Theosophical University Press Online Edition
Amboise, 6th March, 1793.
You will, Sir, perhaps find me very hard to please, but the 36 L strike me less than they do your Abbe. The Roman reckoning contains some true bases, as everything in the world does; but it is so mixed up with what is conventional that it yields little. All you get by your operation is the 18 centuries; and, by the addition of 3 to 6, of 1 to 8, the number 9, which, according to the figure, is the square of the three crowns, or rather, the three crosses. In short, I see merely an epoch of time, and no disclosure of any spiritual action concurring with that epoch. The Arab reckoning goes farther, and is also a better guide; it depicts, in nature, the passage, A thousand years are as one day, by the three noughts which follow the unity, and are only the image of this transient apparent world, which is as nothing before that living eternal unity. It thereby describes the unfolding of the six days' work, which has led many wise men to give only 6000 years' duration to this transitory phenomenon; and brings us to the 7th operation, which, at the Creation, was only the Sabbath of the Spirit, whilst, at the end, it will be the Sabbath of God. I believe, then, that the Arab reckoning carries the epoch in question a little further than the Roman, and I am satisfied that the great blows will not be struck till after our sixth millennium, that is, two thousand years after our present era. I am not the less convinced that things have already commenced, and therein your Roman calculation has a sort of coincidence with the events of our time — a view that does no harm, provided it is kept within its proper bounds; but, as to the three crowns, it has, I think, no relation to them; and to find the meaning of these three crowns, I think we must go higher than the Roman reckoning, higher even than the Arabian. We must look to the ways of the Spirit of life, which, since the beginning of things, seeks to re-enter all the kingdoms which we have lost, and which it can re-enter only by progression. In my first school, these three kingdoms were described by the names natural, spiritual, and divine; and, in man, thought, will, and action. Boehme describes them by the names of fire, light, and nature; our three principles, our triple life. Here only, then, shall we find the meaning of the three crowns. The natural and figurative kingdom lasted till Jesus Christ, and the spirit who has traversed that kingdom then receives his first crown. From Jesus Christ, to the seventh millennium, is the epoch of the spiritual kingdom — the kingdom of light — and, in this interval, the second crown is received. The third can be found only in the conquest of the kingdom of Iris, or fire; and everything seems to announce that this third or triple crown can appear only in the Sabbath of God, general, as well as individual; for, you know that everything is represented in the individual, as it is in the species, provided we are men of desire. Friend Boehme says things at once so deep and so striking, on this matter, that you may drink from him in long draughts. Read the numbers following the 44th, chap. xxx. of the 'Mysterium Magnum'; read, generally, all he says of the progressions of the Church of Henoch, and you will see how he puts us on the road himself; and, at the same time, how near a relationship his teaching and ours have to each other. I cannot enlarge on these great subjects in a letter; for, I confess to you, it is a path which is an abyss of wonders. Let us come to the physical communication of the active intelligent Cause.
I believe it possible, and so do you, Sir, like all other communications. As for my personal testimony, it would not have much weight, as this sort of proofs should be personal — our own, — to obtain their full and complete effects. Nevertheless, as I believe I speak to a man of moderation, calm and discreet, I will not withhold from you that in the school through which I passed, more than twenty-five years ago, communications of all kinds were numerous and frequent, in which I had my share, like many others; and that, in this share, every sign indicative of the Repairer was present. Now, you know the Repairer, and active Cause, are one. Nevertheless, as I was introduced by an initiation, and the danger of all initiations is lest we should be delivered over to the violent spirits of the world, as happened to Adam, when he initiated himself in his imagination ('Incarnation,' 3rd part, vi. 1), and his desire was not all of God, I cannot answer that the forms which showed themselves to me may not have been assumed forms, for the door is open to all initiations, and this is what makes these ways so faulty and suspicious. I know that Germany is full of these initiations; I know that the Cabinet of Berlin is guided, and leads its King by their means — and, hitherto, without much profit to boast of; I know, in short, that the whole earth is full of these prodigies; but, I repeat, unless things come from the centre itself, I do not give them my confidence. I can assure you I have received by the inward way, truths and joys a thousand times higher than those I have received from without.
The inward or centre is the principle of everything; so long as this centre is not open, the greatest external wonders may seduce without advancing us; and, if I may venture to say so, it is our inward which ought to be the true thermometer, the true touchstone, of what passes without. If our heart is in God, if it is really become divine, by love, faith, and ardent prayer, no illusion can surprise us.
If God is for us, who can be against us? We shall have none but profitable communications — none, in short, but such as we ought to have; whereas, by initiations, we get some we do not know what to do with; because there is no initiation, but that of God only, and his Eternal Word within us, which ought to manifest everything in us and by us, according to His will. Let us, therefore, think of nothing but that it may be born in us.
It is long since I heard from Count Divonne. . . . He is an emigre, which it is well for you to know. . . . When I write him, I address care of Madame Rasoumouski, at Lausanne. . . . I can say nothing of my projected journey to your country. Our political convulsions have had a serious influence on my family affairs, the issue of which it is impossible to foresee. Your kind offers make me the more regret these delays I am glad our two countries are again in unison it would be a great treat to me to visit yours. . . . I should be faithful to the incognito you recommend; not so much for fear of the emigrres' intrigues, as of their importunities. I am known to many of them. Some would take up, and follow our pursuits, anyhow; scores of others would follow my purse, and it would be hard to disoblige people whom I have known, and who are so numerous that I might ruin myself without much helping them. . . . Time will determine. . . . Farewell, Sir. &c.
A Letter of 15th March, 1793, is wanting.
Amboise, 26th March, 1793.
I AM delighted, Sir, that you are pleased with the acquaintance I procured you. He has been equally pleased on his side, and I congratulate myself on having brought it about. I wish, indeed, I were free to respond to your invitation to go and join you. But, besides the matters of business I told you of, we are at present tied down in this part of France by the disturbances in the neighbouring departments; no one can get a passport, even to travel in France. . . . I begin to think that the horrors foretold for my country by Joachim Greulich are coming to pass. You see my inability, and will sympathise with me.
Under these circumstances, I shall answer your questions briefly. Besides, my previous letters will have helped you, if not to solve the difficulties, to find fewer of them.
1st. I believe, with you, that the points of a proposition may extend to many subjects, since it is true that there is not a point which is not related to infinity. Every man must draw according to his strength, and see with his own eyes. I thought I had indicated some passages of Boehme that might have enlarged your ideas on the number 12 and its correspondences; look for them in my letters, for I forget them.
2nd. Wheat, wine, oil. -- If, Sir, you come to consider the sublimity of the universal and particular work of God, simply in your heart, you will see that the knowledge of these things can spring only out of its own fountain. I am far from possessing it entirely myself, and I am patient. My first teacher, to whom I put the same questions when I was young, answered me, that if, at sixty years of age, I had reached the end, I should not complain; and I am now only fifty. Try to feel that the best things may be learnt and not taught, and you will know more than the doctors. Besides, I shall always send you to Boehme, who, on all points, is ten million times better than a scribbler like me; and when I wrote, I was more a mere scribbler than I am now.
3rd. Numbers. — It is possible that every writer on this subject may have drawn from the fountain, and still all express themselves differently. The only way to get over their language is to go to the principles; the spirit is there, and there, consequently, are the means for rectifying the letter. Principles must lead numbers — not numbers, principles. For instance, I read every day in Boehme that there are four elements; and yet I am, geometrically, numerically, and metaphysically certain that there are only three. That does not prevent our understanding each other, because I see that our difference is only in expression, and that he comes into my meaning by the grand principles which he expounds. I repeat, then, that it is only by study, and instruction in principles, that we can find a regulator; and till we are brought thither through strict examinations, it will be wise to let results alone, because, their connection being unknown, they might weaken our faith in their foundation by weakening our courage, which has no light of its own.
I advise you, therefore, to take of all these things only what comes naturally to your mind, and to search out nothing in this order of science till you have received help; but to seek always in the renewing of your being, which will enable you to see all, when all is shown to you. This work, and reading Boehme the elect, will well fill up your time, till circumstances allow me to go and offer you the little aid that may be in my power, which will even be nothing, except in proportion as you may have profited by the lessons of our friend Boehme. I recommend you to read his 'Sixth Treatise, on the Super-Sensual Life,' and his 'Seventh Treatise, on Divine Contemplation.' I think you will there find plentiful harvests in the simplicity of the way, as well as in the sublimity of the ends.
Farewell, Sir. I must leave you now — unable to write to you more to-day. My kind compliments to M. Divonne, if you see him.
Berne, 29th March, 1793.
I SHOULD, Sir, before now, have acknowledged your valued and interesting letter of the 6th inst. if I had not had to make a journey in the service of our republic, from which I have returned only a few days since.
Notwithstanding the Abbe's support, I attach no more value to my observation than it may deserve, and I find your remarks on the subject perfectly just, and what you say, on the three crowns, very profound and interesting. I pass to the more important and confidential part of your letter, that about the physical communication of the intelligent Cause — in other words, the Repairer. Do not, for an instant, doubt the weight I attach to your personal experience: the facts you are kind enough to mention, which occurred in your school, leave not a vestige of doubt on my mind, as to their existence, and all the indicatory signs that accompanied them.
But an essential remark, which will weigh greatly with me, till you convince me to the contrary, is, that the manifestations which your school received were probably assumed forms. For this reason: since these communications fall upon the external sense of sight, I believe they can take such superb outlines, forms so imposing, and signs so awful, that it is hardly possible not to take them as true, even when they may be only counterfeits. A remarkable instance of this kind, which I heard of, about two years ago, is what occurred at the consecration of the Egyptian Masonic Lodge at Lyons, 27th July, 5556, according to their reckoning — which I believe to be incorrect. The labours lasted three days, and the prayers fifty-four hours; there were twenty-seven in the meeting. While the members were praying to the Eternal to manifest His approbation by a visible sign, and the Master was in the middle of his ceremonies, the Repairer appeared, and blessed the members assembled. He came down on a blue cloud, which served for vehicle to this apparition; gradually, he ascended again, on this cloud, which, from the moment of its descent from heaven to earth, acquired a splendour so dazzling that a young girl, C., who was present, could not bear its light. The two great prophets and the lawgiver of Israel also gave signs of their benevolence and approval. Who could reasonably doubt the fervour and piety of those twenty-seven members? Yet who was the institutor of the lodge? — who, though absent, ordained the ceremonies? Cagliostro! This one word suffices to show that error and counterfeit forms may follow the religious intentions and good faith of twenty-seven members met together. Thus, as it is not enough to be honest, or even religious, to be secure from error of this kind, the greatest happiness, beyond question, a mortal could have, would be the physical communication of the active and intelligent Cause; but, as you will admit, error and illusion almost always take the forms of truth in a manifestation of this importance. And how are we to distinguish the true from the counterfeit? You say "unless a thing come from the centre itself, I give it no confidence." On this, so true and important an assertion, I take the liberty to ask one question: Are there visible manifestations which come from the centre? or, in other words, the centre being open, are we still in a position to receive visible communications?
The three kingdoms which your school called natural, spiritual, and divine, might we not call them natural, astral, and divine?
Do not all those manifestations, which come through initiations, belong to the astral kingdom? and as soon as we place a foot in this domain, do we not enter into association with all the creatures which inhabit it, and who, for the most part, are not at all desirable company? Do we not enter into society with creatures who may excessively torment the operator who lives in this crowd, even to such an extremity as to drive him to despair, and suggest suicide — witness Schropfer and Count Cagliostro? No doubt there will be means left, more or less efficacious, by which the initiates may be preserved from extravagance; but, in general, it seems to me that this situation, out of the established order of Providence, may lead to results fatal to our advancement rather than otherwise. I repeat my question: do you believe in physical communications, emanating from, or produced in the centre? I call centre, in the poverty of my nomenclature, the interior of our souls; but I know not whether perception of any sort can penetrate to it; yes or no?
I look upon this divine part of ourselves as the vehicle, the birth-place of the Repairer, who ought to be engendered in us. The Word, once engendered in us, is, I believe, the means by which we have communication with the Father, and I believe that, by the flux and reflux of communion between the Word and the Father, the procreation of the Holy Spirit takes place in us, which, then, leads us into all truth. Thus, everything depends on the one thing needful, the birth of the Word within us. Hence the importance of every means to facilitate and make ready for this birth; hence the importance of not mistaking the meaning of the word centre; hence the necessity of concentrating ourselves within ourselves; hence the necessity of our co-operation in aspiring with our souls towards the Father, and diving again towards the centre, towards the heart where the Word is. Our friend Boehme says, in favour of my last-named opinion, something very profound, and little known: 'Imagination macht Wesenheit' (Threefold Life, chap. x. 48; and chap. iv. 45; 'Incarnation,' part i. chap. iii. 6-8). That is, that the imagination changes ideas into substances. This is diametrically opposed to the common opinion, that the imagination mistakes ideas for substances, and thereby becomes a source of error and delusion. Consistently with these principles, I must believe, that, by being always engaged with God, and desiring only Him, the Word will be born in us, and the ineffable correspondence of the Holy Trinity will work in our souls. In the passage of 'Incarnation,' part iii. chap. vi. 2, which you were good enough to allude to in your letter of 6th, there is a line strongly confirmative of my assertion. Our friend says: "Lust is an imagining, where the imagination winds or insinuates itself into all forms of nature, so that they all become impregnated with the thing, out of which the lust exists." As the external spirit of man is a figure of the internal, I believe it is also the case and mood of the substantive Word I have been speaking of.
You tell me you have received by the inward way, higher joys than you have by the outward. For the glory of our Lord, do not conceal from me the joys you have so received; do have the kindness to tell me when and how you attained to the centre, and whether you have had any external manifestations since. . . . Your advice, at the end of your letter, 26 March, is excellent; and it will be all the easier for me to follow it, because there is nothing but my great object which really interests me, and I would willingly sacrifice every kind of knowledge which does not help or lead to this; so I shall never seek any object without help, if this object would tend to throw me into the circumference. In turning with all my might to Him who is the fountain of life, I shall do all I can for the renewing of my being. For all the rest, I surrender myself to our great Benefactor. If I must remain in darkness, His will be done; I ask not for light, but for Him.
I will read carefully the two treatises of Boehme you point out to me. . . . Accept my sincere thanks for the interest you take in my advancement, and the proofs you give me of your friendship; you may be assured I know the great value of your counsels, and I shall do all I can to follow them. Farewell, Sir: I beg you not to forget me in your prayers.
Amboise, 5th April, 1793.
I TAKE the pen, Sir, to beg a little favour. I should like to have, in English, the works of Jane Lead, which are spoken of in your 'Arnold,' vol. ii. part 3, chap. xx. p. 519. I understand, her works, translated into German, are the 'Fountain of Gardens,' 8vo., besides three volumes with the narrative of all her visions. I am strongly recommended to read them. . . . Your position and scientific connections will put you in the way of procuring these books for me, which are spoken of as a real treasure, and I shall be greatly obliged to you. . . .
. . . Farewell, Sir: I congratulate you now more than ever, that you are allowed to breathe in political peace. It is far otherwise with me; I submit and adore; I then find a peace which far exceeds that of earth; but I must watch, that it may last.
Berne, 18th April, 1793.
I HAVE received, Sir, your note of 5th inst., and you may be sure I shall spare no pains to procure for you the works of Jane Lead. . . . The following are the titles of her works, besides her 'Fountain of Gardens,' or her journals, which is the same thing: —
1. 'The Heavenly Cloud, or Resurrection Ladder.' Printed in England. 1682. 4to.
2. 'The Revelation of Revelations! In 4to. 130 p.
3. 'The Enochian Life, and Walking with God! 1694. In 4to. 38 p.
4. 'The Laws of Paradise.' 1695. In 8vo. 69 p.
5. 'The Wonders of Divine Creation! In eight different worlds, as they were shown to the author. 1695. In 8vo. 89 p.
6. 'A Message to the Philadelphian Community.' 1696. In 12mo. 108 p.
7. 'The Tree of Faith, or The Tree of Life, which grows in the Paradise of God.' 1696. 12mo. 122 p.
8. 'The Ark of Faith! 1696. 33 p.
All these treatises have been translated into German, at Amsterdam, 1696, and it is from the German that the above titles are taken.
You have, doubtless, received my long letter of 29 March. Since then, I have been reading the two books of B. to which you called my attention. (You know how I love and respect B.) The passage which serves as explanation to the figure at the head of his treatise 'Of the Super-Sensual Life,' is, in my view, a masterpiece; and in its very commencement, B. directs to the best of all proofs, experience; but, with all that, I need not add, great difficulties remain: God grant we may get over them. Jane Lead, in the fragment to be found in 'Arnold,' 3rd part, xx. 23, says, in few words, a very deep thing: "We need to watch the opening of each centre, for the serpent has always some subtilty ready, to introduce himself wherever he can." This is general; but Jane Lead adds a particular remark which refers to the great question contained in my letter of 29 March. "Of all manifestations, the safest is the intellectual and divine manifestation which opens in the depths of the centre. Nevertheless, that does not mean that we should suppose that we ought always to remain glued to this point and advance no further, for there is another centre, still deeper, in which the Divinity, divested of all figure, and without image, may be known and seen in His own being, and in all His simplicity. This manner of manifestation is the purest, and, without exception, the least subject to error, in which our minds may repose as in their centre, eternally, and enjoy all the joys of angels, even before the throne of the Eternal."
You see how truly sublime a woman this Jane Lead was. In the uncertainty of which of her treatises I may obtain in London, I have ordered them all; a copy of each for you, and one for me; those you do not care for, you can leave for me. . . . You conclude your letters with an admirable precept: "Watch." We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, and the rulers of the darkness of this world, and spiritual wickedness in high places.
Amboise, 24th April, 1793.
I RECEIVED, Sir, your excellent letter of 29th ult. in due course; and was waiting for the one just received, to answer it. I pass at once to your question: Are there physical communications which emanate from or are produced by the centre? I find that, not only has Jane Lead very well answered this, in the extract you send me, but you have equally well answered it yourself, in saying that everything depended on the one thing needful, the birth of the Word within us. I will add my own opinion, viz. that this deep centre, itself, produces no physical form; which made me say in 'L'Homme de Desir,' that true love was without form, so no man had ever seen God. But this inward Word, when developed in us, influences and actuates all the powers of seconds, thirds, fourths, &c., and makes them produce their forms, according to the designs he may have in our favour: this, in my opinion, is the only source of manifestations. I will not, however, therefore, say that all which do not come this way are assumed forms, for every spirit produces its own form, according to the essence of its thought; but I will say that they are imitations which try to ape the true ones. Add to this all that the astral can bring in, all that the serpent can do by or through this astral, and you will see more than ever, how truly this centre is our only port of safety, our only fortress.
I had heard of all those adventures in Lyons, of which you speak; I do not hesitate to class them with the most suspicious order of things, notwithstanding that the good souls who were present may have received some happy transports, fruits of their piety and true desires; God continually brings good out of evil. I know also, the histories of Schropfer, and many others of the same sort, on whom a definite judgment has been passed long ago.
As for the manifestations which took place in my school, I believe them to have been much less tainted than the above; or, if they were tainted, there was a fire of life and desire in us all that preserved us, and even took us graciously on our way; but we knew then little of the centre. What I have known by this centre, and about which you inquire, is limited to delicious, internal transports, and sweet instructions which are found here and there in my writings, printed and manuscript. I am far from being very advanced in this centre, which I have seen, rather than handled, hitherto; and I have not remained fixed in it, as, by the grace of God, I hope to be some day. I have had some physical communications also, since these central affections, but less abundantly than when I followed the proceedings of my school; and even in those school proceedings I had less of the physical than most of my comrades. It was easy for me to perceive that my part lay more in intelligence than in operation, which Boehme has enabled me to understand well, in his Fifth Point, on magic, where I have clearly seen the difference between magus and magia. This physical, which I have experienced, though rarely, since my central affections, commands no more my confidence than all the rest; I pay little attention to it: thus, neither on that head, nor on my central openings, can I satisfy your curiosity. Moreover, I have said, repeatedly, that it is your personal work which most concerns you; the work of others can neither enter nor proceed from your substance, and all that is not of your substance is loss of time for you; and I tell you these truths again with the greater pleasure, that I see you are convinced of them yourself, since you seek to cast yourself, a corps perdu, in the arms of our Benefactor and Saviour. Let us turn to your letter of 18th April.
I will not refuse any of the works of Jane Lead; pray let me know how I can repay you the outlay. . . . I congratulate you on being able to follow, in peace, the things that are of God. Providence sees fit to condemn me to seclusion in this matter, for I know not how long. His will be done: pray sometimes for me.
Amboise, 2nd May, 1793.
. . . IN my last I begged you to request our mutual friend not to write to me till the storms which threaten my country clear up; all letters are opened, and I have already been called up before our constituted authorities to give an account of one of your letters, which they had stopped in the post-office. My answers seemed to satisfy them, and they gave me your letter. But I should have been more alarmed had one come from our friend; and his last might not have reached me, if the adventure with yours had not covered it with its wings. . . . Tell him that I have not been able to make any application of my numerical principles to the note he sent me, because he did not give me a single word to indicate what his idea bore upon; and consequently I could not judge it. Beg him to dictate to you a summary, as brief as he will, of his conceptions on this subject, and I will promise to send an answer immediately. He wishes I were a Swiss, like you and him; I also should wish it, that we might labour together in the field of man, and the Lord's vineyard; and, assuredly, the moment when divine Providence permits me to go and join you will be one of the brightest days of my life. But, doubtless, I have not deserved this happiness, and am condemned to all sorts of expiations; for all the temporal faculties of my being are constantly in agony; and these agonies are expected every instant to be changed into tortures.
But, thank God, the centre of my being still receives sweet consolations; and these consolations would extend to the external, if I were not so unworthy — I dare not say isolated, lest I should be judging myself too tenderly. Thus, in the midst of the abysses without end which surround me, and may any day swallow me up, I still sometimes eat manna, and my health is maintained. I am now reading the 'Signatura Rerum' of friend Boehme. What a depth there is in this unequalled man! The iv. chap. especially, is, in itself, an universal mine. But, what assistance, and how many fellow-labourers I ought to have, to dig in it! You, Sir, above all, who are more practised than I am in the physical sciences, would be of first-rate use to me in this reading, because your elementary knowledge would help me to clear up that of a higher order; and, in its turn, the higher would help to clear the lower. But let us leave all in the hands of God; for our friend B. teaches me that even a desire on our part is a sin, if it is not, as it were, melted and resulting from the divine and eternal desire, or that fire of love which burns in everything, because it is one. Amen.
The answer to this Letter was dated 14th May.
Berne, 12th May, 1793.
YOUR letter of 24th April, so full of light on those most important subjects, reached me in due course. You most satisfactorily confirm my views of the only source, the only way of true manifestations; this way is quite free from danger, and always leads to an exalted term.
The theurgy of Lyons may be decidedly classed amongst things of a most suspicious character. I met with an account of them, two years ago, in the criminal prosecution which was instituted against Cagliostro at Rome. Those facts are like a fence along a precipice; they prevent wayfarers from falling in. I have reason to believe that was a true account of the trial; and I thank you for what you tell me about your own experience.
Besides the passage you quote from our friend Boehme, there is also another which deserves our attention on this matter, closely allied to the means we ought to employ to obtain the one thing needful. I have found in 'Theosophic Questions,' iii. 33, 34, your lance composed of four metals. The question is: Will this lance serve to strike the rock with, out of which the spring of living water is to gush forth that is, will it serve to open the centre? What leads me to ask you this question is a passage in Jane Lead, 'Fountain of Gardens,' vol. i. p. 22: —
"The mind of wisdom thus opened itself in me, as I waited in my spirit upon her. She did show me what key would open the great mystery which lay deeply hid in myself. It was wrought and carved out of such pure gold as had passed through many fires; many keys I had tried, but could not turn in this secret enclosed lock; but still it shut upon me, though I thought I had that key which was compounded of such metals as would have made its entrance, as love, faith, patience, humility, which, with strong supplication and prayer, I presented as key of the work. All which was too short to reach it. Whereupon I was put to a loss altogether to seek how this gate should be opened, having compassed the holy city, and waited and tried every way where I might find passage, circling from one path to another, from prayer to prayer, and from faith to faith; so that in good earnest I began to consider I had not found this wonderful key, for want of which I might run out in waste all my days, and grope as in the dark, yet never find the door which opens into my true shepherd's fold. Whereupon being cast into a deep, astonishing silence and stillness, the Word of Wisdom thus opened itself to me. O, thou deep-searching spirit, marvel not thou hast been so long prostrated; for as to thy present state and dispensation, thou couldst never reach me to all eternity, for my birth in thee lies deeper than thy present gift of faith and prayer can open; thou hast, with many others, been in a great mistake. But inasmuch as thou ownest and bewailest thy great unskilfulness, I will make known to thee what key will turn this great wheel of my wisdom, so as it may move and manifest itself in thee, through all thy properties, if thou canst bid up to the price of it. For understand that it is compounded of all pure gold, subsisting in a burning furnace of many fires; and although this wonderful key is of Wisdom's carving out, and her free gift, yet, O, thou seeking spirit, she will cost thee very dear if ever thou obtainest her. Yet she goeth about seeking such as are worthy of her, and will show herself within the walls of the mind, and meet them in every thought, that waits for her laws and counsel, and brings a kingdom which will be well worth thy selling all for. But the great thing, saith Wisdom, now is to discipline and make thy spirit a cunning artist, to give it knowledge of what matter, in number, weight, and measure, this pure key is made of, which is all pure deity in the number Three; which is weighty indeed, being one exceeding weighty glory, sitting in the circle of the heaven within man's heart, measuring with the line of his power the temple and inward court with the worshippers therein. This is Wisdom's key, which will make our hands drop with sweet-smelling myrrh upon the handles of her lock. Which, while I was opening her private door with this key, my soul failed within me, and I retained no strength; my sun of reason, and the moon of my outward sense, were folded up and withdrew. I know nothing by myself as to those working properties from nature and creature; and the wheel of the motion standing still, another moved from a central fire; so that I felt myself transmuted into one pure flame. Then came that word to me, This is no other than the gate of my eternal deep; canst thou subsist in this fiery region, which is Wisdom's mansion, where she meets with holy abstracted spirits, and gives forth a fiery law, which, if thereunto thou canst give heed, so as to come up to her requirings, then no secret shall be withheld from thee? Thus far am I admitted to come into the entrance of her house, where I must stop till I hear further from her." . . .
What say you, Sir, to this key, its number, its weight, and its measure? Does it not remind you of your lance composed of four metals, and the passage from Boehme which I have quoted above? . . .
The remainder of this Letter is lost, owing to the paper being torn and wanting.
Amboise, 21st May, 1793.
I REPLY, Sir, to your two letters, 12th and 14th inst. I am delighted to find my lance of four metals in brotherhood with B. and Jane Lead. My only care was about this fundamental quaternion principle, which I got from my first school; and although, as I wrote to you long ago, all who walk in the same road say the same things, without knowing each other, I am very glad that you here see it confirmed.
You ask me if this lance will not serve for striking the rock out of which the living water has to flow? I have no doubt about it, nor Jane Lead either; but if she were here, she would tell you, with me, that all the virtue of that lance is in the principle from which it derives, and which engenders it continually. God has graciously bestowed upon us one part of this source; that is, the love-fire which he deigns to kindle in our souls, which, then acting in concord with this eternal principle, puts us in position to obtain the happiness which it is His first wish we should have. Those who, like common theurgists and mechanical cabalists, believe in the virtue of names devoid of this generative fire, are in a dangerous error, either for themselves or for those they guide; for these names are forms which cannot remain empty; and if we use them without first filling them with their natural pure substance, other substances may enter in and commit great ravages. Thus, the impious and the righteous may both pronounce the name of God; but for the one it is to his loss, and for the other to his salvation. On this subject, I will, en passant, give you a few verses I made at Strasbourg, for a person who asked me for the key to 'L'Homme de Desir.' These lines did not convince the person to whom I gave them, because he was altogether in the vortex of the most frivolous and ignorant of worlds; but I do not believe them to be less true for that. Here they are: —
Avant qu'Adam mangeat la pomme,
Sans effort nous pouvions ouvrir.
Depuis, l'oeuvre ne se consomme
Qu'au fen pur d'un ardent soupir;
La clef de L'Homme de Desir
Doit naitre du desir de l'homme.
It is perhaps rather candid in me to send you this trifle; at all events, I promise not to repeat it.
I cannot tell how much good you have done me with that passage from Jane Lead which you have sent me; it is of the purest gold, and I dare say quite new in quality, although the same truths are found in our other good theosophists; but nowhere else have they affected me so much. Oh! how much enjoyment I expect from the rest of the work! . . . Let us turn to your second letter.
There is only one species of manna. The Scriptures are full of it; Boehme explains it; Jane Lead puts your finger on it. May this manna make itself felt in your heart! . . . (Here follows a discussion on plans and means for getting to Switzerland.) Your last letter, 14th inst., was stopped at the "Comite de Surveillance" at Paris, from whence it was forwarded to me under another seal besides yours. . . . Farewell. &c.
The answer to the above is dated 8th June 1793.
Amboise, 21st June, 1793.
I HAVE known something, Sir, of those arithmetical tricks you speak of. They began with the use of Hebrew letters, which they translated into ciphers, according to their value. The results were sometimes curious, but did not reach very high. It was a German in Franconia who communicated his proceedings to me, which I have forgotten; I did not think much of them, and made still less use of them. The Jews are famous for all these sorts of cabalas; and you may judge how many varieties there are, from tricks at cards to the Great Name, which is the only real cabala, the only one worthy of man, because it is the only one worthy of Him whose image man is.
I am glad you liked my little rhymes; but you may be sure I shall give you no more; such trifles belong no longer to my age.
You cannot be blamed for considering the Virgin as a truly helpful being. But she will never be a mediator for any but those who have looked no higher. She is pure, she is holy, she had her share of Sophia, like all saints and all the elect; we ought to feel very happy when God permits her to be with us and pray with us (which is a very Catholic expression); but she should never be considered indispensable for any one. Her work is accomplished in giving birth to the Saviour, and opening for us the fountain of eternal life. She thereby did infinitely more than she can ever do hereafter. Besides, she did not give birth to the Word, but to the Christ; thus, she can never give birth to the Word in us. Nevertheless, I think every one should be allowed a measure of faith according to his capacity. As for you, Sir, who allude only to the profit that may be derivable from her intercourse, I repeat, I do not believe I ought to contest it. It is said, cum electo electus eris; but I think I can say to you, you know a greater Elect than she, viz. her Son. From Him only may you look for your eternal election; you are the brother of Him who said to the Virgin, "Woman, what have I to do with thee?" . . . Farewell, Sir; may you enjoy your leisure in peace, and the quietness of your happy abode. . . . Storms are gathering here daily more and more . . . .
Morat, 6th July, 1793.
I HAVE just received your letter of 21st June. . . . I hasten to answer it.
We are entirely agreed in regard to the cabalists, who, apparently, are mostly found in Germany. It is the Great Name alone, which, as you truly say, is a cabala worthy of man. What interesting things might be said about its use and the circumstances under which this is permitted or authorized. I should highly value your sentiments hereupon.
As the subject of the Queen of Saints, as she is called in your Church, is interesting in many respects, I will try to give you my ideas on it more in detail than in my last letter: we cannot be too precise and exact in such things.
I quite agree that the knowledge of the opinions I alluded to is by no means indispensable; and even supposing them to be correct and well founded, their power would act independently of our knowledge or co-operation. Our knowledge and adhesion to these ideas might, at most, help a little to shorten the work. When I spoke of the company of that pure and holy being, I meant the communion that may exist between intellectual beings, not limited either by time or place. We have (I say it under correction) an organ for its enjoyment, the inward centre of our souls; so I do not mean her physical presence or communication. You know I have never asked you how to obtain this sort of communications; not that I would despise them, — far from it; I look upon them as particular favours, well qualified to leave profound impressions in our souls, and to be of immense advantage to us in our onward course. It is only on account of the danger that attends such subjects, that I am reserved in speaking of it; you know how much might be said about it. It would be an unspeakable advantage, if this way could be kept free from all intervention and imitation from the lower region. The scene I told you of at Lyons, on the consecration of a lodge, is a prominent example of this kind, and ought to awaken our distrust.
You say, quite to my own mind, that Mary did not give birth to the Word, but to the Christ. Here is, in brief, the theory that might serve for basis of the opinion I communicated to you in my last; please to give me your opinion on it: —
"Just as, in the lower temporal order, nothing is produced unless on a basis, or a virgin, so, also, in the most sublime, the divine order, the Word is engendered from eternity on a basis which, though substantial, is an infinite nothing, the virgin, the divine wisdom, Sophia. It is this divine virgin which united hypostatically with the humanity of Mary; and it is, again, this same divine origin, united with the humanity of Mary, that can enter in our hearts, and serve as basis on which the Word is engendered."
Confront this theory with some passages of Boehme. 'The Three Principles,' xxii. Nos. 38, 41, 43-5, 61, 71, 74-82. 'The Incarnation,' Part I., chap. viii., and particularly chap. ix., Nos. 12, 21, 22; chap. x. Nos. 1, 7. And to prove that the infinite nothing is nothing else but Sophia, the eternal Wisdom, see 2nd of 177 'Theosophic Questions,' Nos. 4 and 12, and the figure engraved at the head of the 'Aurora.' Sophia is visible as a pure spirit; her body is the subtle element called the Holy ternary. See 'Three Principles,' xxii. 72. And, what is very extraordinary for a Protestant, our friend B. asserts that the Virgin's body was not, after death, subject to the general law, and did not see corruption. See 1 Apolog. v. Tilkin, No. 334. . . . There seems to be little hope of obtaining the works of Jane Lead, except in German . . . amongst the old book dealers . . . at Strasbourg or Frankfort.
Amboise, 21st July, 1793.
MY answer to your first question, Sir, will be short; but I think not the less substantial.
My belief is, in regard to the use of the Great Name, that we ought never to make use of it of ourselves, but wait always for it to engender, form, and pronounce itself in us. I believe this is the only way for us never to take it in vain. I know this theory is very high; but that is the rule I adopt for myself; so I will say nothing of what comes of it. I treat you as myself, that is, as a friend.
As to Sophia, I have no doubt she may be born in our centre. I have no doubt that the divine Word can also be born there by that means, as He was thus born in Mary. But all this, for us, will pass spiritually, and, if we can feel it in this way, we never then see it otherwise than intellectually; this is no strange language for those who are a little acquainted with manifestations. Whatever shows itself more physically and externally will not come from us, nor from our own centre, although our centre may be warmed and gladdened thereby. Thus the Word, the Sophia, the Mary even, which can be manifested externally, will be the Word, Sophia, and Mary already formed before us, seeking to revive and encourage us in our own work, which is to do those things in ourselves, not now, by external generation in another being, as at the Incarnation, but by the intimate re-birth of ourselves, which ought to make us like all those beings in holiness, purity, and light.
I think, Sir, I answer you sufficiently clearly on this subject, that we may henceforward consider it settled; for it is to practice and prayer we must look for demonstrations which cannot come from the hand of man. I do not think our friend Boehme will contradict me in this.
I am very sorry for your ill success in your search for the works of J. Lead in English. . . . Let me beg you will try to get them for me in German.
. . . . I thank you sincerely, Sir, for your good wishes for my tranquillity. I believe they must be granted, for, notwithstanding the thorns of every kind on which I must make my bed, day and night, there are still roses there; and, notwithstanding the exile I am in, which is worse than that of the Jews at Babylon, — for they were together, and I am alone, — the God of all goodness is not far from me; and if I were less indolent in seeking Him, I should not even feel the want of company. I must acknowledge also, in gratitude for the loving kindness of this supreme God, that, in the midst of the troubles which so cruelly rend my unhappy country, I have been preserved every way, as if the hand which watches over me was afraid of leaving me for an instant. In short, if it must be said, I am treated, in comparison with my fellow-citizens, like a spoiled child. . . .