THEOLOGIA GERMANICA, by Anonymous (Meister Eckhart)

That's French for "the ancient system," as in the ancient system of feudal privileges and the exercise of autocratic power over the peasants. The ancien regime never goes away, like vampires and dinosaur bones they are always hidden in the earth, exercising a mysterious influence. It is not paranoia to believe that the elites scheme against the common man. Inform yourself about their schemes here.

THEOLOGIA GERMANICA, by Anonymous (Meister Eckhart)

Postby admin » Tue Oct 06, 2015 7:02 pm

by Anonymous (Meister Eckhart)
Edited by Dr. Peiffer from the only complete manuscript yet known
Translated from the German by Susanna Winkworth
Preface by Rev. Charles Kingsley, Rector of Eversley
Letter to the Translator by the Chevalier Bunsen, D.D., D.C.L., etc.
First published 1874
Scanned from the 1893 Golden Treasury Series edition
Introductory material scanned from the 1907 reprint




Table of Contents:

• Preface
• Historical Introduction by the translator
• Letter from Chevalier Bunsen to the Translator
• Theologia Germanica
o Chapter 1: Of that which is perfect and that which is in part, and how that which is in part is done away, when that which is perfect is come.
o Chapter 2: Of what Sin is, and how we must not take unto ourselves any good Thing, seeing that it belongeth unto the true Good alone.
o Chapter 3: How Man's Fall and going astray must be amended as Adam's Fall was.
o Chapter 4: How Man, when he claimeth any good Thing for his own, falleth, and toucheth God in His Honour.
o Chapter 5: How we are to take that Saying, that we must come to be without Will, Wisdom, Love, Desire, Knowledge, and the like.
o Chapter 6: How that which is best and noblest should also be loved above all Things by us, merely because it is the best.
o Chapter 7: Of the Eyes of the Spirit wherewith Man looketh into Eternity and into Time, and how the one is hindered of the other in its Working.
o Chapter 8: How the Soul of Man, while it is yet in the Body, may obtain a Foretaste of eternal Blessedness.
o Chapter 9: How it is better and more profitable for a Man that he should perceive what God will do with him, or to what end He will make Use of him, than if he knew all that God had ever wrought, or would ever work through all the Creatures; and how Blessedness lieth alone in God, and not in the Creatures, or in any Works.
o Chapter 10: How the perfect Men have no other Desire than that they may be to the Eternal Goodness what His Hand is to a Man, and how they have lost the Fear of Hell, and Hope of Heaven.
o Chapter 11: How a righteous Man in this present Time is brought into hell, and there cannot be comforted, and how he is taken out of Hell and carried into Heaven, and there cannot be troubled.
o Chapter 12: Touching that true inward Peace, which Christ left to His Disciples at the last.
o Chapter 13: How a Man may cast aside Images too soon.
o Chapter 14: Of three Stages by which a Man is led upwards till he attaineth true Perfection.
o Chapter 15: How all Men are dead in Adam and are made alive again in Christ, and of true Obedience and Disobedience.
o Chapter 16: Telleth us what is the old Man, and what is the new Man.
o Chapter 17: How we are not to take unto ourselves what we have done well: but only what we have done amiss.
o Chapter 18: How that the Life of Christ is the noblest and best Life that ever hath been or can be, and how a careless Life of false Freedom is the worst Life that can be.
o Chapter 19: How we cannot come to the true Light and Christ's Life, by much Questioning or Reading, or by high natural Skill and Reason, but by truly renouncing ourselves and all Things.
o Chapter 20: How, seeing that the Life of Christ is most bitter to Nature and Self, Nature will have none of it, and chooseth a false careless Life, as is most convenient to her.
o Chapter 21: How a friend of Christ willingly fulfilleth by his outward Works, such Things as must be and ought to be, and doth not concern himself with the rest.
o Chapter 22: How sometimes the Spirit of God, and sometimes also the Evil Spirit may possess a Man and have the mastery over him.
o Chapter 23: He who will submit himself to God and be obedient to Him, must be ready to bear with all Things; to wit, God, himself, and all Creatures, and must be obedient to them all whether he have to suffer or to do.
o Chapter 24: How that four Things are needful before a Man can receive divine Truth and be possessed with the Spirit of God.
o Chapter 25: Of two evil Fruits that do spring up from the Seed of the Evil Spirit, and are two Sisters who love to dwell together. The one is called spiritual Pride and Highmindedness, the other is false, lawless Freedom.
o Chapter 26: Touching Poorness of Spirit and true Humility and whereby we may discern the true and lawful free Men whom the Truth hath made free.
o Chapter 27: How we are to take Christ's Words when He bade forsake all Things; and wherein the Union with the Divine Will standeth.
o Chapter 28: How, after a Union with the Divine Will, the inward Man standeth immoveable, the while the outward Man is moved hither and thither.
o Chapter 29: How a Man may not attain so high before Death as not to be moved or touched by outward Things.
o Chapter 30: On what wise we may came to be beyond and above all Custom, Order, Law, Precepts and the like.
o Chapter 31: How we are not to cast off the Life of Christ, but practise it diligently, and walk in it until Death.
o Chapter 32: How God is a true, simple, perfect Good, and how He is a Light and a Reason and all Virtues, and how what is highest and best, that is, God, ought to be most loved by us.
o Chapter 33: How when a Man is made truly Godlike, his Love is pure and unmixed, and he loveth all Creatures, and doth his best for them.
o Chapter 34: How that if a Man will attain to that which is best, he must forswear his own Will; and he who helpeth a Man to his own Will helpeth him to the worst Thing he can.
o Chapter 35: How there is deep and true Humility and Poorness of Spirit in a Man who is "made a Partaker of the Divine Nature."
o Chapter 36: How nothing is contrary to God but Sin only; and what Sin is in Kind and Act.
o Chapter 37: How in God, as God, there can neither be Grief, Sorrow, Displeasure, nor the like, but how it is otherwise in a Man who is "made a Partaker of the Divine Nature."
o Chapter 38: How we are to put on the Life of Christ from Love, and not for the sake of Reward, and how we must never grow careless concerning it, or cast it off.
o Chapter 39: How God will have Order, Custom, Measure, and the like in the Creature, seeing that He cannot have them without the Creature, and of four sorts of Men who are concerned with this Order, Law, and Custom.
o Chapter 40: A good Account of the False Light and its Kind.
o Chapter 41: Now that he is to be called, and is truly, a Partaker of the Divine Nature, who is illuminated with the Divine Light, and inflamed with Eternal Love, and how Light and Knowledge are worth nothing without Love.
o Chapter 42: A Question: whether we can know God and not love Him, and how there are two kinds of Light and Love--a true and a false.
o Chapter 43: Whereby we may know a Man who is made a partaker of the divine Nature, and what belongeth unto him; and further, what is the token of a False Light, and a False Free-Thinker.
o Chapter 44: How nothing is contrary to God but Self-will and how he who seeketh his own Good for his own sake, findeth it not; and how a Man of himself neither knoweth nor can do any good Thing.
o Chapter 45: How that where there is a Christian Life, Christ dwelleth, and how Christ's Life is the best and most admirable Life that ever hath been or can be.
o Chapter 46: How entire Satisfaction and true Rest are to be found in God alone, and not in any Creature; and how he who Will be obedient unto God, must also be obedient to the Creatures, with all Quietness, and he who would love God, must love all Things in One.
o Chapter 47: A Question: Whether, if we ought to love all Things, we ought to love Sin also?
o Chapter 48: How we must believe certain Things of God's Truth beforehand, ere we can come to a true Knowledge and Experience thereof.
o Chapter 49: Of Self-will, and how Lucifer and Adam fell away from God through Self-will.
o Chapter 50: How this present Time is a Paradise and outer Court of Heaven, and how therein there is only one Tree forbidden, that is, Self-will.
o Chapter 51: Wherefore God hath created Self-will, seeing that it is so contrary to Him.
o Chapter 52: How we must take those two Sayings of Christ: "No Man cometh unto the Father, but by Me," and "No Man cometh unto Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him."
o Chapter 53: Considereth that other saying of Christ, "No Man can come unto Me, except the Father, which hath sent Me, draw him."
o Chapter 54: How a Man shall not seek his own, either in Things spiritual or natural but the Honour of God only; and how he must enter in by the right Door, to wit, by Christ, into Eternal Life.
• Index of Scripture References
• Notes

The things which are in part can be apprehended, known, and expressed; but the Perfect cannot be apprehended, known, or expressed by any creature as creature. Therefore we do not give a name to the Perfect, for it is none of these. The creature as creature cannot know nor apprehend it, name nor conceive it. ... But when doth it come? I say, when as much as may be, it is known, felt and tasted of the soul....For in what measure we put off the creature, in the same measure are we able to put on the Creator; neither more nor less....For in whatsoever creature the Perfect shall be known, therein creature-nature, qualities, the I, the Self and the like, must all be lost and done away....This is why we say, beside it, or without it, there is no true Substance. That which hath flowed forth from it, is no true Substance, and hath no Substance except in the Perfect, but is an accident, or a brightness, or a visible appearance, which is no Substance, and hath no Substance except in the fire whence the brightness flowed forth, such as the sun or a candle....

Sin is nought else, but that the creature turneth away from the unchangeable Good and betaketh itself to the changeable; that is to say, that it turneth away from the Perfect to "that which is in part" and imperfect, and most often to itself...This setting up of a claim and his I and Me and Mine, these were his going astray, and his fall....

Wherefore God took human nature or manhood upon Himself and was made man, and man was made divine. Thus the healing was brought to pass. So also must my fall be healed. I cannot do the work without God, and God may not or will not without me; for if it shall be accomplished, in me, too, God must be made man; in such sort that God must take to Himself all that is in me, within and without, so that there may be nothing in me which striveth against God or hindereth His Work... And in this bringing back and healing, I can, or may, or shall do nothing of myself, but just simply yield to God, so that He alone may do all things in me and work, and I may suffer Him and all His work and His divine will....

[M]an's knowledge should be so clear and perfect that he should acknowledge of a truth that in himself he neither hath nor can do any good thing, and that none of his knowledge, wisdom and art, his will, love and good works do come from himself, nor are of man, nor of any creature, but that all these are of the eternal God, from whom they all proceed....when a man duly perceiveth these things in himself, he and the creature fall behind, and he doth not call anything his own, and the less he taketh this knowledge unto himself, the more perfect doth it become....Then the man says: "Behold! I, poor fool that I was, imagined it was I, but behold! it is and was, of a truth, God!"...

Let us remember how it is written and said that the soul of Christ had two eyes, a right and a left eye. In the beginning, when the soul of Christ was created, she fixed her right eye upon eternity and the Godhead, and remained in the full intuition and enjoyment of the divine Essence and Eternal Perfection; and continued thus unmoved and undisturbed by all the accidents and travail, suffering, torment and pain that ever befell the outward man. But with the left eye she beheld the creature and perceived all things therein, and took note of the difference between the creatures, which were better or worse, nobler or meaner; and thereafter was the outward man of Christ ordered...It hath been said that when Christ was bound to the pillar and scourged, and when He hung upon the cross, according to the outward man, yet His inner man, or soul according to the right eye, stood in as full possession of divine joy and blessedness as it did after His ascension, or as it doth now...Now the created soul of man hath also two eyes. The one is the power of seeing into eternity, the other of seeing into time and the creatures, of perceiving how they differ from each other as afore-said, of giving life and needful things to the body, and ordering and governing it for the best. But these two eyes of the soul of man cannot both perform their work at once; but if the soul shall see with the right eye into eternity, then the left eye must close itself and refrain from working, and be as though it were dead...Therefore whosoever will have the one must let the other go; for "no man can serve two masters."...

It hath been asked whether it be possible for the soul, while it is yet in the body, to reach so high as to cast a glance into eternity, and receive a foretaste of eternal life and eternal blessedness...if the soul shall rise to such a state, she must be quite pure, wholly stripped and bare of all images, and be entirely separate from all creatures, and above all from herself...And a single one of these excellent glances is better, worthier, higher and more pleasing to God, than all that the creature can perform as a creature. And as soon as a man turneth himself in spirit, and with his whole heart and mind entereth into the mind of God which is above time, all that ever he hath lost is restored in a moment. And if a man were to do thus a thousand times in a day, each time a fresh and real union would take place; and in this sweet and divine work standeth the truest and fullest union that may be in this present time. For he who hath attained thereto, asketh nothing further, for he hath found the Kingdom of Heaven and Eternal Life on earth....

We should mark and know of a very truth that all manner of virtue and goodness, and even that Eternal Good which is God Himself, can never make a man virtuous, good, or happy, so long as it is outside the soul; that is, so long as the man is holding converse with outward things through his senses and reason, and doth not withdraw into himself and learn to understand his own life, who and what he is...If thou knowest thyself well, thou art better and more praiseworthy before God, than if thou didst not know thyself, but didst understand the course of the heavens and of all the planets and stars, also the dispositions of all mankind, also the nature of all beasts, and, in such matters, hadst all the skill of all who are in heaven and on earth...Moreover, it needeth not to enter into the soul, for it is there already, only it is unperceived. When we say we should come unto it, we mean that we should seek it, feel it, and taste it...blessedness lieth not in any creature, or work of the creatures, but it lieth alone in God and in His works. Therefore I must wait only on God and His work, and leave on one side all creatures with their works, and first of all myself....

Christ's soul must needs descend into hell, before it ascended into heaven. So must also the soul of man. But mark ye in what manner this cometh to pass. When a man truly Perceiveth and considereth himself, who and what he is, and findeth himself utterly vile and wicked, and unworthy of all the comfort and kindness that he hath ever received from God, or from the creatures, he falleth into such a deep abasement and despising of himself, that he thinketh himself unworthy that the earth should bear him, and it seemeth to him reasonable that all creatures in heaven and earth should rise up against him and avenge their Creator on him, and should punish and torment him; and that he were unworthy even of that. And it seemeth to him that he shall be eternally lost and damned, and a footstool to all the devils in hell, and that this is right and just and all too little compared to his sins which he so often and in so many ways hath committed against God his Creator. And therefore also he will not and dare not desire any consolation or release, either from God or from any creature that is in heaven or on earth; but he is willing to be unconsoled and unreleased, and he doth not grieve over his condemnation and sufferings; for they are right and just, and not contrary to God, but according to the will of God. Therefore they are right in his eyes, and he hath nothing to say against them. Nothing grieveth him but his own guilt and wickedness; for that is not right and is contrary to God, and for that cause he is grieved and troubled in spirit. This is what is meant by true repentance for sin. And he who in this Present time entereth into this hell, entereth afterward into the Kingdom of Heaven, and obtaineth a foretaste thereof which excelleth all the delight and joy which he ever hath had or could have in this present time from temporal things...This hell and this heaven are two good, safe ways for a man in this present time, and happy is he who truly findeth them...Again: this hell and this heaven come about a man in such sort, that he knoweth not whence they come; and whether they come to him, or depart from him, he can of himself do nothing towards it. Of these things he can neither give nor take away from himself, bring them nor banish them, but as it is written, "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof," that is to say, at this time present, "but thou knowest not whence it cometh, nor whither it goeth."... It is possible for him to pass ofttimes from the one into the other; nay even within the space of a day and night, and all without his own doing. But when the man is in neither of these two states he holdeth converse with the creature, and wavereth hither and thither, and knoweth not what manner of man he is. Therefore he shall never forget either of them, but lay up the remembrance of them in his heart....

[W]e must consider and see what is that peace which Christ left to His disciples at the last, when He said: "My peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you." [14] We may perceive that in these words Christ did not mean a bodily and outward peace; for His beloved disciples, with all His friends and followers, have ever suffered, from the beginning, great affliction, persecution, nay, often martyrdom, as Christ Himself said: "In this world ye shall have tribulation." [15] But Christ meant that true, inward peace of the heart, which beginneth here, and endureth for ever hereafter. Therefore He said: "Not as the world giveth," for the world is false, and deceiveth in her gifts. She promiseth much, and performeth little....

A man must begin by denying himself, and willingly forsaking all things for God's sake, and must give up his own will, and all his natural inclinations, and separate and cleanse himself thoroughly from all sins and evil ways. After this, let him humbly take up the cross and follow Christ. Also let him take and receive example and instruction, reproof, counsel and teaching from devout and perfect servants of God, and not follow his own guidance....

[N]o one can be enlightened unless he be first cleansed or purified and stripped...there are three stages: first, the purification; secondly, the enlightening; thirdly, the union....

[A] man should so stand free, being quit of himself, that is, of his I, and Me, and Self, and Mine, and the like, that in all things, he should no more seek or regard himself, than if he did not exist, and should take as little account of himself as if he were not, and another had done all his works. Likewise he should count all the creatures for nothing...Man is created for true obedience, and is bound of right to render it to God....

The old man is Adam and disobedience, the Self, the Me, and so forth. But the new man is Christ and true obedience, a giving up and denying oneself of all temporal things, and seeking the honour of God alone in all things...Now he who liveth to himself after the old man, is called and is truly a child of Adam; and though he may give diligence to the ordering of his life, he is still the child and brother of the Evil Spirit...Behold! where the old man dieth and the new man is born, there is that second birth of which Christ saith, "Except a man be born again, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."...Now he who is against God, is dead before God. Whence it followeth that all Adam's children are dead before God...For he who is in disobedience is in sin, and sin can never be atoned for or healed but by returning to God, and this is brought to Pass by humble obedience... Insomuch that if the Evil Spirit himself could come into true obedience, he would become an angel again, and all his sin and wickedness would be healed and blotted out and forgiven at once...if all mankind abode in true obedience, there would be no grief nor sorrow....

But if any now will excuse himself for sin, by refusing to take what is evil unto himself, and laying the guilt thereof upon the Evil Spirit, and thus make himself out to be quite pure and innocent (as our first Parents Adam and Eve did while they were yet in paradise; when each laid the guilt upon the other), he hath no right at all to do this; for it is written, "There is none without sin." Therefore I say; reproach, shame, loss, woe, and eternal damnation be to the man who is fit and ready and willing that the Evil Spirit and falsehood, lies and all untruthfulness, wickedness and other evil things should have their will and pleasure, word and work in him, and make him their house and habitation....

Yea, so long as a man taketh account of anything which is this or that, whether it be himself, or any other creature; or doeth anything, or frameth a purpose, for the sake of his own likings or desires, or opinions, or ends, he cometh not unto the life of Christ.This hath Christ Himself declared, for He saith: "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me." [23] "He that taketh not his cross, and followeth after Me, is not worthy of Me." [24] And if he "hate not his father and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple."...the truth herself sayeth it....

Now, since the life of Christ is every way most bitter to nature and the Self and the Me (for in the true life of Christ, the Self and the Me and nature must be forsaken and lost, and die altogether), therefore, in each of us, nature hath a horror of it, and thinketh it evil and unjust and a folly, and graspeth after such a life as shall be most comfortable and pleasant to herself, and saith, and believeth also in her blindness, that such a life is the best possible. Now, nothing is so comfortable and pleasant to nature, as a free, careless way of life, therefore she clingeth to that, and taketh enjoyment in herself and her own powers, and looketh only to her own peace and comfort and the like....

[A]ll the world is subject to and possessed with the Evil Spirit, that is, with lies, falsehood, and other vices and evil ways...But I fear that for one who is truly possessed with the Spirit of God, there are a hundred thousand or an innumerable multitude possessed with the Evil Spirit. This is because men have more likeness to the Evil Spirit than to God. For the Self, the I, the Me and the like, all belong to the Evil Spirit, and therefore it is, that he is an Evil Spirit. Behold one or two words can utter all that hath been said by these many words: "Be simply and wholly bereft of Self."...give earnest heed to the master, and watch how he worketh, and to be obedient to him in all things, and to trust him and follow him....

And he who would be obedient, resigned and submissive to God, must and ought to be also resigned, obedient and submissive to all things, in a spirit of yielding, and not of resistance, and take them in silence, resting on the hidden foundations of his soul, and having a secret inward patience, that enableth him to take all chances or crosses willingly, and whatever befalleth, neither to call for nor desire any redress, or deliverance, or resistance, or revenge, but always in a loving, sincere humility to cry, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!"....

[T]hat God and man should be wholly united, so that it can be said of a truth, that God and man are one. This cometh to Pass on this wise. Where the Truth always reigneth, so that true perfect God and true perfect man are at one, and man so giveth place to God, that God Himself is there and yet the man too, and this same unity worketh continually, and doeth and leaveth undone without any I, and Me, and Mine, and the like; behold, there is Christ, and nowhere else...And seeing that God is here made man, He is also able to perceive and feel love and hatred, evil and good and the like....

Now, after that a man hath walked in all the ways that lead him unto the truth, and exercised himself therein, not sparing his labour; now, as often and as long as he dreameth that his work is altogether finished, and he is by this time quite dead to the world, and come out from Self and given up to God alone, behold! the Devil cometh and soweth his seed in the man's heart. From this seed spring two fruits; the one is spiritual fulness or pride, the other is false, lawless freedom. These are two sisters who love to be together...And seeing that this proud and puffed-up spirit thinketh that she needeth neither Scripture, nor instruction, nor anything of the kind, therefore she giveth no heed to the admonitions, order, laws and precepts of the holy Christian Church, nor to the Sacraments, but mocketh at them and at all men who walk according to these ordinances and hold them in reverence. Hereby we may plainly see that those two sisters dwell together...Moreover since this sheer pride thinketh to know and understand more than all men besides, therefore she chooseth to prate more than all other men, and would fain have her opinions and speeches to be alone regarded and listened to, and counteth all that others think and say to be wrong, and holdeth it in derision as a folly....

it is found and known of a truth that a man, of himself and his own power, is nothing, hath nothing, can do and is capable of nothing but only infirmity and evil. Hence followeth that the man findeth himself altogether unworthy of all that hath been or ever will be done for him, by God or the creatures, and that he is a debtor to God and also to all the creatures in God's stead, both to bear with, and to labour for, and to serve them. And therefore he doth not in any wise stand up for his own rights, but from the humility of his heart he saith, "It is just and reasonable that God and all creatures should be against me, and have a right over me, and to me, and that I should not be against any one, nor have a right to anything." Hence it followeth that the man doth not and will not crave or beg for anything, either from God or the creatures, beyond mere needful things, and for those only with shamefacedness, as a favour and not as a right. And he will not minister unto or gratify his body or any of his natural desires, beyond what is needful, nor allow that any should help or serve him except in case of necessity, and then always in trembling; for he hath no right to anything and therefore he thinketh himself unworthy of anything. So likewise all his own discourse, ways, words and works seem to this man a thing of nought and a folly. Therefore he speaketh little, and doth not take upon himself to admonish or rebuke any, unless he be constrained thereto by love or faithfulness towards God, and even then he doth it in fear, and so little as may be...Moreover, when a man hath this poor and humble spirit, he cometh to see and understand aright, how that all men are bent upon themselves, and inclined to evil and sin, and that on this account it is needful and profitable that there be order, customs, law and precepts, to the end that the blindness and foolishness of men may be corrected, and that vice and wickedness may be kept under, and constrained to seemliness. For without ordinances, men would be much more mischievous and ungovernable than dogs and cattle...Therefore one who is poor in spirit and of a humble mind doth not despise or make light of law, order, precepts and holy customs...[Christ] saith: "I am not come to destroy the law or the prophets, but to fulfil."...Christ said: "My soul is troubled, even unto death." He meaneth His bodily death. That is to say: from the time that He was born of Mary, until His death on the cross, He had not one joyful day, but only trouble, sorrow and contradiction. Therefore it is just and reasonable that His servants should be even as their Master....

Now, according to what hath been said, ye must observe that when we say, as Christ also saith, that we ought to resign and forsake all things, this is not to be taken in the sense that a man is neither to do nor to purpose anything; for a man must always have something to do and to order so long as he liveth...Therefore we must suffer these things to be what they are, and enter into the union with God. Yet outward things must be, and we must do and refrain so far as is necessary, especially we must sleep and wake, walk and stand still, speak and be silent and much more of the like. These must go on so long as we live....

Now, when this union truly cometh to pass and becometh established, the inward man standeth henceforward immoveable in this union; and God suffereth the outward man to be moved hither and thither, from this to that, of such things as are necessary and right. So that the outward man saith in sincerity "I have no will to be or not to be, to live or die, to know or not to know, to do or to leave undone and the like; but I am ready for all that is to be, or ought to be, and obedient thereunto, whether I have to do or to suffer." And thus the outward man hath no Wherefore or purpose, but only to do his part to further the Eternal Will....

There be some who affirm, that a man, while in this present time, may and ought to be above being touched by outward things, and in all respects as Christ was after His resurrection...Now, I answer, in the first place, to this affirmation, that Christ did not mean that a man should or could attain unto this state, unless he have first gone through and suffered all that Christ did. Now, Christ did not attain thereunto, before He had passed through and suffered His natural death, and what things appertain thereto. Therefore no man can or ought to come to it so long as he is mortal and liable to suffer....

But that other thing which they affirm, how that we ought to throw off and cast aside the life of Christ, and all laws and commandments, customs and order and the like, and pay no heed to them, but despise and make light of them, is altogether false and a lie...There are two kinds of Light; the one is true and the other is false. The true light is that Eternal Light which is God; or else it is a created light, but yet divine, which is called grace. And these are both the true Light. So is the false light Nature or of Nature....

Now behold, if God were some thing, this or that, He would not be all in all, and above all, as He is; and so also, He would not be true Perfection...Now God is also a Light and a Reason, [40] the property of which is to give light and shine, and take knowledge...Behold! even as God is the one Good and Light and Reason, so is He also Will and Love and Justice and Truth, and in short all virtues. But all these are in God one Substance...Behold! in such a creature, there is no longer anything willed or loved but that which is good, because it is good...And such a creature doth nothing for its own sake, or in its own name, for it hath quitted all Self, and Me, and Mine, and We and Ours, and the like...And thus God loveth not Himself as Himself, but as Goodness. And if there were, and He knew, ought better than God, He would love that and not Himself. Thus the Self and the Me are wholly sundered from God, and belong to Him only in so far as they are necessary for Him to be a Person....

in a truly Godlike man, his love is pure and unmixed, and full of kindness, insomuch that he cannot but love in sincerity all men and things... Hence therefore God, in a man who is "made partaker of His nature," desireth and taketh no revenge for all the wrong that is or can be done unto Him. This we see in Christ, when He said: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

Likewise it is God's property that He doth not constrain any by force to do or not to do anything, but He alloweth every man to do and leave undone according to his will, whether it be good or bad, and resisteth none. This too we see in Christ, who would not resist or defend Himself when His enemies laid hands on Him. And when Peter would have defended Him, He said unto Peter: "Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which My Father hath given Me, shall I not drink it?" Neither may a man who is made a partaker of the divine nature, oppress or grieve any one. That is, it never entereth into his thoughts, or intents, or wishes, to cause pain or distress to any, either by deed or neglect, by speech or silence....

[A]nd it is so of a truth, that of God's truth and justice this creature shall be subject to God and all creatures, and no thing or person shall be subject or obedient to her. God and all the creatures have a right over her and to her, but she hath a right to nothing: she is a debtor to all, and nothing is owing to her, so that she shall be ready to bear all things from others, and also if needs be to do all things for others.

[N]o creature is contrary to God, or hateful or grievous unto Him, in so far as it is, liveth, knoweth, hath power to do, or produce ought, and so forth, for all this is not contrary to God. That an evil spirit, or a man is, liveth, and the like, is altogether good and of God; for God is the Being of all that are, and the Life of all that live, and the Wisdom of all the wise; for all things have their being more truly in God than in themselves, and also all their powers, knowledge, life, and the rest; for if it were not so, God would not be all good; And thus all creatures are good...But what then is there which is contrary to God and hateful to Him? Nothing but Sin. But what is Sin? Mark this: Sin is nothing else than that the creature willeth otherwise than God willeth, and contrary to Him. Each of us may see this in himself; for he who willeth otherwise than I, or whose will is contrary to mine, is my foe; but he who willeth the same as I, is my friend, and I love him. It is even so with God: and that is sin, and is contrary to God, and hateful and grievous to Him...As Christ said: "He who is not with Me is against me."....

In God, as God, neither sorrow nor grief nor displeasure can have place, and yet God is grieved on account of men's sins. Now since grief cannot befall God without the creature, this cometh to pass where He is made man, or when He dwelleth in a Godlike man. And there, behold, sin is so hateful to God, and grieveth Him so sore, that He would willingly suffer agony and death, if one man's sins might be thereby washed out...From this cause arose that hidden anguish of Christ, of which none can tell or knoweth ought save Himself alone, and therefore is it called a mystery...that true Light, which also teacheth the man in whom this Godlike sorrow worketh, not to take it unto himself, any more than if he were not there. For such a man feeleth in himself that he hath not made it to spring up in his heart, and that it is none of his, but belongeth to God alone....

Christ did not lead such a life as His for the sake of reward, but out of love; and love maketh such a life light and taketh away all its hardships, so that it becometh sweet and is gladly endured. But to him who hath not put it on from love, but hath done so, as he dreameth, for the sake of reward, it is utterly bitter and a weariness, and he would fain be quit of it....

It is said, and truly, God is above and without custom, measure, and order, and yet giveth to all things their custom, order, measure, fitness, and the like...Furthermore, ye must mark, that to receive God's commands and His counsel and all His teaching, is the privilege of the inward man, after that he is united with God. And where there is such a union, the outward man is surely taught and ordered by the inward man, so that no outward commandment or teaching is needed. But the commandments and laws of men belong to the outer man, and are needful for those men who know nothing better, for else they would not know what to do and what to refrain from, and would become like unto the dogs or other beasts....

For God deceiveth no man, nor willeth that any should be deceived...Now mark, the True Light is God or divine, but the False Light is Nature or natural. Now mark how it first cometh to be deceived. It doth not desire nor choose Goodness as Goodness, and for the sake of Goodness, but desireth and chooseth itself and its own ends, rather than the Highest Good; and this is an error, and is the first deception. Secondly, it dreameth itself to be that which it is not, for it dreameth itself to be God, and is truly nothing but nature. And because it imagineth itself to be God, it taketh to itself what belongeth to God; and not that which is God's, when He is made man, or dwelleth in a Godlike man, but that which is God's, and belongeth unto Him, as He is in eternity, without the creature... Furthermore, this False Light imagineth, and saith, that it has got beyond Christ's life in the flesh, and that outward things have lost all power to touch it or give it pain, as it was with Christ after His resurrection, together with many other strange and false conceits which arise and grow up from these...Further, this False Light saith that it hath got above conscience and the sense of sin, and that whatever it doeth is right, Yea, it was said by such a false Free Spirit, who was in this error, that if he had killed ten men he should have as little sense of guilt as if he had killed a dog. Briefly: this false and deceived Light fleeth all that is harsh and contrary to nature, for this belongeth to it, seeing that it is nature. And seeing also that it is so utterly deceived as to dream that it is God, it were ready to swear by all that is holy, that it knoweth truly what is best, and that both in belief and practice it hath reached the very summit. For this cause it cannot be converted or guided into the right path, even as it is with the Evil Spirit. Mark further: in so far as this Light imagineth itself to be God and taketh His attributes unto itself, it is Lucifer, the Evil Spirit; but in so far as it setteth at nought the life of Christ, and other things belonging to the True Light, which have been taught and fulfilled by Christ, it is Antichrist, for it teacheth contrary to Christ...As Christ said: "He who loveth his life shall lose it." That is; he shall forsake and die to the desires of the flesh, and shall not obey his own will nor the lusts of the body, but obey the commands of God and those who are in authority over him, and not seek his own, either in spiritual or natural things, but only the praise and glory of God in all things...For the True Light is God's seed, and therefore it bringeth forth the fruits of God. And so likewise the False Light is the seed of the Devil; and where that is sown, the fruits of the Devil spring up -- nay, the very Devil himself....

[I]f he loveth virtue he followeth after it, and his love maketh him an enemy to wickedness, so that he will not do or practise it, and hateth it also in other men...Of justice speaketh Isaiah in the fifth chapter: "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!"...But if there be true Love along with his knowledge, he cannot but cleave to God, and forsake all that is not God or of Him, and hate it and fight against it, and find it a cross and a sorrow....

But true Love is taught and guided by the true Light and Reason, and this true, eternal and divine Light teacheth Love to love nothing but the One true and Perfect Good, and that simply for its own sake, and not for the sake of a reward, or in the hope of obtaining anything, but simply for the Love of Goodness, because it is good and hath a right to be loved....

Behold, in such a man must all thought of Self, all self-seeking, self-will, and what cometh thereof, be utterly lost and surrendered and given over to God, except in so far as they are necessary to make up a person...And in his heart there is a content and a quietness, so that he doth not desire to know more or less, to have, to live, to die, to be, or not to be, or anything of the kind; these become all one and alike to him, and he complaineth of nothing but of sin only...And the love wherewith the man loveth this noble life and all goodness, maketh, that all which he is called upon to do, or suffer, or pass through, and which must needs be, he doeth or endureth willingly and worthily, however hard it may be to nature. Therefore saith Christ: "My yoke is easy, and My burden is light." [46] This cometh of the love which loveth this admirable life. This we may see in the beloved Apostles and Martyrs; they suffered willingly and gladly all that was done unto them, and never asked of God that their suffering and tortures might be made shorter, or lighter or fewer, but only that they might remain steadfast and endure to the end....

Now, since all falsehood is deceived, and all deception beginneth in self-deception, so is it also with this false Light and Life, for he who deceiveth is also deceived, as we have said before. And in this false Light and Life is found everything that belongeth to the Evil Spirit and is his, insomuch that they cannot be discerned apart; for the false Light is the Evil Spirit, and the Evil Spirit is this false Light. Hereby we may know this. For even as the Evil Spirit thinketh himself to be God, or would fain be God, or be thought to be God, and in all this is so utterly deceived that he doth not think himself to be deceived, so is it also with this false Light, and the Love and Life that is thereof. And as the Devil would fain deceive all men, and draw them to himself and his works, and make them like himself, and useth much art and cunning to this end, so is it also with this false Light; and as no one may turn the Evil Spirit from his own way, so no one can turn this deceived and deceitful Light from its errors. And the cause thereof is, that both these two, the Devil and Nature, vainly think that they are not deceived, and that it standeth quite well with them. And this is the very worst and most mischievous delusion. Thus the Devil and Nature are one, and where nature is conquered the Devil is also conquered, and, in like manner, where nature is not conquered the Devil is not conquered. Whether as touching the outward life in the world, or the inward life of the spirit, this false Light continueth in its state of blindness and falsehood, so that it is both deceived itself and deceiveth others with it, wheresoever it may....

Now the Eternal Will willeth that nothing be willed or loved but the Eternal Goodness. And where it is otherwise, there is something contrary to Him, and in this sense it is true that he who is without God is contrary to God; but in truth there is no Being contrary to God or the true Good. We must understand it as though God said: "He who willeth without Me, or willeth not what I will, or otherwise than as I will, he willeth contrary to Me, for My will is that no one should will otherwise than I, and that there should be no will without Me, and without My will; even as without Me, there is neither Substance, nor Life, nor this, nor that, so also there should be no Will apart from Me, and without My will." ....

For God is One and must be One, and God is All and must be All...Now he who findeth full satisfaction in God, receiveth all his satisfaction from One source, and from One only, as One. And a man cannot find all satisfaction in God, unless all things are One to him, and One is All, and something and nothing are alike...Now he who shall or will love God, loveth all things in One as All, One and All, and One in All as All in One...Now he who loveth somewhat more than God or along with God, loveth not God, for He must be and will be alone loved, and verily nothing ought to be loved but God alone....

"If we are to love all things, must we then love sin too?" I answer: No. When I say "all things," I mean all Good; and all that is, is good, in so far as it hath Being. The Devil is good in so far as he hath Being. In this sense nothing is evil, or not good....

Christ said, "He that believeth not," or will not or cannot believe, "shall be damned."....

whatever man or creature desireth to dive into and understand the secret counsel and will of God, so that he would fain know wherefore God doeth this, or doeth not that, and the like, desireth the same as Adam and the Devil. For this desire is seldom from aught else than that the man taketh delight in knowing, and glorieth therein, and this is sheer pride. And so long as this desire lasteth, the truth will never be known, and the man is even as Adam or the Devil. A truly humble and enlightened man doth not desire of God that He should reveal His secrets unto him, and ask wherefore God doeth this or that, or hindereth or alloweth such a thing, and so forth; but he desireth only to know how he may please God, and become as nought in himself, having no will, and that the Eternal Will may live in him, and have full possession of him, undisturbed by any other will, and how its due may be rendered to the Eternal Will, by him and through him...And now, since God cannot bring His will into exercise, working and causing changes, without the creature, therefore it pleaseth Him to do so in and with the creature. Therefore the will is not given to be exerted by the creature, but only by God, who hath a right to work out His own will by means of the will which is in man, and yet is God's. And in whatever man or creature it should be purely and wholly thus, the will would be exerted not by the man but by God, and thus it would not be self-will, and the man would not will otherwise than as God willeth; for God Himself would move the will and not man. And thus the will would be one with the Eternal Will, and flow out into it, though the man would still keep his sense of liking and disliking, pleasure and pain, and the like. For wherever the will is exerted, there must be a sense of liking and disliking; for if things go according to his will, the man liketh it, and if they do not, he disliketh it, and this liking and disliking are not of the man's producing, but of God's...and all that is not noble and good it hateth, and findeth to be a grief and offence unto it. And the more free and unhindered the will is, the more is it pained by evil, injustice, iniquity, and in short all manner of wickedness and sin, and the more do they grieve and afflict it....But when men claim freedom for their own, so as to feel no sorrow or indignation at sin and what is contrary to God, but say that we must heed nothing and care for nothing, but be, in this present time, as Christ was after His resurrection, and the like; -- this is no true and divine freedom springing from the true divine Light, but a natural, unrighteous, false, and deceitful freedom, springing from a natural, false, and deluded light....But nature, in her false freedom, weeneth she hath forsaken all things, yet she will have none of the cross, and saith she hath had enough of it already, and needeth it no longer, and thus she is deceived. For had she ever tasted the cross she would never part with it again...

Now behold, when this Perfect Good, which is unnameable, floweth into a Person able to bring forth, and bringeth forth the Only-begotten Son in that Person, and itself in Him, we call it the Father...the soul conceiveth a longing to approach unto the Perfect Goodness, and unite herself with the Father. And the stronger this yearning groweth, the more is revealed unto her; and the more is revealed unto her, the more is she drawn toward the Father, and her desire quickened. Thus is the soul drawn and quickened into a union with the Eternal Goodness. And this is the drawing of the Father, and thus the soul is taught of Him who draweth her unto Himself, that she cannot enter into a union with Him except she come unto Him by the life of Christ....

And our witness is Christ, who declareth: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber."

-- Theologia Germanica, by Meister Eckhart
Site Admin
Posts: 35581
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: THEOLOGIA GERMANICA, by Anonymous (Meister Eckhart)

Postby admin » Tue Oct 06, 2015 7:03 pm

Which setteth forth many fair Lineaments of
divine Truth, and saith very lofty and
lovely things touching a
perfect life

This work was discovered and published in 1516 by Martin Luther, who said of it that "Next to the Bible and St. Augustine, no book has ever come into my hands from which I have learnt more of God and Christ, and man and all things that are." It has since appealed to Christians of all persuasions.

STRONG Son of God, Immortal Love,
Whom we, that have not seen Thy face,
By faith, and faith alone embrace,
Believing where we cannot prove.


Thou seemest human and divine,
The highest, holiest manhood Thou;
Our wills are ours, we know not how,
Our wills are ours to make them Thine.


O Living Will that shalt endure,
When all that seems shall suffer shock
Rise in the spiritual Rock,
Flow through our deeds and make them pure.


That we may lift, from out the dust,
A voice as unto Him that hears,
A cry above the conquered years,
To one that with us works, and trust


With faith that comes of self-control
The truths that never can be proved,
Until we close with all we loved
find all we flow from, soul in soul.



TO those who really hunger and thirst after righteousness; and who therefore long to know what righteousness is, that they may copy it: To those who long to be freed, not merely from the punishment of sin after they die, but from sin itself while they live on earth; and who therefore wish to know what sin is, that they may avoid it: To those who wish to be really justified by faith, by being made just persons by faith; and who cannot satisfy either their consciences or reasons by fancying that God looks on them as right, when they know themselves to be wrong, or that the God of truth will stoop to fictions (miscalled forensic) which would be considered false and unjust in any human court of law: To those who cannot help trusting that union with Christ must be something real and substantial, and not merely a metaphor, and a flower of rhetoric: To those, lastly, who cannot help seeing that the doctrine of Christ in every man, as the Indwelling Word of God, The Light who lights every one who comes into the world, is no peculiar tenet of the Quakers, but one which runs through the whole of the Old and New Testaments, and without which they would both be unintelligible, just as the same doctrine runs through the whole history of the Early Church for the first two centuries, and is the only explanation of them;

To all these this noble little book will recommend itself; and may God bless the reading of it to them, and to all others no less.

As for its orthodoxy; to "evangelical" Christians Martin Luther's own words ought to be sufficient warrant. For he has said that he owed more to this, than to any other book, saving the Bible and Saint Augustine. Those, on the other hand, to whom Luther's name does not seem a sufficient guarantee, must recollect, that the Author of this book was a knight of the Teutonic order; one who considered himself, and was considered, as far as we know, by his contemporaries, an orthodox member of the Latin Church; that his friends and disciples were principally monks exercising a great influence in the Catholic Church of their days; that one of their leaders was appointed by Pope John XXII Nuncio and overseer of the Dominican order in Germany; and that during the hundred and seventy years which elapsed between the writing of this book and the Reformation, it incurred no ecclesiastical censure whatsoever, in generations which were but too fond of making men offenders for a word.

Not that I agree with all which is to be found in this book. It is for its noble views of righteousness and of sin that I honour it, and rejoice at seeing it published in English, now for the first time from an edition based on the perfect manuscript. But even in those points in which I should like to see it altered, I am well aware that there are strong authorities against me. The very expression, for instance, which most startles me, "vergottet," deified or made divine, is used, word for word, both by Saint Athanase and Saint Augustine, the former of whom has said: "He became man, that we might be made God;" [1] and the latter, "He called men Gods, as being deified by His grace, not as born of His substance." [2] There are many passages, moreover, in the Epistles of the Apostles, which, if we paraphrase them at all, we can hardly paraphrase in weaker words. It seems to me safer and wiser to cling to the letter of Scripture: but God forbid that I should wish to make such a man as the Author of the Theologia Germanica an offender for a word!

One point more may be worthy of remark. In many obscure passages of this book, words are used, both by the Author and by the Translator, in their strict, original, and scientific meaning, as they are used in the Creeds, and not in that meaning which has of late crept into our very pulpits, under the influence of Locke's philosophy. When, for instance, it is said that God is the Substance of all things; this expression, in the vulgar Lockite sense of substance, would mean that God is the matter or stuff of which all things are made; which would be the grossest Pantheism: but "Substance" in the true and ancient meaning of the word, as it appears in the Athanasian Creed, signifies the very opposite; namely, that which stands under the appearance and the matter; that by virtue of which a thing has its form, its life, its real existence, as far as it may have any; and thus in asserting that God is the substance of all things, this book means that everything (except sin, which is no thing, but the disease and fall of a thing) is a thought of God.

So again with Eternity. It will be found in this book to mean not merely some future endless duration, but that ever-present moral world, governed by ever-living and absolutely necessary laws, in which we and all spirits are now; and in which we should be equally, whether time and space, extension and duration, and the whole material universe to which they belong, became nothing this moment, or lasted endlessly.

I think it necessary to give these cautions, because by the light of Locke's philosophy, little or nothing will be discerned in this book, and what little is discerned will probably be utterly misunderstood. If any man wishes to see clearly what is herein written, let him try to forget all popular modern dogmas and systems, all popular philosophies (falsely so called), and be true to the letter of his Bible, and to the instincts which the Indwelling Word of God was wont to awaken in his heart, while he was yet a little unsophisticated child; and then let him be sure that he will find in this book germs of wider and deeper wisdom than its good author ever dreamed of; and that those great spiritual laws, which the Author only applies, and that often inconsistently, to an ascetic and passively contemplative life, will hold just as good in the family, in the market, in the senate, in the study, ay, in the battlefield itself; and teach him the way to lead, in whatsoever station of life he may be placed, a truly manlike, because a truly Christlike and Godlike, life.

Lent, 1854.
Site Admin
Posts: 35581
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: THEOLOGIA GERMANICA, by Anonymous (Meister Eckhart)

Postby admin » Tue Oct 06, 2015 7:04 pm


THE Treatise before us was discovered by Luther, who first brought it into notice by an Edition of it which he published in 1516. A Second Edition, which came out two years later, he introduced with the following Preface:--

"We read that St. Paul, though he was of a weak and contemptible presence, yet wrote weighty and powerful letters, and he boasts of himself that his speech is not with enticing words of man's device,' but full of the riches of all knowledge and wisdom.' And if we consider the wondrous ways of God, it is clear, that He hath never chosen mighty and eloquent preachers to speak His word, but as it is written: Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings hast thou perfected praise,' Ps. 8:2. And again, For wisdom opened the mouth of the dumb, and made the tongues of them that cannot speak eloquent,' Wisdom 10:21. Again, He blameth such as are high-minded and are offended at these simple ones. Consilium inopis,[Google translate: Poor advice] etc. Ye have made a mock at the counsel of the poor, because he putteth his trust in the Lord,' Ps. 14:6.

"This I say because I will have every one warned who readeth this little book, that he should not take offence, to his own hurt, at its bad German, or its crabbed and uncouth words. For this noble book, though it be poor and rude in words, is so much the richer and more precious in knowledge and divine wisdom. And I will say, though it be boasting of myself and I speak as a fool,' that next to the Bible and St. Augustine, no book hath ever come into my hands, whence I have learnt, or would wish to learn more of what God, and Christ, and man and all things are; and now I first find the truth of what certain of the learned have said in scorn of us theologians of Wittemberg, that we would be thought to put forward new things, as though there had never been men elsewhere and before our time. Yea, verily, there have been men, but God's wrath, provoked by our sins, hath not judged us worthy to see and hear them; for it is well known that for a long time past such things have not been treated of in our universities; nay, it has gone so far, that the Holy Word of God is not only laid on the shelf, but is almost mouldered away with dust and moths. Let as many as will, read this little book, and then say whether Theology is a new or an old thing among us; for this book is not new. But if they say as before, that we are but German theologians, we will not deny it. I thank God, that I have heard and found my God in the German tongue, as neither I nor they have yet found Him in the Latin, Greek, or Hebrew tongue. God grant that this book may be spread abroad, then we shall find that the German theologians are without doubt the best theologians.

(Signed, without date,)
AUGUSTINIAN of Wittemberg."

These words of Luther will probably be considered to form a sufficient justification for an attempt to present the Theologia Germanica in an English dress. When Luther sent it forth, its effort to revive the consciousness of spiritual life was received with enthusiasm by his fellow-countrymen, in whom that life was then breaking with volcanic energy through the clods of formalism and hypocrisy, with which the Romish Church had sought to stifle its fires. No fewer than seventeen editions of the work appeared during the lifetime of Luther. Up to the present day, it has continued to be a favourite handbook of devotion in Germany, where it has passed through certainly as many as sixty Editions, and it has also been widely circulated in France and the Netherlands, by means of Latin, French, and Flemish translations.

To the question, who was the author of a book which has exerted so great an influence? no answer can be given, all the various endeavours to discover him having proved fruitless. Till within the last few years, Luther was our sole authority for the text of the work, but, about 1850, a manuscript of it was discovered at Wurtzburg, by Professor Reuss, the librarian of the University there, which has since been published verbatim by Professor Pfeiffer of Prague. This Manuscript dates from 1497; consequently it is somewhat older than Luther's time, and it also contains some passages not found in his editions. As, upon careful comparison, it seemed to the translator indisputably superior to the best modern editions based upon Luther's, it has been selected as the groundwork of the present translation, merely correcting from the former, one or two passages which appeared to contain errors of the press, or more likely of the transcriber's pen. The passages not found in Luther's edition are here enclosed between brackets.

As has been stated, the author of the Theologia Germanica is unknown; but it is evident from his whole cast of thought, as well as from a Preface attached to the Wurtzburg Manuscript, that he belonged to a class of men who sprang up in Southern Germany at the beginning of the fourteenth century, and who were distinguished for their earnest piety and their practical belief in the presence of the Spirit of God with all Christians, laity as well as clergy.

These men had fallen upon evil times. Their age was not indeed one of those periods in which the vigour of the nobler powers of the soul is enfeebled by the abundance of material prosperity and physical enjoyment, nor yet one of those in which they are utterly crushed out under the hoof of oppression and misery; but it was an age in which conflicting elements were wildly struggling for the mastery. The highest spiritual and temporal authorities were at deadly strife with each other and among themselves; and in their contests, there were few provinces or towns that did not repeatedly suffer the horrors of war. The desolation caused by its ravages was however speedily repaired during the intervals of peace, by the extraordinary energy which the German nation displayed in that bloom of its manhood; so that times of deep misery and great prosperity rapidly alternated with each other. But on the whole, during the first half of this century, the sense of the calamities, which were continually recurring, predominated over the recollection of the calmer years, which were barely sufficient to allow breathing time between the successive waves that threatened to overwhelm social order and happiness.

The unquestioning faith and honest enthusiasm which had prompted the Crusades, no longer burnt with the same fierce ardour, for the unhappy issue of those sacred enterprises, and the scandalous worldly ambition of the heads of the Church, had moderated its fervour and saddened the hearts of true believers. Yet the one Catholic, Christian creed still held an undivided and very real sovereignty over men's minds, and the supremacy of the Church in things spiritual was never questioned, though many were beginning to feel that it was needful for the State to have an independent authority in things temporal, and the question was warmly agitated how much of the spiritual authority resided in the Pope and how much in the bishops and doctors of the Church. But in whichever way the dispute between these rival claims might be adjusted, the reverence for the office of the clergy remained unimpaired. The case was very different with the reverence for their persons, which had fallen to a very low ebb, owing to the worldliness and immorality of their lives. This again was much encouraged by the conduct of the Popes, who, in their zeal to establish worldly dominion, made ecclesiastical appointments rather with a view to gain political adherents, or to acquire wealth by the sale of benefices, than with a regard to the fitness of the men selected, or the welfare of the people committed to their charge.

On the whole, it was an age of faith, though by no means of a blind, unreasoning taking things for granted. On the contrary, the evidences of extreme activity of mind meet us on every hand, in the monuments of its literature, architecture, and invention. A few facts strikingly illustrate the divergent tendencies of thought and public opinion. Thus we may remember, how it was currently reported that the profligate Pope Boniface VIII was privately an unbeliever, even deriding the idea of the immortality of the soul, at the very time when he was maintaining against Philip the Fair, the right of the Pope to sit, as Christ's representative, in judgment on the living and the dead, and to take the sword of temporal power out of the hands of those who misused it. [3] Whether this accusation was true or not, it is a remarkable sign of the times that it should have been widely believed.

Some years later, and when the increased corruptness of the clergy, after the removal of the Papal Court to Avignon, provoked still louder complaints, we see the religious and patriotic Emperor, Louis IV, accusing John XXII of heresy, in a public assembly held in the square of St. Peter's at Rome, and setting up another Pope "in order to please the Roman people." But though the new Pope was every way fitted, by his unblemished character and ascetic manners, to gain a hold on public esteem, we see that the Emperor could not maintain him against the legitimately elected Pope, who, from his seat at Avignon, had power to harass the Emperor so greatly with his interdicts, that the latter, finding all efforts at conciliation fruitless, would have bought peace by unconditional submission, had not the Estates of the Empire refused to yield to such humiliation. Yet we find this very Pope obliged to yield and retract his opinions on a point of dogmatic theology. He had in a certain treatise propounded the opinion that the souls of the pious would not be admitted to the immediate vision of the Deity until after the day of judgment. The King of France, in 1333, called an assembly of Prelates and theologians at his palace at Vincennes, where he invited them to discuss before him the two questions, whether the souls of departed saints would be admitted to an immediate vision of the Deity before the resurrection; and whether, if so, their vision would be of the same or of a different kind after the Judgment Day?The theological faculty having come to conclusions differing in some respects from those of the Pope, the King threatened the latter with the stake as a heretic, unless he retracted; and John XXII issued a bull, declaring that what he had said or written, ought only to be received in so far as it agreed with the Catholic Faith, the Church and Holy Scripture. No circumstance, perhaps, offers a more remarkable spectacle to us in its contrast with the spirit of our own times. At the present moment, when the Pope could not sit for a day in safety on his temporal throne without the defence of French or Austrian bayonets, we can scarcely conceive an Emperor of France or Austria taking upon himself to convene an assembly of Catholic theologians, and the latter pronouncing a censure on the dogmas propounded by the Head of the Church! It would be hard to say whether the Sovereigns of the present day would be more amused by the absurdity of devoting their time to such discussions, or the consciences of good Catholics more shocked at the presumption of such a verdict.

Still it must not be forgotten that the importance of religious affairs in that age must not be ascribed too exclusively to earnestness about religion itself, for the ecclesiastical interest predominated over the purely religious. The Pope and the Emperor represented the two great antagonistic powers, spiritual and temporal, the rivalry between which absorbed into itself all the political and social questions that could then be agitated. The question of allegiance to the Pope or the Emperor was like the contest between royalism and republicanism; the Ghibelline called himself a patriot, and was called by his adversary, the Guelf, a worldly man or even an infidel, while he retorted by calling the Guelf a betrayer of his country, and an enemy of national liberties.

We cannot help seeing, however, that in those days both princes and people, wicked as their lives often were, did really believe in the Christian religion, and that while much of the mythological and much of the formalistic element mingled in their zeal for outward observances, there was also much thoroughly sincere enthusiasm among them. But both the two great powers oppressed the people, which looked alternately to the one side or the other for emancipation from the particular grievances felt to be most galling at any given moment or place. In the frightful moral and physical condition of society, it was no wonder that a despair of Providence should have begun to attack some minds, which led to materialistic scepticism, while others sought for help on the path of wild speculation. The latter appears to have been the case with the Beghards or "Brothers and Sisters of the Free Spirit," who attempted to institute a reform by withdrawing the people altogether from the influence of the clergy, but whose followers after a time too often fell into the vices of the priests from whom they had separated themselves. In 1317, we find the Bishop of Ochsenstein complaining that Alsace was filled with these Beghards, who appear to have been a kind of antinomian pantheists, teaching that the Spirit is bound by no law, and annihilating the distinction between the Creator and the creature. Both in their excellences and defects they remind us of the modern "German Catholics," and of some, too, of the recent Protestant schools in Germany. There seems to have been no party of professed unbelievers, but that some individuals were such in word as well as deed, appears from what Ruysbroch of Brussels, [4] (1300-1330) says of those "who live in mortal sin, not troubling themselves about God or His grace, but thinking virtue sheer nonsense, and the spiritual life hypocrisy or delusion; and hearing with disgust all mention of God or virtue, for they are persuaded that there is no such thing as God, or Heaven, or Hell; for they acknowledge nothing but what is palpable to the senses."

The early part of the fourteenth century saw Germany divided for nine years between the rival claims of two Emperors, Frederick of Austria, supported by Pope John XXII and a faction in Germany, and Louis of Bavaria, whose cause was espoused by a majority of the princes of the Empire, as that of the defender of the dignity and independence of the State, and the champion of reform within the Church. The death of Frederick, in 1322, left Louis the undisputed Emperor, as far as nearly all his subjects were concerned, and he would fain have purchased peace with the Pope on any reasonable terms, that he might apply himself to the internal improvement of his dominions; but John XXII was implacable, and continued to wage against him and his adherents a deadly warfare, not closed until his successor Charles IV submitted to all the papal demands, and to every indignity imposed upon him.

One of the most fearful consequences of the enmity between John XXII and Louis of Bavaria, to the unfortunate subjects of the latter, was the Interdict under which his dominions were laid in 1324, and from which some places, distinguished for their loyalty to the Emperor, were not relieved for six-and-twenty years. Louis, indeed, desired his subjects to pay no regard to the bull of excommunication, and most of the laity, especially of the larger towns, would gladly have obeyed him in spite of the Pope; but the greater part of the bishops and clergy held with their spiritual head, and thus the inhabitants of Strasburg, Nuremberg, and other cities, where the civil authorities sided with the Emperor, and the clergy with the Pope, were left year after year without any religious privileges; for public worship ceased, and all the business of life went on without the benedictions of the Church, no rite being allowed but baptism and extreme unction.

After this had lasted sixteen years, the Emperor, wishing to relieve the anguished consciences of his people, issued, in conjunction with the Princes of the Empire, a great manifesto to all Christendom, refuting the Pope's accusations against him, maintaining that he who had been legally chosen by the Electors was, in virtue thereof, the rightful Emperor, and had received his dignity from God, and proclaiming that all who denied this were guilty of high treason; that therefore none should be allowed any longer to observe the Interdict, and all who should continue to do so, whether communities or individuals, should be deprived of every civil and ecclesiastical right and privilege. This courageous edict found a response in the heart of the nation, and public opinion continually declared itself more strongly on the side of the Emperor. Yet on the whole it rather increased the general anarchy; for in many places the priests and monks were steadfast in their allegiance to the Pope, and, refusing to administer public service, were altogether banished from the towns, and the churches and convents closed. In Strasburg, for instance, where the regular clergy had long since ceased to perform religious rites, the Dominicans and Franciscans had continued to preach and perform mass; but now they too, frightened by the Edict, which placed them in direct opposition to the Pope, dared no longer to disregard the renewed sentence of excommunication hanging over them, and refusing to read mass, were expelled by the Town Council. Many of these banished clergy wandered about in great distress, with difficulty finding refuge among the scattered rural population, and the sufferings they endured proved the sincerity of their conscientious scruples. Some few, either from worldly motives, or out of pity for the people, remained at their posts. The former indeed throve by the miseries of their fellow-creatures, driving a usurious trade in the famine of spiritual consolation; for it is upon record, that in time of pestilence, the price of shrift has been as much as sixty florins!

The spectacle of such discord between the clergy and the laity was something unspeakably shocking to the Christian world in that age, and the energetic proceedings of the magistracy must have utterly staggered the faith of many. Of all the events that were stirring up men's passions and energies, none was more calculated to move their souls to the very centre, than to find themselves compelled to stand up in arms against those whom they had been wont to bow down before, and to reverence as the source of those spiritual blessings, for the sake of which they were now driven in desperation to take this awful step.

To these political and religious dissensions were added, in process of time, other miseries. After it had been preceded by earthquakes, hurricanes and famine, the Black Death broke out, spreading terror and desolation through Southern Europe. Men saw in these frightful calamities the judgments of God, but looked in vain for any to show them a way of deliverance and escape. Some believed that the last day was approaching; some, remembering an old prophecy, looked with hope for the return of the Great Emperor Frederick II to restore justice and peace in the world, to punish the wicked clergy, and help the poor and oppressed flock to their rights. Others traversed the country in processions, scourging themselves and praying with a loud voice, in order to atone for their sins and appease God's anger, and inveighing against man's unbelief, which had called down God's wrath upon the earth; while some thought to do God service, by wreaking vengeance on the people which had slain the Lord, and thousands of wretched Jews perished in the flames kindled by frantic terror. "All things worked together to deepen the sense of the corruptness of the Church, to lead men's thoughts onwards from their physical to their spiritual wants, to awaken reflection on the judgments of God, and to fix their eyes on the indications of the future,'' [5] so that John of Winterthur was probably not alone in applying to his own times what St. Paul says of the perils of the latter days.

In these chaotic times, and in the countries where the storms raged most fiercely, there were some who sought that peace which could not be found on earth, in intercourse with a higher world. Destitute of help and comfort and guidance from man, they took refuge in God, and finding that to them He had proved "a present help in time of trouble," "as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land," they tried to bring their fellow-men to believe and partake in a life raised above the troubles of this world. They desired to show them that that Eternal life and enduring peace which Christ had promised to His disciples, was, of a truth, to be found by the Way which He had pointed out, -- by a living union with Him and the Father who had sent Him.

With this aim, like-minded men and women joined themselves together, that by communion of heart and mutual counsel they might strengthen each other in their common efforts to revive the spiritual life of those around them. The Association they founded was kept secret, lest through misconception of their principles, they might fall under suspicion of heresy, and the Inquisition should put a stop to their labours; but they desired to keep themselves aloof from every thing that savoured of heresy or disorder. On the contrary, they carefully observed all the precepts of the Church, and carried their obedience so far that many of their number were among the priests who were banished for obeying the Pope, when the Emperor ordered them to disregard the Interdict. They assumed the appellation of "Friends of God" (Gottesfreunde), and, in the course of a few years, their associations extended along the Rhine provinces from Basle to Cologne, and eastwards through Swabia, Bavaria, and Franconia. Strasburg, Constance, Nuremberg and Nordlingen were among their chief seats. Their distinguishing doctrines were self-renunciation, -- the complete giving-up of self-will to the will of God; -- the continuous activity of the Spirit of God in all believers, and the intimate union possible between God and man; -- the worthlessness of all religion based upon fear or the hope of reward; -- and the essential equality of the laity and clergy, though, for the sake of order and discipline, the organization of the Church was necessary. They often appealed to the declaration of Christ (John 15:15), "Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth; but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you;" and from this they probably derived their name of "Friends of God." Their mode of action was simply personal, for they made no attempt to gain political and hierarchical power, but exerted all their influence by means of preaching, writing and social intercourse. The Association counted among its members priests, monks, and laity, without distinction of rank or sex. Its leaders stood likewise in close connection with several convents, especially those of Engenthal, and Maria-Medingen near Nuremberg, presided over by the sisters Christina and Margaret Ebner, much of whose correspondence is still extant. Agnes, the widow of King Andrew of Hungary, and various knights and burghers, are also named as belonging to it.

Foremost among the leaders of this party should be mentioned the celebrated Tauler, a Dominican monk of Strasburg, who spent his life in preaching and teaching up and down the country from Strasburg to Cologne, and whose influence is to this day active among his countrymen by means of his admirable sermons, which are still widely read. At the time of the Interdict he wrote a noble appeal to the clergy not to forsake their flocks, maintaining that if the Emperor had sinned, the blame lay with him only, not with his wretched subjects, so that it was a crying shame to visit his guilt upon the innocent people, but that their unjust oppression would be recompensed to them by God hereafter. He acted up to his own principles, and when the Black Death was raging in Strasburg, where it carried off 16,000 victims, he was unwearied in his efforts to administer aid and consolation to the sick and dying.

Much of Tauler's religious fervour and light he himself attributed to the instructions of a layman, his friend. It is now known from contemporary records that this was Nicholas of Basle, a citizen of that Free town and a secret Waldensian. Little is known of his life beyond the fact that he was intimately connected with many of the heads of this party, and was resorted to by them for guidance and help; for, being under suspicion of heresy, he had to conceal all his movements from the Inquisition. He succeeded, however, in carrying on his labours and eluding his enemies, until he reached an advanced age; but at length, venturing alone and unprotected into France, he was taken, and burnt at Vienne in 1382. Another friend of Tauler's, and like him an eloquent and powerful preacher, whose sermons are still read with delight, was Henry Suso, a Dominican monk, belonging to a knightly family in Swabia.

One of the leaders of the "Friends of God," Nicholas of Strasburg, was in 1326 appointed by John XXII nuncio, with the oversight of the Dominican order throughout Germany, and dedicated to that Pope an Essay of great learning and ability, refuting the prevalent interpretations of Scripture, which referred the coming of Antichrist and the Judgment day to the immediate future. Thus we see that the "Friends of God" were not confined to one political party, and this likewise appears from the history of another celebrated member of this sect, Henry of Nordlingen, a priest of Constance, who, like Suso, was banished for his adherence to the Pope. One of the most remarkable men of this sect was a layman and married, Rulman Merswin, belonging to a high family at Strasburg. He appears to have been led to a religious life by the influence of Tauler, who was his confessor. He is the author of several mystical works which, he says, he wrote "to do good to his fellow creatures," but he contributed perhaps still more largely to their benefit by his activity in charitable works, for he established one hospital and seems to have had the oversight of others also. He likewise gave largely to churches and convents, but is best known by having founded a house for the Knights of St. John in Strasburg. The characteristic doctrines of the "Friends of God" have already been indicated. That they should not have fallen into some exaggerations was scarcely possible, but where they have done so, it may generally be traced to the influence of the monastic life to which most of them were dedicated, and to the perplexities of their age.

The book before us was probably written somewhere about 1350, since it refers to Tauler as already well known. It was the practice of the "Friends of God" to conceal their names as much as possible when they wrote, lest a desire for fame should mingle with their endeavours to be useful. This is probably the reason why we have no indication of its authorship beyond a preface, which the Wurtzburg Manuscript possesses in common with that which was in Luther's hands, and from which it appears that the writer "was of the Teutonic order, a priest and a warden in the house of the Teutonic order in Frankfort." A translation of this Preface is prefixed to the present volume. Till the discovery of the Wurtzburg Manuscript, it was supposed that this Preface was from Luther's hand, who merely embodied in it the tradition which he had received from some source unknown to us; and hence, some, disregarding its authority, have ascribed the Theologia Germanica to Tauler, whose style it resembles so much that it might be taken for his work, but for the reference to him already mentioned. Since, however, the antiquity of the Preface is now proved, we must be content with the information which it affords us, unless any further discoveries among old manuscripts should throw fresh light upon the subject.

Should this attempt to introduce the writings of the "Friends of God" in England awaken an interest in them and their works, the Translator proposes to follow up the present volume with an account of Tauler and selections from his writings; believing that the study of these German theologians, who were already called old in Luther's age, would furnish the best antidote to what of mischief English readers may have derived from German theology, falsely so called.

Manchester, February 1854.
Site Admin
Posts: 35581
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: THEOLOGIA GERMANICA, by Anonymous (Meister Eckhart)

Postby admin » Tue Oct 06, 2015 7:04 pm


77 Marina, St. Leonard's-on-Sea,

11th May 1854.


YOUR Letter and the proof-sheets of your Translation of the Theologia Germanica, with Kingsley's Preface and your Introduction, were delivered to me yesterday, as I was leaving Carlton Terrace to breathe once more, for a few days, the refreshing air of this quiet, lovely place. You told me, at the time, that you had been led to study Tauler and the Theologia Germanica by some conversations which we had on their subjects in 1851, and you now wish me to state to your readers, in a few lines, what place I conceive this school of Germanic theology to hold in the general development of Christian thought, and what appears to me to be the bearing of this work in particular upon the present dangers and prospects of Christianity, as well as upon the eternal interests of religion in the heart of every man and woman.

In complying willingly with your request, I may begin by saying that, with Luther, I rank this short treatise next to the Bible, but, unlike him, should place it before rather than after St. Augustine. That school of pious, learned, and profound men of which this book is, as it were, the popular catechism, was the Germanic counterpart of Romanic scholasticism, and more than the revival of that Latin theology which produced so many eminent thinkers, from Augustine, its father, to Thomas Aquinas, its last great genius, whose death did not take place until after the birth of Dante, who again was the contemporary of the Socrates of the Rhenish school, -- Meister Eckart, the Dominican.

The theology of this school was the first protest of the Germanic mind against the Judaism and formalism of the Byzantine and mediaeval Churches, -- the hollowness of science to which scholasticism had led, and the rottenness of society which a pompous hierarchy strove in vain to conceal, but had not the power nor the will to correct. Eckart and Tauler, his pupil, brought religion home from fruitless speculation, and reasonings upon imaginary or impossible suppositions, to man's own heart and to the understanding of the common people, as Socrates did the Greek philosophy. There is both a remarkable analogy and a striking contrast between the great Athenian and those Dominican friars. Socrates did full justice to the deep ethical ideas embodied in the established religion of his country and its venerated mysteries, which he far preferred to the shallow philosophy of the sophists; but he dissuaded his pupils from seeking an initiation into the mysteries, or at least from resting their convictions and hopes upon them, exhorting them to rely, not upon the oracles of Delphi, but upon the oracle in their own bosom. The "Friends of God," on the other hand, believing (like Dante) most profoundly in the truth of the Christian religion, on which the established Church of their age, notwithstanding its corruptions, was essentially founded, recommended submission to the ordinances of the church as a wholesome preparatory discipline for many minds. Like the saint of Athens, however, they spoke plain truth to the people. To their disciples, and those who came to them for instruction, they exhibited the whole depth of that real Christian philosophy, which opens to the mind after all scholastic conventionalism has been thrown away, and the soul listens to the response which Christ's Gospel and God's creation find in a sincere heart and a self-sacrificing life; -- a philosophy which, considered merely as a speculation, is far more profound than any scholastic system. But, in a style that was intelligible to all, they preached that no fulfilment of rites and ceremonies, nor of so-called religious duties, -- in fact, no outward works, however meritorious, can either give peace to man's conscience, nor yet give him strength to bear up against the temptations of prosperity and the trials of adversity.

In following this course they brought the people back from hollow profession and real despair, to the blessings of gospel religion, while they opened to philosophic minds a new career of thought. By teaching that man is justified by faith, and by faith alone, they prepared the popular intellectual element of the Reformation; by teaching that this faith has its philosophy, as fully able to carry conviction to the understanding, as faith is to give peace to the troubled conscience, they paved the way for that spiritual philosophy of the mind, of which Kant laid the foundation. But they were not controversialists, as the Reformers of the sixteenth century were driven to be by their position, and not men of science exclusively, as the masters of modern philosophy in Germany were and are. Although most of them friars, or laymen connected with the religious orders of the time, they were men of the people and men of action. They preached the saving faith to the people in churches, in hospitals, in the streets and public places. In the strength of this faith, Tauler, when he had been already for years the universal object of admiration as a theologian and preacher through all the free cities on the Rhine, from Basle to Cologne, humbled himself, and remained silent for the space of two years, after the mysterious layman had shown him the insufficiency of his scholastic learning and preaching. In the strength of this faith, he braved the Pope's Interdict, and gave the consolations of religion to the people of Strasburg, during the dreadful plague which depopulated that flourishing city. For this faith, Eckart suffered with patience slander and persecution, as formerly he had borne with meekness, honours and praise. For this faith, Nicolaus of Basle, who sat down as a humble stranger at Tauler's feet to become the instrument of his real enlightenment, died a martyr in the flames. In this sense, the "Friends of God" were, like the Apostles, men of the people and practical Christians, while as men of thought, their ideas contributed powerfully to the great efforts of the European nations in the sixteenth century.

Let me, therefore, my dear friend, lay aside all philosophical and theological terms, and state the principle of the golden book which you are just presenting to the English public, in what I consider, with Luther, the best Theological exponent, in plain Teutonic, thus: --

Sin is selfishness:
Godliness is unselfishness:
A godly life is the steadfast working out of inward freeness from self:
To become thus Godlike is the bringing back of man's first nature.

On this last point, -- man's divine dignity and destiny, -- Tauler speaks as strongly as our author, and almost as strongly as the Bible. Man is indeed to him God's own image. "As a sculptor," he says somewhere, with a striking range of mind for a monk of the fourteenth century, "is said to have exclaimed indignantly on seeing a rude block of marble, what a godlike beauty thou hidest!, thus God looks upon man in whom God's own image is hidden." "We may begin," he says in a kindred passage, "by loving God in hope of reward, we may express ourselves concerning Him in symbols (Bilder), but we must throw them all away, and much more we must scorn all idea of reward, that we may love God only because He is the Supreme Good, and contemplate His eternal nature as the real substance of our own soul."

But let no one imagine that these men, although doomed to passiveness in many respects, thought a contemplative or monkish life a condition of spiritual Christianity, and not rather a danger to it. "If a man truly loves God," says Tauler, "and has no will but to do God's will, the whole force of the river Rhine may run at him and will not disturb him or break his peace; if we find outward things a danger and disturbance, it comes from our appropriating to ourselves what is God's." But Tauler, as well as our Author, uses the strongest language to express his horror of Sin, man's own creation, and their view on this subject forms their great contrast to the philosophers of the Spinozistic school. Among the Reformers, Luther stands nearest to them, with respect to the great fundamental points of theological teaching, but their intense dread of Sin as a rebellion against God, is shared both by Luther and Calvin. Among later theologians, Julius Muller, in his profound Essay on Sin, and Richard Rothe, in his great work on Christian Ethics, come nearest to them in depth of thought and ethical earnestness, and the first of these eminent writers carries out, as it appears to me, most consistently that fundamental truth of the Theologia Germanica that there is no sin but Selfishness, and that all Selfishness is sin.

Such appear to me to be the characteristics of our book and of Tauler. I may be allowed to add, that this small but golden Treatise has been now for almost forty years an unspeakable comfort to me and to many Christian friends (most of whom have already departed in peace), to whom I had the happiness of introducing it. May it in your admirably faithful and lucid translation become a real "book for the million" in England, a privilege which it already shares in Germany with Tauler's matchless Sermons, of which I rejoice to hear that you are making a selection for publication. May it become a blessing to many a longing Christian heart in that dear country of yours, which I am on the point of leaving, after many happy years of residence, but on which I can never look as a strange land to me, any more than I shall ever consider myself as a stranger in that home of old Teutonic liberty and energy, which I have found to be also the home of practical Christianity and of warm and faithful affection.

Site Admin
Posts: 35581
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: THEOLOGIA GERMANICA, by Anonymous (Meister Eckhart)

Postby admin » Tue Oct 06, 2015 7:05 pm



Of that which is perfect and that which is in part, and how that which is in part is done away, when that which is perfect is come.

St. Paul saith, "When that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away." [6] Now mark what is "that which is perfect," and "that which is in part."

"That which is perfect" is a Being, who hath comprehended and included all things in Himself and His own Substance, and without whom, and beside whom, there is no true Substance, and in whom all things have their Substance. For He is the Substance of all things, and is in Himself unchangeable and immoveable, and changeth and moveth all things else. But "that which is in part," or the Imperfect, is that which hath its source in, or springeth from the Perfect; just as a brightness or a visible appearance floweth out from the sun or a candle, and appeareth to be somewhat, this or that. And it is called a creature; and of all these "things which are in part," none is the Perfect. So also the Perfect is none of the things which are in part. The things which are in part can be apprehended, known, and expressed; but the Perfect cannot be apprehended, known, or expressed by any creature as creature. Therefore we do not give a name to the Perfect, for it is none of these. The creature as creature cannot know nor apprehend it, name nor conceive it.

"Now when that which is Perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away." But when doth it come? I say, when as much as may be, it is known, felt and tasted of the soul. For the lack lieth altogether in us, and not in it. In like manner the sun lighteth the whole world, and is as near to one as another, yet a blind man seeth it not; but the fault thereof lieth in the blind man, not in the sun. And like as the sun may not hide its brightness, but must give light unto the earth (for heaven indeed draweth its light and heat from another fountain), so also God, who is the highest Good, willeth not to hide Himself from any, wheresoever He findeth a devout soul, that is thoroughly purified from all creatures. For in what measure we put off the creature, in the same measure are we able to put on the Creator; neither more nor less. For if mine eye is to see anything, it must be single, or else be purified from all other things; and where heat and light enter in, cold and darkness must needs depart; it cannot be otherwise.

But one might say, "Now since the Perfect cannot be known nor apprehended of any creature, but the soul is a creature, how can it be known by the soul?" Answer: This is why we say, "by the soul as a creature." We mean it is impossible to the creature in virtue of its creature-nature and qualities, that by which it saith "I" and "myself." For in whatsoever creature the Perfect shall be known, therein creature-nature, qualities, the I, the Self and the like, must all be lost and done away. This is the meaning of that saying of St. Paul: "When that which is perfect is come" (that is, when it is known), "then that which is in part" (to wit, creature-nature, qualities, the I, the Self, the Mine) will be despised and counted for nought. So long as we think much of these things, cleave to them with love, joy, pleasure or desire, so long remaineth the Perfect unknown to us.

But it might further be said, "Thou sayest, beside the Perfect there is no Substance, yet sayest again that somewhat floweth out from it: now is not that which hath flowed out from it, something beside it." Answer: This is why we say, beside it, or without it, there is no true Substance. That which hath flowed forth from it, is no true Substance, and hath no Substance except in the Perfect, but is an accident, or a brightness, or a visible appearance, which is no Substance, and hath no Substance except in the fire whence the brightness flowed forth, such as the sun or a candle.
Site Admin
Posts: 35581
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: THEOLOGIA GERMANICA, by Anonymous (Meister Eckhart)

Postby admin » Tue Oct 06, 2015 7:05 pm


Of what Sin is, and how we must not take unto ourselves any good Thing, seeing that it belongeth unto the true Good alone.

The Scripture and the Faith and the Truth say, Sin is nought else, but that the creature turneth away from the unchangeable Good and betaketh itself to the changeable; that is to say, that it turneth away from the Perfect to "that which is in part" and imperfect, and most often to itself. Now mark: when the creature claimeth for its own anything good, such as Substance, Life, Knowledge, Power, and in short whatever we should call good, as if it were that, or possessed that, or that were itself, or that proceeded from it, -- as often as this cometh to pass, the creature goeth astray. What did the devil do else, or what was his going astray and his fall else, but that he claimed for himself to be also somewhat, and would have it that somewhat was his, and somewhat was due to him? This setting up of a claim and his I and Me and Mine, these were his going astray, and his fall. And thus it is to this day.
Site Admin
Posts: 35581
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: THEOLOGIA GERMANICA, by Anonymous (Meister Eckhart)

Postby admin » Tue Oct 06, 2015 7:05 pm


How Man's Fall and going astray must be amended as Adam's Fall was.

What else did Adam do but this same thing? It is said, it was because Adam ate the apple that he was lost, or fell. I say, it was because of his claiming something for his own, and because of his I, Mine, Me, and the like. Had he eaten seven apples, and yet never claimed anything for his own, he would not have fallen: but as soon as he called something his own, he fell, and would have fallen if he had never touched an apple. Behold! I have fallen a hundred times more often and deeply, and gone a hundred times farther astray than Adam; and not all mankind could mend his fall, or bring him back from going astray. But how shall my fall be amended? It must be healed as Adam's fall was healed, and on the self-same wise. By whom, and on what wise was that healing brought to pass? Mark this: man could not without God, and God should not without man. Wherefore God took human nature or manhood upon Himself and was made man, and man was made divine. Thus the healing was brought to pass. So also must my fall be healed. I cannot do the work without God, and God may not or will not without me; for if it shall be accomplished, in me, too, God must be made man; in such sort that God must take to Himself all that is in me, within and without, so that there may be nothing in me which striveth against God or hindereth His Work. Now if God took to Himself all men that are in the world, or ever were, and were made man in them, and they were made divine in Him, and this work were not fulfilled in me, my fall and my wandering would never be amended except it were fulfilled in me also. And in this bringing back and healing, I can, or may, or shall do nothing of myself, but just simply yield to God, so that He alone may do all things in me and work, and I may suffer Him and all His work and His divine will. And because I will not do so, but I count myself to be my own, and say "I," "Mine," "Me" and the like, God is hindered, so that He cannot do His work in me alone and without hindrance; for this cause my fall and my going astray remain unhealed. Behold! this all cometh of my claiming somewhat for my own.
Site Admin
Posts: 35581
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: THEOLOGIA GERMANICA, by Anonymous (Meister Eckhart)

Postby admin » Tue Oct 06, 2015 7:06 pm


How Man, when he claimeth any good Thing for his own, falleth, and toucheth God in His Honour.

God saith, "I will not give My glory to another." [7] This is as much as to say, that praise and honour and glory belong to none but to God only. But now, if I call any good thing my own, as if I were it, or of myself had power or did or knew anything, or as if anything were mine or of me, or belonged to me, or were due to me or the like, I take unto myself somewhat of honour and glory, and do two evil things: First, I fall and go astray as aforesaid: Secondly, I touch God in His honour and take unto myself what belongeth to God only. For all that must be called good belongeth to none but to the true eternal Goodness which is God only, and whoso taketh it unto himself, committeth unrighteousness and is against God.
Site Admin
Posts: 35581
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: THEOLOGIA GERMANICA, by Anonymous (Meister Eckhart)

Postby admin » Tue Oct 06, 2015 7:06 pm


How we are to take that Saying, that we must come to be without Will, Wisdom, Love, Desire, Knowledge, and the like.

Certain men say that we ought to be without will, wisdom, love, desire, knowledge, and the like. Hereby is not to be understood that there is to be no knowledge in man, and that God is not to be loved by him, nor desired and longed for, nor praised and honoured; for that were a great loss, and man were like the beasts and as the brutes that have no reason. But it meaneth that man's knowledge should be so clear and perfect that he should acknowledge of a truth that in himself he neither hath nor can do any good thing, and that none of his knowledge, wisdom and art, his will, love and good works do come from himself, nor are of man, nor of any creature, but that all these are of the eternal God, from whom they all proceed. As Christ Himself saith, "Without Me, ye can do nothing." [8] St. Paul saith also, "What hast thou that thou hast not received?" [9] As much as to say -- nothing. "Now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory as if thou hadst not received it?" Again he saith, "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God." [10] Now when a man duly perceiveth these things in himself, he and the creature fall behind, and he doth not call anything his own, and the less he taketh this knowledge unto himself, the more perfect doth it become. So also is it with the will, and love and desire, and the like. For the less we call these things our own, the more perfect and noble and Godlike do they become, and the more we think them our own, the baser and less pure and perfect do they become.

Behold on this sort must we cast all things from us, and strip ourselves of them; we must refrain from claiming anything for our own. When we do this, we shall have the best, fullest, clearest and noblest knowledge that a man can have, and also the noblest and purest love, will and desire; for then these will be all of God alone. It is much better that they should be God's than the creature's. Now that I ascribe anything good to myself, as if I were, or had done, or knew, or could perform any good thing, or that it were mine, this is all of sin and folly. For if the truth were rightly known by me, I should also know that I am not that good thing and that it is not mine, nor of me, and that I do not know it, and cannot do it, and the like. If this came to pass, I should needs cease to call anything my own.

It is better that God, or His works, should be known, as far as it be possible to us, and loved, praised and honoured, and the like, and even that man should vainly imagine he loveth or praiseth God, than that God should be altogether unpraised, unloved, unhonoured and unknown. For when the vain imagination and ignorance are turned into an understanding and knowledge of the truth, the claiming anything for our own will cease of itself. Then the man says: "Behold! I, poor fool that I was, imagined it was I, but behold! it is and was, of a truth, God!"
Site Admin
Posts: 35581
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: THEOLOGIA GERMANICA, by Anonymous (Meister Eckhart)

Postby admin » Tue Oct 06, 2015 7:06 pm


How that which is best and noblest should also be loved above all Things by us, merely because it is the best.

A Master called Boetius saith, "It is of sin that we do not love that which is Best." He hath spoken the truth. That which is best should be the dearest of all things to us; and in our love of it, neither helpfulness nor unhelpfulness, advantage nor injury, gain nor loss, honour nor dishonour, praise nor blame, nor anything of the kind should be regarded; but what is in truth the noblest and best of all things, should be also the dearest of all things, and that for no other cause than that it is the noblest and best.

Hereby may a man order his life within and without. His outward life: for among the creatures one is better than another, according as the Eternal Good manifesteth itself and worketh more in one than in another. Now that creature in which the Eternal Good most manifesteth itself, shineth forth, worketh, is most known and loved, is the best, and that wherein the Eternal Good is least manifested is the least good of all creatures. Therefore when we have to do with the creatures and hold converse with them, and take note of their diverse qualities, the best creatures must always be the dearest to us, and we must cleave to them, and unite ourselves to them, above all to those which we attribute to God as belonging to Him or divine, such as wisdom, truth, kindness, peace, love, justice, and the like. Hereby shall we order our outward man, and all that is contrary to these virtues we must eschew and flee from.

But if our inward man were to make a leap and spring into the Perfect, we should find and taste how that the Perfect is without measure, number or end, better and nobler than all which is imperfect and in part, and the Eternal above the temporal or perishable, and the fountain and source above all that floweth or can ever flow from it. Thus that which is imperfect and in part would become tasteless and be as nothing to us. Be assured of this: All that we have said must come to pass if we are to love that which is noblest, highest and best.
Site Admin
Posts: 35581
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am


Return to Ancien Regime

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 10 guests