Christian Mysticism eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 407 pages of information about Christian Mysticism.

Of the other books of the New Testament it is not necessary to say much.  The Epistle to the Hebrews cannot be the work of St. Paul.  It shows strong traces of Jewish Alexandrianism; indeed, the writer seems to have been well acquainted with the Book of Wisdom and with Philo.  Alexandrian idealism is always ready to pass into speculative Mysticism, but the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews can hardly be called mystical in the sense in which St. Paul was a mystic.  The most interesting side of his theology, from our present point of view, is the way in which he combines his view of religious ordinances as types and adumbrations of higher spiritual truths, with a comprehensive view of history as a progressive realisation of a Divine scheme.  The keynote of the book is that mankind has been educated partly by ceremonial laws and partly by “promises.”  Systems of laws and ordinances, of which the Jewish Law is the chief example, have their place in history.  They rightly claim obedience until the practical lessons which they can teach have been learned, and until the higher truths which they conceal under the protecting husk of symbolism can be apprehended without disguise.  Then their task is done, and mankind is no longer bound by them.  In the same way, the “promises” which were made under the old dispensation proved to be only symbols of deeper and more spiritual blessings, which in the moral childhood of humanity would not have appeared desirable; they were (not delusions, but) illusions, “God having prepared some better thing” to take their place.  The doctrine is one of profound and far-reaching importance.  In this Epistle it is certainly connected with the idealistic thought that all visible things are symbols, and that every truth apprehended by finite intelligences must be only the husk of a deeper truth.  We may therefore claim the Epistle to the Hebrews as containing in outline a Christian philosophy of history, based upon a doctrine of symbols which has much in common with some later developments of Mysticism.

In the Apocalypse, whoever the author may be, we find little or nothing of the characteristic Johannine Mysticism, and the influence of its vivid allegorical pictures has been less potent in this branch of theology than might perhaps have been expected.


[Footnote 56:  In referring thus to the Book of Job, I rest nothing on any theory as to its date.  Whenever it was written, it illustrates that view of the relation of man to God with which Mysticism can never be content.  But, of course, the antagonism between our personal claims and the laws of the universe must be done justice to before it can be surmounted.]

[Footnote 57:  Jer. xxxi. 31-34.]

[Footnote 58:  Isa. xxxiii. 14-17.]

[Footnote 59:  See Appendix D, on the devotional use of the Song of Solomon.]

[Footnote 60:  Leathes, The Witness of St. John to Christ, p. 244.]

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Christian Mysticism from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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