Christian Mysticism eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 407 pages of information about Christian Mysticism.
is more meritorious than to love our neighbour.[315]” All this is not of the essence of Mysticism, but belongs to mediaeval Catholicism.  It was probably a necessary stage through which Christianity, and Mysticism with it, had to pass.  The vain quest of an abstract spirituality at any rate liberated the religious life from many base associations; the “negative road” is after all the holy path of self-sacrifice; and the maltreatment of the body, which began among the hermits of the Thebaid, was largely based on an instinctive recoil against the poison of sensuality, which had helped to destroy the old civilisation.  But the resuscitation of mediaeval Mysticism after the Renaissance was an anachronism; and except in the fighting days of the sixteenth century, it was not likely to appeal to the manliest or most intelligent spirits.  The world-ruling papal polity, with its incomparable army of officials, bound to poverty and celibacy, and therefore invulnerable, was a reductio ad absurdum of its world-renouncing doctrines, which Europe was not likely to forget.  Introspective Mysticism had done its work—­a work of great service to the human race.  It had explored all the recesses of the lonely heart, and had wrestled with the angel of God through the terrors of the spiritual night even till the morning.  “Tell me now Thy name” ...  “I will not let Thee go until Thou bless me.”  These had been the two demands of the contemplative mystic—­the only rewards which his soul craved in return for the sacrifice of every earthly delight.  The reward was worth the sacrifice; but “God reveals Himself in many ways,” and the spiritual Christianity of the modern epoch is called rather to the consecration of art, science, and social life than to lonely contemplation.  In my last two Lectures I hope to show how an important school of mystics, chiefly between the Renaissance and our own day, have turned to the religious study of nature, and have found there the same illumination which the mediaeval ascetics drew from the deep wells of their inner consciousness.


[Footnote 284:  Rousselot, Les Mystiques Espagnols, p. 3.]

[Footnote 285:  Among the latter must be mentioned the growth of Scotist Nominalism, on which see a note on p. 187.  Ritschl was the first to point out how strongly Nominalism influenced the later Mysticism, by giving it its quietistic character.  See Harnack, History of Dogma (Eng. tr.), vol. vi. p. 107.]

[Footnote 286:  Cf. the beginning of the Vida de Lazarillo de Tormes, corregida y emendada por Juan de Luna (Paris, 1620).  “The ignorance of the Spaniards is excusable.  The Inquisitors are the cause.  They are dreaded, not only by the people, but by the great lords, to such an extent that the mere mention of the Inquisition makes every head tremble like a leaf in the wind.”]

[Footnote 287:  Pedro Malon de Chaide:  “Las cosas en Dios son mismo Dios.”]

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Christian Mysticism from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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