Light, Life, and Love
by W. R. Inge
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5
Home - Random Browse

But now you must consider more in detail something concerning the will. There is an Eternal Will, which is a first principle and substance in God, apart from all works and all externalisation; and the same will is in man, or the creature, willing and bringing to pass certain things. For it pertains to the will, to will something. For what else does it exist? It would be a vain thing if it had no work to do, and this it cannot have without the creature. And so there must needs be creatures, and God will have them, in order that by their means the will may be exercised, and may work, though in God it must be without work. Therefore the will in the creature, which we call the created will, is as truly God's as the eternal will, and is not from the creature.

And since God cannot exercise His will, in working and effecting changes, without the creature, He is pleased to do so in and with the creature. Therefore the will is not given to be exercised by the creature, but by God alone, who has the right to carry into effect His own will by the will which is in man, but yet is God's will. And in any man or creature, in whom it should be thus, purely and simply, the will of that man or creature would be exercised not by the man but by God, and thus it would not be self-will, and the man would only will as God wills; for God Himself, and not man, would be moving the will. Thus the will would be united with the Eternal Will, and would flow into it; although the man would retain his sense of liking and disliking, pleasure and pain. But nothing is complained of, except what is contrary to God. And there is no rejoicing except in God alone, and in that which belongs to Him. And as with the will, so is it with all the other faculties of man; they are all of God and not of man. And when the will is wholly given up to God, the other faculties will certainly be given up too; and God will have what is due to Him.

No one may call that which is free his own, and he who makes it his own, doeth injustice. Now in all the sphere of freedom nothing is so free as the will; and he who makes it his own, and allows it not to remain in its excellent freedom, and free nobleness, and free exercise, does it a great injustice. This is what is done by the devil, and Adam, and all their followers. But he who leaves the will in its noble freedom does right; and this is what Christ, and all who follow Him, do. And he who deprives the will of its noble freedom, and makes it his own, must necessarily be oppressed with cares and discontent, and disquietude, and every kind of misery, and this will be his lot throughout time and eternity. But he who leaves the will in its freedom has contentment and peace and rest and blessedness, through time and eternity. Where there is a man whose will is not enslaved, he is free indeed, and in bondage to no man. He is one of those to whom Christ said: "The truth shall make you free"; and He adds immediately afterwards: "If the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed."

Moreover, observe that whenever the will chooses unhindered whatever it will, it always and in all cases chooses what is noblest and best, and hates whatever is not noble and good, and regards it as an offence. And the more free and unhampered the will is, the more it is grieved by evil, by injustice, by iniquity, and all manner of sin. We see this in Christ, whose will was the purest and freest and the least brought into bondage of any man's who ever lived. So was the human nature of Christ the most free and pure of all creatures; and yet He felt the deepest distress, pain, and wrath at sin that any creature ever felt. But when men claim freedom for themselves, in such a way as to feel no sorrow or anger at sin, and all that is contrary to God, and say that we must take no notice of anything, and care for nothing, but be, in this life, what Christ was after the resurrection, and so forth, this is not the true and Divine freedom that springs from the true and Divine light, but a natural, unrighteous, false, deceiving freedom, which springs from the natural, false, deceitful light.

If there were no self-will, there would be no proprietorship. There is no proprietorship in heaven; and this is why contentment, peace, and blessedness are there. If anyone in heaven were so bold as to call anything his own, he would immediately be cast out into hell, and become an evil spirit. But in hell everyone will have self-will, and therefore in hell is every kind of wretchedness and misery. And so it is also on earth. But if anyone in hell could rid himself of his self-will and call nothing his own, he would pass out of hell into heaven. And if a man, while here on earth, could be entirely rid of self-will and proprietorship, and stand up free and at liberty in the true light of God, and continue therein, he would be sure to inherit the kingdom of heaven. For he who has anything, or who desires to have anything of his own, is a slave; and he who has nothing of his own, nor desires to have anything, is free and at liberty, and is in bondage to no man. li.


Observe now how the Father draws men to Christ. When something of the perfect good is revealed and made manifest within the human soul, as it were in a sudden flash, the soul conceives a desire to draw near to the perfect goodness, and to unite herself with the Father. And the more strongly she longs and desires, the more is revealed to her; and the more is revealed to her, the more she is drawn to the Father, and the more is her desire kindled. So the soul is drawn and kindled into an union with the eternal goodness. And this is the drawing of the Father; and so the soul is taught by Him who draws her to Himself, that she cannot become united with Him unless she can come to Him by means of the life of Christ. liii.

[1]In his Introduction to the "Imitation of Christ," in this series.

[2]e.g. she distinguishes, as Eckhart does, between God and the Godhead.

[3]The "three propositions" of Amalric are—1. "Deus est omnia." 2. Every Christian, as a con-dition of salvation, must believe that he is a member of Christ. 3. To those who are in charity no sin is imputed.

[4]Preger is probably wrong in identifying him with a "brother Eckhart," Prior of Frankfort, who about 1320 was delated to the head of the Order as suspectus de malis familiaritatibus, words which can only mean "keeping bad company" in a moral sense, not "con-sorting with heretics," as Preger suggests. Eckhart's character, so far as we know, was never assailed, even by his enemies, and it is therefore probable that "brother Eckhart" was a different person.

[5]I have abridged the bull considerably, but have included all the main accusations.

[6]See pages 13, 16.

[7]See pages 14, 15.

[8]See page 1.

[9]This is an obscure point in Eckhart's philosophy, too technical to be discussed here; but Eckhart's doctrine of God is certainly more orthodox and less pantheistic than those of 'Dionysius' and Scotus Erigena.

[10]Cf. St Augustine, In Joann. Ev. Tract. xxxix. 10: praeteritum et futurum invenio in omni motu rerum: in veritate quae manet praeteritum et futurum non invenio, sed solum praesens.

[11]This doctrine is fully explained by St. Augustine, Epist. 237, who follows Plotinus, Enn. vi. 4-6.

[12]This queer word occurs for the first time, I think, in Jerome's notes to the first chapter of Ezekiel. He writes the word in Greek, and explains it as that part of the soul which always opposes vices. The word is common in Bonaventura and other scholastic mystics, and is often misspelt synderesis.

[13]It must, however, be said that Preger is too ready to assume that the logical development of Eckhart's system away from Thomist scholasticism can be traced as a gradual process in his writings, the order of which is very uncertain. We are not justified in saying in a positive manner that Eckhart's philosophy passed through three phases, in the first of which the primacy is held by the will, in the second by the created reason, and in the third by the uncreated reason.

[14]See pages 14, 15.

[15]C.B. Upton: "Hibbert Lectures," p. 17.

[16]A.E. Taylor: "The Problem of Conduct," PP. 464-5.

[17]See pages 71-2.

[18]See pages 12-13.

[19]See, for example, Prof. W. James' "Varieties of Religions Experience," P. 400.

[20]Jacob Bhme's experience is typical: "Suddenly did my spirit break through into the innermost birth or geniture of the Deity, and there was I embraced with love, as a bridegroom embraces his dearly beloved bride. But the greatness of the triumphing that was in the spirit I cannot express in speech or writing; nor can it be compared to anything but the resurrection of the dead to life. In this light my spirit suddenly saw through all; even in herbs and grass it knew God, who and what He is," etc. Dr Johnson was, no doubt, right in thinking that "Jacob" would have been wiser, and "more like St Paul," if he had not attempted to utter the unutterable things which he saw.

[21]The extracts from the "Theologia Germanica" will show that this treatise represents a later and less paradoxical form of mystical thought than Eckhart's.

[22]The maxim, however, is much older than Suso.

[23]Royce: "The World and the Individual" vol. i. p. 193.

[24]So in the "Lignum Vitae" of Laurentius Justinianus we read: "Let self-will cease, and there will be no more hell."

[25] "The Inner Way," being thirty-six sermons by John Tauler. Translated by A.W. Hutton, M.A.

[26]On the psychology of ecstatic mysticism see Leuba, in the Revue Philosophique, July and November 1902.

[27] "Varieties of Religious Experience," p. 13.

[28]Maudsley: "Natural Causes and Supernatural Seemings," p. 256.

[29]See Leuba: "Tendances religieuses chez les mystiques chrtiens" in Revue Philosophique, Nov. 1902.

[30] "Theologia Germanica," translated by Susanna Winkworth. Macmillan & Co., 1893.

[31] "Varieties of Religious Experience," 1902.

[32] "Personal Idealism," 1902.

[33] "Varieties of Religious Experience," p. 103.

[34] "In Tune with the Infinite," by R.W. Trine (Bell & Sons, 1902). Fifty-ninth thousand. The extract appears to be a quotation from another writer, but no reference is given.

[35]Compare Eckhart's saying that the eye with which I see God is the same as the eye with which He sees me.

[36] "In Tune with the Infinite," pp. 58, 119.

[37]The numbers refer to pages in Pfeiffer's edition.

[38]The numbers refer to the Sermons in Hamberger's edition of 1864.

[39]The reference is to 1 Peter iii. 8.

[40]The time would, I suppose, be about half-an-hour. Many other ecstatics have named this as the normal duration of trance.

[41]Or, "spoke the eternal Wisdom (= the Word of God) in his heart."

[42]John i. 3, 4. This punctuation, whereby the words "that which was made" are referred to the clause which follows, and not to that which precedes, is adopted by most of the Greek fathers, and is still maintained by some good commentators—e.g. Bishop Westcott.

[43]Ecclus. xxiv. 19.

[44]Ecclus. xl. 20.


Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5
Home - Random Browse