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The Spirit of God speaketh in man without image and form, life, light, and truth.
The Spirit of God speaketh also in man without images and forms, or rather, raised above all images and forms. This speech is Life, Light, and Truth.113
To speak of life, this life is nothing else than a divine force, whereby man can do all things. As St. Paul saith, “I can do all things in Him that strengthened me” (Phil. iv. 13). But this power was nothing else than the giving up of all things that were against God, and a seizing of all virtues that lead to God. And if man cometh to the capacity of dropping all that is not godlike, and if he can grasp all virtues that lead to God, this is the living force that God poureth into man, and with this force he overcometh all things that are transitory and cometh to life. In tins life liveth God, and God is life; the soul liveth in the life that is God; her life is no longer earthly, but divine. God planteth the soul in His life, and whatever is planted in another fashion must be cast away. What the creature planteth is destructive, what is destructive must be removed, and therefore must it be cast away. Death and life cannot subsist together. What God planteth is life; to this life the soul turneth, and in this life she liveth.
Of what life is in itself we cannot speak; man, indeed, experiences something in himself, but he cannot describe it, and it is above all words, and he cannot give it in images and forms. Therefore he cannot speak of it, 114but he is silent and passive. This also is the most useful thing a man can do, namely, to be silent and suffer. Silence and suffering are the most perfect work that a man hath. This silence and patience make him living, but if he wisheth to speak or if he wisheth to let man speak in him, this maketh him mortal. If he wisheth always to live, he must always keep silent, and suffer God alone to speak, for what God speaketh, that is life. Christ saith also, “My sheep hear My voice, and I give them everlasting life” (John x. 3). The sheep of our Lord are men in whom all creaturely things keep silence, and who are in a pure passive state of receiving God. These hear the voice of God, that is, the everlasting word which God the Father speaketh in the soul, and this hearing giveth everlasting life. The Lord saith also, “They follow alter Me” (John x. 4). This following is nothing else than that they live in the life in which God liveth.
If now the highest happiness of man consist in this, that he keep silence, and listen only to the everlasting word, and avoid all other words, many will say, Why then should we listen to a sermon, to preaching? Preaching is nothing else than a leading to God, and the power of perceiving the everlasting word. But if man is far removed from God, he cannot hear the everlasting word, for when one is distant from another, he cannot perceive 115what the other saith to him in secret. Therefore this has to be said to mail in images and forms, that he may come to a sense of it, and understand the hidden word of God. Through the outer word that men hear, they attain to the inner word, which God speaketh in the essence of the soul. Christ also saith, “I have other sheep, these also must I lead up, that there may be one Shepherd and one fold” (John x. 16). Therefore preaching is needful to tell these people what to do who have not yet come into the proper fold, that they may hear the voice of the Shepherd. But the fold is nothing else than the essence of the soul, in which the Eternal Father speaketh His word, and if man cometh to this, that he perceives the eternal word in himself, he need not attend to all other things, but place himself in a complete silence. This is his best condition, therefore St. Austin saith, “The man who hath learnt of our Lord Jesus Christ to be meek and humble of heart, for him it is better that he pray and think of God than that he read or listen to preaching.”7272 Qui didicerunt a Domino Jesu Christo mites esse et humiles corde, plus cogitando et orando proficiunt, quam legendo et audiendo. Ep. 147. No. 1. But they who have not come to this should hear preaching, and learn and follow what they hear or read; thus they come to the real truth, and to life, which is God. Even if a man is so advanced that he hear the word in himself, he is yet not at all times prepared for it, for bodily nature cannot bear it, and a man must sometimes turn to his senses and be active; but he ought to direct this work 116of the senses to the best end. If preaching is useful to him, he can hear it; if an outward virtue is useful to him, he can work it, and he ought to exercise himself in what he recognises as the best. But this by no means hindereth him from hearing the everlasting word, but it furthers him to what is best. If lie hath exercised himself in it, if the outer man hath been strengthened and directs itself according to the internal man, he must again enter into himself, perceive and listen to the eternal word, and this hearing bringeth him to everlasting life.
And he should drop and drive out with violence all that hindereth him in this. Then he hath the capacity of depriving himself of all that is not God, and of always hearing the eternal word in himself, which spriugeth from a living ground, in which God is. What he driveth away is as Jesus did in the Temple, when He drove out buyers and sellers, and said, “My house is a house of prayer, but ye have made it into a den of thieves” (Matt. xxi. 13). A pure heart is a temple of God, in which God the Father is worshipped; the tradesmen whom Jesus drove out are the worldly furniture and goods that rust in the heart and are hurtful to it. If now the heart keepeth the useless thoughts and tarries over them, it is no longer a house of prayer but a den of thieves, for the evil thoughts drive out God from its dwelling and murder Him. This cometh to pass 117when the heart is so entirely remote from Him that He can no more come in, and it is a real cavern, where all wickedness holds sway. This hinders God, so that He can no more come into His house, and therefore He nameth it a den of thieves.
But the man who resisteth all thoughts that keep him apart from God, and who giveth place to God only to dwell in him, receiveth this living, divine power from God the Father, who pours it into him. This inpouring is His inspeaking, and that is the life full of ecstasy and joy. Whoso hath not this life, that is, God Himself in a pure heart, he is also lacking all ecstasy and joy, he is more dead than alive, and that is ever against the nature of man. Sin killeth nature, but nature is abhorrent of death, therefore sin is against nature, therefore sinners can never have a joy. Just as little as the dead can rejoice can the sinners rejoice, for the ground from which genuine joy springeth is dead, and thus they cannot possibly rejoice. But in those men who live in genuine purity there is the fountain of all ecstasy and joy, and it admitteth of no sadness, for the eternal word, through which all angels and saints enjoy delight and ecstasy, speaketh in them as in the saints in heaven. “But that their joy is not so perfect as that of those in heaven cometh from this, that they still have their body with them. If they were free from their body they would 118have the same joy as those in heaven; but their joy is still now unspeakably, great, and the more they are freed from earthly things, the greater is their joy. If now earthly things hinder even pious men from their joys, how can those feel joy who are quite sunk in the earthly? They fancy they are in a goon condition, but this well-being is quite contrary to the true one, for just as it is never quite well with a soul as long as it is in the body, so also there is woe to those who are much burthened with earthly things. But those who dispense the most with earthly things have the true joy which springeth out of a living, pure ground, and the Holy Ghost is the source from which this joy streameth. Therefore St. Paul also said, “The fruit of the Holy Ghost is peace, joy, and righteousness” (Rom. xiv. 17; Gal. v. 22). The inspeaking of the Holy Ghost is life, from which all joy springeth. Whoso listeneth most to this voice, he hath life in the highest fulness, and where this is, is also the highest measure of joy. If now poverty of spirit is a pure instrument of God, with which God can work without any hindering, and where He can lay down His eternal word, which can give life to all creatures, then a poor man is full of this life, for he hath the fulness of the eternal word in himself, from which all joy springeth.
It might, however, now be said, If man is saved by this, that he heareth the word of 119God, he is also saved if he heareth the preacher who holds it forth to him; for Christ also saith, “Blessed are they that hear the word of God and do it” (Luke xi. 28). But I say that the speaking and hearing of the word of God is twofold; in the first place, it is internally saving; and secondly, it bringeth and fitteth a man for salvation.
The first is a speaking of God in the essence of the soul, where no creature can enter nor can it speak there, for here God alone dwelleth and also alone speaketh.7373 It is an old scholastic doctrine that God only can work in the essence of the soul. See especially St. Thomas, 1. dist. 37. qu. 3. a. 3 ad 4; in Joann. c. 11. lect. 4. Salmantic, tom. iii. tr. 9. disput. 1. dub. § 1, and tom. ii. tr. 7. disput. 2. dub. 10.—Eckhart, 12. 19. But God speaketh therein when the soul setteth aside all that is created, bringeth her power to silence, and hath a vision into the groundwork of her pure essence. In this pure and silent soul now God the Father speaketh, and she heareth His voice. But this hearing is nothing else than an internal feeling of God in the essence of the soul, which passeth over also to the forces, and in so great an ecstasy that she would gladly give up her working and let God alone work, only attending to His lead; and the more that she withholdeth from all working, the more God worketh in the soul. And whoso hath experienced this working in himself is saved and blessed; for God will not carry out His work in any creature, save in the soul which He hath chosen, to remain eternally in it. No 120creature which will sever itself from God is worthy of it, therefore God also doth not work in it. If Lucifer had felt this in himself he would never have fallen; for this working is so powerful that it moveth the soul out of itself to God. Then God embraceth the soul and unites her with Himself, so that she will and must eternally abide with Him; but this was lacking in Lucifer, therefore he also fell. The working is God’s speaking; His work is His word, the Son of the Godhead; this happeneth in the essence of the soul.
The second is the working of God in the forces. The word is spoken by the preacher, and man heareth it with his bodily ears; but this will not save him unless he follows it in his life. This speaking taketh place through men in images and forms; but that which cometh to pass through means or media doth not save the soul, but it can bring them to salvation, and teaches them how they can lay aside the media or means so as to arrive at the pure essence, where the soul seeth God without anything intermediate. But if the soul can distinguish all things by reason, so that it is free from all defective accident, then she must let go all external words that are spoken through men; she must turn herself to the innermost of her being and here only perceive the eternal word which God the Father speaketh. And all other speech she ought 121not to hear, even if it came from the angels. It is true the word of the preacher is not his own but the word of God; but yet it is mediated, and doth not penetrate like the immediate word of God. If the soul hath freed herself from all intermediate things, if she is stripped of all images, she ought not to tarry with the mediate, but her object must be God in His pure being, and in this essentiality she ought to enter. But as long as man hath the external material about her and hath not attained to his inner essence, so long must she hearken to the external word; this then teacheth him how he should deprive himself in order to attain to the truth. In this way is the external word of God useful.
The second thing that the Spirit of God speaketh in the soul is light. Light is nothing but an adornment of the soul with which God adorneth her, clotheth her, and maketh her well-pleasing to Him. He saith also in the Book of Canticles to His bride, “Very fair art thou, My friend, and no stain is in thee; come from Lebanon; come, thou shalt be crowned.”7474 In the margin stands Solomon. Compare Solomon’s Song iv. 7. This crown is the clear light with which God encompasseth and glorifieth the soul. Christ also said, “Father, glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son may also glorify Thee” (John xvii. 1); and there came a voice from heaven, “I have glorified Him, and will glorify 122Him again” (xii. 28). If the soul hath come so far that she bringeth forth the eternal word in her, and she bringeth herself forth with the same word in God, then is she a child of God; not a natural son, like the Word in the Godhead, but a son of grace, and thus can she, speak, “Father, glorify Thy son with Thy clearness, and with the same brightness will I also glorify Thee; this is the unspeakable praise that poureth forth from me to Thee.” And a voice, the eternal word, will then also speak in her, “I have glorified thee, and will still more glorify thee” (John xvii. 1-4). This glorifying is the being encompassed by God, encompassing the soul with the same clarity that He hath and is Himself, and which glorifies the soul with itself.
The soul groweth perfect in this clarity. So long as she abideth in this body she will always increase more and more in this divine clarity, and according to the measure of her purity she groweth also in divine clarity. “We can take a likeness from the sun. The purer the air the brighter doth the sun shine and beam forth. So is it also with the soul; the purer it is the more doth the divine sun shine in her and purify her. If she be quite pure of defects of accident, then the divine sun penetrates immediately into her. But if she be over-burthened with venial sins the sun shineth in her mediately but not so brilliantly, only like a flame. If, however, 123the soul be laden with mortal sins, the light of the divine sun cannot penetrate into it. St. John also saith, “The darkness comprehendeth not the light” (John i. v). The light of the sun is nothing else than an encompassing of light, and wherever the light penetrates there it enlightens, and whatsoever is a recipient of light receiveth it. Air is refined, glass is pure, a flame is light, and therefore they are recipients of light and they receive it too. But whatever is coarse, impure, and thick can receive no light, such as earth, the stone, and wood. They are altogether coarse, thick, and impure, therefore the light of the sun cannot penetrate them. Exactly so is it with the soul. She is rough and coarse when she is overladen with earthly things; impure when she cleaveth to sensual pleasures; dense and darkened when she is occupied with outer of inner manifoldness; and thus the divine sun cannot penetrate or enlighten her, for she is not meet to receive light. That which is to receive light must be shaped accordingly.7575 Denifle thinks that the Aristotelian-Thomistic doctrine lies at the foundation of this expression, teaching that the last disposition for the form of a class (Gattung) must be with the form. Aristot. an. 414. a. 11. Comp. Hertling, Materie und Form, Bonn 1871, p. 83. St. Thom. qu. 8. de verit. c. 3. Ægydius Correct. 1. p. a. 1. resp. 1; Lux quae est propria forma corporis summe diaphani, nullo modo fieret forma vel actus alicujus, quod nullo modo participat diaphaneitatem. Comp. Dionys. De div. nom. c. 2. § 6, et c. 4. § 4. But light is spiritual, freed from everything earthly; and if the soul wisheth to be enlightened by this Divine light she must become a pure spirit, emptied of all earthliness, and in this likeness she then receiveth this light
If therefore the soul is a pure spirit, emptied of all that is earthly, she is now a light herself for what is pure is also a light124—it may be asked what further light is she to receive? If the soul is a pure spirit, free from the earthly, it is a light, but a light of her true nature. God hath placed a pure light in the soul, but this light is the soul herself, if she standeth in the highest dignity of her pure nature, and thus understandeth the distinction of all created things. The light which she still receiveth is a supernatural light, which God draweth in Himself and poureth into the soul that is capable of receiving it; and in proportion that the natural light is pure, the soul receiveth also the supernatural, which is a light of glory.7676 Beginning at this place, we find a development of the scholastic principle: Quidquid recipitur, recipitur juxta facultatern recipientis. St Thom. de Causis, lect. 24. Albert. Mag. de Causis, Lib. ii. tr. 2. c. 23. and c. 28. Just as with a glass, the purer it is, the more is it enlightened by the sun, so is it also with the soul. The purer it is, the more is it enlightened by the divine light; but if it is darkened, and far from God, she cannot receive the light. In a prison, that is quite walled in, the sun cannot penetrate; just so is also the soul laden with sins a dark prison, in which the divine sun cannot shine.
The soul must also be near the light, if she is to receive it. Though a glass were always quite pure, but it were not brought to the sun, it would not be enlightened. Thus also the soul must raise herself to the divine splendour if she is to receive the clarity of 125the light. But this being nigh is nothing else than an intense desire for God with perfect love in the light of faith; this maketh the soul receptive of the divine light. If she were even lacking in purity, so that she could not receive the divine light, but yet hath perfect faith and perfect love for God, then she becometh pure and receiveth the light. But if a man be even quite pure and without all sins, but without faith and love to God, then he cannot receive the divine light. Some are also found among the heathen, who kept themselves pure and virtuous, yet they lacked the divine light; the defect was, that they had not the faith, though they certainly had more natural light than other men. So there are many, who indeed keep themselves pure and free of mortal sins, but cannot well guard themselves against venial sins, and the divine light faileth them. The only cause thereof is that they do not approach it in the light of faith. The faith is Christ; but they only follow Him outwardly; for to follow Him innerly is lacking to them, and therefore they have not the divine light. God’s light lighteth in the heart, and whoso wisheth to have this light must turn into himself, and thereby he will perceive the light in himself. But whoever followeth Christ only in an outwardly way, doth not receive the right light, for Christ saith, “If your righteousness do not exceed that of the Pharisees and Scribes, you will by no means enter the kingdom of God” (Matt. v. 20).126
The Pharisees are those men who appear outwardly quite holy in many good works, but who despise the truth and do not follow it in thorough righteousness. These cannot enter into the kingdom of God, which is in the depths and foundation of the soul. But he that desireth to reach it, must exercise himself in all good works, outwardly and inwardly; thus such a man surpasseth the Pharisees in righteousness, and attaineth to the kingdom of God, in the essence of the soul, where is the kingdom of God. The Pharisees of the old covenant held indeed the laws outwardly, but inwardly they were quite false. But this did not make them righteous; they seemed indeed righteous, but were not so. We must exceed this apparent righteousness if we would come into heaven. What of righteousness we show outwardly must hold sway in full measure internally. This maketh us then capable of receiving the divine light; therefore St. Paul saith, “Appear what ye are, and be what ye appear!” “Abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Thess. v. 22).7777 This passage cannot be found in St. Paul, though he says, in 1 Thess. v. 22, “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” Whoso wisheth to have the divine light in himself must follow Christ outwardly and inwardly. Outwardly by a poor life and all good works that appertain unto it; inwardly by a perfect faith, by the consideration of His good works and of His bitter Passion. In him is then inflamed a perfect love, that maketh him meet to receive 127the divine light, whereby he surpasseth all Pharisees in righteousness.
Man must likewise surpass the Scribes in righteousness. The Scribes in the old covenant were those who taught the people, but what they taught other people they did not practise themselves. It also cometh to pass, that such men show themselves as inwardly righteous, so that men believe that they are really so; but this inwardness is not divine but natural. The natural light of their reason cometh to their help; they can distinguish all things, which maketh them so eloquent, and they hold themselves to be quite internal men. They are also difficult to detect, and only the perfect man, who is enlightened with the divine light, can recognise them; these people are quite like the Scribes of the old covenant. Whoso wisheth to attain to the divine light must surpass them in righteousness, for their righteousness consisteth only in words, but hath no life. If they enter into their interior, this only taketh natural images, and as there is too much natural truth in them, they do not obtain the supernatural light. Their outer emptiness and their internally dwelling in themselves make them reasonable in a natural way. But whoso wisheth to have the divine light must speak little, but what he speaketh must, have life. He must consider his faults and lay them aside, and exercise himself diligently in contemplating the Passion of our Lord. 128If he now wisheth to distinguish how he is to part with his defects and increase in virtues, he must not long linger over such distinction; he must rise above the distinction of created images, and must penetrate through to the uncreated best, which is God; thus he attaineth to the true divine light.
But how can you know the distinction of the natural and the divine light? A likeness thereto is given by the moon and the sun. The moon receiveth its light from the sun, for she is in herself cold and damp, and even when the sun throweth his light upon her, he warmeth nothing thereby. From this we recognise the moon, that her light giveth no warmth, and her light maketh, as you see, many objects doubtful in moonlight; it also deceiveth often. Such is also the natural light in the reason of man. As the moon receiveth her light from the sun, so also the natural light is cold and not warming; and just as the light of the moon is unproductive of fruit, so also the natural light in itself is unfruitful, for it produceth few fruits that are useful for everlasting life. If the natural light could produce fruits whereby man could attain to heaven, in that case many heathen would be in heaven, who are, perhaps, condemned; for by his mere nature man cannot come into heaven, but grace must work together with it. What is also viewed by natural light remaineth doubtful; 129it is only a weening or conjecture, but not a perfect knowledge. The natural light remaineth dim because it only consists in images and forms, and you cannot see pure truth thereby; though these natural men believe that a thing is so and not otherwise. In this way the natural light is quite like moonlight. But the light of the sun is like unto the divine light. The light of the sun enlighteneth the air immediately, thus also the divine light enlighteneth the soul immediately. The light of the sun giveth warmth, and the divine light warmeth, and the soul gloweth thereby in divine love, and through this that she receiveth the light, she also receiveth the warmth of the light, and all inequality, unlikeness, and each doubt of truth passeth away and vanisheth in the warmth of the divine light. The sun is fructifying, the parent of all earthly life, for all creatures experience the influence of the sun. If the sun were to pass away and his light were withdrawn from the earth, all would perish. Thus the sun is the begetter and upholder of creatures; their generation is wonderful, and no one can perfectly see through it; no sage was great enough to know all that the sun bringeth forth. He begetteth the fish in the water, the beast on the earth, the bird in the air, the phoenix in the fire, and many other unknown beings that God only knoweth. So is it often with the divine sun; it is fruit-bringing, and the parent of all spiritual creatures. God hath created the 130soul and the angels immediately, but He hath created the bodily creature through the sun. The soul and the angels have been created immediately by God, and also receive immediately the influence of the divine sun. If the divine sun were to withdraw its light from the soul she would perish, not like earthly things, for the soul is dead when she lacketh the divine inworking, for of herself she hath not the life that saveth, but she must receive it from God.
Some will say, however, there are many good men who have not a special inworking from God, and yet their soul is not dead thereby. There are three kinds of men. Some live in mortal sins; these lack the influx of God entirely, and are also quite spiritually dead. But that they are yet called back to life is a much greater wonder than the resurrection of the bodily dead, for as much nobler as the soul is than the body, so is it much greater when she cometh again to life. A teacher saith on this point, “It is a greater work to convert a sinner from his sins than to create heaven and earth.”7878 Denifle informs us that in the margin stands Augustine. The Schoolmen were always citing this passage: Majus est quod ex impio fiat justus, quam creare coelum et terram. But St. Augustine only says (Tract. 72 in Joann. No. 3) of justification: Majus hoc esse dixerim, quam est coelum et terra et quaecunque cernuntur in coelo et in terra. Others abstain indeed from heavy mortal sins, but yet not from all venial sins; these are neither dead nor living; they do not indeed entirely lack the divine co-operation, but it is slight, so that the outer forces feel 131nothing. They conceive also that they have a lack of divine influence, and yet are they good men, for they exercise themselves in many good works. Lastly, the third kind of men consists of those who guard themselves against all sins, but this cannot come to pass without divine grace. They live in truth; they are not lacking in divine influence, and this is so strong that it streameth over from the soul to the outer forces of man, and they recognise the splendour of the divine clarity. With the same efflux out of God they come back again to God with the same clarity, which is God Himself; they are also clarified and preserved from all fall. As, therefore, the sun is fructifying, for it generates all things among creatures, so is it also with the divine sun, for it bringeth forth all truth in the soul; but its generation is wonderful, and no one knoweth it perfectly save God alone.
No man hath been yet so wise by nature that he could recognise the most unimportant work that God worketh in a pure soul. Therefore also no man should judge good men. A really holy man is hidden from all natural men; but such a man ought not to proclaim his secret, especially not to those who are ready with words by nature and make fine speeches, but have little life. According to their natural conceptions they cannot understand what grace worketh in 132a pure heart; therefore they often hold that which is good to be not good, and what is evil to be not evil.
The begetting of the divine sun is wonderful. We will carry over the simile of the natural sun’s begetting to the divine sun. The natural sun produceth the fish in the water, the divine sun maketh all the works of the senses fruitful, for by the water is to be understood the senses. As the water is unsteady and fluctuating, so also are the senses. If the senses in their movements turn to virtue, and go on to work, they have become fruitful. This is effected by the divine sun, which hath enlightened them and rendered them fruitful.
The natural sun produceth the beasts of the earth and fructifieth the earth. When the body exerciseth itself in all good works, its activity bringeth forth fruit for everlasting life, as Christ also saith, “Whosoever drinketh of the water that I give him, his body shall be a source of living water flowing into everlasting life.”7979 John iv. 14, vii. 38. The living water is the divine light which penetrates into the soul and maketh her overflowing in all virtues, in order that she may come to everlasting life.133
The natural sun also begetteth the bird. By the bird is understood the thought of man. As the bird flieth hither and thither, so also are the thoughts of man restless and roving, but these too are made fruit-bringing by the divine sun. If at length they turn from the earthly and fly to the contemplation of the Passion of our Lord, and thereby into the true Godhead, they bring forth here incalculable fruits. This is worked by the divine light, which irradiates and beams round the thoughts, and leadeth them to God. By the air is also understood the reason of man. Just as the natural sun produceth in the air various things, grass and plants, so also doth the divine sun bring forth in the reason various wonderful things and truths. With this truth it adorneth the reason and prepareth for it Unspeakable rapture, so that no heart can conceive and no mouth express it. St. Paul found himself in this rapture when he said, “I have seen things that it is not lawful to mention.” He recognised in himself the truth which he could not express in words, therefore he said, “which it is not lawful to mention.” Whoso speaketh out what he perceiveth in himself proveth that he hath never yet found in himself right divine truth, and it cometh easily to pass that they who babble the most have the least pure truth. For divine truth consisteth not in speeches but in silence, and keeping within, recollected. 134St. Paul saith, “On these things we should be silent.”8080 2 Cor. xii. 4. What can be said on the subject consists only in images, but divine truth is raised above images and separated from all images. Human reason beholdeth indeed the truth, but cannot embrace or obtain it, for this truth outrunneth the reason. By this going forward it draweth reason after it. If now then reason directeth its course to the summit of perfection, then it seizeth the truth, and this seizing is everlasting life. Then only when it hath reached this has it found rest and satisfaction. But man will not find perfect satisfaction or rest on earth, because as man liveth in time he must grow and advance, therefore he cannot find perfect rest. But if the soul parteth from the body and cometh to everlasting life, then the pure truth is her object, and therein she findeth satisfaction and rest. Thus is the reason adorned with the divine light.
The natural sun also produceth the phoenix in the fire,8181 According to the Egyptian mythology. and bringeth it to life without other creatures. For it is not born like other creatures through the influence of creatures, therefore it is the noblest creature that is born under the sun. Exactly in like manner doth the divine light produce the will, and maketh it fruitful in many virtues. By the phoenix is understood the will, for as the phoenix is 135the noblest creature, so is the will the first power of the soul; and as the phoenix reneweth itself ill the fire, so also doth the will in the divine fire. As the phoenix holdeth the first place among creatures having life, so hath the will the first place in God among the remaining creatures and forces. If it hath the first and the highest place, so hath it also the best fruit; and just as the phoenix is born immediately from the sun, without the help of other creatures, so also the true fruit of the will is produced immediately by God, therefore the will is raised above all things, and thus beareth its fruits. If it is free from all things that are not God, the divine light shines gloriously and maketh it fruitful. If the will is entirely separated from all things and united with God, it also produceth with God that which God produceth. This fruit that the divine light bringeth forth in the will is essential, for God’s being is bestowed on all creatures, only each receives it according to its receptivity. Thus also the fruit of a perfect will is common to all creatures according to their receptive faculty. A perfect will desires a perfect good, for the good is the object of the will; the same perfect good it desireth also for all creatures that are receptive of good, such as the soul and the angels. The soul and the angels are alone receptive of an essential good, but all other creatures only of an accidental good. Essential good, which is God only, is carried over by a perfect will to all rational creatures. Therefore a perfect 136will worketh essentially in all creatures; ita fruit and its work are essential. This essential fruit is worked by the divine sun in the perfect will; but in the will that is not quite perfect, though good, it only bringeth forth accidental fruit. Nothing can work above its powers; if, therefore, the will be not perfect, it cannot carry out any perfect work; therefore its fruit is not perfect nor essential, but accidental.
But what is a perfect will, whereby works and virtues are essential? A perfect will is an abandonment of all that is not God. If a man hath not done this in works, he must do it in will if he will be perfect. What lacketh him still in works he must lay aside, and free himself in proper order. If he doeth this, and hath exercised himself in accidental virtues, he obtaineth the essence; the will penetrates into the essence, and thereby worketh also essential works, for where two things are one, then they have one working. If now the will hath entirely passed over into the essence, it hath also one working with tie essence. Each thing worketh according to its quality, and thus the essence worketh essentially, and the will with it. It is not, however, a work that is brought about by the movement of the forces, but it is a standing still without all motion, and it is Divine. In this manner worketh God, accordingly an essential work is only thus brought forth.137
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