrongly, with Nicholas of Basel,[264] and, according to some, dated his "conversion" from his acquaintance with this saintly man. Tauler continued to preach to crowded congregations till his death in 1361.

Tauler is a thinker as well as a preacher. Though in most points his teaching is identical with that of Eckhart,[265] he treats all questions in an independent manner, and sometimes, as for instance in his doctrine about the uncreated ground of the soul,[266] he differs from his master. There is also a perceptible change in the stress laid upon certain parts of the system, which brings Tauler nearer than Eckhart to the divines of the Reformation. In particular, his sense of sin is too deep for him to be satisfied with the Neoplatonic doctrine of its negativity, which led Eckhart into difficulties.[267]

The little book called the German Theology, by an unknown author, also belongs to the school of Eckhart. It is one of the most precious treasures of devotional literature, and deserves to be better known than it is in this country. In some ways it is superior to the famous treatise of a Kempis, On the Imitation of Christ, since the self-centred individualism is less prominent. The author thoroughly understands Eckhart, but his object is not to view everything sub specie oeternitatis, but to give a practical religious turn to his master's speculations. His teaching is closely in accordance with that of Tauler, whom he quotes as an authority, and whom he joins in denouncing the followers of the "false light," the erratic mystics of the fourteenth century.

The practical theology of these four German mystics of the fourteenth century—Ruysbroek, Suso, Tauler, and the writer of the German Theology, is so similar that it is possible to consider it in detail without taking each author separately. It is the crowning achievement of Christian Mysticism before the Reformation, except in the English Platonists of the seventeenth century, we shall not find anywhere a sounder and more complete scheme of doctrine built upon this foundation.

The distinction drawn by Eckhart between the Godhead and God is maintained in the German Theology, and by Ruysbroek. The latter, as we have seen,[268] does not shrink from following the path of analysis to the end, and says plainly that in the Abyss there is no distinction of Divine and human persons, but only the eternal essence. Tauler also bids us "put out into the deep, and let down our nets"; but his "deep" is in the heart, not in the intellect. "My children, you should not ask about these great high problems," he says; and he prefers not to talk much about them, "for no teacher can teach what he has not lived through himself." Still he speaks, like Dionysius and Eckhart, of the "Divine darkness," "the nameless, formless nothing," "the wild waste," and so forth; and says of God that He is "the Unity in which all multiplicity is transcended," and that in Him are gathered up both becoming and being, eternal rest and eternal motion. In this deepest ground, he says, the Three Persons are implicit, not explicit. The Son is the Form of all forms, to which the "eternal, reasonable form created after God's image" (the Idea of mankind) longs to be conformed.

The creation of the world, according to Tauler, is rather consonant with than necessary to the nature of God. The world, before it became actual, existed in its Idea in God, and this ideal world was set forth by means of the Trinity. It is in the Son that the Ideas exist "from all eternity." The Ideas are said to be "living," that is, they work as forms, and after the creation of matter act as universals above and in things. Tauler is careful to show that he is not a pantheist. "God is the Being of all beings," he says; "but He is none of all things." God is all, but all is not God; He far transcends the universe in which He is immanent.

We look in vain to Tauler for an explanation of the obscurest point in Eckhart's philosophy, as to the relations of the phenomenal to the real. We want clearer evidence that temporal existence is not regarded as something illusory or accidental, an error which may be inconsistent with the theory of immanence as taught by the school of Eckhart, but which is too closely allied with other parts of their scheme.

The indwelling of God in the soul is the real centre of Tauler's doctrine, but his psychology is rather intricate and difficult. He speaks of three phases of personal life, the sensuous nature, the reason, and the "third man"—the spiritual life or pure substance of the soul. He speaks also of an "uncreated ground," which is the abyss of the Godhead, but yet "in us," and of a "created ground," which he uses in a double sense, now of the empirical self, which is imperfect and must be purified, and now of the ideal man, as God intended him to be. This latter is "the third man," and is also represented by the "spark" at the "apex of the soul," which is to transform the rest of the soul into its own likeness. The "uncreated ground," in Tauler, works upon us through the medium of the "created ground," and not as in Eckhart, immediately. The "created ground," in this sense, he calls "the Image," which is identical with Eckhart's "spark." It is a creative principle as well as created, like the "Ideas" of Erigena.

The German Theology says that "the soul has two eyes,[269]" one of which, the right eye, sees into eternity, the other sees time and the creatures. The "right eye" is practically the same as Eckhart's "spark" and Tauler's "image." It is significant that the author tells us that we cannot see with both eyes together; the left eye must be shut before we can use the right.[270] The passage where this precept is given shows very plainly that the author, like the other fourteenth century mystics,[271] was still under the influence of mediaeval dualism—the belief that the Divine begins where the earthly leaves off. It is almost the only point in this "golden little treatise," as Henry More calls it, to which exception must be taken.[272]

The essence of sin is self-assertion or self-will, and consequent separation from God. Tauler has, perhaps, a deeper sense of sin than any of his predecessors, and he revives the Augustinian (anti-Pelagian) teaching on the miserable state of fallen humanity. Sensuality and pride, the two chief manifestations of self-will, have invaded the whole of our nature. Pride is a sin of the spirit, and the poison has invaded "even the ground"—the "created ground," that is, as the unity of all the faculties. It will be remembered that the Neoplatonic doctrine was that the spiritual part of our nature can take no defilement. Tauler seems to believe that under one aspect the "created ground" is the transparent medium of the Divine light, but in this sense it is only potentially the light of our whole body. He will not allow the sinless apex mentis to be identified with the personality. Separation from God is the source of all misery. Therein lies the pain of hell. The human soul can never cease to yearn and thirst after God; "and the greatest pain" of the lost "is that this longing can never be satisfied." In the German Theology, the necessity of rising above the "I" and "mine" is treated as the great saving truth. "When the creature claimeth for its own anything good, it goeth astray." "The more of self and me, the more of sin and wickedness. Be simply and wholly bereft of self." "So long as a man seeketh his own highest good because it is his, he will never find it. For so long as he doeth this, he seeketh himself, and deemeth that he himself is the highest good." (These last sentences are almost verbally repeated in a sermon by John Smith, the Cambridge Platonist.)

The three stages of the mystic's ascent appear in Tauler's sermons. We have first to practise self-control, till all our lower powers are governed by our highest reason. "Jesus cannot speak in the temple of thy soul till those that sold and bought therein are cast out of it." In this stage we must be under strict rule and discipline. "The old man must be subject to the old law, till Christ be born in him of a truth." Of the second stage he says, "Wilt thou with St. John rest on the loving breast of our Lord Jesus Christ, thou must be transformed into His beauteous image by a constant, earnest contemplation thereof." It is possible that God may will to call thee higher still; then let go all forms and images, and suffer Him to work with thee as His instrument. To some the very door of heaven has been opened—"this happens to some with a convulsion of the mind, to others calmly and gradually." "It is not the work of a day nor of a year." "Before it can come to pass, nature must endure many a death, outward and inward."

In the first stage of the "dying life," he says elsewhere, we are much oppressed by the sense of our infirmities, and by the fear of hell. But in the third, "all our griefs and joys are a sympathy with Christ, whose earthly life was a mingled web of grief and joy, and this life He has left as a sacred testament to His followers."

These last extracts show that the Cross of Christ, and the imitation of His life on earth, have their due prominence in Tauler's teaching. It is, of course, true that for him, as for all mystics, Christ in us is more than Christ for us. But it is unfair to put it in this way, as if the German mystics wished to contrast the two views of redemption, and to exalt one at the expense of the other. Tauler's wish is to give the historical redemption its true significance, by showing that it is an universal as well as a particular fact. When he says, "We should worship Christ's humanity only in union with this divinity," he is giving exactly the same caution which St. Paul expresses in the verse about "knowing Christ after the flesh."

In speaking of the highest of the three stages, passages were quoted which advocate a purely passive state of the will and intellect.[273] This quietistic tendency cannot be denied in the fourteenth century mystics, though it is largely counteracted by maxims of an opposite kind. "God draws us," says Tauler, "in three ways, first, by His creatures; secondly, by His voice in the soul, when an eternal truth mysteriously suggests itself, as happens not infrequently in morning sleep." (This is interesting, being evidently the record of personal experience.) "Thirdly, without resistance or means, when the will is quite subdued." "What is given through means is tasteless; it is seen through a veil, and split up into fragments, and bears with it a certain sting of bitterness." There are other passages in which he is obviously under the influence of Dionysius; as when he speaks of "dying to all distinctions"; in fact, he at times preaches "simplification" in an unqualified form. But, on the other hand, no Christian teachers have made more of the active will than these pupils of Eckhart.[274] "Ye are as holy as ye truly will to be holy," says Ruysbroek. "With the will one may do everything," we read in Tauler. And against the perversion of the "negative road" he says, "we must lop and prune vices, not nature, which is in itself good and noble." And "Christ Himself never arrived at the 'emptiness' of which these men (the false mystics) talk." Of contemplation he says, "Spiritual enjoyments are the food of the soul, and are only to be taken for nourishment and support to help us in our active work." "Sloth often makes men fain to be excused from their work and set to contemplation. Never trust in a virtue that has not been put into practice." These pupils of Eckhart all led strenuous lives themselves, and were no advocates of pious indolence. Tauler says, "Works of love are more acceptable to God than lofty contemplation": and, "All kinds of skill are gifts of the Holy Ghost.[275]"

The process of deification is thus described by Ruysbroek and by Tauler. Ruysbroek writes: "All men who are exalted above their creatureliness into a contemplative life are one with this Divine glory—yea, are that glory. And they see and feel and find in themselves, by means of this Divine light, that they are the same simple Ground as to their uncreated nature, since the glory shineth forth without measure, after the Divine manner, and abideth within them simply and without mode, according to the simplicity of the essence. Wherefore contemplative men should rise above reason and distinction, beyond their created substance, and gaze perpetually by the aid of their inborn light, and so they become transformed, and one with the same light, by means of which they see, and which they see. Thus they arrive at that eternal image after which they were created, and contemplate God and all things without distinction, in a simple beholding, in Divine glory. This is the loftiest and most profitable contemplation to which men attain in this life." Tauler, in his sermon for the Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity, says: "The kingdom is seated in the inmost recesses of the spirit. When, through all manner of exercises, the outward man has been converted into the inward reasonable man, and thus the two, that is to say, the powers of the senses and the powers of the reason, are gathered up into the very centre of the man's being,—the unseen depths of his spirit, wherein lies the image of God,—and thus he flings himself into the Divine Abyss, in which he dwelt eternally before he was created; then when God finds the man thus firmly down and turned towards Him, the Godhead bends and nakedly descends into the depths of the pure waiting soul, and transforms the created soul, drawing it up into the uncreated essence, so that the spirit becomes one with Him. Could such a man behold himself, he would see himself so noble that he would fancy himself God, and see himself a thousand times nobler than he is in himself, and would perceive all the thoughts and purposes, words and works, and have all the knowledge of all men that ever were." Suso and the German Theology use similar language.

The idea of deification startles and shocks the modern reader. It astonishes us to find that these earnest and humble saints at times express themselves in language which surpasses the arrogance even of the Stoics. We feel that there must be something wrong with a system which ends in obliterating the distinction between the Creator and His creatures. We desire in vain to hear some echo of Job's experience, so different in tone: "I have heard Thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth Thee; therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." The proper effect of the vision of God is surely that which Augustine describes in words already quoted: "I tremble, and I burn. I tremble, in that I am unlike Him; I burn, in that I am like Him." Nor is this only the beginner's experience: St. Paul had almost "finished his course" when he called himself the chief of sinners. The joy which uplifts the soul, when it feels the motions of the Holy Spirit, arises from the fact that in such moments "the spirit's true endowments stand out plainly from its false ones"; we then see the "countenance of our genesis," as St. James calls it—the man or woman that God meant us to be, and know that we could not so see it if we were wholly cut off from its realisation. But the clearer the vision of the ideal, the deeper must be our self-abasement when we turn our eyes to the actual. We must not escape from this sharp and humiliating contrast by mentally annihilating the self, so as to make it impossible to say, "Look on this picture, and on this." Such false humility leads straight to its opposite—extreme arrogance. Moreover, to regard deification as an accomplished fact, involves, as I have said (p. 33), a contradiction. The process of unification with the Infinite must be a progressus ad infinitum. The pessimistic conclusion is escaped by remembering that the highest reality is supra-temporal, and that the destiny which God has designed for us has not merely a contingent realisation, but is in a sense already accomplished. There are, in fact, two ways in which we may abdicate our birthright, and surrender the prize of our high calling: we may count ourselves already to have apprehended, which must be a grievous delusion, or we may resign it as unattainable, which is also a delusion.

These truths were well known to Tauler and his brother-mystics, who were saints as well as philosophers. If they retained language which appears to us so objectionable, it must have been because they felt that the doctrine of union with God enshrined a truth of great value. And if we remember the great Mystical paradox, "He that will lose his life shall save it," we shall partly understand how they arrived at it. It is quite true that the nearer we approach to God, the wider seems to yawn the gulf that separates us from Him, till at last we feel it to be infinite. But does not this conviction itself bring with it unspeakable comfort? How could we be aware of that infinite distance, if there were not something within us which can span the infinite? How could we feel that God and man are incommensurable, if we had not the witness of a higher self immeasurably above our lower selves? And how blessed is the assurance that this higher self gives us access to a region where we may leave behind not only external troubles and "the provoking of all men," but "the strife of tongues" in our own hearts, the chattering and growling of the "ape and tiger" within us, the recurring smart of old sins repented of, and the dragging weight of innate propensities! In this state the will, desiring nothing save to be conformed to the will of God, and separating itself entirely from all lower aims and wishes, claims the right of an immortal spirit to attach itself to eternal truth alone, having nothing in itself, and yet possessing all things in God. So Tauler says, "Let a man lovingly cast all his thoughts and cares, and his sins too, as it were, on that unknown Will. O dear child! in the midst of all these enmities and dangers, sink thou into thy ground and nothingness. Let the tower with all its bells fall on thee; yea, let all the devils in hell storm out upon thee; let heaven and earth and all the creatures assail thee, all shall but marvellously serve thee; sink thou into thy nothingness, and the better part shall be thine." This hope of a real transformation of our nature by the free gift of God's grace is the only message of comfort for those who are tied and bound by the chain of their sins.

The error comes in, as I have said before, when we set before ourselves the idea of God the Father, or of the Absolute, instead of Christ, as the object of imitation. Whenever we find such language as that quoted from Ruysbroek, about "rising above all distinctions," we may be sure that this error has been committed. Mystics of all times would have done well to keep in their minds a very happy phrase which Irenaeus quotes from some unknown author, "He spoke well who said that the infinite (immensum) Father is measured (mensuratum) in the Son: mensura enim Patris Filius.[276]" It is to this "measure," not to the immeasureable, that we are bidden to aspire.

Eternity is, for Tauler, "the everlasting Now"; but in his popular discourses he uses the ordinary expressions about future reward and punishment, even about hell fire; though his deeper thought is that the hopeless estrangement of the soul from God is the source of all the torments of the lost.

Love, says Tauler, is the "beginning, middle, and end of virtue." Its essence is complete self-surrender. We must lose ourselves in the love of God as a drop of water is lost in the ocean.

It only remains to show how Tauler combats the fantastic errors into which some of the German mystics had fallen in his day. The author of the German Theology is equally emphatic in his warnings against the "false light"; and Ruysbroek's denunciation of the Brethren of the Free Spirit has already been quoted. Tauler, in an interesting sermon[277], describes the heady arrogance, disorderly conduct, and futile idleness of these fanatics, and then gives the following maxims, by which we may distinguish the false Mysticism from the true. "Now let us know how we may escape these snares of the enemy. No one can be free from the observance of the laws of God and the practice of virtue. No one can unite himself to God in emptiness without true love and desire for God. No one can be holy without becoming holy, without good works. No one may leave off doing good works. No one may rest in God without love for God. No one can be exalted to a stage which he has not longed for or felt." Finally, he shows how the example of Christ forbids all the errors which he is combating.

The Imitation of Christ has been so often spoken of as the finest flower of Christian Mysticism, that it is impossible to omit all reference to it in these Lectures. And yet it is not, properly speaking, a mystical treatise. It is the ripe fruit of mediaeval Christianity as concentrated in the life of the cloister, the last and best legacy, in this kind, of a system which was already decaying; but we find in it hardly a trace of that independence which made Eckhart a pioneer of modern philosophy, and the fourteenth century mystics forerunners of the Reformation. Thomas a Kempis preaches a Christianity of the heart; but he does not exhibit the distinguishing characteristics of Mysticism. The title by which the book is known is really the title of the first section only, and it does not quite accurately describe the contents of the book. Throughout the treatise we feel that we are reading a defence of the recluse and his scheme of life. Self-denial, renunciation of the world, prayer and meditation, utter humility and purity, are the road to a higher joy, a deeper peace, than anything which the world can give us. There are many sentences which remind us of the Roman Stoics, whose main object was by detachment from the world to render themselves invulnerable. Not that Thomas a Kempis shrinks from bearing the Cross. The Cross of Christ is always before him, and herein he is superior to those mystics who speak only of the Incarnation. But the monk of the fifteenth century was perhaps more thrown back upon himself than his predecessors in the fourteenth. The monasteries were no longer such homes of learning and centres of activity as they had been. It was no longer evident that the religious orders were a benefit to civilisation. That indifference to human interests, which we feel to be a weak spot in mediaeval thought generally, and in the Neoplatonists to whom mediaeval thought was so much indebted, reaches its climax in Thomas a Kempis. Not only does he distrust and disparage all philosophy, from Plato to Thomas Aquinas, but he shuns society and conversation as occasions of sin, and quotes with approval the pitiful epigram of Seneca, "Whenever I have gone among men, I have returned home less of a man." It is, after all, the life of the "shell-fish," as Plato calls it, which he considers the best. The book cannot safely be taken as a guide to the Christian life as a whole. What we do find in it, set forth with incomparable beauty and unstudied dignity, are the Christian graces of humility, simplicity, and purity of heart.

It is very significant that the mystics, who had undermined sacerdotalism, and in many other ways prepared the Reformation, were shouldered aside when the secession from Rome had to be organised. The Lutheran Church was built by other hands. And yet the mystics of Luther's generation, Carlstadt and Sebastian Frank, are far from deserving the contemptuous epithets which Luther showered upon them. Carlstadt endeavoured to deepen the Lutheran notion of faith by bringing it into closer connexion with the love of God to man and of man to God; Sebastian Frank developed the speculative system of Eckhart and Tauler in an original and interesting manner. But speculative Mysticism is a powerful solvent, and Protestant Churches are too ready to fall to pieces even without it. "I will not even answer such men as Frank," said Luther in 1545; "I despise them too much. If my nose does not deceive me, he is an enthusiast or spiritualist, who is content with nothing but Spirit, spirit, spirit, and cares not at all for Bible, Sacrament, or Preaching." The teaching which the sixteenth century spurned so contemptuously was almost identical with that of Eckhart and Tauler, whose names were still revered. But it was not wanted just then. It was not till the next generation, when superstitious veneration for the letter of Scripture was bringing back some of the evils of the unreformed faith, that Mysticism in the person of Valentine Weigel was able to resume its true task in the deepening and spiritualising of religion in Germany.

But instead of following any further the course of mystical theology in Germany, I wish to turn for a few minutes to our own country. I am the more ready to do so, because I have come across the statement, repeated in many books, that England has been a barren field for mystics. It is assumed that the English character is alien to Mysticism—that we have no sympathy, as a nation, for this kind of religion. Some writers hint that it is because we are too practical, and have too much common sense. The facts do not bear out this view. There is no race, I think, in which there is a richer vein of idealism, and a deeper sense of the mystery of life, than our own. In a later Lecture I hope to illustrate this statement from our national poetry. Here I wish to insist that even the Mysticism of the cloister, which is the least satisfying to the energetic and independent spirit of our countrymen, might be thoroughly and adequately studied from the works of English mystics alone. I will give two examples of this mediaeval type. Both of them lived before the Reformation, near the end of the fourteenth century; but in them, as in Tauler, we find very few traces of Romish error.

Walter Hilton or Hylton[278], a canon of Thurgarton, was the author of a mystical treatise, called The Scale (or Ladder) of Perfection. The following extracts, which are given as far as possible in his own words, will show in what manner he used the traditional mystical theology.

There are two lives, the active and the contemplative, but in the latter there are many stages. The highest state of contemplation a man cannot enjoy always, "but only by times, when he is visited"; "and, as I gather from the writings of holy men, the time of it is very short." "This part of contemplation God giveth where He will." Visions and revelations, of whatever kind, "are not true contemplation, but merely secondary. The devil may counterfeit them"; and the only safeguard against these impostures is to consider whether the visions have helped or hindered us in devotion to God, humility, and other virtues.

"In the third stage of contemplation," he says finely, "reason is turned into light, and will into love."

"Spiritual prayer," by which he means vocal prayer not in set words, belongs to the second part of contemplation. "It is very wasting to the body of him who uses it much, wounding the soul with the blessed sword of love." "The most vicious or carnal man on earth, were he once strongly touched with this sharp sword, would be right sober and grave for a great while after." The highest kind of prayer of all is the prayer of quiet, of which St. Paul speaks, "I will pray with the understanding also[279]." But this is not for all; "a pure heart, indeed, it behoveth him to have who would pray in this manner."

We must fix our affections first on the humanity of Christ. Since our eyes cannot bear the unclouded light of the Godhead, "we must live under the shadow of His manhood as long as we are here below." St. Paul tells his converts that he first preached to them of the humanity and passion of Christ, but afterwards of the Godhead, how that Christ is the power and wisdom of God[280].

"Christ is lost, like the piece of money in the parable; but where? In thy house, that is, in thy soul. Thou needest not run to Rome or Jerusalem to seek Him. He sleepeth in thy heart, as He did in the ship; awaken Him with the loud cry of thy desire. Howbeit, I believe that thou sleepest oftener to Him than He to thee." Put away "distracting noises," and thou wilt hear Him. First, however, find the image of sin, which thou bearest about with thee. It is no bodily thing, no real thing—only a lack of light and love. It is a false, inordinate love of thyself, from whence flow all the deadly sins.

"Fair and foul is a man's soul—foul without like a beast, fair within like an angel." "But the sensual man doth not bear about the image of sin, but is borne by it."

The true light is love of God, the false light is love of the world. But we must pass through darkness to go from one to the other. "The darker the night is, the nearer is the true day." This is the "darkness" and "nothing" spoken of by the mystics, "a rich nothing," when the soul is "at rest as to thoughts of any earthly thing, but very busy about thinking of God." "But the night passeth away; the day dawneth." "Flashes of light shine through the chinks of the walls of Jerusalem; but thou art not there yet." "But now beware of the midday fiend, that feigneth light as if it came from Jerusalem. This light appears between two black rainy clouds, whereof the upper one is presumption and self-exaltation, and the lower a disdaining of one's neighbour. This is not the light of the true sun." This darkness, through which we must pass, is simply the death of self-will and all carnal affections; it is that dying to the world which is the only gate of life.

The way in which Hilton conceives the "truly mystical darkness" of Dionysius is very interesting. As a psychical experience, it has its place in the history of the inner life. The soul does enter into darkness, and the darkness is not fully dispelled in this world; "thou art not there yet," as he says. But the psychical experience is in Hilton entirely dissociated from the metaphysical idea of absorption into the Infinite. The chains of Asiatic nihilism are now at last shaken off, easily and, it would seem, unconsciously. The "darkness" is felt to be only the herald of a brighter dawn: "the darker the night, the nearer is the true day." It is, I think, gratifying to observe how our countryman strikes off the fetters of the time-honoured Dionysian tradition, the paralysing creed which blurs all distinctions, and the "negative road" which leads to darkness and not light; and how in consequence his Mysticism is sounder and saner than even that of Eckhart or Tauler. Before leaving Hilton, it may be worth while to quote two or three isolated maxims of his, as examples of his wise and pure doctrine.

"There are two ways of knowing God—one chiefly by the imagination, the other by the understanding. The understanding is the mistress, and the imagination is the maid."

"What is heaven to a reasonable soul? Nought else but Jesus God."

"Ask of God nothing but this gift of love, which is the Holy Ghost. For there is no gift of God that is both the giver and the gift, but this gift of love."

My other example of English Mysticism in the Middle Ages is Julian or Juliana of Norwich,[281] to whom were granted a series of "revelations" in the year 1373, she being then about thirty years old. She describes with evident truthfulness the manner in which the visions came to her. She ardently desired to have a "bodily sight" of her Lord upon the Cross, "like other that were Christ's lovers"; and she prayed that she might have "a grievous sickness almost unto death," to wean her from the world and quicken her spiritual sense. The sickness came, and the vision; for they thought her dying, and held the crucifix before her, till the figure on the Cross changed into the semblance of the living Christ. "All this was showed by three parts—that is to say, by bodily sight, and by words formed in my understanding, and by ghostly sight.[282]" "But the ghostly sight I cannot nor may not show it as openly nor as fully as I would." Her later visions came to her sometimes during sleep, but most often when she was awake. The most pure and certain were wrought by a "Divine illapse" into the spiritual part of the soul, the mind and understanding, for these the devil cannot counterfeit. Juliana was certainly perfectly honest and perfectly sane. The great charm of her little book is the sunny hopefulness and happiness which shines from every page, and the tender affection for her suffering Lord which mingles with her devotion without ever becoming morbid or irreverent. It is also interesting to see how this untaught maiden (for she shows no traces of book learning) is led by the logic of the heart straight to some of the speculative doctrines which we have found in the philosophical mystics. The brief extracts which follow will illustrate all these statements.

The crucified Christ is the one object of her devotion. She refused to listen to "a proffer in my reason," which said, "Look up to heaven to His Father." "Nay, I may not," she replied, "for Thou art my heaven. For I would liever have been in that pain till Doomsday than to come to heaven otherwise than by Him." "Me liked none other heaven than Jesus, which shall be my bliss when I come there." And after describing a vision of the crucifixion, she says, "How might any pain be more than to see Him that is all my life and all my bliss suffer?"

Her estimate of the value of means of grace is very clear and sound. "In that time the custom of our praying was brought to mind, how we use, for lack of understanding and knowing of love, to make [use of] many means. Then saw I truly that it is more worship to God and more very delight that we faithfully pray to Himself of His goodness, and cleave thereto by His grace, with true understanding and steadfast by love, than if we made [use of] all the means that heart can think. For if we made [use of] all these means, it is too little, and not full worship to God; but in His goodness is all the whole, and there faileth right nought. For this, as I shall say, came into my mind. In the same time we pray to God for [the sake of] His holy flesh and precious blood, His holy passion, His dearworthy death and wounds: and all the blessed kinship, the endless life that we have of all this, is His goodness. And we pray Him for [the sake of] His sweet mother's love, that Him bare; and all the help that we have of her is of His goodness." And yet "God of His goodness hath advanced means to help us, full fair and many; of which the chief and principal mean is the blessed nature that He took of the maid, with all the means that go afore and come after which belong to our redemption and to endless salvation. Wherefore it pleaseth Him that we seek Him and worship Him through means, understanding and knowing that He is the goodness of all. For the goodness of God is the highest prayer, and it cometh down to the lowest part of our need. It quickeneth our soul, and bringeth it on life, and maketh it for to wax in grace and virtue. It is nearest in nature and readiest in grace; for it is the same grace that the soul seeketh, and ever shall seek till we know verily that He hath us all in Himself beclosed."

"After this our Lord showed concerning Prayers. In which showing I see two conditions signified by our Lord; one is rightfulness, another is assured trust. But oftentimes our trust is not full; for we are not sure that God heareth us, as we think because of our unworthiness, and because we feel right nought; for we are as barren and dry oftentimes after our prayers as we were before.... But our Lord said to me, 'I am the ground of thy beseechings: first, it is My will that thou have it; and then I make thee to wish for it; and then I make thee to beseech it, and thou beseechest it. How then should it be that thou shouldest not have thy beseeching?' ... For it is most impossible that we should beseech mercy and grace and not have it. For all things that our good Lord maketh us to beseech, Himself hath ordained them to us from without beginning. Here may we see that our beseeching is not the cause of God's goodness; and that showed He soothfastly in all these sweet words which He saith: 'I am the ground.' And our good Lord willeth that this be known of His lovers in earth; and the more that we know it the more should we beseech, if it be wisely taken; and so is our Lord's meaning. Merry and joyous is our Lord of our prayer, and He looketh for it; and He willeth to have it; because with His grace He would have us like to Himself in condition as we are in kind. Therefore saith He to us 'Pray inwardly, although thou think it has no savour to thee: for it is profitable, though thou feel not, though thou see not, yea, though thou think thou canst not.'"

"And also to prayer belongeth thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a true inward knowing, with great reverence and lovely dread turning ourselves with all our mights unto the working that our good Lord stirreth us to, rejoicing and thanking inwardly. And sometimes for plenteousness it breaketh out with voice and saith: Good Lord! great thanks be to Thee: blessed mote Thou be."

"Prayer is a right understanding of that fulness of joy that is to come, with great longing and certain trust.... Then belongeth it to us to do our diligence, and when we have done it, then shall we yet think that it is nought; and in sooth it is. But if we do as we can, and truly ask for mercy and grace, all that faileth us we shall find in Him. And thus meaneth He where He saith: 'I am the ground of thy beseeching.' And thus in this blessed word, with the Showing, I saw a full overcoming against all our weakness and all our doubtful dreads."

Juliana's view of human personality is remarkable, as it reminds us of the Neoplatonic doctrine that there is a higher and a lower self, of which the former is untainted by the sins of the latter. "I saw and understood full surely," she says, "that in every soul that shall be saved there is a godly will that never assented to sin, nor ever shall; which will is so good that it may never work evil, but evermore continually it willeth good, and worketh good in the sight of God.... We all have this blessed will whole and safe in our Lord Jesus Christ." This "godly will" or "substance" corresponds to the spark of the German mystics.

"I saw no difference," she says, "between God and our substance, but, as it were, all God. And yet my understanding took, that our substance is in God—that is to say, that God is God, and our substance a creature in God. Highly ought we to enjoy that God dwelleth in our soul, and much more highly, that our soul dwelleth in God.... Thus was my understanding led to know, that our soul is made Trinity, like to the unmade Blessed Trinity, known and loved from without beginning, and in the making oned to the Maker. This sight was full sweet and marvellous to behold, peaceable and restful, sure and delectable."

"As anent our substance and our sense-part, both together may rightly be called our soul; and that is because of the oneing that they have in God. The worshipful City that our Lord Jesus sitteth in, it is our sense-soul, in which He is enclosed, and our natural substance is beclosed in Jesus, sitting with the blessed soul of Christ at rest in the Godhead." Our soul cannot reach its full powers until our sense-nature by the virtue of Christ's passion be "brought up to the substance." This fulfilment of the soul "is grounded in nature. That is to say, our reason is grounded in God, which is substantial Naturehood; out of this substantial Nature mercy and grace spring and spread into us, working all things in fulfilling of our joy: these are our ground, in which we have our increase and our fulfilling. For in nature we have our life and our being, and in mercy and grace we have our increase and our fulfilling."

In one of her visions she was shown our Lord "scorning the fiend's malice, and noughting his unmight." "For this sight I laught mightily, and that made them to laugh that were about me. But I saw not Christ laugh. After this I fell into graveness, and said, 'I see three things: I see game, scorn, and earnest. I see game, that the fiend is overcome; I see scorn, in that God scorneth him, and he shall be scorned; and I see earnest, in that he is overcome by the blissful passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ, that was done in full earnest and with sober travail.'"

Alternations of mirth and sadness followed each other many times, "to learn me that it is speedful to some souls to feel on this wise." Once especially she was left to herself, "in heaviness and weariness of my life, and irksomeness of myself, that scarcely I could have pleasure to live.... For profit of a man's soul he is sometimes left to himself; although sin is not always the cause; for in that time I sinned not, wherefore I should be so left to myself; for it was so sudden. Also, I deserved not to have this blessed feeling. But freely our Lord giveth when He will, and suffereth us to be in woe sometime. And both is one love."

Her treatment of the problem of evil is very characteristic. "In my folly, often I wondered why the beginning of sin was not letted; but Jesus, in this vision, answered and said, 'Sin is behovable,[283] but all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.' In this naked word sin our Lord brought to my mind generally all that is not good.... But I saw not sin; for I believe it had no manner of substance, nor any part of being, nor might it be known but by the pain that is caused thereof; and this pain ... purgeth and maketh us to know ourself, and ask mercy. In these same words ('all shall be well') I saw an high and marvellous privity hid in God." She wondered how "all shall be well," when Holy Church teacheth us to believe that many shall be lost. But "I had no other answer but this, 'I shall save my word in all things, and I shall make all thing well.'" "This is the great deed that our Lord God shall do; but what the deed shall be, and how it shall be done, there is no creature beneath Christ that knoweth it, ne shall wit it till it is done."

"I saw no wrath but on man's party," she says, "and that forgiveth He in us. It is the most impossible that may be, that God should be wroth.... Our life is all grounded and rooted in love.... Suddenly is the soul oned to God, when it is truly peaced in itself; for in Him is found no wrath. And thus I saw, when we be all in peace and love, we find no contrariousness, nor no manner of letting, through that contrariousness which is now in us; nay, our Lord God of His goodness maketh it to us full profitable." No visions of hell were ever showed to her. In place of the hideous details of torture which some of the Romish visionaries describe almost with relish, Juliana merely reports, "To me was showed none harder hell than sin."

Again and again she rings the changes on the words which the Lord said to her, "I love thee and thou lovest Me, and our love shall never be disparted in two." "The love wherein He made us was in Him from without beginning; in which love," she concludes, "we have our beginning, and all this shall be seen in God without end."

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 257: The indebtedness of the fourteenth century mystics to Eckhart is now generally recognised, at any rate in Germany; but before Pfeiffer's work his name had been allowed to fall into most undeserved obscurity. This was not the fault of his scholars, who, in spite of the Papal condemnation of his writings, speak of Eckhart with the utmost reverence, as the "great," "sublime," or "holy" master.]

[Footnote 258: "Vir ut ferunt devotus sed parum litteratus," says the Abbe Tritheme (ap. Gessner, Biblioth.). "Rusbrochius cum idiota esset" (Dyon. Carth. Serm. i.). Compare Rousselot, Les Mystiques Espagnols, p. 493.]

[Footnote 259: Maeterlinck, Ruysbroek's latest interpreter, is far too complimentary to the intellectual endowments of his fellow-countryman. "Ce moine possedait un des plus sages, des plus exacts, et des plus subtils organes philosophiques qui aient jamais existe." He thinks it marvellous that "il sait, a son insu, le platonisme de la Grece, le soufisme de la Perse, le brahmanisme de I'Inde et le bouddhisme de Thibet," etc. In reality, Ruysbroek gets all his philosophy from Eckhart, and his manner of expounding it shows no abnormal acuteness. But Maeterlinck's essay in Le Tresor des Humbles contains some good things—e.g. "Les verites mystiques ne peuvent ni vieillir ni mourir.... Une oeuvre ne vieillit qu'en proportion de son antimysticisme."]

[Footnote 260: So Preger, probably rightly. Noack places his birth five years later. The chronology of the Life is very loose.]

[Footnote 261: The extreme asceticism which was practised by Suso, and (though to a less degree) by Tauler, is not enjoined by them as a necessary part of a holy life. "We are to kill our passions, not our flesh and blood," as Tauler says.]

[Footnote 262: It would be very interesting to trace the influence of the chivalric idea on religious Mysticism. Chivalry, the worship of idealised womanhood, is itself a mystical cult, and its relation to religious Mysticism appears throughout the "Divine Comedy" and "Vita Nuova" (see especially the incomparable paragraph which concludes this latter), and in the sonnet of M. Angelo translated by Wordsworth, "No mortal object did these eyes behold," etc.]

[Footnote 263: Nothing in the book is more touching than the scene when the baby, deserted by its mother, Suso's false accuser, is brought to him. Suso takes the child in his arms, and weeps over it with affectionate words, while the infant smiles up at him. In spite of the calumny which he knew was being spread wherever it would most injure him, he insists on paying for the child's maintenance, rather than leave it to die from neglect. The Italian mystic Scupoli, the author of a beautiful devotional work called the Spiritual Combat, was calumniated in a similar manner.]

[Footnote 264: By Schmidt, whose researches formed the basis of several popular accounts of Tauler's life. Preger and Denifle both reject the identification of the mysterious stranger with Nicholas; Denifle doubts his existence altogether. The subject is very fully discussed by Preger]

[Footnote 265: Tauler was well read in the earlier mystics. He cites Proclus, Augustine (frequently), Dionysius, Bernard, and the Victorines; also Aristotle and Aquinas.]

[Footnote 266: Tauler adheres to the doctrine of an "uncreated ground," but he holds that it must always act upon us through the medium of the "created ground." He evidently considered Eckhart's later doctrine as too pantheistic. See below, p. 183.]

[Footnote 267: See p. 155. In my estimate of Tauler's doctrine, I have made no use of the treatise on The Imitation of the Poverty of Christ, which Noack calls his masterpiece, and the kernel of his Mysticism. The work is not by Tauler.]

[Footnote 268: See above, p. 170.]

[Footnote 269: This expression is found first, I think, in Richard of St. Victor; but St. Augustine speaks of "oculus interior atque intelligibilis" (De div. quaest. 46).]

[Footnote 270: But Christ, he says, could see with both eyes at once; the left in no way hindered the right.]

[Footnote 271: Tauler often uses similar language; as, for instance, when he says, "The natural light of the reason must be entirely brought to nothing, if God is to enter with His light."]

[Footnote 272: Stoeckl criticises the Theologia Germanica in a very hostile spirit. He finds it in "pantheism," by which he means acosmism, and also "Gnostic-Manichean dualism," the latter being his favourite charge against the Lutherans and their forerunners. He considers that this latter tendency is more strongly marked in the German Theology than in the other works of the Eckhartian school, in that the writer identifies "the false light" with the light of nature, and selfhood with sin; "devil, sin, Adam, old man, disobedience, selfhood, individuality, mine, me, nature, self-will, are all the same; they all represent what is against God and without God." Accordingly, salvation consists in annihilation of the self, and substitution for God for it. There is no doubt that the writer of this treatise is deeply impressed with the belief that the root of sin is self-will, and that the new birth must be a complete transformation; but it must be remembered that the language of piety is less guarded than that of dogmatic disputation, and that the theology of such a book must be judged by its whole tendency. My own judgment is that, taken as a whole, it is safer than Tauler or Ruysbroek, and much safer than Eckhart. The strongly-marked "ethical dualism" is of very much the same kind as that which we find in St. John's Gospel. Taken as a theory of the origin and nature of evil, it no doubt does hold out a hand to Manicheism; but I do not think that the writer meant it to be so taken, any more than St. John did.]

[Footnote 273: Throughout the fourteenth century, and still more in the fifteenth, we can trace an increasing prominence given to subjugation of the will in mystical theology. This change is to be attributed partly to the influence of the Nominalist science of Duns Scotus, which gradually gained (at least this point) the ascendancy over the school of Aquinas. It may be escribed as a transition from the more speculative Mysticism towards quietism. In the fourteenth century writings, such as the Theologia Germanica, we merely welcome a new and valuable aspect of the religious life; since the change is connected with a distrust of reason, and a return to standpoint of harsh legalism, we cannot regard it as an improvement.]

[Footnote 274: Compare p. 161, for similar teaching in Eckhart himself.]

[Footnote 275: See the quotation on p. 11, note.]

[Footnote 276: Irenaeus, Contra Har. iv. 6.]

[Footnote 277: No. 31. on Psalm xci. 13.]

[Footnote 278: Hilton's book has been reprinted from the edition of 1659, with an introduction by the Rev. J.B. Dalgairns. Very little is known about the author's life, but his book was widely read, and was "chosen to be the guide of good Christians in the courts of kings and in the world." The mother of Henry VII. valued it very highly. I have also used Mr. Guy's edition in my quotations from The Scale of Perfection.]

[Footnote 279: 1 Cor. xiv. 15. This text was also appealed to by the Quietists of the post-Reformation period.]

[Footnote 280: The texts to which he refers are those which Origen uses in the same manner. Compare 1 Cor. i. 23, ii. 2, Gal. vi. 14, with 1 Cor. i. 24.]

[Footnote 281: Julian (born 1343) was probably a Benedictine nun of Carrow, near Norwich, but lived for the greater part of her life in an anchorage in the churchyard of St. Julian at Norwich. There is a copy of her Revelations in the British Museum. Editions by Cressy, 1670; reprint issued 1843; by Collins, 1877. See, further, in the Dictionary of National Biography. In my quotations from her, I have used an unpublished version kindly lent me by Miss G.H. Warrack. It is just so far modernised as to be intelligible to those who are not familiar with fourteenth century English.]

[Footnote 282: This was a recognised classification. Scaramelli says, "Le visioni corporce sono favori propri dei principianti, che incomminciano a camminare nella via dello spirito.... Le visioni immaginari sono proprie dei principianti e dei proficienti, che non sono ancor bene purgati.... Le visioni intellectuali sono proprie di quelli che si trovano gia in istato di perfezione." It comes originally from St. Augustine (De Gen. ad litt. xii. 7, n. 16): "Haec sunt tria genera visionum.... Primum ergo appellemus corporale, quia per corpus percipitur, et corporis sensibus exhibetur. Secundum spirituale: quidquid enim corpus non est, et tamen aliquid est, iam recte dicitur spiritus; et utique non est corpus, quamvis corpori similis sit, imago absentis corporis, nee ille ipse obtutus quo cernitur. Tertium vero intellectuale, ab intellectu."]

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