Christian Mysticism eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 330 pages of information about Christian Mysticism.

[Footnote 252:  Many passages might be quoted.  The ordinary conclusion is that Mary chose the better part, because activity is confined to this life, while contemplation lasts for ever.  Augustine treats the story of Leah and Rachel in the same way (Contra Faust.  Manich. xxii. 52):  “Lia interpretatur Laborans, Rachel autem Visum principium, sive Verbum ex quo videtur principium.  Actio ergo humanae mortalisque vitae ... ipsa est Lia prior uxor Jacob; ac per hoc et infirmis oculis fuisse commemoratur.  Spes vero aeternae contemplationis Dei, habens certam et delectabilem intelligentiam veritatis, ipsa est Rachel, unde etiam dicitur bona facie et pulcra specie,” etc.]

[Footnote 253:  Moreover, he is never tired of insisting that the Will is everything.  “If your will is right, you cannot go wrong,” he says.  “With the will I can do everything.”  “Love resides in the will—­the more will, the more love.”  “There is nothing evil but the evil will, of which sin is the appearance.”  “The value of human life depends entirely on the aim which it sets before itself.”  This over-insistence on purity of intention as the end, as well as the beginning, of virtue, is no doubt connected with Eckhart’s denial of reality and importance to the world of time; he tries to show that it does not logically lead to Antinomianism.  His doctrine that good works have no value in themselves differs from those of Abelard and Bernard, which have a superficial resemblance to it.  Eckhart really regards the Catholic doctrine of good works much as St. Paul treated the Pharisaic legalism; but he is as unconscious of the widening gulf which had already opened between Teutonic and Latin Christianity, as of the discredit which his own writings were to help to bring upon the monkish view of life.]

[Footnote 254:  As an example of his free handling of the Old Testament, I may quote, “Do not suppose that when God made heaven and earth and all things, He made one thing to-day and another to-morrow.  Moses says so, of course, but he knew better; he only wrote that for the sake of the populace, who could not have understood otherwise.  God merely willed and the world was.”]

[Footnote 255:  E.g.  “Da der vatter seynen sun in mir gebirt, da byn ich der selb sun und nitt eyn ander.”]

[Footnote 256:  So Hermann of Fritslar says that the soul has two faces, the one turned towards this world, the other immediately to God.  In the latter God flows and shines eternally, whether man is conscious of it or not.  It is therefore according to man’s nature as possessed of this Divine ground, to seek God, his original; and even in hell the suffering there has its source in hopeless contradiction of this indestructible tendency.  See Vaughan, vol. i. p. 256; and the same teaching in Tauler, p. 185.]

LECTURE V

[Greek:  “Ho thronos tes theiotetos ho nous estin emon.”]

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Christian Mysticism from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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