Christian Mysticism eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 407 pages of information about Christian Mysticism.
the thought ceases to be mystical.  The two ideals of self-assertion and self-sacrifice are both true and right, and both, separately, unattainable.  They are opposites which are really necessary to each other.  I have quoted from Vatke’s attempt to reconcile grace and free-will:  another extract from a writer of the same school may perhaps be helpful.  “In the growth of our experience,” says Green, “an animal organism, which has its history in time, gradually becomes the vehicle of an eternally complete consciousness.  What we call our mental history is not a history of this consciousness, which in itself can have no history, but a history of the process by which the animal organism becomes its vehicle.  ‘Our consciousness’ may mean either of two things:  either a function of the animal organism, which is being made, gradually and with interruptions, a vehicle of the eternal consciousness; or that eternal consciousness itself, as making the animal organism its vehicle and subject to certain limitations in so doing, but retaining its essential characteristic as independent of time, as the determinant of becoming, which has not and does not itself become.  The consciousness which varies from moment to moment ... is consciousness in the former sense.  It consists in what may properly be called phenomena....  The latter consciousness ... constitutes our knowledge” (Prolegomena to Ethics, pp. 72, 73).  Analogous is our moral history.  But no Christian can believe that our life, mental or moral, is or ever can be necessary to God in the same sense in which He is necessary to our existence.  For practical religion, the symbol which we shall find most helpful is that of a progressive transformation of our nature after the pattern of God revealed in Christ; a process which has as its end a real union with God, though this end is, from the nature of things, unrealisable in time.  It is, as I have said in the body of the Lectures, a progessus ad infinitum, the consummation of which we are nevertheless entitled to claim as already ours in a transcendental sense, in virtue of the eternal purpose of God made known to us in Christ.


The Mystical Interpretation Of The Song Of Solomon

The headings to the chapters in the Authorised Version give a sort of authority to the “mystical” interpretation of Solomon’s Song, a poem which was no doubt intended by its author to be simply a romance of true love.  According to our translators, the Lover of the story is meant for Christ, and the Maiden for the Church.  But the tendency of Catholic Mysticism has been to make the individual soul the bride of Christ, and to treat the Song of Solomon as symbolic of “spiritual nuptials” between Him and the individual “contemplative.”  It is this latter notion, the growth of which I wish to trace.

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Christian Mysticism from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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