Theosophical University Press Online Edition
Louesch en Valais, 8th August, 1793.
WITH the liveliest satisfaction, Sir, have I received your sublime letter of 21st ult. Your theory on the use of the Great Name of names is very high; it seems, however, quite clear to me, and entirely conformable with my own ideas. The distinction also which you make between the intellectual sight, and that which is external and physical, appears also clear and distinct, though I am but a gentile. So true is it that Sophia can manifest herself externally and physically, that the first physical manifestation J. Lead had was that of Sophia. She describes this communication at large in her 'Fountain of Gardens.' If I do not succeed soon in finding her works for you, I will avail myself of some leisure moments to translate the passage for you. Pordage, in his 'Angelic World,' insists strongly on the use and importance of physical communications, the great point being to avoid the shoals. As for me, I look upon manifestations, when they are real ones, as an excellent mean for advancing our inward work; and I believe that a lifting up of the soul to the Supreme Being, adherence to the active and intelligent Cause, purity of will which desires only to approach more nearly, and unite with, the source of all light, without any return to ourselves; and the Name of Names, — are infallible means of receiving these gifts without mixture or illusion. Pordage shows me the importance of physical communications; but what the English of to-day, not Pordage, call second sight, which they acquire by tradition or initiation, appears to me always to lead into a region where the good and bad orders are mixed and seek society with us. I imagine different sorts of progress amongst men of desire, each of whom produces effects more or less elevated and pure. But must we pass through the second sight to arrive at pure communications? Your advice on this would be very acceptable. . . .
The above letter was followed by one of 6th Sept., 1793.
Petit Bourg, 9th Sept. 1793.
. . . . YOUR letter, 8th Aug., has been forwarded to me here. I see, by it, that what torments you most is the question of communications, and you will not rest till it is settled. You know all I have said to you on the subject; you have agreed to it, so I will not return to it. But, not to leave your last question about second sight unanswered, I will say that I know no general law about it, and to answer affirmatively or negatively would be making one. I think there are as many ways in this as there are points of departure for different travellers. I think the matter itself has acted variously on the elect, giving to some, merely internal communications without any external; to others, external ones only and no internal; to others, both. I believe that the traditions or initiations called second sight may have misled some men, and been useful to others, because, with upright beginnings and a well-intentioned heart, God sometimes leads us to the light, even over precipices. But, with the information you now possess, you ought to be certain that no tradition or initiation of man can ever be sure of leading you to pure communications, because God alone gives them. Hold fast therefore where you are; seek only to strip yourself of all Ichheit (I-hood), of all Selbheit (self-hood); employ your faculties only to place them altogether in His hand who only seeks to rule them all, and laissez faire, be passive; He will know better than all the savants of the world where you ought to go, and how you ought to go.
. . . . I have received from Strasbourg some extracts in French from Jane Lead. . . . What little I have thus seen fills me with admiration, and I am sure that whatever you can send me of this author, whether in English, or German, or French, will only add to my pleasure. . . .
Farewell, Sir: I commend myself to your love and your prayers. I am now reading the 'Mysterium Magnum' of our friend Boehme. What depths this author opens to me! If he had not condemned even the smallest desire in man, I should indulge one, that I might be permitted to converse with people who know his doctrine and his language well, for I have nothing of the sort near me. But the will of God be done! There is no situation from which fruit may not be gathered, for God is everywhere, and there is not a point in the atmosphere which is without the vegetable soil of the garden of Eden. I write little at present on these subjects; the gates of wrath are those which are now opened on the earth; we must wait for days of peace to open to us the gates of love. Alloys here might have fatal consequences; I exhort you to the like reserve.
Morat, 18th Sept. 1793.
. . . . I FEEL with you the necessity of denudation; the grand thing is to give it the right direction and measure, without which we fall into a labyrinth which may lead to discouragement. To have no will but the will of God, requires the previous knowledge and discernment what is the will of God. There is a means which protects us from disquietude, desires, bitter internal reproaches, self-will, temptations, &c., and greatly furthers our work of self-denudation by killing all the external seductions which counterweigh the benefits we might receive elsewhere; it is a return to, a refuge in our centre, in our heart, the interior of our soul. If we there seek Him who treadeth on the serpent's head, and crushes it with His heel, suffering Him to fight for us, He will do it most successfully. Our sublime friend B. shows all this by one energetic word, and calls our hero the Serpent-bruiser.
I should not have time to translate Jane Lead's account of her first external communication with Sophia; but, instead of that narrative, I will give you Pordage, who was J. Lead's friend and director; it will show you something of this man's principles. It is taken from the preface of his treatise on 'Sophia.' This preface is a summary of the work itself.
"Happy are they who hunger and thirst for Sophia, for they will see, in the following treatise, that she promises to descend into them with her divine principle and her World of Light. A considerable time, however, may pass, sometimes twenty years or more, before the eternal Wisdom really communicates and reveals herself so as to shed tranquillity and peace in the soul of him who desires her, for, after vainly seeking different ways to get to her, the soul, disappointed in its hopes, falls at last, without any strength left, in lassitude and discouragement. If then, neither fervent prayer nor religious meditation can do anything, and no entreaty, however earnest, avails to induce her to come down and abide in our souls, we are then convinced that, by our own efforts, our acts of faith and hope, or by the activity of our mind, it is utterly impossible for us to break through the wall of separation which is between us and the Divine Principle, all these keys being powerless to open the door to this principle. And when our soul then finds that, in hitherto following the road of Ascension, it has always missed its object, it concludes that this was not the right way (even though it may have been treated on the way with communications and heavenly revelations), but that the only path to arrive at Divine Wisdom and her principle, is by descending, to sink inwardly into one's own ground, and look no more without.
"When the soul takes this road, and sinks into itself, then the gates of the depths of Wisdom open, and the soul is introduced into the holy eternal principle of the world of light; in the new magical earth, in which the virgin Sophia, or Divine Wisdom, shows herself, and discloses her beauties.
'But if the soul here is not sufficiently watchful, and firm enough to concentrate itself continually in its centre of nature (Centrum naturae), and, through its passive tranquillity, it do not so sink into this abyss, this chaos, out of which the new paradise is formed, as to rise again, and fly up on high, it is then in the greatest danger of being surrounded, and cruelly tempted by a crowd of innumerable spirits; from either the dark world, or from the elementary astral principle. But, in its extremity, its heavenly protector appears again, to strengthen it, and repeat and confirm its first lesson," &c.
Well, Sir, what do you say of Doctor Pordage? He was chief of a little school of elect, amongst whom were Jane Lead and Thomas Browne; all of whom enjoyed manifestations of a high and distinguished character. . . .
Towards the end of your letter, 9th inst. you speak of a vegetable earth, and say that there is not a point in the atmosphere which does not contain it. Have the goodness to communicate some particulars of the nature of this earth, and the way to acquire it. Will it be the light hidden in the elements which you mentioned in one of your last year's letters? Is it a real substance, or only a power, an intellectual representation? Is it the Ternarius Sanctus, the sacred element, the holy land of our friend B.? Pray tell me whether you possess it, and the shortest way to obtain it; whether it is visible and palpable to our external senses, or whether it can be seen, touched, and felt only by our inward man. . . . I beg you to have me in your prayers, that I may be strengthened in the conflicts in which we have continually to engage. 'We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of darkness and spiritual wickedness in high places.'
P. S. If your vegetable earth is the pure element, and the outward elements enclose the pure, the atmospheric air must therefore contain the pure element, the Ternarium Sanctum, the body of Sophia, the vegetable earth; consequently, in breathing the air, we ought to be able to nourish ourselves, even physically, with the heavenly body of the active and intelligent Cause, &c. And if our heart opens itself, it may and ought, at each breath, to receive the spiritual nourishment contained in this divine manner; thus the air would be the great Vehicle?
Paris, 23rd Oct. 1793.
I HAVE hardly time for more than one word on the two important passages of your last letter. One, the denudation: I find your description perfectly correct, and I can vouch that our uncertainty as to the will of God, in regard to ourselves, vanishes gradually, in proportion as we seek it and desire it with all our faculties, and regulate all our acts and conduct to that end. The second is the vegetable earth; it is all that you describe, at once.
My meaning, in my letter, referred only to Sophia, and the glorious body I spoke of before; and you know enough of this to see that it is truly the promised land. This does not prevent the word vegetable land applying to all regions. Thus, there is a vegetable land which is material, that of our fields; there is a spirituous one, which is the pure element; there is a spiritual one, which is Sophia; there is a vegetable land divine, which is the Holy Spirit and the Ternarium Sanctum. You see, Sir, our views hereupon are much the same.
As for the possession of this holy land, I can indicate no other means of attaining it, than those mentioned above, and one which I have spoken of fully in all our correspondence. I shall still refer you to it, that you may so continue to seek for everything in God, as to expect nothing but from him. Watch and pray, and do not doubt, that, if you belong to a tribe of Israel, or conform to the law of the Spirit which rules that holy people, you will obtain admittance amongst them, and, like them, have your portion in the heritage of Abraham.
Farewell, Sir. . . . I beg you will in future suppress the title of Monsieur on your letters, and substitute that of Citoyen; this is the present style of every one belonging to the French nation, and I am zealous to conform to it.
Morat, 30th Oct, 1793.
YOUR letter of 23rd inst. has relieved me from great anxiety, not knowing whether some accident might have happened to you. . . . For the next three months please direct your letters for me at Bale, chez M. Lucas Serazin. . . . I have employed an agent to ransack Schafhausen, Zurich, and Bale, to find the works of Pordage and Jane Lead, and those you want of Boehme. To Providence and you, Sir, I owe my knowledge of these chosen ones; and you must esteem as one amongst the good actions of your life the pains you have taken to bring me into their society; it is one of the greatest benefits I ever received.
Thank you for your elucidations in regard to the different sorts of vegetable earth, and, that there may be no misunderstanding between us, on our ideas and names of things, I will set down, in abstract my chain of thoughts on the subject.
Our sublime Repairer, whose name I pronounce only in prostration of spirit before Him, said: He that believeth in me hath eternal life.
Our friend B., in his xlvi. chap. 39 v., explains what true belief is. A proof, how correct this explanation is, occurs immediately after the passage I have just quoted. Jesus Christ says: I am the bread of life. And, in v. 53 of the same chap., John vi., the Repairer adds: Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. And, chap. iii. v. 36, He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life. Thus we see the identity of the means for having the life, and the correctness of B.'s explanation. Now, the great question is: how can we obtain this heavenly nourishment? And on this important point our friend B. is very luminous: he calls the sacred body Sophia (V. his xlvi. Letter, v. 40). This Sophia, which is animated by the Holy Spirit, is substantial, without being corporeal, like our bodies. ('Threefold Life,' v. 50.) The substantiality comes from the pure Element which serves for her envelope (v. 53). It is the spirit of the pure Element (Three Principles,' 22, No. 26). The pure Element is nearest to our world ('Clavis,' 106.) And I, I believe that the subtile ether is what approaches nearest to the pure element, because it is in the air that the Holy Spirit is hidden, as in his heaven, through the gradation I have just indicated; and this heaven is in our heart. (See Aurora,' xxiii.70.) The air being the cause of all life and movement, the Holy Spirit ruling in the sweetness of the air (Aurora,' i. 15 and 16).
Thus, every time we breathe with entire abandonment of self, and full trust in the loving kindness of our divine Master, we receive the sacred body, which is everywhere, and we saturate our hearts with the pure element, in which, and by which alone, we can be born again to a new life.
This is a great and important truth, and generally most hidden from man. It is founded, not only on the doctrine of Boehme, but also on experience. . . . . Farewell, &c. . . .
The Letter which followed the above is dated 20th November, beginning with "I have just forwarded by the diligence a volume of Jane Lead," &c.
THE two volumes have just arrived; accept, Sir, my thanks for the precious gift. I have already run over them sufficiently to see that, with some labour, I shall get to understand them, and I promise myself happy results from the reading. My most valued Boehme will lose nothing in my mind from this new acquaintance, and I perceive with pleasure that the translator has read him and thought highly of him.
I have to blame myself for not having replied sooner to your letter of 30th October, the more so that I was so much interested to see by it the progress you are making in understanding our friend B. My only excuse is that I was expecting J. Lead and Pordage would arrive soon enough for me to acknowledge their receipt at the same time. . . .
Your descriptions of the vegetable earth, and your progression of different regions and operations of the spirit, suit me well. There is only the ether on which my eye does not yet seem to fix so readily as yours. Ether is only a modification of the mixed elements, and, as such, is no more fit than they to be the dwelling of the Holy Spirit. You said everything, it seems to me, in placing Him in the pure element by means of Sophia. He cannot dwell elsewhere essentially, and what proceeds from Him, in the mixed elements and the ether, is only a ramification of His powers by which everything moves and exists in the universe. Unhappily they are corrupt influences, of a very inferior order, that dwell in all these aerial elementary regions, as St. Paul tells us. That does not prevent our souls from receiving it essentially from the Holy Spirit, because the soul also has the Sophia, and the element by which the Holy Spirit and we may unite, even without the breathing, which belongs to the animal creature. These, however, are only my observations, on which you will make your own reflections. . . .
Write me still at Paris, my departure is yet uncertain. The great picture of our wonderful revolution rivets me; I am best situated here to contemplate it en philosophe. For all that, I long for my cottage in the country, to which to return when the season permits. But, when peace is restored, and we Frenchmen may travel, I shall fly to be near you, where we can study at our ease.
P., near Bale, 4 Nivose, 24th Dec. 1793.
. . . . WHAT has particularly struck me in the doctrine of the air and the vegetable earth, spoken of in my letter 30th October, is No. 10, chap. vi. 'Aurora.' According to this passage, the powers themselves are obliged to receive their heavenly nourishment by breathing, just like men. It appears, also, that the purest part of the mixed elements, the air we breathe, dephlogisticated, igneous air, without any mixture of mephitic or fixed air, or any sort of gas, is the substance which comes nearest to the pure element from which all the other elements were derived. A friend of mine, whose intelligence I greatly respect, wrote to me last year, 6th September, from Petit Bourg, that J. C. wrapped himself in the Sophia to incorporate himself in the pure element, and then descend into the region of mixed corruptible elements.
In reading that letter again, I find it contains exactly my doctrine. If we follow the gradation, we find that, of all the mixed corruptible elements, the igneous air, or the air we breathe, which I called ether in my last, is really the purest of substances, without which no man can live. That the incorporation of the Holy Spirit in the mixed elements is necessary for our spiritual nourishment, is a thing which friend B. seems to say positively ('XL. Questions,' xiii. 2). We see even in v. 3 that he threatens to get angry with those who will not believe it. I have only one observation to make on the passage in question, in your letter of 1st December, which is, that all souls, even good ones, do not possess Sophia. See 'Forty Questions,' 21, 7. I found, moreover, after writing my letter, 30th October, some traces of my opinion as to pure air being regarded as a vehicle of the Sophia, in a note of Jane Lead's. I always presume, however, that the grand means for enjoying her is magical.
I am here quartered in a village, for the defence of our frontier, and to enforce our neutrality. I have more leisure here than in town, where, for a month past, I had not been able to read a word of our friend B., and I consider myself very happy to be able to enjoy this retreat. I found some old acquaintances at Bale, who, to my surprise, were very advanced in the theory and practice of communications. They told me of an event which has just occurred to a celebrated ecclesiastic of Zurich, whom I formerly knew; his name is Lavater. He has received an invitation to go to see some persons of the highest rank in a northern court; not the one you mentioned in one of your letters, whose Cabinet would not move a step without physical consultations (Berlin, Tr.); the one in question is further north (Copenhagen, Tr.). Lavater arrived there last summer; he met with men of education engaged in public business and living in the world, occupying high positions — men of acknowledged probity, who, in inviting him, could have no motive but one of goodness, for they even defrayed the expense of his journey. These men assure him that they have immediate communications with the active intelligent Cause; they assure him that one of his friends, dead some time ago, will, through his medium, enter their society. These men promise to enlighten him on subjects on which he had prayed for light for a long while — on the doctrine of the heavenly food, the great mystery, where it is said: "Take, eat, this is my body; drink, this is my blood; he that eateth not the flesh I have given for life, the bread which came from heaven, will not have life in him." In L.'s narrative, dated 26th Oct. 1793, which has been sent to me here, and I have before my eyes, he says on this subject: "He who understands these words understands the deepest mystery and most essential part of Christianity; he will be perfectly convinced of an union, real, positive, and intimate, "mit der gekreuzigten Menschen person, J. C." These men tell him that, when they are assembled, and even some of them when alone, they receive, at once, answers to questions they ask; at least a yes or a no, which leaves no room for mistake; that often, even without preliminary inquiry, they receive communications and revelations by which several important matters have been cleared up. They tell him also, what is very remarkable, that whenever they are together they have a most intimate experience of the truth of the promise, "When two or three are met together in my name, there am I in the midst of them"; since, then, a cloud, white as snow, descends, and for about half-an-hour, rests upon them. They were convinced that these manifestations were signs and emanations of the active and intelligent Cause:
1. Because these communications were always had after prayer had been offered to that Cause, and the answers came immediately after the petitions.
2. Because these manifestations enjoined their love for that Cause.
3. Because the manifestation which they called Lord, Spirit of the Lord, Image and Symbol of the Lord, received their adoration, which no good virtue would have dared to do.
4. Because the answers were given at the same time, in many places, to different persons, and in the same manner.
5. Because it judged them with severity, and on their sincere repentance, it immediately blessed them, and that visibly.
6. Because whenever they asked it, Art thou the active intelligent Cause? they were answered, Yes! which no power, good, or bad, would have dared to say.
7. Because they were quite able to distinguish him from the good and evil intermediate beings which surrounded him.
These are significant signs and characters. The only thing which greatly embarrassed our L. was a singular doctrine which he finds established in this circle, that of the return of souls. All men now alive, said the members of this school of new Pythagoreans, have already lived under many forms and different names; the holiest of men being obliged to appear again in this world in the form of the most ordinary. I confess I am like our Zurich friend; this doctrine, on the part of a society of elect, who believe that they are living in real union and intimacy with the active intelligent Cause, embarrasses me also; for, notwithstanding all the good the author of the 'Manual de Hefolius' says of this doctrine, it does not seem to me in consonance with the mind of our friend Boehme. Has this Northern school misunderstood its oracle? or what is this anomaly? Farewell. &c.
Paris, 17th Nivose (6th Jan.), 1794.
I WAS not without fear for the fate of my last letter, and your answer has come very opportunely to relieve me. I knew of the Zuricher's journey to the court of D., but I did not know its object. This Zuricher and I know each other only by name; he, like you, Sir, honours me with his kindly feelings. What he has learnt by his journey must have pleased him without surprising him, for he must have known of all these things long ago.
I cannot form a very decisive idea of this new branch of commerce which you bring to my acquaintance; only I think I can see a great similarity to that of Avignon, of which you have heard me speak. Though all the characters of this new branch do not seem to me to be defective, still I think it might become more central; our much-prized readings lead me to think so. The ruling doctrine of that circle will then be purged of its metempsychosis, a system which never fails being taught in the lower schools, and is, daily, by our somnambulists, but which agrees with none of the great principles of the divine spiritual theory, unless you call metempsychosis the possible and repeated return of God's great Elect, such as Elijah, Enoch, Moses, &c., who may, indeed, appear at different epochs, to bear witness to, and assist sensibly, the advancement of the great work, because good always flows in the channels it has once selected; but evil and pollution, on leaving this world, find new regions more vital than the earth, which purify or defile us still more, so that the terrestrial trials would no further suffice; which makes me more than ever regret this sort of metempsychosis, which seems to me nothing more than a reflux of the different sidereal faculties which the astral zone causes to pass over us, and which, thereby, shows us to ourselves under the different forms which they impress upon us, and yet no more belong to us than the names, titles, and decorations in a theatrical character belong to the person who represents it for the moment. A letter does not allow me to enlarge on this point. I am, however, well pleased with what you tell me; I like to see honourable people turn towards the holy regions; their souls cannot fail to profit greatly by it. . . .
To leave no doubt as to our opinions in regard to air, I again repeat what I wrote to you in my letter of 6th September. But I add, that the mixed elements are the mantle which the Christ had to put on to come to us, whilst we have to break up and break through these elements to go to Him; and as long as we lean or rest in them, we are still behind.
The most perfectly dephlogisticated air, we agree, is still very gross compared with that which the Spirit dephlogisticates: when he is pleased to fill it with his presence; we say, these physical considerations are beneath him, yet hold of him; and although the air of the chamber where the Apostles were was somewhat mephitic, considering their number and the heat of the season and the climate, that did not prevent the Holy Spirit from there accomplishing the most characteristic of his manifestations. I will say further, that, in the elementary order of the principles, fire seems to be superior to air, which, in fact, is only its son and minister; therefore, fire has taken the lead in the manifestations, good and bad, with which the earth has been filled; which is the cause that the idolatry of fire has reigned, and still reigns, amongst men, whilst we see no idolatry of air, though we do that of the winds, to avert their anger, rather than to implore their favour. Forgive me, Sir, if I dwell so much on these subjects; it is my dread of the mechanical which urges my pen, it is the profound feeling that we must un-earth ourselves completely, if we would attain to say to God, Habitavit in nobis, Amen.
I advance very slowly in the two books you have sent me, for want of assistance. I discover in Jane Lead a vivacity of the sublimest and sweetest love. Happy they who can attain her height, especially in what she says of the magism of faith! I am yet only half through the book.
I have only skimmed through Pordage; he seems to be more scientific than Jane Lead, and I think another hand must have made the translation. I confess that my well-beloved Boehme, in my eyes, is a prince to them both, as he is to all who walk in this way. But as they are all three very profound, I will marry them together, and I hope to have some of their progeny.
In my dearth of aid in German. . . . I have lately called on Madame Schweitzer, a niece of our Zuricher (Lavater), . . . who has promised to introduce me to a person who knows the two languages well. . . . Farewell, Sir, &c. I commend myself to your prayers.
P. . . , near Bale (26 Nivose), 15th Jan. 1794.
I HAVE received your interesting letter of 17th Nivose. Still in my quarters. To-morrow I am to be relieved, and I return to the turmoil of Bale, where I shall lose much time.
I thank you for elucidating the new branch of intercourse going on in the North. The great difficulty remains as to the conclusions of our Zuricher: "Art thou the active, intelligent Cause? They were answered, Yes! which no intermediate power, good or bad, would have dared to say." Is this conclusion right or not? — that's the question. I have seen a letter of twenty pages written by the daughter of Lavater to one of her intimate friends, on the occasion of her journey to Copenhagen, where she accompanied her father. This daughter is an angel; but, as she does not believe in the metempsychosis, any more than you or I, she is greatly perplexed.
I am nearer to your views of the descending scale, Sophia, and the pure element, than perhaps you think. As for the air theory, we will speak of that when we meet. Meanwhile, do not fear the mechanical for me. . . . There are some initiates here who pretend that the dazzling white cloud which appeared in the phenomenon of the North is a characteristic and inimitable sign of the truth of the phenomenon. They pretend to have seen it themselves once, with the figures 4 and 8, the quaternion and double quaternion. These are not only figures, but chiffres arabes for me; and why should they be "not to be imitated'?
Paris (Pluviose), 26th Jan. 1794.
To satisfy you, Sir, as to your difficulty about the active intelligent Cause, here is the answer.
I believe that they who are called to the work directly from on high have no trouble in judging all that they get, and that without any other operation of their own, besides the development of their inward divine sense. They are an universal cupel which purifies everything, and suffers no corrosion itself.
I believe that one who enters upon the work by an initiation, whether human or spiritual, may also arrive at the truth of what he gets; but he will require great labour for that; such is the fruit of theurgical labours and operations, when conducted by pure, enlightened, and potent masters. But, alas! how rare they are! As for me, I know not one; and I am very far from having any virtuality of this kind, for my work takes the inward direction altogether.
I believe that those who receive external gratuitous communications, like those at Copenhagen, may possibly not be deceived; but I have no means whereby to assure it. Those at Copenhagen do not seem to me to have sufficient proof to justify their confidence. 1st, I do not believe that they are elects of the first degree, mentioned above, for if they were, they would have had no uncertainty, and had no need to ask questions; 2nd, I notice that they are passive in their work — acted upon, not acting — therefore without the needful active virtuality to "bind the strong one, and clear out the house," to make it fit for honest folk to live in; 3rd, The answer they receive, when they ask: Art thou the active intelligent Cause? proves nothing to me, for the enemy can imitate everything, even our prayers, as I have said in 'L'Homme de Desir'; and it is to discern these terrible imitations that the use and practice of true theurgic operations lead, if, after all these doings, recourse is not at once rather had to the internal who teaches all things, and protects from danger; 4th, In short, I do not see in these elect of Copenhagen, the signs given in the Gospel as characteristic of true missionaries of the Spirit: "They will heal the sick, cast out devils, and swallow poisons which will not hurt them."
This, Sir, is all that my intelligence affords me for the elucidation of the point in question. I cannot judge, because I have not witnessed; and I can be only reporter, without wishing my opinion to be decisive. I trust Providence will open the eyes of these well-meaning people to the illusions which crowd the path they have taken in good faith; but it is impossible for me to affirm anything as to the nature of what occupies them, without examining and confronting them. Now, I am not in a position to do this, and, if I were, I doubt whether my extreme caution as to what is external, and my ever-increasing taste for what is internal, would not prevent my entertaining these subjects without being sent by another order than that of my own desire or curiosity. I ought to add, that, if the evil power can do anything and everything, the good intermediate power often speaks as the Supreme Power itself. This we saw on Sinai, where simple Elohim spoke to the people as themselves God, the jealous one, &c. — another reason why we should be careful as to what we conclude from the answer, "Yes." If all these reflections are likely to help the interesting daughter of your Zuricher to set her mind at rest, you can communicate them to her, and, on the other hand, I shall be glad if you will let me know whatever you may learn on all sides. . . .
You do well not to take, as your initiates do, the dazzling cloud and the figures 4 and 8 as characteristic or inimitable proofs of the truth of the phenomenon. Those initiates may be such in their teachers' documents, but in the experience of the matter they are not. Farewell. &c.
Paris (15 Pluviose), 3rd Feb. 1794.
I TAKE the pen merely to tell you what may assist your researches for J. Lead and Pordage, in which you are kindly interested for me. M. Forster, who circumnavigated the globe with Captain Cook, has just died here. . . . Before his death, he stated that he had the works of Lead and Pordage, which he had left at Mayence; that since the Prussians had taken that city, they had put seals on his library, and that a Prussian prince had taken away several works, both printed and MS. Now I am informed M. Forster's widow lives at Neufchaatel or at Zurich. . . . This, then, is the purport of my letter. . . . 'The Dark World of Pordage, which I am now reading, impresses me in a way I cannot describe. If I had it in English, I think I would undertake to translate it into my own tongue. . . . Adieu, Sir; do not mind the expense.
Bale (29 Pluviose), 12th Feb. 1794.
I HAVE duly received your two letters. . . .
Your observations on the intercourse in the North appear to me perfectly correct; one amongst the rest ought, I think, to be printed in letters of gold: The internal teaches everything and protects from danger. The substance of this theory has been communicated to the young lady at Zurich. It was her friend's father, who is here, who showed me her letters, in which there reign a frankness and purity of mind which have pleased me greatly. I am intimate with the two sisters, who, especially the elder, of about twenty, are friends of our young lady of Zurich (Lavater): they have been initiated themselves, and assisted at all the proceedings. Their mode of intercourse was by means of one of such pupils, who was consecrated at each seance, and who, after prayer was offered, entered alone into direct communication. The master of the lodge directed the questions, and the answers were communicated to the pupil, who was the third youngest sister.
I have succeeded in proving to them, and convincing them, that, notwithstanding the plausible appearance of these transactions, they were often of very doubtful, and sometimes very dangerous character. I have also made them see that the central road, the road of love, was infinitely preferable to these external fascinations. The father, notwithstanding his attachment to these subaltern initiations, has been gradually led round to my way of thinking, by his daughters. What completely gained me the confidence of these young ladies, who may yet open all their souls to the truth, was reading the xii. and xiii. chapters of 1 Cor, which the eldest of them opened accidentally. But with the other men, members of this society, and who are men of a certain age, nothing of consequence can be done. They are infected with the idea of the prerogative of having this direct intercourse with the powers. The first master they all had was Count Cagliostro, who was intimately connected with the father of the pupils. This father is the younger brother of M. Serazin, whose address you put on my letters. . . . I will not fail to inquire for the widow Forster. . . . I hope to see another letter from Zurich before I leave, on Wednesday next. . . .
P.S. — The letter from Zurich has arrived: the father, i.e. S., received it, and his eldest daughter read it to us. It contains very detailed accounts of the intercourse in the North. I shall have a copy to send you shortly; it probably will be circumstantial enough to enable you to pass definitive judgment on the proceedings. Farewell. &c.
Paris, 27 Ventose.
. . . THE house I am in has become national property; and we must leave it immediately. I do not yet know where I shall go. I refer you to my next letter for information as to my new address. Accept my thanks for the books you have procured, and tell me how I can pay the amount.
From the details of your last letter I am more than ever confirmed in my opinion of the bad state of those affairs. Another time I will say more about these philosophical matters. . . . I have no time for more. &c. &c.
Announcing the discovery of more of Browne's and Pordage's works.
Paris, 30 Germinal.
Announces his immediate departure for Amboise . . . in consequence of a decree against the privileged and proscribed class, amongst which it was his lot to be born. . . .
Bale, 30th April, 1794.
I HAVE just received your letter, dated from Paris, 30 Germinal. . . . I am afraid a previous letter of yours must have been lost. . . . I expected your opinion about the writing I sent you, of Browne's, which, to me, seemed to be much akin to Boehme's system on the regeneration of man. I expected your opinion of the studies they are pursuing in the house at Bale, which I told you of, and of the new direction I had given to these studies. I have since received through that channel further news of Miss Lavater: her father seems to be still enchanted with his journey, although in reality he still has some doubts. That school in the North (Copenhagen) carries its idea of the metempsychosis so far as to pretend that St. John is still living bodily amongst them. They have even announced that he will probably make a journey to Zurich, to visit our young lady's father. Judge from this, what they are about. I have received a quire full of details of the experiences at Copenhagen. They still glorify themselves in the belief that the light, which, after their questions, gives out the sign yes or no, is a whitish phosphoric colour, and not red, because red, or the colour of fire, would be of a bad species. . . . just as if it was not as easy to ape a whitish colour as a fiery colour!
Sometimes they see a star, by the side of the light which is their oracle: they know this star represents a virtue. Then they ask: 'Dare it remain there?" According to the answer, yes or no, the scholars order, the star obeys.
They sometimes put questions on points of doctrine; for instance, they ask: "Is there a passage in Scripture which indisputably proves the metempsychosis? Yes, and no." Some understand this to mean that such passages may be found in the Old Testament, and they again ask: 'Is there any in the New Testament? Yes. In the four Evangelists? Yes. In St. Matthew? Yes. In the 1st chap.? No. In the 2nd? No. In the 4th? No. In the 11th? Yes. . . . In the four first verses? No. In the four next? No. In the 14th? Yes."
I at once made the objection that this fashion of question and answer did not seem to me at all suitable to the dignity of the Being they supposed they were interrogating. Those who are permitted to ask questions receive, conjointly or separately, in different places, answers which entirely agree. The signs which accompany the principal light vary with the different questioners, but the exterior manifestation of the principal light never varies.
What mainly contributes to make their belief, as to the nature of this miraculous light, which they take for the Active Cause Himself, immovable, is that several predictions which appeared to them very improbable, have been accomplished, so they now consider it a temerity to entertain any doubt about it.
They also receive a sign of benediction, when their oracle is pleased with what they have done, or proposed doing. These details, added to the other particulars, will make it easy for you to judge the proces.
I have heard from Madame Forster, who is now at Zurich. She hopes to get the books left by her husband: when she does she will let me know.
M. D. . (Divonne), whom you introduced to me last year, has left Switzerland: while he was at Berne I told him of my admiration of the works of Boehme. He procured me a superb edition in English, in 4to. I have gone over one volume of it, which appears to me faithfully translated. Since he has left Berne he assures me he has entirely given up all external manifestations. I have learned, accidentally, that B.'s works were a favourite study of the great Newton, who made copious extracts from them: what is quite certain is, that I have found the theory of the attraction of celestial bodies clearly expressed in B. . . , I think, in his 'Signatura Rerum.' Now, you know, our friend lived a hundred years before Newton.
Unless connected with duty or my calling, I nauseate all readings which have no relation to the Holy Scriptures, or are not of the nature of friend B.'s. Since this has been so, theosophical works come to me almost without looking for. Amongst others, I have become acquainted with those of a French author, named De Marsay, printed without his name, in Berlebourg, 1738, 1739, and 1740, under the title of Temoignage d'un Enfant de la Verite.' It is simple, frank, and very clear; it is easy to see that he writes after his own experience. I do not find any sign of his having known Boehme's works. Nevertheless, though ignorant of the division of the three principles, in results, he is quite in conformity with him.
I have ten volumes of this author; and, for sample, I will add his 'Traite de la Magie Divine, Naturelle, et Charnelle,' to the German translations mentioned in my last letters: the parcel will reach Bale on Sunday next, and go on by the diligence to Paris, and thence to Amboise. Be good enough to let me have your opinion of this work, and the other points of my letter, as soon as your occupations permit. . . . May our divine Master be daily more and more closely united with you, and preserve you, is the prayer of my soul.
Amboise, 24 Floreal (14th May).
YOUR letter of 30th has reached me here. . . . The parcel of books not yet arrived. . . . Your letter was read at the Comite de Surveillance at Paris, and sent to me under their seal. . . .
I must close. &c.
Morat, 24th May, 1794.
I HAVE just received your letter 24 Floreal. . . .
I hope you will soon have news of the parcel of books. . . . It must be delayed by some oversight. . . . . Please let me know when you receive it.
Since I was relieved from my post on the frontiers I am living in the country, in the midst of my family, my library, nature, and repose. J. J. Rousseau, who showed me some friendship when I was young, was not far wrong when he wrote to me: "Your home must suffice you, or nothing will." You will see this letter in his 'OEuvres Posthumes,' vol. vii. I see with pleasure in his 'Confessions' that he still remembered me many years after his departure from Switzerland. . . . I am struck with a passage, 'Threefold Life,' x. 48 to 50, which shows not only so plainly the way to keep in peace through every event of life, but also the way to make the most decided progress in the higher sciences; lucidly confirming what you once wrote me on this subject. Farewell. &c.
Amboise, 3 Prairial (23rd May).
I HAVE at last, Sir, just received Marsay's book, printed 1739, Pordage's two volumes, and one volume of Browne. I have been able, hitherto, merely to glance at the first, yet I see how much his doctrine agrees with that of our beloved Boehme. I hope I shall be at least equally pleased with the others; but I shall not for some time be able to devote myself to them so assiduously as formerly, having been commissioned by my district to make a list of the books, manuscripts, and other monuments of the arts and sciences which the law has given to the nation in this territory, a work which is being done at once throughout the republic; the result of which will be a national library for every district. This will take me somewhat from my own labours, but, as I am not in a position to serve the republic in any other way, I must, at least, devote to it what little means I have. I have, at all events, time enough to thank you, Sir, for this new philosophical present. My only fear is that you should have deprived yourself of Marsay to send it to me. I beg you will not do this, except when you have duplicates. . . . I pray God to reward you for all the treasures you have procured for me. I will say nothing of the Northern School, of which your last speaks. I spoke to you of it myself in my last, and you and I ought to be in step on this branch of philosophical study. Their mistake about the metempsychosis has a foundation which renders it excusable; and J. Lead would plead for them; but men will ever make haste to go from a possibility to the fact, and the parties in question have not counted at what cost those favours are to be purchased. Do not question me on this subject; a letter would not suffice to answer you. I also have the English copy of Boehme, in 4to. It is incomplete; the 'Send Brief,' to my mind one of the choicest of his writings, is wanting, besides others.
Thank God, I begin to be tolerably familiar with our author's German; and I go on, when I have time, with my translation into French of the 'Threefold Life,' which I have undertaken as a provision for my old age, for my eyesight is failing, and, if I were to lose it, I could find no one, in this place, able to read it to me in German.
I should not be surprised if the great Newton was a reader of Boehme; but I do not think he derived from thence his system of attraction, because his system is altogether physical, and does not go deeper than the bark, whilst that of Boehme goes to the centre. Farewell, Sir; bear me in your prayers. I am all with you, heart and spirit, and God is our rallying point. Amen.